By H. L. D. Mahindapala –
Having lost their most powerful bargaining chip at Nandikadal, the Tamil leadership, lured by Ranil Wickremesinghe, embraced Gen Sarath Fonseka, the much-decorated head of the Army who, along with the heads of Navy and the Air force, inflicted the most humiliating defeat on the Tamils. The votes given to Gen. Fonseka at the presidential election of 2010 were the biggest pooja ever offered by the Tamils to a Sinhala candidate. When the Tamils trekked to vote for Gen. Fonseka, the general that beat their hero -– irony of ironies! — it was tantamount to the Tamils performing their political ritual of offering their thanks and worshipping him in the polling kovils for eliminating an evil force that plagued them.
Verily, it can be said that the Tamils owe their peace of mind, their right to send their children to school without being abducted forcibly by the Tamil Army, the right to live without the bullets from both sides hitting them, their right to go about their daily lives without being bombed, their right to get their due share of free medical, food, and social services etc., from “the Sinhala-Buddhist state” without being hijacked by the Tamil Army, their right to live without going through the daily pain of losing their kith and kin in a futile war waged by the Tamil Army, thanks to the war-winning Rajapaksas who appointed Gen. Fonseka and gave him all the resources and political backing at home and diplomatic backing abroad to save the Tamils.
If the Tamils voted for Gen. Fonseka who defeated their “Surya Devan” there is no reason why they can’t vote for the Commander-in-Chief and his Defence Secretary, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who gave protection to the Tamil leadership hunted by their “Suriya Devan”. Besides, the UN commended the Rajapaksa regime as the only government that provided medical, food and other non-military necessities to the civilians in a rebel-held territory. Besides, it is the Rajapaksa duo that handpicked Gen. Fonseka, who was about to be retired, and backed him all the way to save the Tamils.
Well, if they could vote for Gen. Fonseka they could on the same logic vote for Gota. But they are dithering now. Or they are pretending to be undecided though in their minds they know that they will eventually vote for Ranil’s nominee, Sajith Premadasa.
In a sense, the dithering is symptomatic of the plight of the Tamil who do not know which way to turn. They see the polling booth as the only tool available for them to bargain with the two major parties. So they have come up with a 13-point statement laying down conditions that could only lead to Nandikadal again. They have presented their 13-point demands to the two rival presidential candidates urging them to reply. Quite pragmatically, neither of the candidates had deigned to reply.
This document contains all the characteristics needed to lay the foundations for the capture of Tamil Elam they could not win in Nandikadal. It has been authored by the University students and lecturers of the Jaffna and Eastern Universities. By far, this team can be considered to be the latest cream of the Tamil intelligentsia rising together to give new directions to Tamils politics which, unfortunately, is stuck hopelessly in the mud of its bloody past. Standing solidly behind this document is the Tamil leadership. Five Tamil parties have put their signatures to it. They are Maavai Senathiraja (ITAK), Selvam Adaikalanathan (TELO), Darmalingam Siddharthan (PLOTE), Suresh Premachandran (EPRLF) and C. V. Wigneswaran (TPA), Consequently, the Tamil leaders expect the world to consider it as a serious document. Besides, it comes from the next crop of Tamil intellectuals who are likely to take over the Tamil leadership from the ageing Sampanthans, Sumanthirams and Wigneswarans.
But those looking for new insights that could (1) deal positively with a win-win result for all communities, (2) or move away from their failed historical past, (3) or show a new way out to the vexed demands of the Tamils since independence, will be most disappointed because there is absolutely nothing new in it. M. A. Sumanthiram, a Christian Tamil aspiring to be the leader of the Hindu Tamils, admits that there is nothing new it. The 13 demands listed are nothing but a carbon copy of the usual litany of complaints that has been regurgitated time and time again by the failed Tamil leadership. Even a cursory glance will confirm that all Tamil activities and ideologies, including the failed Batakotte (Tamilised as Vadukoddai) War, are wrapped round these age-old demands. To all intents and purposes this document exposes the bankruptcy of the Tamil intelligentsia who are intransigently refusing to accept the new realities facing them. The Tamil leadership presented the 13-point statement to the two leading presidential candidates hoping to use it as a bargaining chip.
