23 June, 2017

Ezhuka Thamil: A Skewed Vision Of Self-Determination

By Mahendran Thiruvarangan

Mahendran Thiruvarangan

Mahendran Thiruvarangan

When I was doing field research recently in Musali South, a Muslim majority DS division in Mannar district in the Northern Province, an elderly Muslim man posed to me a couple of questions that indicated to me why one should be wary of Tamil nationalist politics even if it represents the aspirations of an oppressed community: “The government of Sri Lanka has banned us from using the forest resources in our village from which we have been benefitted over a long period of time. The land and the trees behind my house have been declared as belonging to a protected forest by the the forest authorities. Even to make a handle for the hoe that we use at home we now have to search for a tree that is not declared protected. A new Buddha statute has also sprung up in our village. We are also citizens of the Northern Province. But, why doesn’t your Chief Minister raise our problems? We cannot clap with one hand, right? Why can’t we all work together to solve our problems?”

When I first heard of the Ezhuka Thamil (Arise Tamil) processions and rally, an unmistakably Tamil-centric political event as the name itself reveals, I could not help but remember this political critique grounded in the everyday life of a Muslim man from a border village in the North who articulated it in a language so plain and devoid of jargon. Though some might say that Muslims consider themselves as a distinct political group or a nation or that Minister Rishad Bathiudeen is there to help the Muslims in the North, I refuse to buy these alibis which will never help us explore avenues for bettering Tamil-Muslim relations at the grassroots or forging, eventually, a common territorial movement of resistance as communities under oppression or communities that share the land, waterways and the environment in the region. As members of the Tamil community which constitutes 93% of the total population in the Northern Province, it is our responsibility to take the questions posed by this elderly Muslim man seriously and scrutinize our politics of resistance revolving around Tamil nationalism in all earnestness.

self-determination-tamilAs my conversation with the Muslim man from Musali South indicates, deep-rooted structural problems like Buddhisization, militarization and land grab confront all the minority communities in the Northern and Eastern Provinces. To frame these issues through the lens of a narrow Tamil nationalism, as was done at the ‘Ezhuka Thamil’ rally, is misleading at best and dangerous at worst. Such attempts would never promote the much-needed goodwill and understanding among the minority communities but further their isolation from one another. Yesterday’s Ezhuka Thamil rally, where a large number of Tamils from across the Northern and Eastern Provinces gathered to articulate their political aspirations and channel their grievances to the South and the concerned international actors, seemed to me to be an event that sadly revealed the majoritarian sentiments of an oppressed minority. It did very little to bring out the multiple ways in which state oppression is experienced by multiple minority communities in the country or in the North-East.

Some of the demands put forward by the participants of yesterday’s rally were indeed fair. They included the release of Tamil political prisoners, putting an end to the Sinhala-Buddhisization of the Northern and Eastern Provinces by the state and the military, bringing out the truth about those who have been made to disappear, de-militarization and a political solution based on federalism. Yet, what was disappointing was that these demands were presented to the world from a Tamil nationalist point of view. The first person pronoun “our” which was included in many of the key demands referred to what Tamils consider as theirs: the land, the economy, the seas, etc. The slogans and the speeches failed to state that the Tamils share these resources with the other communities who inhabit the Northern and Eastern regions and how their shared existence limits their sovereign claims to the land and the resources.

Whether or not the other communities in the North or North-East are willing to work in conjunction with the Tamils, it is important that the Tamil leadership should act with an open-mind willing to embrace the other minority communities and their genuine political struggles. It is only such openness and willingness to join hands with other communities that can impart new life and vigor to the self-determination movement in the North-East. Had the Tamil leadership chosen to launch its resistance to the Sinhala-Buddhist hegemony in the name of a Tamil-Hindu nation, we would not have seen Hindu priests and Christian clergy standing shoulder to shoulder at the rally yesterday. Even this secular tradition of Tamil nationalism is now under threat by none other than some of the actors involved in organizing ‘Ezhuka Thamil’. Chief Minister Wigneswaran’s sole focus on the atrocities suffered by the Tamil Hindus during the civil war at a conference organized Vishwa Hindu Parishad, a Hindu organization known for its fascist agendas and violence against Dalits, Muslims, Chirstians and Adivasis in India, is a case in point. His speech at the conference failed to mention that the Tamil Christians too had fallen victim to the violence by the state. Some recent editorials that appeared in Valampurii, a local daily published from Jaffna, reveal the newspaper’s interest in fashioning a monolithic Tamil identity with Hinduism or Saivism at its heart to the exclusion of other faiths. An editorial of the paper written on the eve of the annual festival at Nallur Kandaswamy Temple states that God Kandaswamy of Nallur is the leader of all Tamils and that the annual festival for God Kandswamy is believed to be the reign of Tamils. He is one of the Conveners of the Tamil People’s Council that organized yesterday’s rally.

