ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday January 6, 2008
Vol. 42 - No 32

He spoke out for the Tamil people

Kumar Ponnambalam

A vociferous voice of the Tamils was stilled on January 5, 2000, when a courageous defender of human rights of Tamils and eminent criminal lawyer Kumar Ponnambalam, the General Secretary of the All Ceylon Tamil Congress, was killed.

Kumar well known as G.G. Ponnambalam Junior, the only son of Queen's Counsel, statesman and erudite scholar G.G. Ponnambalam, accepted Tamil leader whose name has been engraved in the history of Sri Lanka, followed in his father's footsteps.

Kumar Ponnambalam

This is how Bill Pascrell (Jr) of the US House of Representatives in his condolence message described Kumar: "I appreciate Kumar Ponnambalam's contribution to the protection of the human and political rights of Tamil people, throughout his career. Mr. Ponnambalam was a tireless advocate of free speech, advocating the legitimate cause of Tamils in Sri Lanka."

Kumar was accepted as an elite Tamil voice by diplomats and UN officials in Sri Lanka. European Parliamentarian Robert Evans who was closely associated with Kumar commented that he was never afraid to speak out and was always conscious of the safety of other people. For the atrocities taking place in Sri Lanka, he pointed a finger at the military and the then government. At a meeting in Brussels, he drew attention to the lack of coverage of the Sri Lankan civil war in the European and world press. It is unique that Kumar, though not an elected member of the people, played an active role in Tamil politics. His was a genuine voice and his assassination eight years ago was considered a devastating blow to the Tamil community.

He advocated the Thimpu principle for a political formula. The reason for this insistence on the recognition of the Thimpu principle was that he felt that if the south was genuine in recognising the legitimate aspirations of the Tamils of the north and the east, then before embarking on the technicalities of such a solution, the south should first show the world that it recognised the Tamil aspirations in principle. It was only if this was done, Kumar believed, that the south could be held to its word in putting into practice any system of government that was subsequently formulated.

But he believed and expressed the view that he knew that the legitimate aspirations of the northeast Tamils would never be recognized by the Sinhalese and by insisting on the Thimpu principles he stood to expose the hypocrisy of the Sinhala leaders in carrying out a farce in drafting the so-called "proposals".

Today that farce is only too apparent. Kumar never believed in narrow political gain. He was so convinced of the struggle that he was willing to put party politics behind and recognize the struggle. He had a large circle of Sinhalese friends. A product of Cambridge, Kumar, a barrister and old Royalist, was considered by the elite Colombo crowd as a good friend. God give us men the time demands with strong minds, great hearts, true faith and willing hands.

Dr. N. Kumaragurparan, General Secretary of ACTC after Kumar

Top to the page

Reproduction of articles permitted when used without any alterations to contents and the source.
© Copyright 2008 | Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka. All Rights Reserved.