| by Nesan Shankar Raji
(January 16, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) In the aftermath of the war in 2009 ending in the military defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) we all know it ended in the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Tamils who ended up in IDP camps. Due to international pressure from India, the West including human rights groups and the Tamil Diaspora, the Government of Sri Lanka expedited the process and the IDP’s were gradually released and allowed to go back to their own places. However even after nearly 3 years from being released from the IDP camps these affected ex-IDP civilians and ex-LTTE rehabilitated cadres are still suffering their own crisis as a result of the war.
The Government of Sri Lanka with the assistance of INGO’s and international governments have failed to put into place adequate infrastructure and mechanisms to ensure that these civilians have adequate facilities and support to lead a basic life and kick start their future for the better.
In addition to this one should note that there is a stark difference from the Northern Muslims who were expelled from the North by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) wanting to return back to their homes and the Tamil IDP’s who were displaced as a result of the war between the Governments Armed Forces and the LTTE. The IDP Tamils of the North-East have since returned to their homes and lack support and a lot of facilities in terms of settling back into normal life.
In comparison to this the expelled Northern Muslims dwelling in the South in areas such as Puttallam have lived in such conditions for over 10 years and have been resilient and as a result have adapted themselves to such conditions. Now they too wish to return to their homes. It is equally vital for international governments, democratic and human rights groups/lobbyists to question themselves and analyse the reasons as to why the LTTE made the difficult decision to order the expulsion of Northern Muslims from the North?
Secondly one should ascertain who pressurised the LTTE leader Prabhakaran into making this difficult decision?
Thirdly these human rights groups and lobbyists should verify what is it that the Muslim political parties did that prompted the LTTE to take such drastic action?
Are these very same political parties willing to accept their wrongful doing and decision making in terms of the former leader of the SLMC Ashraff asking for a separate province for Muslims?
Further questions need to be answered such as:
1. Was there any link between Ashraff’s call for a separate province in the East and the LTTE’s leaders decision making process? Did that seal the fate of the Northern Muslims?
2. Was the expulsion of the Northern Muslims a direct result of the actions of the Eastern and Southern Muslim political leaders?
The truth of the matter leading to the expulsion of the Northern Muslims needs to be ascertained, discussed and addressed first rather than discussing the resettlement of the Northern Muslims in order to ensure their safety and security when they eventually resettle back in the North.
The irony is that just like those Tamils who identified themselves as Tamil Nationalists failed to help and support their own people in terms of resettlement, the Eastern and Southern Muslims (who cannot be identified as being nationalists as they have chosen to identify themselves on the basis of their religion being “Muslim”) also failed to support the Northern Muslims over 10 years!!! and now for the sake of political mileage and electoral votes they are trying to parade themselves as saviours of their Northern Muslim bretheren when it is widely known that these very same Eastern and Southern Muslims failed their own people who share the same religion and discriminated against them.
One needs to remember that one of the causes of our national and political crisis between the Tamils and Sinhalese Buddhist ultra-nationalists was because of their intention to implement a Sinhalese Buddhist nation backed by the then Government of Sri Lanka throughout the island nation.
Likewise the Muslims political leaders tried to identify themselves on the basis of their religion forgetting that they were and still are very much part and parcel of the Tamil speaking community. The Muslim political leaders for their own vested interests have failed to realise and take into account that the issues relating to Tamil nationalism and Sinhalese nationalism has nothing to do with the Muslim religion as religion has nothing to do with nationalism which is why their drive to promote their identity on the basis of their religion conflicts with the Tamil national question and political crisis in Sri Lanka.
The Muslim community and political leaders must forgive and forget about the past and re-integrate themselves with the Tamil speaking community of Sri Lanka by not identifying themselves on the basis of their religion, but by identifying themselves as being Tamil first and religion second. Only then will we be able to resolve the political crisis in Sri Lanka when we unite together as “one community” which will enable us to resolve the Tamil national question once and for all.