By Saman Indrajith
Former Sri Lankan permanent representative to the UN in Geneva, Tamara Kunanayagam had acted on the LTTE’s behalf and aided and abetted the LTTE’s interests through her propaganda, it was alleged in parliament yesterday.
In a document tabled by Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera in response to a question raised by Liberal Party leader Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha, Minister Samaraweera said that he had made such a claim on Rathu Ira programme of the Swarnavahini on the basis of four pieces of evidence.
- “First in his book, The War or Peace in Sri Lanka and the Agony of Sri Lanka, former Ambassador T. D. S. A. Dissanayake who as a senior diplomat had first-hand knowledge of these issues, refers to Tamara Kunanayagama as a ‘Geneva based Eelam propagandist.
- Second, the former ambassador notes that she disseminated propaganda from the Tamil Information Centre which was linked to the LTTE. I term her activities propaganda not activism because they were lies. This was established when the UNDP denounced her telex to the World Council of Churches as factually inaccurate.
- Third, President J. R. Jayewardene echoed common knowledge at the time when he referred to her as “terrorist agent.”
- Fourth, reports from the Sri Lankan Mission in Geneva note that Ms Kunanayagam was an active member of the ‘Eelam lobby’ in the 1980s. Together this forms very substantial evidence that she advanced the LTTE’s interests in Geneva.
Queried whether action would be taken against Ms Kunanayagam, he said: “Internal investigations are currently underway into the appointment and conduct of several politically appointed diplomats who were employed under the previous government. We will take necessary steps based on the results of those investigations. However, proscription is not an option we are considering.”
Asked whether the Minister was aware that Ms Kunanayagam was a human rights activist and supportive of the Mothers’ Front activities in which the minister himself was connected, the minister replied: “Mahinda Rajapaksa and I were the conveners of the Mothers’ Front movement established by me in 1990. During this period Mahinda Rajapaksa would regularly travel to Geneva to visit the UN Commission on Human Rights, the predecessor of the UN Human Rights Council, with information and evidence of human rights violations and other disappearances.
I understand that Ms Kunanayagam who was in Geneva at the time and a member of the World Student Christian Federation facilitated Mahinda Rajapaksa’s entry into many of these sessions. I have also been told that she has provided bed, lodgings and other comforts. She may have supported the activities of Rajapaksa, but I am certainly not aware of any support to the Mothers’ Front from Ms Kunanayagam.”
Asked whether the human rights activism of Ms Kunanayagam was the accusation of sympathy for terrorism, the response tabled by Minister Samaraweera said: “I do not consider her as a human rights activist because her past record shows that she had been a mouthpiece of extremists and has a weakness for racist leaders and some of the worst apologists of human rights violations.”