By A Political Activist –
Maneenthiran also known as Parathi was shot dead on the night of the 8th of November as he exited the offices of the Tamil Coordinating Committee (TCC) at 341 Rue Des Pyrenees in Paris. The timing of his execution was not coincidental. It was the evening on which diaspora organisations were hosting a banquet for members of parliament, including senior members of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, who had travelled from all around the world to attend the World Tamil Conference; which, had just passed a resolution calling for an independent international investigation into war crimes and crimes and crimes against humanity committed by all parties to the conflict during the final stages of the civil war in Sri Lanka.
Despite sources close to the Sri Lankan government attributing his death to internecine fighting between various factions, the TCC has been unequivocal in who lay behind Parathi’s murder, i.e. a Sri Lankan death squad. They key to this lies behind the change in stance of the TCC itself. For the first time in four years the annual event which it organises on the 27th of November will be commemorated as “marveerar thinam” or great heroes’ day rather than “Tamil remembrance day”. Furthermore, the TCC and Parathi were instrumental in organising the demonstrations against Rajapakse when he visited the United Kingdom to attend the Queen’s diamond jubilee celebrations in June this year resulting in his humiliating retreat. Parathi not only helped coordinate the demonstration but also arranged several busloads of demonstrators to travel from France and Switzerland. Fed up with three and a half of years of inaction the Tamils diaspora are getting restive. Parathi and the TCC, which has its finger on the pulse of exiled Tamils, were responding to this by adopting a more aggressive posture. The reorganisation which the TCC subject itself to is designed to counter the Sri Lankan state in every spectra.
Rivalries have simmered within the diaspora with some on rare occasion bubbling over into violent confrontation. Scores are settled with staves and knives but have never been fatal. Even during the bitter fratricidal orgy in which the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam eliminated its rivals, not one was subject to a professional assassination of the type Parathi fell victim to in a western capital city. The other alarming feature of Parathi’s assassination is that it has come at a time when the two major protagonists in Paris were shedding their differences and seeking to unite and confront the Sri Lankan state.
The disturbing aspect of Parathi’s assassination is the manner in which it was executed. The assassins took every measure to conceal their identity, wearing helmets and scarves. Diaspora sources also believe that Parathi had been under observation for some time to establish a pattern of behaviour. The first shot which debilitated Parathi was discharged by the assassins from a handgun while in motion on a motorcycle. They then executed him with a double-tap -two consecutive shots discharged at close range in the area of largest body mass- and only fled the scene after confirming his death.
The first thing which crossed the mind of many was its similarity to that of the assassinations of Lasantha Wickremetunge and Tamil National Alliance Member of Parliament Nadarajah Raviraj. Visiting dignitaries at the World Tamil Conference were of the unanimous view that this was the work of a Sri Lankan death squad and that Paris had been chosen because it provided a historical context for rivalry and ease of get away. One activist said that the “Sri Lankan politico-military establishment, after failing to counter the political activism of diaspora organisations through their diplomatic posts in western capital cities are now resorting to using terror an attempt to cow us into silence”. Another said that “exporting this strategy to the United Kingdom, where the threshold for such killings is set at zero, is bound to have severe repercussions for Sri Lanka”. Indeed, to do so would be to cross the Rubicon, and, reinforce the perception that is fomenting in the corridors of power in western liberal democracies that Sri Lanka is a failed state; and, that failed states inevitably regress to become rogue states.