Colombo Telegraph

Bikkhu Brigade, Dr Roberts And The Tamil Spring

By Usha S Sri-Skanda-Rajah –

Usha S Sri-Skanda-Rajah

Tamil Spring: The Eelam Revolution Not Fought with Guns but with the Mobilization of 80 Million People

What intimidates the Sinhala apologists is the fact that the Eelam revolution is not being fought with guns any more on the Tamil side, unlike the heavy handed military response that the Sri Lankan government is still pursuing in the NorthEast with no political solution offered or insight; it is being fought with cell phones, the Indian media and pure solidarity, involving the mobilization of 80 Million people, moved by high moral principles of justice and freedom, achieved through a democratic uprising which people are calling the beginning of the ‘Tamil Spring’. The LTTE may be defeated but Eelam lives on in the hearts of not only Eelam Tamils but also in the hearts of 80 Million fellow Tamils just across the Palk Straits in Tamil Nadu.

Dr Michael Roberts Inciting Violence?

In an article in the Colombo Telegraph titled: ‘Searing Danger: Death Clouds Over The Sri Lankan Cricketers At The IPL’, Dr Michael Roberts in raising concerns for the Sri Lankan IPL cricketers has blamed everyone under the sun except his government, the real perpetrator for the dangers posed to his countrymen and our Sinhala brethren. His caveat in the end is a classic example of the ultimate in hypocrisy that aught to be thrown back at him for his own self reflection as he seeks to incite, spur violence and indulge in hate speech of his own kind, apparently unaware that he himself, to quote him is “part of the circuits of virulence and hate-speech” that he attributes to others. Seemingly he wants to be the exception to his rule.

Cleansing the Sri Lankan Government of all Responsibility for its Crimes

Not only that, Dr Robert is acting as a spokesman for his government, cleansing it of any responsibility for the mass atrocities it committed and dismissing it as “tales of exaggeration, distortion and fabrication and of some concocted heinous act by a named enemy”:

“The stirrers are key forces in the generation of violence. They are not restricted to the activists who occupy political platforms or address impromptu crowds. Ordinary folk who purvey rumour or concoct tales of some heinous act by a named enemy other are incendiary elements contributing to the violence of assassinations, affrays, riots and pogroms. They are part of the circuits of virulence and hate-speech. Rumours and tales of atrocity often embody exaggerations, distortions and fabrications as part of their incitement to strike back at the atrocious Other. Motives of revenge reshaped as just acts of retribution are powerful gunpowder. It is towards this verdict that my initial warnings about the IPL scenario via the very real case of victimisation that occurred in Sydney in mid-May 2009 are presented. Ultimately, the purpose is to encourage self-reflection and to caution one against the virulent excesses that enter street-talk and salon-talk as well as the blogs and messages on internet and social media.”

Placing Blame on anyone but his government

So saying Dr Roberts ventures to place all blame not on his government but on those who have risen in a ‘Tamil Spring’ and are raising their voices to condemn “not concocted tales of heinous acts,” as he claims but against “credible allegations” of war crimes and crimes against humanity that his government has committed which now 80 million people believe to be nothing less than genocide.

Fears of Death Clouds Hanging over Sri Lankan Cricketers

“A gnawing fear resides in my gut,” says Dr Michael Roberts, fearing “that one or more of the Sri Lanka cricketers at the IPL matches in India will end up maimed or dead,” adding it could be an imminent or distinct possibility, admitting that it’s albeit “slim” but “not fanciful” and earnestly “wishing he is wrong”.

The Ban on Sri Lankan IPL Cricketers Playing in Tamil Nadu was Right

It is “unfortunate that the Sri Lankan cricketers have to bear the brunt of their government’s crimes,” I tweeted NDTV, responding to some cricketers expressing the view that politics must not come into sports, referring to the ban that the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister had slapped on Sri Lankan IPL players.

It is not fair to chastise Tamil Nadu politicians and most of all the Chief Minister accusing her of playing politics for her own gain in view of the upcoming 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

Ban on South African Cricketers that killed Apartheid

On the contrary, Jayalalithaa, in keeping with her persistent call since assuming office for an economic embargo, ever since the war was over and after giving Sri Lanka enough time to mend its ways and end the culture of impunity, was right in banning the Sri Lankan IPL cricketers from playing in Tamil Nadu. Imposing sanctions are nothing new; it is a political tool that is applied by counties including the UN to reign in excesses committed by deviant governments. Let’s not forget it was the worldwide sanctions applied to South Africa including the ban on South African cricketers that brought down the white supremacist South African government to its knees and ended apartheid forever in that country.

Full Force of the Law on Anyone Contemplating Violence

I highly condemn any violence against any one, not just the Sri Lankan IPL cricketers; anyone violating the rule of law and perpetrating violence must face the full force of the law. No one should be even thinking on those lines of harming Sri Lankan players in the name of agitating against Sri Lankan government impunity for genocide and for liberating Tamil Eelam. Even “independent extremists” or “lone rangers” should be stopped in their tracks, but no one could stop a psychopath from doing the unthinkable, in that I have empathy for Dr. Roberts.

