Tamils seek support from Cuba & L.A.

By Ron Ridenour

Sri Lankan President Mahind Rajapaksa and Cuban President Raul Castro. File photo from colombopage.com

HAVANA TIMES, Oct. 3 – “We Tamils, inside and outside the island of Sri Lanka, still want an independent state. And because the war crimes and severe brutality of the Mahinda Rajapaksa government against our people has become well known, our cause is being spoken about all over the world,” Visuvanathan Rudrakumaran told me recently in Manhattan, New York.

A positive sign of recognition for Tamil rights is the dramatic Channel 4 UK documentary, “Sri Lanka Killing Fields”, shown first at a June Human Rights Council session and then worldwide.

Rudrakumaran is Prime Minister of the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE), and a prominent activist in the Diaspora. He earned law degrees from the University of Colombo and Southern Methodist University. He later studied and wrote articles about self-determination at Harvard Law School

Upon the end of the long civil war in Sri Lanka, May 2009, Rudrakumaran saw the need for international representation of Tamils right to sovereignty. The other Tamil professionals held meetings in Malaysia and Switzerland to initiate the TGTE on the basis of nationhood, a homeland and the right to self-determination.

As these Tamil leaders in exile were gathering forces, they were surprised and disconcerted that Cuba and other new progressive governments in Latin America sided with Sri Lanka at the May 2009 sessions of the Human Rights Council, and not only against the guerrilla movement but also against the Tamil population interests

“Tamils always looked upon Fidel and Che as heroes,” the PM said. “Our people are shocked by Cuba’s position since May 2009. Perhaps it is due to poor communication. We want to send a delegation to Cuba, to Venezuela and other ALBA [Bolivarian Alliance of the Peoples of Latin America] governments to explain our position and to engage in dialogue.”

PM Rudrakumaran maintains that his Transnational Government is not tied to any government or international power. “We are not at the mercy of any power, but will accept support for our cause from whoever cooperates with us.”

The TGTE stresses democratic forms of decision making. In the spring of 2010, elections for delegates to the TGTE were held in 12 countries. In some cases, the proposed candidate met no competition and so there was no election. Tens of thousands participated.

Fifty-six elected delegates gathered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (USA) to officially form the Transnational Constituent Assembly on May 17-19, 2010. Thirty more delegates participated via video conference from London and Geneva. On November 3, the TGTE announced its first cabinet. Of the 10 ministers and 10 deputy ministers, five are women.

The TGTE is not to be confused with a “government in exile”, as there had been no independent state with a government that later sought relocation. It is a transnational government in transition and campaigns for nationhood through diplomacy and education. The real government will be established in the homeland when that is physically possible.

TGTE strategy is to work with all existing local, national and international Tamil organizations in the Diaspora, and to create a power centre for diplomacy with all governments possible. It also seeks to work in partnership with Tamil leadership inside Sri Lanka but has not been able to establish ties, at least not officially, given the belligerent nature of the S.L. government.

Getting to this point started following independence from Britain, in 1947-8. “Our people were conservative in many ways,” PM Rudrakumaran explained.

TGTE PM Visuvananathan Rudrakumaran

“We were nationalistic, not revolutionary. We had castes and women were not treated equally.  We sought equal rights with the majority Sinhalese by using peaceful, non-violent means. But the Sinhalese governments and racist monks and other extremists beat and killed us. They conducted several pogroms in which thousands of Tamils were killed in terrible ways.

“Finally, in 1976, all the Tamil political parties in and out of parliament, from conservative to the most radical and revolutionary decided to struggle for an independent nation in the North East homeland,” Rudra, as he is known, continued.

“When the liberation struggle took up arms, all the barriers were broken. In fact, women played an important role in the armed struggle.
“The Tigers [Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam] gave us the dignity and strength to fight. Today, however, the struggle is on the diplomatic plane. We look forward. We are not mired in the past or in speculation about whether the Tigers committed terrorism.”

TGTE Guiding Principles

  1. Commitment to achieve Eelam, an independent, sovereign State—nationhood, homeland and right to self-determination.
  2. Tamil Eelam will be a secular state.
  3. TGTE shall assist in establishing health facilities in the homeland, homes and refuges for those affected by the war; promote cultural activities stressing Eelam Tamil distinctiveness. Much of this work will have to be done indirectly as the TGTE cannot be in Sri Lanka.
  4. Promote education in the homeland.
  5. Promote economic welfare.
  6. Conduct foreign relations through lobbying.
  7. Seek prosecution of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
  8. Protect the equality of women and all Tamils.
  9. Provide welfare of families of martyrs, former combatants and families affected by the war. One practical project is to establish monuments for martyrs in the Diaspora since their memorials and graves have been destroyed by the Sri Lankan government.

