World Tamil Organisation (WTO)

The World Tamil Organisation (WTO) is actually World Thamil Organization,[1] established in 1991, though its website was only created on May 9, 2009,  as per the WhosIs.Net registration information search.[2] Interestingly, that was a week before the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) were defeated by the Sri Lankan military in a major offensive against the separatists. WTO claims that it is “…a political organization [which] actively supports all legitimate actions in favor of Tamil people’s political rights.”[3] This includes fighting for “…independent, sovereign Tamil Eelam.” Tamil Eelam is the name given by Tamil separatists to the state that they dream of creating within Sri Lanka. This is the idea that inspired the LTTE to fight a violent armed civil war in Sri Lanka, a war that ravaged the country and left between 80,000 to 100,000 people dead. WTO aspires to the same goals as those espoused by the likes of LTTE and other separatist organizations.

WTO’s membership in the CAG stems from its hatred for the state of India, which it views as “Aryan/Brahmin oppressors” of the “Dravidian Tamils” and one that opposes the aspirations of Tamils to form a separate state/country. In this framework, various Hindu groups are deemed as agents of “Brahminism” whose sole objective is to eradicate an ethnic Tamil identity/race. In essence, it follows the same ideology of its sister organization, the Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America (FeTNA), as discussed further below. In fact, as seen below, seven of the 11 Officers/Board Members of WTO are either current or past Officers/Board Members of FeTNA.  One can therefore infer that WTO is essentially the political lobbying arm of FeTNA.

This page also demonstrates WTO’s support for Tamil separatism through agents in India and outside and concludes with a background on FeTNA and its work to undermine Hindu and Indian interests in India and abroad.

Section 13.01     Ideological Basis of Tamil Separatism

The idea of Tamil Eelam is closely tied to the Dravidian movement in Southern India. The Dravidian movement views the so-called “Tamil Religion” as separate and distinct from Hindu religious traditions and thus advocates a fierce separation of the Tamils from the “Hindu Aryans”. The movement considers Tamils as the original Dravidian inhabitants/race of India before the arrival of the Hindu Aryans. Malhotra and Neelakandan (2011) devote several chapters to the colonial/Christian missionary creation of the Dravidian identity in order to further divide the people of India.  In essence, the idea was to create a feeling that the original inhabitants of India had been always conquered by outsiders such as the Aryans and that the “original” people of India were followers of a form of Christianity.

The initial development of a theory of the superior Aryan race gained ground in the 18th and early 19th centuries from Europe’s search for a glorified ancestry. European Romanticists, Indologists and German nationalist thinkers, for example, traced their ancestry back to some idealized and “racially pure” European Aryans who were bound to conquer the whole world. Indologists, in particular, classified India in a way that served colonial interests.

The European Aryans were seen as racially pure and blessed with the spiritually superior Christianity, whereas the North Indian Aryans were of mixed breed resulting from European Aryans mixing with inferior natives, resulting from idolatry, polytheism and racial impurity.[4]

“Colonial Indologists developed the discourse that even though the initial Aryan invasion from Europe to the Indian subcontinent had brought an infusion of civilization, the Indians had later degenerated.”[5]

Malhotra and Neelakandan (2011) provide an excerpt from the Oxford History of India, a textbook used for candidates for the Indian Civil Service exams and higher education, to illustrate the prevalent race theories of the time:

[F]rom the Vedic hymns it has been possible to piece together a reasonably coherent picture of the Aryan invaders on their first impact with the black, noseless [flat-nosed] dasyus who comprised their native opponents and subjects.[6]

However, Dr. Ambedkar, the architect of the Indian Constitution and a pioneering Dalit leader, studied such works (especially Lord Risley’s Nasal Index data) and categorically debunked such racial interpretations:

The measurements establish that the Brahmins and the Untouchables belong to the same race. From this it follows that if the Brahmins are Aryans, the Untouchables are also Aryans. If the Brahmins are Dravidians, the Untouchables are also Dravidians. If the Brahmins are Nagas, the Untouchables are also Nagas. Such being the facts, the theory…must be said to be based on a false foundation.[7]

