Ilankai Tamil Sangam

Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

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The World is Within You

by Sabesan

This is an abridged English transcript of an analysis by S. Sabesan, broadcast on 17.10.05 on the ‘Tamil Voice’ radio program, Melbourne, Australia.

The immense support rendered by the Tamil Diasporas all over the world for the liberation of their homeland is a powerful one. They indeed have a clear and sound understanding of both the importance and urgency of their moral obligation. The scope of this article, however, is not so much to discuss the value or significance of that moral duty, but to highlight the power and potency of the Tamil Diasporas from a different perspective.

In Sri Lanka and the world over, many views have been expressed about the term ‘Tamil Nationalism.’ The subject is hotly debated by the Sinhala chauvinists in the context of the upcoming Presidential Election. By giving a simple explanation for ‘Tamil Nationalism,’ we hope to elucidate the purpose of this article.

‘Nationalism is merely a form of feelings, built upon imaginative concepts, with no underlying criterion of support’ – Such contentious views have long been put forward by anti-nationalists around the world. “Nation is an imagined community,” Benedict Anderson would argue.

We totally disagree with this notion. “A nationality is formed by physical elements such as traditional homeland, the unity of people deriving from their ethnic bonds, its language and economy – Not from mere inner desires or imaginations. The abovementioned physical elements create an inner condition, namely the feelings of ‘Us’ and ‘Ours’.” – so explains P. Maniarasan of Tamil Nadu, South India. In other words, feelings do not generate Tamil Nationalism; it is Tamil Nationalism that generates feelings.  

Though the Eelam Tamils live in all corners of the world, it is Tamil Nationalism that brings us together with similar feelings. And the reason why these feelings are similar for us all is that Tamil Nationalism has been a common structure for all of us.

The same argument will apply to our Tamil Eelam National Leadership. The Tamil Eelam National Leadership is not built in a vacuum. It is formed by all the elements we mentioned before. We are just unable to explain what a unique leadership it is!

We in the Tamil Diasporas, therefore, are a natural part of the Tamil national structure. And we fulfil our national duty spontaneously through the guidance of our national leadership that struggles for the liberation of the Tamil Nation. However, the international Tamil community that has a sound understanding of the importance of its moral duty has failed to grasp one significant point: the magnitude of its power.

As we mentioned at the outset, the diverse support given by the Tamil Diasporas for the liberation of their people has been immense. Through the coordinated efforts of the Tamils world over, combined with the sacrifices made by the ‘Maaveerar’ of Tamil Eelam, the Tamil Nation has been able to face up to many trials and tribulations resolutely.

In October 1995 when the Sri Lankan Government launched the massive military operation named ‘Operation Sunshine,’ 500,000 Tamil people fled the Jaffna peninsula, shivering from the aerial, naval and land operations of the state forces. No government in the world either condemned this action or offered any humanitarian assistance to the refugees. No international media ventured to highlight comprehensively this historic exodus of our suffering people. It was a time of ‘Yaapa Patuna’!

But the Tamil Eelam people world over erupted with passion.  Their dutiful actions with abounding nationalistic feelings – exhibited through the Tamil national structure – was the panacea for our forsaken people. Without depending on international assistance, the Tamil people arduously made their contributions. This was a phenomenal service rendered by the Tamil Diasporas, incognisant of their potency.

The Sri Lankan Government attempted to wipe out Tamil nationalism completely through yet another military operation ‘Victory Assured.’ What was the prime force that was behind the National Leader, who endured the tribulations of the Tamil Nation with the abiding bravery of his cadres and crushed this prolonged military offensive? Was it not the collective power of the Eelam people world over that, in effect, halted the assault?

During the present so-called ‘Peace Time,’ no solution has been found for the problems of the Tamil Nation through peace talks. Not only that – the Tamil Eelam people have not reaped any permanent benefits that this ‘Peace Time’ could possibly have offered. Their life has not returned to normalcy; the Sri Lankan Government is not prepared to implement the proposals for the Interim Self-Governing Authority; and the promised foreign aid has yet to materialise.

But the Tamil Eelam people world over have not been disheartened! Without depending on any foreign country, they have been providing financial aid and professional expertise to rebuild the Tamil Eelam infrastructure for the last 3 ½ years, and continue to do so even now. Many volunteers from the Tamil Diasporas – intellects and skilled people alike – are serving in Tamil Eelam today.  Even though unaware of the full potential of their power, it has been the time when the members of the Tamil Diaspora utilised their energy for the benefit of the Tamil Nation.

Again, last year when the Tsunami hit the Tamil Eelam coastal villages and decimated the people and the nation, members of the Tamil Diaspora extended their helping hand with warmth and fervour. Even when Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court suspended the Post-Tsunami Operations Management Structure, the world Tamils did not recede into inaction. For, the power of their love and affection towards their brethren back home is much greater than the power of the killer waves.

So whether in times of war or peace, or in times of natural disaster, the Tamil Diaspora have not failed to fulfil their moral obligations. When the Tamils world over arise in unison for the sake of Tamil nationalism, they expect no mercy from others. ‘Unity is strength; Power is life’ – this they have proved time and again.

Why then does the world Tamil community, which firmly defends Tamil nationalism, feel dispirited, downcast and doubtful in certain situations?

When the world puts pressure on the LTTE or bans the LTTE in an attempt to coerce the people of Tamil Eelam, the uneasiness caused among Tamils world over is significant. Anxiety and depression at the situation getting complicated will catch us all like an infectious decease. These sorts of pressures and bans are, of course, discomforting. We ought to condemn and oppose them and must work hard to remove them. However, we need not be anxious or afraid.

Dear friends, we wish to reiterate a viewpoint that we have been putting forward for a long time. We believe that the truth and rationale of our notion will help clarify much confusion.

There had been numerous liberation struggles in the history of the world. Many are taking place as we speak, and many more are emerging. In general, the western world has not recognised such liberation struggles in the past or in the present, nor will it do so in the future. But those liberation struggles did not fade away because the western world did not approve of them.

The logical conclusion is this: No oppressed people will commence their liberation struggle only after asking the western world for their approval; and no people will ever abandon their struggle because the western world did not approve it.

History has revealed an undeniable truth. Many struggles have succeeded despite pressure from the western world. Many enslaved countries have gained freedom. When a liberation struggle is strong, energetic and powerful, the world will begin to talk about peace and a ‘solution.’ The victory and defeat of any liberation struggle is dependent on the resurgence, power and leadership of its people, and is not based on the support or opposition of any external forces.

Our power is great. We have proved it beyond doubt time and time again. In fact, the world is not outside us; it is within us. Therefore, let us realise the full potential of our power and use its force in effective and appropriate ways. Fear not!