PM Rudrakumaran said that the TGTE has good relations with the two other international organizations fighting for Tamil sovereignty: Global Tamil Eelam and the Council of Eelam Tamil in Europe.

“We all agree to the same goals and our means are the same—not armed struggle but peaceful protests and diplomacy. We are different in that the TGTE has elected representation in the form of a transnational government, a rather special breed of government,” Rudra said.

“We are encouraged about our future prospects. We see it favorable for us that a referendum was held for South Sudan [in 2005], in which 98.3% voted for secession. The TGTE attended the inauguration ceremony in Juba, July 10, as government guests of the new nation.”

TGTE deputy foreign minister Kanaganthram Manickavasagar and PM spokesperson Jeyaprakash Jeyalingam were among the guests when Salva Kiir signed the new constitution and was sworn in as president.

World leaders were present, including Sudan President Omar al-Bashir and UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon. Sri Lanka sent a minor envoy, Tissa Vitharana, senior minister of scientific affairs.

Prime Minister Rudrakumaran’s message to the newest nation, number 193 recognized by the UN, read: “We salute [you] for [your] sacrifices to become free and admire [your] courage and determination.”

“Our strategy is similar to that of the Republic of South Sudan,” the PM said. “We want the international community to press for and supervise a referendum on Eelam as occurred in South Sudan. Our peoples have undergone similar fates: genocide, followed by struggles for independence met by war crimes and crimes against humanity.”

Tamil guerrillas had called for ceasefires and a peace deal leading to a referendum for independence. Finally, in 2001, a ceasefire was achieved but only after the guerrillas had decimated much of Sri Lanka’s military might. However, when Mahinda Rajapaksa won the presidency, in 2004, he established a family fiefdom bent on annihilating all Tamil opposition. He smashed the ceasefire and took warring advice and technical-surveillance aid from the US Bush regime; massive weapons, communication infrastructure, boats and fighter aircraft from China; fighter aircraft, intelligence agents and technology from Israel; boats, missiles and moneys from India; moneys for oil and weapons from Iran; weapons from Pakistan; arms and patrol boats from UK and France; and technology and loans from Japan.

Rudrakumaran has no illusions about the interests of major governments representing former and current colonialists and empires. “How does one play the game and not allow a big power to decide? Our skills and our dedication to our united goal of sovereignty determine how we act. We won’t compromise sovereignty. Ours is a struggle for nationality and not one based on ideological or economic grounds.”

Rudrakumaran hopes that India will change its pro-Sri Lanka attitude towards one of support for Tamils. He sees the geo-political wind turning toward both China and India’s interests. As China’s influence grows in Sri Lanka, India is confused about how to act. He does not believe that India is currently acting in its long term interests by sidling up to the Rajapaksa government and thinks that India will soon realize that.

The Tamil leader is also encouraged by recent developments in the 18th session of the Human Rights Council just completed (September 12-30). It appears that the report by an expert panel appointed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on “accountability in Sri Lanka” now has a chance to be discussed by the HRC at its 19th session. At least that is proposed by Ki-moon and the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay.

The report was delivered last March and is quite critical of the Sri Lanka government for possible human rights abuse of Tamil civilians and combatants in the last months of the war, which ended May 2009. The report calls for an independent investigation into credible allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

In this HRC session, unlike in that of other sessions, neither India nor any of the Latin American countries expressed verbal approval of the Sri Lanka government when it denied any wrong doing.

See TGTE’s website: http://govtamileelam.org/gov/


29 thoughts on “Tamils seek support from Cuba & L.A.

  • October 21, 2011 at 6:47 am
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    People from across the globe are condemning the Human rights violations of Srilankan government. And civilized society is fighting hard to establish the justice to the Tamils. Killing of nearly 3,00,000 innocents, war crimes, ongoing slaughter on the journalists, moderates, reformists, artists and having opposition leader behind the bars make the Srilanka as a criminal and a failed state.

    LIST OF FEW EVIDENCES:

    People’s Permanent Tribunal found Srilanka guilty of war crimes and Genocide.

    UN’s Human Rights Chief is critical of Lankan government Human rights records.

