By Rajan Hoole –
In common religion a man who feels weak, oppressed, inadequate and is falling behind others pays homage to a god and feels flowing in his veins, a new sense of power. Identifying with Prabhakaran and paying homage to him gave many Tamils in the diaspora a feeling of virility and of power. It enabled them to regard with indifference their alienation and the sense of being second class citizens. Their god whose spirit moved in them, seemed greater than any alive. Why, the Tiger flag of the ancient Chola warriors may today even be over-flying many more lands than the Chola emperors ever dreamed of. Tiger occasions have thus become religious occasions fulfilling a multitude of needs of expatriate Tamils. The feudal lords and the lords turned out by the remarkable educational system at home make their speeches, but the others are not left out. These occasions have all the mirth and gaiety of upper class functions in Colombo. The Tiger cause which pulsates through the proceedings gives them the self-confidence and assertiveness which they lost at home sometime ago.
Hot Spring, a glossy journal full of colour pictures that could be digested in a short time, provided terse messages about their heroes, traitors and villains (e.g. the Sri Lankan Government and Neelan) to keep the faithful enthused. More importantly, it gave an insight into the politics of this group. There were regular editorials which told the faithful that Armageddon or Eelam is around the corner. A recent issue which celebrated the Black Tigers who commit suicide for their cause had, two pages later, marriage advertisements celebrating life and prosperity for young Tamils overseas. There were occasional coded hints that the partner required should be culturally Western, a far cry from the Tamil speaking village youth who join the Black Tigers and are pulverised. The rustic Black Tigers have, however, become a prop for the deficient personality of their peers.
Every inconvenient event is twisted around to suit the purpose of the elite LTTE lobby. Such a one was the Lionair passenger flight from Jaffna to Colombo shot down by the LTTE on 29th September 1998 killing 48 passengers and 7 crew. The Hot Spring editorial obliquely admitted the LTTE’s responsibility. The editor then had his brain-wave to divert the reader away from the tragedy. He referred to the fact that flights between Jaffna and Colombo had been stopped (temporarily as it turned out), and that the air-bridge which sustained links between the North and South, had been broken. The reader was asked to ponder the good news – the North separated from the South – Armageddon or Eelam had almost arrived!
A normal person would see such a state of mind as even more callous and revolting when blatantly paraded before the world by expatriate Tamils. Their concern for the Tamils at home and for the violence they suffer from the State as well as from their own groups is very legitimate, as is any concern that they should enjoy an equitable political arrangement. Many of those who live overseas are very knowledgeable about the modern world, having held UN appointments and regularly visited Human Rights fora. They would also know so many intelligent and effective ways of applying pressure on the Sri Lankan Government. Why do they then reinforce the stranglehold of the LTTE over the young at home with its horrendous implications? This is in sharp contrast to the educational attainments and success in work and matrimony they seek for their own children.
Their support for the Tigers thus becomes a struggle for their personal ego and a reflection of sheer nastiness towards the Tamils at home. That is why those like Neelan Tiruchelvam who advocated the rational option open to the Tamils in the modern world became hate figures for them.
The more sophisticated among them have an argument to justify this state of affairs, having its roots, not surprisingly, in caste and karma. It was decided by karma that those born into the upper castes must enjoy positions and privileges accruing to them from the labour and worship of those in the humbler ones. Equally, fate had decreed that those at home – the new under caste – must suffer, die and achieve Eelam. It is for the LTTE supporters abroad to enjoy the vicarious glory accruing to them from the birth of the new state, where their role is to be rulers, investors, consultants and benefactors. In the writings of Wakely Paul, an Oxbridge educated Tamil living in the USA, the role of the expatriate Tamils is compared with the role of American Jews. The latter were engaged in lobbying and providing the financial wherewithal and arms for setting up of the modern Israeli State, of course at grievous cost and grave injustice to the native Palestinians. But a key difference is wilfully overlooked.
The American Jews at least took the trouble to ensure that the new Jewish State was democratically structured among its Jewish inhabitants. They would have been outraged otherwise. But the Tamil Eelam envisaged under the LTTE by Western Tamils is unashamedly fascist, guaranteeing the worst ever inequalities and injustices. This characterises the enormous cultural difference between the Western Jews and the expatriate Tamils. The outlook of the latter has little to do with truth, democracy, and freedom. It is rather about the karma they impose on people at home to fight, die and lose all the attributes that ennoble human life. It is a fate from which the people at home shall not be allowed to escape.
*To be continued..
*From Rajan Hoole‘s “Sri Lanka: Arrogance of Power – Myth, Decadence and Murder”. Thanks to Rajan for giving us permission to republish. To read earlier parts click here