By Shayne R. Burnham
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka – Former Tamil Tiger leader, Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan, more widely known as Colonel Karuna, was appointed as Member of Parliament by President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Tuesday. President Rajapaksa made the appointment with the advice of Karuna’s brother and Sri Lankan Secretary of Defense, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.
Karuna stated, “Tamil people can now have the faith of solving their own problems through parliamentary democracy. We should forget the bitter past experiences and work to win the trust of the Tamils.”
Karuna faces opposition from the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP). The JVP has filed a Fundamental Rights petition against the appointment calling it “immoral” and suing him in the Supreme Court to have him removed. The JVP alleges that the vacancy Karuna took belongs to them because it opened up when one of their politicians won a powerful provincial post in August.
Karuna’s new appointment also meets serious protests from human rights activists. After recently having been arrested in the United Kingdom for carrying a false passport and serving jail time, human rights groups such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Coalition to Stop Child Soldiers have called for authorities there to investigate and prosecute Karuna for his past international war crimes. Authorities in the UK replied stating that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute.
Karuna served as the eastern commander for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which fought against the government and killed hundreds of police officers. The Tamileela Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP),the paramilitary group of which Karuna led after his leadership of the Tamil Tigers, has been accused of abducting children to serve as soldiers, torture and extortion. The TVMP was a group that split from the LTTE and was loyal to Karuna.
For more information, please see:
BBCSinhala – MP Karuna: “Travesty of Justice” – 7 October 2008
Reuters – Breakaway Tiger Leader Sworn into Sri Lanka Parliament – 7 October 2008
Tamil Sydney – Sri Lanka Bestow Democratic Decoration to a War Lord – War Criminal Karuna Becomes Nationalist MP – 8 October 2008