| by Pearl Thevanayagam
(January 09, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) What do TNA (Tamil National Alliance) and GTF (Global Tamil Forum) hope to achieve at ANC (African National Congress)’s 12.3 million dollar centenary bash at the 46,000-capacity Free State Stadium? More to the point who is paying for these delegates attending the grand-scale gala being hosted in Bloemfontein, the birth place of ANC? Only ten percent of the invited world leaders attended the gala. Some 1,400 did not attend. It is highly unlikely the Africans are meeting our delegates’ expenses since they are used to receiving aid and not giving and believe the world owes them a living ad infinitum.
Assuming they would not be footing the bill for the bash it becomes a grievous liability on Tamils abroad who are already feeling the pinch forking out for Tsunami, spending on demonstrations across Europe , US, Canada and Australia against the final onslaught of the government offensive which killed and displaced their brethren in Wanni and then paying to form a trans-national government particularly amidst the economic downturn affecting Europe and the world in general. Enough is enough.
It looks like we are regressing to 1948. The TNA (Tamil National Alliance) and GTF (Global Tamil Forum) attending ANC’s centenary celebrations is unlikely to bring any earth shattering changes to the ethnic issue pertaining to the rights of the Tamils here in Sri Lanka. It is but yet another opulent centenary birthday bash as only African Black elite can hold while the major part of South Africa not to mention the rest of Africa still does not have running water, has thousands dying of AIDS and malnutrition and of course suffering conflicts largely created by the Western super-powers gunning for its precious metals, minerals and oil.
Lest we forget, Africa has an inherent abhorrence for Indians who were brought in as administrators into the Dark Continent by the British to lend a new lease of life and virtually raise their living standards who were kept in perpetual slavery by successive conquerors such as the Dutch, Flemish and the British. For all intents and purposes Sri Lanka would remain an off-shoot of India in Africa’s eyes. Post independence the Indians had their business and properties burnt and virtually chased out of Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya.
Here in Sri Lanka we are not fighting the colonial rule any longer. The bone of contention between the ruling regime and the ethnic Tamils is the denial of rights on par with the majority Sinhalese, concentration of powers within the ruling clan and gross violation of human rights particularly in the last throes of war which left over 40,000 lives lost and many thousands of civilians rendered homeless and displaced may times over with a significant proportion still detained in camps despite the war having ended officially two and a half years ago..
African National Congress (ANC) is celebrating its 100 year struggle against apartheid. But most South Africa’s Blacks are yet to be liberated from abject poverty despite colossal amounts of aid from the West. No amount of foreign aid can save Africa except Africa itself since the struggle against apartheid only pole-vaulted to prominence a small section of affluent Africans including Nelson Mandela who spent 27 years in prison for fighting the White regime consisting of Afrikaaners and the British.
In effect African leaders have failed despite gaining independence from its colonial masters since most African countries are ruled by pseudo-monarchic tribal leaders who cannot liberate themselves from their tribal and feudalistic past. Soweto although slowly rising from its ghetto image still harbours dirt-poor Blacks.
John Pilger, the Australian journalist, writer and documentary film maker exposed Mandela’s duplicity, his proclivity for opulence and publicity in his book, “Freedom Next Time” published in 2007. He writes, `The abiguity of Mandela is expressed in his dealings with other governments. As the first liberation president, he ordered a ridiculous and bloody invasion of tiny Lesotho. He allowed South African armaments to be sold to Algeria, Colombia and Peru, which have notorious track records. He invited the Indonesian mass murderer General Suharto to South Africa and gave him the country’s highest award (Suhatrto had given money to ANC in exile). He recognised the brutal Burmese junta as a legitimate government, even though the plight of its legitimate leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, who is under permanent house arrest, reflected his own struggle’.
Perhaps it is years in prison or perhaps the fact he struggled his way through life as a boy adopted by his better off relatives gave him a yearning for luxuries including his silver Mercedes gold coloured silk shirts.
The TRC (Truth and Reconciliation Commission)’s `reconciliation process’ did not require perpetrators of state crime to be held neither accountable nor responsible and their impunity was to be protected according to Pilger. Our government has drawn a great deal of inspiration and strength from TRC in setting up LLRC, a lameduck of a commission which would protect all the perpetrators of war crimes.
Enough said about ANC but what we are waiting for is what our Tamil delegates could bring back to us in their party bags when show time is over.
The writer is Asia Pacific Journalism Fellow at UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, California and a print journalist for 21 years. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)