make Venezuela part of Tamil separatist network in Latin
Ms. Tamara Kunanayakam, Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Cuba
You are Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Cuba. What brought you to
Our attention was drawn to the active presence in
Caracas of a delegation representing Canadian HART meeting
Government authorities making false, fabricated and
defamatory accusations against the Government of Sri Lanka,
alleging that there was a ‘genocide’ against the Tamil
community in Sri Lanka and ‘concentration camps.’
They were trying to persuade the Venezuelan Government to
give refuge to members of the Tamil community who they
claimed were held incommunicado in Indonesia after their
ship was allegedly intercepted on its way to Australia.
It baffles me why an organisation in Canada, an
immigration country with some 250,000 Tamil residents,
should ask Venezuela – a Spanish speaking country – to give
refuge to persons who are in the other end of the world -
Indonesia and who want to go to Australia!
I can only surmise that this was only a pretext, the real
objective being to lure Venezuela into providing symbolic
recognition to the pseudo Transnational Government of Tamil
Eelam (TGTE) that had just held its inaugural Congress in
Philadelphia, its goal being to establish a separate State
in Sri Lanka. They were also hoping to obtain Venezuela’s
help to organise a network in Latin America to promote their
2. Who is behind Canadian HART?
Canadian HART was launched in 2008 by LTTE front
organisations, the Tamil Youth Organisation of Canada (TYO –
Canada), the Canadian Tamil Congress and Tamil Women’s
Organisation. The LTTE’s Tiger flag boldly flutters on the
home page of the TYO-Canada website, despite the LTTE being
banned as a terrorist organisation. The TYO and the Canadian
Tamil Congress are also listed as supporters of the Canadian
HART operated website
The Canadian Tamil Congress is one of the most
influential founders of the recently formed Global Tamil
Forum (GTF), which was created by ex- LTTE International
Chief Selvarasa Pathmanathan alias KP by bringing together
15 existing LTTE front organisations from different Western
countries with the goal of establishing a separate State in
Sri Lanka. KP is one of the two architects of TGTE.
In January this year, Canadian HART Media Team Coordinator
Jessica Chandrashekar accompanied Saradha Nathan, a member
of another LTTE front organisation, the Australian Tamil
Congress, to Indonesia to visit the so-called asylum-seekers
detained in Indonesia. The Australian Tamil Congress is also
founder of the pro-LTTE pro-separatist Global Tamil Forum.
Canadian HART Jessica Chandrashekar was apprehended
trying to smuggle laptops and other documents to those on
board. Both she and Saradha Nathan were taken in for
questioning in Indonesia on suspicion of human trafficking.
It is reported that a high-profile LTTE leader who had been
deported from Toronto and several other identified LTTE
members were on board the vessel.
These organisations and their campaign of defamation have
the support of certain major powers, their institutions and
NGOs such as the International Crisis Group, Human Rights
Watch, Reporters without Borders, Amnesty International, The
Real News Network of Sharmini Peries and individuals such as
Ron Ridenour and Patrick O’Donoghue.
3. You are part of the Tamil community yourself. What
do you have to say about the allegations of genocide by
Such allegations are ridiculous, a caricature and dangerous.
Yes, I belong to the Tamil community and I’m proud to be Sri
Cries of genocide were heard only during the last phase
of the war and only when the military defeat of the LTTE
became possible and to justify external intervention to
rescue its leaders.
If one takes a closer look at the definition of ‘genocide’
in the 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment
of the Crime of Genocide, you will have a hard time finding
evidence that there was intent on the part of the Government
of Sri Lanka ‘to destroy, in whole or in part’ the Tamil
The Tamil community represents about 18% of a total Sri
Lankan population of about 21 million. Although there is a
large concentration of the community in the North, the
majority live outside alongside other Sri Lankan
communities, Sinhala, Muslim, Moor, Malay and Burghers. If
there was genocide, would the communities be living
peacefully alongside each other? Since time immemorial,
mixed marriages have been common. This is true in my own
You will find political parties emanating from the Tamil
community in Government. Others emanating from the same
community have elected representatives in parliament. Even
the pro-LTTE political Party TNA has entered the democratic
process and participated in recent elections. Members of the
community are at senior levels of Government, in the
judiciary and law enforcement agencies, in the various
professions, in universities, in the press, in business – in
every walk of life! Sri Lanka’s former Minister of Foreign
Affairs, Lakshman Kadirgamar was from the community. He was
assassinated by the LTTE. After the Eastern Province was
liberated by Government forces with the aid of a breakaway
LTTE faction, provincial elections were held and a former
LTTE child-soldier was appointed by the President as Chief
Minister of that province. An ex-LTTE Commander was
appointed as Minister of National Integration.
