Ilankai Tamil Sangam

Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

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Looking for Loopholes

by Fr. Chandi Sinnathurai

The rounds of Talks are becoming like the aching tooth that we cannot stop testing with our tongue even though it hurts more and more.

Much is being said about the peace overtures in Geneva between the Sri Lanka Government (GoSL) and the Tamil Tigers (LTTE). Balasingham called it a “diplomatic victory”. An over estimation, one would think. The GoSL have raised their tails and retorted with a spin that the Tigers agreed to an "Amendment to the original Cease Fire Agreement". Balasingham rejected that as “bizarre interpretation”.

While this media warfare is being conducted, multiple statements had been put out in the public domain by various Tamil organizations. Few are singing praises to the current move. There are others, many of whom, under the prestigious banner of “Tamil Intellectuals and Academics,” are calling the process quite rightly, a farce. In my humble view, it is a sophisticated way of duplicating the duplicity. Put in another way, it is a bit of a ducking and diving - for sure. Think of the suffering for a moment of all those abducted TRO workers. Are they still alive? Will the quisling forces be disarmed? Now, let’s talk until the cows come home…Bonkers... I have a lurking doubt. These Tamil intelligentsia so-called, are they truly a community of public intellectuals and academics? Are they genuinely the Voice of the People? Certainly yes, we shall say; let’s give them the benefit of the doubt. 

Now I have a question. Are these mortals simply using this platform to project themselves as an intellectual aristocracy? That’s possible too, umm. Dangerous! I know that I might have got their backs up now. Stepped on a few pompous toes! You see, this question was buzzing in my ears. I had to cough it up.

These Talks in any shape or form are becoming in the intelligent circuit a Pierre d’achoppement. That’s a mouthful. Anyway, it means a stumbling block. One would think, the LTTE would take, on behalf of the Tamils, a proactive position. As times drags on, Tamils are being abducted, harassed, maimed, killed…everyday. There are nearly 300,000 internally displaced Tamils who are homeless!

The rounds of Talks are becoming like the aching tooth that we cannot stop testing with our tongue even though it hurts more and more. It seems both parties were focused on the issue of modus vivendi in relation to violence. The Tamils are engaged in an armed struggle and in that context violence and non-violence are strategies, not moral principles. The GoSL has a complementary strategy - abduction, shoot-to-kill civilians, collective punishments, state aggression: violence. An honourable Sinhala person pointed out in his piece, (I’m paraphrasing) that without the LTTE,  the Tamils will be under the table waiting for the crumbs to fall from the master’s table.

Arundhati Roy in a recent interview ( said. “Anybody with skills and intelligence can be an intellectual. A cobbler is an intellect”. What the Tamils desperately need is not just emotionally constipated pen pushers; we need avant-garde versions of wordsmiths and cobblers. That is what perhaps the Tigers have taught primarily the mainline conservative Tamils.

How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?
Yes, 'n' how many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand?
Yes, 'n' how many times must the cannon balls fly
Before they're forever banned?
-- Bob Dylan

Chandi Sinnathurai is a theologian currently “doing” contextual theology based in Tamil Eelam.   

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