Time is up for mature debates on the exclusive dealings involving the new government of President Maithiripala Sirisena/ Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Tamil National Alliance (TNA) with the UK based Global Tamil Forum (GTF). Though wider debates and expressions of discontents are taking place in the Tamil electronic and broadcasting media, the English media is taking a blind approach of rejuvenation from such polarising engagement.
The pulses of the cross section of the expatriate Tamils in the UK is seemingly detesting over the secrecy and exclusivity bestowed in the dealings with the GTF. Since the cosy relationship started, the GTF has become headstrong and an underdog within the wider Tamil community and its very survival to extend its relationship further will come under formidable pressures.
GTF is the present day manifestation of the LTTE’s one man World Federation of Tamils (WFT) that changed its name to International Federation of Tamils (IFT) in the late 1990’s. Initial attempts to take over the WTF by the LTTE’s manipulative international fund manager in the early 1990’s was not successful. Both WFT and IFT were in existence for few years managed by two fractions until the LTTE’s international head was booted out of the LTTE by Pirabakaran. Official WTF adopted the IFT name in the late 1990’s. IFT went through a name sake change to Global Tamil Forum (GTF) during the peak of the blitz on the LTTE fundraising efforts in 2007/08 by the British security establishment.
The name change took place in parallel, with the active LTTE front- the United Tamil Organisation (UTO) too. UTO changed its name to British Tamil Association (BTA) with the proscription of the LTTE in the UK in 2000 and then the name changed further to British Tamil Forum (BTF) with the end of the LTTE’s arms struggle. Following the defeat of the LTTE in May 2009, some efforts were made to give semblance of democracy or organisational structure for the BTF.
The Tansnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE) founded with blessing of the LTTE’s arms procurer Selvarasa Pathmanathan (KP) is the only LTTE linked organisation that exercised some experience of overt democracy by holding its inaugural general elections in 2010. Despite the all-round effort of vote rigging by the very hard core LTTE activists/hoodlums, the election proved reasonably successful but the distasteful experience of holding the first election prevented the GTF from holding any further public elections fearing all out dishonesty by the hard-core trouble making LTTE activists.
The new government in Sri Lanka was all out to have some influence over the hard-core LTTE activists in the UK to avoid mass protests and campaigns experienced in the Mahinda Rajapakse era. Secret meetings arranged by a German NGO – Berghof Foundation, facilitated engagements with the GTF, BTF, TGT and a pro LTTE Norwegian Tamil organisation. No efforts were made by this NGO to engage the wider Tamil political campaign groups. German NGO’s effort, as claimed, found the way for the GTF to engage exclusively with the government and the TNA at the expense of other organisations.
TGT’s very agenda of a separate state of Tamil Eelam excluded them from further engagement on the German NGO effort. BTF walked out, as it was outside their scope of being a agitation/campaigning group. This paved the way for the elusive five men GTF to wholly engage with the government and the TNA to dictate their terms on behalf of the wider Tamil Diaspora.
It is essential to know how GTF came to dominance. As stated, GTF was initially a name sake organisation of the BTF to do its international business. All the present five member activists were initially members of the BTF. Family feud between GTF spokesman Suren Surendran and present BTF head Root Ravi led to the expulsion (by compulsions) of Suren Surendran, Fr Emanuel, Sen Kandiah and others from the BTF. Weakened Surendran & Co., clung on to the GTF and progressed on their five men wagon.
Suren Surendran is detested for his enfeebling methodologies and he solely progressed with the help of Fr. Emanuel to make far reaching contacts and also consolidated his contacts already established through the BTF. For instance, a meeting arranged with the late South African Radhakrishna Lutchmana “Roy” Padayachie, who was the Minister of Public Service and of the Republic of South Africa by the TNA UK branch, was a bonanza for Suren Surendran. With that first contact, he was able to strengthen his ties with him further.