Government forces were engaged not against the Tamil
community, but against a terrorist organisation that fought
a relentless and ruthless war for separation. They were
engaging LTTE suicide squads, the Black Tigers, trained in
suicide operations, unprecedented in history. The Black
Tigers were involved in the assassination of former Prime
Minister of India Rajiv Gandhi and Sri Lankan President
Let’s recall that right from the beginning of his mandate
and practically until the end of the war in May 2009,
President Mahinda Rajapaksa continued to call for
discussions, even face to face, with the LTTE leader
Prabakharan, who didn’t even respond.
Throughout the war, the Sri Lankan Government continued
to transport – physically – salaries of public servants to
LTTE-controlled areas so that Tamil community was not
deprived of essential services.
The Eastern Province was liberated in 2007 by the Sri Lankan
armed forces fighting alongside other groups emanating from
the Tamil community, including an important faction that
split from the LTTE. Within 6 months the Government had
resettled 220,000 IDPs from that province. In fact, some
NGOs and governments protested that it was too fast!
The more recent IDPs numbering some 300,000 members are
those who fled for safety from LTTE-controlled areas to
Government cleared areas in May 2009. They had been forced
to follow the trail of a retreating LTTE across jungles for
use as human shields. Many had been corralled out of the
Jaffna peninsula at gunpoint by the LTTE, as early as 1995,
during the first big enforced exodus.
In the last stages of the war when the LTTE was cornered, it
is well known that civilians were prevented from moving out
of the line of fire or escaping to government-controlled
areas. In an attempt to prevent them escaping, the LTTE
fired at the fleeing civilians, launched grenade and mortar
attacks, and sent suicide bombers to explode in their midst.
4. But, what about allegations of concentration camps?
There are NO concentration camps in Sri Lanka!
To accommodate this unprecedented surge of fleeing hostages,
the Government rapidly set up welfare villages with UN
assistance. In the welfare villages, not a single person
starved even for a day! Not a single outbreak of disease!
Not a single death by unnatural causes reported! Efforts
were made to provide education facilities for children. In
November 2009, 19,364 boys and 19,644 girls were attending
classes within the Welfare Village. An important programme
of rehabilitation of former child soldiers and ex-combatants
was conducted. From May 2009, mortality rates had dropped to
an average of 2 to 3 per day giving an annual crude
mortality rate of 4,4 per 1000 persons in Vavuniya, which
had the largest number of IDP villages. This is compatible
with mortality rates in any other part of the country.
The resettlement process conducted in cooperation with
UNHCR according to International standards has been rapid,
despite the over 1.5 million landmines and UXOs that have
had to be cleared to guarantee the safety of returnees.
Today, more than 80% of the IDPs have returned to their
homes or are with host families. The 20% remaining in
welfare villages have been cleared to leave at any time.
More than 68 UN agencies, INGOs and NGOs have access to the
villages and assist in the resettlement process. More than
173 media personnel have visited the area since 2009 and can
So far, out of 11,000 IDPs identified as LTTE combatants,
over 2000 have been released after completing a
rehabilitation programme. These include 847 females, 253
children and 55 university students. At present, there are
148 University students, including 51 females under
Canadian HART and foreign supporters of separatism such as
Ron Ridenour conveniently forget the collective forcible
eviction of the Muslim population by the LTTE from the North
and North-West of the country in October 1990. They were
given only 24 hours to take a few personal items. It is only
now, 20 years after their expulsion that my Government has
been able to even begin resettling the over 60,000 Muslims
At that time and ever since, nobody called this barbarous
act ‘genocide’ or ‘ethnic cleansing’!
