Rudrakumaran Visvanathan is the Prime Minister of the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam which is a political formation to win the freedom of the Tamil people on the basis of their fundamental political principles of Nationhood, homeland, and Right of self-determination. He was the former legal advisor to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and is now in the United States of America as a professional lawyer.
Rudrakumaran Visuvanathan speaks to IANS in an exclusive interview
Rudrakumaran Visuvanathan/ Arun Lakshman
1: Sri Lanka was in a major economic crisis and the country was reeling. What’s your opinion on this?
Answer: As the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE) has said repeatedly, the major original cause of the economic catastrophe in Sri Lanka was the huge military spending over many years during its war against the Tamils and the continuation of ever higher military spending since the end of the war for the state’s structural genocide of the Tamils.
According to the current government’s Budget-2023[i], released in mid-November this year, the cumulative budget for the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Public Security is over USD 1.4 billion – the same as Sri Lanka’s health and education budgets combined.
The Tamils want the IMF, the World Bank, and donor countries to recognize the above weight of the military on the Tamils as well as the island as a whole and force Sri Lanka to reduce its military spending in order to receive aid.
2: There are reports of LTTE revamping, what do you feel?
Answer: The LTTE will live in the hearts of the Tamils forever. The recent Maveerar events in the Tamil areas of the island of Sri Lanka clearly demonstrate this reality. Thousands of Tamils back home participated in these events organized by the people themselves.
3: A former senior intelligence operative of LTTE was arrested in Tamil Nadu allegedly for smuggling drugs and weapons to raise funds for the Tamil movement. Do you feel that such fundraising is taking place?
Answer: This kind of “news” is manufactured in order to keep the LTTE on the “terrorist list”. Certain segments of the international community, since the LTTE was achieving political results through its armed struggle, have been trying to demonize the LTTE. The international powers are not comfortable in seeing a non-state actor realize its political goals through military means. They want to keep the monopoly of the use of force.
Today for Tamils across the globe, the LTTE is an inspiration and they feel that it also has given them the dignity that they long deserve. Thus, another reason to keep the LTTE on the terrorist list is to eradicate it from the hearts and minds of Tamils across the globe in order to dampen Tamil nationalism, which they mistakenly believe is a threat to stability.
For the sake of argument, even if there is some truth in the above allegation, the actions of one individual cannot be attributed to an entire organization. There is plenty of case law in many countries that have clearly stated that an action of an individual that is not endorsed by the leadership cannot be attributed to that organization.
4: Is there a possibility of the Tamil nation coming up?
Answer: I think what you meant to ask is whether there is a possibility of a new Tamil state being created. I would like to remind everyone that during the last 30 years more than 30 new states have come up around the world. Given the Mullivaikal genocide and the continuing structural genocide of the Tamils, an independent sovereign state of Tamil Eelam is a must as a remedial justice measure. This is consistent with moral principles and with international law.
Above all, the Tamils’ determination to have a state and the support that idea enjoys from the Tamils across the globe will make it a reality.
The creation of Tamil Eelam is not a matter of ‘if’ but only ‘when’ – and we expect it very soon.
5: Is China setting a base in a weak Sri Lanka to threaten India?
Answer: Until recently, Chinese investments have been in the Southern part of Sri Lanka. But more recently, China has been expanding its influence into the North Eastern part of the island of Sri Lanka, the traditional Tamil homeland and a very important strategic part of the island. The total length of the coastline of Sri Lanka is about 1600 km. Of that, the North Eastern coastline is about 1050 km, about 66% of the total.
I would like to emphasize that the Chinese people in the North Eastern part of Sri Lanka, which is only 48. 3 kilometers from South India, are a compelling threat to India’s national security. India should start to engage with the Eelam Tamils directly and formulate a political arrangement in which the Eelam Tamils will have the sovereign power over their land and the adjacent seas. We believe that such an arrangement can be made only in an independent and sovereign state of Tamil Eelam and will change the course of events.
An independent state of Tamil Eelam is not a threat to India’s territorial integrity. Such a perception by Indian Intelligence agencies and policymakers is simply paranoia.
On the contrary, it is the maintenance of the status quo which will pave the way for greater Chinese strategic control and maneuvering, and that is the real threat to India’s territorial integrity.
6: You are the Prime Minister of the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam. Please explain the concept of Transnational govt.
Answer: This is an innovative concept based on democracy, self-determination, transnationalism, and transparency .The TGTE is a democratically elected body of the Eelam Tamil diaspora, most of whom were forced to leave their homeland due to Sinhala racist persecution and to fight for the liberation of Tamil Eelam.
Soon after the TGTE was formed in 2010 a Kurdish activist sent me an email stating that other organizations fighting for national liberation should also follow this model.
7: Are you in exile in the US? Please explain.
Answer: Due to the 6th amendment in the Sri Lankan constitution, which prohibits even peaceful advocacy for an independent state, coupled with the militarisation of Sri Lanka, the Tamils do not have a political space or freedom to articulate their political demands or sentiments. Being outside Sri Lanka gives me that space and freedom to advance the Tamil cause for an independent state.
Sri Lanka has placed me and our organization, along with many other Tamil activists and Tamil entities, on its terrorist list. I must say, we consider this a backhanded recognition of our work in advancing the Tamil cause! I must also point out, Sri Lanka, in formulating its “terrorist list”, violates U.N. Resolution 1331. This violation is another manifestation of how Sri Lanka abuses and distorts international law.
8: The LTTE had a presence across all global capitals. Can you shed light regarding the activities of the intellectual section of LTTE?
Answer: I do not have any information about it. As far as the TGTE is concerned, our intellectuals are currently formulating ways and means to gain international recognition for the Tamils through a referendum to decide the political future of the Tamil nation. The call for a referendum is based on fundamental international human rights and international practices, as manifested in many peace agreements between warring parties over the last 20 years.
9: Is the Tamil diaspora supporting your cause?
Answer: In 1977 the Eelam Tamils overwhelmingly gave a mandate to
establish an independent state.
One of the main reasons the LTTE enjoyed the support of the Eelam Tamil people was because it championed an independent state.
More recently, in 2021, the TGTE proclaimed November 21st as Tamil Eelam National Flag Day. It was celebrated by the Tamil diaspora in various capitals of the world. Thus, the answer to your question about diaspora support is a resounding yes.
I take this opportunity to issue a challenge to the Sri Lankan state and to international powers that they organize a referendum to test the Tamils support for an independent state.