Ilankai Tamil Sangam

24th Year on the Web

Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

The Tamil Diaspora and Recognition of the Tamil National Problem in Sri Lanka

by Wakeley Paul, Esq., December 14, 2007

It was a mounting uphill  task, which after many years we very slowly succeeded in accomplishing, an accomplishment that everyone now takes for granted.

My point is that period is over, done with and completed. The concept that the Sinhalese conviction of their destiny to be superior to us, resulting in their determination to resort even to violence to maintain this inhuman right,  is over. We have convinced the world of the right of our people to more than just survive under Sinhalese rule. We have convinced them of our right, not yet to separation, [which should be our next effort] but to a substantial ability to control our own destinies.

In the very early 1980's, our monumental uphill task was to have anyone outside Sri Lanka recognize that there was a grave and violent human rights problem  in Sri Lanka (then called CEYLON).

This effort was begun with organizing meetings to explain the situation to the outside world. It continued with articulate public criticism of Sri Lanka's actions, notably the first diplomatic effort by the J R Jayawardena government to outshine the LTTE by having Rajiv Gandhi submit to signing  the INDO CEYLON AGREEMENT, a one-sided, biased effort to quash the Tamil effort for regional power. 

Thereafter, the Sangam sent me and several  other significant Tamils to the Human Rights sessions in Geneva to convince the world of our existence.  You can rest assured that it took constant efforts to achieve this goal. The distinguished LTTE representative Thillaka was also working in Geneva at that time. Our untiring efforts attracted international leaders to have personal sessions with us in the  informal lounge outside the official speaking auditorium. Then with the incomparable help and influence of Karen Parker, our unequaled ally, I obtained the right to address the organization on our behalf. This set the pattern whereby our representatives in Geneva have made this an accomplished right.

We organized a University conference in California, the significance of which was  taken so seriously by the Sri Lankan government (GoSL) that they organized Sinhala demonstrations against the event, having failed to quell the event which they tried desperately to do. The University upheld our first Amendment right to Freedom of speech. The event was covered extensively in the Sri Lankan papers. Let us never forget our local professor who made this a dazzling success and others who never allowed us to wilt from our determination to accomplish this  event. Mr Satyendra's British paper had its remarkably successful articles which fanfared this event beyond expectation with the remarkable success one associates with his achievements.

It was a mounting uphill  task, which after many years we very slowly succeeded in accomplishing, an accomplishment that everyone now takes for granted.

My point is that period is over, done with and completed. The concept that the Sinhalese conviction of their destiny to be superior to us, resulting in their determination to resort even to violence to maintain this inhuman right, is over. We have convinced the world of the right of  our people to more than just survive under Sinhalese rule. We have convinced them of our right, not yet to separation, [which should be our next effort] but to a substantial ability to control our own destinies.

What we have not succeeded in doing is figuring out how the international community could be persuaded to compel the Sinhalese to abide by their conviction of our right to rule ourselves, including the ultimate right to a separate state. That has to become inevitable under the present government's determination to confirm their right to treat us as bonded slaves  Yet, no government, for well-recognized diplomatic reasons, is ready to go so far as to obligate themselves to fight for our right to be treated as other humans, who have never regarded slavery as our destiny.

The international community, while sympathetic to our rights, have done nothing or even pretended to do anything to advance our rights, even to be treated as equal humans. America, while committing itself to our right to a degree of self-rule, continues to  arm the Rajapakse government to quash the LTTE, who they still have the audacity to condemn as a terrorist organization.  The US yet, with classic inconsistency, recognize that the LTTE has to be dealt with as a vital party to any possible peace negotiation.

What I suggest is a new, approved approach by the LTTE, the recognized leaders of the Tamils, as to how we, as effective expatriates, can accomplish the goals we seek for our people.

Our efforts to counter these dreadful consequences has been virtually minimal. Who is going to the State Department?  Who is seeking out every conceivable local politician to convince  them of our rights and our shattering disappointments, before we seek recognition before the most powerful government in the world, to attack them instead of us? This Rajapakse government is odder and more awkwardly dangerous and uncertain than the ruthless J R government was. J R had the masterly ability to convince the world what a brilliant right wing democratic ally he was of the US. His brilliant right wing economic innovations, which until then had fallen into the 1950's incomprehensible concept that socialism, a very human desire but non economic solution  to overcoming  poverty,  was every Sri Lankan  government's answer to the island's economic problems. This was stunningly attractive to the U S., as it is to anyone who understands the essence of economics, as opposed to those who uplift social justice without the ability to uplift the economy as the ultimate political goal of all sane governments. Regardless of what your economic preferences are for solving the problems of a financially drowned nation, the present government has no international credibility at all. Yet, here we are, not proving to the world what a bunch of comically inconceivable bunch of jokers, whose reliability is staggeringly dangerous, that we are dealing with.

Swift, sharp, icy attacks on the pathetic plight of our abused community, exposing the GoSL's lack of comprehension and the dangers they present, not just to us, but to the rest of the world, is our new perspective. We have not capitalized on this weakness of the Sinhalese government and its warped supporters. When I and my predecessors and immediate successors were working, we went to the State Department to gain recognition for our cause. We even voted our President in for a third year based on his outstanding connection with his own Congressman. We now need people like him to influence our future generation to recognize our new vision.

You can rest assured that age has not diminished my ability to think or require advice from those who lack the inspiring experience we have had dealing with our constantly developing problems, which are never more permanent than a swelling ocean wave.

Let us never ignore our uphill task of the time we are confronted by.
----------------------
Wakeley Paul
wakeleypaul@yahoo.com