Making reconciliation increasingly elusive in the treatment of the Tamil youth by a racist regime

( December 25, 2012, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The question is whether the Rajapaksa regime is actually interested in reconciliation with the Tamil-speaking people or is reconciliation a term used with no meaning to the Tamil-speaking people but the usual facade to hoodwink them and the international community to temporarily get over accusations of discrimination, genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The continued repression of the Tamils in the north and the east through the unwarranted military consolidation of the north and the east by the successive Sri Lankan governments should be seen in the light of repressive measures adopted since the 1960s when military camps both army and navy were being established with absolutely no provocation of any threat of a Tamil militancy but merely on the perceived threat of smuggling and illegal immigration from India.

The more the Tamil youth both male and female are accused of reversion to militancy the more the dictatorship of the Rajapaksa regime becomes acceptable to the Sinhala polity who have been transformed into being chauvinist nationalists including even some so called Marxists believing that the Rajapaksa regime destroyed the dangers to the Sinhalese people by the defeat of Tamil militancy. Little do they know or rather they pretend not to know the reasons for the genesis of Tamil militancy which was accepted by the Tamil-speaking peoples in desperation as their only hope of liberation from oppression.
Racism in other backward nationalities is rapidly becoming a thing of the past but with the Rajapaksa dynasty racist oppression is the mainstay of their claim to power. The racism obtaining at the highest level in Sri Lanka is primordial, primitive and tribal and is transmitted to the other levels of society for their own preservation.
The violent intrusion of the military, quite uncalled for, into a peaceful observance of the remembrance of their dead friends and relatives during the violent conflicts prior to May 2009 was an overkill by the military probably on the instructions of the secretary to defence who is given to overstepping his mark as a public servant on account of his being the president’s brother. Gotabhaya, performing in a china shop, lacking in all norms of discretion, tact and discernment and could have far reaching consequences. The secretary taking advantage of the fact that he was dealing with the Tamils, which he thinks he could do with callous impunity insists that these university students would be released only after they have been rehabilitated. The term rehabilitation in so far as the Tamils are concerned is polite parlance for torture in the least.
Rev. Fr. S.V.B. Mangalarajah, Chairman of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Catholic Diocese of Jaffna on 11. November 2012 points out: “During the last week of November the Hindus celebrate a special festival of lighting lamps (Vilakkeedu) when they light small lanterns in their temples and in their houses. This year (2012) this specific festival coincided with the Heroes’ Day of the LTTE. Well in advance the Hindu authorities had explained this to the Police, and the Senior Police Office in Jaffna (S.P.) had given permission to the Hindus to light the lamps and go ahead with the celebration. With such assurance the Hindus went on with their celebration lighting the lanterns only to be interrupted by the security forces who ordered them not to do so. In some places some ‘unidentified men’ came on motorcycles and ordered the people to put off the lanterns and threatened them”. Light for the Hindus as for other religions is symbolic of learning and knowledge and it is not surprising that they chose to celebrate this auspicious day while also some remembering their dead kin.
History would recall that after the passage of the most draconian act of all, the Prevention of Terrorism Act, 1979 and the ensuing repression of the Tamil nation further unified the Tamils against the oppressors. The State through the military and the police used force against the Tamil youth tyrannising them resulting in the Tamil youth galvanising into activity against the oppression. If this is a lesson not to be learnt what then is lesson learnt.
The Rev. Father further states: “Soon after the quashing of the peaceful demonstration of the campus students with an iron hand, four of the university students were arrested and taken to Vavuniya for questioning. In the following days some more university students and some more youths in the Jaffna peninsula were arrested. As days passed by more arrests were made, and on the 10th December the number of those arrested, students as well as others, had soared up to 45. Some of those who were arrested are the youths who have gone through a period of rehabilitation due to their alleged involvement with the LTTE. All these youngsters are being held in detention under the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act…”
The attitude displayed by Maj. Gen. Mahinda Hathurusinghe, of the Jaffna military base coming from one in a so called “disciplined” army towards the parents and well wishers treated worse than terrorists has been most appalling. The university teachers have been summoned and are being treated with disregard and least respect by such nit wits. This is clear evidence that the Sri Lankan army have a long way to go to be more civilised and less barbaric when dealing with civilians when they have already been accused of massacring more than at least 40,000 civilians, the old, the infirm, children and babies. If the Rajapaksa regime’s claim towards reconciliation is to have any credibility it should endeavour to transform Hathurusinghe’s uncivilised attitude towards Tamil civilians in the first instance.
This is not all. The other ill-conceived notion of reconciliation, just to impress the international community fraught with a series of blunders makes its realisation increasingly untenable and un-acceptable. Take the case of the young women, who were coerced into joining the army as a publicity stunt for international consumption, currently going through the ordeal of being psychiatric patients, some having been being raped by the army personnel and many others traumatised not being allowed to see their parents and parents not allowed to see their sick daughters, are a only a part of the tragedy faced by the Tamil youth.
The continued repression of the Tamils in the north and the east through the unwarranted military consolidation of the north and the east by the successive Sri Lankan governments should be seen in the light of repressive measures adopted since the 1960s when military camps both army and navy were being established with absolutely no provocation of any threat of a Tamil militancy but merely on the perceived threat of smuggling and illegal immigration from India. This in fact contributed to the rise of militancy on the part of the Tamils not to mention the cumulative effect of the state sponsored pogroms of 1956, 1958, 1977, 1977, 1979, the destruction of the Public library in Jaffna a treasure house of Tamil culture and learning and the unprecedented acts of barbarism in 1983. The oppression of the Tamils has now become worse with reconciliation irredeemable.
( The Writer, Editor of the Eelam Nation, an online journal)

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Author: Sri Lanka Guardian

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