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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TAMIL EELAM STRUGGLE FOR FREEDOM

Questions & Answers

- from a leaflet produced by CASTIS, 1998
(Campaign Against State Terrorism in Sri Lanka),
Dept 131, 1 Newton Street, Manchester M1 1HW

The Tamil people of the island of Sri Lanka are calling for their homeland, Tamil Eelam, to be free and returned to them...

Q. Who is taking their land from them?

A. After Independence, in 1948, the power was given by Britain to the Sinhalese majority (17million) who began the systematic persecution and repression of the Tamil people (3 million).

Tamil people have been losing their land since the 1930's when Sinhalese families started being settled on the borders of the Tamil areas.

In recent years more than a million Tamil people have fled their homes in the far North of the island as the Sri Lankan armed forces took over Tamil towns and villages, bombing and destroying homes, public buildings, crops and farmland. The Sri Lankan government is stopping food and medicine getting to hundreds of thousands of refugees. Over 60,000 Tamil civilians have been killed since 1983.

Q. Who is leading the Tamil struggle?

A. After more than 35 years of Ghandian-style non-violent resistance (satyagraha), the Tamil people felt forced to take up arms to liberate themselves. The use of arms is an element in liberation struggles as it has been in Namibia (SWAPO) and South Africa (ANC). The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam,  LTTE - (often referred to as the Tamil Tigers) have led the struggle for Freedom and truly represent the aspirations of the overwhelming majority of the Tamil people.

The LTTE are not, as is sometimes quoted, a bunch of misguided terrorists, but are a well-organised political people's movement and have been running schools, land management and rehabilitation projects in areas which they control, in an enlightened, ethical way.

May 13th 1998 marked one year of the LTTE's determined resistance to the Sri Lankan government's military offensive, Jaya Sikkuru (Victory assured), launched to take control of an important road in the Tamil North. The government had anticipated that the operation would be successful within two weeks but with the support of the people the LTTE has successfully resisted this latest onslaught by Sri Lankan armed forces.

Q. Who funds Sri Lanka’s war against the Tamil people?

A. Every year the World Bank and the IMF give huge sums of aid to Sri Lanka, through the Paris Aid Group (PAG). This artificially props up the Sri Lankan regime and enables them to carry on their "War for Peace", as they call it. Military expenditure uses up 29% of Sri Lanka's total budget. The amount the PAG gives in aid, $800 million, is equivalent to the sum required by the Sri Lankan government to prosecute the war for a year. Britain gives aid through the PAG to Sri Lanka, sells arms to Sri Lanka and trains the Sri Lankan military through the UKMTAS (United Kingdom Military Training Assistance Scheme). Sinhala brigadiers are from time to time trained at Sandhurst.

Q. Why don’t we hear about all these things?

A. Every day in areas controlled by the Sri Lankan army, atrocities such as rape, torture, disappearances and extra judicial killings are occurring. In general we hear nothing of this because the Sri Lankan government is ruthlessly efficient at suppressing this type of information. It is almost impossible for NGOs to work freely. The Sri Lankan government controls reporting of the war and this cannot be easily counteracted as journalists are denied free access to Tamil areas. To influence international opinion the Sri Lankan government employs PR firms and well-known journalists. This enables them to promote their interests and to hide the horror of their brutal crushing of the Tamil people. Their aim in this protracted war is to demoralise and terrorise the Tamil people into giving up their struggle .

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Psalm 26 in Why O Lord ? Psalms and Sermons from Namibia
(World Council of Churches 1986)

When the day comes on which our victory
will shine like a torch in the night,
it will be like a dream.
We will laugh and sing for joy.
Then the other nations will say about us,
"The Lord did great things for them"
Indeed, he is doing great things for us;
That is why we are happy in our suffering.

Lord, break the chains of humiliation and death,
just as on that glorious morning
when you were raised
Let those who weep as they sow the seeds of justice and freedom,
gather the harvest of peace and reconciliation.

Those who weep as they go out as instruments of your love
will come back singing with joy,
as they witness the disappearance of hate
and the manifestation of your love in your world.

Zephania Kameeta

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