The Srilankan Tamils -What is to be done?

published on April 6, 2013

Students are holding rallies in the streets of Tamilnadu. Chennai, Madurai, Kovai, and other cities have gone into the agitation mode against the Srilankan government and the Indian National Congress. College campuses are turning into venues for fasting. DMK has come out of the UPA fold. The Tamilnadu assembly has passed a resolution calling for a referendum on Tamil Eelam. Is it a replay of the 1965 anti-hindi agitation is the question that is being asked everywhere.

This situation remainds me of a story from the life of Buddha.

Once, Bhuddha was asked about the karma theory. The question was ‘Does one suffer because of his deeds in earlier births? Buddha maintained a stoic silence. Pestered again with the same question, He replied, “You are talking about the cause of the conflict; but I am busy offering succour to the affected”.

The Sri Lankan imbroglio involving the Tamils is much akin to the above. The political leaders in Tamil Nadu are hell-bent on punishing Rajapaksa for violation of  human rights. But the reality is that this sort of misplaced bravado will not a wee bit alleviate the suffering of the Tamils. The Tamils need all the help and support that can be given.

Eric Golsheim, the Norwegian peace negotiator, in an interview to the daily Afton Posten said, “It is clear that there has been no respite for the sufferings of the Tamils even after the LTTE has been vanquished. If the Sri Lankan government does not immediately set in motion steps to bestow upon the Tamils their right to living , ethnic strife will again rise its head”.

Cho, Editor, Thuglak, the popular weekly from Tamil Nadu, says, “Adequate compensation to those affected by the LTTE – Sri Lankan government war, immediate logistical facilities for the displaced to return to their own places, ensuring equal status to Tamil, equal opportunities to the Tamils, in education and employment; installing a federal governance as in India, implementing the Rajiv- Jeyavadana accord are some of the activities that beg the immediate attention and concerted effort of the Sri Lankan government. “

Karunanidhi, the DMK leader said “It is my ardent desire to see the dawn of Tamil Eelam in my lifetime”. But in the TESO meeting held in Chennai, no one whimpered about Eelam. It is an open secret in Tamil Nadu that Karunanidhi and his associates were simply acting according to the compulsions of the alliance at the centre.

Karunanidhi’s stony silence during the killings of Mullivaykkal is too well known to credit him with any expectation. TESO created by Karunanidhi might perhaps get his son Stalin some publicity but certainly not any political solution to the struggling Sri Lankan Tamils.

“Give me half-an-hour to speak in the UN; I shall attain Eelam” claims Seeman, Leader, Nam Thamizhar Party. This is a call from a leader who has not contested any election so far.

Thol Thirumavalavan, Leader, Viduthalai Chiruththaikal Katchi, is moderate when he says, “Freedom struggles have never succeeded without the support of the world nations. So, let us garner their support”.

But all these have not helped to change the situation.

Politicians in Tamilnadu crying for Tamil Eelam want to raise their flaccid political fortunes. Sooner the Sri Lankan Tamils realize this, quicker will be their relief.

The most horrific violation of human rights has happened In Sri Lanka. The victims of this horrendous crime are our own brethren, who had migrated to erstwhile Ceylon. They still speak the same language, follow the same customs. It is puzzling why the Sri Lankan Tamils do not get what is their due.

The oral submissions made to “Lessons learnt and Reconciliation Commission set up by the Sri Lankan government point fingers squarely at the Sri Lankan army for the crime. Human right violations by the LTTE was also recorded by the same committee.

It is quite incomprehensible how Tamil Nadu has not fully grasped the fact that evidences of wrongdoing on the part of LTTE also have been recorded. It is even more pathetic that the rest of the country is quite oblivious of the ethnic cleansing that Sri Lanka is indulging in.

Let us recall that India and other 23 countries supported the resolution in the United Nations Human Right Council in March 22, 2011. Fifteen countries including China and Cuba opposed while eight abstained from voting. One must realize that only after incorporating the words, “in consultation with and with the concurrence of the government of Sri Lanka” could the resolution be passed.

It is quite evident that the political forces in Tamil Nadu are not capable and hence cannot create any support for the Sri Lankan Tamils in the comity of nations. It is equally clear that it is the people of India who can rise up to the occasion.