5. Does the Global Tamil Forum (GTF) and the
Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE) represent the
Tamil Diaspora and the entire Tamil community?
No, they don’t!
The GTF and the TGTE claim that they represent the ‘Tamil
Diaspora,’ which is then rehashed by individuals like Ron
Ridenour, to justify claims of genocide and hence the need
for a separate State.
Both organisations were formed by international leaders of
the earlier LTTE and are composed of LTTE front
organisations and their supporters in various Western
countries. What they have in common is their LTTE origins
and the demand for a separate State. Having lost territory
and control over the Tamil community in Sri Lanka, claims of
genocide has become a facile argument to justify foreign
intervention to help create a separate State.
The TGTE is a re-branded manifestation of the LTTE
overseas structure. Its co-architects are Visuvanathan
Rudrakumaran, former international legal advisor of the LTTE
and New York based Lawyer, and Selvarasa Pathmanathan alias
KP, previously International Chief in charge of
international LTTE branch administration, global fund
raising and arms acquisition. The TGTE is unambiguously
clear about its ultimate goal being creation of a separate
State. At its inaugural Congress in Philadelphia, the LTTE
flag was openly flaunted alongside the US flag, despite it
being a banned terrorist organization and Rudrakumaran was
elected as Interim Chief Executive of TGTE. As I mentioned
earlier, the GTF too is an entity formed by bringing
together several LTTE front organisations in the West.
These organisations are unrepresentative, but project
themselves as the ‘sole representatives of the Tamil
people.’ Their leaders belong to a financially powerful and
influential class of educated professionals and
businesspeople residing in the West and benefiting from
external political and financial backing.
Let us recall the brutal war the LTTE waged against other
groups issuing from the Tamil community, assassinating
intellectuals, politicians and activists to establish itself
as the ‘sole representative.’ At the same time, its
representatives moved into gain a stranglehold over the
Tamil community in the west – including through
intimidation, assault, and threats to families in Sri Lanka.
Paris and Toronto were prime examples of the phenomenon,
where unquestioning compliance was demanded and wrought.
The TGTE too has made clear that it will not take into
account decisions of the so-called ‘Tamil leadership’ inside
Sri Lanka unless they accept its separatist agenda.
No, the Tamil community is not a homogenous group!
Our perceptions of who we are and the choices we make depend
essentially on our historical origins, our economic and
social status, geographic location, and cultural background.
For instance, the demand of almost 1 million workers
belonging to the Tamil community brought as indentured
labour by the British from India was to obtain Sri Lankan
nationality. The LTTE showed no concern whatsoever for the
fate of this working class.
Within Sri Lanka, even in regions such as the East and the
northern Jaffna peninsula, which separatists claim as their
territory, there is no popular support for the separatist
As for INGOs and their backers and individuals who tow the
LTTE/TGTE line, genocide is only a pretext for achieving a
hidden agenda. Perhaps we are seeing a new model for
external intervention in the making, creation of a dangerous
precedent. First, encourage groups without territory or
control over the population to establish ‘Transnational
Governments.’ Then, facilitate a campaign of defamation to
justify intervention by a nebulous ‘international community’
to exercise the so-called ‘Responsibility to Protect’.’ Of
course, all this has nothing to do with the principles of
the UN Charter or human rights!
My question to you is, would you like to see this happening
in Latin America where regional integration, the dream of
Bolivar, is on the agenda?
6. In Latin America we have little information about
Sri Lanka. Was there a popular insurrection in your country?
Insurrection implies an organised rebellion aimed at
overthrowing the Government in place. The goal of the LTTE
was not to overthrow the Government but to establish a
separate State of Tamil Eelam under its totalitarian
control. That is why they projected the Sinhalese people as
The LTTE was NOT a liberation movement. It never had an
economic or social programme nor did it concern itself with
development of the areas it controlled or in improving the
well-being of the Tamil community. The only institutions
they set up were institutions of coercion – police stations,
tribunals, prisons. They had airplanes, a fleet of tankers
and even submarines.
It was a terror organisation terrorising even members of the
community they claimed to represent. Theirs was an
anti-civilian approach! Child soldiers were forcibly
recruited for their notorious baby-brigades and forewarned
that their families would be wiped out if they surrender.