Unlike the few Kashmiri and Palestinian self-determination movements that strived to create a common, secular territorial identity in spite of the cultural and religious differences among the populations, ‘Ezhuka Thamil’ and some of the statements and manifestos released in the past by its chief architects including the Tamil People’s Council, Tamil National People’s Front and the Tamil Civil Society Forum show that the political imagination of those who lead the national liberation movement in the North-East of Sri Lanka today cannot see a future beyond creating non-contiguous Muslim majority and Tamil majority administrative regions in the North-East as remedy to the Tamil-Muslim conflict in the region. Partitioning territories along rigid ethnic lines would not bring communities close to one another; they would only result in the creation of ethnic enclaves. This is why some argue that it is better to have a separate Eastern Province where none of the three major communities constitutes more 40% of the total population, owing partly to state-sponsored colonization schemes that led to a sharp increase in the Sinhala population in the region, rather than a merged North-Eastern province. As the Kandy Forum note in their submission to the public consultations committee on constitutional reforms earlier this year, a separate Eastern Province may encourage the Tamil, Muslim and Sinhala populations in the region to evolve a non-divisive pluralism that would be a model for the co-habitation of ethnic communities in Sri Lanka.

Neither the speeches by the organizers nor the slogans raised at the rally yesterday questioned the caste exploitation or dominance of patriarchal forces within the Tamil community. There was no self-introspection into the past or the role of the LTTE in weakening the democratic structures of the community. Listening to the loud slogans of ‘Ezhuka Tamil’ on Youtube yesterday, I looked back into the past and felt the need to revisit the political vision of an inclusive self-determination movement that emerged in the North-East of Sri Lanka in the 1980s and was later weakened and snuffed out by the LTTE’s quest for supremacy. The Eelam People Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF) founded by Pathmanabha was conscious in its activism not only of the internal caste, class and gender divisions within the Tamil community but also of the ethnic plurality of the North-East. In sharp contrast to the LTTE, TELO and PLOTE, the founding members of the EPRLF made a conscious decision to not include “Tamil” in the movement’s name so as to make their demand for self-determination an inclusive one. Many youngsters from the Muslim and Hill Country Tamil communities and even some Sinhalese joined the EPRLF. The political future the EPRLF envisioned for the people of the North-East and even the Hill Country Tamil community is radically different from the Tamil centrism that we saw at yesterday’s ‘Ezhuka Thamil.’ When the EPRLF was in power in the short-lived merged North-Eastern Provincial Council, it worked towards addressing the problems of all three communities. Though this movement had its own limitations and its collaboration with the Indian Peace Keeping Forces in human rights violations during the late 1980s needs to be critiqued, the political ideals that the it espoused in its early years can inspire us think about self-determination inclusive ways differing markedly from the empty slogans of Tamil nationalism that we often hear these days in the North.

*The writer is a member of the Collective for Economic Democratization in Sri Lanka

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  • 8
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    Mr. Mahendran Thiruvarngan and all participants,
    In Sri Lanka there is a downtrodden culture in criticizing honest and popular leaders just to gain small time heroism. This is true if you go back and see the struggle the Tamils had with the majoritarian Sinhalese Governments from the time of independence. Tamils never focused on the fundamental issue. Instead each wants to dominate another showing cheap heroism which ruins the main issue in question. After every election the Government attracts some ambitious Tamil just to be on their side to help them ruin the Country. Likewise when the youth took to armed struggle several leaders showed up with several proposals competing with one another. At the end the common purpose of taking to arms was lost and after the youth killed each other it was easy for the Governments to make the struggle weaken and capture.
    Likewise the majoritarian Governments let down the Country by showing triumphalism for cheap heroism and lost face allowing for a showdown with the international community. The successive Governments failed to deliver good Governance. The end result is what you see today!
    Tamils in the eyes of the Sinhala majoritarian Governments are portrayed as terrorists and therefore don’t deserve equal treatment. North and East are treated as captured and now treated like slaves.
    But the new regime though cosigned the UNHRC agreement, never did anything towards reconciliation. Instead it is boldly doing the reverse antagonizing and continuing with genocide.
    Under the circumstance it is good to bring to the focus of the Government its commitment and how the victims feel victimized endlessly. It is done not by a cheap vote loving politician but by a respectable retired judge of the supreme courts. This protest not only gives some relief for the victims but also a reminder for the Government. It is not possible for the victims and their powerless leaders to take any decision or implement anything for the good of the Country. It is possible only for the Government to bring a good resolution. Again like before if the Government wants to put Tamils down for their superiority and heroism, it will be unfortunate again for the Country to go down. It is customary for the international community to make Sri Lanka a law abiding Country, and help the victims recover and make them equal citizens. It will be good for all Sri Lankans help Sri Lanka to come out of the present situation by not vying for cheap popularity and make it harder for the Country.

