By Shenali Waduge
A country of 20m people, a majority of close to 15m people (the Sinhalese) is into its 3rd year having militarily eliminated 30 years of LTTE terrorism. What has confused matters is the manner in which elected Tamil leaders have claimed that the LTTE terrorist demands and those of the Tamil people are one and the same on the grounds that the LTTE was the sole representative of the Tamil people – something that the Tamil people did not deny or disassociate from and nothing that the Sinhalese can be blamed for quoting. Now that terrorism is no more, several questions emerges – whose grievances are to be solved, how internal are these grievances, are these grievances exclusive to Tamils and whether Sri Lanka is in a position to solve the grievance that All Tamils of the World have. It is not Sri Lanka but India that holds the key to unlocking what the World Tamils really desire.
Over the years Sri Lanka has been inundated with voices all lining up to be “speaking on behalf of the Tamils” – our question is – which Tamils are they referring to? If it is Sri Lankan Tamils, our next question is what are the grievances of the Tamils that are exclusive to them and denied to them legislatively and constitutionally? Is there any grievances that are not common to Sinhalese, Muslims, Burghers and Malays – does the world think that these people do not have grievances themselves or are their grievances not important and only those of Tamils that should matter? We cannot get anywhere unless these fundamental questions are answered. With 15m Sinhalese no one can deny they will have more grievances than any other.
No wonder even Sri Lanka’s Government is confused – Karunanidhi and Tamil Nadu politicos are calling for an Eelaam for all Tamils, the Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora is also making different calls that one wonders why they would need to have so many different organization names if they are all asking for the same thing, then they have managed to rope in Tamils of different citizenry, then some cyberspace e-Government has been set up known as a Transnational Government….we really don’t know who is wanting what and for whom. These calls are perfect reasons for nothing to be done except to be dragging issues hurling accusations at different times all part of a game in politics called delaying tactics – unless this really is the modus operandi and explains why these parties are in existence – which doesn’t give much benefit at the end of the day to those who really matter. As for those who really matter – did they ever matter? To Prabakaran, they didn’t. The reasons are simply enough.
Here was an organization making USD300m profit annually and througout 30 years Prabakaran and his LTTE did not make a single road, did not construct a single house for poor Tamils, did not create a single bright child except teams of child killers, did not put up a single school, did not build a single hospital or health center but Prabakaran did make a magnificent swimming pool deep in the jungles, an amazing underground house going 3 storeys underneath with tiled toilets and all the amenities – he was even served restaurant style food…. This is not how the Indian Maoists carry out their rebel movement, that’s for sure. The Tamil people need to know that Prabakaran did not aspire for any Tamil Eelam – he did aspire for an LTTE Eelaam where he and his stooges and their families would reign over all other Tamils and the rest of Sri Lanka.
In reality Prabakaran and the LTTE dug a grave in the pursuit for a global Tamil Eelaam drive because what he did was to ensure that no such Eelaam would ever be given and who better than India to realize this, because whatever India’s faults India is one nation that will not take too kindly to being broken up. That is why India will never allow a Tamil Eelaam which is why Tamil politicians in Sri Lanka, Tamil Diaspora the world over are slowly distancing themselves from verbally using Eelaam as a reference alongside their grievance malady because they know it will not get them anywhere. More so because Sri Lanka is in a position to prove statistically that hardly 500,000 live in the North (which includes the 300,000 the Sri Lankan military rescued) negating the “we can’t live with Sinhalese because of discrimination” chant because over 1.2m are presently living and working amongst the Sinhalese – and not one can claim genocide if according to the BBC Channel 4 Sinhalese have nothing to do but ethnically cleanse Tamils! Let it not be forgotten that it was these very Tamil leaders who were against poor low caste Tamils enjoying education when the Government brought legislation in 1957.
What is presently obviously clear is that the Sinhalese people have stopped waiting for its Government to be putting the story straight internationally. It is because Sri Lanka’s representatives have failed to address questions with proper answers that we find ourselves humiliated and not meeting the challenges head on. People are welcome to ask questions and they must also be prepared to accept the answers. We are getting a little tired with all these fancy words and notions flung at diplomatic discussions all to make merry-go-round type solutions that would be detrimental for the sovereignty of a nation and realistically speaking having nothing to do with any Tamil grievance either.
