Future of Sri Lankan Tamilians - Article from Dynamic Youth magazine

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Future of Sri Lankan Tamilians - Article from Dynamic Youth magazine

Post  K S Venkataraman on Sat Mar 14, 2009 3:07 pm

Future of Sri Lankan Tamilians

T JOSEPH BENZIGER



Armed militancy in Sri Lanka on last legs

The political turmoil of Sri Lanka is likely to be over soon. The military action against the LTTE is prolonged only because the LTTE is holding about 200,000 Tamil civilians as a human shield to protect it from the Sri Lankan army. The whereabouts of the LTTE leader Prabhakaran are not known. There are differing views that he is hiding in Sri Lankan forests or that he has already left Sri Lanka. About the future course of action of the LTTE also there are several surmises including a mass suicide program as a last resort.

There are several reports from independent agencies that less than 1000 LTTE men are holding the civilian population to ransom of their safety; and do not hesitate to fire at them if they try to escape to safety regions announced by Sri Lankan government. Such brutal methods cannot succeed for long. It would become impossible to keep such a large number of persons in a forest locality for any indefinite period. Reports have also appeared that the LTTE recruits children among the captives to fight the Sri Lankan army, fully knowing that the children-recruits could never be a match for a trained army. This only shows the desperateness of the isolated LTTE, declared as terrorists in several countries including India and the USA.

Immediate task is saving Tamilian hostages

The India has offered to help segregation of the Tamil civilian population from the hold of the LTTE. Sri Lankan government may accept this offer or may prefer to adopt its own strategy to achieve this. The concern of all the right minded leaders is that the Tamil civilian population should be freed from the LTTE without giving room for any large scale killing. The attitude of the LTTE towards the Tamil civilian hostages in general and those who try to move to safer region in particular, reveals the terrorist organization’s objectives definitely lie somewhere else other than the safety and welfare of the Tamilians.

The release and transfer of the Tamil civilian population is the matter of foremost urgency and importance. After a prolonged military action it is quite likely that the Sri Lankan army personnel may also show impatience. The LTTE is also known to act in unpredictable manner at any time. With the passage of every minute the predicament of the civilian population caught in the middle is becoming more and more precarious. While Sri Lankan army should refrain from any foolhardy steps, it cannot also afford to be lethargic and leave the matter to take its own course.

The political parties in Tamil Nadu are vying with one another to gain political mileage out of the Sri Lankan conflict. Some parties want to show themselves as champions of Tamilians’ cause by openly speaking in favor of the LTTE and raising slogans against the Sri Lankan government. Though it is obvious that the LTTE and the Sri Lankan Tamilians are not one and the same; though by having emerged as a terrorist organization the LTTE has harmed the interests of the Sri Lankan Tamils in many ways; and though the LTTE has prevented emergence of enlightened political leadership among the Sri Lankan Tamilians by violent methods, some political leaders try to mislead the people of Tamil Nadu by equating the LTTE with Sri Lankan Tamilians in general.

The people should understand the difference between supporting the human rights of Sri Lankan Tamilians and supporting the LTTE, which is a terrorist organization.

A valuable political lesson

Though the LTTE stands condemned as a terrorist organization today, we cannot forget that it was Sri Lankan discrimination against the Tamilians of Sri Lanka that gave rise to such a violent response from among the Tamilians. The chapter on Tamilians’ struggle in Sri Lanka should serve as a lesson to all the political leaders of the world. In any part of the world, if a section of the people is insulted, ignored, sidelined and suppressed, at a particular stage sooner or later, they would opt for armed revolt. Whether the discrimination is because of language, color, caste, religion or region, the reaction of the suppressed lot would be the same. Usually, the more powerful section starts a political conflict with insolence and arrogance; the result is suffering and severe losses on both sides. The governments should never allow serious divisions to develop among their people and curb any such irresponsible behavior of selfish leaders.

