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Saturday 30 June 2012

New chapter in Tamil struggle for political rights – A response – II

As we said last week Sampanthan is talking of a chapter IV in Tamil racist politics. It is a new chapter both literary and literally and the leader of the Ilankai Thamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK) wants to establish an Eelam with the help of the western countries and India with support from the Tamils dispersed in the west. However, ITAK proxy of the LTTE thinks ashamedly as the successors to the LTTE as the party that represents the Tamils and is suspicious of the other Tamil parties as well as the dispersed Tamils in the west. The Tamil leaders as well as the west and India try to create the impression that the former act independent of the latter and that it is with great difficulty that the help of the western countries and India is obtained by the Tamils. This is something that even the Sinhalas who are Anglophiles want to believe. However, on the contrary it is the west that created Tamil racism and subsequently India and west that created Tamil terrorism. The recent demonstrations in London against the visit of the President of Sri Lanka clearly shows the support the dispersed Tamils in England get from the so called UK government. Though LTTE is supposed to be a proscribed organization in England their supporters are allowed to carry the LTTE flag albeit without the name of the party in order to use a loophole in the English law.

A website not in sympathy with the Sinhalas to say the least, carried a news item that included the following paragraph on the President’s visit to London. “Rajapakse changed his travel plans at the last minute due to massive disruptions planned by activists. Officers On Watch and security details were changed every 2 hours at Colombo -similar to the civil war- to prevent information seeping out. Scotland Yard Firearms Officers were actively encouraging protests at Heathrow yesterday told protesters they would do the same if their families had suffered like Tamils.” It is not that Scotland Yard is being influenced by the dispersed Tamils to encourage the protests but it is the other way around. Scotland Yard or whoever is responsible should have seen to it that the President was given ample security to deliver his talk in London this time as it was all official, though they could claim that it was unofficial last time when the president was prevented from speaking in Oxford. However the London security authorities are more interested in denying the freedom of speech to a President of a friendly country than in allowing the dispersed Tamils in England and in other countries in Europe to protest against the President. At least now we should realize that it is not the dispersed Tamils who have canvassed and obtained the support of the English and other western countries but it is England, America and the European Union that support and maintain Tamil racism in those countries through the dispersed Tamils. Those Sinhalas who think that by “educating” the English and other western politicians they can change the situation are in for a big disappointment.

We have already quoted a statement by Blake last week but it is worth reproducing it in order to drive home a point. “Ambassador warned the Minister that if the government pursued a military option without first allowing high-level diplomacy a chance, Sri Lanka could expect escalating international criticism and actions to demonstrate the international community’s concern. The Ambassador said such actions could include suspension of aid to Sri Lanka, closer scrutiny of IMF lending, possible war crimes investigations, and perhaps other actions.” This statement had been made around April 2009 and it is clear that had the Sri Lankan government stopped the humanitarian operations there would not have been any talk of suspension of aid, closer scrutiny of IMF lending, possible war crimes and other actions. Thus the so called allegations of war crimes have not been made after the last week of the humanitarian operations but before that so called crucial week. It has taken some time for Channel Four and others to come out with video footages as they were not ready at the end of May 2009. It appears to be good business as these “authorities” continue to show their incompetence at making video clips even today.

Now the stock argument of the Tamil racist leaders is that since independence Tamils have been treated as second class citizens, and their non violent protests against this kind of treatment had been meted with repression and as a result the Tamils had no option but to take up arms against the state, in order to establish an Eelam in the Eastern and Northern Provinces which constitute the historical habitats of the Tamils or the Tamil homeland. We have answered all these arguments in the book” An analysis of Tamil racism in Sri Lanka” which is a translation of “Prabhakaran ohuge seeyala baappala ha massinala”. However, we may take up the question of Tamils being second class citizens of the country.

It is not defined what is meant by the term second class citizen of a country. There are no first class and second class according to Marxist terminology and the class here is all about preferential treatment. I know of many Tamils in the upper class who enjoy better treatment from the government as well as from the other social institutions than me though I am supposed to be a first class citizen by virtue of being a Sinhala. There are thousands and thousands of Sinhala people as well as Tamils who have no access to international schools, private hospitals in Colombo and other cities, who cannot admit their children to so called prestigious schools, who cannot visit the theatres in Colombo, who have not heard of Lionel Wendt or Bishop’s College auditorium, who may have heard of Nelum Pokuna but have no access to it, who do not know influential people to get tickets to the VIP sectors to watch T 20 games etc., etc. These people are nth class citizens of the country and a few of them get their children admitted to the prestigious school through the fifth standard scholarship scheme. There are so many nth class citizens in the Jaffna society who cannot enter certain kovils or premises of kovils, in their so called homeland.

What the Tamil Vellala leaders mean by being second class citizens is their loss of leadership in the Colombo society. Symbolically the Oval had to give way to the SSC and the Tamil Vellalas found it difficult to continue as the leaders of the aborted Ceylonese nation. However, the influential continue to be residents of Colombo 7, 3, 4, 5 and be members of various societal clubs. The photographs of them and their wives appear in the Sunday English medium newspapers and they are also influential members of the NGOs and INGOs. They have realized that the Tamil Union cannot field a cricket team consisting of a majority of Tamils and the number of Tamils representing elite schools have dropped in various sports. It is the numbers game that the Vellalas have lost with the introduction of universal franchise and the Tamil leaders for more than seventy five years have failed to realize that though in the “good old days” of English colonialism they could manage the numbers game with the help of the English governors they cannot do so now. They are now resorting Tamil speaking people again not because they love the Muslim community but since they know that with that concept introduced by Ponnambalam Ramanathan in the Legislative Assembly in the nineteenth century to compete with the English educated Sinhala leaders, they can work against the innocent Sinhala people living in the Eastern Province. The Tamil leaders also know that their so called Tamil homeland was demarcated by the English as late as 1889, and that it has a “history” of only 123 years. They forget conveniently that the king Rajasinghe II leased the eastern coastal area up to a “gavva” to the Dutch. How the Sinhala king managed to lease the “Tamil Homeland” has not been explained by any historian.

The problem with the English educated Tamils is that though they are prepared to live as nth class citizens in the west they are not willing to live without political leadership in Sri Lanka. In the west and even in India they accept that the Tamil Hindu culture is not equivalent to the Judaic Christian culture and the Hindi Hindu culture respectively. However, in Sri Lanka they do not want to accept the Sinhala Buddhist culture is the significant culture. The moment the Vellala leaders do that the Sinhala Buddhists would accept the Vellalas or any other for that matter as the leaders of the entire country.

Copyright Prof. Nalin De Silva