  • 14
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    Thiruvarangan

    How ignorant you are about the Tamil-Muslim relationship!!

    Do you know that LTTE initially recruited even Muslim youths into their ranks? So did other Tamil armed groups.

    LTTE turned against Muslims only as a retaliation to the atrocities Muslim youths committed against the Tamils in the Eastern Province in 1990.

    It is an undeniable fact that Muslim politicians in the East encouraged their youths to join hands with the Sri Lankan Army and openly asked for armed Muslim home guards. These armed Muslim home guards joined hands with the Army in killing Tamils in several places in the East in 1990 after LTTE opened an offensive against the Army when they broke the ceasefire and attacked police stations.

    Muslim home guards were in the forefront of many massacres of Tamils in the Batticaloa and Ampara districts during this period.

    You better go and read the article written by former Batticaloa Lake House correspondent R Thurairatnam in his blog (http://www.thinakkathir.com/?p=66245).

    Muslim Jihad group and Muslim home guards went with the Army to the Refugee camp at the Eastern University at Vantharumoolai on September 5th 1990 when Army took away some 158 men from the camp and they never returned. They were all presumed killed. The present Vice Chancellor of Eastern University Professor Jeyasingham testified before the Presidential Commission headed by Justice Palakidnar detailing the whole incident and he clearly identified that the Army went into the camp assisted by the Jihad group,and Plote group. According to the testimony before the Presidential Commission, 7 Muslims wearing masks (Mokamoodi) identified many Tamils and all those who were identified by these 7 Muslims were separated and taken away never to return.

    A few days later Army, Jihad Group and the Muslim home guards descended on the Sathurukondan village near Batticaloa town and similarly took away another 198 men. They never returned and an escaped Tamil youth had testified that all of them were taken to an Armmy camp and killed. It is there on record in the report of the Presidential Commission headed by Justice Palakidnar.

    Muslim home guards killed many Tamils in the Ampara district in places such as Sammanthurai, Pottuvil and Kalmunai and at Eravur in the Batticaloa district. Muslim home guards carried out attacks on Tamils who were in the Eravur hospital. Entire villages were cleared up by the Muslim home guards in the Ampara district with the help of Army. Veeramunai, a Tamil village in the Sammanthurai electorate, came under repeated attacks during this period. During this period Muslims destroyed many Hindu kovils in the Ampara district.

    LTTE did not harm the Muslims initially and only when they saw what the Muslim mobs and the Muslim home guards were doing to Tamils they started their attacks on the Muslims.

    You may wonder how I know all these facts. I was a member of the Citizens Committee in Batticaloa during those difficult times when no elected politicians came forward to represent the Batticaloa Tamils. Only a few professionals like myself and American Jesuit priests such as Father Herbayar, Father Miller and Father Weber had to intervene on behalf the Tamils. Fortunately for the Tamils, a few good Sinhala army officers such as Brigadier Seneviratne, Colonel Halangoda and Colonel Fernando prevented the wholesale massacre of Tamils in Batticaloa during this period.

    Do you know that when Vigneswaran participated in a Tamil cultural event at Batticaloa a few days before the Eluha Tamil event, he clearly called up the Muslims to join forces with them saying that Muslims are also Tamil speaking people. Immediately came a retort from Minister Rishard Bathudeen who said that though Muslims speak Tamil they cannot be lumped together with Tamils under the label Tamil speaking people.

    The undeniable fact is that Muslims enjoyed benefits from successive governments at the expense of the Tamils by aligning with the government in their fight against the LTTE.

    Now do not preach that Tamils should co-opt Muslims in their struggle. This will never happen.

    Even if ordinary Muslims would like to join the Tamils, the present lot of self-seeking and opportunistic Muslim politicians in North East will never allow this to happen. The divide created and perpetuated by these Muslim politicians between the Tamils and Muslims is deeper than the present divide between the Tamils and the Sinhalese.

    Whether Eastern Province should remain separate is another matter. Though personally I do not agree with the Jaffna Tamil politicians, if Eastern Tamils are to maintain their Tamil identify, East should be part of a united North East Province with re-defined borders. Muslims can have their separate administrative units in the Ampara district and in such Muslim concentrated towns such as Kattankudy, Eravur and Ottamavadi in the Batticaloa district.

    • 5
      1

      Naga

      “Do you know that LTTE initially recruited even Muslim youths into their ranks? So did other Tamil armed groups.”

      LTTE’s list of martyrs contains 32 Muslim youth.

      • 1
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        Native Veddah :

        What is your point in participating in these forums ?

        If you are participating to put the position of Veddah people , then Veddahs are NOT the problem.