Still, racial interpretations continued to be used by colonialists and Christian missionaries for their devious agendas. Discussing Bishop Robert Caldwell, one of the pioneering Christian missionaries in Southern India, Malhotra and Neelakandan describe the powerful impact of his work:

It established [the] theological foundation for Dravidian separatism from Hinduism, backed by the Church…The concept of dissociating Tamils from mainstream Hindu spirituality provided Caldwell an ethical rationale for Christian proselytization.[8]

Caldwell, Pope and other missionary theologians attacked important Tamil works such as Thirukural and Saiva Siddhanta and claimed that these were a result of Christian influence. All the negative social practices that were deemed “corrupt” were attributed to Hinduism, while all the positives were the result of Christianity.

[Pope] declared that Thirukural was the result of Christian influence, that Thiruvalluvar was a great pioneer who learned ethics from Christianity, and that he was sharing it through his poem so that the simple-minded Tamil people could benefit from Christian ethics.[9]

These theologians would then use Thirukural as a powerful weapon to pit Dravidians against the so-called Hindu Aryans “…by claiming that [Thirukural] was originally egalitarian and got later contaminated by Hinduism.”[10] However, Thirukural’s statements on egalitarian social norms of Indian society at that time were mixed and strikingly similar to those of other Hindu philosophical works.[11]

Such efforts then gave birth to later Tamil racist politics. Malhotra and Neelakandan further discuss the political atmosphere and attitude by quoting Chanda Mallampalli, a Christian scholar, as follows:

South Indian political culture of non-Brahmanism drew its inspiration from Dravidian ideology; this ideology posited a distinct linguistic and racial identity for south Indians. Non-Brahmin agitators pitted Dravidian culture, which most often championed the Tamil language, against Hindu, Aryan or Sanskritic cultures from the North. Champions of Dravidianism and non-Brahminism drew upon the cultural and linguistic resources provided by missionaries such as Robert Caldwell and G.U. Pope.[12]

Combined with the above, organizations such as the Theosophical Society, “…used [their] South India base to trigger Buddhist revivalism in Sri Lanka by fashioning a Buddhist-Aryan-Sinhalese identity.”[13] These Theosophists also promoted the mythical idea of a lost continent called Lemuria. “The Dravidian myth of the Lemurian origins allowed Tamils to claim that they werethe indigenous population of Sri Lanka, and to describe the Sinhalese as alien Aryan intruders.”[14]

Hence, this dangerous cocktail of colonial/Christian missionary agenda and Dravidian separatist aspirations has resulted in a violent conflict in Sri Lanka along with a strong feeling of separatism in the State of Tamil Nadu in India.

Section 13.02     Separatist Support

Indeed, separatist aspirations in Tamil Nadu are prevalent today with multiple regional Dravidian political parties and leaders such as Vaiko of the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam Party, who is known for his staunch support of the LTTE. WTO’s separatist agenda is also evident by the support it lends to such personalities.

In 2004, WTO organized a meeting in Chicago to honor Vaiko “…for his services to Tamil and Tamil Eelam cause.”[15]

In 2008, Vaiko was arrested on sedition charges when he “…warned that India extending help to protect Sri Lanka’s integrity would jeopardise (sic) India’s own unity and integrity….[and that] he would be ready to take up arms and fight for the Tamils in the island nation.”[16] In a March 26, 2000, interview with Rediff, Vaiko declared: “My umbilical relationship with the Tamils and LTTE is so strong that I cannot remain a mute spectator…I support the LTTE as it is the only organisation (sic), which has steadfastly fought the persecution of Tamils for five decades.”[17]

Another personality in this dangerous geopolitical game is Thol Thirumavalavan, President of the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi party in Tamil Nadu.[18] Thirumavalavan is a Dalit activist who advocates for the rights of Dalits in India and against the so-called “Aryan/Brahmin” oppression practiced by the India state. Like Vaiko and others, he is also a staunch supporter of LTTE and the cause of Tamil Eelam. In 2009, he declared: “…I only grumble that I am unable to take up arms and fight for LTTE and hence absolutely I do not have any fear of getting arrested for supporting the LTTE.”[19] He also believes firmly that “Eelam liberation can be achieved only through LTTE.”[20]

