by Father Emmanuel
Keynote speech at the Sangam's AGM by Prof.Dr.S.J. Emmanuel
Our Struggle forges ahead around a New Turning Point
1. I congratulate the Tamil Sangam for the successful completion of a quarter century of pioneer service, in bringing and building together a Diaspora community and encouraging it to be consciously faithful to the Tamil ideals and values. It is a fruit of your maturation that you show an extra interest this year on the next generation of Tamils, who have the good will, interest and readiness to look beyond their family circles to the world outside, and also to see among the unfortunate of the world, your own kith and kin discriminated, handicapped, wounded and crying for survival as a people with due dignity. I exhort you to look at with greater interest how the present young leadership of the Tamils in Sri Lanka has taken up with heroism and sacrifice their responsibility of leading the struggle. Hence the new generation of American Tamils have an important role to help their contemporaries leading the Tamils especially at this hour of internationalization of our struggle.
2. Tamil Struggle has had a long walk on the Road to Freedom
Parallel to your settling down here, parallel to the birth and growth of your children here, during the last five decades, the post-independence Tamil struggle which began in the fifties has gone on through the vicissitudes and challenges of the different phases of a liberation struggle. Its long and winding history has been written with blood, death, destruction and determination. It has weathered all seasons of the conflict, and has matured in age and wisdom. It has now reached a turning point - a decisive and important turning point.
For the benefit of defining our present role clearly and for the benefit of the new generation of American Tamils, who hold the keys to a future engagement and contribution, let me briefly recall some important stages of our history of our struggle,
3. The significant mile-stones on our Road (9 steps)
a) Resurgence of Sinhala Nationalism and the consequent Oppression of Tamils
What went into history as the end of 450 years of successive colonialism by the Portuguese, Dutch and the British, turned out to be a Trojan Horse for the Sinhala majority of Sri Lanka to smuggle in a resurgence of Sinhala Buddhist Nationalism at the cost of oppressing the Tamils. And for the Tamils it turned out to be a change-over from 450 years of colonialism to a new imperialism of the Sinhala majority government denying their rights and depriving gradually their opportunities in education, employment and land settlement. We Tamils were forced to protest against this well within the then democratic System.
b) Democratic and Non-violent Protest of Tamils
Believing firmly in the principles of democracy, as exposed and espoused by the British colonial master and the Sinhala majority Government of Ceylon, the Tamils did not take their grievances and discrimination to someone outside of the country - not even to India. None of the elected leaders of the Tamils went across even to Madras, asking for help to solve their problems. We trusted the Sinhalese people and their politicians very much and for too long.
c) Tamil Resistance met with Sinhala mob - and state -Violence
The mistake that our elected political leaders of the time made was that they allowed themselves to be bought over for a little ministerial post and power. The Sinhala parties alternated as power holders and our Tamil leaders were kept satisfied with privileges and ministerial posts. Hence the racial discriminations and oppression were carried on by the Sinhala majority, which changed laws with the approval of the bought-over Tamil leadership. The non-violent and democratic protests the Tamils put up were ridiculed and baton-charged and later even shot at. The language of non-violence and non-cooperation led by Mr.S.J.V. Chelvanayagam of the Federal Party was met with mob violence and state terrorism.
d) Tamils forced to opt for Separate State:
Tamils ! Rule yourselves! Tamils! Defend yourselves!
Finally, we democratically passed a unanimous resolution in Vaddukoddai in 1976 and affirmed it by a parliamentary election 1977, demanding ultimately a separate state for our survival in our homeland. And that, too, met with greater state terror and the Tamil Members of Parliament were thrown out even of that one democratic institution, the Parliament. That was the end of Sinhala democracy for the Tamils.
Even after all these events some Tamil politicians were getting elected fraudulently with the help of the armed forces and falling head over heels before the Sinhala powers begging the powers not to beat and kill. These were turned away with promises which were never to be fulfilled.
e) A conniving silence by the International community
When all these events were happening in Sri Lanka within its democracy, no democratic nation in the world lifted its finger to query the government, nor to help the Tamils out of the slow genocide we were going through.
