By S. V. Kirubaharan -
I humbly feel that if we don’t share our views openly and honestly, there is no use talking about unity. Therefore, I will be frank and honest.
We Tamils from the North East or Eelam Tamils have had many rises and falls – the non violent struggle, the armed struggle in self-defence which came to a halt in May 2009 – the debacle of Mullivaigzhal.
We were taken for a ride by all the aggressive rulers in Ceylon/Sri Lanka, so we are not ready to trust anyone, including our own kith and kin. This is our present dilemma.
Therefore it appears that no viable or successful cooperation among us is possible and this is the very weakness of which the Sri Lankan government is taking maximum advantage. There are many other reasons making us feeble.
à From the very beginning, so-called political leaders have lacked long term political vision.
à We had neither political allies nor enemies among the Sri Lanka/Ceylon rulers.
à We never worked to build-up solidarity among the non-political people in the South. A few Tamil entrepreneurs did, but for their personal benefits rather than for the benefit of our nation.
This solidarity could have been achieved on cultural, religious and humanist levels. This is one of the lessons that we learned from other independence struggles including South Sudan.
à In our vocabulary there is no place for ‘give and take’ policy.
à Throughout history we facilitated and energised the so-called traitors. No path was sought to encourage them to rectify their mistakes. As a result they became the vanguard of the Sri Lankan rulers.
à After the fall of the USSR, independence struggles emerged. But our struggle continued with more sad stories rather than any reasonable success. This is to say that we missed a few opportunities.
à In a broad sense, we Eelam Tamils were the patients, physicians, surgeons and found our own therapy for our illnesses. This is how we were approaching our long bloody political struggle and even today some of us are not ready to share leadership and thoughts with trusted friends, colleagues, and neighbours.
à The list goes on…………
Aggressor’s task made easy
The majority of the diaspora supporting the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam – LTTE in the past are today split into many groups. This makes the aggressor’s task very easy. Many are with old thinking with a different approach; a few are with old thinking and some work on completely new phenomena and new approaches.
There is an advantage in having old thinking with a new approach, but is it right to have completely new thinking and a new approach? Or even having only the old thinking? The new thinking is sort of starting from scratch. It has its own shortcomings. The old thinking needs to be followed methodically to gain international support.
Our pathetic history has taught us that the Sri Lankan rulers capitalise on our political mistakes. We have suffered enough through our mistakes.
Creators of new Tamil political parties and organisations have learned nothing from our history or from the attitude of the Sri Lankan rulers.
Some Tamil-owned English and Tamil media in foreign countries are failing to accept realities. They are censoring many realities, for example even the fact that the LTTE Leader Pirapaharan stated that friendship with India should be renewed. Those exaggerating media prefer to launch our people into more disasters. These media do nothing productively. If they publish from the ground and face the consequences, we can recommend them for bravery and leadership. But they are hiding in the democratic countries and motivating others to commit suicide or face mass murder. Before May 2009, the combatants were living with people and guiding the struggle and they sacrificed themselves too.
The terminologies ‘right to self-determination’ and ‘nationalism’ are not only for the Eelam Tamils. They are for every ethnic group. Generally when we talk of politics, we tend to ignore other human beings. The terms ‘right to self-determination’ and ‘nationalism’ should not be loosely used by bankrupt political parties and others.
The breakaway group from the Tamil National Alliance – TNA, initially gave a pretext for breaking away – two of their personalities were not given the opportunity to contest the election on a TNA ticket. Later they said that policy differences on ‘right to self-determination’ were the cause of their break-away. This pure egoism and their pessimistic politics make others doubt whether they function in collaboration with the present regime!
I can give another example which took place in June and September 2007, in Zurich and Geneva. There were two seminars or conferences organised lavishly with the help of international NGOs. The motive of the organisers was to inform the outsiders that they were the diaspora leaders of the Eelam struggle! In other words, the organisers were very keen to identify themselves to the outsiders that they were the “Porte-parole of Vanni”.
Where are they today? When the coffer seems empty, some are keeping away from these issues, a few became businessmen overnight and some hide behind the curtains of new political phenomena, doing more damage to the unity of the diaspora.
As far as biased media is concerned, I can give two good examples of news items which appeared during the last 19th session of the Human Rights Council. One was that when a group of people handed over an appeal to an Officer in the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, it was published in the media saying that the appeal was handed over to Ms Navaneethampillai, the High Commissioner for Human Rights!
Another manipulated news item with a few posed photographs taken within the UN building was published in a few media by a particular organisation claiming that they were doing an ardent task in the UN Human Rights Council. These bogus news items misled and misinformed the public. This is not the way the diaspora organisations should work.