Thirumavalavan also believes that Tamil nationalism can be an emancipator of the Dalits and hence must be upheld vehemently while opposing the so-called “Hindutva” Indian state. In his book, Uproot Hindutva: The Fiery Voice of the Liberation Panthers (2004, Popular Prakashan Ltd.), Thirumavalavan takes rather peculiar positions to rally political support. For example, realizing that the idea of “Hindutva” may not appeal to the Southern Indian masses, “he invokes Tamil nationalism as a rallying point”[21] to win support from Dalits.

He also argues that “Caste oppression would miraculously disappear the moment a ‘Tamil government’ is formed in Tamil Nadu.”[22] Naturally, his definition of Tamil government is based on the Aryan/Dravidian construct that shapes Tamil separatism.

However, as seen in Section 13.01 from Dr. Ambedkar’s deconstruction of racial theories, the idea of a Dravidian/Tamil race is based on outdated colonial interpretations. Yet, Dravidian political parties use these theories to further their own agendas and interests, often combining them with dangerous missionary plans.

In yet another testament of the ideology that WTO subscribes to, in May 2003, the outfit held a convention in Fairfax Virginia for the cause of Tamil Eelam where Thol Thirumavalavan was the chief guest.[23]

Section 13.03     WTO and FeTNA

Not surprisingly, WTO is run by current and former Board Members and Officers of FeTNA (Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America), who work closely together to lobby the US government for an independent Tamil Eelam and hence supporting LTTE and the separatist movement.  From the information below, one can conclude that WTO was set up to lobby support for Tamil Eelam because, under US law, FeTNA cannot indulge in political activities without losing its 501(c)(3) Tax-Exempt Status. Thus, WTO is not set up a tax-exempt entity.

  1. For example, FetNA’s website is registered to Thillai Kumaran,[24] who was the President of FetNA in 2007 and 2008.[25] Kumaran is currently on the Advisory Committee of WTO.[26] He was the voice of FetNA in the vicious 2006 California Textbook campaign launched by FOIL, FOSA and many members of the CAG against Hindu groups and parents who were advocating for an equitable treatment of Hinduism vis-a-vis other major world religions in sixth grade textbooks (more on that below).
  2. According to North Carolina State records, WTO is registered by Thani K. Cheran[27] and he is the current Treasurer.[28] Cheran was also the President of FetNA in 1993[29] and is also a Life Member of FetNA.[30] On February 4, 2011, India Post carried a scathing article exposing FeTNA’s links to LTTE. On Thani Kumar Cheran, the paper noted:

Earlier, another Fetna leader, Dr. Thani Kumar Cheran of Raleigh, North Carolina, was stopped at Chennai International airport on his arrival from the US and prevented from entering after his visa was revoked on arrival. He was a strong supporter of LTTE and organized many fund raisers to help the militant organization headed by [the] late Velupillai Prabakaran in the 1990s [emphasis added].[31]

  1. Selvan Patchamuthu, the current President of WTO,[32] was also the Treasurer of FetNA from 2008 to 2010.[33]
  2. V.G. Dev, the current Vice President of WTO,[34] was the President of FeTNA in 2005[35].
  3. Naanjil E. Peter, a Member of the Board of Directors of WTO,[36] is the current Treasurer of FetNA, though he is listed as Naanjil Y. Peter.[37]
  4. Sundar Kuppusamy, a Member of the WTO Advisory Committee,[38] is a Life Member of FeTNA.[39]
  5. Arumugan Petchimuthu, a Member of the Board of Directors of WTO,[40] is also a Member of FeTNA, according to FeTNA’s list of Delegates.[41] The WTO website is also registered to Petchimuthu, as per the WhoIs.Net site registration entry.[42]

Thus, seven of the 11 members of the WTO are current or former Officers/Directors of FeTNA. This is summarized in the Table below.

