By Sanjeewa Ranaweera –
The LTTE was crushed. The face of the LTTE, Prabhakaran was eliminated. We celebrated, ate ‘kiribath’, and even ignored the relentless abuses and excesses of our leaders just to show our gratitude. The prolonged curse of war was finally at an end. Yet, the voice of the LTTE was howling with pain. And this howls of pain seem to be continuing! No, it is not the pain of the crushing defeat. The real pain lies somewhere else!
The LTTE waged war for a separate country for Tamils, which they called ‘Tamil Eelam’. And the north and east of Sri Lanka was earmarked for this task. However, Prabhakaran’s dream was not just the independent state of Tamil Eelam. He dreamt of ruling the Tamil Eelam. And Tamil Eelam was not his dream anyway. It was the brainchild of the elite Tamil politicos. The late Chelvanayakam was perhaps the first to demand for it openly.
Well, to my mind, Tamil Eelam was more or less a notion of convenience or rather, an invention of convenience. Because, with the emergence of this notional Tamil country, the entire Tamil community was taken for a ride by its elite. Tamil Eelam was shown to be the cure for all the economic and social ills of the Tamils. Sinhalese leaders also, in their unthinking struggle for political power, contributed immensely to the broadening of the reach of this misconception. And eventually, Tamil Eelam became the foremost aspiration of the Tamils across the world. They, in the hope of achieving this flimsy objective, resolved to strengthen the weaponry of Prabhakaran’s ruthless terrorist outfit. Thousands of Sinhalese and Tamils were killed, tortured and left incapacitated. And the elite Tamil leaders became cult figures who espoused the great Tamil cause (Tamil Eelam) locally and internationally. In the circumstances, the burning issues of the masses [of the Tamil community] remained overlooked!
Well, one cannot blame the Tamils for supporting, directly or otherwise, the separatist agenda of the barbaric LTTE and of the so-called Tamil leaders. As human beings, we all have an inherent inclination to think of our race, religion and country preferentially. And that is why at the last General Election, we preferred the candidates who convincingly pretended to be nationalists and patriots. In fact, more the pretended patriotism, more the number of preferential votes! And now we see the veracity of their professed patriotism as they embezzle public money openly.
Similarly, Tamils were convinced that they were being treated differently because of their race. Our Sinhalese leaders too were generous enough to ensure that their Tamil counterparts’ game plan goes according to the plan. They (Sinhalese leaders) orchestrated the horrendous Black July and also, took many a short-sighted decision just for the sake of enhancing their vote bank. Sadly, Buddhist priests also commenced preaching ‘Sinhala Buddhism’ which is not known to Lord Buddha’s teachings. According to them, Sri Lanka is a Sinhala Buddhist country! And the insinuation is obvious – “Tamils in this country are living on a foreign land”. When such outspoken comments were made publicly, it is hardly surprising that Tamils were under the delusion that Tamil Eelam was a cause to die for.
However, quite unexpectedly, Prabhakaran’s de facto Tamil Eelam collapsed as one Sri Lankan leader thought that the elimination of the LTTE was a better political option. And of course, his political calculation was proved overwhelmingly fruitful. He cleverly secured his and his descendants’ political future against all foreseeable obstacles. However, Prabhakaran’s lifeless body shattered the meticulously designed ‘Eelam Dream’ into pieces. The dream State of the Tamils was reduced to a permanent daydream. And the most wounded in this turn of events were the elite Tamil leaders, including the domestic mouthpiece of the LTTE. Because all of a sudden they lost their fashion statement, i.e. Tamil Eelam !
Nonetheless, after the initial gasp of astonishment, the Tamil elitists were back in business. Rumour mills were activated. And the most noteworthy rumour so produced was that “Prabhakaran, the undisputed leader of the notional Tamil Eelam was alive and was making preparations to revive the struggle for Tamil Eelam”. Several local Tamil politicos also echoed this ridiculous rumour in a desperate attempt to restore the shattered ‘Eelam dream’. But this laughable tactic failed miserably for obvious reasons.
And then came the ‘Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE)’ which is supposed to be a government in exile amongst the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora. Let alone the practicalities of the TGTE, it is doubtful whether the common Tamil man has at least a vague idea of what it is.
And now 88-year-old Karunanidhi says that ‘Tamil Eelam’ is the dream of his life and he will endeavour to achieve it together with like-minded people. He suddenly sought to revive the Tamil Eelam Supporters Organisation (TESO) which was founded in 1985 and in fact, held a conference followed by a public rally. Clearly, the whole exercise was just another farce similar to the fast unto death staged or rather, exhibited by Karunanidhi during the final stages of the war. And incidentally, TESO was the name used to identify a well-known hacker group originated in Austria. Hence the name, TESO amply fits Karunanidhi’s pseudo-conference, because the prime objective of that media circus was to hack into the minds of the Tamils so that the ‘Eelam dream’ could be effectively re-planted. And no matter how unrealistic and far-fetched this ‘Eelam Dream’, it will secure Karunanidhi’s son, M.K. Stalin’s and other family members’ political as well as financial future.
Hopefully, there will be more farcical attempts to keep the ‘Eelam Dream’ alive as that will keep these hopeless elitist Tamil leaders alive in politics. However, at the end of the day, ‘Tamil Eelam’ is no different to the widely touted ‘Miracle of Asia’. Both are catchy, yet utterly ornamental political promises!
*Sanjeewa Ranaweera, Attorney-at-Law