Ilankai Tamil Sangam

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Erasing the Tamil East

OruPaper editorial, July 24, 2007

During the last fifty years, GOSL's policy has been largely directed -with periodic time-outs for attacks on Jaffna -- toward making the Eastern Tamils disappear for certain by ethnically cleansing the Tamil East.

The methods of ethnic cleansing are myriad: land theft, destruction of agricultural land and resources, economic strangulation, crippling restrictions on commerce, home demolition, residency permit revocation, arrest, assassination, family separation, movement restriction, destruction of census and land ownership records, theft of tax monies, starvation. GOSL wants all of the Eastern Tamil land, including all of Trincomalee, but it cannot have a Sinhalese majority in all of this land as long as the Tamils are there.

Napoleon won the battle of Waterloo. The German Wehrmacht won World War II. The United States won in Vietnam, and the Soviets in Afghanistan. The Zealots won against the Romans, and Sri Lankan President Rajapakse has won the War against Tamils.

You didn't know that?

Well, on the 19th of July 2007 a 'prestigious' national event `Negenahira Navodaya' (eastern resurgence in Sinhalese Language) was held at the Independence Square, Colombo with President Rajapaksa presiding as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. This ceremony has marked the comprehensive victory and the liberation of the Tamil East from the Tamil Tigers and felicitated the victorious Sri Lanka Armed Forces who had contributed to this `humanitarian' effort, according to the Sri Lankan regime. Symbolising the triumphant completion of the operations, the Armed Forces Chiefs have presented a sannasa' (parchment in Sinhala Language) at this victory ceremony to President Rajapaksa, who thereafter proclaimed the defeat of Tamil Nation.

A Tamil journalist described the event as 'the regime is planning a "victory" celebration in a conquisitadorial spirit. Just as Chandrika Kumaratunga had Anuruddha Ratwatte ceremonially deliver "Yapa Patuna" to her, Mahinda Rajapakse wants "Naginahira" to be handed over symbolically amid pomp and pageantry. Such types of ceremonies were reserved for extra territorial conquests during medieval times.

For us, the Tamil Expatriates, this celebration of war and these medieval victory ceremonies remind us of the Sinhalese racism and why our people are still fighting.

Racism has always been the lifeblood of the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL). Sinhalese Buddhism rests on the fundamental belief that the Sinhalese have superior national, human, and natural rights in the land, an inherently racist foundation that excludes any possibility of true democracy or equality of peoples. GOSL's current destructive rampage in the Tamil Homeland is merely the continuation of such a founding ideology after a few year break. Precisely because that ideology posits the exclusivity and superiority of one people's rights, it can accept no legal or moral restraints on its behaviour, for it needs an ever-expanding geography to accommodate those unlimited rights.

Thus the military take over of Tamil Homeland is necessary for the GOSL. Sinhalese Buddhism cannot abide encroachment or even the slightest challenge to its total domination over its own space -- not merely of the historical homelands of the Sinhalese, but of the surrounding space as well, extending outward to geographical limits that it has not yet seen fit to set for itself.

Total domination means no physical threat and no demographic threat: Sinhalese reign, Sinhalese are totally secure, Sinhalese always outnumber, Sinhalese hold all military power, Sinhalese control all natural resources, all the others are powerless and totally subservient.

This is the message the GOSL is sending the Tamils with its occupation of the Tamil East: that neither Tamil Tigers nor anything in Tamil Northeast that nurtures Tamil resistance should continue to exist, for the sole reason that Tamils challenge GOSL's supreme authority in the island and GOSL cannot abide this effrontery. Sinhalese Buddhism cannot coexist with any other ideology or ethnicity except in the pre-eminent position, for everyone and every ideology that is not Sinhalese Buddhist is a potential threat.

The battle for the Tamil East has killed hundreds of civilians, injured thousands and more than a hundred thousand are displaced.

It was not part of a war against terror, as GOSL would have us believe. This is a war for Sinhalese Buddhist breathing space, for the absolute certainty that they would dominate every corner of the island. It is a war against a Tamil population that was not totally subservient, that had the audacity to harbour a force like the Tamil Tigers that does not bow to GOSL's will. It is a war on people and their way of thinking, people who are not Sinhalese Buddhist and who do not act to promote Sinhalese Buddhist hegemony.

The GOSL has been doing this in the Tamil East in one form or another since the fifties. Eastern Tamils have obviously been Sinhalese Buddhism's longest suffering victims, and its most persistent opponents.

GOSL thought it had rid themselves of their most immediate problem, the problem at the very core of Sinhalese Buddhism, in the eighties and nineties when they forced the flight of nearly two-thirds of the Eastern Tamil population that stood in the way of establishing Trincomalee as a Sinhalese majority region.

You cannot have a Tamil Homeland if most of your population is not Tamil, GOSL policy makers opined then. In 2006, when GOSL began its war again, those Tamils who it thought had disappeared turned out to be still around after all, threatening the Sinhalese Buddhist hegemony.

During the last fifty years, GOSL's policy has been largely directed -with periodic time-outs for attacks on Jaffna -- toward making the Eastern Tamils disappear for certain by ethnically cleansing the Tamil East.

The methods of ethnic cleansing are myriad: land theft, destruction of agricultural land and resources, economic strangulation, crippling restrictions on commerce, home demolition, residency permit revocation, arrest, assassination, family separation, movement restriction, destruction of census and land ownership records, theft of tax monies, starvation. GOSL wants all of the Eastern Tamil land, including all of Trincomalee, but it cannot have a Sinhalese majority in all of this land as long as the Tamils are there.

Hence, this military take over and ethnic cleansing is necessary for the GOSL.

And here is the crux of the situation today. Will anyone notice this horror? Has GOSL truly exposed by its wild summer campaign of ethnic cleansing and war mongering in the Tamil Homeland, the total bankruptcy of its very founding idea, the essential illegitimacy of the Sinhalese Buddhist principle of exclusivity?

Can even the most deluded see this, or will they continue to be deluded and the world continue to turn away, excusing atrocity because it is committed to the  GOSL in the name of keeping the territorial integrity and sovereignty of a failed state?