Suren Surendran is a very divisive figure who had played the role of segmenting the Tamil Diaspora to promote and progress his version of the pro LTTE agenda. Divisiveness is such that he enjoys exclusivity to deal with issues himself without furthering and reaching the broader Tamil opinions. ‘Global’, a broader term is used for Suren Surendran’s self-centric parochial agenda. Exclusivity enjoyed by determinedly avoiding to engage with the other opinions backed by unexplained financial resources of the GTF gave an edge to Suren Surendran.
There is widespread belief that GTF is funded by a country. It is presumed that either Switzerland or South Africa is funding them to bull horse their way forward, undermining all other Tamil voices of the Diaspora. There needs greater clarity of the organizational structure of the GTF and resources at its disposal in the wider public interest.
The meeting held in Singapore recently with the engagement of the government of Sri Lanka and the TNA was an effort of the GTF without any wider consensus to deal with the issues needing broader participation. The secrecy in which this meeting was held was exposed in the media and still the answers are not forthcoming as to why such silence is required for the meeting with a club few men with the misleading grandiose global name.
GTF is not backed by any other Tamil organisations including the BTF or TGT. Engagement with the BTF, TGT and other groups confirm the extent of the deep down frustration across the Tamil Diaspora over the exclusivity enjoyed by a club of few belonging to the GTF.
The discussion meeting facilitated by the newly formed Non Resident Tamils of Sri Lanka held on 9th October was attended by some leading voices in the Tamil Diaspora in the UK and there were expressions of deep frustration over the government-TNA’s exclusive engagement with the GTF. Whilst the TNA’s stand on the involvement with the government was seen as a step in the right direction, exclusively dealing with the GTF came under heavy criticism.
GTF that attempts to sit on moral high grounds will not attempt to make public statements to bring an end to the culture of hate mongering and anti-activities by the hard-core LTTE clans that the government is trying to outmanoeuvre with the help of the LTTE fronts. The peaceful wider diaspora of over 80 per cent are held at ransom by these elements that the GTF would like to sustain for their own glorification and long term survival.
Non PhD / October 19, 2015
Which group or groups you belong to ?
UPFA, SLFP, UNP , Gang of 4 , …. ?
Kumar R. / October 19, 2015
Well said Non-PhD.
If the request for transparency came from some other than Rajasingham, I would not have that much reservation.
But this request, as many previous ones seem suspiciously of personal, self-serving motivation, rather than of public interest. I make that assessment based on:
(a) The urge and vehemence obvious in the unnecessary castigation, if not condemnation of every other Diaspora and Tamil group as subservient to LTTE, pointlessly. Is this request a genuine one for disclosures of the ongoing discussions between the negotiators, or a mere cover for vile and wild condemnation of parties that refuse to accommodate the Rajasinham for either personal or other reasons?
(b) In view of Rajasingham’s regular pattern of withdrawal and disappearance whenever pressed for details of any of his initiatives, rather than being forthright.
In reading Rajasingham’s conclusive assessment on “the pulses of the cross section of the expatriate Tamils in the UK”, I wonder if that has some semblance of credibility unlike that previous attempt at reading Paddy famer sentiment via four or five tuk-tuk driver chats in Colombo, on unsubstantiated claim that those tuk-tuk operators are somehow Paddy Farmer descendants, never mind how comical that discussion ended up!
Hope Rajasingham will change strategy and be “transparent” (his own seeming advocacy!) in responding to your query.
Here is my thought: Rajasingham is quite complementary of “newly formed Non Resident Tamils of Sri Lanka“ in the penultimate passage. My recollection is that there was an article in CT by this group a couple of months ago, and their mandate specifically included “transparency” aside from a focus towards initiatives to regain Diaspora rights to lands left behind, cloaked as helping the villagers. A few of us asked for details. However, when asked for more transparency of the group, the group seemingly dove underground pretty fast and deep, at least on this blog. Is this request merely an attempt to give that group some sunlight?
In that regard, my simple request is, first practice transparency before advocating it! Please respond “transparently” to non-PhD.
Nirmala N / October 20, 2015
How come we too are together in hating the Rajasingham brothers.
