Ilankai Tamil Sangam

25th Year on the Web

Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

A Snail's Vision

by Wakeley Paul, Esq., July 26, 2008

The inability to realize that Democracy in Sri Lanka was a raw experiment; a nation patched together which was ready to split apart is the essence of our troubles. This has resulted in a major ethnic group forced to endure a destiny
they had to submit to. As one Tamil aptly summarized it "They handed us a stick and a sheet of canvas and asked us to build a tent as our permanant abode."

The government's effort to cover up the bodies that scatter the landscape and create the impression of a polished city ready to host invitees to an international conference is feckless. The lower middle  and lower classes starve while the nation is poised to explode, but Dictators are masters at creating stage sets. While there is no food or money to feed the people, they have ample sums for pomp and ceremony.

Democracy is a dictator's enemy; a denial of democracy is a dictator's disaster, lessons the President and his brothers are blind to. Pretending to be a sphinx while their zig-zag decisions turn the legs of the nation to water, raises serious questions about their ability to pull the trigger to shoot the nation out of its sustained destruction. The President and his brothers appear as if cement has solidified their joints.

The inability to realize that Democracy in Sri Lanka was a raw experiment; a nation patched together which was ready to split apart is the essence of our troubles. This has resulted in a major ethnic group forced to endure a destiny
they had to submit to. As one Tamil aptly summarized it "They handed us a stick and a sheet of canvas and asked us to build a tent as our permanant abode." We were treated like children overwhelmed by an adult's logic who expected us to suffer whatever they expected us to endure. The government pleaded while we could only rebut such ineffective pleas; the government made proposals which we could only reject. Our homeland became a place of abatement, desperation and despair. All our citizens can do is disown the past and seek a future. 

Seperation is part of that inevitable future. The GOSL refuses to retreat any further from any accomodation with the Tamils. The incessant use of the idea that
terrorism lurks behind every Tamil move is the cowboy diplomacy they boringly cling to, for want  of anythiing better to say. Their irrational exuberance has lost its sheen. They shut their eyes to the fact that peaceful people prone to non-violent protest become fierce when turned to anger when  tortured instinctively  with irrational justification. July 1983 was a horror beyond comprehension.

Claims of military victories with  continuing extensions for the conclusion  of the  war are but indications of the callous boasts of uncertain heroes. They may convince their supporters but not their doubters. Nazi  style propaganda succeeded and failed with the passage of time, a lesson our snail-vision rulers should absorb and digest.

A response by L.B....

I gathered this FIRST HAND (and not from any news reports) during my recent trip to Sri Lanka and its east coast.  

The roads up to Pollonaruwa are great - all redone with a smooth tarmac and markings - making this trip much quicker that in the past.  All around the roads are signs of development and fertile fields that have benefited from the diversion of the Mahavelli river.  

Beyond Mannampitiya is a different story - the roads are deplorable and there are myriads of check-points as you drive along A-11 all the way to Kalkudah.  Arid land surrounds the dusty road dotted by watch towers and trenches. My first impression was...you guessed it...the government is pouring money to develop every other part of Sri Lanka except the North and the East.  However, the true picture evolved after face to face conversations with several friends and others who have made their home in the East.  

Here's the bottom line.  Every Tamil I spoke to has been harassed in some form or other, not by the government's armed forces, but by their own kith and kin.

The Tamil liberation movement has now regenerated into so many factions that it is unclear as to who is doing what for the Tamils.  However, this has now becomes a pathway for extortion.  Men claiming to be members of some liberation movement regularly demand cash, crops, vehicles, etc., from any Tamil trying to make a living in this part of the country.  Farmers are forced to give a portion of their crops as demanded.  A shop owner who had just acquired a van had to give it up a month after he received it.  One woman stated that a group of men arrived at her home and even demanded all her potted plants to decorate a supposed rally in the NE!  Another who runs a rest house has to be ready with food every day (even if there are no occupants in the rest house) because truckloads of “freedom fighters” can drop in any time for a free meal!  The general feeling among every Tamil I spoke to is that development in the East is largely hampered by the actions of their own kith and kin and not by the government.

Unfortunately, the extortion approach is prevalent in countries where Sri Lankan Tamils have settled - particularly the U.K., Canada and Australia.  Again, this is not from news reports or e-mails, but from first hand conversations with old school mates, friends, and relatives living in these countries.  What a choice for a young Tamil who just immigrated into one of these countries - work 8 hours at minimum wage or extort and live off the wealthy Tamils who made it in these countries through hard work?           

Yes, the government may be committing attrocities based on all the news reports. However, the suffering Tamils remaining in Sri Lanka want an end to the war and are not interested in who did what to whom.  Until the war ends, these Tamils will continue to suffer, whether in the hands of the armed forces or their own race. 

In answer....

It is imperative that one does not outclass the acts of government brutality against the Tamils with the desperate efforts of the Tamil leaders to fund their battle plans to outwit the power of the government's callous disregard of the quality of life the Tamils have been reduced to, which is based on the "WE only have a right to exist" long-standing Sinhalese conspiracy. One must avoid the Sinhala equvalent of journalistic junk food by claiming that terrorism is the root cause of the island's problem, when in fact retalitory violence was to right government wrongs, not glorify their misdeeds.

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