Kumaran Pathmanathan, a former LTTE official who switched to become a staunch supporter of the Rajapaksas, has heaped praise on Sri Lankan president Gotabaya Rajapaksa, calling him “the right leader for the country” and compared him to Nelson Mandela, in an interview where he sang the praises of the accused war criminal.
In a recent interview to FT Lanka, Pathmanathan, also known as KP, went on to slam the Tamil diaspora, downplayed reports of war crimes and claimed that civil-military relationship in the North-East is “excellent”.
Asked about the threat of ‘terrorism’ on the island since the Easter Sunday Bombings last year, KP launched himself into giving Gotabaya a grovelling panegyric that would have made many in the President’s own party blush.
“As long as President Gotabaya Rajapaksa holds office, he will ensure the country's security, and he will ensure such carnage will not happen again in the country,” he said. “Extremism or terrorism, he will make sure Sri Lankans in the motherland will not be harmed. Trust in him.”
“He is the right person that has been elected to the correct office. Our President Rajapaksa is a gift to our Motherland. When compared with other political leaders, he is the only leader that could develop this country, as he has a vision for the country’s future and our younger generation.”
Rajapaksa in his capacity as Sri Lanka’s Defence Secretary in 2009 presided over murder, rape and torture several thousand Tamils. KP was reportedly ‘apprehended’ in Malaysia in 2009 and transported to Sri Lanka, where he soon built close links with the Rajapaksa regime. Recalling meeting Rajapaksa, KP said,
“When I was taken to see him, I saw a charming Buddha statue behind him. That gave me some kind of solace. Defence Secretary Rajapaksa welcomed me and shook my hand. After a one hour chat, seeing the way he welcomed me, I felt I was in safe hands.”
Playing down war crimes
Speaking about Sri Lanka’s reluctance to comply with international norms for human rights and refusal to bring people who committed war crimes to justice, he said:
“War crimes allegations are levelled against not only Sri Lanka but also other nations, even those that were engaged in world wars. Therefore such allegations, after a war is ended, are not a new trend.”
Playing down the slaughtering of tens of thousands of Tamils in Mullivaikal during the end of the war in 2009, he said:
“I want to stress that Sri Lanka can solve any issue domestically. The misunderstanding and mistrust is within our own ethnic groups, and not internationally. I believe that outside interference in a domestic conflict is unnecessary and pointless.”
‘Excellent’ relationship between civilians and military in the North-East
Whilst the Sri Lankan government has escalated the militarisation of the Tamil homeland in the North-East, intruding into civilian life and effectively building a surveillance state, KP claimed that “the civil-military relationship is excellent in the North”.
He went on to say, “The military has become a part of their families now. Only the politicians, who want issues for their political gain, ask to reduce the military in the North. However, ordinary people want the military to be there for their safety.”
Aspersions on the diaspora
Responding to a question about his message for the Tamil diaspora, Pathmanathan said,
“These efforts are merely aimed at their own survival in their respective countries. This is a business for them. The Tamils who still support and propagate the LTTE ideology are leading luxury lives overseas. This is not a secret.”
Insinuating that Tamils in the diaspora speak on human rights on the island for asylum purposes, KP went on to claim,
“Without disruptions in Sri Lanka, they have no chance to remain in Europe… So they are carried away emotionally to raise funds and donate their hard-earned money.”
‘Tamil Nadu’ politics won’t be successful
Taking a swipe at the political culture of Tamil Nadu, KP said,
“It is high time for our Tamil politicians to be aware that ‘Tamil Nadu politics’ that they still practice will no longer be successful in Sri Lanka.”
The obsequious nature of KP’s views on the Rajapaksas and seeming distaste for Tamil self-determination dovetails with the behaviour of other ex-LTTE leaders who defected from the armed liberation group and have since cosied up to the Rajapaksas. Karuna Amman and Pillayan, who defected from the LTTE in 2004, have also played second fiddle to the brothers who oversaw the massacres of tens of thousands.
Read the full interview at FT Lanka here.