Ilankai Tamil Sangam

Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

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The Bombing and Shelling of Trincomalee

A request for help

from Brian Senewiratne, Brisbane, Australia, April 27, 2006

What is needed to achieve what the Tamil people so richly deserve is a commitment. That is what I am urging you to develop.

To the expatriate Tamil community

I am asking for help from expatriate Tamils and others who are concerned with the outrage in Trincomalee on 25-26 April 2006.

I have written a separate article The killing of innocents in Sri Lanka (April 2006) which is being posted on the web in a way that it can be printed and posted. I will appreciate it if some concerned soul(s) prints this and circulates it to every politician, every religious body, and the media in the country you live in. As I have said, it is not an appeal or a plea for help. It is simply to draw their attention to what is going on in Sri Lanka.

I do not hold Rajapakse’s virulently anti-Tamil Sinhala Government or the Sinhala Armed Forces entirely responsible for this outrage. Foreign Governments, in particular, those who supply this murderous regime (and its predecessors) with the necessary weapons to kill and destroy a section of the population of Sri Lanka, must be held equally responsible.

All Foreign Governments have well-informed Embassies in Colombo. It is absurd to suggest that they do not know what is going on in Sri Lanka. What I hope is that the necessary questions will be asked in the various parliaments and that the international media take this up.

I have been too long at this game to believe that this will happen. I am well aware that it will probably be a complete waste of time. But that was the same that was said when Peter Benensen, the visionary founder of Amnesty International, had the completely crazy idea of writing letters to a Portuguese dictator to free a couple of lads who had been locked up for raising their glasses in a toast to freedom from a brutal dictatorship. The boys were freed.

I do believe that if hundreds of letters are to arrive on someone’s desk, it might make a difference.

The expatriate Tamils are, and have been, making an enormous contribution towards exposing the brutality and the criminality of a succession of Sinhala Governments. With no intention of diminishing the importance of the work that has been done over these traumatic years, I must say that the Sinhala Government has won the false propaganda war. They may have been resoundingly defeated in almost every battle that has been fought in Northern Sri Lanka, but they have won the propaganda war. It is up to us to try and put the record straight.

I have recently been invited to attend a series of meetings, seminars, conferences etc on the future of Sri Lanka. Whatever fancy solution academics and others can think up, the reality is that a division of Sri Lanka is inevitable. Eelam has already been established and, from all accounts, is functioning pretty well. It is certainly functioning far better than the Sinhala South which is literally falling apart, the USA notwithstanding. If evidence is needed, I suggest that you read a paper, a genuine research paper, by an academic, Professor Kristian Stokke, from the Department of Sociology and Human Geography, University of Oslo, Norway. His paper, “Tamil Eelam – a De Facto State. Building the Tamil Eelam State: Emerging State Institutions and Forms of Governance in LTTE–controlled Areas in Sri Lanka” is an eye-opener for those who need their eyes to be opened. This was published recently in the Third World Quarterly. Those unable to access this publication will find Prof Stokke’s paper in Nadesan Satyendra’s website “Tamil Nation” http:www://

At a recent Conference I set out the options available for the Sri Lankan government. This extensive analysis will be published on the net after some ‘problems’ which are outside my control, have been sorted out. Briefly, I pointed out that an undivided Sri Lanka was no longer a possibility. There cannot be two armies under separate command in one country. Either one of the armies must be disarmed or the country has to be divided. There really are no other options, unless Sri Lanka is trying to define a new type of governance with which I am not familiar.

So, the Sinhala Armed Forces must be disarmed (which is unlikely), or the Tamil Tigers must be disarmed. The Tigers cannot be disarmed or ‘crushed.’ The 4th largest Army in the world tried this in 1987 and had to ‘retire hurt,’ carrying a thousand dead in body-bags and bringing disgrace to a proud country that embarked on a military (mis)adventure. I cannot imagine Sri Lanka, with an Army that has been defeated in every major battle in the past decade, succeeding where India has failed. So to ‘crush’ the Tigers is only in the imagination of the JVP, JHU and the military hierarchy.