        So they are NOT the solution.

        So are you here to confuse the various ethnic identities ?

        If so you are a misguided person.

        Be true to yourself and be honest that is ALL that is required.

        • 1
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          sinhala_voice

          “What is your point in participating in these forums ?”

          Haven’t you read all my comments? Poor ignorant, go read come back and tell me.

          “If you are participating to put the position of Veddah people , then Veddahs are NOT the problem.”

          When are you going to realise that it’s you who is the problem, not just to my people but to Sinhalese, Buddhists, Tamils, Hindus, Muslims, Christians, to yourself, and rest of the humanity?

    • 11
      8

      Mr. Naga,
      I probably met you or knew of you from those dark times you mention. My colleague Dr. Sritharan, a close friend of Raveendranath and Jayasingam, and I, visited Batticaloa and Amparai Districts several times then. We also met Fr. Miller regularly.
      The Muslims and Tamils in the East must live and prosper together or sink together. Amicable relations must be restored. We must not start thinking and acting as though the Muslims are less human than us or are more blood thirsty than us. The Tamils who are better connected have a greater obligation to try to see this story also from the Muslim point of view. Your way of telling the story, with several events blacked out, is very unhelpful from the standpoint of reconciliation. Our compilation of events began in situ from September 1990. The events in Batticaloa were compiled in February 1990, with help from Jayasingam and Raveendranath, staff and students of Eastern University and several other Tamils and Muslims, and can be found in

      http://www.uthr.org/Reports/Report7/Report7.htm

      The Tamil-Muslim clashes were started by the Government in Karaitivu in 1985 by importing thugs from Colombo. Local Muslims were initially not part of it. The Tamils could have handled this wisely by trying to win the confidence of the Muslims. But once armed, it seemed in order for Tamil militants to behave like the Sri Lankan Army. Even so the Muslims largely resisted being drawn in on the side of the Army and STF. The pattern of events from the report above is very clear. The massacre of Muslim passengers bound for Kattankudy on 15th July 1990, the Kattankudy Mosque Massacre on 3rd August 1990 and the Eravur Massacre on 12th August preceded any major action by Muslim home guards and thugs against the wishes of mature Muslim citizens.

      A part of the story is the insensitivity of Jaffna-based Tamil nationalism towards the needs of the East. The East would have settled down had the LTTE not started a war with the Indian Peace Keeping Force in keeping with its egocentric politics. The Tamils in the East needed most to advance in education. What the LTTE did instead was to dragoon thousands of Eastern Tamil youth to form its cannon fodder and destroy them. Eastern University was potentially a good university that would have served Eastern Tamils and Muslims well. We now have instead two sub-standard universities in the East. Creating good universities takes a great deal more. Jaffna too lost much. We lost Dr. M.A.M. Nuhman. Ahmad Nazeer from Kalmunai was one of my outstanding students in Jaffna who would have enriched Jaffna University. He is now I believe lost to the North-East.

      The LTTE’s totalitarian politics would have made it nervous of the Muslims even if they were very docile. That is the start of irrationality in dealing with Muslims and Sinhalese. The fact that they arrogantly behaved like the Sri Lankan Army was ultimately suicidal for the Tamils in both the North and East.
      This is why introspection is important. Thiruvarangan did not get it wrong. The Muslim elder in his article reacted simply as any ordinary pacific human being.

      • 3
        4

        Correction: In ‘compiled in February 1990’ from the first para of my response above, 1991 should replace 1990.

      • 6
        4

        Hello there Rajan Hoole,

        /*

        The Tamil-Muslim clashes were started by the Government in Karaitivu in 1985 by importing thugs from Colombo.

        */

        I am in contact with a person who has police records in the East. He can also confirm what took place through his network.

        He wants to know the specifics of what you mention here.

        Are you able to say which year and area this took place and names of the people involved? He will also question the locals and get back to me.

        Thanks

    • 2
      6

      Naga,

      In my response to those who said that I had misunderstood Chief Minister Wigneswaran’s speech, I mentioned the killings of Tamils in the East by Muslim groups along with the Eviction of Muslims from the North by the LTTE. I had posted it before your comment appeared here. Here is the relevant section:

      “The Chief Minister throughout his speech uses the phrase “Tamil speaking people” instead of “Tamil people.” I do not want to say that “Tamil speaking people” is a bad or inappropriate term. It has some potential especially when we think about the future of the relationship between Tamil, Muslim and Up-country Tamil communities in the North, East or the merged North-East. Having said that, I want to add that one cannot invoke “Tamil speaking people” without reflecting on the relationship between Tamils and Muslims which has deteriorated over the last twenty thirty years or so especially after the Eviction of the Muslims from the North by the LTTE and the violence against the Tamils in the East by Muslim groups. As a leader representing the Tamil community Chief Minister should reflect on these relations and acknowledge what the LTTE did to the Tamils in public gatherings like the Ezhuka Thamil. The Northern Provincial Council which the CM heads passed a resolution condemning the past and ongoing genocide against the Tamils by the Sri Lankan state. Did it pass any resolution against the eviction of Muslims who make up the population of the North? One cannot praise the CM just because he opted for “Tamil speaking people.” As Pushpam notes “it is the actions and the larger picture that matter here.””