They are arguing as if they are still in the period when the Batakotte Resolution was drafted (May 14, 1976). This is one of fatal flaws of Tamil intellectuals. They are stuck in a failed past and are refusing to move forward accepting the new realities. Take for instance the Batakotte War (aka Eelam War) which was declared in the Batakotte Resolution (1976). In it the Tamil leadership urged the Tamil youth to take up arms and fight until they achieved Elam. It was the last throw of the Tamil dice. They threw everything they had into it. They even allowed their “Suriya Devan” (Sun God), Velupillai Prabhakaran, to abduct their children and throw them into the depleted ranks of the defeated Tigers who were limping all the way to Nandikadal.
The Tamil Christians, particularly the Tamil Catholics, were in the forefront foraging every nook and corner to ferret any Christian tool/argument to boost the sinking morale of the Tamil Tigers. It was a time when the invincible Tamil Tigers were fleeing desperately to find escape routes away from the advancing Sri Lanka Security Forces. Apart from the Tamil diaspora they had the added advantage of a global pastoral community of Christians ready to aid and abet “the Tamil Christian minority being persecuted by the brutal Sinhala-Buddhist majority.” In desperation some Christian Churchmen and lay priests dug up references to Elam in the Bible to boost the declining morale of the misguided Elamites. For instance, Prof. C. J. Eliezer of the La Trobe University, Melbourne, was one of the lay priests who linked up with the Uniting Church to mobilise the church against the Sri Lankans. They would pick up every scrap from anywhere to believe in the inevitable victory of the invincible Tamil “Surya Devan”. But, as usual, they read the Bible in their own distorted way, as they read their history, to confirm their delusions and not the reality facing them.
It is true that Elam is mentioned in several places in the Bible, from Isaiah to the Acts. But the Tamils deliberately overlooked the critical pronouncements of Prophet Jeremiah who virtually cursed Elam and prophesied the end of it.
In Jeremiah the Lord speaks and says (49 : 34- 37):
34 “The word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah, the prophet against Elam in the beginning of the reign of Zed-e-kiah king of Judah, saying,
35 Thus said the Lord of hosts: Behold, I will break the bow of Elam, the chief of their might,
36 And upon Elam will I bring the four winds from the four quarters of heaven, and will scatter them toward all those winds; and there shall be no nation whither the outcasts of Elam shall not come,
37 For I will cause Elam to be dismayed before their enemies; and before them that seek their life; and I will bring evil upon them, even my fierce anger, saith the Lord; and I will send the sword after them, till I have consumed them:
Though the Elam mentioned in the Bible refers to a region of modern Iran the graphic description rings so true as if they were prophesied specifically to the destruction of the Elamites of Jaffna forever. It has, in its own way, prophesied practically every key aspect of the Batakotte War moving inexorably to its humiliating end in Nandikadal. But the Tamils Christians went into war as if God was on their side.
A good example is Bishop Rayappu Joseph ruling the bishopric of Madhu,a sacred Christian venue for Sinhala and Tamil Catholics, and some non-Catholics too. Bishop Rayappu, however, is the kind of priest who believed in his Tamilness first and Christianity later. He is the absolute anti-thesis of Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith. Both represent the two ends of the Catholic Church divided on political perspectives. At the first sign of the Security Forces advancing to the Tiger-held territory in Mannar, with the Forces nearing the sacred Madhu Church, Bishop Rayappa’s priests grabbed the Holy Statue of Mary, and ran deep into LTTE- held territory in Mannar with his advice and consent. His distorted theology made his flock believe that the statue of Holy Mary is the exclusive property of the Tamil Catholics and not the Sinhala Catholics. When the Holy Statue returned, to Madhu it proved, like Jeremiah’s prophesy, that God was not on the side of the Tamil Elamites.
An equally telling prophesy was told to King Pararajsekaran by Supathidda-muni, a sage revered by the king. Yalpana-Vaipava-Malai, history of Jaffna, written by poet Mylvakanam, records this event. It is a book written at the request of the Dutch Governor Jan Maccara (1736). Mylvakanam says: “ The king received him (muni) with all the marks of reverence due to his exalted sanctity and when he was seated, the king ventured to speak, saying “Lord and Master! Thou foretoldest future events to this thy slave’s father. Thy slave has not been able to learn them properly. Deign to enlighten him with a knowledge of what shall happen to this kingdom” (p. 27 – The Yalpana – Vaipava – Malai – translated by C. Britto, 1879 ).
The Muni then traces a long line of successors and explain that the kingdom will fall into the hands of Parangis (Portuguese), Ulanthese (Dutch) the Inthiresu (English), the Piragnchu (French) and subsequent rulers and concludes : “The sovereignty will never again come back to your dynasty.” ( p.29 – Ibid).