By C P Thiagarajah –
Uthayan newspaper reported that Mannar Catholic Bishop Rev Rayappu Joseph in his Christmas night mass had stated that what the country needed was a President who would be sympathetic or supportive of the political aspirations of the Tamils. We could infer from this sermon that a Tamil cannot be a president in the near future and that Tamils have to depend on the good sympathies of a Sinhala president. With all my 30 years government service in Sinhala areas I have my serious doubts that such a Sinhala president will ever be found for another fifty years. The two main contestants in the forth-coming election in Jan 2015 are unsympathetic to Tamil problems and any solutions. Their manifesto simply exposes this fact. The manifesto are Sinhala/Buddhist centric. They are fighting for family dominations and wealth creation for the Sinhalese only.
Mrs Chandika Bandaranaike and Mahinda Rajapaksa are die-had anti-Tamils. It was Chandrika’s father, late SWRD Bandaranaike who adopted the “Sinhala within 24 hours” slogan to win the 1956 general election and brought untold misery on the Tamils. This was followed by his wife Ms Srima Bandaranaike and later by his daughter Chandika Bandaranaike though a renegade form the Walawa family. She married a film actor and a commoner called Vijaya Kumaratunga. Mahinda Rajapaksa committed the worst human disaster in history through his genocide of Tamils in May 2009.
The fight against Sinhala supremacy needs not only a righteous decisions in this election but also strategic insight and tactical diplomacy in the UN and elsewhere. The Sinhalese ideology, that would sanctions the killings of nearly 150000 Tamil civilians and incarcerated 300000Vanni civilian in 4-5 Manik Farm concentration camps in Vavuniya after the May 2009 genocide, has not changed. The Tamils who dared to demand for their basic Human rights are either killed or tortured in the CID 4th floor rooms or put behind bars even now. The latest revenge custody by Rajapaksa’s dictatorial government was that of a peasant woman from the deep rural area of Tharmapuram that lies on Paranthan –Mullaitivu road. That woman was none other than, Mrs. Jeyakumari Balendran, an outspoken middle aged Tamil woman activist with no history of violence, She was arrested by the Sinhala army with a drummed up charge of terrorism and detained in Boossa Prison under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. Her13 year old daughter had been handed over to the child protection authorities. It transpired that this woman and her minor daughter was in the front row of a demonstration staged in front of the visiting UK Prime Minister, Hon David Cameron, demanding the visitor to find out the whereabouts of her missing son who was disappeared during the genocidal war.
Due to international pressure the Sinhalese have changed their “modus operandi” still continuing the Sinhala supremacy and denying the Tamils the rights to govern themselves and enjoying the fruits of Democracy. The employment of Sinhalese retired military personnel accused of HR violation during their time in military is one example. The other is not devolving full powers to the Chief Ministers of the North and East that are the Traditional Homelands (TH) of the Tamils. The Sinhalese have further changed their political alliance taking in countries that are violators of human rights in their own lands like China Russia and Pakistan. The newly found strange bedfellows will help the Sinhalese to ethnic cleanse the Tamils from the island and colonise the TH of the Tamils with Sinhala peasants and fisher folks. It is already happening. A new Sinhala settlement had been established in a purely Tamil village against all land settlement rules by the military governor and others in Navatkuly, in the Jaffna peninsula.
In contrast, the black minorities in the USA, are enjoying freedom and equal rights after they won their rights through struggle that involved many sacrifices and loss of precious lives of the innocents. The new film “Selma” by Paramount pictures and produced by Ava Du Vernay is a history of the march of the Black Americans since the days of their fight for voting rights 50 years ago on 7 March 1965 in Alabama Edmund Pettus Bridge. The third march in 21 May in 1965 organised by the assassinated Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr succeed in getting their voting rights when the then President Lyndon B Johnson passed the Voting Rights Act. This law gave the black people their rights to vote. The film shows the huge struggle of the Black people to achieve their political rights through various oddities. This was inevitable due to the strategies adopted by King and is not yet complete. Impatience was one of Dr Kings virtue. His letter from Birmingham Jail was published under the heading “why we can’t wait”. This letter gave the impetus for the struggle. Selma reminds the Black Americans of their fight for voting rights.
The Tamils should produce a film to portray to the world their struggle they started in 1956 with the Satyagraha of Father of the Tamil Nation late Mr Chelvanayagam MP with his fellow MPs in front of the Old parliament has still not achieved any result due to various political treacheries of local and foreign politicians, particularly the Americans and the Indians. This peaceful protest of the minorities was crushed with force using mounted police and baton charging. Thugs and the hoodlums were induced to attack the Satyagrahis. Now democracy carries no meaning to the Tamils as they had been robbed of it long ago by the Sinhalese. They had become immune to any promises unless underpinned by financial deposits and other securities. India promised 50000 hoses for the victims of Rajapakse’s May 2009 genocide war. Still these houses are mirages and not reached realty or manifestations.
The USA and India are the two foreign powers that mainly helped the Sinhalese trample the Tamils. Robbie Blake Jr, the American ambassador and Ms Nirpama Roy, the Indian Ambassador, are the recent diplomats who laid the trap to trip the Tamils in their struggle for equal rights. It was Ms Navannethan Pillai of the UN who really identified where the problem for the genocide in May 2009 lay. The cause was the violation of human rights of the Tamils by the Sinhalese practicing an apartheid policy towards them as practiced by the minority white South Government in her country when Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for claiming freedom and equal rights for the black people.
