Arguing that Sri Lanka’s genocidal war on the Eezham Tamils and the protracted genocide post-2009 was possible only due to the system of global injustice, Tamil Nadu based writer, poet and civil society activist Meena Kandasamy urged the Eezham Tamils in the island, the people of Tamil Nadu, the Tamil diaspora and other solidarity groups to form a ‘global civil society’ so as to politically and ideologically counter the designs of the establishments, in a commentary sent to TamilNet. Writing on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the assassination of S.P. Thamilchelvan, Ms. Kandasamy opines that such activism would be the best tribute to the legacy of the late political leader of the de-facto state of Tamil Eelam.
Mr. Thamilchelvan was assassinated in a Sri Lanka Air Force bombardment on his bunker in Ki’linochchi, in the early hours of November 2, 2007.
Full text of Ms. Kandasamy’s commentary follows:
I personally appeal to Tamils around the world to honour the memory of Comrade S.P. Thamilchelvan by observing the anniversary of his brutal assassination by the Sri Lanka Air Force as the day of Crimes against Peace. His unceasing diplomatic efforts were the backbone of securing ceasefire in the war-ridden island, and, the Sinhala ruling elite running the Sri Lankan state who were keen to scuttle the Tamil struggle for equal rights and self-determination, ensured that he was killed like every genuine emissary of peace.
Five years after his tragic death in a high precision air attack, we are still haunted by the absence of the leader of the political division of the LTTE. Thamilchelvan was targeted and assassinated at his official residence by a calculated air attack. He was slain with his associates inside a bunker which was monitored from the drones, according to eyewitnesses to the tragic assault. The Sri Lanka Air Force had reportedly deployed a specially designed ‘delay-bomb’ that hit his bunker at his official secretariat. It was not a random target by any means.
In hindsight, taking also into account what happened at the final hours of the war in May 2009, especially in the white-flag episode where Thamilchelvan’s successor, Mr Nadesan and the Director of the Peace Secretariat was slain in cold blood by the Sri Lankan forces on the alleged instructions by the SL Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, and the way thousands of civilians were massacred, one can clearly imagine how the systematic genocidal annihilation had been planned by the Sri Lankan military in assassinating Thamilchelvan.
The murder of the political leader, most known for his smiling disposition combined with a clear understanding of local and global politics, was an assassination, an act of crime against peace and a crime of genocide as it aimed at a systematic annihilation of the voice of a nation.
As the person in charge of the LTTE Peace Secretariat, Thamilchelvan succeeded not merely in grabbing the attention of the otherwise inert and inattentive International Community towards the oppression undergone by the Tamils under a terrorist state that killed with impunity, but also addressed issues and concerns raised with regard to the liberation struggle such as the question of Tamil-speaking Muslims, child recruitment, abolition of caste differences and the empowerment of women. He combined his personal charisma with a deep-rooted commitment to peace, witnessed in his engineering of the CFA and the functioning of the ISGA.
Today, as we are faced with a situation where the Sri Lankan Government continues to be in denial not only about the killings of tens of thousands of Tamils in the first five months of 2009, but also where the military state continues to silence the press and the judiciary, where the project of cultural and structural genocide of the Tamils is a part of state policy, remembering S.P. Thamilchelvan’s martyrdom will allow us an occasion to share the reality and the history of the Tamil struggle and sacrifice with the people of the world. Marking the anniversary of his assassination, either as a personal gesture or as a public occasion will allow us to appreciate the need for a just peace and political settlement, even as we remind ourselves of the price that the people of Tamil Eelam have had to pay for articulating their nationalist aspirations.
Given the current scenario where international establishments are trying to take Tamils into blind alleys in the name of this or that temporary settlement, it would be apt if the occasion of his martyrdom becomes a day when the Tamils, in the island, in Tamil Nadu and in the diaspora as well as those who are in solidarity with the cause of Tamil Eelam, can come together stocktaking the progress of the political cause which is fundamental for the survival of the Eelam Tamils as a people with self-respect and dignity.
The Sri Lankan state was able to commit such heinous crimes against Eelam Tamils because of this global injustice against a nation and an evolving nation-state.
The need of the hour, then, is a global civil society activism involving both Tamil and non-Tamil actors that stands independent of establishments, one that can set concepts of the contemporary struggle in the clearest of terms. Only such a force would have significance in a political manner for the people who were subjected to genocide not only by the Sri Lankan state, but also by the global injustice that prevailed at the time of the war, and which is prevailing even now.
The laudatory step taken at the Permanent People’s Tribunal in 2010 urging the International Community to investigate charges of genocide in Sri Lanka and also the complicity of external powers is one such instance where committed intellectuals and independent activists can set a powerful trend. Eelam Tamils and their supporters must initiate and encourage such ventures as a political and intellectual alternative to paradigm set by the establishments.
At the moment, this can be the best tribute to the legacy of the charismatic political leader of the LTTE.