By Visuvanathan Rudrakumaran
It is reported in the Sri Lankan and international media that Mr. Selvarasa Pathmanathan of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has been ‘arrested’ in Thailand and brought to Colombo, citing Sri Lankan officials. Mr. Pathmanathan has been leading the new politico‐diplomatic path of the LTTE in recent months.
The Government of Thailand, however, has denied that any such arrest has been made in the territory of Thailand. Furthermore, some media reports suggest that Mr. Pathmanathan has been abducted in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Based on information collected through various sources within the Tamil community, including sources close to the LTTE, we suspect that the ‘abduction’ has taken place at the Tune Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. We further suspect that this was an illegal act carried out by the Sri Lankan Military Intelligence with the support of certain sections of the Malaysian defence or intelligence establishment.
Though Selvarasa Pathmanathan was on the Interpol wanted list, we strongly believe that any acts of abduction or “arrest” that involve international agencies and states should be done in accordance with international law and internal domestic procedure. Notably, Mr. Selvarasa Pathmanathan is entitled to the protection of Article 3 of the Convention Against Torture, which prohibits removal of a person to a country where it is more likely than not he would be tortured. In this case, the rule of law has once again been violated by international actors with respect to Tamils. The proper procedure would have been to secure the extradition of Mr. Pathmanathan if he had broken any law, rather than taking action outside the law and seizing a person in a manner that could be compared to those performed by bounty hunters, posses or even criminal gangs.
We wish to point out that Mr. Selvarasa Pathmanathan has been actively engaged in a process of political transformation of the LTTE, and was leading the Tamils’ struggle for self-determination onto a new path – a struggle through politico-diplomatic means. Even though he was facing tremendous challenges in his recent work, he continued with conviction and determination to keep the process moving toward a better political future for the Tamils of the island of Sri Lanka. We also wish to point out that he was supporting the process of building up a democratic leadership for the Tamil freedom struggle by endorsing the formation of Provisional Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam as a ‘bottom up’ democratic institution that will elect members through popular vote. Those who have seized Mr. Pathmanathan in such a gangster‐like fashion are interested in hindering the political transformation process that has just commenced. The Tamil national project for the realization of the right to self determination of the Tamil people, however, does not depend on the skills and dedication of just one person and will continue through the service of innumerable committed individuals until its successful accomplishment.
On behalf of Tamil people all around the World, we request the Government of Malaysia to announce the details surrounding the abduction of Mr Pathmanathan, if he was indeed abducted with the help of Malaysian authorities.
If the Government of Malaysia does not have any information on the matter, we demand an inquiry into the whole episode.
If Mr. Pathmanathan has been brought to Colombo, as claimed by the Government of Sri Lanka, we call upon the international community to become involved in this matter in order to assure the safety and security of Mr. Pathmanathan according to international standards, and to facilitate access to legal representation.
We call attention to the fact that Sri Lanka is already holding over 300,000 Tamil civilians indefinitely in Nazi, like concentration camps. We fear for their safety as much as we fear for the safety of Mr Pathmanathan and ask the international community to secure a speedy solution to the plight of the 300,000 civilians, as well as to ensure that Mr Pathmanathan receives the protection of all international norms.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
By Visuvanathan Rudrakumaran