Tamara Kunanayakam, with black highlights being her para headlines and the others my imposition as Editor, Thuppahi
This is in response to Hiran Cooray and extracts he posted about me from Wiki[eaks]. I would like to make the following corrections and clarifications.
On my family: I was born in Nuwara Eliya (not Colombo), where my father, as a government servant, had been posted. As an active member of the GCSU, he spent his working life as a government servant being transferred from one ‘punishment station’ to another for his trade union activities. In 1947, as Colombo leader of the GCSU (with TB Illangaratne as its President then), he led the Colombo walk-out that led to Sri Lanka’s first General Strike, (Sri Lanka was(then “Ceylon” and still under British colonial rule). Because of his eternal transfers (Polonnaruwa, Matale, Anuradhapura, Badulla, Nuwara Eliya …), until he took early retirement and began working full time training trade unionists, we all lived literally out of our suitcases with my brother and I in boarding school in Colombo.
My mother was NOT “Hindu Indian Tamil”. It is true she was from Badulla. She was of mixed parentage. Her paternal grandmother was from an old Kandyan Sinhala family, her grandfather was a Chetty. On her maternal side, they were from Jaffna and Matale.
Politically, my maternal grandfather was a Badulla leader of the Ceylon National Congress (Lanka Jathika Kongrasaya), a nationalist political party established in 1919. My grandfather was among the ant-colonial nationalists, the “Young Turks” who opposed dominion status and fought for full independence. Later, CNC became part of the UNP formation. It would be correct to say, my grandfather supported the Indian independence movement. Since the British ruled India, Burma, and Ceylon as a single administrative unit, the anti-colonialists and anti-imperialists were also organised in a common front, especially in the Left (my father too was in the underground struggle for freedom from British domination). The impression that the wiki authors seek to project is that my mother was ‘Indian’ or ‘pro-Indian’ as opposed to being ‘Sri Lankan’.
Our parents raised us children to think of ourselves as Sri Lankans and to respect all religions.
On my ‘career’: Much of it is twisted, invented, or simply left unsaid. In the period quoted, I was attached briefly, for 2 short periods, to the Lutheran World Federation as Researcher on the Third World and the international debt crisis, and on the impact of globalisation on peasant agriculture in Asia. I DID NOT SEND ANY SUCH FAX TO ANY LUTHERAN DELEGATION IN VANCOUVER. THAT IS AN ABSOLUTE LIE. Mangala Samaraweera spread that lie to justify calling me a ‘kottiya’ on Swarnavahini. I have filed action against him for defamation.
On the statement by WSCF to the Commission on Human Rights: Firstly, it was not ‘my’ statement, but that of the WSCF, whose membership is made up of Student Christian Movements all over the world, including Sri Lanka. The text would have been sent to the Geneva-based WSCF by the Sri Lankan membership.
Second, I only read it, because I was on the WSCF delegation working on the right to development, in close cooperation with the Non-Aligned Movement. I had no objection to its contents.
Thirdly, that statement is about the human rights violations and political repression against all Sri Lankans, north and south. It was under the JR regime. My links in Sri Lanka, then and now, are with the Left and the progressive nationalist forces. Some of them are in the current political leadership, even at the helm.
Hiran [Cooray] should be able to judge for himself whether the underlying structures that lead to violations have been removed.
With best regards, TAMARA
A NOTE by Michael Roberts as Editor, Thuppahi, 21 February 2021
This Brief MEMO was presented by Tamara as an internal ‘Note’ clarifying erroneous notes by others in a raging email debate among an Email cluster of concerned and patriotic Sri Lankans – mostly Sinhala to judge from the names and including at least one who, in my appraisal (not necessarily Tamara’s) is chauvinist. After securing her permission, it is placed in Thuppahi for several reasons:
A = A supplementary ‘Note’ by Tamara says this: “PS: I will respond separately to the extracts about me taken from Wiki and circulated in this group. That wiki page was written by a pro-LTTE group and then other stuff added by pro-US elements within Sri Lanka’s polity. The corrections I have asked to make have been systematically rejected.” THIS is a startling and ominous revelation: BIAS and LIES inscribed within Wikipedia! ….. !#@#@!!!! ………….. It reveals the dedication and reach of elements within the Tamil diaspora and/or that of US personnel.
B: To this dimension of world power, one must add the implications of another passing note in Tamara’s recent clarification of events in Geneva in the early-mid 2010s: where she referred to Mangala Samaraweera’s role in undermining the programme she and others had initiated in Geneva in 2011. We know full well that Mangala got into bed (figuratively not actually) with Samantha Power, a key State Department official, during this period. He then moulded a process thar saw Tony Blair invited to deliver the Lakshman Kadirgamar Address in August 2015; so that Blair could present the processes that enabled UK to settle the Northern Ireland contretemps – in effect serving as a pillar in support of the Yahapaalana Government’s policy of appeasing the Tamils via devolution.