Sri Lanka defeated in the international front
On the international front Sri Lanka has been defeated several times. These were the result of well coordinated tasks undertaken by many countries, International NGOs, prominent persons, members of civil society including human rights defenders from the South and veteran Tamil diaspora organisations.
Sri Lanka lost its seat in the UN Human Rights Council, GSP plus trade concessions were withdrawn by the European Union, the UN Secretary General appointed the panel on Sri Lanka, Rajapaksa’s doomed visit to UK, withdrawal of military personnel who were accused of war crimes from the Sri Lankan embassies, Channel 4 programmes and the resolution in the 19th session of UN HRC are a few good examples.
Since 22 March 2012, the superpower USA and the regional powers India, European Union and many other countries have shown us the right path and laid the right foundations for a paradigm shift towards peace with justice and dignity.
It is not easy for everyone, especially pessimists and the bankrupt politicians to understand this strong foundation. We missed a few opportunities in the past and more than 200,000 people have sacrificed their lives and many more have lost livelihoods, assets, respect, self-dignity, etc
Some Tamil-owned diaspora media and opportunists talk daily about the present colonisation, buddhistisation, sinhalisation and militarization in the North and East, but they are silent about what the right remedy can be. It seems that they are ready to allow free flow of all these, unrealistically hoping to achieve something which has no support of the international community. Can any sensible person allow further disaster to come to our nation? If so, in another few years we Eelam Tamils will remain as a people only in documents but not physically.
Cannot gamble anymore
A realist perspective always considers a common goal whereas pessimists give prominence to their ego.
Even though many of us come from different sectors, we could work on a policy of ‘Unity within diversity’. In Tamil, there is a proverb that says ‘if the wall remains you can do your drawings’. (Suwaar irunthalthan chithiram varyalam)
When it comes to matters concerning our Nation, we can no longer gamble or build-up castles in the air. We should be able to go with the wind of the globe. In other words, a deviation of our path is a must to reach our destiny.
Rather than losing any more lives and land, let us carefully articulate our diplomatic approach. An immediate interim solution will show the right path to a permanent solution. This is the present wind of the globe. Let us unite to save our people and our land.
Well coordinated action with the support of the international community, NGOs and others will bring us peace, justice with dignity. This should not be undermined and misled by bankrupt politicians, unprofessional media and so-called researchers.
To achieve this task we need to work on two fronts. One should be diplomatically and internationally. The second one can be with masses, I mean with Eelam and other Tamils around the globe. This needs transparency and to be based on realities rather than emotions and exaggeration.
Sri Lanka lobbyists
If we observe and analyse the propaganda of the Sri Lanka lobbyists, we can see that they talk much about the resettlement of IDPs and rehabilitation or release of ex-combatants. But they are silent about the thousands of ex-combatants who surrendered and the IDPs who were raped, killed and disappeared. This is their weakness and we need a coordinated lobby on these affairs, with the help of big powers.
The Tamil homeland/Tamil Kingdom in the Island existed long before the arrival of the colonial powers. Some of us think that we have had political problems only since independence in 1948. This is totally wrong!
Both the Donoughmore Commission in 1927-1931 and Lord Soulbury’s Commission/constitution in 1947 ignored the aspirations of Eelam Tamils.
There were constitutional reforms after 1948, but nothing accommodated any solution to the grievances of Eelam Tamils. But it was portrayed to the outside world, that there was only a small group of Tamils against the rule of the numerical majority, the Singhalese. All this has to be fought diplomatically in international forums.
It is still not too late for us to build-up solidarity among the people in the South, on cultural, religious and humanist levels. This is with the long term vision of both nations, living side by side peacefully. Also we need to work with our Muslim and plantation Tamil brothers and sisters.
Out of any people struggling in exercise of their right to self-determination, we Eelam Tamils have the maximum number of people (diaspora) internationally. But our past experience has taught us that we cannot and should not proceed alone any longer. Now we see a green light from the regional and global powers – India and USA.
If we are serious in our task – saving our land and people, we need to share our thoughts and future vision with these powers. Sri Lanka may have won the so called war on terrorism but not the diplomatic war in the international front.
Hate among us continues to damage our nation. It is not the dream or intention of any of us. Day by day, year by year, generation by generation, this is how each of us has contributed to the destruction of our nation. We must bring this to an end. Now we are at the verge of losing everything. We will have to open our eyes to see what is happening to our language, our culture, our nation and our land. Let us realise and admit our mistakes. We can’t change the past, but if we maintain at least the policy of ‘Unity within diversity’, we might or can change the future. Let us have unity within diversity and face the challenges in safeguarding our people and our home land. Time is running out.