தமிழ்த் தேசியம்

"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."

- Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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Journey Down Memory Lane To Reach 'tamiz Izam'
R.Shanmugalingam

Chapter 43

"Prevention is better than cure." Your writer has been wasting his flesh thumping the keyboard, to emphasize the need to prevent killing in any form from any side. It is popular and acceptable to the press to say, "Life has no meaning for many people because so many are dying. It’s terrible." Student of international affairs to say, "Violence by the guerrilla group will not help the Tamil people in the long run." What will then help them or what has helped them so far?

"The Tamil Tigers are not reaching a solution. The people who are being hurt are not only in the Sri Lankan government, but also the Tamil people, whose children are on the frontlines."

Eureka? Is this student being taught only the Sri Lankan government side? How slanted can the media get? When did the Tamil Tigers refuse to negotiate? They went to four talks with the government represented by people from outside government policy making group. They expected the decisions arrived at the talks and accepted by the government would be implemented. Did the government implement these decisions? "Patience is a virtue," but patience also has its patience. We who have lived and suffered Sinhala indignities and inequities and their cultural characteristics of reneging from pacts, do not trust any Sinhala government to be fair. We Tamils have no alternative but to adopt such methods as are practical to make the Sinhalas let go the strangle hold they have on the Tamils in the name of a united Sri Lanka. Please do not preach to us with the hypocritical adage, "Do as we say do not do as we do."

The carnage so far and any future carnage - over which the ‘tamiz’ Diaspora has no control- is the sole responsibility of Chandriaka and her government. ‘tamiz Diaspora’ on the other hand could raise the level of concern and understanding of ‘tamiz’ fate under a unitary form of the Sinhala Buddhist dominated government within the international community. This is an imperative to bring both parties to the negotiating table.

It is no secret that one who has more to lose will agree for negotiations. It is even more pronounced when one once ignored is recognized again. Pirabaharan should know this. ‘tiruvaLLuvar’ taught us among other things:

I have understood this way of life very early in life. I try my best to avoid ‘bad mouthing’ anybody. It is a human weakness or trait, to twist things about. Once I was asked to convey a message that a particular teacher will not be able attend school for a couple of days. The message got massaged and with the Passage of time turned out into the teacher had resigned from his job. It took me a lot of persuasion to convince the teacher that I was not the miscreant, and in the course of the message going the rounds had gotten twisted, and made to appear as if the teacher had resigned from his job.

It was the confidence the teacher had in me that made him ask me to convey that message in the first place. I do not keep silent at injustice or iniquity. To point it out is not ‘bad mouthing.’ This involvement has started many an argument, and had caused some friends in the short term. But either time healed the wounds or truth prevailed even belatedly, I have few enemies who hate my guts but many who have stood up for me. It is heart warming to know that people who knew me from early childhood continue to like me and respect me for my steadfastness in holding on to my convictions. Here again many know, that given the right reasons, I have changed my stand on issues.

It is not that I do not want to live in a united Sri Lanka, but there is no magnanimity shown by the Sinhalas. Every political action since 1956, has been detrimental to the survival of ’tamizar, as a proud and people with dignity. The more the Sinhalas squeezed us the more we acquiesced until the freedom fighters appeared.

The Kodeswaran case comes to mind. I think it was in 1962, that Chelliah Kodeswaran was denied his annual salary increments as a government clerical servant. He sued the government. Judgment was in Kodeswaran’s favor. The one protection ‘tamizar’ had in the constitution helped Kodeswaran win the case. This provision in the Ceylon constitution was removed from the Sri Lanka constitution of 1972.

I have mentioned it earlier I was charged for not displaying a Sinhala SRI number in my car number plate. I was acquitted of this frivolous charge according to the presiding magistrate at the Killinochi courts in 1961. I was denied my annual salary increments while I worked for the Sri Lanka Sugar corporation from 1964 to 1969. These could be forgotten.

But the continued oppression of ‘tamizar’ as a community with distinctive culture, language, and territory, is unacceptable. Learned attorneys and political leaders among ‘tamizar’ such as ‘taNty celva,’ accepted an invitation from Srimavo Bandaranayake, the mother of Chandrika, to serve in the Body for constitutional reform in 1970/1. Thereafter they boycotted meetings.

He thought that by serving in that body, he could influence the Sinhala leaders to give equality of status under a united government to all people with different languages, cultures and religion. His was a wasted vision of this poxed Sri Lanka to be a shining example of a multi-ethnic composed single nation.

Then in 1976, an irreversible decision by the TULF was proclaimed by the Vaddukkoddai Resolution of May 1976, for a separate secular state of ‘tamiz Izam.’ Politicians could not deliver ‘tamiz Izam’ merchants opposed it. Guerrilla artists and poets are now engaged in the art of ‘tamiz Izam’ creation. Where is the treason? Who is responsible for the continued carnage? Is there any other way for ‘tamizar?

"keduvAn kEdu viLyppAn.’ "Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad. (with power?)." It is the Chandrika government that is making ‘tamiz’ life miserable and in the process make their life also miserable.

Giving ‘tamizar’ their own land and sovereignty back without loss of further lives and property, in no way is going to affect the ecology of the Sinhala land. The north and the East do not benefit by any improvement or injury to the ecological balance in the name of development in Sinhala Sri Lanka. Even today any thing that comes from the South to the North East is a trickle, including the water in the rivers. By cutting away from the Sinhala control, we stand to benefit and they do not stand to lose environmentally. Water is a resource we know to use judiciously. We have survived and developed under an arid condition so far. Given the freedom to choose our development initiatives, there is no room for shortages. One of the contemporary national song runs like this:

Our orientation in thinking on objective levels has to change with proper attidudes, and let us pave the way. Let our attitude of bootlicking stop. Do we have to be responsible for our own downfall?

continued

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