    US human rights report accused Lankan rulers for the Human Rights violations.

    For your reference i am attaching the supporting evidences for war crimes and Genocide

    Srilankan President “Mass Murderer”, “Genocider”, “Ethnic Cleanser”, “CHEMICAL – Rajapakse” Government killed Tamil People by Chemical Weapon in Srilanka.

    Watch this Link
    Grisly Photos Reveal Genocide by Sri Lankan Government Against Tamil People

    http://www.salem-news.com/articles/august072010/srilanka-violence-mv.php

    Srilanka: If this isn’t GENOCIDE, WAR CRIME, Then What on Earth is?

    http://www.change.org/petitions/view/srilanka_if_this_isnt_genocide_war_crime_then_what_on_earth_is

  • October 21, 2011 at 6:44 am
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    EVEN NOW WE (TAMILS) WEARING CHE’S PHOTO….WE LOVED CUBA WE LOVED FIDEL BEFORE WAR….BUT WE HATE FIDEL

  • October 21, 2011 at 6:40 am
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    Thanks a lot Mr. Adevair…

  • October 9, 2011 at 7:47 pm
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    Being a tamil who fled sri lanka because of the governments brutality I am saddened by Cuba’s support for the Sri lankan Government. I had always looked up to the Che Guevara’s and feel that Cuba may not have fully understood the real ground situation in Northern Sri lanka. The sri lankan government is involved in a structural genocide now as they destroy Churches and Hindu temples and instead build Buddhist temples. Tamil Freedom Fighter Graves have been desecrated and tamil peoples lands have been taken away from them and made into HSZ ( High Security Zones) . Even today there is the presence of more than 100,000 Sri Lankan soldiers in the north, and northern sri lanka remains militarized. During the final stages of the war 2 years ago, i lost 15 family members because the sri lankan government bombed a school they were taking shelter in with a cluster bomb. I hope Cuba will soon understand the plight of the tamil people and see that it is for a noble cause.

  • October 8, 2011 at 8:12 am
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    I appreciate Tgte P.M.Mr.Rudrakumar. Because we want to change the view of world into Eelam tamils .
    He is doing that work. Viewers are small(5000) or large,we don’t worry. We will propaganda our views to world and every one.
    We don’t bother about, criticize. Because our leader Mr.Prabakaran face lot of that. We will do work for
    what we want to achieve.
    If you have any criticize in His 9 Guideline principles about Eelam. we will do discuss,if it found wrong we will fight to change that.
    Tgte is doing politicization the eelam issue within there members living country legal boundary. So its seems to be slowly. But TGTE Reached There political goal with the help of eelamtamils.
    by. [email protected]

  • October 7, 2011 at 6:56 pm
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    Tamils need to be free in Srilanka. Mahinda is causing all the problems for the tamils who lives in the North and East. Equal rights must be given to the Tamils as soon as possible. If not we all can expect another War in Srilanka. There are about 10000 LTTE are living in India and Mahinda is well aware of that.

  • October 7, 2011 at 3:40 am
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    Oh Rudra u are a lier : dont put Tamils in a bad position.

  • October 6, 2011 at 7:00 pm
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    Cubans have to a analyses about the Ceylon Tamil’s problems and then they have to think about to continue the relationship with Srilanka. because Srilanka maintained by one family who are the Mahinda’s Brothers.
    every one have to think about it please and made a voice for us.

  • October 6, 2011 at 6:44 pm
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    Dinusha .. yes u’r mom ,dad,sister or brother.. did not killed by u’r Army.. nest u will born as Tamil.. then u will realiaze.. one day will be our time.. at that time will know you well………..

  • October 5, 2011 at 1:01 pm
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    Cubans will remember their old corrupt dictator Batista who was thrown out of power by people’s revolution led by Fidel Castro. The truth is the corrupt and lying dicatator Rajpaksa from Sri Lanka is also deemd a suspect war criminal who committed the mass murder of more than 160,000 Tamil civilians in just 5 months from jan to may 2009. Cuba should show the UK Channel 4 video to their people to see for thmeselves. Seeing is believing.

  • October 4, 2011 at 9:07 pm
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    The first genocide of the 21st century has happened in Sri Lanka. According to the Catholic Bishop of Mannar, 148,000 Tamils have disappeared in the final months of the war, at the hands of the brutal Sinhalese, Nazi government of Rajapakse! No wonder the Sinhalese like to say they are Aryans, like Nazis, and show racism towards Tamils. Cuba should live up to its revolutionary ideals, and support the Tamils who have been oppressed for 60 years.

