Ceylon Tamils1 - both the diasporic and the citizens of the island Sri Lanka, in the Southern tip of India, must be empowered to ask honest questions. If at all anything, Tamil social thinkers ought to awaken the masses to discern the wood for the trees. On the whole, people cannot be casualties to spin and propaganda.
At one stage, when the end of the Tamil Tigers (LTTE: Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the armed Tamil out-fit who were fighting for a separate state) was becoming clear, Tamil media including the pro-tiger websites adopted a stance that the tigers are invincible - sadly the masses gobbled it without much thought. When eventually the end did come, and the whole top-level tiger leadership was wiped out, the propaganda machine pumped out stories that none of this was true and the leadership was safe and sound. A few Indian Tamil politicians also joined-in the chorus of spin including the militant Tamil poet Kasi Annandan. This was indeed a complete abuse of trust. It revealed there was hardly any journalistic integrity - but simply a factory of jingoistic fairy tales.
known as "KP"
Of course, when you repeat a lie again and again, then it almost pretends to be true. As this writer has penned numerous times before that, the Tamils - particularly the diaspora cannot live on a 'Staple' diet of spin, propaganda and thin air. Such a project is immoral and unethical and unpalatable.
It is however, a grave cause for concern that the Colombo plan is bent on Sinhalisation. This is bad news especially when the President Rajapaksha is talking of reconciliation and healing of wounds and scars.
The TamilNet website reports under the lead caption (28 June 2010), Colombo schemes Sinhalicised capital for North:
"Similar to the Sinhalicisation of Trincomalee, the capital of the East, Colombo plans for a new, Sinhalicised capital for the North too at Ki'linochchi, administrative sources working for Colombo on the project said. Ki'linochchi is being prepared for that with an extensive military cantonment along with airstrip, new Buddhist temples and by not allowing the local population to their lands. For every three people there is one military personnel at present. When resettled, the local Tamils will be herded into pockets and there will be a new population, considerably Sinhalicised, the sources said adding that with the completion of the plot, there won’t be even one city or administrative centre existing for Tamils in the island."
This piece cites no sources, or any evidence (perhaps for security purposes). But colonising Tamil lands by previous Sinhala administrations is an ill-conceived idea. Implementing such a secretive land-grabbing will not win the hearts and minds of Tamils, especially at this crucial juncture. One has to be balanced however, that the Tamil lands are not exclusively for the Tamils. But a militarised style "Occupation" can and will bring all the difficulties that springs out of an occupied territory. The tigers were too late when they realised that the expelling of the Moslems out of Jaffna - the Ceylon Tamil cultural capital in the North, was a step too far. A badly advised colossal error. On the other hand, Colombo must take every effort to educate the Sinhalas in such a way that racist ideologies are weaned out of them. Sinhala can be learnt by Tamils while the Sinhalas also learn spoken and written Tamil. Such compulsory education will eventually yield a harvest of mutual understanding. The presidential address given in Tamil was indeed a paradigm shift. However, its only a start of a long journey to freedom. The current Rajapaksha Government must also 'walk the talk.'
In a pluralistic society, in this day and age, building temples/churches/mosques/or non-religious venues shouldn't cause any concern when proper planning permission is given. Equal rights should be interpreted on the ground - as much as a Tamil religious body has got the privilege to build places of worship in the far Sinhala South. Equally, a Sinhala-Buddhist religious body should also have the privilege to do the same in the far North. It has to be done though with the spirit of mutual respect and trust, but never with the militaristic thrust.
One must not forget, in the centuries past, there had been Tamil Bautam (Tamil Buddhism) in South India including Jaffna. Contrary to popular myth, Buddha himself was indeed a Dravidian Kshatriya. In light of the past blunders of policies, Colombo must exorcise its old demons that has wrecked the country. Using Buddhism as a vehicle of militarised occupation makes mockery of the Noble Truths preached by The Lord Buddha.
Buddhism is neither a private property of the Sinhalas; nor is the Tamil Land an exclusive piece of real estate of the Tamils. All citizens must have equal rights to live any where they wish. Both Tamils and Sinhalas can glean lessons from their shared history. If they choose to harp on the past and do not have the capacity or the will to move on to a new paradigm then no one will be free. But the will to move on can only be hindered by an insecure leadership that chooses to be blind.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery's words rings true: "I know but one freedom and that is the freedom of the mind."
One has to be careful not to permit the clouding of our reasoning faculties and allowing propaganda to condition our mind-set.
 "Ceylon Tamils" refer to the fact these Tamils are indigenous to the North and East of the country. There is also the so-called "Up country Tamils." They were brought in to the country as indentured workers from India to work in the tea/coffee/rubber plantations by the British. Many of the latter were disenfranchised by the SWRD Bandaranaike racist policies in the 1950s. Some were repatriated to India with hardly any compensation paid for their 'slave labor.'
Editor's Note: The following excerpt from Wikipedia is provided for readers who are not familiar with the history of the civil war in Sri Lanka. - LMB
|One of the aspects of the independence [from the British]
movement was that it was very much a Sinhalese movement. As a result,
the Sinhalese majority attempted to remodel Sri Lanka as a Sinhalese
nation-state. The lion in the national flag is derived from the banner
of the last Sinhalese Kingdom, which, to the Sinhalese majority, is a
symbol of their fight against British colonialism. One single strip of
orange on the left part of the flag represents the Tamil population, and
it is seen by many Tamil as a symbol of their marginalisation.
In 1956, the Official Language Act (commonly known as The Sinhala Only Act) was enacted. The law mandated Sinhala, the language of Sri Lanka's majority Sinhalese community, which is spoken by over 70% of Sri Lanka's population, as the sole official language of Sri Lanka. Supporters of the law saw it as an attempt by a community that had just gained independence to distance themselves from their colonial masters.
The immediate (and intended) consequence of this act was to force large numbers of Tamil who worked in the civil service, and who could not meet this language requirement, to resign. An attempt to make Buddhism the national religion, to the exclusion of Hindu and Islam, was also made. Affirmative action in favour of Sinhalese was also instituted, ostensibly to reverse colonial discrimination against Sinhalese in favour of Tamil. Many Tamil, in response to this deliberate marginalisation, came to believe that they deserved a separate nation-state for themselves.
From 1983 to 2009, there was an on-and-off civil war against the government by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a separatist militant organization who fought to create an independent state named Tamil Eelam in the North and East of the island. Both the Sri Lankan government and LTTE have been accused of various human rights violations.
On May 19, 2009, the President of Sri Lanka officially claimed an end to the insurgency and the defeat of the LTTE, following the death of Velupillai Prabhakaran and much of the LTTE's other senior leadership.
After the civil war was over, the government of Sri Lanka called for redevelopment of the nation. The final stages of the war left some 300,000 people displaced. By 2 May 2010, 214,227 IDPs (74%) had been released or returned to their places of origin.