We can see clearly how the goody-goody people and international bystanders and even NGOs, are quick to preach to the victims of terror and injustice on how to respect the laws of the oppressor, but do not dare to understand the plight of the oppressed victim and help him. The good-goody people and nations must have the courage to call halt to the oppression and distance the oppressor from society. But, unfortunately, "the club of nations", as I called them once during the Human Rights sessions in the UN Headquarters in Geneva, kept silent for a long time and did nothing to help us. For them their mutual interest in trade and international relations was more important than a few thousand of us dying at the hands of an oppressive government.
f) The Tamil Youth take up arms for self-defense against State Terrorism
In the meantime, the Youth of the time, most of them born after Independence and witnessing the series of mob attacks and state terror, and realizing that they themselves have no future with regard to education and employment decided to face the State terrorism.
It is at this point it became clear to us Tamils that we must defend ourselves. Defending ourselves against those very forces which were meant to be our protectors was no easy task. Against an oppressor how do we react? Not by the rules laid down by the oppressor and the international bystanders who will do nothing to arrest the oppressor. We were forced to do all within our means to stop the oppressor and make him retreat. This is shouted down by nations and NGOs as terrorism and violations of Human rights. But what was it in comparison to the genocide of a people and violation of human rights by the state forces? The world will easily and quickly label us as rebels and terrorists. But can we allow ourselves to be killed and destroyed for fear of these labels?
If I am unjustly oppressed and put to the ground by an oppressor, I have the right to fight and hit the oppressor with all my might, with any available tool. The world and its organizations preach and dictate rules very often to the victims of oppression, but this world does not have the courage to accuse or arrest the oppressor at the appropriate time. They play partnership with evildoers for their selfish motives and, when that fails, turn their guns against the innocent. The recent power struggle between the US and the UN with respect to the Palestinian and Iraqi wars amply illustrate my point.
The outside world rushed into help Sri Lanka when it raised alarm about terrorism and threats to its unity, sovereignty and integrity. But it was nowhere there to bring 20 years of real state terrorism and genocide under control. It was not there when Tamils were killed, raped and burnt alive.
g) The birth and growth of the LTTE to become a politico-military leadership
The LTTE did not launch a political campaign for a political party and then start their military struggle. They were born and bred in the struggle. They were the victims and witnesses of the struggle. They were the sons and daughters of murdered parents, brothers of raped sisters and sisters of many tortured and murdered brothers. Their understanding of the struggle did not come out of an academic interest evoked in any university, nor out of any hatred of the Sinhala people and their intransigence. They were urged by the hard realities of Tamil life suffered as victims and witnesses. They were against a wall and they had to act.
Hence, when the elected political leaders opted to place their new demand for a separate state, again within the old Parliament and to face the consequences within the majoritarian democracy of the Sinhalese, the youth opted to face the Armed forces of the State engaged in State terrorism. That was the only way to respond to state terrorism. They took up arms, not for a cow-boy adventure, not for a selfish motive, but for the sake of their people and for their future. They sacrificed their future and the future of their own families for the greater good of the larger community. They have offered themselves in the battle and left a greater responsibility to all of us. You and I have been spared from the challenges they faced, from the sacrifices and heroism they showed. But now you and I are called to a greater understanding and solidarity with them.
They did not want to claim an inch of the Sinhalese land or fight against the Sinhala people. They defended their own land and their own people against the attacks and atrocities of the Sinhala armed forces.
Though this leadership may not be born from among the educated and the intellectuals and the elites, it has grown and formed itself into a mature politico-military leadership of the victimized people. In the modern states in which we are today, the politicians govern and the armed forces protect the land and people. In the case of the Tamils in Sri Lanka, we are neither governed nor protected, but discriminated and destroyed, both by politicians and the armed forces. Hence a politico-military leadership, born out of the victimized population, is the ideal one for the current situation.