There is only one way out of this. The concerns of the people of Tamilnadu over this issue should be made into the concerns of the Indians as a whole. The entire country must understand the seriousness of the situation in Sri Lanka, the untold sufferings that the poor Tamils are put to.

It is India which will bring lasting peace in Sri Lanka and alleviate the sufferings of the Sri Lankan Tamils by getting them their right to living alongside the Sinhalese.

This must be explained to the people of India; it must be dealt in each and every language of the country. Public meetings must be organized in Jammu to Jamnagar; Surat to Bhubaneshvar; Delhi to Dornakal. People of Punjab, UP, MP, Odisha, Maharashtra, Gujarat must be apprised of the atrocity against the Tamils. Conclaves must be convened in Cuttack, Kolkatta and Kochi.

Indian society must realize that what is happening to the Sri Lankan Tamils does affect India. Only then the Government of India will feel the enormity of the situation and act decisively. Geopolitical compulsions and generally accepted ethics of governance will prevent other countries from supporting the Sri Lankan government. It is India’s strength that will stand the Sri Lankan Tamils in good stead. The Sri Lankan Tamils and the Tamil diaspora must realize this.

It must be remembered that it was the support that the Indians gave that resulted in the birth of Bangladesh It was the Jan Sangh which facilitated Bangladesh. When Sheik Mujubir Rahman won in the elections in East Pakistan, the democratic rights of the East Pakistanis were denied because of the adamantine attitude of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, The then Prime Minister of the undivided Pakistan. The Pakistan army massacred the Bengalis. Lakhs from East Pakistan escaped to India as destitutes.

Jan Sangh, under the leadership of Atal Bihary Vajpayee, staged a massive demonstration for the “Freedom of Bangladesh”. A mammoth public meeting was organized at the Marina in Madras. In the final rally at Delhi, thousands courted arrest. Edward Kennedy, the prospective President of the USA, was amazed at seeing the groundswell of participation.

Smitten by the support India gave to Bangladesh, Pakistan attacked India. Indian armed forces gave a stunning reply and defeated the Pakistan. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s determination helped in the birth of Bangladesh.

A similar situation has arisen now. India has the opportunity to show its strength yet again. The historic task of teaching a lesson to the Rajapaksha government and ensuring peace, justice and prosperity for the Tamils is awaiting the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Date Line:

3rd Century BC : Tamils from India migrate to Sri Lanka
1796 – 1948 : British rule in Sri Lanka
1830 : Tamils come to Sri Lanka as plantation labours
1944 : All India Ceylon Tamil Congress by G.G. Ponnambalam
1948 : Sri Lanka attains freedom
1948 : 10,00,000 plantation Tamils lose citizenship
1949 : Selvanayagam forms Federal Party
1956 : Prime Minister WRT Bandaranayaka makes Sinhala as the sole official Language

1959 : Sirimao Bandaranayaka becomes Prime Minister
1961 : Sinhala as the official language in Tamil provinces
1964 : Shastri – Sirimao Bandaranayaka pact
1972 : New constitution
          Birth of TULF
1974 : Birth of TELO
          World Tamil Conference at Jaffna
          Police attack
1975 : Birth of EROS
1976 : Birth of LTTE
1976 : Call for Tamil Eelam
1977 : Prime Minister Jayavardane
          Riots against Tamils
1981 : Riots against Tamils. Jaffna library gutted
1981 : Birth of EPRLF
1983 : Riots against Tamils
1984 : Tamil militant groups get training in India
1985 : Clash among Tamil groups – Killings
1987 : Rajiv – Jayavardhane accord
          13th amendment
1987 : IPKF – LTTE war
1987 : Premadasa – LTTE negotiations
1989 : Amirthalingam killed by LTTE
1990 : EPRLF leader Padmanabha and twelve others killed by LTTE in Chennai
1990 : IPKF withdrawal from Sri Lanka
1991 : Rajiv Gandhi assassinated by the LTTE suicide bomber
2000 : Mediation by Norway
2002 : Prabakaran and Ranil Wikramasinghe sign accord
2004 : Karuna breaks away from LTTE
2005 : Mahinda Rajapaksha becomes President
2007 : War

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