They invented the suicide belt and pioneered the use of
women in suicide attacks. Their soldiers wore cyanide vials
for consumption upon capture. They practiced extortion. They
were known within the Tamil community as the ‘Eelam
Enterprise’ for their involvement in human, arms and drug
trafficking and sea piracy.
Tens of thousands of civilians from the community who did
not subscribe to their separatist goal were physically
eliminated, including leaders of progressive political
groups and their cadres, politicians and intellectuals. In
one day alone, they killed 175 leaders of the Tamil Eelam
Liberation Organisation. Then they machine-gunned the entire
Central Committee of the left-wing EPRLF – the Eelam
Peoples´ Revolutionary Liberation Front.
It shocks me to hear comparisons being made between the LTTE
and genuine liberation movements in Latin America and the
Is it ethical to brand an entire community – the Sinhalese
in this case – as enemy? Is it moral to target innocent
civilians and workers in public places, transit hubs, buses,
trains, marketplaces, temples, banks, office buildings, etc.
Ron Ridenour’s presentation of Rudrakumaran, top LTTE and
TGTE leader and associate of the mafiosi KP, as a moral
reference is an insult to the intelligence of people,
particularly of the Tamil community itself!
7. How do you see your country going forward?
A new historical period is opening up for our country
with a strong potential for development. Sri Lanka is the
2nd fastest growing economy in Asia, second only to China,
and the 8th fastest growing economy in the world. According
to the UNDP, Sri Lanka is one of the countries of the world
on the threshold of achieving the Millennium Development
With the elimination of an autocratic group, democratic
space has been opened. A large number of important emergency
laws and regulations have been relaxed and a Commission on
Lessons Learned and Reconciliation established. Soon,
Northern Provincial Council elections will be held and
members of the Tamil community in the North will be able to
choose their own Chief Minister and administration. We are
also engaging in a comprehensive dialogue with all political
parties to stabilise the democratic administration.
We are building a strong national industry and agriculture
to reduce import dependence and to achieve greater
self-reliance, food and energy security. Every effort is
being made to harness and further develop the country’s
natural wealth and resources.
A massive development programme is underway in the recently
liberated Northern and Eastern provinces with a total budget
of US$ 4,3 billion for the period 2007 to 2012. In addition,
from 2010 onwards, the Government will allocate some US$ 1
billion each year – for 3 years – for the North and East for
reconstruction and rehabilitation.
With an average GDP growth of 6% or above between 2005 to
2008, our target is to achieve an average economic GDP
growth of 8% after 2010 and to double GDP per capita to
US$4,000 by 2016. Our priority is to ensure that growth is
spread more evenly.
The almost 30-year old conflict ended and Sri Lanka has the
potential to develop into a naval, aviation, commercial,
energy and knowledge hub, serving as a key link between the
East and West. As one of the fastest growing economies and a
feeder to rapidly growing China and India, Sri Lanka can
become a regional centre and major gateway to India.
8. How do you see the relations between Sri Lanka and
Our Governments have excellent relations based on the
principles of mutual respect, solidarity and reciprocity,
and the relations between President Hugo Chavez and
President Mahinda Rajapaksa have always been warm and
Sri Lanka and Venezuela are both firmly committed to the
defence of the State sovereignty, national independence,
territorial integrity and non-interference, and to the
pursuance of an independent, free and non-aligned foreign
policy. Strengthening the national economy for the benefit
of people, improving social well-being, achieving food and
energy security, protection and preservation of the
environment are common concerns. We are also firmly
committed to a strong multilateral system and vibrant
During my cordial meeting with the Minister of External
Relations, Mr .Nicolas Maduro, we reaffirmed the continuing
solidity of the friendly relations between our two countries
and the need to strengthen our cooperation in areas of
mutual interest. My Government will exert every effort to do
so at the bilateral as well as multilateral levels at the
United Nations within the Non-Aligned Movement and the
G.-15, which is chaired by Sri Lanka.
(This is an English translation
of Ambassador Kunanayakam’s Interview to the Venezeula
newspaper “Correo del Orinoco”)