By Rasika Jayakody –
Visuvanathan Rudrakumaran, self-proclaimed Prime Minister of the Transnational (or is it transitional?) Government of Tamil Eelam, commenting on the growing Sinhala-Muslim antipathy in Sri Lanka, comes up with some laughable remarks.
Towards the latter part of the article, he outlines an interesting sketch to portray the peace and harmony that would prevail in his El Dorado Tamil Eelam, saying, “The independent Tamil Eelam that will emerge in the traditional homeland of Tamils in the island of Sri Lanka shall grant equal rights and respect to all faiths and religious practices. It will never undertake measures aimed at ethnic cleansing as is being done by the Sinhala Buddhist racist regime.
Tamil Eelam and its rulers shall always uphold the ancient lofty ideals of “All the world is ours; all are our kinsmen”. In adhering to this dictum, the land of Tamil Eelam and the democratic rule of Tamil Eelam shall welcome all religions to our country with open arms to help them live happily and in prosperity.”
This tongue-in-cheek remark, one would say, should be left aside as a frivolous statement made by a man who lives in his own little fantasy. But, by making this remark, Rudrakumaran, makes a mockery of the Muslim community in Sri Lanka and their rights which were blatantly violated by the LTTE from the outset of the Eelam struggle. Muslims too, bore the brunt of the LTTE brutality, not only in the Eastern province, but also in the Northern Province, as they were massacred, maimed, beaten and chased out from the land of their birth by Tamil Tigers.
If one needs examples, there are quite a few. The Kattankudi mosque massacre in 1990, which claimed the lives of nearly 150 Muslims, was just one. In addition to that, there were countless terrorist attacks launched by the LTTE, particularly in the Eastern province, targeting Muslim civilians. Thousands of Muslims were killed and their traditional villages were destroyed by the LTTE as part of its ethnic cleansing drive to leave the Muslims out of the equation in the so called “Traditional Tamil Homeland”. Vast areas of paddy lands in the East were left uncultivated and the Muslims were deprived of their livelihood, plunging them into a precarious situation. Interestingly, the last suicide bomb blast carried out by the LTTE was also targeted at the Muslim community where an LTTE suicide bomber attacked a religious parade near Godapitiya Jumma mosque in Akuressa, Matara, killing 14 and injuring 35 civilians. This crystallized the fact that Muslims were on the hit list of the LTTE till the very end of the Eelam struggle.
Muslims were constantly harassed by the LTTE on the grounds that they “unlawfully” occupied the traditional homeland of Tamils. It was clear that the LTTE did not want the presence of other nationalities in the state of Tamil Eelam as they considered it as the homeland of only one “distinct nationality”. Such nonsensical notions perpetuated by the Tamil chauvinism were a deadly blow to the rights of Muslims living not only in the East, but also in the North.
From time to time, the LTTE used the terminology “Tamil Speaking Nation” when dealing with the Sri Lankan government. This was done merely to hoodwink Muslims as well as Sinhalese, while depriving Muslims of their basic democratic rights. In reality, the LTTE wanted to make Muslims look like an appendage of the “Tamil Speaking Nation” at the outset and then cut them off conveniently. It would not take an Einstein to understand the reason behind this betrayal.
Dr. Karthigesu Indrapala, Jaffna University professor of History, in his PhD thesis, explained the history of Tamil settlements in Sri Lanka . According to him, first Tamil settlements in the country, appeared after the 10th century, and that too was not in Jaffna, the heartland of “Tamil Eelam”. On the other hand, Sri Lankan Moors trace their ancestry to Arab traders who also settled in Sri Lanka around the same period. Therefore, the LTTE realized the need of crushing the Muslims as the latter would falsify many of the claims with regard to the “distinct Tamil nationality” and “traditional homeland of Tamils”.
It is in this context that Rudrakumaran speaks of “the inability of the Sinhalese to ensure ethnic and religious pluralism” and “changing the demography of war affected zones”. What he conveniently forgets is that whenever he utters the word “Tamil Eelam” or “Traditional Tamil Homeland”, he downplays the rights of Muslims, in a more blatant and shameless manner than the ‘Bodu Bala Sena’ or “Sinhala Ravaya”. Also, Rudrakumaran’s stolid silence over the atrocities committed by the LTTE against Muslims in the name of the Eelam struggle adds to the brazenness of love note to Muslims.
What our country needs at the moment is not dirty politics played along communal lines. There is a dire need to build a Sri Lankan nation while safeguarding the identities of each and every community. No nationality should claimed supremacy over another and everyone should acknowledge the heritage of Sri Lanka as the heritage of his or her nationality and the history of Sri Lanka as the history of his or her nationality. If and when this is practiced, that would be the end of the likes of Rudrakumarans who are attempting to fish in the troubled waters. In the same way, that would mark the end of the ‘Gnanasaras’ who aspire to perpetuate conflict and destruction by creating more division and disharmony.
*Rasika Jayakody is a Sri Lankan journalist who may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org