By July 28, 20170 CommentsReport

Rudrakumaran: Man with a Mission in Pursuit of Eelam

With Rudrakumaran at the helm there is hope and somehow there is no doubt he will do everything in his power to keep hope alive – and I know the Maveerar are smiling…because of him; they know the non-violent fight for Tamil Eelam is in good hands!

by Usha Sriskandarajah, July 26, 2017

Visuvanathan Rudrakumaran’s 60th birthday came and went this month without any fanfare – for a man who declines any and all fuss around him, he wouldn’t have it any other way!

Rudrakumaran, the Prime Minister of the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE) has only one mission and one end goal – and that’s an independent and flourishing Tamil Eelam – his work, outside of his law profession, involves constantly exploring and reviewing the options and processes open to Tamils towards achieving this – some say, a lofty ideal – for him certainly not – for it is a sacred one. No matter how arduous a journey, Rudrakumaran is undeterred and this is what endears him to his followers. A leader of his caliber would be hard to find – although he is not in the least bit interested in becoming a cult figure – for he remains wholly faithful to those who gave their precious lives in the pursuit of Eelam.

Alongside Eelam, Rudrakumaran is fiercely rooted to securing justice for, and ending for good, the continuing genocide committed on the Tamil people. And just as he told Taylor Dibbert in an interview recently, until the, “victims receive justice he will not rest.”

Knowing how driven and fixated he is on the mission at hand with the kind of laser sharp focus and intellect required, I see him as having what it takes to stay on course and stay focused, for the long haul if necessary.

Remaining steadfast, forthright and resolute, despite the numerous obstacles and challenges before him, Rudrakumaran marches on undaunted, with a confidence that imbues confidence. Unmoved by detractors, his strong will, hard work and unwavering commitment are ample proof he has the wherewithal to go the distance; not to forget he possesses the kind of grit and determination that’s needed at this critical time; in order not to lose the momentum the TGTE has achieved after the armed struggle was dealt a heavy blow in 2009 and the whole freedom movement suffered a huge loss, in material and human cost, unable to abate a massive onslaught by the Sri Lankan armed forces; this, when Sri Lanka unilaterally abrogated a ceasefire in force and waged a cruel and brutal war – breaking the Geneva Conventions and committing the most heinous of mass atrocity crimes involving large scale government shelling of innocent Tamil civilians, and the alleged use of cluster bombs and chemical and other illegal weapons – best described as a continuing genocide on a people – hitherto unimaginable – a genocide which a renowned international human rights lawyer, Geoffrey Robertson, when giving his considered legal opinion ahead of the passage of the US sponsored resolution HRC 30/1, said, “had to be litigated.“

It was on the 16th of June 2009 that the appointment of an ‘Advisory Committee’ was announced to, “explore the modalities for its establishment,” that led to TGTE’s formation in May 2010. On this day both democratically elected and appointed Members of Parliament, representing significant countries took their place in the first TGTE parliament, where the TGTE constitution with a bicameral legislature was ratified and Rudrakumaran was chosen Prime Minister.

From then until now, it would not be wrong to say Rudrakuamran has played a major role in carving out a political space for the Eelam Tamil people, just as the founders envisaged; a space to freely articulate their political aspirations and demands, one that is lacking in the homeland – Rudrakumaran insisting, “the Diaspora and the homeland being two sides of the same coin.” And as TGTE’s Prime Minister, he has been hugely responsible for lifting the sagging morale of a people devastated by war and war weary, at home and in the Diaspora and in changing the means and the method of the struggle; the TGTE believing in soft power, rather than military power to attain its goals.

Rudrakumaran has taken on a herculean task, the whole weight of the expectations of the Eelamist cause on his shoulders. The ‘Road Map to Eelam’ that was drafted initially by the TGTE Senate has now widened in scope with the introduction of a very ambitious ‘Action Plan’ that centers round “nation building” in preparation for the future – the seeds of which will be cultivated and grown in the Diaspora – indeed a unique futuristic transnational concept that the TGTE will be working on.

