“Simple act of commemoration”

Response to Student Remembrance at the University of Jaffna Triggers Tamil Rebirth

| by  Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

( January 10, 2013, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) What an outrageous use of words! The lamp lighting referred to was a very devious act and well planned ploy to use the ‘Karthikai Villakkeedu’, a Hindu religious festival, as a cover to celebrate the LTTE initiated ‘Maveerar (Great Heroes)’ day.
The war- affected Tamils as a community do not need to commemorate events initiated by the LTTE, as part of their propaganda and emotion arousing efforts. The university is a public institution and property. Being located in Jaffna, it becomes a communal property. The emotions, attitudes and objectives of a few cannot once again be permitted to become a curse for the entire Tamil community. The entire Tamil community cannot be held hostage by a few and the entire student community should not be also made to pay for the foolhardiness of the few.
The LTTE celebrated the ‘Maveerar Day’ annually in commemoration of only its cadres killed in war. These celebrations were not for the Tamil civilians who were killed during the war or because of the war. It was also not in commemoration of cadres and leaders of other Tamil militant groups who died in pursuit of their goals or were killed by the LTTE. Hence it is not in commemoration of all those who died in the war. This distinction should be clearly understood.
I empathise with those whose sons, daughters and other relatives who joined the LTTE willingly or were forcibly conscripted and died during the long years of war. They have as humans the right to remember and mourn their dead. However, their grief has to be felt and expressed as something personal. It cannot be a public event, because of the suffering and damage the wars caused to the Tamils as a people and the lowly and brutal manner in which LTTE behaved towards its own people- the Tamils. The behaviour of the LTTE, does not in any way negate the grief of those who have lost their near and dear, but definitely negates their claim to be remembered as great heroes by the community. They were no doubt heroes in many ways, but their association with the LTTE has removed the lustre from their heroism. This very act of  remembering the ‘Maveerar’, is tainted by the political objectives of the instigators and organizers.
Further, to confound it with an age-old religious festival and make those celebrating that occasion with much fervour pay a price is a dastardly and cowardly act. A community that is taking its first steps towards recovery and takes much solace from its religious beliefs should not be sacrificed at the altar of political expediency.
However, the government should designate the 19th of May or any other suitable date, as a ‘National Remembrance Day’ for all those who died in Trade union actions, Communal riots, JVP insurgencies, Tamil militant violence, and the Eelam wars. We have to remember everyone who died as a result of violence that engulfed our nation and caused it unimaginable hurt and pain. It should be an occasion to remember individuals who died and why they had to die. It should also be a day for national repentance. Unfortunately, the government in its short sightedness is incapable of responding to this national need for catharsis.

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Author: Sri Lanka Guardian

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