Thamilselvan’s statue re-erected in France


By Shamindra Ferdinando

A statue of former LTTE Political Wing leader Selvakumar Paramamoorthi Thamilchelvan, removed from La Courneuve, France, late last year following protests by Sri Lanka has been re-erected. An official investigating LTTE activity both here and abroad told The Sunday Island that the statue had placed at the exact location, where Tamil Diaspora activists put it up on Nov. 1, 2010 to coincide with the third year death anniversary of the LTTE’s one-time overall commander in Jaffna. The SLAF successfully targeted Thamilchelvan’s hideout at Kilinochchi on Nov. 1, 2007 about a week after a devastating LTTE commando raid on Anuradhapura SLAF base. He was 40-years at the time of his death which had a devastating impact on the LTTE.

The official said Diaspora activists had quietly persuaded French authorities to move back the statue amidst a stepped-up campaign in several parts of the world to ‘sanitize’ the LTTE.

External Affairs Ministry sources said that a decision by the LTTE rump to challenge the EU ban on the group in the Court of Justice of the European Communities in Luxembourg was part an overall strategy.

The action is backed by what Diaspora activists called democratically elected body of Eelam Tamils in Switzerland, the Swiss Council of Eelam Tamils (SCET)

Sources said that the Diaspora was now making an attempt to take advantage of the loss of LTTE’s conventional military capability to strengthen its case for recognition as a political force. The bottom line was that the Diaspora would push for de-proscription of the LTTE on the basis that it no longer retained a military capability. 

The LTTE fighting cadre collapsed on the banks of the Nanthikadal lagoon on May 19, 2009.

 Sources said that with re-erection of Thamilchelvam’s statue in France, the Diaspora could adopt similar tactics in other countries, home to large Sri Lankan Tamil communities. Thamilchelvan had been among those trained in India in 1984 and is widely believed to one of the senior commanders responsible for child recruitment and forcing every family to contribute at least one person to the LTTE fighting cadre.

Sources said that an organization called Franco-Tamil association of La Courneuve had been responsible for placing the bust of S.P.Tamilselvan, sculpted by a local artist, opposite the Art gallery ‘Le Sens de l’Art’ in La Courneuve, within the district of Seine-Saint Denis.

Some elected members of the Municipal Council of La Courneuve had participated at the event in last November when the statue was first unveiled.

Responding to criticism over the Diaspora move, the French embassy in Colombo last year said: The Constitution of France establishes a decentralized state, in which the Government does not have the authority to intervene in the domains devolved to the local institutions and cannot oppose the activities of elected local representatives, as long as these are in accordance with the law. Moreover, the Constitution of France protects the freedom of expression and the Rights of Association. 

France is a key member state of the EU. Sources pointed out that both France and Italy had strongly opposed the EU ban on the LTTE as they felt the US was behind the move.

The rift among EU nations was revealed by a US diplomatic cable originating from Colombo released by Wikileaks. Sources said that the Diaspora had stepped up their efforts to bring together those who had been supportive of the Eelam cause to recognize their struggle.

They said that the campaign seeking international recognition spearheaded by Tamil Eelam Transnational Government (TETG) led by one-time LTTE legal advisor, V. Rudrakumaran, was taking place amidst to their efforts to force an international ‘war crimes’ probe targeting Sri Lankan political and military leaders.

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