Friday, December 02, 2005

Anton Balasingam's speech in London draws fire from Tamil expatriates

Siva Chelliah from London., December 1. LTTE's chief negotiator Anton Balasingam's speech at the Hero's day event has drawn strong criticism among Tamil expatriates living in Europe. LTTE's annual Hero's day event was held last Sunday (November 27th) at the Wembley Arena in the outskirts of London. Mr. Balasingam was the keynote speaker at the event in London and spoke at length about the peace talks and the last presidential elections. He said that the LTTE was more worried about Ranil Wickeramasinghe whom he referred to as a "dangerous snake in hiding". Mr. Balasingam said LTTE was not serious about the peace talks, but was forced to attend the talks. Though he did not mention who forced LTTE, Mr. Balasingam said that participation in the peace-talks "took some pressure off on the LTTE".

Mr. Balasingam further said EU's travel ban has little or no effect on the LTTE. Further elaborating on the issure he stated "We anticipate that the EU might ban LTTE. But the Tamil people here strongly believe in us and support the LTTE. Even if the EU bans us, the Tamils won't give up on us. For the things we have to do in public, openly, we have to find some other way. So the ban will not affect us. I will not have any problems to travel, as I carry a British passport. I can go there anyhow. Only people from Wanni, like Thamilselvan and Pulithevan won't be able to visit Europe". Mr. Balasingam said he moves around in London openly and alone, and some friends had asked why he is taking such a risk. He said "if I die inside the house from heart attack nobody will care. But if someone kills me while I walk around, then I will be a Hero". Mr. Balasingam is rarely seen in public in London, where he lives with his wife in a guarded house.

During his long speech Mr. Balasingam also blurted out some 'behind-the-scene' details about the participants at the peace talks that drew harsh criticism from several pro-LTTE Tamils in Europe. Referring to the talks held in Thailand, Mr. Balasingam said, "Only me and G.L Pereis were struggling about the Federal political system. By afternoon, all our boys who were there would sneak out and come back very late in the night. I wanted to know where they were all going, and found out that they were going to shopping centers looking for Thai girls. But I couldn't do anything" and went on to comment about his Australian born wife. Mr. Balasingam alleged that Mr. Milinda Meeragoda and the then UNP government might have thought by showing foreign countries and the lifestyles there, they can weaken the minds of the LTTE cadres. He said although these boys had seen what was 'available' in Bangkok, they returned back to Kilinochchi where they are committed to the LTTE. Mr. Balasingam, along with Mr. V. Rudrakumar, LTTE's legal advisor, Dr. Jay Maheswaran, a rehabilitation and development expert, Mr. S.P. Thamilchelvan, Head of the Political section of the LTTE, Colonel Karuna, then LTTE's special commander for Batticalo and Mrs. Adele Balasingam represented LTTE on October 2002, in the city of Nakhon Pathom, 35 miles west of Bangkok.

Mr. Balasingam started his speech with a chilling warning to the TULF leader Mr. Anadasangaree. He said that "Pottu Amman has built a star hotel in Kilinochchi and the TULF leader can enjoy the 'hospitality' of Pottu Amman there".

Tamil expatriate communities in Europe are deeply agitated about some of the utterances of Mr. Balasingam in his speech in London. His admission that LTTE cadres visited Thai girls during the peace talks and his boasting that because of his British passport he will be able to go anywhere and Tamilselvan and Pulithevan will have problems, drew criticism from Tamils. Audio files of Mr. Balasingam's entire speech in London is available at several pro-LTTE web-sites, including the Norway funded Nitharsanam.