Ilankai Tamil Sangam

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Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

The Tamil Diaspora and the Eelam Struggle for Freedom

by Vettivel, July 2, 2008

In 1977, after 30 years of oppression, Eelam Tamils concluded that a separate state is the only possible solution. Unfortunately, the Tamil community conveniently handed over all the difficult responsibilities to the LTTE and most of the senior Tamils have stayed away while many young Tamils sacrificed their lives for freedom. Some Tamils are only interested in blaming others rather than doing the right thing. Fake ego, problems expressing opinions face-to-face, lack of ability to discuss issues in public, and hesitation to accept mistakes are the major factors that ruin Tamil organizations. 

As individuals, Tamils are well known for thier intelligence and hard work, however as a collective force or community, Tamils lack several qualities. All these bad behaviors are not only jeopardizing Eelam Tamils, but also damaging the Diaspora Tamils’ future as well. The Tamil Diaspora must give their full and wholehearted support on helping, to alleviate the suffering of the Eelam Tamils and their desire for winning or achieving freedom...

People usually have a hard time in understanding if someone does not state their goal or mission very clearly. While some closed-door lobbying may work, it is necessary to have an open policy and publicly campaign for support for Eelam Tamil freedom.

Many may think that the Tamil Diaspora is a very efficient network that supports the Eelam Tamil struggle. Eelam Tamils and Tamil Diaspora overwhelmingly support the struggle for freedom from Sri Lankan state terrorism. However, the Tamil Diaspora showed some signs of inability to create a support base for the Eelam Tamil freedom struggle or an opposition against Sri Lankan state terrorism.  Sri Lanka joins hands with Iran and China, and it is well known for the worst human right violations, violence against journalists and ugly majoritarian democracy. Even though there are enough facts and opportunities that the Tamil Diaspora can use in order to bring economic and political sanctions against Sri Lankan state terrorism, not enough steps have been initiated by the Tamil Diaspora.  So far, the Tamil Diaspora has not even attempted to take any legal action in any country against the Sri Lankan state terror officials for crimes against humanity. There is certainly something wrong with either Tamil Diaspora organizations, their thought process or their approaches.

The majority of the Tamil Diaspora support a Tamil statehood that is free from Sinhala-occupying terror forces. However, none of the Tamil Diaspora organization openly promotes separation as a solution for the Sri Lankan state terror problem even though Eelam Tamils have clear mandate for creating a separate state.  In fact, campaigning for freedom and separation is legal and any Tamil organization can legally work for these goals, but there is no constant campaigning, except for occasionally at a few Pongu Tamil events. 

The problem is that the Tamil community has failed to take the shared responsibility for gathering support for a free Eelam. In 1977, after 30 years of oppression, Eelam Tamils concluded that a separate state is the only possible solution. Unfortunately, the Tamil community conveniently handed over all the difficult responsibilities to the LTTE and most of the senior Tamils have stayed away while many young Tamils sacrificed their lives for freedom.  Some Tamils are only interested in blaming others rather than doing the right thing. Fake ego, problems expressing opinions face-to-face, lack of ability to discuss issues in public, and hesitation to accept mistakes are the major factors that ruin Tamil organizations. 

As individuals, Tamils are well known for thier intelligence and hard work, however as a collective force or community, Tamils lack several qualities. All these bad behaviors are not only jeopardizing Eelam Tamils, but also damaging the Diaspora Tamils’ future as well. The Tamil Diaspora must give their full and wholehearted support on helping, to alleviate the suffering of the Eelam Tamils and their desire for winning or achieving freedom.

After migrating to different countries, some Tamils feels that there are no benefits for them by helping or involving themselves in the Eelam Tamil struggle, believing that their wealth will be safe in their adopted countries. An independent Eelam is also a big investment for the Tamil Diaspora as well, if someone only has economical or selfish thinking.  In the Second World War Jews and Gypsies were massacred by Hitler. The Jewish community acted responsibly, worked together, identified the community issue as everyone’s own issue, and finally were able to build or establish their own country.  Still, although many Jews live outside Israel,  everyone has a very strong sense of belonging to the Jewish state of Israel. On the other hand, Gypsies did not have any collective effort, just forgot the past, aand still they are unknowns.

Some Tamils try to show their patriotism by bringing the LTTE to each issue. The LTTE is certainly the authentic representative for Tamils. Only the Sri Lankan state terrorist will raise questions about that. To gather support for Eelam Tamil statehood or expose Sri Lankan state terrorism, no one needs the blessing from the LTTE. If less than a separate state solution needs to be considered or discussed, the LTTE must be the only authentic organization that can negotiate because they are the only one continuously fighting against Sri Lankan state terrorism and honoring Eelam Tamils’ mandate.  This is what the authentic representative or sole representative means. To expose Sri Lankan state terrorism, any Tamil, non-Tamil or Tamil organization can file a lawsuit to sue against a present or former state terrorist or even campaign for statehood. If the Tamil Diaspora understand these basic principles, there will be no issues in creating many Eelam Tamil organizations around the world to promote Eelam Tamil freedom and expose Sri Lankan state terrorism without any links to the LTTE.