A Federal solution is no longer a possibility. For a Federal, or even a Confederal, solution to work, there must be trust in the Centre. There most certainly is none of that left.

The US has repeatedly stated that Eelam is unacceptable to them. Frankly, no one asked them for their opinion. The Tamil people, who have been ‘ruled’ by a barbaric, ruthless and irresponsible Sinhala regime in Colombo (the Trincomalee bombings being a very good example), can make up their minds without reference to ‘big brother’ in Washington, London, or Delhi.

Dr Kumar Rupasinghe, a Sinhalese like myself, but whose credentials are much more impressive, told me recently that a survey conducted by his peace group in Colombo to ascertain the opinion of Tamils in the NorthEast gave a staggering result. 85% of Tamils in the ‘uncleared,’ i.e. Government-controlled area voted for the ISGA, i.e. to give administrative authority to the LTTE. In the ‘cleared’ area, i.e. under the LTTE, it will probably be 100%. Glancing at Stokke’s recent paper will supply the answer as to why this should be so.

I recently asked another Sinhalese, who is very well informed and who lives in Colombo, what he thought of the Sinhala South. With disarming honesty he replied with a smile, “It is finished. It will all have to be scrapped and we will have to start again.” He then proceeded to justify his sweeping statement. I found the case he presented compelling. I have had similar views for some time. I was glad to have them confirmed by someone on the ground in Colombo. While Sinhalese might have to cope with a ‘failed state,’ the Tamils do not need to do so. This is one of the most compelling reasons for a separate Tamil State.

If a de facto Eelam already exists (which it does), it is not going to disappear just because George Bush or the ‘Co-Chairs’ think it should. It cannot be ‘willed away.’ It simply would not happen. Our problem, as expatriates, is to see that de facto moves to de jure.

This will not happen by sitting on our hands and hallucinating. There is work to be done. One important way is to show the world that the Sinhala government is racist, brutal, unreliable and irresponsible. The recent Trinco bombing is a good start. This is why I would like you to get involved and circulate the piece that I have written which sets out the facts.

I have been accused, by others and even by myself (!), of “preaching to the converted,” i.e Tamil expatriates. Preaching to the converted is sometimes necessary to ‘wake them up’ to the reality that an entire nation, the Tamil nation, is about to free itself from Sinhala domination for the first time in 50 years, perhaps treble that. Eelam will be established with or without our help. However, it will be nice to look back in the years ahead and say “I, too, put in my five cents.’

Despite my age (74) I have repeatedly said that I am more than happy to travel round the world, at my expense if necessary, to help the Tamil people to achieve a just peace – not just a ‘Peace,’ but Peace with Justice. I was recently asked to “Talk from the heart.” That is what I have been doing since 1948 when a million Plantation Tamils were disenfranchised and decitizenised in an act of political barbarism that is without equal in any country, civilized or uncivilized.

What is needed to achieve what the Tamil people so richly deserve is a commitment. That is what I am urging you to develop.

I’d point out one more possibility – a worrying one. One of my earliest publications was on the July 1983 massacre of Tamil civilians in Colombo. Anyone who has even a vague understanding of this blot on Sri Lankan history and a watershed in ethnic relations in that country, will know that it was premeditated with every detail planned ahead. The killing of 13 soldiers by the Tamil militants in Jaffna was only the trigger that the Sinhala hoodlums with their bosses in Jayawardene’s government were waiting for. What is important to appreciate is that, before the Tamil massacre in Colombo, there were several ‘incidents’ engineered and conducted by Sinhala racists in Trincomalee. Yes, Trincomalee – where as you know, there have been increasing ‘problems’ in the past few months. I hope that this is not a re-run of the 1983 massacre. It could well be Trinco today, Jaffna tomorrow (there are now 60,000 Sinhala troops there – up from 40,000 before Rajapakse took over), and Colombo next.

I hope I am wrong, but it is not a risk which we can take. I urge you to act NOW, Tomorrow may be too late.

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