The TGTE, spearheaded by Rudrakumaran, is very much an audacious political force in Sri Lanka’s eyes, posing a threat to its divisive, condescending, bigoted and wholly singular Sinhala Buddhist supremacist philosophy and to its continuing culture of impunity for mass atrocity crimes. Despite being banned in Sri Lanka, TGTE functions freely everywhere else in the world – committed in whole to upholding the laws of the countries where ever its members are residing in.  Although annoyed, Rudrakumaran calls the ban a, “badge of honour,” and when asked if he would visit Sri Lanka, he sees the ban as an “obstacle” saying, the “removal (of the designation of TGTE as a terrorist entity) is the first step”: “We are not concerned about the penal consequences, but it is a matter of dignity for the Tamils,” he told Dibbert, stating he would, “visit to negotiate a timetable to find a permanent solution for the Tamil people through transparent, peaceful and democratic means by holding a referendum to find the wishes of the Tamil people about the type of political solution they want.”

Impervious and unfaltering, Rudrakumaran has, right from its inception, steered the TGTE admirably, moved by a boundless reservoir of faith, drawing inspiration from the maveerar (martyrs)  and working, of course, with some committed people around him.  Essentially there’s been no turning back for the TGTE from where it began.  Although all its members are volunteers, the TGTE team – the cabinet, the secretariat, the PMO and Members including the Senate, ably led by Rudrakumaran, work tirelessly on the projects, initiatives and ministries they’re or have been involved in – some of which are highlighted here:

