Mangala-GTF talks split tamil Diaspora
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.
“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.
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