1 October, 2020

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Mullivaikaal – The Time For Mourning Is Over

By Karthick RM –

What happened three years back at this place called Mullivaikaal?

Some called it a climax of a long story. It is a turning point. Some called it a full-stop. It is a comma. Many call it a tragedy. Of Epic proportions in the history of the Tamils.
Tragedies are often best expressed in verse. I found the best description of what happened in Mullivaikaal in the verses of Pablo Neruda.

“Here they brought rifles loaded
with gunpowder, they ordered bitter extermination:
here they found the people singing,
a people united by duty and love,
and the slender child fell with her flag,
and the smiling young man rolled wounded beside her,
and the people’s stupor saw the dead fall
with fury and with grief.
Then, on the site
where the assassinated fell,
they lowered the flags to bathe them in blood,
to raise them again in the assassins’ presence.”
(Canto General)

In defiance of the assassins in Colombo, and those who armed them, the Tamil Eelam standard still flies wherever there are Tamils in the world, remembering Mullivaikaal.
Adorno had said that poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric. In a somewhat similar vein, a Tamil scholar told me that Mullivaikaal rendered the veneration of Tamil classics pointless. He argued that ‘puram’ poetry, that aspect of Tamil poetry that deals with themes pertaining to war, heroism, sacrifice, military code etc. was outdone in Vanni, and that the depiction of the same in Tamil classics were but dust in front of those Tamils who stood their ground against insurmountable odds in Eelam War IV. Rather than the classics setting standards to gauge Tamil values, the martyrs of Mullivaikaal set a standard to gauge classics, he contended. I could not disagree.

In Mullivaikaal, we witnessed the zenith of Tamil civilization. We witnessed an unimaginable heroism of the fighters for Tamil sovereignty and the people who nurtured them, the people for whom they acted as human shields against a genocidal army. We saw them enduring starvation, thirst, disease, Kfirs, shells, claymores, cluster bombs, chemical weapons. We saw people whom we called amma, anna, thambi, machaan, appa, akka getting killed, tortured, raped and crippled by the tens of thousands. We saw families evaporating, widows becoming staggering statistics, and numbers replacing persons. In ways more than one, we were left orphans.

Award winning film-maker Beate Arnesatd’s latest documentary “Silenced voices” has a clipping of a child wailing before the corpse of her mother, a scene that left many Tamils in tears, both during its screening in Oslo and at a closed-door show in London. The child cries (quoting from memory. The actual sentences are more or less the same.) “You have left us as orphans… now who will take care of us? Our real suffering is going to begin now.” A friend who also saw the documentary gave me an interpretation of this moving sequence – the little girl’s words reflected not just her personal loss, but also a portrayal of the state of the Tamil nation after our de facto state was crushed with the aid of the world powers, with the Sinhalese acting as executioners. The protracted genocide that is still unfolding in Tamil Eelam occupied by the Sinhala state is open for the world to see. If it would see, that is.

Likewise, we also saw the nadir of Sri Lankan barbarism in Mullivaikaal. We are witness to what the Sinhalese were willing to do to ensure the permanent victory of their state. We see how they trample upon everything that we cherish as a nation, our identity, our language, our culture, our family, our land and above all, the memory of those who loved us so much that they fell so that we may stand. And we also bear the brunt of the brutal jokes that they throw to us, calling rape as reconciliation, plunder as peace, and death as development. As we are compelled to hand control of our lands, bodies and minds to their coercive power, we see them celebrating their festivals in our cultural capital with a conqueror’s mentality, replacing the names of our towns with their language, settling their people in our lands, and forcing us to be things that we never can be without being permanently mutilated. To paraphrase Sartre from his stunning preface to ‘The Wretched of the Earth’, we know our oppressors by our wounds and shackles; that is what makes our testimony irrefutable – we only need to know what they have done to us for them to realize what they have done to themselves.

But the priority is clear. The onus is on us. We are not facing any form oppression – we are facing THE form of oppression. Genocide. If we are going to be dreaming about a time when a genuine realization comes in the other side or in the world of how moral we were, by that time there would be no Tamil nation on our side to fight for. Gauging by the way things are proceeding in the Tamil homeland, in ten years the Tamils are bound to become a scattered minority, with no sense of territory or identity. The morality of our position alone will secure nothing. If morality decided affairs in politics, then the Native Americans, the aborigines, the indigenous tribes of Latin America should be having control of the lands they lost. As a good Tamil friend pointed out to me citing Bertrand Russell, war does not determine who is right, it determines who is left. Sri Lankan war on the Tamils continues and will continue till there are no Tamils as a nation left in the island.

