Ilankai Tamil Sangam

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Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

What Should the Eelam Tamils Do in the Forthcoming Presidential Election?

by Anonymous, January 4, 2009

The deciding votes in this election will be cast by the Eelam Tamils (and of course the Muslim and upcountry Tamil ‘minorities’). If these ‘minorities’ (a big IF) can unite to unseat the incumbent, that would be something ‘meaningful’.

I do understand what the winner in this election will do once elected. Of course, the Tamil voters will be ignored until the next election comes around. But Tamils don’t have any other choices other than to make a ‘statement’ that is meaningful, at this awful moment in history.

To be very blunt about it, Eelam Tamils in Sri Lanka have five options

  1. Stay home and not vote (boycott).
  2. Vote for the Tamil candidate.
  3. Vote for Vickramabahu Karunaratne.
  4. Vote for the incumbent president.
  5. Vote for the recently retired army general.

There are a multitude of other problems for the Eelam Tamil voters in this election, like the hundreds of thousands who don’t have an ‘ID’ to be able to vote. This is another matter altogether.

Let us, for now, look at each of these ‘Hobson’s’ - like choices [1], for those who are able to vote.

Boycott made a lot of sense when Eelam Tamils were in a strong bargaining position, with the LTTE having an army and a territory. Tamil voters, at that time, were able to make a valid statement; that they no longer believed in the kind democracy being peddled to them in Sri Lanka; of voting for the sake of voting, with nothing else to gain. Now that they are weakened, and don’t, at this point in time, have a viable resistance movement, a boycott is meaningless.

Vote for the Tamil candidate? This is a tried and failed method for the last sixty years, be it in the case of a presidential candidate, or in electing members of parliament. A Tamil presidential candidate is sure to lose; and the winning members of parliament get the inglorious privilege to sit in the back benches of the opposition aisle of the parliament with no power whatsoever. Does it make any sense at all to vote for the Tamil candidate in this election?

Vote for Vickramabahu Karunaratne, a rare good Sinhala soul who has stood by the ‘Tamil cause’ through thick and thin, and I salute him for it. But, he is sure to lose and except for courageously espousing the Tamil cause he cannot do anything meaningful for the Tamils.

Eelam Tamils are now left with the two Sinhalese candidates who both wrought the worst havoc on Eelam Tamils in modern history.  Forget what D.S. Senanayake, or SWRD, or Dudley, or Sirimavo, or JR or Chandrika did. These two scoundrels were the absolute worst. The Mahavamsa says King Mahasena killed a million non-believers, meaning Hindus (Tamils), but that was then.

Now that these two despicable murderers need the Tamil votes to win, they are blaming each other of ‘war-crimes’, in a wicked attempt to absolve themselves of what they both did together. A completely laughable situation, if not for the tragedy they both wrought on the Eelam Tamils.

There is, however, one silver lining in this totally hopeless situation. This is a tortuous argument I am about to make, but I am going to state it anyway.

Let there be no illusions about this election. Whoever wins, both of these scoundrels will bring more harm than good to the Eelam Tamils. It doesn’t matter who wins, the damage they do will be the same.

But unseating the current incumbent is another matter.

Both these’ thugs’ are ‘heroes’ to the chauvinist Sinhalese (who are nearly one hundred percent right now) and are likely to split the Sinhala votes equally, at the least in this election. The deciding votes in this election will be cast by the Eelam Tamils (and of course the Muslim and upcountry Tamil ‘minorities’). If these ‘minorities’ (a big IF) can unite to unseat the incumbent, that would be something ‘meaningful’.

I do understand what the winner in this election will do once elected. Of course, the Tamil voters will be ignored until the next election comes around. But Tamils don’t have any other choices other than to make a ‘statement’ that is meaningful, at this awful moment in history.

I feel guilty writing these thoughts down, because I am not with the people there to share their anguish. I have no rights. But I needed to get it off my chest and couldn’t think of anybody else to do it with!

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1. Thomas Hobson -- a 1631 English liveryman, who required every customer to take the horse nearest the door.

"Hobson's choice":

1 : an apparently free choice when there is no real alternative

2 : the necessity of accepting one of two or more equally objectionable alternatives