By Shenali Waduge
What do Sambanthan, Premachandran, Senathirajah and Sreetharan all have in common? Apart from being partners of an unregistered alliance called the Tamil National Alliance, they are all former mouthpieces of the separatist agenda and they continue to be the obstacle to allowing people to start life afresh as that would mean an end to their own existence politically. The Tamils can take a cue from the Tamils in Mullaitivu who are creating their own political and social statement without any assistance of the TNA – the Tamils are in a position to decide how they would like to live devoid of LTTE guns and baseless separatist chants that lead them nowhere.
The Tamil National Alliance was formed in October 2001 prior to the parliamentary elections and comprised the ACTC (All Ceylon Tamil Congress) the EPRLF (Eelaam People’s Revolutionary Liberation Front), TELO (Tamil Eelaam Liberation Organization), TULF (Tamil United Liberation Front). TNA is minus TULF and ACTC though some in the TULF has joined TNA resurrecting the Ilankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi – ITAK promoting themselves as the Federal Party to camouflage their separatist agenda. Though TNA is not a registered party it issues manifestos and policies promoting:
a) Recognition of Tamils as a distinct nationality
b) Recognition of a Tamil Homeland with guaranteed territorial integrity
c) Recognition of the inalienable right of self-determination of the Tamil nation.
d) Recognition of the right to full citizenship and fundamental democratic rights of all Tamils.
These demands made in 2001 have not changed – the words used differ as smokescreens.
We now ask a direct question – what role should these present set of pro-separatist TNA personalities really be allowed to play vis a vis the future of the Tamils?
It is something for the rest of us to ponder and for the Tamils to answer.
How can these members of the pro-separatist TNA be representatives of the Tamil people when in 2001 they announced that the LTTE was the “Sole Tamil National Entity” and that as sole representative of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka LTTE had a right to negotiate on behalf of the Tamil people. The TNA may be grateful to the LTTE for making them parliamentarians but what good have they done for the Tamil people?
Let us also go back a few decades to the time Tamil parliamentarians demanded 50-50 representation for Tamils when the Sri Lankan Tamil population (884,700) in Sri Lanka was far less than the Indian estate Tamils (974,100) brought in by the British to work on the estates. Thus, it has been natural for these Tamil representatives to make unnatural demands and get away with it on the grounds of quoting humanitarian rights though by virtue of their association with the LTTE they have given no rights to the Tamil people over 3 decades except to manipulate the traditional Asian practice of voting for one’s own irrespective of whether he deserves one’s vote or not. This is prominently featured in how minorities end up voting for their own irrespective of any policy – so votes do not necessarily give credibility for the fact that people agree with these TNA chants of separatism, devolution or whatever they choose to vocalize to gather people’s favor. This is one reason why ethnic-based minority parties should be banned – they pose an obstacle to reconciliation and integration.
The Tamil people we accept have gone through much so have all the other communities – let it not be mistakenly concluded that their grievances are SOLELY due to the Sinhalese.
Vellala Tamils will hold one view, Batticola Tamils will hold another, so too will Trincomalee Tamils, the Middle Class Tamils will also have their issues, the low caste will have the biggest issues and it is the most unbiased who will understand how these last set of marginalized were the actual victims though none of them ended up refugees traveling to the West at any given time in 30 odd years. The bulk of these low caste and deprived are those that currently live in Mullaitivu district and whose voice we need to pay greater attention and if they want nothing to do with pro-LTTE TNA that is telling something that the rest of the Tamils need to open their eyes to.
These pro-LTTE TNA mouthpieces have taken every turn to ridicule the Sinhalese – we would not mind if that ridiculing was subject to the politicians. In April 2012 TNA leader R Sambanthan made a speech in Parliament using isolated incidents of 1956, 1958, 1961, 1977 and 1983 to advance the discrimination by Sinhalese theme. He totally ignored that such incidents have not taken place in over 30 years and chose to completely brush aside how many thousands of Tamils the Sinhalese kept and fed in their homes. It would be good to take a look at the chronology of race riots in UK, UK and elsewhere as well – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_riots. Are the Black Americans seeking a separate state, are the Indian Muslims asking a separate state in India ….but we know Tamil Nadu is and we continue to link this with the separatism in Sri Lanka all part of an agenda to eventually break up India!
Sambanthan becomes associated with all the crimes against humanity the LTTE committed and when Sambanthan says “my people” – we ask why he never thought of the people when the LTTE were turning children and women into suicide killers and did his people even have any form of “civil administration” when LTTE was controlling these areas?
Take a look at how LTTE treated Tamil women.
Why did all 16 TULF MPs chose to resign from Parliament in 1983 when the 6th amendment was passed because they did not want to swear an oath renouncing support for a separate state. No one has sought clarification of this act because with these present separatist waves it behoves Sri Lanka’s parliament to demand from its parliamentarians to swear oath against supporting a separate state in Sri Lanka once again and President Rajapakse is encouraged to consider and implement without delay.