      2. From your comment – “Now do not preach that Tamils should co-opt Muslims in their struggle. This will never happen.” – As someone who is interested in reconciliation I would like to see the two communities work together for their rights and emancipation as Tamil Hindus and Tamil Christians do today. There is nothing wrong in anticipating and working towards a future where the two communities can trust each other and understand each other in a better way. Even your response implies that ordinary Muslims may like to join hands with Tamils. It is important that Tamils reach out to them.

      But as you comment shows one cannot keep aside the past and suddenly become friends. First of all it is important to understand what impedes reconciliation between the two communities and face them with sincerity and a commitment towards justice and solidarity. Just because the CM said “let’s unite on the basis of language” reconciliation is not going to happen. And how can anyone expect that Muslims should trust a CM who shared dais with the leaders of Vishwa Hindu Parishad? And why didn’t he move a resolution in the Northern Provincial Council on the ethnic cleansing of Muslims from the North as he did on the genocide against Tamils? Literature and language alone would not unite the two communities given the extent of animosity that exists between them due to what happened in the past. Only Tamil leaders who are willing to self-introspect and have the courage to challenge and alienate the anti-Muslim forces within the Tamil community can make any progress in improving the relations between the two communities.

      I am aware that the dynamics in the East are very different from the dynamics in the North as far as Tamil-Muslim relations are concerned. I also heard about the conflicting views expressed by Tamils and Muslims on the question of the merger of the two provinces during the Public Consultations Sessions on Constitutional Reforms held earlier this year. When I suggested that the Eastern Province with its current borders be retained rather than creating two non-contiguous Tamil and Muslim provinces in the North-East,I said it with the hope (underline the word hope) that by being interdependent on one another in the same province for their existence the two communities could cultivate trust and understanding eventually. But as your comment indicates it requires a lot of work on the ground and may not be possible in the near future. If that is the case, other options including the one that you suggested should be explored. Even if it is not possible in the short run, perhaps the communities in the East can work towards living in a common province in the long run. In any case, ultimately it is a decision that the people in the East have to make. As somebody who believes we should not allow our identities to defeat humanity in the long run, I made that suggestion.

      Thank you Rajan Hoole for giving us a background to the incident that Naga has mentioned in his comment and filling in the gaps. Thanks also for sharing the report that you and Dr. Sritharan of the UTHR(J) prepared on these massacres. It should be read by the readers of CT.

      • 3
        2

        [“The Chief Minister throughout his speech uses the phrase “Tamil speaking people” instead of “Tamil people.” I do not want to say that “Tamil speaking people” is a bad or inappropriate term. ]

        There is no harm to use either Tamil speaking people” and “Tamil people. The word Hindu speaking Tamil was not intended or derived.

      • 4
        3

        Mahendran
        I think you have made a reasoned and well thought out response to Naga., as to how the reconciliation effort to allay suspicion and misunderstanding between the two communities is to be followed.
        The NPC CM mind is conditioned to the office he held as SC judge and he is not a bad man.
        But he is not an experienced politician. and his being only ‘honest’ is not enough for his job.
        That is his problem.

  • 7
    2

    Mallaiyuran

    Well done ! Hope Thiruvarangan will be enlightened by reading it.

  • 10
    4

    I have a dream that one day Sinhala colonialism and imperialism end and Tamils live with dignity and self-respect in their own lands.

    I have a dream that one day Sinhalese truly live up to their Buddhist heritage by realizing that human life and freedom worth more than forced territorial unity.

    I have a dream that one day Sinhalese grow out of their Mahavamsa mentality and become a more compassionate, tolerant and compromising people who value cooperation and coexistence instead of domination.

    I have a dream that one day Sinhalese look back at root causes of the civil war and acknowledge their faults instead of only blaming Tamils or the European colonialists.

    I have a dream….

  • 1
    0

    This has to be correct and replace as;
    9)”no relation with Tamil hegemony” is incorrect that could be change and read as “No relation with so-called Sinhalese hegemony”…

  • 4
    6

    Wingeswaran is actively preventing Moslems from settling in the north. I believe he had an argument with TNA Sumithranatan over this issue.

    But what is the Wingeswaran’s cause anyway?

    He is essentially saying – Us Tamils were state colonized into the north -> http://tinyurl.com/tamil-Jaffna

    However, we now do not want others to be state colonised down there!