Though he makes sense in his article, we must oppose Jayadevan brother.
Keep on hammering him in these columns and I will do the same to finish him off.
We have first class experience of fighting a face to face gun battles and we will destroy him with our ley board talents.
Darling! You are me and I am you. Together we are succeeding.
God Kali is with us.
Dr. Gnana Sankaralingam / October 20, 2015
Dear readers of CT,
I am a member of Tamil diaspora. Most of the Tamils in UK belong to the silent majority, who are have self respect and cannot be bought over for money of perks. The only organisaion that has a large following in UK, whether we like it or not is the LTTE. They are going to have a heores day on November 27th which I can predict will be attended by over 10,000 people. All jokers like the above writer are mere publicity seekers who want to show off their importance. If they get a slightest opportunity they will betray their conscience or self respect. I can categorically state that all these jokers put together can never organise any function which will attract more than 100 people. So please do not waste time about these tireless self promoters.
Real Peace / October 23, 2015
Dr Gnanamillatha Sankaralingam
Yes, but, have you ever red the recently published UN war crime report? The LTTE has also been accused of war crimes in this report, hasn’t it? How can you praise an organisation that has been accused of war rimes ?
Vimal Weeravansa is defending Mahinda – tell me doctor what’s the difference between you and VW? VW can also mobile 10,000 crowd and stage a meeting in Colombo. I hardly see any difference between you and VW……!!!
Kumar / October 21, 2015
Uthungan / October 19, 2015
All these expatriate Tamil groupings centred in the UK like the BTF,GTF,TGTE,WTF are all splintered aberrations with a compulsive propensity for playing a version of scrabbles among themselves on Sunday afternoons after having consumed a couple of pints of larger or scotch and nothing more.
I cannot understand why the author of this article or any one else should take them so seriously.
ShrewedauthorRaj / October 20, 2015
The question Rajasingham should ask is why is the GoSL engaging clandestinely with the GTF (a tiny organization with real SOLID analytical capacity).. It’s similar to when Mahinda Rajapakse engaged UK PR(Public relations) firms to whitewash his name within the international system. Lol. But he eventually lost. Next maybe put behind bars by 2020 in the Hague.
Most of the Tamils of Jaffna origin that make most of the diaspora in the west and India are working class professionals and raising kids. If there is a peaceful future lets build on it and contribute to the Jaffna society.
Lanka Liar / October 19, 2015
No group wants him. Occasionally comes out make some noise and go away. Once belonged to you know who then Mahinda then Till. Nobody take him seriously. This character formed a new group recently forgotten the name though.
frmcolombo / October 20, 2015
This writer is [Edited out]
Jaffnese / October 20, 2015
TNA of North&East
JULAMPITIYE AMARAYA / October 19, 2015
To Tamizar Diaspora ;
Discard all bloody Organizations to dustbins.
get all of your hands in hands to be together to call that,
we are Sri Lankans.
That is your Mother land and That is your Sri Lanka.
Any way, There will be no Dream EEZAM In Sri Lanka.
May be in India, but Not in Sri lanka.
LOLsrilankan / October 20, 2015
95% of diaspora are foreign citizens. The sri lankan things is all long gone. THe younger generation has no clue. yet speak Tamil. Lol. Overall we/they CONNECT with Jaffna Tamil population/landlord struture of the Northern Province of Sri Lanka.
If only the Hanuman bridge gets constructed by 2020 to smoothen relationship between North and India!
Moreover it was India that funded & trained initial Jaffna political movements to become militant organizations in the early 1980’s..It will take another 3 decades to nullify that.
Jim softy / October 22, 2015
These diaspora never told their children that during the war, they spent money to get poor tamil youth in Sri lanka to blow among sinhalese. They kept those information away from children.
What a struggle was that.
Native Vedda / October 22, 2015
“That is your Mother land and That is your Sri Lanka.”
You aren’t kiding, are you?
This is the mother land of the chosen people, the Sinhala/Buddhists.
Hope you already have got the permission from them to say what you have just said.
