| by Shenali Waduge
(January 07, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) It is apparent that inspite of the elimination of the LTTE that the sole obstacle to reconciliation remains the inability to differentiate between what the Tamils have or do not have and what the Eelaamists desire and aspire but will not be given. Therefore, it is important that those proclaiming to forward proposals for future peace must first determine if Tamils have been marginalized throughout Sri Lanka and how far the aspirations of the Eelaamists have become jumbled into these demands giving rise to the confusion to find any solution. In so far as determining rights denied exclusively to Tamils, it is obvious that such discrimination in the public sector or the private sector, socially, economically or even politically is clearly non existent.
What is often avoided when analyzing the true reasons for the LTTE to emerge and gain popularity is the factor of the division amongst the Tamils themselves in terms of caste & class. This important factor is often sidelined to avoid the real reason that resulted in large numbers of Tamil youth joining the LTTE in the initial years of its formation. It was against the social discrimination suffered by low caste Tamils that inspired the movement to take up arms which explains why Tamils ended up LTTE victims. It was only after the LTTE became internationally linked that non-Tamils including foreigners ended up part of the LTTE movement.
The LTTE went on to becoming the sole champion of the Tamil “cause” by ruthlessly wiping out all other Tamil rebel groups & eliminating all learned Tamil leaders including Sri Lanka’s distinguished & respected foreign minister Lakshman Kadirgamar, himself a Tamil. Lest people may have forgotten LTTE started out its killing rampage with the slaying of another Tamil – Alfred Duraiappah the Mayor of Jaffna in 1975. LTTE stands charged with the assassinations of 7 cabinet ministers, 37 parliamentarians & over 50 political figures whilst proclaiming to be championing the cause of the Tamils.
Those pointing fingers at Sri Lanka may like to first explain what their response is to the long list of killings attributed to the LTTE which included all acts that clearly goes down as crimes against humanity defined under UN conventions. Therefore, all those in support of the LTTE need to first place on record their statements on the LTTE killing people at places of worship, killing people in slumber in villages, forcefully driving out over 100,000 Sinhalese & Muslims who had their homes in the North and East of the country. The LTTE has killed almost 10,000 civilians & injured a similar number. Where is the justice for these people? When will the world demand explanations and accountability for these killings?
Leaving aside the civilians who have perished what about the colossal damage to Sri Lanka’s infrastructure over 3 decades? Calculated attacks on public transport, civilian infrastructure, essential public services were all meant to target civilians and to gain media coverage in a world where terrorists enjoy providing media the wow factor in terms of relaying the latest breaking news!
The best way to compare life without the LTTE is to go back & imagine what life was like whilst the LTTE prevailed. Can we still recall the fear & uncertainty that prevailed in all parts of the island? Can Tamils recall the terror of losing their child to be taken away and made into a child soldier? Can Tamils recall how much they had to pay towards the maintenance of the LTTE killing machine and the consequences of not contributing to the LTTE kitty? Can Tamils recall how they had to pay “taxes” at the Omanthai check point or had to show their deeds or hand over gold in order to go down south for medical treatment? Regularly looking back and reminiscing the times when the LTTE prevailed suffices to feel happy that we can look forward to times without bombs or suicide cadres amidst us. Were Tamils ever able to ask the LTTE why they had failed to make roads, repair damaged schools, houses & other infrastructure? Were Tamils able to deny giving their child over to the LTTE to be made into a killer machine?
If Tamils sincerely assess life with & now without the LTTE they would agree that the growth of Tamils intellectually, socially & economically were deprived by none other than the LTTE. Schools that had been turned into LTTE training centers are today picking up from decades where children were deprived of learning and only taught to hate the Sinhalese. Young girls and boys are enjoying what it means to be free and surprisingly girls are seen cycling even after 10p.m. In this backdrop the real social & caste status amongst Tamils has arisen again where many Tamils of high class & caste are none to happy with the freedom being enjoyed by their children who are mingling together abandoning the age old traditional barriers that existed. Unfortunately amidst this has been the rise in the number of unwanted pregnancies and abortions and it is issues like these which require the attention of Tamils instead of championing around separatist agendas.
The feeling of freedom and the expression of such need not be said by others for it must essentially come from the voice of the Tamils themselves especially those living in the North. For it is only they who experienced life under the LTTE and it is they who have nightmares of life under the rule of the LTTE. It is obvious that Tamils are finding difficulty from breaking away from decades of being mentally prepared for an Eelaam with Prabakaran and the LTTE as the sole rulers. It is this systematic programming that has given sustainability to the TNA political stooges. It came as no surprise that inspite of the elimination of the LTTE & its hardcore cadres, the people of the North went on to vote for the LTTE political puppets – the TNA.
So what is the truth. Where 4 Presidents & equal or more defense secretaries failed, the incumbent President alongside his able Defense Secretary proved to the world that terrorism needs to be defeated militarily if terrorism is to be defeated at all. To take on the LTTE militarily came after decades of failure in peace talks, cease fires, negotiations, compromises.
Terrorists are who they are because they know only to strike terror. Terrorism is camouflaged by commercial & political desires of those that sponsor or fund terror in other climes. In the case of the LTTE – these terrorists are not Tamils fighting for a Tamil cause. The LTTE is made up of different ethnic groups which include foreigners and the LTTE is partnered by commercial and even Governmental units which use terror groups like the LTTE for their own political agendas.
The US & NATO have gone to wage wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya – millions have died, thousands are injured and thousands are without homes or displaced. It is over a decade and the US have failed to home a single civilian and neither have US and NATO nations been held accountable or given deadlines to resettle these innocent people to their homes. Against this, of the 294,000 civilians rescued during the humanitarian military operation only 3000 remain. Sri Lanka has managed to demine 42,000 antipersonnel mines. . Similarly, while there are present calls for investigation into civilian killings in the North it is prudent to ask if orders to kill civilians was given to the military why would they suffer 6000 deaths and have over 25,000 injuries?
If that is not enough can critics draw examples from other nations that have rehabilitated cadres who surrendered or were detained by the military? Over 10,000 have been rehabilitated & reintroduced into society while over 500 child soldiers went on to sit for the ordinary level & advanced level examination, something that would have been beyond any dream since they had been taught only to hold a gun and shoot innocent people. Would their parents ever want the LTTE to prevail?
Tamils are able to provide education to their children in public, private, international schools. Most of the top public and private schools all have Tamil medium the same cannot be said of major Tamil schools offering same to Sinhalese children. One third of the Tamil population reside amongst the Sinhalese of their own choice. It is in these areas that Tamils enjoy greater prosperity owning homes, land, property & business while enjoying employment in private & public sectors. There are over 200 kovils everywhere & an equal number of flats all owned by Tamils who don’t hesitate to say that rent is only for Tamils.
Throughout 3 decades what the Tamils did not receive from the LTTE who practically ruled the North & East, the Government has provided in a span of 2 years and much of the loans taken has been steered towards the North and its development. If development was non-existent in the North the Tamil people must blame the LTTE & question the LTTE foreign chapters at least now.
It is not too late to disassociate from arguments issues that are associated with the Eelaamists attempting to combine separatist demands with popular slogans that attempt to align the Tamil cause to self determination themes which are in reality attempts to realize the desires of the Eelaamists and which have nothing whatsoever to do with making life better for Tamils. Had that been the case when the North and the East were liberated the Tamil people of these areas would have been living prosperously instead it was only the LTTE and its members who were enjoying the fruits of terror both locally & internationally.
Sri Lankans will never allow any Eelaamist demands in Sri Lanka!