It will be much more efficient if these organizations were to work under one umbrella, but not having such an umbrella organization is not necessarily a barrier. In fact, Sri Lankan state terrorist approach is to create multiple foreign organizations to destroy Tamils in Eelam, Sri Lanka and damage Tamil reputation elsewhere in the world. So far, there is not a strong enough counter approach from the Tamil Diaspora. It is important to have independent Tamil organizations to promote Tamil statehood and expose Sri Lankan state terrorism. This is the only effective way the Tamil Diaspora can counter the Sri Lankan terror government propaganda.

Many western and European countries have a wrong impression that the LTTE is the only organization that is seeking a separate state and many Tamils are looking for a solution under the current Sri Lankan constitution! Unless, Tamils overwhelmingly express their aspirations in public and private, this understanding will remain the same. Yet, the Tamil Diaspora and its organizations have so far failed in this aspect.

Many Tamil organizations and intellectuals confuse the foreign countries talking about 'peace,' 'federal,' 'con-federal,' etc., as a solution. This trend must be changed, and the Tamil Diaspora must come forward and say they want Tamil Eelam to be free if they really want to find a solution based on Eelam Tamils’ mandate. Just talking about peace will not help because peace means different things by this word. For the Sri Lankan government, peace simply means assimilating Eelam Tamils. When talking about peace, the Tamil Diaspora must clearly state what peace means to them.

Even though none of the Tamil organizations openly support a free Eelam, some Tamil organizations and media have been banned around the world based on allegations that they support the LTTE. One reason for banning foreign Tamil organizations is that the foreign governments feel if they ban these organizations, most of the Tamils will simply accept any solution that ensures Sri Lanka’s so called “territorial integrity,” which simply means forcing Tamils to live under Sinhala chauvinism. 

If the Tamil Diaspora openly campaign for a separate state for Tamils, they may well stop banning these organizations because they would realize that everyone wants a separate state, not only the LTTE. The Tamil Diaspora should stop speculating about any other solutions, and must campaign for the ONLY one solution - that is an independent state for Tamils. It is important to relay or propagate only one message as the Eelam Tamil aspiration.

The recent Canadian government announcement to ban the WTM (World Tamil Movement) shocked and saddened many Tamil Canadians. In fact, WTM was a cultural organization and did not have any open policy to support Eelam Tamils' political stand. WTM was functioning in Canada for 22 years and helped the Tamil community in numerous ways. Even though the ban mostly reflects the Tories' fear-mongering policy and political game to divert attention from its recent failures rather than a failure of Tamil Canadians, Tamil Canadians also should be blamed for their inability.

Lack of an open policy on the Eelam Tamil struggle is the major reason that confuses Canadian politicians and the public. Canadian Tamil organizations usually do not mention their policies and an expected solution for the long-standing Eelam Tamil struggle under Sri Lankan state terrorism. They simply state that they are working on lobbying silently and some say lobbying cannot be done openly.  People usually have a hard time in understanding if someone does not state their goal or mission very clearly. While some closed-door lobbying may work, it is necessary to have an open policy and publicly campaign for support for Eelam Tamil freedom.

Tamil Diaspora can learn this open approach from other similar struggles such as the Jews' campaign for Israel 50 years ago or currently the 'Free Tibet' campaign. Tamils also can learn some things from their Sinhala counterparts on how to do an effective campaign. In fact, the Sri Lankan government has intelligently managed China, Iran, Pakistan, and India at the same time while getting support from the US and Russia. This is a miracle. Some educated Tamils sometimes mention Sinhala “ modays”, but it simply means Tamils fool themselves. In fact, Sri Lankan government has some fine diplomats.  Tamils should stop believing that the current Sri Lankan government's hardline policies will create world opposition to Sri Lanka. In reality, it will not happen if the Tamil Diaspora keeps silent and uses a closed-door approach, only hoping for an enemy’s own failure.

Fortunately, a US-based Tamil organization called ‘Tamils for Justice’ came up with an open approach. They says they don’t have any links to the LTTE, but they state their goals as bringing Sri Lankan state terrorists to justice, removing the LTTE from the US terrorist list, and gathering support for Tamil statehood very clearly as their mission statement. This organization can be seen as a role model for other Tamil Diaspora organizations. Whether they can achieve this goal or not could be a matter of further discussion, but the very important message is that for the first time in the history of the Tamil Diaspora at least one organization has come up with a very clear goal. Other Tamil Diaspora organizations also need to follow this open approach, state their mission openly, and try to bring at least one Sri Lankan state terror official to justice. If every Tamil Diaspora organization states that they are supporting Eelam Tamil freedom, foreign countries will have no choice other than accepting Tamil aspirations for what they are, which is an independent state where people can enjoy freedom and true democracy without fearing about Sri Lankan state terrorism.

In conclusion, what the Tamil Diaspora need at this critical movement is a very open policy, campaigning for sanctions against the Sri Lankan terror state and a successful free Eelam campaign. This may need flexibility and ego-less leadership skills among Tamils to work for the goal and show their collective effort.