Former postmaster turned LTTE interpreter, Velupillai Kumaru Pancharatnam, affectionately referred to as George Master, passed away at the age of 85 on Sunday.
George Master had served as the official translator for Thamilselvan, the leader of the LTTE's poliical wing and lead negotiator. During his time he had met with several international delegations and attended the peace negotiations. He was arrested in April 2009 during the final phases of the armed conflict where he was detained by Sri Lanka's Criminal Investigation Department and questioned over his role.
Marking his death, Erik Solheim, a senior Norweign official during the peace negotiations, described George Master as a "Tamil patriot".
I am saddened by message that George Master just passed away. George was our brilliant interpreter when we met the LTTE leadership during the Sri Lanka peace process. A strong Tamil patriot and a most decent supporter of peace. RIP George! pic.twitter.com/bB1dS4GjCJ
— Erik Solheim (@ErikSolheim) September 5, 2021
Frances Harrison, a former BBC correspondent, marked his passing noting her first encounter with him.
The first time I met him in 2002 he was talking about a review on .@bbcworldservice radio of @georgealagiah’s book A Passage to Africa & I happened to have it with me so I gave my copy to him- he love it so much he translated it into Tamil & made the cadres read it!
— Frances Harrison (@francesharris0n) September 5, 2021
Alan Keenan, Senior Consultant for the Internationa Crisis Group, described him as "much more than your average interpreter".
A lot of secrets may have died along with George Master. Some I know who met regularly with George believed his “translations” of LTTE leaders’ words could be quite creative and that he was possibly much more than your average interpreter. https://t.co/SyFLelmNCQ
— Alan Keenan (@akeenan23) September 5, 2021