    Its quite a ridiculous proposition!

    • 2
      0

      De Silva,

      Have you visited the north recently? Quite a number of Muslims have returned and are a visible community. Those who have not returned are now well rooted in areas the resettled. Others visit Jaffna to see their old haunts and reclaim their former homes and property.

      Do not talk about subjects you are apparently ignorant.

      Dr.RN

      • 2
        0

        You are wrong Dr.Narendran. The muslim population in Jaffna faces immense problems, particularly from Tamil govt. officials. The rhetoric of Tamil nationalism aids in this.

        Those who did not come did not do so not because they are well rooted in their places of displacement; the more affluent are; but not others. They did not come back or remain a floating population, because nothing has been done about them. have you been to Pommai velli and Osmania college road. until last year, kadeeja school was housing families and families. Recently, a woman who spoke out was singled out for retaliation by a govt. order, ( on the surface legal and above board, but at another level, constituting harrassment). Do not go by visibiilty. Also, do not confuse the Jaffna Muslim population with the student population in the university and the training colleges. you may not be, but i want you to look at the situation more carefully.

  • 4
    6

    We should congratulate Thiruwarangan for writing with alot of insight.

    It is true that parallel to Buddhist nationalism there is growth of Hindu Nationalism in the North.

    Eg. Renewal of License to have Beef stalls owned by Muslims were not renewed in the Vali West region of Jaffna.

  • 2
    2

    Dear Sinhala propaganda,

    I loved your comment.
    Martin Luther King had a dream and it materalised.

    If many of us are willing to transcend petty differences, labels and dare to dream, the dream can become reality.

    For this to happen people need to be ruthlessly honest with themselves and take a moral inventory of their attitudes and where needed, have the humility to admit they were wrong and move forward for the greater good.

    Ambi

  • 3
    0

    Dear Mahendran Thiruvarangan and Rajan Hoole, Dear brothers and sisters, Friends, Northerners, Southerners, Easterners, countrywomen and men:

    Before telling the Vigneswaran faction of Tamil leadership to make sure to sound inclusive to Muslims, should you not be asking all three.. i.e.

    Sumanthiran — Sampanthan — Vigneswaran

    to find a way to constructively talk to each other and to work as a coalition? Isn’t that the first step for the sake of the people. It’s essentially Tamils against a Sinhala hegemony. Don’t lose sight of the big picture.

    Otherwise this is nothing but a power struggle in the guise of egalitarian niceties. Should we not be putting pressure on all three?

    All of which is respectfully submitted.

    Nelum

    • 1
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      Nelum

      YOU need to study Tamil politics first.

  • 0
    0

    Tamil-Muslim unity in the Eastern Province was genuine from the early 50s to late 70s.
    The egg is broken and whisked;Scrambled eggs is the Menu!
    I am not sure whether it is possible to unscramble scrambled eggs.
    As for Sinhala-Muslim relationships Anagarika Dharmapala screamed as follows in the early days prior to Independence…..
    Quote.
    The Muhammendans,an alien people…by Shylockian methods became prosperous like the Jews.The Sinhalese,sons of the soil,whose ancestors for2358 years had shed rivers of blood to keep the country free of alien invaders…are in the eyes of the British only vagabonds.The alien South Indian Muhammedan come to Ceylon,sees the neglected,illiterate villagers without any experience in trade….and the result is that the Muhammedan thrives and the sons of the soil go to the wall.
    Unquote.
    In the emerging Political landscape the Muslim will play his cards on the side where he will stand to gain-The Sinhala Majority.
    Attempting to rope them in by the Tamil side will UNFORTUNATELY be only a dream.

  • 6
    2

    Despite being a Jaffna Tamil and having experienced almost all of the war in rural Jaffna I still try to be objective and independent. I am an IDP and was displaced twice during the war and today support peace and reconciliation openly. I don’t want political interference in my academic freedom or in my freedom of expression. When the Elzuka Tamil statement was discussed at the UTA meeting held on 13th of Sep 2016 I clearly expressed my reservations about it after others had talked. As an academic I wanted to know whether the statement contained verified facts and what were the sources. I did not want to accept the statement written by outsiders without clarifications. Unfortunately I had to leave the meeting and do not know was my opinion properly recorded. Hopefully UTA has not claimed that the statement was accepted unanimously. Ignoring silence from most and emotional resistance from some at the meeting I tried to make my point of:

    Are we approaching these issues as scholars from a higher education institution or are we going to blindly accept what TPC offer?

    We as an academic trade union should be the leaders of protesters with facts and figures on these said issues so that, nobody cannot refute us.

