Feature Article

TNA spokesman decries Sumanthiran discourse

[TamilNet, Friday, 12 June 2015, 23:53 GMT]
“Third party mediation and negotiations are important to resolve the Tamil national question. But, the process should be carried out in a proper context involving the actors with peoples mandate. The mediation should be undertaken by international actors, who are capable of course-correcting the Colombo regime”, TNA Parliamentarian Suresh Premachandran told TamilNet on Friday. Mr Premachandran, who is an official spokesman of the TNA was responding to an official statement coming from a confidential process embarked on by certain actors, involving the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera, a section of Tamil diaspora activists of the so-called Global Tamil Forum (GTF), a South African NGO known as ‘In Transformation Initiative’ (ITI), Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) official Martin Stürzinger and the failed Norwegian peace broker Erik Solheim.

Suresh Premachandran is the leader of the EPRLF, one of the four constituent parties of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA). His sharp reactions follow that of Northern Provincial Council member M.K. Shivajilingam, who is the political coordinator of the TELO, another constituent party of the TNA.

Mr Premachandran told TamilNet that neither he nor any of the leaders in the TNA hierarchy, which is the top decision making body in the TNA, were informed of what ITAK parliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran was ‘revealing’ to the public in his TV interactions in London and in the public statement issued from London.

A section of those involved in the confidential process issued a public statement on 08 June, claiming certain ‘confidence building measures’ as being ‘agreed upon’ and as being ‘explored’ and ‘discussed’. The statement mentioned only the participation of Mr Samaraweera, TNA's nominated parliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran and Suren Surendiran, who claims to be a ‘Director of Strategic Initiatives’ of the ‘Global Tamil Forum’, an outfit which does not represent the views of the majority of the Tamil diaspora population.

When a similar narrative was invented during the times of Rajapaksa regime, the TNA conveyed its position of international investigations to South Africa and the deliberations along that line were contained thereafter.

Suresh Premachandran was describing the Tamil participants in the London deliberations as inexperienced politicians and naive activists who are easily gullible for deceptive moves. There are more lessons to be learned from the past engagements between the Sinhala leaders and the Tamil leaders from the times of Chelvanayakam, Amirthalingam and Pirapaharan, he said.

Now, there is a regime favourable to the USA in Colombo. The Tamil people have therefore serious questions whether Washington would be favourable to advance the OISL process into an international investigation, Premahcandran said.

The deviating ITAK parliamentarian Sumanthiran was implying that the completed OISL process was in fact the international investigations expected by the TNA and the Tamils. In a challenging interview with the GTV in London, Mr Sumanthiran was exposed as advocating internationally monitored domestic investigations.

TNA spokesman Suresh Premachandran categorically rejected any form of domestic mechanism having whatever international component on top of it. The only way to properly address the grave violations of the past is an independent international investigation, he told TamilNet.

The TNA spokesman further said he had articulated this position of Eezham Tamils to the US State Secretary John Kerry when the TNA delegation officially met him during his visit to Colombo earlier this year.

* * *

“When there are secrets that are not revealed to the executives of the TNA, the public should have all the reasons to believe that there are more detrimental things that are hidden under the carpet,” Premachandran said.

Mr Erik Solheim, who met a section of Tamil diaspora activists in Oslo in May this year was projecting the current regime as consisting of the best ever Sinhala leaders Tamils could ever imagine to be in their favour in the near future and that the Tamil diaspora should grab the opportunity to engage with the Sinhalese in a ‘Sri Lankan’ context, he said.

“Don't think that the OISL would be finding only Rajapaksa as responsible for war crimes committed during the end of the war. The OISL report will also find Pirapaharan as responsible for war crimes,” Mr Solheim was telling the Tamil activists.

According to Mr Solheim, ‘Sri Lanka’ has now been pushed back to a pre-1972 political context. No body had heard about Pirapaharan in 1972 except a few including his parents, he was telling the participants of the closed-door meeting in Oslo.