We do not need to continue to remind that Tamil Nadu people and politicians made numerous attempts even appeals to the British to consider allowing a separate Tamil state at the time of independence to India which was denied by both Britain and Indian leaders. This was the first “self-determination” attempt for Tamils to have a separate Tamil Homeland in Tamil Nadu – Tamils remain the ONLY significant minority race without its own homeland especially when the state of Tamil Nadu – (land of the Tamils) is 95% Tamil, Tamil is the official language and Tamil culture, heritage and religion enjoy greater Tamil freedom than anywhere else in the world). Therefore no sooner Tamil Eelaam is referred to we are only going to be directing that solution to India and Tamil Nadu – therefore it is best that if Tamils really want anything to stop the fairytale Eelam in Sri Lanka and get down to the real issues if any.
When asked direct questions the defence has been to quickly say that the demand for Eelam in Sri Lanka has been forced because of bad rule…I think it is the Sinhalese containing 74% majority who would have first grievance over bad rule because being the majority everything affects them first. The most unfair observance is that it appears to be perfectly agreeable for Tamils to go atop international platforms, use electronic media, lobby politicians and decision makers and promote falsehoods and lies all associated with Tamil grievances and when any Sinhalese puts the story straight with facts – it is described as being racist and tantamount to causing greater animosity and distancing any forms of reconciliation!
The continuance of bringing up riots is outdated because no such event has happened in over 30 years and quoting such is irrelevant in the present context. If some of the arguments are applicable to the Black Americans then they should be asking a separate state in USA as well! Then there is reference to Mahinda Rajapaksa promising not 13 but 13plus – the country is not run by only Mahinda Rajapaksa, he is elected by the people to ensure that the sovereignty and integrity of the country remains undivided and undevolved.
Then those apologists of TNA say that they are not demanding a separate state – please read their 2010 election manifesto which is the most credible reference to what the TNA is all about – what does the TNA want :
a) a Tamil Nation in the island of Ceylon (Ceylon is being used in 2010 when it should be Sri Lanka)
b) The Call for a Federal Constitution – reference to “self-determination”
c) Abandoning the unitary model – shared sovereignty
d) Our Lands and Our People exploited – aspiration “for genuine autonomy”
e) the Tamil people are entitled to the right of “self-determination”.
f) Power-sharing in a unit of MERGED Northern and Eastern Provinces based on a Federal structure
g) Devolution of power over land, law and order, socioeconomic development including health, education, resources and fiscal powers.
h) Direct foreign investment in the North and East
i) De-militarization – removal of armed forces, military apparatuses and High Security Zones from Northern and Eastern provinces.
This is the TNA manifesto of 2010 with TNA appealing to the Tamil people for the “right to self-determination” which clearly indicates what the wishes of the Tamil politicians are, therefore when to whitewash this others say “we are for a united Sri Lanka … as Sri Lankans.. and we don’t want separatism” … we want to know who is saying what and who are we to really believe? Unless that assurance comes the Governments of Sri Lanka are not going to have it easy from the majority people –the Sinhalese for under no condition is the country to be divided or devolved – the simple logic to this is what Tamil Governance in the North – when the majority of Tamils are living amongst the Sinhalese including the TNA politicians! What Tamil Eelaam when 72m of the worlds 77m already live in a state where Tamils are the majority, Tamil is the official language – isn’t this what the Tamil people want, or do they still not know what they want?
However, the Sri Lankan Tamils can change this scenario – they must finally stop putting one foot here and another foot there. If the Tamils can firmly say that they are not for any division of the country – we can finally get rid of these leeches out to divide the country. The call must come from the Tamil people. The Tamil people of Sri Lanka must finally realize that Tamil Nadu is not concerned about them nor is India – they have enough of issues to resolve. More importantly, Sri Lanka is not part of India, we have different cultures, different beliefs and certainly different behaviors. The Tamil people must also realize that the Tamil Diaspora most of whom are today involved in fisticuffs amongst each other are doing so only to gain greater control of the LTTE illegal kitty – they were no where when the LTTE was running the show. The Tamil people must also realize that just like the Sinhalese and the Muslims we all agree that politicians are the same whatever party they belong to.
But what is true is that the Sinhalese, the Muslims, the Malays, the Burghers and the Tamils do have problems – their problems are no different from the other and they are all related when one looks closely to administrative fallacies and administrative hiccups which can easily be addressed if we, that is the people stand together and demand actions from the people we have elected to office irrespective of any politics… this is the only way to move forward, for in aligning with the selfish games that politicians play we are simply being used to advance their agendas.
It is up to the Tamil population living in Sri Lanka to decide…. If they continue to go with the Tamil Eelaam theme – the road leads to Tamil Nadu, if they go with the Tamil Diaspora confusing rhetoric – they are losing the opportunity to start a new chapter with the Sinhalese – the people must come together for a country to prosper.
The views expressed are the author’s own.