    In the meeting I objected words like “Sinhala-Buddhist” forces in the statement. Why not call them just security forces? I further asked, if the govt. of SL brings Sinhalese families and settle them in the North but in state owned lands as a strategy and thus for breaking up mono ethnic region and even put up Buddha statues in state owned lands (not on private lands, I clearly said that should be fought for) in the north and east to desegregate the mono-religious /Hindu dominancy which partly led for this heightened ethno-nationalism and civil war do we as academics have the right (are we right?) to fight against these? I also said while govt. of SL this time at least as a token of gesture tried to gather opinion from grassroots with regard to constitutional making and I even recalled the news appreared in the local media brought the contact detail to those who wanted to write the input on the above issue, can we as academics reject this and say that constitutional making is being done without consulting people?

    It is sad indeed that Tamil political history and the very narrow nationalism (not inclusive) are sadly repeated. It is also sad that many of us have not learnt from our past mistakes. What makes me saddest is that the intellectuals of the TPC do not understand the danger of waking up frustrated bored youngsters without any real future prospects. As many commented the time of this event while the govt. of SL supported by the international community try hard to straighten the war caused damages among Tamils was not ‘ripen’ right time for a mass protest. If the TPC really felt that the constitutional making is being done behind the curtain why they didn’t have the gut to ask the govt of SL/President by a letter even an open letter so that people also let know that TPC is much concerned about the permanent solution for Tamils than Tamil politicians who we voted for? Whenever politicians/elite/leaders mobilize masses especially in the post war context against one group/institution they have to be very careful as not to be the architects for bad cause or for (re)strengthening hostilities between the communities which are already divided due to war.

    Ezhuka Tamil was marketed as a non-violent demonstration to demand solutions for our problems. Why did a peaceful demonstration have a poster with a fist that made many think about violent films? On a recent field study I saw young men wearing yellow and red ribbons were going on vehicle in front of the university. Many have already commented on the name Ezhuka Tamil” itself. Why the need for these obvious hints to our painful past? Did Gandhi’s Salt March necessitate this level of not so well hidden violent symbols?

    Where are some of our leaders trying to lead our mostly ignorant, traumatized and obedient masses? Do we as Jaffna academics allow and even assist this process?

    Please remember people’s lives in the North have new demands and they all in chorus cry for a better tomorrow.

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      Dr Bahirathy Jeeweshwara Rasanen,

      “When the Elzuka Tamil statement was discussed at the UTA meeting held on 13th of Sep 2016 I clearly expressed my reservations about it after others had talked.”

      I know that you are a senior lecturer at Jaffna University and a member of the UTA. Others don’t know who you are.

      “Are we approaching these issues as scholars from a higher education institution or are we going to blindly accept what TPC offer?”

      Don’t you know that our politicians even bring rice from the moon?

      Thank you for your comment showing that at least one member of the UTA doubted the information presented in the TPC statement.

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      ” “Sinhala-Buddhist” forces”

      It is Sinhala Buddhist force.

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      As member of UTA, it was your responsibility to accept the TPC’s statement if you have no objection or reject with facts. So far you claim here because you’re from an academic institution you are not willing to participate in that exercise and you walkout on nothing of a political position of yours, but to prevent UTA having a unanimous decision. (You rebelled against UTA but rejecting TPC rebelling. All employee unions openly get involved in the county’s political process. In almost all of the cases, it is not interpreted as an action of an individual braking the terms of employment. Even the police unions openly support political parties in West. For you information, TPC is not accepted by Sinhala Government’s election commission as a political party). But you are undertaking the job defending the political decision of Sinhala Buddhist only recruitment to the armed services by the Sinhala Government. TPC claims that there is discrimination, so it worded its statement to pinpoint the political decision made by Sinhala Government. Sinhala websites claim that defense service contained 75% of Tamils in 1950s and it’s, now, containing 0% of multi ethnic minority communities.

      Further if that was your position, then CT’s highly charged, pure political Thiruvagaran’s essay may not have been your place to express your opinion. Your appearance here is, clearly indicated by your comment, only to support and participate in the propaganda undertaken Ahelan Kathirgamar, Rajan Hoole, Thiruvarangan and the rest of the gang. The “Editors Opinion” Thiruvarangan mentioning here was written by an Indian Brahminical Media, fed by the same group. Their names are explicitly mentioned there as source for that opinion. The editorial has not mentioned of feedback from any TPC name. Because, it was not intended to be an independent and balanced News item. What is indicating here is a few “CT Class” PhDs are trying in couple of English Media with their own propaganda against TPC. Then it’s so silly to claim for these CT Class PhDs that they have invented an independent and balanced Editorial that condemns TPC.