LTTE – A vignette

LTTE arose as one of the several responses of injustice perpetrated against the Tamilians in Sri Lanka. When the Tamilians were denied their dues; when they were systematically reduced to a second grade citizens; and when Sinhalese majority tried to browbeat the Tamilian minority, Sri Lankan government should have acted fast and restored unity and balance. But Sri Lankan government miserably failed in this and this failure is the root cause of such a prolonged political strife in the country. While the Tamilians were organizing themselves politically to meet the new challenges, LTTE came into being as a militant group. A section of Sri Lankan Tamilians had been already inspired, wrongly though, by a few narrow minded politicians of Tamil Nadu, who had sown the seeds of separatism in their minds. The concocted, untenable racial theories used by the British and their protégés were used to make the gullible lot believe that the entire Sri Lanka originally belonged to the Tamilians. The story spread by them ran as follows: “Sri Lanka was ruled by Ravana; and Rama, an Aryan killed Ravana; the Sinhalese were the Aryans who had snatched what rightly belonged to the Tamilians. So the Sinhalese were the enemies of the Ravana’s descendants, who are Tamilians. So the Tamilians should fight the Sinhalese and work for separate Tamil Eezham.” It is surprising that even now such and similar stories are doing rounds among ignorant fanatics. (These propagandists either do not know or conveniently hide the fact that Ravana was a Brahmin, while Rama was a non-Brahmin.)

The LTTE represented the separatists demanding Tamil Eezham, consisting of the northern provinces of Sri Lanka.

The other political organizations developed by moderate Tamilians were not allowed to thrive and develop. Had they been allowed to function, the Tamilians would not have been pulled apart from the political mainstream of Sri Lanka. Had the LTTE remained a catalyst and allowed emergence of normal political leadership among the Tamilians, most of the Tamilians in Sri Lanka and abroad could have been spared from ineffable miseries and personal losses.

Having taken resort to wrong methods with vengeance, the LTTE has become a criminal and loathsome organization in the eyes of the world. It has become victim of parochialism, adoption of wrong policies and programs, and blunder of choice of violence.


Future political programs

It is, however, high time to concentrate on future political programs in Sri Lanka.

Robert Blake, the U.S. ambassador to Sri Lanka has rightly said, "So it will be very important for the government to come forward with a package of political proposals that will really ensure the Tamils of Sri Lanka a position of dignity and respect, and give them some measure of local autonomy in the areas in which they predominate."

Pakiasothy Saravanamuttu, the Executive Director of the Center for Policy Alternatives has pointed out, "If you are going to win hearts and minds, reconcile and unite, how you bring this war to a conclusion is going to be the key.” He explains that the Tamil hardliners will likely try to capitalize on the government's inability or unwillingness to give the Tamil community the dignity and autonomy that they have fought for.

It is very important that Sri Lankan government does not give room for any such resurgence of Tamil militancy. If such a prolonged armed conflict for more than three decades ruining the country as a whole should occur, it would be mere escapism to blame only the Tamilian side. The root cause is the mistakes done by Sinhalese and Sri Lankan government. Sri Lankan government should display maturity and statesmanship by understanding the happenings objectively and ensuring that the past mistakes do not recur.

Suresh Premachandran, a member of parliament representing the Tamil community is of the view that the government should tackle the distrust and ethnic strife between the Tamil and Sinhalese communities, especially in the war-battered north. He says, "The Tamil community does not have any trust in the Sinhala government. They can finish off the LTTE, but there is no political solution to the Tamil ethnic problem."

If Sri Lankan government considers the annihilation of the LTTE as a major victory, it means that they have not learnt the most important, obvious lesson. The major victory lies in healing the wounds in the minds of Tamilians; in embracing the Tamilians as citizens of Sri Lanka with equal rights and opportunities; in rehabilitating the people who have suffered severe losses because of the internal war; in bringing about emotional integration of the entire population of Sri Lanka; and in preventing any possibility of rift developing among the Tamilians and other sections of Sri Lankan citizens. The government should identify any selfish leader trying to sow the seeds of dissension among the people based on divisions such as Hindu vs. Buddhists and Tamil vs. Sinhalese as the enemy of the country and effectively prevent him from playing dirty political games.

Sri Lanka is a beautiful country with rich potentials. It has rich natural resources. The sky is the limit for its development of tourism. There is enough scope for all the communities of Sri Lankan population to lead a prosperous and peaceful life there.

Dynamic Youth wishes that the leaders of Sri Lanka would display enough political maturity, acumen and wisdom to solve the existing problem of Tamilians held as hostages by the LTTE; and to reshape the country and make it flourish as a modern prosperous country with harmonious people.

Source
http://enews.voanews.com/t?ctl=22237E7:F7F0B63DAB0DE8EE07DCC75909A850E25C6F54A6CF9DC2CA&


T Joseph Benziger is the Editor, Dynamic Youth, the free online magazine dedicated to Global Youth Development. For comprehensive articles on Global Youth and Human Rights, please visit www.dynamicyouth.org. For further information kindly write to: dynamicyouth_development@yahoo.com



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K S Venkataraman

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