WTO Committee_FetNa Affiliations

Section 1.04     FeTNA – A Background

FeTNA deems itself an umbrella organization consisting of many regional and local Tamil cultural organizations in North America. However, Malhotra and Neelakandan (2011) remark: “While it calls itself ‘a literary, educational, cultural, charitable, secular, and nonpartisan organization’, FeTNA has been accused of supporting the Sri Lankan terrorist group LTTE…”[43] Thani K Cheran’s detention and visa revocation at the Chennai Airport was discussed in the previous section.  In a similar – but more disturbing development – in 2006, the FBI arrested in  Sacratis Nachimuthu (Nachimuthu Socrates), the former President and 2004 Board Member of FeTNA, along with 13 others, for plotting to “…buy weapons for [LTTE] and bribe agents posing as State Department officials to remove the group from a list of foreign terrorist organizations.”[44]  In another instance, “In 2005, according to the Chicago Tribune, Illinois Congressman Danny K. Davis went on a FeTNA-sponsored trip to the Sri Lankan Tamil regions and acknowledged that he ‘knew that [FetNA was] associated with the Tamil Tigers’.”[45]

FeTNA is also know for using its academic links “…to spread demonic images of Indian society, with the help of Tamil Nadu-based Dalit activists.”[46] FetNA was one of the major contributors to the Tamil Chair established at University of California at Berkeley.[47] One of the first professors invited by the Chair was Ilakkuvanar Maraimalai, who had previously attended a linguistic conference where he expressed his delight to have learned “many things about the Mormon religion and the Church of the Latter Day Saints.”[48] The Mormon Bible reminded him “of a prominent religious literature in Tamil, Tiruvachagam…”[49]  “Like a true Dravidianist, Ilakkuvanar believes that the government of India discriminates against its Tamil citizens and that ‘India remains north’, and that present-day India is a ‘torture camp for religious minorities’.”[50]

George Hart, the current Chair holder, has used his post to emphasize the separateness of Tamil from Indian traditions. Malhotra and Neelakandan (2011) note:

For instance, he organized a meeting of Western Tamil educators featuring Thomas Malten, whose Tamil Studies department at Cologne University was closely associated with Germany’s Lutheran Church. Other conferences organized by the Tamil Chair often feature papers that deconstruct traditional Tamil images of devotion, in the same manner as is found in modern Dravidian politics…For example, a paper by Hart interprets Ramayana as ‘a strange work’ filled with contradictions between ‘Brahminical thought’ and ‘martial valor’… He sees Ramayana primarily yet ‘subtly’ as a way to oppress Dravidians … Hart claims that this was later reflected as the way that the ‘great military and imperial power of the Cholas was leavened by the Brahminical system that they supported’.[51]

Indian classical tradition is thus demonized as a means to show the oppression inherent in Indian civilization and culture. This view is similar to the one expressed by Vijay Prashad of FOIL as well as other members the CAG as already discussed.

“FeTNA’s testimony at the California Curriculum Commission made the blatantly erroneous claim that ‘the Early Tamil texts clearly distinguish between Tamils and Aryans’.”[52] Malhotra and Neelakandan (2011) provide a full Appendix (Appendix B) in their book to debunk such stances.

Similarly, FeTNA’s Dravidianist ideology is further illustrated in the edits/corrections proposed by the organization to the California Board of Education. One of them urged the Board of Education to:

[C]larify that Sanskrit is not the root of the Dravidian languages so that the text reads, ‘Sanskrit is no longer widely spoken today, but it is the root of many, but not all, modern South Asian languages, which also include Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, and Malayalam belonging to the Dravidian linguistic family’.[53]

The California Textbook Campaign against Hindu groups was spearheaded by many of the members of the CAG, such as FOSA, CSFH, OY, YSS, EKTA/CAC, FIACONA, IAMC, etc.