True 1m Tamils have left Sri Lanka but there are 1m still remaining in Sri Lanka and it is only their needs that matter to Sri Lanka. It is Sambanthan and the pro-LTTE TNA members that bagged all Tamils with the LTTE by declaring to the world that the LTTE was the sole representative of the Tamils something they ought to be ashamed off.
We can excuse the silence of Tamils to the truth for fear of their lives but NOW Tamils need not fear and they certainly need not fear Sambanthan, Premachandran, Senathirajah or Sreetharan any more.
What we ask is if Sambanthan is promoting a “durable and lasting solution” in a “multicultural society” why is he and gang promoting an ONLY Tamil Homeland?
The Tamil people must surely know and should confess that none in the TNA so much as sent a bag of rice to any of these civilians stuck in the Wanni as hostages by the LTTE so what is this new love for the IDPs and the concerns for rehabilitation, reintegration of ex-combatants and even the TNA chants about high security zones – did the TNA ask LTTE to give back properties it confiscated from these Tamil residents, were any of these people free to even walk into any of the kovils without fear?
The Tamil people should no longer be afraid of the TNA to ask them why they supported the LTTE and unnecessarily dragged the Tamil civilians with them. The Tamil people cannot have faith in a section of the TNA running to India to be advised on what they should and should not say in Sri Lanka.
When Sambanthan and others say give “dignity and respect” we would like to have answered what is the dignity and respect LTTE gave?
Let us not forget that Sri Lanka is a country that has an unchallenged majority – its population depicts its growth through history and shows clearly that it has been the dominating natural inhabitants for centuries. There is no country with such a majority that has given to the minorities the status of equal co-habitation they currently hold and much of that giving has been at the cost of space belonging to Sinhalese Buddhists – something which no other majority country would ever consider. It is something that needs to be finally recognized and appreciated.
Lest many continue to wonder why the Sinhalese majority insist that Tamils are better off than most Sinhalese the following list that a fellow citizen quite rightly asks will explain.
When Tamils comprising less than 10% of the current 20m population enjoy the following – we ask readers to explain to us what “discrimination” what “lack of dignity” should warrant any demand for a separate state or for Tamils to live in their own separate homeland as voiced by pro-LTTE TNA.
- More than half of the Tamil population live outside of the north and east and among the Sinhalese (why would they live if they are discriminated)
- Sinhala and Tamil are official language (this is for just less than 10% of the population)
- Tamils enjoy right to study in their language upto university with Tamil medium schools in all 25 districts of Sri Lanka. There are 3000 Tamil medium schools
- Tamils enjoy health facilities (health and education are free services by the State)
- All Government documents, circulars, emblems, logos, forms etc are in Sinhala & Tamil including passports, currency and notes, postal stamps, road signboards (street names)
- The National Flag denotes the minorities through orange for Tamil and green for Muslims
- Every public event is presented in Sinhala, Tamil and English – even public programs such as national lottery is presented in both languages.
- Tamils are elected to parliament, provincial councils and local governments
- Tamils can register political parties – of total 44 registered political parties 15 are Tamil and mostly carrying “Eelaam” name.
- Tamils have a right to live anywhere in Sri Lanka, to do business and own property and work anywhere in Sri Lanka – however Tamil parliamentarians continue to deny the right of Sinhalese to own property, live and work in the North claiming it is “Tamil areas” – readers need to decide how fair and justified this is.
These realities have been pushed to the background in order to advance a list of
frustrated aspirations of a few in cohorts with some across the Palk Straits and it is ONLY the Tamils in Sri Lanka who can now put an end to the nonsense that prevails.
Where is the logic that explains why it is alright for Tamils to openly promote Tamil Homeland(s), separatism, Tamil Eelaam but when the Sinhalese decry the injustice to the Sinhalese and the compromising of Buddhism enshrined in the Constitution it is treated with disdain by the entire world and the Sinhalese are chided for obstructing reconciliation. How fair is this?
Remaining silent will not serve the Tamils or Sri Lanka any longer. Tamil parliamentarians and later the LTTE have been asking and demanding far more than any country would ever give for a minority number as their own. It is now time to be thankful for what one enjoys and move forward in peaceful co-existence because separatism, devolution, homeland concepts or whatever other names that are thrown into political discussions are unlikely to lead anywhere.
As people – all that we want is to be educated, gain suitable employment for our qualifications and to live peacefully. It is the politicians who come up with concepts, theories and ideologies to use us to advance their “aspirations” forcing us to believe our “grievances” are tied to their unfulfilled “aspirations”.
We appeal to our Tamil brethren to disassociate from these pro-LTTE separatist promoters in the TNA that are taking them nowhere and to live in peace with the rest of the communities in Sri Lanka. This is the only healthy way going forward and the only sensible way too.
Let Sambanthans, Premachandrans, Senathirajahs and Sreetharans go to Tamil Nadu and join the Eelaam chorus there.
The views expressed are the author’s own.