You are going to be in lot of trouble.
Lanka Liar / October 19, 2015
No Tamil or Sinhalease is in need of your advice. please look at a mirror if you have one. You are were a handyman for you know how. The business failed. Now trying to open another shop.
Pygmalion / October 19, 2015
The author of this essay apparently has a grouse with the GTF and Suren Surendran whoever he is.In the Mid 80s there were over a dozen Militant out fits all pursuing the same goal.Some of these groups kicked the ball into their own goal and survived.
I would like to ask the same question posed by Non PhD!
Sellam / October 19, 2015
You speak of the Tamil leadership, Tamil Organisations within Sri Lanka or from Diaspora.
It is sickening, disgusting, scornful, hypercritical, cynical, contemptuous, and arrogant. Nothing else to add. Thank you
kali / October 23, 2015
With all due respect you have taken the attack to a wholly new level which is sickening and not acceptable. He has some valid points. I am not sure whether you are Tamil and if you are I am sure you have a role to play and we are all stakeholders in this.
Kumar R. / October 19, 2015
Can you come to any tuk-tuk type conclusions on the “the pulses of the cross section of the CT commentators” about your particular initiative, based on comments up to now?
Or should we wait for some more to pour in?
Rajash / October 21, 2015
“The pulses …..of the cross section of the expatriate Tamils in the UK is seemingly detesting over the secrecy and exclusivity bestowed in the dealings with the GTF. “
Kumar R …he is now taking the pulses….there is no tuk tuk in London
Laughing out loud ha ha ha…
May be he was taking the pulses of the diaspora visiting the temple in Wembley
Rajash / October 20, 2015
Poor guy , what he mean by transparency required is that every one is ignoring him,
despite all the silly noises he is making.
Sivalingam / October 20, 2015
Comments about the article is grossly directed towards the author. It is very unfortunate.He raised many valid points regarding the conduct of of GTF. These people making contact with the government through back door to make a deal with them. Some quarters within the government wants to show the world and the sinhala extreme elements that diaspora is behind them. It may be OK for them but diaspora should be vigilant and not to give blank cheque to deal with the government. Last 30 years many insisted to have a talk with the government to reduce the sufferings of the Tamil people. This very people resisted and brand them as traitors. Many of the right thinking elements within the diaspora not opposing the talk with the government but it should be transparent to avoid failures. IRA had talks with the British government with open declaration. They said that armed struggle is no more and prepared to work within the Union. GTF and similar organisations never put forward their stance on the agenda of separation. We the diaspora never encouraged hidden agenda in politics.That’s why every body wants transparency when deal with the government. Please go through his main plank of the argument and make fair comment without personalisation.
Kumar R. / October 20, 2015
Why would you characterize as personal attack when someone requests transparency, especially from one who himself is advocating transparency?!
Rajasinghm is naming many in the groups that he seems to loathe. E.g. Root Ravi, Suren Surendran, Fr Emanuel, Sen Kandiah, and their five men wagon. Then he goes on to state “the newly formed Non Resident Tamils of Sri Lanka held on 9th October was attended by some leading voices in the Tamil Diaspora in the UK”
Why not be transparent and specify their names so that at least the UK Diaspora can make an informed judgment on Raqjasingham’s “valid” points as you claim.
In fact given the glowing recommendation that Rajasingham has for this newly formed Non-Resident Tamils of Sri Lanka, one has to wonder if he is an impartial observer, or does he have personal interest in that particular group – transparency on that would certainly help us all make a more informed judgment in that respect too? Is Rajasingham part of the group?
Actually, going one step further, are you yourself part of that group – I ask that only because it seems you are the solitary prop he has in this forum, at least up to now?
How about some transparency?
Kumar R. / October 20, 2015
You suggest “Please go through his main plank of the argument and make fair comment without personalisation.” Can you tell us what exactly is his “main plank of the argument” aside from castigating all other Tamil Diaspora groups as LTTE dominated, and promoting this “newly formed Non-Resident Tamils of Sri Lanka” because of their “expressions of deep frustration over the government-TNA’s exclusive engagement with the GTF?”