5. Maturing of the Struggle in various aspects
During these 50 years of Struggle and 20 years of war, it meant for the Tamil people a Struggle from below, from their feeling as a discriminated second class citizens to becoming a people with due dignity. They have gone a long way in which they have been misunderstood, baton charged, manhandled, shelled and bombed. Thousands have perished and their land and properties destroyed. Many more thousands are displaced and as a whole reduced to the ground and dispersed into being no-people in their own land. They have endured and persevered and with determination fought their way to this point. Their aspirations have not been invented or given by some intellectual reasoning, but written in their hearts and flesh with the blood of their sons and daughters. The maturation of the people who suffered loss of lives in each and every family, people who were chased away from their homes and their lands, has hardened and become enduring Hence these values and marks of maturing as a people cannot be washed away any more by any powers.
As a consequence of being beaten up at home, the Tamils started fleeing their country. With whatever means they had, they fled. Many hundreds drowned and died in their attempts, many ended up in prison and others reached a safe haven in some foreign land, but had to labour hard or continue running for survival. They bore the scars of the war and still supported the victims of the struggle by their little savings. They kept up the spirit and intensified the Tamil aspiration to be a people with a clear ideology and determination towards a destination.
Thanks to the services rendered by worldwide expatriate Tamil organizations like yours and their media, the political awareness of our people in suffering and of the people in solidarity with them have grown towards a converging consensus in our vision, orientation, ideals and conviction. We have become conscious of our oneness as a people and a nation with a history.
The leadership - which sacrificed thousands of lives, who stood by and served the people day and night with deep dedication, winning the confidence of the people, has become stronger , not merely in the use of their limbs and weapons, but above all in their character, conviction and determination.
Even today this cease-fire and peace process have made long strides compared to other cease-fires and peace-talks elsewhere in the world because of the delicate and determined way things have been handled by our leadership.
Look at Ireland and the Middle East. While Talks were under way, there were other groups within the struggling people resorting to military action and destabilizing the process. While the IRA continued the Talks, the real IRA (RIRA) continued their armed struggle. In Palestine the Hamas were destabilizing the efforts of Arafat. But here in Sri Lanka, it is to the credit of the LTTE as a unified politico-military organization, exercising patience and prudence in the face of monumental provocations by Chandrika's forces both within the island and in the high seas, that destabilization on the Tamil side has been prevented. Just for a moment see Chandrika and her PA trying to shed crocodile tears for the Muslims and encouraging them to become a militant organization counter to the LTTE.
Even in the matter of submitting proposals for the Interim Administration, how the LTTE forged a unity and consensus opinion is remarkable. The UNF did not consult or seek unity with the PA before it submitted its proposals for the Interim Administration.
Hence the ability of the Tamil people to present a unified face and speak with one voice is an achievement and maturation that should be respected and taken seriously by all of us - by expatriate Tamils, by the Sinhala people and their government and also by the international community. Had the Sinhalese and their government taken serious note of the Tamil consensus shown at the parliamentary elections of 1977, things would have been much different.
The old game of keeping the Tamils under a Sinhala hegemony by dividing the Tamil parliamentary leadership is almost coming to an end. And the Tamils are happy that there are no great splits and divisions in the community, which can be exploited by the antics of some chauvinist Sinhalese.
For the majority Singhalese and their government, the ethnic conflict has meant only a long history of putting down protests, rebellion, and terrorism from the Tamil side. They used their people and the forces of the State rather than trying to understand why these Tamils are paying such a high price for their aspirations. They did not question for a moment why these Tamils are rebelling with so much endurance, they did not question whether their high handed methods of baton charging and bombing their protest will only escalate protest to rebellion, they did not act with their reason and good will. Instead they channeled all their resources to label our protest as mere Tamil terrorism and to kill the protesters. Minister Kadiragamar, supported by the Sinhala chauvinist forces, led his international campaign to demonize the Tamils and their cause and succeeded in getting the Tamil organizations banned in some countries as front organizations of a terrorist outfit. Chauvinistic politicians and self-centred religious leaders made politics out of our lives. But our determination to forge ahead has been strengthened in the face of these adversities..
We cannot forget that the Tamils still have their share of weak and selfish political betrayers, who are continued to be used by the Sinhala government. But, realizing that we ourselves have not been innocent angels, that we too have made mistakes forced by the hard realities and challenges, we are forging ahead with a willingness to accommodate politicians and interests of various colours.