      The apparent interference with threat by Appe Anduwa Coolie of that he may know of Naga seems to have threatened Naga and silenced him. These coolies called me communalist and not willing to establish it. Further, he is not willing to answer, without a condition of “I depended to a considerable extent on current reporting by Qadri Ismail, whom I also know” to DeSilva, who has police acquaintances to investigate this version of the incidents. You may like to ask your UTA to verify the facts on TPC’s open statement before they present an open statement (An open statement will be contested by anybody if there are factual misrepresentation -but I yet have read one like in the media other than Southern politicians claims of TPC’s advocating of Tamils interest is only a war crime and CV has to be arrested and put in prison without an investigation with other PTA arrest pending for last 25 years). Here is Muslim man, unlike our traitors, appears to be has written an essay to advance the interest of his community. But Coolie is not willing have confirmed them before he put it to debate with De Silva. De Silva’s police friend may reject or confirm it. Propagandist Coolie is not standing with what he put out there. His position is, if it is wrong then “that is Muslim man did it”, if it’s right “I am correct”. He not is ready to touch the Bible, (If has faith) and swear what he says is only truth, nothing but truth. Here, Coolie has only undertaken to search out for hidden satanic messages against Tamils and spread it out. Coolies’ essays were contested by Inner circles of LTTE. These are on the Tamil Media. If and When an ICC inquiry take place one can expect they all will come out with evidences. It is with that confidence the diaspora has asked for investigation on the final days of the war. I doubt if Coolie will appear for questioning, because he is not sure the truth of his writings.

      You may call “our forces”. TPC may call “Sinhala-Buddhist forces”. But the UN’s reports are calling the same group as “Rapist Army- War Criminal Army”. These facts released by UN. Not by Rajan or Ismail.

      From the time that University was started, it has been highly influenced by political interference of Sinhala Appe Anduwas. It has been subject to direct management of Appe Anduwas. The appointment there was only with political favors, even in cases where the candidates of question have had reasonable achievements on the prescribed qualification requirements. Even Rajini was a highly charged political activist, became a subject to political murder. The current VC demanded to and got statements from staff to support the Old Royal in election. This is another case suppressed from facing light of the law enforcement scrutiny. (The fall out between EPDP and some others have made their attack on the VC. But they are not with sincere motives)

      Many coolies were employed by EPDP to this organization. According to some news reaching the diaspora, more than 35 staffs in various education places of North has been dismissed. These not simply political appointments, their certificates were criminally forged. Even Young candidates like Thiruvarangan are spoiled by like that of corrupted systems.

      University has to be handed over to NPC; it has the complete authority to manage education in its area. That was the purpose of 13A, after Solomon West Ridgeway Dias introduced Sinhala Only and Sirimavo Implemented it by using 1961 Satyagraha suppression and Badiuddin introduced Standardization.

      To say one word about the TPC and TNA’s current positions in the solution: CV explained during the election that he was standing for the election on a milder format of internal self-determination- basically a federal government – my understanding. That was understood by Tamils because of the 6A. But CV is saying he is still only with his election promise. There was talk about Sampanthar mentioning “Self Determination” rights to UNSG. That was the mandate of 1976. That was the only mandate ever given by Tamils for any politician. That is not yet overwritten by any other mandate in North-East. I believe it is time to TPC to readjust to the 1976 mandate of the people and start to talk about the Self Determination.

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        Mallaiyuran,

        “As member of UTA, it was your responsibility to accept the TPC’s statement if you have no objection or reject with facts.”

        I totally agree with you. Thank you.

        If I have understood correctly she did not want to accept the statement presented without having more information.

        How can anybody present facts to reject a proposed statement that has not been made public well in advance? Where is the statement anyway? Can you post it here please?

        The details of what happened are unknown and so is the decision made by the UTA. Her reservation/objection/whatever it is called should have been recorded even if she left the meeting before it ended.

        “But you are undertaking the job defending the political decision of Sinhala Buddhist only recruitment to the armed services by the Sinhala Government.”

        I don’t understand you and I don’t find anything in her comment on recruitment. Does the government not try to recruit Tamils and has it not even been able to do it? Please provide your source for this if you can. I can provide a source.

        As to the rest of your comment: what on earth is your mixture of coolies, nagas, Muslims, police, Thiru, Rajini, Bible, Silva, Ahelan and Ismail? Is it an encrypted message or you have software generating gibberish for CT?

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      Bahirathy Jeeweshwara Rasanan,

      “Ignoring silence from most and emotional resistance from some at the meeting I tried to make my point of: Are we approaching these issues as scholars from a higher education institution or are we going to blindly accept what TPC offer?”

      Thank you for your courage to take up your doubts about the statement.

      Have you not been sent information on what the UTA meeting decided on this matter? Minutes or something?

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      well stated Baheerathy

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      Dear Dr. Bahirathy,

      It is heartening to hear that at least one member of the JUTA voiced her dissent against the content of the TPC’s statement. Thank you for letting the public know about what happened at the meeting. It is a courageous act.

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