  • Promulgating a Charter of Rights for Tamil Eelam following a wide ranging survey seeking opinions from the wider Tamil polity – known as the Tamil Eelam Freedom Charter inspired by the Magna Carta and the Charter of Rights of the ANC and that of the Palestinians;
  • Calling for a UN monitored ‘Protection Mechanism’ in the NorthEast. It’s to be noted that the High Commissioner for Human Rights in his report at the 34th session of the UNHRC at long last did recommend a ‘UN Country Presence’, “calling for the OHCHR to be invited to establish a full-fledged country presence to monitor the situation of human rights, to advise on the implementation of the recommendations made by the High Commissioner and the Human Rights Council in its resolutions including complying with Sri Lanka’s transitional justice obligations, and to provide technical assistance”;
  • Taking the fight for justice and freedom to the international arena through diplomacy and engagement – kept ongoing by kept ongoing by the Prime Minister, PM’s Office, Senate and TGTE Members in their own countries of residence and/or in Geneva when the sessions are in progress and in the UN;
  • Following a ‘Road Map’ and a new ‘Massive Action Plan’ the long term goal being ‘Nation Building’. Out of 15 items originally listed in the ‘Massive Action Plan” the following 6 items have been shortlisted: Publications, Archives, and Documentation Centre 2. ’Yes to Referendum’ Peoples Movement: 3. Land Protection Programme 4. Tamil studies Advisory Council 5. World Tamil University 6. World Tamil Chambers of Commerce
  • Marking The National Day of Mourning every 18th Delivery of Hero’s Day speech by the Prime Minister every 27thNovember as well as the marking of Tamil Heritage Week and Thamilar Thiru Naal in January;
  • Promoting the ‘Yes to Referendum People’s movement – meaning pursuing a referendum conducted by the UN for an independent Tamil Eelam with all political options on the form, to be decided by long term residents of the homeland and members of the Eelam Tamil Diaspora: “This movement will insist that the right to self-determination, the opportunity to determine their own political destiny, should be offered to Eelam Tamils in the same manner as it was given to the people of Québec in Canada and the people of Scotland in Britain. This people’s movement will create action groups in different countries, made up of not only Tamils but also of members of the international community.”
  • Conducting international campaigns like the signature campaign, that gathered more that 1.6million signatures, to refer Sri Lanka to the International Criminal Court;
  • Issuing of Tamil Eelam National Card to Eelam nationals, their spouses and children;
  • Holding international athletic and other sports events involving youth, children and the community;
  • Recognising individuals who have contributed to the Eelam cause and to humanity;
  • Conducting the annual Mullivaikkaal Memorial lecture, naming each year an individual who has contributed to preserving and promoting human rights and freedom to deliver it;
  • Pursuing initiatives assisting women, widows, children, refugees, victims of human rights abuses, victims of torture, the missing and disappeared and former cadres and maveerar;
  • Submitting petitions and memorandums to politicians and to the UN for action and for purposes of educating them; mobilizing the community and leading protests and demonstrations, in front of the UN, foreign embassies, No 10 Downing Street, Ottawa and other locations;
  • Passing resolutions and releasing press statements, preparing and publishing papers and informative booklets on various subjects, historical events and political and human rights issues that are of concern and of public interest;
  • Holding annual conferences and panel discussions on human rights when an issue so warrants. On the 40thanniversary of the ‘Vaddukoddai Resolution’ the TGTE held a panel discussion composed of speakers connected with newly independent countries such as South Sudan (from both factions), East Timor and Kosovo.
  • Pursuing initiatives, such as the ‘communication’ being filed to mount a challenge, at the UN Human Rights Committee, to Sri Lanka’s 6th Amendment to the constitution which criminalizes any peaceful advocacy for an independent state – solidifying, in Rudrakumaran’s words, the legitimacy of an independent state; TGTE calling on lawyers to support this initiative, had an event in Canada which was attended by Barbara Jackman and Professor David Matas among others.
  • Appointing a high level, independent, Monitoring Accountability Panel (MAP) to monitor and report on Sri Lanka’s implementation of UN Human Rights Resolution 30/1 (and now reappointed to monitor Resolution 34/1); In fact at the 34th session of the UNHRC the Panel, called for an ICC referral if Sri Lanka does not comply within one year and, “noted with concern,” that Resolution 34/1 fell short of the desired, “strict benchmarks and deadlines (that needed to be set by the Council) for implementing transitional justice mechanisms established in Resolution 30/1.” It must be mentioned that the TGTE was opposed to granting Sri Lanka any more time extensions, although MAP which functioned independently recommended a one year extension with consequences such as an ICC referral for non-compliance.
  • Establishment of TGTE’s Center for the Prosecution and Prevention of Genocide. The Center’s mandate is not limited to the genocide of Tamils;
  • Preparing dossiers on Sri Lanka’s war criminals using expert legal minds who are experienced in prosecuting war criminals – so that arrest warrants can be readily sought and issued when they travel to Europe, America or other parts of the world;

Rudrakumaran, in preparing such dossiers, is thinking ahead and is looking to other avenues to prosecute Sri Lankan individuals who have committed war crimes. Telling Dibbert he won’t, “sit as passive observers” – and recalling the words of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, he reveals TGTE’s intention “to bring domestic prosecutions against Sri Lankan leaders” invoking, “universal jurisdiction.”

Whilst the rest of the world hesitated to call it genocide and as the word, as he pointed out, “had not sunk well in the collective minds of the international community,” Rudrakumaran is unbending, insisting what happened and was happening to the Tamils in Sri Lanka was and is genocide. Whilst even many Tamils struggled to call it genocide, perceiving the international community has to be right in their view, that the crime of genocide, needing proof of intention, requires a higher burden of proof, Rudrakumaran wouldn’t budge, warning that the, “toughest challenge that lies ahead,” is to convince the international community of that fact. And for a fact, sure enough, many Tamils have now come round to his way of thinking – with internationally renowned lawyer Geoffrey Robertson QC saying genocide, “is a question that needs to be litigated.”

Whereas many questioned the wisdom of TGTE’s call to refer Sri Lanka to the International Criminal Court, when Sri Lanka was not a signatory to the Rome Statute, Rudrakumaran took his campaign to the world and amassed 1.6 million signatures. It is noteworthy the High Commissioner for Human Rights has recommended in his report at the 34th session of the UNHRC that Sri Lanka sign up to both the Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions – relating to victims of armed conflicts, and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) – where war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide are prosecuted.