On the Tamil side there has emerged, at least a general consensus of our blood-written aspirations and the unity of leadership. These two have forged their way to the international stage. In spite of the SL effort to ban the LTTE and demonize the Tamils and the leadership, in spite of containing the war behind closed doors and using not merely weapons of war, but also weapons of food-denials, we have emerged to the front stage.
In this forging ahead to internationalization of our aspirations and our leadership, we have at present reached a curve - a turning point. In driving one knows the care and caution with which we use the brakes and the accelerator. We know it is an important phase of the long journey to freedom. And the leadership is doing its utmost to concentrate the efforts of all in the best way possible.
It is in this contextual need, that the Tamils at home and abroad look to you Tamil Americans to do your best at this hour of need.
While managing the risky curve in our journey to freedom, it is important to be fully awake to the dangers and threats around this curve. We must realize first of all what forced the present government to opt for cease-fire and talks, what are the avowed intentions of the present government and what is the hidden agenda of the Sinhala side.
6. What forced the State to end its war - a series of military defeats, increasing deaths of Sinhala soldiers, an economy falling below the bottom!
It is the financial cost of the war more than the human cost , that moved the government and brought them to their knees. With the attack on the international airport and the economic growth sinking below zero, the government came to its senses and responded to our unilateral call from a position of military strength for cease fire and talks. They were brought to this position, not because of any compassion for the Tamil lives lost and properties and homeland destroyed, but for the gradual but deep impact in the South - loss of Sinhala youth and shattering of the economy.
Singhalese want a successful economy, foreign aid, and peace with a success in war. We Tamils, on the contrary, want survival, successful rebuilding of normal life and peace with human dignity. A hard hearted Sri Lanka is interested even today only in fulfilling a condition laid down by the international community for peace and prosperity. That is why we are able to challenge the Sinhalese to declare openly - that they want the Tamils to survive, they want the Tamils to lead a normal life, to live with them in dignity and equality. We Tamils are repeating loud and clear - Let the Sinhala nation thrive and grow: let Buddhism flourish in all its glory. But not at the cost of Tamil lives, Tamil property and above all Tamil dignity.
Today visitors going into the war zones of the Northeast will only see the remains of a prolonged destruction, but not what the people went through for decades before they perished. The agony, the anxiety, the starvation and humiliation the Tamils went through are little known to them. Hence the Sinhala inability even today to understand why the Tamils so rebelled, so violently reacted even to the point of self-destruction.
7. The avowed Position of the majority Singhalese and their Government:
a) At last a majority has realized that there cannot military victory nor a military solution for the Tamil problem.
Regaining Sri Lanka - that was the Position Paper presented by the present Prime Minister in Tokyo to over 40 nations willing to help rebuild Sri Lanka. On the surface it looks a genuine attempt to re build Sri Lanka as a new multi ethnic multi religious country where the Tamils could live with the Singhalese with dignity and honour. But unfortunately, here too there lies a hidden agenda
b) They want an Economic rebirth - The government has the urgency to regain their economic stability and move towards further prosperity. Hence their strategy to regain it without losing military power and without giving "too much" to the Tamils - too much meaning, anything that will jeopardize their hegemony in SL.
A.S. Jayawardene, an economist, in his Forward to Thambiah's Buddhism Betrayed, holds the view that More foreign aid will help the Sinhalese accommodate the Tamils within Sri Lanka! This is like saying: If you give me money Sir, we will keep the Tamils as housemaids in Sri Lanka!
c) They want the International Safety Net to guard their integrity and sovereignty. What about the integrity and sovereignty of the Tamils?- They hold the Tamil claims as contrary to their unity, sovereignty and integrity and try to build up an intl. security net to hold down the Tamils within it. This conspiracy contradicts the proclaimed intentions of the Sri Lankan Government.
With Bush's call - Either you are with us or you are all terrorists - Sri Lanka jumped onto the US coalition wagon . The call to be in the club of nations against terrorism has given a place to culprits of state terror and crimes within their country to take shelter in this alignment. Their labeling our liberation struggle as Tamil terrorism and their claim to be fighting terrorism gives them some measure of legitimacy and respectability among the nations, and enables them to get their financial and military support from the major military powers.
