By Jason –
Since May 19 2009, the Tamils of home and abroad remain numb and in a state of shock. Refusal to accept the defeat they faced over liberation struggle they waged is impregnated with doubts, disbelief and suspicions. Questioning the loyalties of former comrades and activists seem a common feature. Fragmented, Tamils have become a fertile ground for mind games of various forces including that of Sri Lankan government.
It is hard to believe that not too distance into the past a coherent body, standing together against the Sri Lankan state, united by a just struggle now infested with schisms, loyalty checks to the point of pointing fingers at former friends and colleagues of disloyalty, treason and collaboration with the enemy.
But more than ever, even more acute than the post 1983 riots, our loved ones at home need the expatriates united voice and support for relief, rehabilitation and for rebuilding their lives. To stand idle or to view any support to our people at this very crucial juncture of their post war existence as equivalent to supporting the enemy defeat the very logic on which Tamils supported a thirty year liberation struggle.
Here are some critical questions all Tamils should ask themselves to construct a common foundation on which our development aid and rebuilding lives of our people can be pieced together.
What is the present state of mind of Tamils?
The majority still deep down their heart daily mourn for what had happened at Mullivaikkal; and hope and indeed pray for a once and for all reasonable settlement to the aspirations of people back home.
It is that aspiration which brought the Tamils of home and their brethren abroad on a common cause to struggle despite the heaviest price they were paying. But in the post May 2009 era, the coherence found among us all during the struggle seemed to have been shattered.
And the unity which united us all around the world seemed to have received a death blow, much heavier and severe than what the dying thousands received at the beaches of Nanthi Kadal.
Tamils confidence is shattered and their capacity for rising up to new challenges – which is urgent and potent – to lift the lives of people back home from their current predicament seem to be infected by a social nihilism.
Nihilism exist in the form of (i) refusal to acknowledge the plight of tamils in the current post war era, (ii) questioning the legitimacy of concerned individuals or organizations, (iii) not acknowledging ground realities within which help has to be provided to the people back home, (iv)allowing suspicions to infest their rational thought process.
Yet one must acknowledge, in any post war era such nihilism is common and confusions shall prevail. And especially being honest to the depth of defeat we faced at Vanni War, such doubts and schisms to be expected. Also the pre-war militaristic structures which strove for liberation at any cost in the absence of democratic institutions also partially could account for prevalence of the current nihilism.
Has the War Ended the Tamil Question?
The aspiration behind Eelam struggle was to liberate the Tamil people from the breath squeezing shackles of Sri Lankan state. Has the war resolved Tamils reasonable expectations? The answer is no and that was the common bond, the umbilical code which united the majority of Tamils despite their minor differences to fight for until May 2009. Underlying political debacle still prevails or got worsened. Indeed, Tamil people have been pushed into a future much worse than the past any of the living Tamils could remember.
Compare the Status of Tamils at home prior to War and Post War period?
A parable comparable is to find an army fighting a just war being sucked by mother earth and getting buried alive. Indeed Vanni war did witness such realities. Instead of unearthing our brave people from the grave yard they are in due to poor political and military strategies; sadly Tamil communities abroad are vastly engaged in accusations void of reason, succumbing to suspicions, mudslinging and being spiteful against their own former friends and comrades.
Often one witness shameful campaigns being unleashed in the media against people who passionately believe (i) that our people back home cannot be abandon to the woes of destiny, and (ii)that all avenues should be explored to alleviate sufferings of our people in this most acute hour of need.
How do we organize the Rehabilitation and Relief work?
In the absence of or elimination of voluntary assistance structures such as TRO and other voluntary associations; tarnished by mere association and or allegiance to LTTE, the Tamil community home and abroad, instead of abandoning the people to the design of home and foreign elements; must forge forward to provide necessary assistance to our people home because that was the core basis on which the Eelam struggle was built on.
Has the struggle of our people changed?
Yes. From fighting for freedom, they have been pushed to the edge to fight for survival. One has to survive to fight for freedom another day. Simply abandoning our people to the design of others is a contradiction to what we raised our fists of resistance in the first place.
Collaboration with the Government! Is it not against the spirit of our struggle?
Ask a counter question to that. Did not our past leaders –military or civil – at various stages of Tamil struggle, collaborate with the various governments of Sri Lanka. Did we paint our then leaders “collaborators” or “enemies of liberation”? If the answer is no, why this emotional black mail now?
The reality is that politics of rehabilitation, relief and renewal ought to be willing to adopt different strategies to renew its core beliefs. From offensive opposition to the Sri Lankan state during the war years, our current predicament calls for a humanitarian cohabitation with the state machinery to deliver relief and rehabilitation to our people. If our peoples well being were our central goal during conflict years, it cannot have changed – to the point of abandonment – at this critical phase of rehabilitation and renewal in the post war era.
Collaboration with the Government! Wouldn’t that be in contravention to Tamil Patriotism?
Patriotism is a highly respected and time honoured value concept. It should not be judged only on who one meets and works with. Rather it should be judged on what core benefits and gains one’s action brings to the people and the cause they stand for.
During the Second World War, numerous patriotic British agents worked behind enemy lines, with the Nazi regime, risking lives and indeed making the ultimate sacrifices for the cause of freedom and liberation of Europe. Patriotism is not a litmus test to dip in a test tube to determine whether one is an agent or collaborator with state machinery. Nor patriotism could be proven in courts or in the smoke filled offices of media.
Many Tamils who were alienated from the liberation war, did rush and rally during the final phase of the war to prevent a disaster at the battle front. They were patriotic Tamils as much as those youth who were sacrificing their lives at the war front. Patriotism do not select a group to claim as the “Real Patriots” while the rest to be dismissed as collaborators. Every heart that feels affinity towards its own people belongs to a patriot.
So let us not waste our valuable time having discourse on whether we should work with the government or others to give a helping hand to our people. Our people need our help and we must help. Being patriotic and watching our people being pushed into fire can never be a real patriotism. Finding a way to help our people is real patriot’s duty.