The bill-board cartoon of Mr Shanmugasunderam shown above reflects accurately the current plight of Eelam Tamils in today’s Sri-Lankan politics. The Tamils had to trek a long tortuous path to come to this blind end. The Tamils were led to a tragic demise by the international community under the pretext of ending terrorism without fully studying the Tamils struggle for freedom since independence in 1948. After Sinhala genocide of nearly 150000 Tamils in Mullivaikal in May 2009 UN admitted that it failed in preserving human rights of Tamils and failing to give them even the basic political rights of the Tamils.
After Sri-Lanka, (it was called Ceylon during nearly 400 years of Western colonial rule) got freedom from the colonialist in 1948 Tamils were denied their Jaffna Kingdom that they were ruling for many centuries before the arrival of the colonialist viz the Dutch, Portuguese and the British about 400 years back. Each of them ruled for nearly 150 years and the last, the British annexed the Jaffna Tamil Kingdom with the rest of the 2 Ceylon Sinhala Kingdoms. When the British left the shores for good they did not return the Jaffna kingdom to the Tamils. Thus came the death of the Tamils in Sri-lanka after colonialism.
Following this selfish British diplomacy the Tamils became a subjugated race as they had to depend for everything from Colombo the capital. They could not have a sea port or airport of their own or any sort of independence to rule themselves under what the British called Democracy. The definition of this type of democracy was called rule by the majority ethnic group (Sinhalese) for the majority of the majority. It did not give the power that Abraham Lincoln called power by the people, of the people for the people.
Following the genocide in May 2009 the engineer of the killings and ethnic cleansing, Mr Rajapakse came back to power for a second five year term riding on the wave of communalism the media claiming that he was the historic Duttu Gemunu, who was cruel to the Tamils, reborn to rule Sri-lanka. In Sri-Lankn politics only communal and racial cacophony works well and give immense benefit to the one who can be the champion in communal slogans. The spineless SWRD Bandaranayake (Sevalaya) beat Sir John Kotalawala, a moderate racialist on the slogan that he would make Sinhalese language the only official language of Sri-Lanka within 24 hours. During the British colonial rule and immediately after independence Sinhala, Tamil and English were the official languages and they worked very well till the racialist Bandaranayake played the communal card to win victory in politics. In doing so he heaped huge suffering death and loss of property for the Tamils. The details are in correctly written history books on Sri-Lanka that are only found outside Sri-Lanka. It is pertinent to say that the Sri-Lankan history is being rewritten giving an elevated place to the Sinhalese in Sri-Lanka.
Succeeding politicians like J R Jayawardene, Mrs Bandaranayake, Ranil Wicremasinghe and Premadasa all used more violent communal political propaganda to beat their opponent. The victims were the Tamils as they were the largest and wealthy minority community then. The irony of it all is that even Premadasa who is from a different social class than the other Walawa Sinhalese resorted to this slur politics.
The current election In Sri-Lanka that is to take place on Jan 8 will be the most violent as far as the Tamils are concerned because Tamil bashing had been the traditional method of the Sinhalese. Mr Shanmugasunderam’s cartoon correctly depicts the plight of Tamils in the election.
According to the SLCEFJ Campaign Director, Fred Carver, the statement is a collective effort by members of Sri Lankan civil society who wish to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation.The statement has noted the widespread concerns for high levels of election violence and a possible refusal by the President to relinquish his hold on what is increasingly called an ‘illegitimate and authoritarian state’ as a result of President Rajapaksa‘s fear of losing power that would result in a loss of immunity form possible charges of crimes against humanity.
The Government is continuing to face pressure from the West to strengthen democratic rule, the latest being a threat of sanctions from Britain’s House of Lords. The UN special rapporteur on Human Rights recalls that in Sri Lanka, the United Nations development and humanitarian branches were unable to fully address the United Nations political and human rights priorities. The Tamils have still been not afforded freedom to rule themselves which Rajapakse promised the UN in May 2009.The London based Amnesty International called on the United Nations to closely monitor Sri Lanka, particularly before the Presidential elections.
Confronting all these hurdles for Rajapakse is attempting to win this election and show the world that the Sinhala majority approves him once again. He will plead with the Sinhala masses that it was he who subjugated the Tamils and made them to realise that Tamils cannot do anything with the Sinhalese as long as he is the President and that Tamils are second class citizens. Just look at what is taking place in the Traditional Homelands (TH) of the Tamils now.
The social fabric of the Tamils have been shredded far beyond redemption. There is no social control and cohesion. The traditional respect paid to elders and the educated is no longer there. The youths who were once luminaries in education are now slaves to unwanted foreign culture. Judge C V Vigneswaran, chief minister of Jaffna in name, is depressed of this situation.
The cartoon rightly shows that Tamils are mere skeletons only and have no power to act of their own. The two prominent contestant have shown that they are not concerned with the political settlements for the Tamils. The Tamils have to be externally vigilant and move diplomatically to claim our stakes in the government.
If the two contestants, Mahinda Rajapakse and Maitripala Sirisena do not realise the importance of the en-block Tamils votes they will face disaster. They will have to come round a full circle to realise this. By the end of December 2014 they will approach the Tamils. There is no political package for the Tamils. The Tamils of Indian origin are being nose-led by their trade union leaders to support Rajakse for no benefits, either political or economical. They are asked to act slavishly to prop up Rajapkse regime that is akin to all previous regimes that kept Indian labourers in the line-houses that they were occupying for the last 200 years. It is high time that the estate worker woke up to exercise his voting rights judiciously. If Rajapakse can offer 500 million to a Sinhalese MP to cross over surely he can offer the Tamils a Hindu University and International Conference Halls to the Tamils costing 5 billion to induce them. By this offer I do not mean that the Tamils will refrain from any action against Rajapakse for the crime he committed against the Tamils in Mullivaikal or drag their feet on political independence. Irrespective of this presidential election the UN inquiry against the Human Rights violations of Rajapakse government will definitely go through as the man in charge of the action is a prince, Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein. The Tamils will continue action on this.
This election contest has turned out to be a rugger fight between two dynasties that are both opposed to giving political rights to the Tamils. Maitripala Sirisena is really a dummy for Chandrika Bandaranayake who was deadlier than Rajapkse during her rule. She has personally claimed that she won the fight against the Tamils when she was in power. Hence, Tamils are pushed into a situation where they have to decide between two evils as they have no power to govern themselves under the present political set up. There will be increased violence and hatred against the Tamils and the pitiable part of it all is that there will be nobody to protect the Tamils this time round as it occurred in a similar manner during the genocide of May 2009. Sinhalese extremist and Tamils opportunist had ensured that no country steps in into internal conflicts. The only salvation for the Tamils is R2P of the UN? UN should prepare now itself to intervene when Tamils are subjected to HR violations in the aftermath of this election.