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Selected Writings by Dr.S.Sathananthan
Kumar: the Death of A Warrior
27 January 2000
A brave warrior and a good man sacrificed his life for the Tamil National Movement. Mamanithar GG Ponnambalam Jnr. – Kumar, to many of us – fell victim to an assassin’s bullet in Colombo on 5 January 2000. The Sinhalese political forces that silenced his fearless Tamil voice no doubt aimed to end the life of a Tamil patriot. But in his death Kumar tore apart their liberal pretensions and exposed their mailed fists and jackboots. By killing him, an unarmed Tamil dissident, the Sinhalese forces conclusively demonstrated the hopelessness of the war waged against Tamils.
There are no secrets anymore. Nothing to hide. The Sinhalese nation lies exposed in its complicity with the Sinhalese State: like a broken bottle.
Kumar’s martyrdom forcefully brings out the contribution that the Sinhalese people have made to State terror in this country. The vast majority of Sinhalese opinion makers who condemned the deaths of Tamil Quislings maintain a deafening silence. They also remained silent at the rape of Tamil women accepting the State’s apology that they were LTTE cadre; they also remained silent at the murder of Tamil school children claiming it was LTTE propaganda; they also remained silent at the State’s genocidal onslaught using food and medicine as weapons of war against the Tamil people in the name of liberating the Tamils. They chose to forget a fundamental human rights principle: the opponent also has human rights.
Kumar painfully remembered all this and more. From Kuttimani and Jegan to Krishanthy Kumarasamy, Kumar valiantly stood by numerous victims of State terror until the same amoral force felled him.
Kumar was a tower of strength and a shining beacon of hope to the countless Tamils arbitrarily arrested and incarcerated under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, Emergency Regulations and other repressive laws. As an accomplished Attorney-at-Law, he defended them in courts of law in the Sinhalese heartland with a single-minded commitment to justice that put most others to unmitigated shame.
His contribution to the Tamil National Movement is well known. If the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) battled on the military front, Kumar put his shoulder to the political wheel. He tirelessly campaigned for the political objectives that animated the LTTE, for the national emancipation of the Tamil people. He matured into the roving ambassador for the Tamil National Movement.
Kumar consistently took to task Sinhalese chauvinism and unflinchingly challenged the highest powers in the land. At the same time he cultivated a genial relationship with individual Sinhalese who were not given to baser instincts. Ever willing to generously acknowledge the good in friend or foe, his humanism won him numerous loyal friends on both sides of the ethnic divide, within and without the country.
His undoubted greatness lies in the willingness to rise above, and often consciously go against the grain of, the interests of his class and to unwaveringly commit himself to the struggle to emancipate the Tamil nation as a whole. It is this national vision that sets Kumar apart from most other Tamil politicians who are by and large shackled by narrow class interests and so eager to do Sinhalese bidding. Kumar by contrast held aloft the dignity of the proud Tamil nation. Whilst the countless Kakkai Vanniyar slithered about, Kumar’s uncompromising stance against the Sinhalese oppressors brilliantly underscored the revolutionary tradition of Sankili.
His martyrdom marks another milestone on the Tamil people’s long march to justice that witnessed the invasion of Jaffna in 1995, the Holocaust of 1983 and the destruction of the Jaffna Library in 1981.
Those who burn books burn people.