By S. V. Kirubaharan –
A few days back – the Eelam Tamils, diaspora Tamils and the World Tamils commemorated the 7th anniversary of Mullivaghzhal, in which thousands of innocent lives were lost – massacred in cold blood. I will avoid going into the history of this massacre. There is nothing to hide. It was done with the help of China, Pakistan, India and a few other counties, including the then state government of Tamil Nadu. I know that patriotic Indians will not like to see that I have included India in this list. But who is answerable to the ample evidence available, of Indian involvement in ‘bringing this war to an end’? India may justify its shameful support to Sri Lanka, but did it consider the innocent casualties caused by its counterblow? Has anyone challenged the Sri Lankan government on the figures it released at the time, saying there were only 70 to 80 thousand people living in the war zone, in the Vanni? At the end of the war, it was proved that they had downplayed the figures, attempting to prevent any ‘international interference’.
However, the war victory, in the name of “rescuing the Tamils from the clutches of the LTTE”, proved wrong in many aspects. In a recent interview, the Defence Secretary during the war said that, ‘It was not surprising that the defeat of Tamil Tigers strongly impacted the people who were brainwashed by Prabhakaran. This is because he was their hero’. I agree that the international diplomacy of any Sri Lankan government is highly effective.
Since, so-called independence from the British in 1948, bogus promises and time-buying statements made by every Sri Lankan government on the ethnic issue, worked well in their favour. Out of 68 years, only 26 years of war is given as a pretext to the international community, for not settling the political grievances of the Tamils.
Non-celebration of war victory
Some people with limited vision believe that non-celebration of the war victory this year by the government is a good gesture. This calibre of people should ask themselves whether the war that ended in May 2009 was between two countries. Otherwise, if this is to be celebrated annually, there should be two additional celebrations of winning against the JVP insurgency in 1971 and in 1989.
Let’s look at the ground realities. What has been done by the earlier and the present government in the Tamil Homeland, the North and East? Today, the North and East are colonised with people from the South and Buddhist Temples have sprung up in every nook and corner. Also the military has established businesses, narcotic drugs and made pornographic movies freely available with the intention of diverting the hearts and minds of the Tamil youth from political engagement.
Therefore everyone, including VVIPs in international institutions, should look into the ingredients of the cake, rather than the beautiful icing. Since 1948, the Tamils gained nothing, but have lost everything politically, socially, economically and culturally.
A Tamil expression goes, “A realist has many enemies”. We can’t stop communicating the reality, just because it doesn’t please or satisfy some. On that basis, we should look at what has been going on since 1948.
Even before 1948, leaders in the South had a master plan to convert the island into a Sinhala Buddhist state. This thinking is based on a fictional Buddhist dogma known as the ‘Mahavamsa’. The cultural genocide of the Tamils as witnessed in the destruction of the Public Library of Jaffna comes into this, especially because it was set on fire by the government forces, accompanied by two government ministers. The debate about which ethnic group was in the island first can be argued in pages and for months. Those arguments have been made thoroughly in the past by many. I need not repeat them here.
Oppression in stages
It cannot be denied that Tamils were living in many parts of island before and during the time of Independence (1948), mostly in the forest and undeveloped from the South to Colombo and suburbs – as well as in the North and East. Under the master plan of converting the island into Sinhala Buddhism – stage one was carried out soon after independence. Tamils living outside their homeland, the North and East were violently and legally targeted. Tamils were chased back to the North and East from places like – Kataragama, Tissamaharama, Matara, Galle, Kalutura, Panandura, Colombo and suburbs. The same in Negombo, Puttalam, Chilaw, Uddappu and other areas. Whoever didn’t want to move back to the North and East changed their identity, in effect converting their ethnicity. I wrote about this in detail in one of articles, “Kataragama to KKS” (South to North) published on 24 October 2010.
While stage one was progressing successfully, the second stage was initiated to target the Plantation Tamils who had been brought by the British to work in tea plantations in the Up-country. Wherever the British colonised, they took labourers from South India to work in their plantations. This was the case in South Africa, Mauritius and Malaysia. In the stage two processes, thousands of Tamils who lived and worked in the Tea plantations for more than one hundred years were disfranchised and repatriated back to India. In fact, this horrendous disfranchisement was done cleverly with the help of some selfish Tamil politicians.
While the violent attacks continued on Tamils, causing thousands of casualties and throwing their economy into ruin, Tamil political leaders failed to alert the international community and seek the help of their colonial masters. They continued fruitless negotiations and non-violent struggles, for decades.
Arson attack on evidence of Tamil history
When stage one and stage two had been successfully completed, their third stage began to take shape in the Tamil homeland, the North and East. While settling Sinhalese and establishing Buddhist temples, they initiated cultural genocide within the Tamil homeland. The Police violently attacked and killed nine and injured more than fifty during the 1974 World Tamil Research Conference in Jaffna. As it was mentioned above – in June 1981, one of the biggest libraries in Asia, the public library of Jaffna was set on fire, destroying important documents of the evidence of Tamil history – more than 97,000 volumes of books and manuscripts ended-up in ashes. On the other hand discrimination/standardisation in Education also began; introducing what has been described as a form of apartheid system.