It was once Kadirgamar who went around campaigning for the banning of the LTTE and tarnishing the image of Tamils and demonizing their leadership. But now Ranil too is secretly shuttling between major powers talking about his International Safety Net that he has by winning the support of countries like the USA and India in the event of the Tigers going back to war. We hope Ranil does not make the mistake of Lakshman - going round begging for international help without doing his basic homework to solve the problem. We hope even the visit to the White House on Wednesday will carry a realistic and sincere wish to solve the problem at home in justice and peace without getting the support of a hammer to deal with mosquitoes.
d) The Sinhalese also want peace, but a peace in which the Tamils will live not side by side with the Sinhalese, but under the terms of the Sinhala majority.
Peace, as understood by the majority Singhalese, is very much different from what we aspire as peace. They want peace which means a return to the pre-war situation, say before 1983. There are others who want Tamils to be given a little more to develop their land and culture, but always ruled by the Sinhala majority at the centre. Still others imagine as wiping away the threat to peace, namely the LTTE, so that the Tamils will be a meek and humble servants, a toothless people submissive to the Singhalese.
Even among those Sinhalese actively involved in fighting, those opposed to the peace-efforts of the government, there are well meaning activists who cannot fully understand the revolutionary change required of the constitution, of the southern leadership and among the masses in order to find a true, lasting solution. What has been fed into the masses for decades through false political propaganda cannot be easily rooted out. A baby taken up by the stairs cannot now be thrown out of the window.
8. The hidden position of many Sinhalese: Rise of a new form of Sinhala Racism,
The Sinhala Racism of the 50s and 60s is not dead. It was a crude and blatant racism motivated by jealousy and hatred against the Tamils. After decades of military and political efforts to demonize and label our struggle as terrorism and Tamils as terrorists, the recent internationalization of the conflict and the LTTE gaining intl. recognition in some way and feeling that the Tamil leadership means business, the Sinhala majority is adopting a new and refined racism.
The majority of the Sinhalese have felt that the old form of racism will not work any more. In their own interest and jealousy, they would like to keep up the Sinhala hegemony in other ways, with better faces. The Sinhala Urumaya, the JVP and media concerns like the Upali group of newspapers are clear examples of this new racism.
The Sinhala intellectuals without bridling the extremists and chauvinists within their own ranks are trying to demonize more and more the Tamils and their leadership. They are calling the government to give up the Peace Process, to send away the Norwegian Mediators, to control and tie down the Tigers from moving about locally and internationally.
Getting eminent Sinhala intellectuals to twist the Truth
To make things worse, the Mahanayaka of the Malwatte Chapter recently appointed a group of eminent retired supreme court judges and attorneys to study and report on the joint proposal by the Government and the LTTE in Oslo for seeking a federal solution. To what depth can eminent Sinhala men turn and twist historical facts, how the Mahanayakas are misled by their Buddhist intellectuals, could be seen in their report. If these men who sat on seats of justice for decades could come out with such a travesty of truth, what can you expect from the Sinhala people? Truth is emerging like a rising sun and the hidden agenda of Sinhala injustice on the verge of exposure to the world. The old and cranky Sinhala intellectuals and eminent men are giving a new look to old Mahavamsa myths.
They abhor the Truth
It was easier earlier to close the door to the Northeast, forbid journalists and diplomats from going to the war zone, keep bombing and starving and hold press briefings in Colombo to journalists and diplomats about the good things the army boys were doing in the name of democracy and order. The truth was completely butchered. But now when they see journalists invited to view even Tiger camps in Trincomalee, the chauvinists are unable to hide the truth.
Target the Messenger but not the Message
Now when they see that the Tamil Cause begins to be better understood and that we and our cause are gaining some measure of recognition and respectability, when they see a democratic, just solution is possible with the help of the international community, the extremists of the South are raising their heads and warning the Sinhala masses not to look at the solution of the problem, but to further hunt down for the Tigers and destroy them.
Using the Muslims to oppose the Tamils
In desperation, the Sinhala Buddhist eminent persons are trying to establish the Muslims as the best partners for the Sinhala nation. In the latest report submitted by these eminent persons, they are at pains, even by citing some Tamil historians, to prove that the Muslims have been here since 500 AD. But these same people conclude that the Tamils were here only after the 12th century! A drowning man catches a straw!