However, Solheim avoided responding when he was confronted with the questions on the geopolitical injustices committed by the Powers and the failure of the facilitators and the mediators in coming with ways incorporating international solutions that could guarantee no return to genocide in the island.

Solheim was advising Tamils to trust and engage with the Sri Lankan leaders. There would of course be challenges and barriers, but those would have to be overcome by Tamils getting locked in a long-drawn process, he implied.

Further, justice to victims normally takes a long time, Mr Solheim said, citing examples from a number of other conflicts, that also included US State Secretary John Kerry's personal example.

Mr Solheim was advising the Tamil activists to carefully peruse the positions articulated by the US Secretary of State John Kerry on May 02 at Colombo Taj Samudra Hotel.

At his Taj Samudra address, the US Secretary of State was revealing what was ‘envisaged’ by Washington with regards to the investigations. He was hoping that the new Sri Lankan government would continue to cooperate with the United Nations as it explored “the best way to mount a credible domestic investigation into allegations of human rights abuses – an investigation that meets international standards and at the same time, and most importantly, is legitimate in your eyes, in the eyes of the people here.”

“[T]he United States and Sri Lanka are also working together to oppose the use of intimidation or force to assert a territorial or maritime claim by anyone,” Kerry stated in his address, indirectly coming out with an unwritten military-to-military relationship pact between Washington and Colombo, probably in competition with that of the existing one between New Delhi and Colombo.

“The United States is already providing leadership on maritime security in the India Ocean in association with close friends and allies across the region, including India, Australia, Indonesia, and Japan,” John Kerry had stated in Colombo.

In the meantime, the US sponsored NGOs in the island and the USAID-affiliated officials have been interacting with the sections of the emerging business elites among the Eezham Tamils, particularly the managers forum in Jaffna, diaspora-returned business-owners and the US-funded ‘rights defenders’ groups in a futile attempt to convince the Eezham Tamils to transform themselves into ‘Sri Lankans’ and embark upon a fresh South Africa model of ‘Truth and Reconciliation Commission’ in a ‘Sri Lankan’ context.

One of the latest moves along this narrative was the meeting orgnised by the Colombo-based International Centre For Ethnic Studies (ICES) in which USAID-affiliated individuals took a visible role.

Former Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, Albie Sachs, and former Commissioner of the Truth Commission in Peru, Eduardo Gonzalez, were the distinguished guests invited to address in a series of meetings in the North-East and in other parts of the island. They were highlighting the significance of a South Africa model ‘Truth and Reconciliation Commission’.

“[...] If South Africa could do it, Sri Lanka can do it. Your problems are deep, bear deep historical roots, but they are not deeper than our problems were. They are not more intense than our problems were. We succeeded in getting a country of which we are all proud of, [...]” said Justice Albie Sachs in his address at Tilko hotel in Jaffna on 09 May.

The US move is targeting to create an alternative narration to that of the Tamil civil society in the North-East, a concerned Tamil activist, who has been observing the recent meetings and the debates in Jaffna told TamilNet.

The activist was also including the debate that took place between the nominated TNA parliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran and TNPF leader Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam in his list of examples. The debate was hosted by the Managers Forum in Jaffna.

The Tamil political activists and politicians are given a message that it is the USA and the West, who are the ‘natural allies’ the Eezham Tamils could count on if they subscribe to the view of ‘becoming Sri Lankans’, the activist said referring to a recent remark from a well-respected Tamil politician in the island.


Informed sources in Switzerland told TamilNet Friday that the organisations representing Eezham Tamils in the country were set to demand clarifications from the FDFA for sidestepping the democratic institutions of Eezham Tamils in Switzerland in shaping Switzerland's policy on the national question of Eezham Tamils, particularly the role of Switzerland in Singapore and London processes involving the GTF.

External Links:
US Department of State: Strengthening the U.S.-Sri Lanka Partnership for Human Rights and Lasting Peace
GTF: GTF: Confidence Building Measures in Sri Lanka



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