Every citizen of a democratic country has the right to mourn their dead or rejoice at the achievement of their citizen, past and present. The New York Times reported on 24 December 2014 that the magazine was celebrating ‘the lives they lived’ programme which was held annually to remember some of those Americans who were lost/died each year. This included sketches of the celebrities’ public and private lives, and of the moments — intimate, historic, unexpected — that shaped them. Though karma might have been a cause for the emergence of bright and intelligent people from the backward community, nevertheless the freedom enjoyed by these citizens under democracy gave them the adequate backing to blossom to their full potentials.
Unfortunately such privileges and rights had been denied to the Tamils from the moment Sinhalese got the power to rule Sri-Lanka after independence in 1948. Tarzi Vittachi, a member of the Burgher community and a journalist of Sri-Lanka in his book “Emergency 1958” describe what happened to the Tamils following the introduction of the “Sinhala language only within 24 hours” bill in parliament. Now Tamils cannot even mourn the dead in the genocide war of May 2009. The government barred such celebrations and arrested those who attempted to do so. Tamils are being forced to believe those unlawful killing as justifiable killing to end the phantom of Tamil terrorism.
International community believes that the current election that is to take place on 8 January might give relief to the Tamils and the Sinhala down trodden. The latter may get some benefits but as far as the Tamils are concerned the future is bleak whoever wins. The Tamil minorities have been side-lined in the election manifestos of both candidates. Their manifestos cater to basic instinct of the Sinhalese both the laymen and the educated. The basic principles that each and every Sinhalese believe and want their politicians to do are:
- Sri-Lanka should belong to the Sinhalese.
- Sinhalese Language should be the only state Language.
- Buddhism should be the state religion.
- Sinhalese should be given preference in appointment to the higher rungs of the civil service.
- The cabinet should be pan Sinhala but minorities could be given minor unimportant ministries.
- Sinhala areas should be developed to the neglect of the Tamil areas.
- Tamils must not be given their TH areas and devolvement of political power should not be carried out at any costs.
There are Sinhala extremist parties that want Tamils driven out to India, The TH should be fully colonised with Sinhala and all Tamils should be killed (JHU wants this). Rajapaksa who claims to be better than the legendary Duttu Gemunu of the long past, wants 4-5 pages in the Mahawamsa history books of the Sinhalese. He claims he was the one who conquered the Tamils and killed more than 150000 of them duping the world in front of USA satellite and achieved all the seven objectives of the Sinhalese. Mahinda Rajapaksa is now facing UN inquiry for war crimes that he committed in the May 2009 war against the Tigers in trying to achieve the above objectives.
His opposing candidates Maitripala Sirisena says that his policies are the same. That is he aspire to achieve the above objectives for the Sinhalese sans corruption and family bandyism. He even undertakes to protect Mahinda Rajapaksa and the army against any war crime inquiry if elected thus maintaining the country’s decorum of Sinhala supremacy.
Thus it is apparent that both the aspirants are not worried about the political and economic needs of the Tamils. But still for all they parade to the TH with full army escorts and dancing troupe to canvass for the Tamil votes. Do these politicians think that Tamils have lost their marbles? Do they think that the Tamils have no political demands or aspirations? Although Tamils are well aware of the Sinhalese anecdotal foolhardiness they never thought that the Sinhalese will take the Tamils so cheap. This attitude of the Sinhalese is more due to the encouragement given by their stooges; who are para-militaries that supported the Sinhalese during the war.
Every Tamil in the island has his/her choice of how they should be governed like the Sinhalese have. The basic desire of any Tamil is as follows:
- Full power to rule themselves in their mother tongue, Tamil Language and to receive any correspondences in their own language.
- They want to practice their Hindu religion. Christians and Muslims to do the same. All Hindu temples destroyed should be rebuilt and a Hindu University with an international conference hall should be established in Pallai for the Hindus to regain their lost glory in the war.
- Victims of war should be compensated and 90000 war widows should be provided with brick and mortar houses with all conveniences by the government
- The Government should give UN support for an independent inquiry into the war crimes committed in the last war.
The scenario being this and the political atmosphere uncertain for both candidates as both are targeting the Sinhala votes mainly. No one is sure who will win the dice. It is likely that the Sinhala votes will get divided in the ratio of 60:40. The incumbent getting more as he had demonstrated that he can be more sinful to the Tamils even in the face of world opinion. If the wind blows the other way Mahinda Rajapaksa will have to turn his sails towards Jaffna. Remember that all Sinhalese liked him at one time for this. By the end of this week the air will be clear and whoever wants to horse trade should do it in time. Tamils must make a choice and take a stand. Leave nothing unturned to get the Tamils aspirations. It is a time to bargain. Stay united and vote en-block to the party that can give written undertaking to grant the above aspirations of the Tamils. Remember what the bard William Shakespeare advised us through Brutus in the play Julius Caesar.
There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.-Julius Caesar Act 4, scene 3, 218–224