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Prof. V.

T Thamilmaran on Swiss Kumar,

Accountability & TNA politics
Colombo Law Faculty Dean V.T Thamilmaran said, the Police are responsible to probe
and place the truth before people; how one of the rape suspects Swiss Kumar, who
was handed over and arrested by the police escaped from their custody and was then
found in Colombo. Unless and until that is cleared the mud slung on him will not be
washed off. Speaking to Ceylon Today Thamilmaran explained following are excerpts:
It is understood that you are preparing to enter electoral politics through the TNA. How
did you first get into TNA politics?
A: In the initial stages, I worked with some TNA
parliamentarians like Joseph Pararajasingham and Dr. Neelan
Thiruchelvam. Such activities brought me into the picture, also
my writings on political and legal analysis on matters like Right
to Self Determination and Human Rights Conditions of the
People in the North and East, it is through these that I entered
the scene and I became well known in Sri Lankan Tamil
V.T. Tamilmaran

I wrote much on Tamil Nationalism, tried to explain on the basis

of political theory arguing that nationalism of Tamils must be understood in a different
context. It is not narrow portioned politics but should be understood in as participatory
democracy. This actually caught the attention of the TNA leadership; also I participated
with them in some of the constitutional discussions earlier in developing a suitable
political solution to the ethnic crisis in this country. My contribution and proposals put
forward to the government would have definitely been considered by the TNA
leadership and they would have thought that I would fit into the scene.
Did the TNA voluntarily want you to participate through their party?
A: It was not a formal announcement, and I have yet not made any formal
announcement of my willingness to contest, talks were going on about the matter. TNA
Kayts branch convened a meeting and unanimously passed a resolution promoting my
candidature. It has been sent to the leader of the TNA.
Also during the Northern Provincial Council Elections Leader Sampanthan mentioned
to the media that I would be a possible candidate to the Chief Ministerial post.
However, I didnt participate, he would have mentioned to some interested parties and

it was in the media.

It is observed that your family, especially your brothers had been involved in Marxist
politics. How come you are in Tamil Nationalist Politics.?
A: In the initial stages when I wrote about Tamil Nationalism and discussed about
right to Self determination, I explained from the Marxist point of view as well. When I
was the Tamil Union President at the university, I organized a debate forum where we
invited all political leaders including N. Shamugathasan from the Communist Party.
Right from the beginning I was very much involved in Marxist politics as well, hence
my approach to nationalism was from the Marxist point of view as well. I dont support
narrow nationalism.
During the course of peace negotiation between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan
Government under President Chandrikas regime it was told and mostly expected that
you would participate in the talks on behalf of the LTTE. If that was true, have you
based your politics on the stance of the LTTE.?
A: Certainly not at that time. My name was given to the Norwegian Embassy by the
LTTE, and they wanted to have me on the team and that was published in the news.
However, I corrected it and mentioned that it was not my idea. I would argue for right
to self determination from my particular point of view as I said, not from narrow ethnic
nationalism stance. I mostly referred to International Law. I sent a report to the press
that I wont be participating, if I participate that would be coloured as a partitioned
party. However, my point of view might have been used by the LTTE.
It is said by the majority community that, that you are an ardent supporter of the LTTE.
What is your explanation?
A: Supporting the LTTE is different from supporting the cause of the Tamils. My
position throughout has been very consistent. I have been supporting the political
rights of the minorities based on political and legal principles.
How do you theoretically differ from the LTTE?
A: I have been continuously advocating in Tamil and English that equal rights should
be given to the Tamils and that power should be devolved based on constitutional
principles. I have been continuously participating in such discussions in and out of the
Being an expert in the field of local and international law how did you assess the cry
for an international inquiry on war crimes and the talk of a domestic inquiry?
A: It is a very difficult point to explain to all, especially ordinary people. As a teacher of
international law Im very well aware of the obligation of a State is to have the
domestic inquiry first. In such a case, if it is proven that the State is incapable of
holding a domestic inquiry or is unwilling to hold such an inquiry then an international
inquiry can be considered. Therefore, the primary obligation of the State is to conduct
the domestic inquiry. That would be the obligation of a State under international law;
the domestic inquiry is a must. However it is totally a different issue to say that we