C: I note here that in late 2018, I had the pleasure of staying a few nights at a house in Battaramulla rented by Tamara and her French partner Jean-Pierre. Apart from establishing a warm friendship with their dog Umberto (alas, now laid to rest), I garnered many details about Tamara’s life journeys amidst some of the political fare she conveyed (see Roberts 2018). Her cosmopolitan and Leftist convictions became manifest. But my recollections also stress the fortitude and courage of a young Ladies College girl traveling overland (inclusive of hitch-hikes across Afghanistan) with her brother from Sri Lanka to Germany and Switzerland in the early 1970s. [ii] Though her university education was at Heidelberg University, Geneva became her new home (so that her subsequent ambassadorial stay may have benefited from local knowledge). So, I can firmly assert that with Tamara and Jean-Pierre, what you see and hear is what you get. Feints and lies are not in her vocabulary.
Tamara Kunanayakam: “Tamara Kunanayakam’s Forecast in 2015: Evidence today on USA’s Penetrative Thrusts,” 9 August 2016, https://thuppahis.com/2016/08/09/tamara-ks-forecast-in-2015-evidence-today-on-usas-penetrative-thrusts/
Tamara Kunanayakam: “Tamara Kunanayakam slams Western Intervention in Lanka’s Political Order and Evokes Egyptian Comparisons,” 31 October 2018, https://thuppahis.com/2018/10/31/tamara-kunanayakam-slams-western-intervention-in-lankas-political-oreder-and-evokes-egyptian-comparisons/
Michael Roberts: “Young Tamara Kunanayakam in Central Europe, 1970s-19801,” 1 November 2018, https://thuppahis.com/2018/11/01/young-tamara-kunanayakam-in-central-europe-1970s-to-1980s/
Tamara Kunanayakam: “A System Change and A Trojan Horse accepted by Ranil-Sirisena Combo,” 15 September 2015, https://thuppahis.com/2015/09/25/a-system-change-and-trojan-horse-accepted-by-ranil-sirisena-combo-says-tamara-kunanayakam/
Tamara Kunanayakam;“1983 and 2018: Kunanayakam’s Warnings suggest US-UNHCR-Yahapālana Machinations,” 15 March 2018, https://thuppahis.com/2018/03/15/1983-and-2018-kunanayakams-warnings-suggest-us-unhcr-yahapalana-machinations/
Michael Roberts: “The Samaraweera-Yahapālana Induction of Tony Blair in support of their “Reconciliation Programme” in August 2015,”26 November 2018, https://thuppahis.com/2020/11/26/the-samaraweera-yahapalana-induction-of-tony-blair-in-support-of-their-reconciliation-programme-in-august-2015/
Thuppahi: “Sam and Man … Sam’s Man,” 15 March 2019,https://thuppahis.com/2019/03/15/sam-and-man/
Gerald H. Peiris: “The Doctrine of Responsibility to Protect: Impulses, Implications and Impact,” 30 June 2010, http://www.slguardian.org/2010/06/the-doctrine-of-responsibility-to-protect-impulses-implications-and-impact/ AND https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#search/from%3A(geraldpeiris%40yahoo.com)+OR+to%3A(geraldpeiris%40yahoo.com)/1510fc7141751033?projector=1
Tony Donaldson]: Western Neo-Colonialism Today: An Incisive Note from Tony Donaldson, 12 June 2018, https://thuppahis.com/2018/06/12/western-neo-colonialism-today-a-g-string-revelation-from-tony-donaldson/
Thuppahi: “A Critical Bibliography : Challenging the Machinations of the International Power vis a vis Sri Lanka,” 25 November 2015, https://thuppahis.com/2015/11/25/a-critical-bibliography-challenging-the-machinations-of-the-international-powers-vis-a-vis-sri-lanka/
Michael Roberts: “Lilliputs in a World of Giants: Marga and CHA bat for Lanka in the Propaganda War, 2009-14,” 18 November 2015, https://thuppahis.com/2015/11/18/lilliputs-in-a-world-of-giants-marga-and-cha-bat-for-lanka-in-the-propaganda-war-2009-14/#more-18467
Michael Roberts: “Sturdy Advocacy: Marga’s Questioning of the UNPoE’s Assassination Job,” 25 November 2009, https://thuppahis.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=18544&action=edit&postpost=v2
Stephen Wertheim: “A solution from hell: the United States and the rise of humanitarian interventionism, 1991–2003,” Journal of Genocide Research, 12(3–4), September–December 2010, 149–172 http://www.columbia.edu/~saw2156/SolutionfromHell.pdf
[i] See https://thuppahis.com/2018/11/01/young-tamara-kunanayakam-in-central-europe-1970s-to-1980s/
[ii] As it happens, I was at Heidelberg University too with my family on a Humboldt Fellowship in 1975-76. I did not run into Young Tamara then.
2 responses to “Tamara’s Biography from Her Pen in Answer to Wikileak Twists”
Ms. Tamara Kunanayakam, is one such person I hold in high esteem. Its a disgrace that we have opportunistic thrash bags like Mangala.
I am quite dismayed with the current Administration of Rajapakshes why they have not made full use of Tamara’s sincerity and appointed her to a position to represent SL in Europe in the UN?
Its never too late, as she is knowledgeable & far seen to lead SL in the International political sphere.
Wish her well.
I enjoyed this essay and strongly agree with Michael’s views on the importance of biographical narratives in scholarship.