Who Oils Or Massages Ellalan Rajah?
(Response to ‘Don’t Trust The Colombo TNA Leadership With War Crimes Evidence’ in Colombo Telegraph)
I was so impressed when I read the article titled “Don’t Trust The Colombo TNA Leadership With War Crimes Evidence”, written under the obvious pseudonym ‘Ellalan Rajah’, in the Colombo Telegraph. By impressed, I mean that I marvelled at how the Rajapaksa regime is now able to get mercenaries to pose off as Tamil rights activists online, to work and campaign to deprive the Tamils of and in Sri Lanka the opportunity to properly and effectively fight for their grievances. In this instance, it is attempted to ‘plug’ through discouragement, an avenue for Tamils to effectively canvass the UNHCR.
To me (and no doubt many in Sri Lanka), the uninformed positions in the article, are a dead give-away of the fact that the author is either dead or asleep to the real dynamic of the situation in Sri Lanka. To my mind, this strongly suggests the author is not resident in Sri Lanka and has not been, for quite a while. I will not venture into the question of whether he is Tamil, Sinhalese, Muslim or anything else. After all, people of all ethnicities are capable of flawed logic, and far more sadly, equally amenable to monetary inducement. Sadly, the Tamil community has its share of such, staring in the face in the form of Rajapaksa lackeys in Parliament and a few outside, misleadingly calling themselves ‘Sri Lankan Patriots’ boasting dubiously distinguished Tamil lineage.
However, the numbers of such people within Sri Lanka are few and far between, given the ravages of the Rajapaksa regime which have rendered such people ‘pariahs’ (outcasts) within the general Tamil community. Therefore, the regime is believed to be looking to deviously purchase their way into some extremist hardcore Tamil Diaspora elements, whose heart is in a cause to the exclusion of the people whom that cause is supposed to protect and benefit.
What is important, is for all Sri Lankans – especially Sri Lankan Tamils and their true friends, to know that such alienated and/or compromised people are a threat to their rights and future within Sri Lanka.
Let me share with you, a few of the dead giveaway fallacies/errors in the article concerned, that lead me to confidently conclude that its author is removed from Sri Lanka and its realities.
Interestingly, the author is ignorant of several not-so-hard-to-find facts:
(1) The fact that all TNA Members of Parliament in Sri Lanka are democratically elected by the Tamils. The National List of TNA was published and M A Sumanthiran’s name was on it. This fact was made known to the people of the North and East, who were happy that Tamilians of stature were willing to take to politics, to democratically engage the system for their rights after violent armed struggle had failed, with the greatest harm and losses suffered by Tamils. The TNA took the principled stand that no-one published on the National List would be put into Parliament, so no-one who has entered the Parliament through TNA has got in, violating what is called the ‘elective principle’. Basically, Tamils voted for the TNA, knowing that Sumanthiran would get into Parliament if they did.
(2) A fact that all Sri Lankan Tamils in Sri Lanka are aware of – that Sumanthiran’s record as one who democratically fought for civil rights and liberties was beyond question. It was he, who headed a team of lawyers that filed a case in the Supreme Court overnight and reversed the eviction of Tamils from their humble lodges in Colombo at the height of the war. His genuine commitment to civil rights and liberties has led him to also fight for the rights of marginalized people of other communities (such as Muslims affected by the Deegavapi case), giving credibility and stature to what he says on behalf of his own people, the Tamils of Sri Lanka. Needless to say, there is no crisis of trust or credibility as made out by ‘Ellalan Rajah’.
(3) The fact that in Sri Lanka today, to expect a senior lawyer with the outstanding track record and integrity of Sumanthiran in the area of Human Rights/civil rights advocacy to be appointed a President’s Counsel is somewhat like expecting the British Raj to have conferred a knighthood for services rendered, on Mahatma Gandhi.
(4) The fact that backing Sarath Fonseka over Rajapaksa was a lesser of the evils. Who is more evil? A trained dog who attacks or the malevolent pervert who sets the dog on innocent men, women and children? If one has no choice but to be stuck with one or the other, is there not at least a chance of taming a dog for the sake of a period that might enable the battered Tamil community to have some relative relief to recuperate? By playing a part in the Presidential Election process, the TNA worked to send the message that the Tamil vote is a factor to be considered, thereby strengthening the ability of elected Tamil representatives to be able to require certain commitments from politicians in the future.
(5) The fact that it is not possible to ever solve the ethnic question or make any gains in that direction without engaging with the main political actors. Therefore, the ability to engage with political parties such as the United National Party (UNP) or any possible political actors, be they Chandrika Kumaratunga or anyone else, is to the benefit, not disadvantage of the Tamil community.
(6) The fact that young Tamil lawyer, Niran Anketell is much more than Colombo educated. This bright youngster is sought to be maligned, on the basis that he is Colombo-educated. In fact, his education is much better. A simple google search will reveal that he is a Fulbright Scholar with a Masters Degree in International Law from a top-rate university in the United States (NYU) and has international experience and exposure in the field of Human Rights. However, despite his qualifications (unlike many others), he has not run away but lives and works in Sri Lanka. He has been a committed advocate of the rights of the Tamil people, and is also closely professionally associated with Sumanthiran as one of his juniors. This clearly irks the author, who appears to see great danger in young and capable people extending their professional skills towards democratic engagement.
(7) The fact that the struggle for rights and justice for the Tamils cannot be led by remote control or 5-star comfort. In suggesting that ‘Tamil silks’ (silks appointed as such in other parts of the world and in other laws) should be the new face of the Tamil National struggle, he interestingly forgets that any such person should feel enough about the cause to give up his lucrative practice and come to Sri Lanka to give leadership, as leadership removed from ground realities is like leading/advising a national cricket team after loudly playing an expensive Sony Playstation version of the game. Even hours of such experience are of very limited and dubious use in the real game.
It is clear that the article is part of a grandstanding, desperate attempt to prevent the battered Tamils of the North and East from using their elected representatives (TNA) to take their plight and unaddressed grievances in an appropriate democratic manner to an accepted, legitimate international forum.
So, I ask the following:
- Who stands to benefit the most from depriving the Tamil people of the North and East of this rare opportunity by maligning their own elected leadership? Is it not the Rajapaksa regime?
- Has the Rajapaksa regime ‘got through’ to certain radical and undemocratic elements in the Tamil Diaspora who are removed from ground realities? If so, how big was the pot of porridge?
- Is the Rajapaksa regime now resorting to posing off as ‘Tamil activists’ online cowering behind dubious pseudonyms to mislead the Tamils of Sri Lanka?
These are the disturbing questions that come to the mind of anyone who truly cares for the suffering Tamil masses of Sri Lanka under the Rajapaksa regime, who surely deserve better than this. All must therefore now be ever more vigilant, as corruption and deception slowly creep … It is the creeping way of a regime