FeTNA’s perverse belief in Tamil racial identity is further highlighted, for example, via its 21st Annual Convention in Florida. According to the coverage of the Convention,

The theme of the three-day convention which began on July 4 was ‘Preserve the Tamil Race by protecting the language [emphasis added]: Let’s work together to protect the language’. Commenting on the theme before the commencement of the convention, ex-president Thillai Kumaran said, ‘In order to protect the Tamil race we need to protect the language [emphasis added] and for that we need to come together and that is what the purpose of the annual conventions are’.[54]

On other occasions, “FeTNA has also honored Jagat Gasper, a Catholic propagandist who has used his proximity to Dravidian power centers for Christianizing the Tamil culture.”[55] Gasper was also listed along with Nachimuthu Socrates in the FBI case above as an intermediary on behalf of LTTE to bribe US officials to get the terrorist label removed.

So the following conclusions are inescapable:

  1. WTO appears to be essentially the political/lobbying arm of FeTNA. Seven of WTO’s 11 Committee Members are either current or former Officers/Directors of FeTNA.
  2. WTO and FeTNA follow a perverse Dravidian/Tamil racial ideology based on a mix of debunked colonial/missionary theories about Indian people and current Dravidian/Tamil political agendas in India. Within this ideological framework, they work hand-in-glove with other organizations whose mission is to “Break India” or to demonize Hinduism and India for a myriad reasons described throughout this website.
  3. WTO and FeTNA aspire to the same ideas of Tamil racial ideology and politics as those that inspired the LTTE. In fact, as shown above, WTO and FeTNA have invited individuals that loudly support the LTTE and advocate the separatist cause. Further, some of the prominent WTO and FeTNA officials have been either arrested by authorities or denied visa for providing support to LTTE.

 

[1] http://worldthamil.org/introduction. Accessed January 13, 2014

[2] http://www.whois.net/whois/worldthamil.org.Accessed January 13, 2014

[3] http://worldthamil.org/introduction. Accessed January 13, 2014

[4] Malhotra and Neelakandan, 13

[5] Malhotra and Neelakandan, 47

[6] Malhotra and Neelakandan, 48

[7] Malhotra and Neelakandan, 60

[8] Malhotra and Neelakandan, 64

[9] Malhotra and Neelakandan, 70

[10] Malhotra and Neelakandan, 72

[11] Ibid

[12] Malhotra and Neelkandan, 65

[13] Malhotra and Neelakandan, 79

[14] Malhotra and Neelakandan, 80

[15] See #6 of the list highlighting WTO’s actions for the Tamil cause at http://worldthamil.org/introduction. Accessed January 13, 2014

[16] S. Vijay Kumar, “Vaiko arrested on charges of sedition”, October 24, 2008, The Hindu, http://www.hindu.com/2008/10/24/stories/2008102458440100.htm. Accessed January 13, 2014

[17]“I am in contact with Prabhakaran”, March 26, 2000, The Interview/Vaiko, http://ia.rediff.com/news/2000/may/26vaiko1.htm. Accessed January 13, 2014

[18] See the Wikipedia entry at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viduthalai_Chiruthaigal_Katchi. Accessed January 13, 2014

[19] “Thol Thirumavalavan want to take up arms and fight for the LTTE”, November 12, 2009, Asian Tribune, http://www.asiantribune.com/?q=node/14124.  Accessed January 12, 2014

[20] Ibid

[21] Suresh Nambath, “Politicisation of identity”, May 10, 2005, a book review of Thirumavalavan’s Uproot Hindutva: The Fiery Voice of the Liberation Panthers, The Hinduhttp://www.hindu.com/thehindu/br/2005/05/10/stories/2005051000241600.htm.  Accessed January 13, 2014

[22] Nambath, ibid

[23] See #6 of the list highlighting WTO’s actions for the Tamil cause at http://worldthamil.org/introduction.  Accessed January 13, 2014

[24] See the WhoIs.net domain registration search of FeTNA at http://www.whois.net/whois/fetna.org. Accessed January 13, 2014

[25] A list of Past Presidents is available at http://www.fetna.org/index.php/2011-12-22-02-18-20/2011-12-22-02-23-38.  Accessed January 13, 2014

