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Friday, 23 July 2010

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Enemy within

Crisis in transnational government of Tamil Eelam:

Continued from yesterday

The Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam has already run into trouble. The post Prabhakaran Tamil Diaspora which is divided into three rival factions as Rudrakumaran’s TGTE, Eezham People’s Assembly (EPA) or Makkal Peravai of Perinbanayagam Sivaparan (Nediyavan) and Father Emmauel’s Global Tamil Forum (GTF) are at loggerheads over the nature of the TGTE and a power struggle for control of the Constituent Assembly has been going on since the inception of the TGTE Project.


Tamils being brainwashed

Accusations of electoral fraud, intimidations of voters and similar other election malpractices were being hurled by the rival factions during the elections and there have been several resignations from the electoral contest in the UK and similar disputes have arisen in France.

In France the situation became so bad there were even calls for third party interventions to solve the dispute. In Canada too the things did not run smoothly. There were several complaints of intimidation where voters were being pressured into voting for certain candidates by supporters of the World Tamil Movement, which was labeled as a terrorist group by the Canadian Government in 2008. The Diaspora media maintained silence on these problems for quite sometime but as the situation appeared to have come to a crisis point the tamilnet.com, which is the brain behind Nediyavan faction, recently thought it necessary to bring the crisis into open which no doubt with the view of manipulating the situation for their advantage.

Close links

Of the two rivals Nadiyavan who opposed KP and Rudrakumaran from the beginning is in direct confrontation with the TGTE. He is actively promoting his own version of the TGTE called the National Council of Eezham Tamils (NCET) and also has made several abortive attempts to capture the power of TGTE. Nediyavan has in his advantage a very close link to the dead leader, being married to a niece of Gnanendramohan, who was a founding member of the LTTE and close confidante of Prabhakaran. Elections for the NCET had already been held in Norway, Switzerland, Italy and France where Nediyavan’s supporters are strong, in parallel with TGTE elections.

Nediyavan’s activities that were kept on hold for a while as he was trying to take over the TGTE have been revived again after the failure to do in Philadelphia and NCET had elections held in Canada last week. What is important about Nadiyavan’s faction is, in addition to being more hard-line and more pro-LTTE even down to the spelling of the name of their nation (spelt as Eezham by Nediyavan group v. Eelam by Rudrakumaran faction), its emphasis on the active role of the second generation Diaspora. This ideological confrontation expressed in the idiom of generation is an important aspect of this crisis that is splitting the Diaspora politics and a serious problem confronting the TGTE.

As a result of the above and also due to several other dynamics within the Diaspora the TGTE does not seem to be getting the support that was expected from the Diaspora. It is not getting any new support and is actively supported only by the converted to the course of the TGTE both within and outside the Diaspora. Most importantly the support coming from the average Tamil Diaspora member has been lukewarm from the beginning.

The result of all these was clearly demonstrated from the voter participation at the election to the Constituent Assembly. In Canada where the Tamil Diaspora is the biggest around 300,000 and in UK where the number is above 200,000 the voting was extremely disappointing. In Canada only 31,000 voted for the TGTE Constituent Assembly.

In the UK the vote was comparatively higher with 65,000 taking part but it must be noted that the pro LTTE Diaspora this time could get only 15,000 more votes than Janani Jananayagam who was their candidate at the EU elections. In Australia where the number registered to vote was 10,000 only 8272 voted. This is out of a population more than thrice that number. The less than average enthusiasm and factional fights affected the inaugural meeting of the TGTE badly. Factional fighting obviously prevented the TGTE either holding or completing elections in all countries. At the inaugural meeting therefore, out of the 135 members of the Constituent Assembly only 73 from 11 countries could participate, of which 47 (almost 2/3) was from the USA and Canada. All these are ominous signs of a future that will be trouble for this Diaspora led Eelam Project. The main enemy of the TGTE it appears to be the enemy within.

Future of Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam

The TGTE is an unrealistic and hastily put together project. Hastily put together because it is a strategy that the Diaspora adopted to confront the situation that developed as a result of the unexpected (by the Diaspora) defeat of the LTTE. Unrealistic because the whole exercise is based on wrong interpretations of the role of transnational actors and influence of transnational forces. It is true that transnational actors are expanding their domain of activity but they have not yet become an alternative to the state system and it will not be in the near future.

The EU example the Diaspora leadership taking to support their claim that transnationalism is replacing the state system is a gross exaggeration and a complete misinterpretation.

As a transnational outfit the TGTE cannot expect to get the recognition it needs to operate as a government. If the International Community were to recognize the TGTE then they would be departing from established norms of state conduct and also will be indirectly recognizing Eelam.

This they did not want when LTTE was fighting and there is no reason to believe that it will want to do it now.

Promoters of the TGTE know that it will not happen and they implicitly recognized their dilemma when they decided to form a transnational government instead of a government in exile.

There is also danger of new confrontations with the International Community as the result of the working of the TGTE.

The Tamil Diaspora is already taking a highly confrontational attitude towards the International Community, especially towards India which they see as abandoning them in the hour of their need. One often hears Diaspora circles speaking about India abetted Genocide, a blame gradually being extended to include other countries including the US and the UK.

Recently the tamilnet.com started to put the blame of the defeat of the LTTE and failure to protect the Tamil community in Sri Lanka on what it called the International War Corporation, the newest term coined by the tamilnet.com to describe the role of world powers in the defeat of the LTTE. When the Diaspora leadership realizes that even the TGTE is not helping, the chances are that it will not due to inherent weaknesses of the project, the blaming will increase and confrontations will intensify. This will not be good for the future of the Eelam movement.

By deciding to form the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam the sympathizers of the LTTE are unintentionally creating a structure that could be more a liability than an asset to their struggle.

There are two possible explanations to this controversial move by the Diaspora leadership. The first is that the Diaspora leadership is driven by blind faith in their ability to take the struggle forward.

Throughout the struggle the Diaspora leadership displayed an exaggerated level of confidence in their ability to be innovative, outsmart the enemy and get the International Community on their side. One needs only a cursory reading of the websites of the Diaspora to recognize this over confidence and blind faith in their own ability.

This weakness which was pervasive in the Diaspora leadership contributed to the downfall of the Eelam struggle and it appears that the leaders of the Diaspora are repeating the same mistake in the TGTE Project too.

The other explanation is that the TGTE is more an ego exercise of certain leaders of the Diaspora, partly borne out of disappointment and the shock of failure, than a well planned tactical move.

It appears that this section of the Diaspora leadership is looking for something to help their damaged ego and also seem to be ready to hold on to anything to continue living in hope.

Keeping the dream alive for some more time into the future would perhaps be the only positive impact of the TGTE. Like the teenager who dresses up her Barbie and lives in a dream world the Diaspora leadership is living its dream in the make believe world of the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam.

While they, being thousands of miles away from the problem and not having the misfortune of facing the consequences, can do that the crucial question is whether the Tamil community at home who faced the brunt of a brutal war in their own backyard and are still suffering from its after effects can afford the luxury of living in a dream world.

The writer is Professor of Sociology at the University of Peradeniya

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