This motivated the Tamil youth to start militancy to protect their people from state terrorism. Surprisingly the state claims that the oppressed people are their ‘own citizens’.
The Sri Lankan government took this opportunity and allowed Tamils freely to seek shelter abroad, especially in Western countries, thinking that this approach would reduce the Tamil population in the North and East. It resulted in nearly a million Tamils seeking shelter in foreign countries, which eventually became counter-productive for both.
As the war intensified and caused massive displacement in the North and East, those who could afford to live in the capital moved to Colombo. The government, which always waits for an opportunity, made propaganda claiming that 60 per cent of the Colombo population are Tamils. When this matter was raised during the sessions of the UN Human Rights Council – UN HRC in Geneva, we queried that, if this figure is true and correct, how many Tamil representatives from Colombo are in the Parliament? The government reps could not answer this question even today.
Rajapaksa hoodwinked those……
I will agree that the Sri Lanka government is good at its diplomacy. For example, six years after the war, former President Rajapaksa managed the International community including India with his bogus promises. He agreed to whatever the UN Secretary General wanted and told India that he would grant more than in the 13th amendment. He referred to it as 13-plus. Eventually, whoever helped to win the war was hoodwinked by Rajapaksa. As he won the 2010 Presidential election through jugglery, the hidden powers never allowed him to prolong his Presidency. In my article in 2010, “Kataragama to KKS (South to North)” I predicted the following: –
“…………. But in our experience many politicians — presidents, prime ministers and monarchies have fallen into to the ‘laws of motion’ of Sir Isaac Newton – “To every action, there is always an equal and opposite reaction” and “everything which goes up has to come down” because of the ‘gravity’ of earth. Let us wait and see the future of the Rajapaksas and Sri Lanka.” (Excerpt)
Also I said the following, “The President should be open, fair and impartial in his commitment. If he wants to prove his fairness and equal treatment of citizens, he should courageously resettle the Tamils from Kataragama to Kankesanthurai (KKS). This could be a stepping stone for a united Sri Lanka.” (Excerpt).
The present government is no different to earlier ones. The UN HRC resolution to which Sri Lanka is a co-sponsor moves at not even a snail’s speed. The current President rejected any international involvement in the war crimes investigation, an important clause in the resolution. As usual, the Prime Minister is using his diplomacy to adjust the hot and cold within the government. The constitutional council which intended to draft a new constitution has not even acknowledged that there is an ethnic conflict in the country. The talk show about a federal solution has already been rejected by many Ministers and supporters of the present government.
International community & India
At this juncture the best approach of the victims is not to rely on investing further confidence in this government. Each government of Sri Lanka has been buying time since 1948. As usual, the international approach and the high-profile lobby should continue. Presently the UK government as well as the opposition understand the dodgy agenda of the Sri Lankan government, especially on the ethnic issue. Canada and all European Union countries also.
In India, the Central government and the State government of Tamil Nadu have promised and made positive statements regarding a political settlement in Sri Lanka. The US which worked out the resolution is shuttling regularly between Washington and Colombo, pressuring Sri Lanka to implement the resolution in full. Now the US has begun to feel that they are on a ‘mission impossible’. Like earlier governments, the present one is also buying time to enable their successful contribution towards converting the whole island into Sinhala Buddhism. They are brilliant in their diplomacy and have extensive experience in taking the international community for a ride.
They managed with India which they consider as a ‘disliked’ country, because of the Indian respect for Lord Buddha and Buddhism. Also the Sinhalese are not ready to excuse India for breeding Tamil militancy in India. Because of their animosity towards India, they even re-named ‘Mysore dhal’ as ‘red dhal’ and ‘Bombay onion’ as ‘big onions’. However with their strategic diplomacy, they won the war with the support of India. They gave a lesson to the world that anything is possible, as long as a country is good at diplomacy.
Now who is answerable to the Tamils? Is it the international community which passed several resolutions in the UN HRC or India which signed an accord with Sri Lanka on finding a political solution to the Tamils? Since 1948, Tamils have been cheated and lost their land, territory, economy, culture, kith and kin, etc.
Those who have hope in the present government should read what was predicted and written in the local media. Below I quote what was said by an independent writer:
“….President Sirisena appears willing to turn his back on his electoral mandate and do anything it takes to wrest back full control of the SLFP, at great cost to his presidential legacy. Prime Minister Wickremesinghe continues to adopt a see-no-evil approach while the actions of his party-men and advisors grievously damage and discredit his administration.
For both the President and the Prime Minister, this path is ultimately self-destructive. The benchmarks were set higher for them. Every deviation from their stated purpose is perceived as a grave betrayal. Their fall from grace will be steeper and more devastating. Elected as reformers, both men have made active choices to proceed with politics as usual. Rather than make difficult political decisions that would restore public faith in Government, they continue to pander and accommodate the most corrupt and inept within their ranks”. (Excerpt from ‘Something is rotten’, written by Dharisha Bastians on 26 May 2016, Daily FT)