We are aware that there is some confusion among Tamils regarding British Tamils Forum’s participation in Global Tamil Forum (GTF). By releasing this statement, we hope to fulfil our duty towards the Tamil people by clarifying the facts.
When the war in the island of Sri Lanka came to a bloody end in 2009, there was an urgent need to unite Tamils around the world and give collective voice to their aspirations. British Tamils Forum, along with a number of other country organisations, played a pivotal role in facilitating and setting up the entity Global Tamil Forum, basing it on clear founding values and principles that are enshrined in its constitution.
The vision of GTF’s founding organisations was to take on board all diaspora Tamils and representative organisations across the world who seek justice and freedom – to give Tamils across the world a collective voice and representation. With this vision in mind, GTF was founded by 14 country organisations, which took the role of Founding Member Organisations. It was envisaged that, with time, other organisations would join – strengthening both GTF and the international Tamil diaspora. At its inception, GTF inherited the collective leadership of the Founding Member Country Organisations to spearhead the struggle globally.
Despite some initial successes, GTF and its leadership have gradually lost their way – principally because they have turned their back on GTF’s founding values, such as collective decision-making, democratic governance, transparency, inclusiveness and grassroots activism. Office bearers have neither displayed the leadership required to keep founding member organisations within GTF, nor have they undertaken the effort to expand GTF to include currently unrepresented Tamils across the world. Furthermore, GTF’s Annual General Meeting has been overdue since 2010. Therefore, it is of little surprise that GTF’s support base has dwindled and many country organisations have left.
With regard to the international struggle for Tamil justice and freedom – the raison d’être of GTF – the organisation has failed to articulate the ongoing structural genocide of the Tamils in the island of Sri Lanka. Indeed, it has at times even appeared to welcome initiatives undertaken by the Sri Lankan government that are plainly intended to thwart the international campaign for accountability and justice for Tamils in Sri Lanka.
British Tamils Forum is a grassroots organisation that has to act transparently and in accordance with the wishes of its constituents; we expect the same of GTF and any other grassroots organisation claiming to represent the Tamil people. Our consistent call for accountability, justice and freedom simply represents the wishes of British Tamils; it dismays us deeply that the Global Tamil Forum – which purports to represent Tamils across the world – sends such mixed, and unrepresentative, messages to the international community about the Tamil people’s aspirations.
British Tamils Forum believes that only wider participation in the decision making process can restore the trust of the Tamil diaspora in any entity – be it global, national or local. As our protracted and well-intended efforts to resolve the above issues with GTF have not been acknowledged, let alone reciprocated, we hereby declare openly that we have been denied any representation on the GTF Board – i.e. that we play no part in the decision-making process at GTF; hence we publicly distance ourselves from any of GTF’s initiatives or actions.
We have taken a principled decision on this matter after much careful deliberation, and in accordance with the wishes of the Tamil people. As always, British Tamils Forum will continue to work towards the unity of Tamils across the world and will aim to forge a strong alliance of representative Tamil organisations that are based on the fundamental values and aspirations of the Tamil people. (British Tamils Forum)