Dr Robert’s Audacious Charge against TGTE and GTF

That is why I was utterly mortified to find him making an audacious charge against the TGTE and the GTF that’s completely unfounded: “The danger will be that much greater if an operation mounted by a body of zealous Tamils residing in India which has established links with the Transnational Government and the Global Tamil Forum,” Dr Roberts speculates without an iota of evidence to go by.

That’s an outlandish irresponsible and mischievous statement to make; outlandish because both TGTE and GTF have avowed to follow only peaceful and diplomatic means to achieve their goals and will not ‘establish links’, as Dr Roberts alleges with anyone who is even remotely connected with violence. No one can point a finger at either; they have acted impeccably, with transparency, consistent with their core beliefs and have only engaged in strictly diplomatic pursuits. Irresponsible because that would only exacerbate and incite hate crimes, that he himself pontificates against and wants to avoid. Mischievous because he wants to implicate the TGTE and GTF when there has been no wrongdoing on their part and no reason what so ever for him to make such allegations.

Neither the TGTE nor the GTF I don’t think would care to respond to Dr Robert’s false allegations.

The TGTE takes much pride in its democratic configuration and takes pains to explain its distinctive characteristic and for the benefit of those who may harbour some reservations about TGTE it may be timely to share TGTE’s aims and ideology:

TGTE is a New and Unique Concept

The TGTE is a new and unique political concept, reflecting the ‘transnational’ nature of the Eelam Tamil polity, constituting a part of the ‘Elam Tamil Nation’ (the other, existing in the NorthEast of the island of Sri Lanka) that is distributed around the globe but united in their aspirations for Tamil Eelam based on the principles of nationhood, homeland and self-determination. Although an elected body, the TGTE is not a government in exile.

TGTE is a political formation to win fundamental civil, political and human rights including the right to self determination for the Tamil people in the NorthEast, providing a political space for Eelam Tamils everywhere to articulate fully and realize their aspirations that’s not available to them in the island due to constitutional impediments, racist political environment and military strangulation; The TGTE upholds democratic values and non-violence, espouses diplomacy and engagement and abides by the laws of the countries that its elected members and the Senate represent.

TGTE Committed to Democratic Ideals

TGTE held internationally supervised elections in 12 countries. These elections were held to ensure that the core belief of democracy be upheld within the TGTE and to demonstrate TGTE’s reliance upon democratic ideals. TGTE has a bicameral legislature and a Cabinet. The Constitution of the TGTE mandates that it should realize its political objective only through peaceful means.

Some of TGTE’s Current Projects and Campaigns

Presently, in addition to the campaign for an international investigation, the TGTE is also campaigning for an ‘International Protection Mechanism’ for the Tamil people in the NorthEast and the release of documents pertaining to Tamils prepared by the Office of the Special Advisor of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide. TGTE is also in the process of preparing the Freedom Charter incorporating the “freedom demands” of Tamils across the globe.

TGTE Solidly Behind Tamil Nadu

TGTE believes that the referendum among the Tamils inside the island of Sri Lanka and among the Tamil Diaspora will contribute to the political resolution of the Tamil national conflict and is pleased with the developments in Tamil Nadu and is in sync with the Tamil Nadu Assembly’s call to the government of India (among other) for a “Referendum conducted among the Tamils living in Sri Lanka, and all Tamil Diaspora displaced from Sri Lanka, living in various parts of the world,” with Prime Minister Rudrakumaran in a statement released, expressing TGTE’s, “delight and profound gratitude,” to the CM, the leaders of all political parties and the people of Tamil Nadu for the resolution it passed: The resolution stands, “as excellent testimony to the remarkable political acumen and statesmanship of Chief Minister Selvi Jayalalithaa, and we, at the TGTE, congratulate her on bringing forth such an excellent resolution at this time…,” he said

In its statement, in response to the Tamil Nadu Student agitation in support of Eelam Tamils, the TGTE “joined hands” with the students and praised them for, “the relentless manner in which they have kept alive the struggle in support of the people of Tamil Eelam.”

Immolations Must Stop and Has Been Discouraged by All

Dr Roberts is wrong when he insinuates that the acts of immolation that happened in Tamil Nadu were encouraged either by, ‘Tamils worldwide” or “inspired by the student upsurge provoked by the “NO Fire Zone” documentary.

“The recent acts of immolation have been interpreted by Tamils worldwide as Tamil nationalist acts directed against Sri Lanka. The CTK man’s act seems to have been inspired by the student movement in Tamil Nadu launched recently in condemnation of Sri Lanka, an upsurge seemingly provoked by the latest Channel Four documentary and the focus on the alleged killing of young Balachandran Prabhakaran,” Dr. Roberts writes, deducing and theorizing all the probabilities, but not even once did he blame his government for the ills he points out.