At the least, can we have some specifics as to why this “newly formed Non-Resident Tamils of Sri Lanka” should be included in the Govt-TNA’ engagement? Who are these “leading voices in the Diaspora” in the group who have so much to contribute to the engagement?
Don’t you think transparency would help?
Rajash / October 20, 2015
The Sivalingam & Jeyadevan Double act.
Lanka liar / October 23, 2015
Valid points. Looks like you are in the same shop. You cant fool the people this time. Please return everything that you got from people. They belong to them. Just making noice because you are empty that is all. Beat your own drum not Mr J ‘ s drum. Another charractor from the new shop some Diaspora outfit
Raymond / October 20, 2015
The idiotic author must realize that whom the SL Tamils want to associate with or which diaspora group must represent them is left to the local Tamils and their elected representatives, namely TNA. Who is this Jayadevan joker to criticize the decision of TNA. Who is he to tell the government about how to negotiate with local and diaspora groups among Tamils. There are plenty of press reports about the contents of their negotiations. There are no secrets. This idiotic J[Edited out]
K Indran / October 20, 2015
Is it not the case that the author was a leading supporter of LTTE in the past and later fell out with them and then pursued a vendetta against the LTTE by aligning himself with the Rajapakse,s with the help of his lapdogs Sivalingam and others. These guys are the detritus of the Diaspora, just unwanted careerists, just empty egos, not recognised by anyone in the Diaspora.
Kumar R. / October 21, 2015
Now we all understand very well why TNA, SL State and any others DO NOT WANT to engage with you – your DEEP silence says it all! You could not have been more clear!!
kali / October 23, 2015
Having read the Article and the comments I am saddened by the whole thing. I have never flinched from my support for the Tamil Cause and the Tamil suffering and at a time when we are talking about Reconciliation with a Race that has butchered us for the last 67 years we are struggling to Reconcile with ourselves.
My attack on our fellow Tamils has always been on issues and motives and never on them on as individuals.
Some of what the writer has written is open to question and some of the comments and attack on him is equally not justified . On the wider issue it looks to me to be a weakness on our part even at this difficult juncture to play into the hands of the Sinkalams who will do their best to divide and rule to advance their cause.
It must be obvious to anyone that they are fighting the battle as a United Front whereas we are falling apart. I will never play politics with peoples ( Tamil) lives.
Following are some important material for everyone to read. While I can understand the writers Genuine Concern I cant see any fault line with the Statement from GTF.
My appeal to all the Stakeholders IN OUR HOUR OF DESTINY is get your act together and put up a United Front as otherwise History will judge us as Traitors.
Mangala-GTF talks split tamil Diaspora
Monday, June 22, 2015
Talks between Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera and the Global Tamil Forum (GTF) have caused a split among leading Tamil Diaspora organisations.
In response to the discussions between the Foreign Minister and GTF Spokesman Suren Surendiran in the presence of several other parties including former Norwegian peace envoy Eric Solheim, the Senate of the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE) says the GTF, the largest Tamil Diaspora organisation operating in Europe, has no mandate to speak on behalf of the rest of the Diaspora.
V. Rudrakumaran is the ‘Prime Minister’ of the TGTE while Ramsey Clark, Robert Evans, Daniel Mayan, Dr. Brian Seneviratne, Roy Chetty, Gilles Piquois, David Matas, M. Manoharan, Satya Sivaraman, Usha Sriskandarajah, Sathesh Muniyandy, Nagalingam Jeyalingam, Prof. Saraswathi Rajendran, Dr. Thani Cheran and Rajaratnam Subramaniam serve as Senate members of the body.
Criticising the GTF’s stance, the TGTE said: “We can’t afford to shift from our goal – which is two-fold: a. Succeed in urging UN to refer Sri Lanka to the International Criminal Court and ensuring the perpetrators are prosecuted; b. Succeed in achieving an UN sponsored Referendum on an Independent and Sovereign Tamil Eelam.”