  • October 4, 2011 at 6:02 pm
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    Thanks Ron for sharing the plight of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka with a wider audience. Cuba and LA definitely have an important role to play in helping Tamils win their freedom from the Sinhalese government.

  • October 4, 2011 at 11:27 am
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    The Tamil Tigers struggle for a mono-ethnic fascist state [and the Sinhala army was multi ethnic in general?] was totally defeated [with 50,000-100,000 murders of civilians, best not to mention that] by the united action of all Sri Lankans [if you don’t consider the people in the North as fellow Sri Lankans, then yes] of all races [Colombo Tamils and Southern Muslims do not represent the people of the North] two years ago. All that is left is the fund-raising, drugs-smuggling, people-trafficking [People are primarily fleeing because of persecution, MR even said he would like to force Tamils out of the country], propaganda web-blogging [Nah, it’s the Sinhala chauvinists blogging from Colombo who are the real web warriors, living in a fantasy world where everything was fabricated by a global conspiracy] rump of the tigers abroad [You can call an entire exiled population a rump as your leaders like to say, but it doesn’t mean anything. I never supported the rebels, in fact I condemn their crimes, does that make me part of the rump? Doesn’t sound very logical. Do I support freedom from persecution and accountability of atrocities commited by both sides, yes entirely], represented by people like Rudrakumaran. They too will be consigned to the rubbish dump of history soon enough [You and people of your ilk are hallucinating, if you think your genocidal government does not belong in the rubbish dump of history with other regimes guilty of crimes against humanity].

  • October 4, 2011 at 8:18 am
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    The Tamil Tigers struggle for a mono-ethnic fascist state was totally defeated by the united action of all Sri Lankans of all races two years ago. All that is left is the fund-raising, drugs-smuggling, people-trafficking, propaganda web-blogging rump of the tigers abroad represented by people like Rudrakumaran. They too will be consigned to the rubbish dump of history soon enough.

  • October 4, 2011 at 8:09 am
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    Cuba got its independant from freedom fighting.. Che Guvera is Tamil’s hero too.. we suffered enough… The world should raise their voice against genocide… Not just in Sri lanka.. other part of the worlds too… Thank you…

  • October 4, 2011 at 7:52 am
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    3 Cuban refugees from refugee detention facility at Guantanamo Bay were accepted by Australia as part of a deal with the US, which in turn agreed to take 28 of the Srilankan Tamil refugees arrived by “M/V Oceanic Viking” in April 2010

  • October 4, 2011 at 7:27 am
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    Here are few important historical points on what Thamizhians were deprived of in the course of time.

    -> In 1948-50 the then Prime Minister of Ceylon D.S. Senanayake launched massive Sinhalese colonization schemes in the Eastern province, the traditional homeland of the Thamizhs. Gal Oya in the Batticalo District, Allai and Kanthalai in the Trincomalee District were the colonization schemes launched by him.

    -> On June 14, 1956 Mr. S. W. R. D. Bandaranayake, leader of the Srilanka Freedom Party and Prime Minster, who won the Parliamentary Elections help in 1956 caused Parliament, dominated by the majority Sinhalese to enact “Sinhala Only” as the official language of Ceylon. This was a negation of the hitherto accepted language policy of treating both Sinhala and Thamizhs as the official languages in place of English. The imposition of Sinhala only represented the subjugation of Thamizhs by Sinhalese imperialism. In protest the Federal Party which opposed the Sinhala only act staged Satyagraha in Colombo.

    -> In 1971 admission to the university based on merit was abandoned and “standardization” to university admissions through G.C.E A/L examination results was introduced. Lower qualifying marks were fixed for Sinhalese than for Thamizh students, both regarding the language of instruction and the subjects themselves. The introduction of “standardization” adversely affected Thamizh students’ access to higher education.

    -> In June 1981 under directions of two Sinhalese Ministers the army and the police set fire to important buildings in Jaffna town, specially the Jaffna Public Library considered one of the best in South Asia was torched. This resulted in the destruction of 44,000 valuable books. In addition printing presses and shops were also burnt down. Civilians were killed by the army . Another racial riot broke out.

    First Sinhalese started to occupy the lands of Thamizhs and then removed the official language status of Thamizh and abandoned the merit based admission to the university and destroyed the litreray and knowledge base of the Thamizhs.

