Ilankai Tamil Sangam

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Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

The Way Ahead

by Ram Mohan, August 8, 2009

The scope for  action  on the way ahead is very vast and everyone should do what one can both individually and collectively, minimizing the blame game and deciding what others should do.

We all know about our glorious past of the three sangams, our great language and literature which stand as second to none as the most ancient but still modern except the Chinese.  But four and a half centuries of European colonialism and 60 years of genocidal Sinhala Buddhist Chauvinist colonialism have pushed the Eelam Tamils to the bottom of civilization into concentration camps. The Way Ahead, therefore, requires serious review of our past struggles particularly during the worst period of genocidal colonialism.

Both the non violent struggles of the first 30 years after independence and the armed resistance of the last 30 years have been failures and we have been pushed to the bottom politically, economically and socially to the status of refugees in our own homeland and have lost everything except political consciousness. Hence, that consciousness has to be used to review the past and plan the future.

Violence has never been the first choice of the oppressed people anywhere anytime until armed oppression pushes them to armed resistance, and so it has been in the case of Eelam Tamils.  Looking back over the two phases, during the first phase the world did not even know that we had a problem and it was during the 2nd phase that the world became aware of the problem and, in fact, we had a de facto and de jure government recognized by international agreement, though only for 6 years and the map of Eelam was drawn. This is evident from the fact most of the journalists trace our problem to the July 1983 pogrom or the LTTE. Most of the older Tamils experienced how the state terrorism and chauvinist hooliganism progressed in intensity by a series of racial riots till 1983, resulting in 1-2 million Tamils leaving Sri Lanka and causing havoc to those remaining in Sri Lanka. If not for the armed resistance, the Tamils would have been eliminated from Sri Lanka long ago. One need not be surprised at the world which did not know what happened to us before 1983, saying that we should follow peaceful, political negotiations. Should we believe in that, though for the purpose of convincing we could ask the world to lead us in that direction?

The world also knows this, but is it only fooling us, but we cannot be fools all the time?

In realpolitik, non-violence and violence are not alternatives but complementary. The enemy knows this and, for him, peace is theft and war is robbery of the oppressed. During the CFA, they stole all what they could and after unilaterally abrogating the CFA with the connivance of the world, they robbed us completely. The truth is we were cheated by the CFA because of our ignorance of geopolitics and we aligned unconditionally with one set of powers (ignoring the others) and they took us for granted. Now to understand geopolitics and to act to our advantage is one major hurdle.

The next hurdle is the historical understanding of our problem. Nations are historically freely constituted communities in the period of rising capitalism with common territory, common language, common culture and common economy/technology. Development of capitalism was uneven and hence the development of Nations also was uneven.  The earlier developed Nations/countries conquered undeveloped/less developed Nations or parts of Nations for raw materials and markets for  the industrial goods produced, thus developing imperialist rule. While the imperial countries developed Nationhood, Nation development in their colonies was distorted, delayed or even denied and further complicated because borders of countries were established by the imperial powers without considering the aspirations of the Nations constituting the countries. This suited well for the imperial powers as the colonies were in disarray.  Imperial powers gave political independence to colonies while retaining economic control without any changes to the borders of countries they created. Thus in the former colonies, the powerful Nations dominated the other Nations to the satisfaction of the imperial powers at the success of the divide and rule policy.  Globalisation helped the dominant Nations of the former colonies to get together and unite, and this unity helping the dominant Nations also to get together in oppressing weaker Nations and that is how the former colonies got together in crushing the LTTE, in spite of geopolitical differences among them. The former imperial powers watched from the sidelines and enjoyed the quarrels in the former colonies. The lesson  is for the weaker, oppressed Nations to get together.

The oppression faced by Eelam Tamils is not merely of an imperial nature, but also more importantly of a genocidal nature, which calls for unity of all world Tamils and it is a good sign that this is on the agenda of the Diaspora. The unity of world Tamils should not be confined to organizational unity, but also on the understanding that the failure of the two phases of struggle was because of the lack of matching external factors and not because of internal deficiencies which have to be certainly exposed and done away with.

Thus, there is no need to  argue on the merits and demerits of non-violent/violent resistance as both are complementary (not alternatives) and determined by the ground conditions created by the oppressor and not by the oppressed. Let us always remember that the armed resistance of the oppressed is always a reaction to armed oppression and those of us who support the oppressed should not engage in disarming the oppressed, though it is desirable to avoid violence. If it is possible to convince the oppressor to give the oppressed their dues peacefully, then there is no room for violence. THIS possibility has never happened in history and the oppressed should always be prepared for armed resistance if necessary and this is a question of survival. It is common knowledge that the survival spirit is inherent in life and nature. The survival spirit in Eelam demands restoration of normalcy of social life and then recognition of the right of self-determination.

There are many other forms of oppression other than National oppression, encountered in the daily lives of people all over the world and we should note that oppressors of all varieties are globally united and the need arises for the oppressed people to do same. The fight against oppression anywhere helps the oppressed everywhere since the oppressors are globally united.

The scope for  action  on the way ahead is very vast and everyone should do what one can both individually and collectively, minimizing the blame game and deciding what others should do.