We have mourned enough for Mullivaikaal. Mourning can unite people and give them a sense of identity in abstract. But for concrete identity politics, there is no substitute for using the moment to convey a consensus of a political position. So let the occasion not just be a time to shed tears for those butchered, but also a time when we try to live up to the standards of those who fought till the end for what they believed in, for what is our right. Let the month of May be a time we undertake a ruthless analysis of where we stand and why, a cold assessment of who our friends are and who our enemies are, and frame a strategy that will deliver the primary political goal of Tamil Eelam. While symbolism is important, let us realize that in politics, symbols are meaningless unless they are used to take a people to material political goals, and that symbols themselves should be interpreted in a way that they conform to the primary political objective.

For instance, the Tamil youth in Canada have decided to call the occasion as ‘Tamil Uprising Day’. That probably is the closest tribute to the spirit of those Tamil women and men who went down standing in May 2009.

The author is a research scholar at the University of Essex, UK, courtesy countercurrents.

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Latest comments

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    The time for whining is over. IT’s time that the author and others of his ilk recognise the fact that the LTTE did nothing for Tamils and the mythologizing of history only added to the misery. The author is clearly blind to what the LTTE did for 30 years, and esp in the last phase when they DELIBERATELY stopped Tamils from fleeing to safe areas. THere was a time one could feel sorry for such people, but that time is gone. Half-baked, myopic commentary deserves only one thing: condemnation.

    • 0
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      Malinda Seneviratne:
      I was going to say, “Go away, you sycophantic ….. and continue genuflecting before your Rajapaksa masters,” but that is hardly necessary in the case of one who metaphorically and literally spends his days at the feet of The Regime, well compensated of course!

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      I agree with u Malinda very well expressed

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    The author of this article clearly exposes that the the Tamils want to see even their most chilling, heart-breaking hardships in a theatrical/cinematic manner..Keeping the memories of Mullivaikaal aflame would serve an important purpose of a handful of people among the diaspora..So they definitely need films and docs with tear-dropping emotional contents to keep the numerous questions away..

    Back home the Tamils want to forget, forgive and move on with their lives…Of course they are facing a tremendous hardship, but they have clearly understood that the Tamil diaspora are no longer their saviours.

  • 0
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    I applaud the space to write freely. How ever, miraculously and very fortunately the LTTE terrorism was wiped out for ever. They not only killed a lot of sinhalese, but also a lot of tamils. They were instrumental in killing a lot of Sri Lankans. LTTE had no heros, but a bunch of cowards and baby killers. I salute particularly the innocents killed in the name of liberation. The same LTTE are sucking up to the west now, and why dont they ask for a seperate state in Canada or Tamilnadu. Just leave Sri Lanka alone.

  • 0
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    like dis

  • 0
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    Pay attention to the recent statement made by opposition leader of India
    “Tamils in Sri Lanka do not want an EElam it is only few politicians in Tamil Nadu ask for it(with the support of few traitors in SL)

  • 0
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    Flamboyant egos of supporters of eeellllaam cause should definitely read recent presentation at Tamil Studies Conference Session 3F, University of Toronto, May 12, 2012 by Prfessor Hoole to deflate a little.
    “Nationalist Suppression of the Tamil Past to Create Dominant Self-Images: Individual and Collective
    12 May 2012, 2:09 pm
    by S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole | UGC Coordinator for Engineering, University of Jaffna, Sri Lanka (Now with Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI)”

    Research scholars who talk about heroism to boost their egos could gain a lot from that presentation … I hope it would help them to come down to the reality from their day dreaming …
    They have the luxury of daydreaming in the west doing ‘reseach’…. But the poor tamil community back at home who is just starting to ‘walk’ away from the disaster created by the Praba’s three decades of terror would not be helped by these grand mind boggling heroism writings.

  • 0
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    One question and one comment Mr. Karthick

    Question:
    what about the little children of sinhalese, muslim and tamil origin who lost their parents to an LTTE suicide bombing? can you not hear their wailing and moaning? is you hearing biased towards the wailings of the tamil children caught in the middle of a bitter war thanks to your mad dog prabakaran?

    statement: Those who take the sword shall perish by the sword.
    So, we should not cry crocodile tears over the death of men and women who chose to take the gun and the bomb and went forth to kill civilians and got massacred by the security forces of the country. The army is there to protect the country and her people from killers like the LTTE. So, they did what they had to do. Stop crying and stop living in a dream world.