9. The Tamil Leadership, Ourselves and the International Community:-
At this hour and in our own context, how can we strengthen the hand of the Tamil leadership in taking the decisive turn in our journey to freedom? As I explained earlier, it is a new form of leadership foreign to the recognized states of the United Nations. But with increasing oppressions of people within these so called democratic states, this type of leadership born out of a militant opposition to State-terrorism and maturing to be a politico-military leadership of the victimized people is becoming current. The uniqueness of this leadership in contrast to the parliamentary elected leaderships has to be well understood in the context of long struggles within corrupt democracies and unbridled terror of the armed forces.
In Sri Lanka the history of the Tamil leadership has grown from educated, elite, democratically-elected statesmen who resolutely protested and fought with all that was available within democratic institutions, who resorted even to the noblest forms of Satyagraha and non-cooperation. These were mishandled. The young leadership led by Prababharan was initiated as a military leadership. It has evolved during the long struggle to become a politico-military leadership. But for our opponents it is still misunderstood as mere terrorism and no effort is made to understand the genesis, evolution and maturity of this leadership.
Recent events have shown that it is a de facto leadership of another form from below representing the interests of the people and acknowledged by the democratically elected leaders as true representatives of the people.
We who are in the western world, having accepted values and structures that guarantee our security, dignity and rights, tend to demonize or devalue all other alternative forms of governance and values. The label of terrorism has been put on so many and so quickly after the events of Sept.11th. The war in Iraq and Palestine and the helplessness of the UN in preventing the war, have focused on the question as to who exactly is a terrorist. They have turned the searchlights onto the state of democracy and human rights within the powerful nations of the world. The struggles of peoples within the so called democratic nations against oppressive states have come to light. The world is beginning to take a more realistic view of situations and move away from absolutist positions regarding democracy and human rights, and regarding their role as guardians of democracy and human rights.
It is in these times Diplomats and Ministers have visited our leadership and made it clear that they are interested in our option for peace talks and a political solution. They understand the deficiencies of democracies as practiced by Sri Lanka and many nations of the world.
For our part, we have maintained always that we have been pushed to this form of non-parliamentary leadership by the attitude and activities of the government. After many decades of sacrifice and heroism, the election of the TNA to parliament and their acknowledging the LTTE as the true representatives of the people has proved to the world that there is a new leadership which is not directly part of parliament, but which has the acknowledgement and approval of the majority of Tamil parliamentarians. It is a peoples leadership from below. It is new to the traditional world, to the capitalist and oppressive world. But it is an effective form of alternative leadership for those struggling against oppressive democracies.
Hence the LTTE leadership is a de facto true leadership of the people fully backed by all the elected members of the parliament. The new leadership of the Tamils is a leadership from below.
This leadership needs the services of the expatriate Intellectuals and professionals in helping the world to understand and accept the Tamil leadership as an alternative form of leadership to the democratically elected government, as a leadership that was forced to act by the tragic circumstances the Tamils were trapped in. It is on its way to a democratic way, but the process is long and has to be done without endangering the cause and the goal for which they took up the arms.
Recent events like the war in Iraq has helped the world to question the various forms of democracy and human rights operative in many powerful nations. We have seen how, under the cover of democracy, governments can resort to greater violations of human rights and worse forms of invasion. Some powerful nations absolutise theirs as the one and only form of democracy and human rights system and try either to export or impose them on unwilling states.
Instead, if we seriously study the long struggle of an oppressed people - how they tried democratic forms which failed them, then it becomes clear the corrupt character of these democracies.
In my engagements in Europe both in the field of theology and in the field of politics, I try to present alternative ways to the traditional and often absolutised ways of thinking and acting. In professions such as the medical profession, there is an increasing recognition of alternative medicines like homeopathy, acupuncture, etc. Similarly we need to revisit and question the absolute stance of the forms of democracy, understanding of human rights and social order Europeans tend to export to other countries.
