Ilankai Tamil Sangam

24th Year on the Web

Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

What Next?

by Ram Mohan, September 11, 2009

It is very difficult to expose the politics of charity like the politics of human rights because charity and human rights are very well encouraged by the ruling classes as a whole in order to blunt the struggles of the peoples for a more equitable world. This should be clear to the astute who knows that we should do the opposite of what the ruling class wants to be done. Charity is intended to keep the poor remain poor and the rich to get tax relief in this world and go to heaven in the next world.  The greatest assistance individuals or society can give to the weak is to enable them to stand on their own.

If what is to be done is a difficult question, what is to be done next is the most difficult question, though both questions require a clear understanding of “The Way Ahead.”

The way ahead for Eelam Tamils is unpleasant, but it is clear that neither the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) nor the international community (IC) will care for resolving the Tamil National Question (NQ) to meet the aspirations of the Tamils and the Liberation struggle will continue in forms (peaceful or armed resistance) imposed by the GOSL.

Since our earlier struggles of sixty years (particularly the armed resistance) failed due to lack of matching international support, we need to cultivate the international conditions in time for the next phase of our struggle. Past experience has shown that such international support cannot be expected from the governments unless

  • we are able to mobilize the solidarity of the peoples of the world, particularly the oppressed peoples and oppressed Nations against Sinhala Buddhist Chauvinist oppression and the solidarity of the World Tamils against genocide of Tamils and
  • we have a world body of Tamils  (whose leaders are elected by subscription paying membership) who is united by the objectives of Eelam Liberation, capable of analyzing and understanding the geopolitical development and willing to do business with any powers supportive of our objectives.

The way ahead tells us what is to be done in overall strategic terms, but the tactics of what is to be done next is equally crucial for our immediate action plans.

What next needs to be clear in terms of objectives as well as actions to achieve the objectives? In terms of objectives, what next would include freeing the people detained behind barbed wires and other internally displaced peoples, getting rid of the occupiers (both the armed forces and civilian colonizers) and recognizing the right of self determination of the Tamil speaking Nation.

These objectives are sidelined and diverted by talk of development projects which serve the investment needs of the foreign partners of the war and the colonization and genocidal needs of the local partner of the war by maintaining the armed forces and settlers in the Tamil homeland. The detained and displaced people are being used to obtain foreign assistance and even assistance from the Diaspora without the donors having any say in the distribution in order to rob most of it. The UN organizations and other aid agencies except concerned individuals are not unhappy about it because the money comes from the foreign partners of the war and maintaining the internment camps as they are aids in the development projects described above.

It is unfortunate that some of the Diaspora is also helping in this game by using its limited resources in charity work instead of using that limited resources to expose the game and advance the freeing of the people. Aid organizations depending on private funds and charity lovers in the Diaspora should know that apart from the foreign exchange earned, the government of Sri Lanka is earning exorbitant amounts by way of duties etc like those crooks who used to employ beggars to make a profit from the charities of the kind hearted, while the beggars can barely survive from what they collect.

This further negates the Boycott Sri Lanka campaign. Of course there are those who say that the Boycott Sri Lanka campaign also hurts the poor and the weak. The Diaspora should demand that both the foreign partners and local partner of the war look after the people till they are freed and educate the peoples of the world about this demand using their limited resources.  The peoples of the world will appreciate that their tax money could be used for their advancement instead of maintaining the camps by freeing the people behind the barbed wires. As before these people can look after themselves and produce surplus food and further flourish when the occupation forces are moved out and right of self determination recognized.

It is very difficult to expose the politics of charity like the politics of human rights because charity and human rights are very well encouraged by the ruling classes as a whole in order to blunt the struggles of the peoples for a more equitable world. This should be clear to the astute who knows that we should do the opposite of what the ruling class wants to be done. Charity is intended to keep the poor remain poor and the rich to get tax relief in this world and go to heaven in the next world.  The greatest assistance individuals or society can give to the weak is to enable them to stand on their own. If the weak are helped to stand on their own, then the charity money can be used for common development. Equally human rights are used even without explaining what they are, to blunt the struggles of the people.

The only human rights recognized by the ruling classes is freedom of speech without the freedom of action and the freedom of speech is also limited to individuals but not to collective groups except groups which promote the ruling classes. All other human rights are violated by the ruling classes themselves. The most fundamental human right is the right to labour and enjoy the fruits of that labour.  In this man is assisted by language, technology and collective action, all three being cardinal features distinguishing man from animals. These rights are denied by the ruling classes to maximize their profits and yet they campaign about human rights. Self reliance (and not dependence on charity) is a basic human right of individuals and groups leading to the human right of self determination of Nations. Thus none is opposed to human rights but the world of difference is in what are human rights. Quite obviously one cannot expect the ruling classes and the ruled to have the same meaning for human rights!

What next in actions is to achieve the above objectives and depends on specific contexts but collective action is always more effective. The only way we can promote collective action is by joining/forming suitable organizations, not necessarily Diaspora organizations but any organization at the work place or community level. By influencing the activities of such organizations to support our cause, we can increase the awareness of the peoples of the world which will certainly influence the politicians and other decision makers  who will not care for us when our number is small.  There is no short cut and there is nothing called a free lunch.

While carrying on with the international campaign including the Boycott Sri Lanka campaign in all possible forms, there is no harm and even it is welcome  if the Diaspora could help the weak and the poor in Eelam provided they can ensure that the government of Sri Lanka does not benefit from it, at least ensuring that benefits to people of Eelam is of multiple value to the benefits to the government of Sri Lanka.

The activities of the Diaspora will be very effective if it is coordinated by a world body and forming such a body united on the basis of objectives and accountable to subscription paying members is the most urgent next step. The priority for the world body is the aspirations of the Eelam Tamils  and after that we can concentrate on the problems of other Tamils and other oppressed peoples  remembering that solidarity is always mutual.