dont have any trust in the domestic inquiry. In my point of view, it is a must for the
state to hold a domestic inquiry to prove it is innocent and it respects international law.
Do you feel a domestic inquiry would solve the war issues of the people of the North
and East?
A: This domestic inquiry without the involvement of an international participation will
not serve any purpose. Although the State is obliged by such an obligation,
international input is a must too. Accordingly, the State can prove that it is genuinely
working towards the accountability issue.
As you see there is very high expectation among the people of the North and East on
the International Inquiry. How far do you think it will answer the aspirations of those
A: The people should be convinced that the domestic inquiry is a total failure. That will
actually help to step towards an international inquiry. If the domestic inquiry is held
with the participation of international input, I think there is a way of convincing people
that accountability or justice should be done to the victims.
How do you view the role of India in the ethnic problem and in implementing the 13th
Amendment? Do you think they will fulfil the demands of the Tamil nationalists?
A: Being a regional super power, without India, there cannot be any political solution.
There are two reasons, one is the nature of the proposed solution and that it is
acceptable to the Tamils, and the second would be the implementation of such
solution. For both purposes the support of India is needed. I dont think any single
Tamil person would say it could be without any contribution from India.
Did your presence or entry into electoral politics, get you more enemies in and out of
the TNA?
A: It seems like that. It is in rather than out.
Now, you are faced with the controversy of assisting a suspect who is alleged to have
been involved in a gang rape of a school girl in your native village. Can you explain
briefly on the controversy? What exactly happened?

Campaign for justice for Vidya

A: This controversy is totally connected to my entering into politics. Even during LTTE
times people wrote that I would be coming as a political spokesperson. Although there
is no official confirmation people would have gathered information from interested
parties that definitely this time I would be a candidate. That would have upset them,
particularly in the North, there is a media operated by one section of the TNA and a
television station operated by one section out of the TNA. I would say people have
been working to halt me from entering politics. My friends in Colombo knew I was
going to contest elections; they immediately informed me regarding the gang rape
incident. I straightaway spoke to the Jaffna DIG, who happens to be one of my
students. I told him early that similar rape and murder incidents have taken place in
Punguduthivu. The Police in the area have not been very satisfactory. I requested him
to take immediate action to avoid from it turning into a similar incident as before. He
promised me that whatever is possible will be done. I contacted the Attorney Generals
Department to ensure a death inquest. Ordinary people will not understand such
technical procedures; it is a must to have a proper death inquiry. In such a case
someone should appear to look after the interests of the victims side. Rather than any
outside lawyers, it is better if State Counsel appear assisting the Police in lining up
evidence. Accordingly I did my very best to find the suspects and get them arrested by
the Police. I request the Police to take suitable action to find out how Swiss Kumar ,
the suspect escaped from Police custody and how he reached Wellawatte. I request
the Police to carry out a suitable investigation to find the truth.
Do you suspect someone for carrying out such an action against you ?
A: There are people inside TNA too. I definitely know the person. They believe that I
will break their votes. This person has the vote bank in Kilinochchi electorate and
Kayts as well.When this problem was going on Parliamentarian Mavai Senathirajah
and Provincial Minister Kurukularajah came. They tried to clarify certain things and
spoke to the DIG. But I noticed Senathirajah was not satisfied with the answers given
by the DIG.
How was the reaction of the TNA leadership to this incident?
A: So far I have not seen any particular statement issued by them on this incident. But
they have issued statements on the Court incident. I have not yet spoken to Leader
Sampanthan after the incident. Im waiting for their response.
There are allegations that the suspect Swiss Kumar is related to you. Is that true?
A: It is an utter lie. I have not seen this person before.
There were allegations that you obtained Rs.4 million from this particular suspect for
your election campaign. Whats your justification ?
A: This is a rumour created by the people who came for the meeting held between the
Police and villagers. Im pretty sure that these people are outsiders; they are not from
my village. They were all drunk, including the women. There were many unknown

people from other parts of the peninsula. There were some schoolchildren too there to
canvass against me. I hear that the same people were taken on the following day to
attack the Courts. It is part of the drama.
Why do you think this rape and murder was later politicized?
A: This gruesome rape and murder was later used for political agendas. I feel it was
Political forces saw me as a threat to their agendas as I interfered and pressurized for
a proper death inquest.
Dont you think both, the Tamil political movements as well as the present Government
is weak in serious political agenda, such as engaging in political negotiations to find
out lasting solutions to fulfil the aspirations of Tamils ?
A: Until the new Parliament is convened, the weaknesses would be there. Initial
negotiations are there in and outside the country. Our role is to prepare tangible
proposals to put forward to the negotiation table, to explain reasonableness of
requests to the Government and outside as well, particularly India and the Western
countries. In that case we have worked to some extent. This is one of the reasons why
Leader Sampanthan wanted me to get involved.
Eventually there is shift from the demand for a separate country for Tamils. What
would be the concrete political demand of the TNA at this juncture ?
A: I would clearly say there is no solution under a unitary structure. This is the primary
want; on the other hand where the Government is concerned, they would say there is
no solution other than the unitary structure. The Tamils never accepted the unitary
character of the State from 1947. We have entered into negotiations and we have
signed agreements but we will not accept the unitary structure of the State.
Interviewed by BY Mirudhula Thambiah/
Posted by Thavam