Rudrakumaran has been always vying for a two state solution (as two separate states) and believes that it is compatible with the best interests of both Sinhalese and Tamils: In 2013 he maintained that, “the two state solutions has the potential to make way for the Tamil people to live as friendly neighbours with the Sinhala people.”

Rudrakumaran’s insights as far as Tamil Eelam’s strategic location is concerned should serve as an eye opener to both India and to Tamils. While Southern Sri Lanka is heavily in debt to China and in most part leased to China, Rudrakumaran, sensing the changing geopolitical scene, as far back as November 2012 in a BBC Tamil interview, pointed to a perfect synergy that could be achieved, believing that,” India’s best interests globally and Tamil Eelam’s national interests did coincide.”  In April 2013, in view of President Obama’s ‘pivot to Asia’ policy, Rudrakumaran stressed the importance of Tamil unity and the need for a “unified Tamil power,” to emerge, “that could enable Tamils to influence the course of events in the Indian Ocean and in the South Asian geo-political stage in a meaningful manner.”

Rudrakumaran, in his New Year message, predicts 2017 will be a “challenging year” for Tamils as “Sri Lanka will make some treacherous moves,” he fears. It began as he said with, “President Sirisena’s letter to President Trump asking him to drop all charges of war crimes against Sri Lanka,” Rudrakumaran, warning also of the futility of giving Sri Lanka any extensions to implement Resolution 30/1, calling on everyone to “defeat this challenge” and to take that as their “primary duty” – yet it got rolled over as 34/1 with the Tamil opposition party taking the government line.

True to Rudrakumaran’s concerns, Ben Emmerson, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counter-Terrorism visiting Sri Lanka in his report confirms Rudrakumaran’s misgivings exactly: “Two years on and already four months into a two-year extension granted to the Government by the Human Rights Council, progress in achieving the key goals set out in the Resolution is not only slow but seems to have ground to a virtual halt,” Ben Emmerson stated.

Rudrakumaran also warns of another challenge that awaits and “that is for the Tamil people to frustrate the deceptive scheme of Sinhala (politicians) to win the consent of the Tamil people to the new constitution whose political systems fail to satisfy any of the Tamil people’s political aspirations.” And further he warns of another challenge before the Tamil nation; and that, “..is a treacherous attempt to gather the votes of the Tamil people in a countrywide voting on the new constitution. In this voting is the danger of some of our Tamil leaders themselves saying the new constitution is beneficial to the Tamils, thereby hiding the conspiracy of the Sinhala state..,” Rudrakumaran said. “To stop the Tamil leaders in their tracks from abetting this deception is the Tamil people’s Responsibility,” for 2017, Rudrakumaran pointed out.

Rudrakumaran wants Sri Lanka referred to the International Criminal Court rejecting both a domestic and a hybrid mechanism. He feels a ‘Truth and Reconciliation Commission’ is a diversionary tactic. He is waiting after the international investigation is complete for the UNHRC to start the process to dispense remedial justice. In a statement released July 24, to mourn the 34th anniversary of  Black July – the 1983 pogrom against the Tamil People, the TGTE did not mince words when it opined that, “Had Tamils been given remedial justice as reparation to the 1983 racial pogrom in the form of an independent state, 2009 Mullaivaaikaal Genocide would have been averted.”

Whilst others have lowered their sights, expectations and demands, thinking Tamil Eelam is an impossible dream, Rudrakumaran is a man of steel when it comes to staying the course. He can’t, he won’t relent, or back away from staying resolute and true to his mission, because if he does, that would mean betraying the Tamil people who are counting on him, to carry the mantle; keep the fire burning, realize every freedom fighter’s dream and fly the Tamil Eelam flag up high and one day most definitely see it flying in the United Nations!

With Rudrakumaran at the helm there is hope and somehow there is no doubt he will do everything in his power to keep hope alive – and I know the Maveerar are smiling…because of him; they know the non-violent fight for Tamil Eelam is in good hands!


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