By Colombo Telegraph –
A meeting organised by the Global Tamil Forum, the umbrella organization which is trying hard to engulf all the Tamil diaspora fronts in Europe, North America and Australia, was disrupted and its leaders booed by the participants, Colombo Telegraph learns.
The meeting which was held in London on July7,2012 was attended by activists from various diaspora organizations , such as British Tamil Forum (BTF), International Secretariat of the LTTE, Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE), LTTE Head Quarters in London.
Talking to Colombo Telegraph GTF spokes person said “Sri Lankan government agents and some agitated Tamils” were behind this sabotaging attempt. But Colombo Telegraph reliably learnt that people who questioned GTF leadership was Tamil hardliners who want remove its present leadership.
The most prominent activists of the GTF, Rev. Fr. S.J.Emmanuel and Mr.Suren Surendiran were the two organisers who received the most troublesome welcome from the participants in the history of GTF. Both the leaders were not allowed to make any speeches from the beginning of the meeting and so many questions were thrown towards them on various issues during question time. But Suren Surendiran denied the claim saying he made a presentation. ( See the interview below). Rev. Fr. Emmanuel and Mr. Surenthiran were put in a tight corner with questions concerning their activities like secretly meeting with world leaders like Sonia Gandhi and receiving donations from various individuals and international organisations. Above all, many participants engaged in shouting at the leaders over the press reports that the GTF had welcomed the recommendations submitted by the LLRC to the government of Sri Lanka.
The organisers hired the services of personal security guards to the meeting anticipating trouble from the participants even though the number of participants was limited to 50.
One activist belonging to the British Tamil Forum (BTF) was ousted by the security guards from the venue. He was involved in shouting too many questions at the organisers and refused to co-operate to conduct the meeting. Other participants booed and demanded an apology from the organisers for this action but the organisers refused to budge and warned the participants similar action if they didn’t allow to conduct the meeting peacefully.
One source close to GTF told that this misbehaviour of participants was directed by the BTF people as they were trying to wrest control of the GTF by removing the present leaders from the top positions. Allegedly the BTF is currently controlled by Tamil hard-line representatives in the UK. They are said to be still controlling the monies collected from the Tamils living in the UK and trying to expand their power base in other countries by wrestling the leadership of the GTF.
Suren Surendiran’s explanation;
Q. In the GTF meeting which was held in London on July7,2012 you and Fr. SJ Emmanuel were received the most troublesome welcome from the participants in the history of GTF. Both of you were not allowed to make any speeches from the beginning of the meeting. What is your response about this?
A. Far from the truth. Father and I made separate presentations, we had a very engaging Q&A of at least 23 questions. However there were also a few disruptions from suspected and known Sri Lankan Government Agents
Q.did you and SJ Emmanuel secretly meet Sonia Gandhi? What was the outcome of that meeting?
A.The GTF has meetings with several world leaders and has scheduled further meetings in the near future. We do not individually comment on each and everyone of them. However when we had mutually agreed, GTF has made several press statements in past.
Q.Did your membership accuse you for that meeting?
A.The purpose of the meeting was to seek feedback from the Tamil Diaspora on our journey so far, on future strategy and next steps in seeking justice for those whose lives were prematurely snuffed out by perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Also in the process of attaining a durable political solution which recognises the Tamil peoples’ democratic rights in the Island. This was part of a series of meetings GTF has conducted in Canada, Norway, Australia etc. in the past few months.
People were very engaging in sharing their views and thoughts. As mentioned before, 23 questions is not a small number after two separate presentations. We are very encouraged.
A.Were you and SJ were accused for receiving donations from various international orgs and individuals?
Q.No. The topic never arose from the audience as far as I can recall. As part of my presentation, I highlighted that the GTF receives funding not just from its members but also NGOs and friendly governments.
A. Why did you hire personal security guards?
Q. We had reports that agents acting on behalf of the Sri Lankan government were liable to disrupt it. We conduct our meetings like any professional outfit does and we consider all eventualities.
Q. According to your knowledge who is behind this questioning and misbehavior ?
A. As mentioned before suspected and known Sri Lankan Government Agents and a couple of other genuine Tamils who were slightly aggitated due to misunderstanding of some parts of Father’s and my presentations.
Another participant of the meeting wishes to remain anonymous gave below explanation;
The deliberate procrastination of Rajapakse regime to find an amicable political solution within the united Sri Lanka is undoing all the “peace” achieved at the sacrifice of many thousands of lives from the both side of ethnic divide. All the blame for attributed to the LTTE armed resistance cannot be blamed on them anymore but on the government as their adversaries have maintained their silence.
During the height of the military campaign Rajapakse regime pledged for Tamil support by promising a political solution more than the 13th amendment. The inaction and inability of the present government demonstrate their preference to seek an agenda for power and support rather than development and democracy
The meeting was continuation of meetings in Norway and Canada and their inputs reflected in this meeting. These sentiments were shared with other foreign governments and foreign ministries as well.
There is hardly any communication between the groups who participated. Many had come there to level accusations against each other rather than discussions on the deliberations of GTF. GTF has been the organisation who was helping hundreds of orphans and children, also many more widows numbering more than thousand more than any charity organisation in the UK.
In support of their charity efforts, another chapter of GTF in South Asia has rallied their government and received one million dollars for their rehabilitation and livelihood support for widows. Further to the support, they have promised to support dollar to match dollar in their future fund raising.
BTF attended with an organised strength to question the GTF even though BTF is the British chapter of GTF. BTF claims the credit for largest march organised during the height of the Mullivaikaal campaign. The legitimacy of GTF was challenged when the BTF was not itself represented in the GTF. The original number of organisation have not continued to pay the annual membership fee and their membership has dwindled to one third.
Tamil diaspora leadership will be in crisis if the responsibility continues to rest with the same who had obliterated many democratic voices of diaspora and trashed many organisations. If these leaders cannot acknowledge the survivors of Mullivaikaal and the organs that lead the Mullivaikaal campaign in the UK, these activists are leading the community into the abyss of self-destruction.
GTF spokesperson claimed that GTF is not just interested in removing the Rajapakses but the system.
When confronted with the frank question, “Has GTF abandoned separate state of Thamil Eelam?” GTF spokesperson declared openly that they will not campaign on separate state. It is an unimaginable exercise to continue a meeting after this declaration a few months back. Hardly any relevant participants responded with any political objection. It is the first time any diaspora organisation of political worthiness has come forward with such objective political agenda. Every organisation that gave up the cause of separate state among diaspora has sacrificed their support base. Unless GTF gain substantial political leverage to achieve their political aspirations, they will be also rejected by the diaspora.
The adopted strategy of four pillars is highly diluted by adopting TNA thinking of GTF. Diaspora is not bound by 6th amendment or 18th amendment. When diaspora is completely kept out by denying dual citizenship with cold reception for political engagement in Sri Lanka, GTF seeks to draw in line with TNA is dichotomy. The thinking of engagement is alien to aspirations of Tamil diaspora but an international agenda. Some attendees called the leaders of GTF as Indian agents and American lackeys. When it was levied against Fr. Emmanuel, the participants unanimously shouted against the minority of BTF members to leave the meeting.
First time, a diaspora meeting in London was conducted with door keepers and/or bouncers. When GTF spokesperson challenged a participant against his anonymous letter campaign, the participant stood up to defend him and when he saw the Security guards entering, called upon them to arrest him and chose to leave the scene willy-nilly. However there was no serious altercation, the concept of employing bouncers to conduct meeting has invited chagrin of the participants.