Among the Tamils here, the expatriate second generation does not speak Tamil but only English. But for the Tamil cause reaching the international stage, you living in America could do a lot in helping the world to understand the genesis of the Tamil Struggle and about the unavoidable emergence of a militant leadership which has assumed a political role with the support of the people and the elected Members of Parliament.
For a long time we intellectuals and professionals of the first world have thought too highly of our educational qualifications and caste background, we have been critics standing behind the fences, blaming everything on the youth who were forced to take up arms in defense of our people and land and doing very little to defend their actions. We may have given up in the old casteism, but we have still another built on our status as educated, wealthy people. Let us come out of our fences, come out into the open and strengthen this unique leadership for our survival and liberation.
The younger generation who migrated to European countries have been handicapped by their poor education at home and in a foreign European environment and they cannot lobby much in the upper rungs of society or government in any way. But you here, having so many professionals and intellectuals can do much more.
10. Remind your countrymen, the good Americans, of their liberation struggle about their own history, about their journey to freedom - how their forefathers were labeled by the British as rebels and terrorists when they stood up for human rights and against oppression. We Tamils want to survive and live on the land we have been living on for over 2000 years, We want a respectable and human living with our basic human rights, We want to enjoy the human rights of food, clothing and shelter. We want our political right of determining for ourselves our future. We want to foster our culture, our heritage, our music and our dance on the soil on which we were born, on the land God gave us. We are not eyeing an inch of any foreign land, neither of the Sinhalese nor the Tamils. We wish our Sinhala and Buddhist brethren all the best, but not at our cost, not by denying and trampling upon our bodies!
11. Collaborative Contribution to the Tamil Struggle -
Expatriate effort at this stage must be at the intl. level and at the local level. Your contribution has to be in collaboration with the needs of the ground realities and in collaboration with other expatriate Tamils all over the world. I am reminded here of a Tamil film Saraswati Sabatham where the argument arises between the goddesses as to which is the greatest:- Kalviya, Selvama, Veerama? [Knowledge, Wealth, Courage/Boldness] We all have to collaborate.
All fronts have to work in cooperation. We have had a long walk to freedom. We have gone through different phases and we have different faces. Each one can contribute to all three aspects of the Struggle. We cannot compartmentalize our contribution to the Cause. Each one of us have all of these three. We must contribute to the Veeram, by our staunch support of the Tamil leadership in keeping the SL Forces under control. We must contribute a little of our wealth, because the number of victims of war is on the increase. And above all, we have the fortune to be better enlightened and better placed to contribute much to the phase now - International evaluation of our Struggle and international recognition of the new leadership from below. This leadership has to be well understood and appreciated.
The lawyer politicians have led us for a time, the Tamil militant youth have led us so far. It is time for the intellectuals and professionals, who have earlier been passive, now to throw themselves into the Struggle and do much more than what they have been doing.
We want an army of talented and gifted intellectuals and professionals from this land of freedom to put their service, their talents and gifts into the Tamil struggle. The Tamil struggle has reached an important phase of internationalization. It needs your services, it needs your talents and gifts at this hour for their survival and self-respect. Can you stay behind or keep back your talents for yourselves and allow the Tamils to perish? The Tamils who still survive in the war zones of the Northeast are staying there to become the roots of a future generation of free Tamils. They have paid the price for our liberation. They deserve our support. Their veeram is praiseworthy.
If Tamil politicians and political parties after decades of deception and rivalry, realizing the heavy price paid with lives, could come under one leadership and one ideology, why should you be otherwise? Let your Sangam be an organ that can bring all the Tamil Americans, young and old, professionals and private persons, together under one umbrella for the good of all Tamils of America and of the world. A reason for our success so far has been that we had one unwavering leadership that could not be bought over by any Sinhala leadership and one clear and convinced ideology, one national feeling at the cost of so many lives of civilians, combatants and heroes.
Realizing the critical situation, realizing the decisive nature of the hour, the encircling forces and the sinister moves of the enemy, I exhort You, the old and the young of Tamil Sangam - Stay united here in direction, aspiration and efforts, be united with other Tamils across the globe, strengthen the mind, heart and hand of the Tamil leadership and our people by your services, solidarity and contribution.
Posted November 10, 2003