“We agree that the immediate needs of the people in the North and East must be met. However, we can’t let the government of Sri Lanka to use it as a ploy to divide us, weaken us and force us to accept whatever crumbs they throw at us.
The immediate needs of the people must be addressed separately and firm action must be taken to alleviate the intolerable sufferings they are going through.
It can’t be tied to our fundamental right of self-determination and reclaiming the sovereignty we have lost,” the Senate members added.
While stating that the GTF had no mandate to speak on behalf of the rest the Diaspora, the TGTE said the TNA member (M.A. Sumanthiran) in London taking part in the negotiations had not got the full support of his own party members either.
“No political solution was mentioned in this so called ‘confidence building exercise’! In the most part it was about raising funds! Sri Lankan governments have played these cunning and deceptive games all along and were successful in deceiving the Tamils, the Tamil politicians and the international community over and over again.
They are aiming to i) by selectively inviting one or two diaspora groups cause division and weaken the diaspora, ii) blunt the call for an independent state and iii) show the international community that they are talking to the TNA and the Tamil diaspora and; iv) divert attention and try to postpone the presentation of the UNHCR investigation on war crimes in Sri Lanka due in September this year,” the TGTE said.
Meanwhile, speaking to the Daily News, GTF Spokesperson Suren Surendiran said the GTF never positioned themselves as the sole representatives of the Tamil community.
“With all due respect to the ‘Senators’ of the TGTE, GTF has never claimed GTF as the sole representative of Tamils or Tamils in the Diaspora.
However, GTF stands shoulder to shoulder with the elected members of Tamil people, in Sri Lanka, the TNA. We work and align our work with the efforts of the TNA,” he said.
“By doing so, not only we represent the aspirations of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka but also bring practical assistance in implementing real projects for real people for their real needs including their aspirations of their political destiny in a progressive way that is also supported by a large section of the silent majority of the Tamil Diaspora.
Remember, GTF also has the premier position within the international community, be it governments or non-governmental organisation,” he said while stating that the GTF was working on a four – pillar strategy to reach their goals.
The meeting between Samaraweera and the GTF was the first official meeting between a high profile representative of the Sri Lankan government and a leading Tamil Diaspora organisation.
The dialogue was facilitated by In Transformation Initiative, a South African NGO working in the fields of peace-making and conflict resolution.
The NGO also promotes dialogue among sectors where a “disconnect” has occurred in relationship.
Statement by GTF President Fr.S.J.Emmanuel on the 30th Sept.2015 at the UNHRC
Wednesday, September 30, 2015
We give a cautious but hopeful welcome to this Resolution. We thank the High Commissioner and his team for the Report – a historic document in promoting Truth, Justice and Accountability for all the peoples of Sri Lanka. How far the mechanism proposed in this draft resolution will prove to be credible and serve truth, justice and accountability, will depend largely on the sincere and genuine cooperation of the Sri Lankan Government.
The victims of war understandably have no confidence in leaving the implementation of the High Commissioner’s Report to the Government of Sri Lanka and its own local mechanism. The silver line of hope for us all is the international component of this proposed mechanism and the sincere and genuine cooperation of the new government as promised by its Foreign Minister here in this aula.
Tamils have been admittedly let down, more than once, by the United Nations and its agencies in not stopping the massacre of so many civilians during the war. Here is a chance for this Council to act as guardian and guarantor for the future conduct and cooperation of one of the members of the United Nations.
The new government has shown some signs of good will but not yet shown the needed courage and strength to rectify all the injustices still suffered by the victims of the war. A clear example is that even under this new government, instead of demilitarization of Tamil areas there is further escalation of military presence.
We strongly exhort the government to translate their own promises into quick actions. We wish much sincerity, good will and courage to all leaders of this august Assembly in Geneva to continue its active vigilance on Sri Lanka as well as to the political, religious and civic leaders of all the peoples of Sri Lanka to grasp this great opportunity and move meaningfully to reconciliation and peace.