|Morality of Armed Struggle for Tamil Rights:
A Tamil Agnostic’s View
By E. T. Agnosticus
Agnostics are well aware of the harm and injustices that religious ideologies can cause to a large number of people. Let us consider religious hypocrisy among Sinhalese and Tamils in Sri Lanka. To impartial observers of the long drawn-out Sinhala-Tamil conflict in Sri Lanka, the astounding hypocrisy of so-called religious people becomes all too obvious. Sinhalese mobs and armed forces, claiming to be Buddhists, have systematically attacked and destroyed many Hindu temples and Christian Churches of the Tamils in Sri Lanka. In recent years, as the fighting intensified, the LTTE, known as the Tigers – a national liberation movement of the Tamils – has occasionally targeted Buddhist places of worship in its campaign for Tamil rights.
Nevertheless, in their ideology, the Tamil side has not brought religion as a major factor motivating their struggle; nor have they in any major way displayed any linkage between Tamil nationalism and a religious ideology. On the other hand, the Sinhala Buddhist ideology has been a central element of the Sinhalese ethos. Blind faith in mythological stories as facts – from their delusions about Aryan heritage to their belief that they are the chosen guardians of Buddhism has driven much of this ideology, and created a society that is fundamentally and astoundingly hypocritical in its faith in Buddhism vis-à-vis its ready willingness to embrace their bestial mobs and armed forces as saviors of their nation and unleash them on innocent Tamils. A society that claims to be fundamentally conservative, sees no fault in, and is protective of, the bestial soldiers who gang rape and murder Tamil women, even pregnant ladies and school children. I have seen many well-educated Sinhalese justifying the horrendous atrocities of July 1983, in which thousands of Tamils perished and many Tamil men and women were doused with petrol and set afire in the name of their right to preserve the brand of identity as Sinhala-Buddhists. They are willfully blind to the atrocities committed by their forces in full view of the world. Buddhist monks and their leaders have been aligned with the Sinhalese hardliners, and have scuttled every major peace initiative since Sri Lanka’s independence from the British. I do not indulge in generalizations, but it is well worth to remember the assassination of the late Prime Minister SWRD Bandaranaike by a hard-line Buddhist monk.
Of course, similar hypocrisy exists in all societies and Tamils are not immune from such irrationality. I believe that Tamil societies have to tackle among themselves a great deal of moral hypocrisy of their own. The contradictions in their religious faiths and professed allegiance to non-violent ideals versus their support to an armed resistance, have given way to a lot of agonizing on the morality of war. There is also the need to eliminate gang violence in some expatriate Tamil communities, unrelated to the political struggles back home.
Such hypocrisy arises mainly because these people cannot reconcile the basic tenets of their religions with life in general, and under brutally oppressive war conditions in particular. Fighting any war always gives rise to moral agonizing: though most people who encourage and support war do not themselves fight the battles or sacrifice their lives, they are there to gloat over their side’s military successes and enjoy the spoils of war; such results have been accomplished at the expense of great many lives, who have no way of enjoying such success. Agnostics are not excessively concerned with such issues; however, since agnostic morality accepts pain as an inevitable fact of life, and holds that violence in the search for justice and self-defense is unavoidable, even necessary. As agnostics, we believe that any eventual long-term solution lies in societies becoming fully open, rational, prosperous and eventually free of armed conflicts. But in the short-term, it is just and moral to employ violence in seeking justice when the injustices of an irrational, extremist, and tyrannical majority leaves the minority no choice.
It is thus perfectly moral to argue that the violence the Tamils have condoned in recent years during the campaign of the Tigers for freedom, has been an inevitable reaction to the atrocities and injustices committed originally against them by the Sinhalese Governments, mobs and armed forces, which have caused untold suffering to Tamil communities.
Tamils need to educate a callous international community that ignores State terrorism and advises them to live in peace with an oppressive majority and ensure ‘territorial integrity’ even when that majority has no sense of ‘integrity’. The incontrovertible truth is that the Tamils have become so alienated from the Sinhalese, and the mistrust so deep, that some form of separation is inevitable in the short-term. The only thing that can be argued is the political structure of that separation.
Having convinced themselves of the legitimacy and morality of the armed struggle, Tamils should rally behind the Tigers, whom all main Tamil parties have collectively chosen to represent the Tamil cause in any peace talks. Now is the time to strengthen the freedom fighters.
Expatriate Tamils should tirelessly take whatever legitimate action necessary to make their case. Such as exposing and challenging the propagandists of hardline Sinhalese such as Mr. Walter Jayawardhana of Colombo Page in Los Angeles,USA, Mr. Dushy Ranatunga of the Island in the UK and similar characters in Canada and Australia. This Mr. Jayawardhana, who has formed a two-bit organization, often takes articles from Tamil related websites and internet bulletins, such as the Tamil Guardian and Tamil Circle, adds his own blinkered and Goebbelsian commentary, and then posts them prominently in Colombo Page/Lanka Page website. Tamils should also attack through all legal means the SL Government’s deceitful collaborators in the Indian and Western Press, such as Mr. N. Ram and V. Suryanarayan of Frontline in Madras and Mr. Stewart Bell and Senior Editors of the National Post in Toronto, Canada. The antics and dishonesty of these people are too well known and I won’t dwell on them here.
The wealthier Tamils should financially support the struggle and the rehabilitation of displaced Tamil communities within Sri Lanka, especially in the Wanni. They should also use the legitimate methods of well-known financial managers like George Soros to take concerted action in the international currency markets to cause the destruction of the floating Sri Lankan Rupee.
Rise up Tamils! I challenge you to bring the SL Rupee to 1/120 of the US Dollar. Storm the Ramparts of Tyranny!
30 April 2001