    This clearly indicates the Sinhalese motivation towards Thamizh. So until we get our own land we will not be able to live freely

    People are posting here without knowing the fact and I’m just asking them to please read the entire history before you write what you know for the past few years.
    Years and years of peaceful struggle and what do you want us to do? Just Die?

    We will fight for our rights.

  • October 4, 2011 at 5:11 am
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    Dear Cubans,
    We Tamils always looked Cuba’s revolution with great pride as bunch of dedicated good guys overthrown powerful in the mean time pupet dictator. Many including Prabakaran has Che Guvaras picture in many of this places. Personally in my life time I planned to visit Cuba once and take a picture next to Che Guevara’s Monument and Mausoleum. Che and Fidel capture the imagination of poor oppressed people all over the world and importantly give HOPE. We all wondered when Cuba supported a tyrant/killer/racist hate monger Rajapakse government, we all felt very bad and saddened by the move. As Rudra pointed out clearly should be a communication gap. Please help Thamils. If you like to see what is going on send people to the north and east and find out. Just across the palk-strait the honest and revolutionist called Seeman always show up with Che’s picture on his shirt or t-shirt. We understood and appreciate your struggle. Please don’t reject Thamils struggle. If any other country does it doesn’t make much difference, when Cuba does that hurts. Greetings to all people in Cuba!

  • October 4, 2011 at 3:42 am
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    Very funny and ignorant article for terrorist money,

    Severely deal with maximum punishment to anyone who give support to Tamil terrorist who are worse than Al-Qaeda.

  • October 4, 2011 at 3:16 am
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    The Tamil lived in the Island of Sri Lanka for many years as a separate nation. It was the British who unified the two nations in that island for ease of administrative purpose. When the British left the Island they did not put it back the way they found it, leading to brutality and genocide of minority Tamils by the majority Sri Lanka military. Its time for all the civilised nations in the world to recognise the right of self determination and independedce of the Tamils. Justice for Tamils han=ve been denied for long and its shame if other independent nations soon act on this matter.

  • October 4, 2011 at 2:56 am
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    Rudrakumaran is “elected” or contrived himself to be the imaginary PM of an imaginary state while many of his fellow men and women are struggling in the country. To the “PM” the people are his stocks and shares from a distance which provide him the asset and liquid cash. Rudrakumaran is floating on this liquid cash. He might have been writing articles in Harvard or elsewhere – that does not make any impact. Such credentials simply supplies a “credit card” to crooks.

  • October 4, 2011 at 2:42 am
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    This article remind me of how poor sri lankan diplomats in europe, cant undestand a subject, cant discuss a subject, cant see a future prospects in any angle, completely unacceptable to european system or cant understand rhe system………..

  • October 4, 2011 at 1:43 am
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    oh my god
    do these terrorists think that they can win support of countries like cuba who with stood with lanka for generations with this bogus claims and doctored videos. For a instance LTTE is banned as a terrorist organization in the most of the world categorized as the most barbaric of them old, who invented the suicide west, using child soldiers using their own people as human shield and killing them. their in human activities are legendary, apart from 1000s of sinhal,tamil,muslim civilians brutally killed, they have managed to kill two world leaders. with all this, this man still have no shame in openly associate with them….i dont think, cuban people will fall in to this barbarians…

  • October 4, 2011 at 1:04 am
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    Yes,we Cubans and Latin Americans must not support the genocidal Sri Lankan state against the Tamils just because the Americans and Europeans are pushing for a war crimes investigation on Sri Lanka.If Che Guevara had been alive today then he would have supported the independence of Tamils or would have gone to Tamil Eelam to fight for it’s independence from racist state of Sri Lanka

  • October 3, 2011 at 9:25 pm
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    Yes. Pls try this man for crimes he commited. Many families in North still Cry for their loved ones lost. They still act like Leaders of Tamils. We don’t want this kind of criminals to lead us anymore.

  • October 3, 2011 at 9:20 pm
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    Rudrakumaran here is a man who recruited children and women as suicide bombers to fight for his so called independance state while he himself living in comforts in the US. Sooner or later he should be tried for crimes he commited against mostly tamils in northern Srilanka forcing them to die for a cause not everyone wanted. He or his so called dead partner Terror leader gave tamils in North of Srilanka no choice but to join them or die. As we want an investigation in to war crimes commited in Srilanka by any party, we specially want So called exiled leader Rudra and others living in the west in comforts while making our lives so miserable here tried first.

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