I n fact Tamils the world over, politicians and the students have discouraged such acts, condemning them as counter productive and a waste of a precious lives. I know the TN students were quite expressive on Facebook and twitter, critical of such acts. A chorus of dissenting voices was raised that acts of immolation should not be encouraged but stopped.

“No Fire Zone” Documentary and the Student Protests

The documentary “No Fire Zone” and “Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields” before it, have both exposed the hidden atrocities that took place in Sri Lanka without which the truth would never have come out. The students who have mobilized much of Tamil Nadu with their demands for “justice” and for the “liberation of Eelam”, as a natural response to the atrocities committed; the execution pictures of the young 12 year old boy Balachandran being the catalyst for the outrage people felt.

Students have Started an Eelam Revolution Not with Guns

The students are an intelligent and civilized lot coming from elite institutions; (it was the eight Loyola College students who started the hunger strike) studying theology, the arts and sciences including engineering, medicine, law, IT and more. To a tweet that boasted that, “the LTTE was defeated” sent by a Sri Lankan Consul General, I tweeted back that thanks to Tamil Nadu and especially the students, “Eelam lives on in 80 Million people. This is the message one gets from Facebook and Twitter from the student uprising.

What intimidates the Sinhala apologists is the fact that the Eelam revolution is not being fought with guns any more on the Tamil side, unlike the heavy handed military response that the Sri Lankan government is still pursuing in the NorthEast with no political solution offered or in sight; it is being fought with cell phones, the Indian media and pure solidarity, involving the mobilization of 80 Million people, moved by high moral principles of justice and freedom and achieved through a democratic uprising which people are calling the beginning of the ‘Tamil Spring’. The LTTE may be defeated but Eelam lives on in the hearts of not only Eelam Tamils but also in the hearts of 80 Million fellow Tamils just across the Palk Straits in Tamil Nadu.

The students have simultaneously started a cyber revolution that can be assembled any time on the ground if needed. That’s what bothers Dr Roberts when he suggests that it could lead to “virulent excesses” when what he want to do is to crush all democratic dissent against his own government’s excesses.

Monks and Violence

Any “violence against Lankan travelers” and the “spate of violence against Monks” that he raises must be condemned. Even one incident, is one incident too many. If the TN student movement is a force for good, the “Bikkhu Brigade” from South Sri Lanka endorsed by the most powerful man in the government, Gotabaya is a force for evil, if you study the moral fibre that underpins both. If Dr Roberts has any fears about IPL players and the “death clouds hanging over them” as he puts it, he must turn his attention to the Bodu Bala Sena group and their threats against IPL players, with one Monk warning the players would be, pelted by “rotten eggs” on their return to Sri Lanka: “…an extremist group Bodu Bala Sena which has been at the forefront of growing anti-Muslim sentiment in Sri Lanka has warned the Sri Lankan players that if they betrayed the nation that loved them so much for mere financial gain, they would be pelted with rotten eggs at the Katunayaka international airport. Ironically the threats were made by a member of the Buddhist clergy,” the First Post reported.

Sri Lanka is still trying to up the ante by signing up with a US Lobby Firm

If Dr Roberts and the IPL Players are brave enough they should stand up and ask their government to open itself to independent international scrutiny and resolve the Tamil National Question without any procrastination. Players like Muralitharan and Arjuna Ranatunga must cut the rhetoric and pretense and call a spade a spade. Do they want to help Sri Lanka or the Rajapaksas, that’s the question they must ask themselves. Only then Sri Lanka will be on the ascendance. The Latest scoop from ‘Politico Influence’ reveals that Sri Lanka has signed up with MAJORITY GROUP and Thompson Advisory Group two lobbying firms: “The Sri Lankan government has inked a lobbying and government affairs contract with the Majority Group. Previously, the country had been represented by Patton Boggs. Patton terminated its representation of Sri Lanka in early February, according to Department of Justice records. Majority Group’s partner and co-founder Rob Ellsworth confirmed the news to PI. “We’re excited to work with Sri Lanka on a number of issues important to both of our countries. As a small boutique firm, we are able to give constant and individualized attention to our clients; I know that was very important to Sri Lanka,” Ellsworth said. The Majority Group was formed by Ellsworth and former Rep. Walt Minnick (D-Idaho). Sri Lanka’s central bank recently inked a separate contract with Thompson Advisory Group to promote the country’s economic interests.

Dr Robert’s words must never come true. Any violence or harm must not come to any Sri Lankan IPL cricketers. It should never happen, it won’t happen is my ardent prayer. Let there be no violence perpetrated against any one, people are waiting to tarnish the freedom cause and set us back in our journey towards Eelam. The Tamil Spring, the cause for justice and freedom is not being fought with guns any more on the Tamil side.

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