- The government should try to establish a mainstream Tamil political leadership in the North and East.
- Norway has played a sincere and genuine role in bringing about peace during the CFA period
- Sri Lanka should invite the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Ms. Jayalalithaa to Sri Lanka and explain the reality.
By Arthur Wamanan
Sri Lanka should ensure the establishment of a mainstream Tamil political leadership in order to move towards permanent peace, said terrorism expert, head of the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research (IC PVTR), Professor Rohan Gunaratna. In an interview with The Nation, he said the arrest of the head of the LTTE’s international network Perinpanayagam Sivaparan alias Nediyavan was a major step in helping Sri Lanka to recover from violent 30 years.
He also briefed on the activities of the LTTE during the past two years.
Following are the excerpts:
Q Can you briefly explain the background of Nediyavan and how he became a prominent figure in the LTTE?
After Velupillai Prabhakaran, Kumaran Pathmanathan (KP) was appointed as the leader of the LTTE. Nediyavan took over the leadership after the arrest of KP. Nediyavan controlled the branch offices of the LTTE in several countries.
His group was a clandestine movement. In other words, his movement was very secretive when compared to the other two groups of the LTTE.
Most recently, it transpired that Nediyavan was under Castro, who was in charge of the LTTE’s international network from 2003 to late 2008. Castro was based in the Wanni. Nediyavan operated from Oslo. During the final stages of the battle, KP was once again put in charge of the international network of the LTTE.
Q You mentioned that there were three bodies of the LTTE functioning internationally. Can you explain what these bodies are?
As I said there are three groups of the LTTE functioning internationally. One is the Global Tamil Forum headed by one Fr. Emmanuel. The second one is the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TNGTE). This is headed by Rudrakumaran. These two groups operate above the ground and are not so secretive.
Nediyavan heads the third group. This group, as I said before, is very secretive and at the same time the most violent of the three.
Q What was his role within the LTTE in the post war scenario?
Nediyavan came into limelight when he funded the air ticket of American Congressman Danny Davis to Sri Lanka. After the LTTE’s defeat in 2009, it had taken measures to strengthen its international network. Nediyavan was successful in reviving the LTTE’s international network during the past two years.
Recently, the Dutch government arrested an international accountant of the LTTE. Nediyavan has been questioned on his connection with the international accountant.
Many governments too are interested in questioning Nediyavan on his important role played within the LTTE.
The important feature here is that it has been established that Nediyavan has played an important role even before the LTTE was militarily defeated.
Q Nediyavan was arrested last week by the Norwegian authorities. How do you see this development at this particular juncture?
First of all, we have to see whether the arrest is temporary or not. We are not sure whether he has been taken into custody or for questioning.
QHowever, what does this arrest mean in this context, even if he has been taken in for questioning?
Well, it is a major step forward. The western world is helping Sri Lanka in its process of recovering after 30 years of violence.
Q What are the main countries where the LTTE has its strongholds or the potential to regroup?
There are mainly three countries where the LTTE could reorganise. First is England (London). London has become the most important hub for the LTTE to reorganise. Next is Canada. Norway ranks third.
Q Norway has played a significant role in the context of Sri Lankan politics, especially during the ceasefire agreement (CFA). How do you look at this move by Norway considering its role played in the context of Sri Lankan politics?
I think that Norway has played a sincere and genuine role in bringing about peace during the CFA period, even though they were naïve about the LTTE. They could not assist the LTTE to transform into a political group from a terrorist outfit.
Now, it is the responsibility of Norway to ensure that it does not allow the Norwegian soil to be used for the revival of the LTTE. It should not allow the LTTE to carry out its procured supplies, fund raising activities and to poison the minds of the Tamil youth.
QThere is a notion that the western countries are against Sri Lanka and that they are not helping the country in its progresses after the war. What is your view?
Do you think that the western countries are against the country, especially after UN Secretary General’s Expert Panel report on Sri Lanka?
Western countries are not against Sri Lanka. In fact, the US and the European countries have said they have faith on the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC). Sri Lanka should not react. It should make appropriate response to the Experts Panel report. This report was not drafted by an official UN body. Therefore, Sri Lanka has to respond in a way that the whole world would know as to what happened within the No Fire Zones (NFZ).
During the last stages of the war, the Foreign Ministry could not project the correct picture to the world. A lot of people depended on information provided by certain Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and information given through LTTE propaganda. The Panel report too contains these elements by pro-LTTE elements. Sri Lanka should reveal the truth.
QWhat do you think of India’s role now? Do you think that it is changing its stance?
India remains a very close friend to Sri Lanka.
Q But, the Tamil Nadu politicians have criticised Sri Lanka on war crimes and have called for investigations. What do you have to say about that?
Sri Lanka should invite the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Ms. Jayalalithaa to Sri Lanka and explain the reality. US Assistant Secretary of State, Robert Blake visited the Wanni during his stay here recently and was impressed with the works by the government in the war-torn areas. Likewise, Sri Lanka should encourage Ms. Jayalalithaa to visit the Wanni to get first hand impression of the works carried out by the government.
I would like to say that Sri Lanka won this battle with the help of countries like India, US and Britain.
Q What should be the next step of the Sri Lankan government?
The government should try to establish a mainstream Tamil political leadership in the North and East. The eminent political leaders were killed by the LTTE and therefore, the leadership tree had been cut down. The government should ensure that this happens, in order to take the country towards permanent peace.
Thanks to The Nation
Professor Rohan Gunaratna
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore