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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Home > Tamil Diaspora - a Trans State Nation > Tsunami Disaster &  Tamil Eelam > > Shared in Sri Lanka - Boston Globe Editorial, 5 January 2005
 

Tsunami Disaster & Tamil Eelam

Shared in Sri Lanka
Boston Globe Editorial, 5 January 2005

The World's  response to the tsunami of Dec. 26 included a heartening will to overcome petty differences for the sake of saving lives and alleviating suffering. Implicit in the $2 billion of relief aid pledged by governments, the outpouring of contributions from private donors around the world, and the unprecendented cooperative rescue operations mounted by the US and Indian navies is a recognition of the common fragility of all humankind.

Yet there have been too many reminders of the persistence of ethnic and political conflicts in the family of man, tragic habits that were not washed away by the waves. In the northeast of Sri Lanka, in the Tamil areas that have been racked by two decades of deadly warfare between government troops and the rebel group known as the Tamil Tigers, there continue to be hostile confrontations even over the distribution of food aid.

A relief organization that cooperates with the Tigers, the Tamil Rehabilitation Organization, or TRO, has been assisting not only Tamil Hindus in the northeast but also Buddhist Sinhalese and Muslim families. The central government, however, wants nothing to do with the Tiger-linked TRO. In one community in northeastern Jaffna Peninsula, Tamil peasants refused food aid from a contingent of Sri Lankan Army soldiers, whom the locals had come to fear. According to the peasants, the soldiers later returned with their faces covered, entered a shed where local Tamil volunteers had stored food parcels, and burned it down.

After visiting a Tamil town in the northeast that was destroyed by the tidal wave, Carol Bellamy, executive director of UNICEF, said Monday that the TRO's "well-coordinated relief arrangements put in place within so short a time are all really commendable."

The tsunami took away the lives of 12,000 Sri Lankan children, Sinhalese as well as Tamil. Those bereft parents whom Bellamy saw wandering along the beach and looking out to sea for a sign of their lost children are no more or less grief-stricken for belonging to one ethnic group or the other. The irreducible sameness of their loss ought to illuminate the irrationality of the intercommunal enmity that seems to have survived the wave.

The lesson that Sri Lanka's leaders should draw is that there can be no military solution to the conflict with minority Tamils who have suffered from discrimination and repression at the hands of successive governments dominated by the Sinhalese majority. Before the current tenuous ceasefire expires, the government should negotiate a permanent peace agreement founded upon Tamil local autonomy in a confederated Sri Lanka. It is enough that Tamil and Sinhalese parents have lost children to the sea. No more of their children should be lost to a pointless war.

Copyright 2005 Globe Newspaper Company.

 


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