[26] http://worldthamil.org/committee. Accessed January 13, 2014

[27] See the State Filing at http://www.secretary.state.nc.us/corporations/Corp.aspx?PitemId=4805707.  Accessed January 13, 2014

[28] http://worldthamil.org/committee. Accessed January 13, 2014

[29] A list of Past Presidents is available at http://www.fetna.org/index.php/2011-12-22-02-18-20/2011-12-22-02-23-38.  Accessed January 13, 2014

[30] http://www.fetna.org/index.php/membership/life-members. Accessed January 13, 2014

[31] “Indian govt revokes visa of ‘pro-LTTE’ leader”.  February 4, 2011, India Post, http://www.indiapost.com/indian-govt-revokes-visa-of-pro-ltte-leader/.  Accessed January 13, 2014

[32] http://worldthamil.org/committee.  Accessed January 13, 2014

[33] Koyel Chatterjee, “FeTNA: Fighting for Tamil dialect”, July 24, 2008.  http://eview.blogspot.com/2008/07/fetna-fighting-for-tamil-dialect.html.  Article also appeared in Indian Express (US and Canada Circulation), on July 25, 2008.  See the Executive Board (2008-2010). Accessed January 13, 2014

[34] http://worldthamil.org/committee.  Accessed January 13, 2014

[35] A list of Past Presidents is available at http://www.fetna.org/index.php/2011-12-22-02-18-20/2011-12-22-02-23-38.  Accessed January 13, 2014

[36] http://worldthamil.org/committee.  Accessed January 13, 2014

[37] See the current Executive Team at http://www.fetna.org/index.php/2011-12-22-02-18-20/2011-12-22-02-22-26.  Accessed January 14, 2014

[38] http://worldthamil.org/committee.  Accessed January 13, 2014

[39] http://www.fetna.org/index.php/membership/life-members.  He is listed as Thiru. Kuppusamy Sundar.  Accessed January 13, 2014

[40] http://worldthamil.org/committee. Accessed January 13, 2014

[41] http://www.fetna.org/index.php/membership/life-members/itemlist/user/42-admin?start=80. Petchimuthu is a Life Member under Bay Area Tamil Manram, part of FeTNA. Accessed January 14, 2014

[42] http://www.whois.net/whois/worldthamil.org. Accessed January 14, 2014

[43] Malhotra and Neelakandan, 169

[44] William K Rashbaum, “13 Tied to Sri Lankan Separatists Are Charged by US. With Aiding Terrorists”, August 22, 2006, http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/22/nyregion/22tigers.html?_r=0, The New York Times. A file copy of the FBI case is also available  at  http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:GYI10nw34G4J:gaming.typepad.com/files/usa-v.-fnu-lnu.pdf+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us and  a copy of the follow up sentencing of  Socrates is available at http://www.tamilnet.com/img/publish/2011/08/ChandruSocrates_sentencing_argument.pdf. Accessed January 14, 2014

[45] Malhotra and Neelakandan, 170

[46] Malhotra and Neelakandan, 169

[47] For more information, please see the Background at the following link: http://web.archive.org/web/20060718064824/http:/tamil.berkeley.edu/Tamil%20Chair/Background.html. Accessed January 14, 2014

[48] Malhotra and Neelakandan, 168

[49] Malhotra and Neelakandan, ibid

[50] Malhotra and Neelakandan, ibid

[51] Malhotra and Neelakandan, ibid

[52] Malhotra and Neelakandan,170

[53] http://www.friendsofsouthasia.org/textbook/LetterToCAStateBoard_FeTNA.pdf. Accessed, January 14, 2014

[54] Koyel Chatterjee, “FeTNA: Fighting for Tamil dialect”, July 24, 2008.  http://eview.blogspot.com/2008/07/fetna-fighting-for-tamil-dialect.html. Article also appeared in Indian Express (US and Canada Circulation), on July 25, 2008. See the Executive Board (2008-2010). Accessed January 13, 2014

[55] Malhotra and Neelakandan, 170