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      you say “The army is there to protect the country and her people from killers”.

      So you mean that SL army has killed thousands of Sinhalese youth in 1977, and later in 88/89 during the JVP rebellion.. and raped hundreds of Sinhalese girls to protect the mother lanka..

      Today you praise the army for massacring both LTTE and tamil civilians.. but you have forgotten that the same army has massacred thousands of sinhalese youths..

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        I agree. The srinlanka army has killed a number of innocents. The army needs a fresh start. They need to be re trained. After all the army is a creation of the invading British anyway.

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        Last Dino

        Rememebr terrorists are terrorits whether they are Sinhalese, tmail or muslim. In every occasions, SL Goverments eliminated them beacuse they a pest to civilised world.

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      “Those who take the sword shall perish by the sword.”

      So that would apply to the Sri Lankan army too right?

  • 0
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    Karthik RM.
    Your racist views are bottomless and you belong in that bottomless pit.

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    This article only shows people never learn from history. If you are so bent on Eelam even after all what happened and don’t work for a via media, then why Sri Lankans (I mean Sinhalese), who are the winning side and who are now taking a breath of relief of’good riddance’, will ever agree to the Eelam demand or at least for a via media. They will just say and convince their own people: “Look, if we give any concessions, then they (Tamils) will use it only as a stepping stone for another Eelam terror war and so let us not.” I don’t think India will support Eelam at any time because once Eelam comes into existence by any chance it will be a thorn in the flesh, always inducing and instigating Tamil extremists in India itself towards an independent and enlarged Eelam with the present Tamil Nadu as the major part. So, if one wishes better for Tamils of Sri Lanka, let them think of some other solutions. Some sort of federal autonomy with the idea of amicable co-existence in one State. I really wonder at the tenor of this article, after what all happened.

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    Part of Tamil civilization is suicide bombers. What great civilization.

    Were Barbarians that primitive ?

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    Even to date, 65 years after the war, Japanese celebrate the WAR Heroes who died in the 2nd WW. Their SHINTO religion is all about that.

    2nd WW was only for 4 years.

    Tamils killed us for 30 years. Why we should not celebrate getting rid of suicide bombers and innocent civilian – killers ?

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    No one can justify the brutal behaviours in Mullivaaikal. It is obvious that Army wanted to capture the place and they did not mind how many Tamils die. This is no one can justify, but can apologize. But apologizing for 40000 lives? Am not so sure whether that is correct. I will not blame Army, but the so called leaders who ordered to do these bloody hectic things. Fighting against Terrorist is different. But that is not killing civilians.

    on the other hand, did any of us r thinking about the Tamils status now. Now no LTTE, so why can’t we support to Tamils. Last visit to north, wanni, tearful stories. No full meals, widows, no ways to earn, someone force to get in to prostitution by army, these thing how all of you are going to justify…

  • 0
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    All Sinhalas have Tamil blood

    (even though we may not like it- brainwashed hate and self hate)

  • 0
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    just small things to think about
    past 30 years of war.
    did LTTE raped any singalese woman?
    did they kill any innocent singalese?
    did they rope from any singalese?

    if you compare what they did, they did only 1% of government army did.
    LTTE killed the people who were against them and traitor. to continue what they were doing they have to kill those people.

    • 0
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      Hey Kadda

      What about the countless killings on so-called boarder villeges? innocent young monks by your beloved sun goat Preba and co for last 30 years?

      Your maths does not sound well. Have you done percentages in your subject of maths?

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    Kadda pomman:

    You have selective Amnesia. A recent book says that all those bomb blasts in Colombo were planned by RAW of India and you guys just placed the bomb. Colombo people who died in many places, were they Army ?

    It is Tamils who wanted to get Tamils killed in order to have a separate country. Now you cry.

    You people can celebrate your Barbarism. We enjoy and should worship our Army because they knew how to get rid of the WORLD’s MOST RUTHLESS TERRORIST ORGANIZATION by being better terrorists.

  • 0
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    Here is a perfecvt example of thise dreaming tamils living in foreign countries feeding terrorism and misery to their own kind. Yeah, write poems, make films romanticising all your wicked deeds. Feed your perverted minds and make sure that the millions of tamil kith and kin being sent as cannon fodder by an equally deranged megalomaniacs, aka Parabakaran. Are you happy? Hope you sleep well with your dead heroes palying in your dreams.

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