Almost two years after the war – this is to the Tamil community
Posted on May 6th, 2011

By Nimal Fernando-former Observer and Gulf News (Dubai) journalist, now lives in semi-retirement in the United States)

Anniversaries are pregnant with opportunities — of the right kind.

The upcoming anniversary of the defeat of terrorism; the liberation of the Tamil community; the return to normalcy and peace, and a quicker step towards prosperity could be a vital opportunity for religious leaders, political parties and socio-cultural organisations in Sri Lanka to reach out to Sri Lankans in an unprecedented manner to hasten the healing process. 

Such a process demands a multi-layered approach when one considers the staggering losses suffered by everyone, in addition to the loss of life, both on the battlefield and in the crossfire of a nearly three-decades long ethnic conflict. Tamils in the North are fully aware of that.

In the North — apart from the thousands of children — some who had yet to mark the first decade of their lives — brainwashed and forced into the Tiger uniform, thousands more, an entire generation,lost their chance of an education because of the disruption to daily life.

 And scores of moderate, reasonable, elected leaders were gunned down on the orders of a ruthless Velupillai Prabhakharan who wanted  to wipe out any opposition to his ‘leadership’.

Identity hijacked

This is why it is imperative that this anniversary be marked, as it should, as a victory against a small band of terrorists and the liberation of the Tamil community, whose identity they had hijacked.

 Among an outstanding band of Tamil leaders removed from the scene were Alfred Duaraiyappah, MP and mayor of Jaffna (1975);

A. Thiagarajah, MP for Vaddukoddai (1981); V.Dharmalingham, MP for Manipay (1985); K. Alalasundaram, MP for Kopay (1985). 

V. Yogeswaran, MP for Jaffna, (1989) was followed by  Sam Thambimuthu, MP for Batticaloa, W.K. Yogasangari,  MP for Jaffna, and M. Kanagaratnam, MP for Pottuvil —

all murdered in 1990.

 The loss of Dr. Neelan Thiruchelvan, National List MP (1990) and Laksman Kadirgamar, MP and minister, (2005) among close to a dozen other elected office holders should make the Tamil community realise that their best hope of an inclusive, progressive life lies in rallying round all pragmatic Tamil representatives today who are endeavouring to address Tamil grievances within a unitary state.

 Would not the sense of reluctance within the Tamil community be lessened to a considerable degree if religious dignitaries, led  by the Maha Sangha, and political leaders, led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa, went among the Tamils in all parts of the country, especially in the North and East, to mark this anniversary with a message of brotherhood and shared destiny?

The majority community had always shown magnanimity in striving towards common goals. We are witness to the simple fact that democracy means majority rule; Sri Lanka seemed capable of generating good leadership from among representatives of its overwhelming Sinhala majority.

Given also the fact that the nation’s Constitution makes no ethnic distinction with regard to the rights and privileges of citizenship; contains all universal human rights and the protection of minorities, it is not hard to separate reality from utopia with regard to Tamil grievances.

New leadership needed

The fading if desperate machinations of a small part of a Tamil diaspora, more inclined towards self-interest, and a bull-in-a-China-shop approach by an increasingly discredited United Nations, makes it clear that Sri Lankan Tamils need a new leadership. A national, all-encompassing leadership, made up not only of Tamils but all elected representatives of the people …

I remember back in the late eighties, as the protracted ethnic conflict kept taking a toll on very able and pragmatic Tamil leaders, the late Anandatissa de Alwis, UNP stalwart and Minister of State in the J.R. Jayewardane Cabinet at the time, suggested in parliament that the Tamils needed leadership outside their community.

Perhaps this is an opportune time for the Tamils to look not only to their present leaders, but to the present administration at large, and specifically to a president who is both able and willing to address them in their mother tongue … not as a token gesture but as a sign of his willingness to lead and be a problem solver.

Let not this anniversary be marked by even a whiff of triumphalism, but by humanism. And let the latter never be in short supply in an ancient land that still has the sun on its back.

  (Nimal Fernando, former Observer and Gulf News (Dubai) journalist, now lives in semi-retirement in the United States)

7 Responses to “Almost two years after the war – this is to the Tamil community”

  1. prash Says:

    New leadership is needed, putting people like Karuna and KP in power will only piss off the Diaspora which I am apart of even more. We regard these people as war criminals, the Tamil People need an institution to vent their frustrations and the TNA are not cutting it. This idea of having racially based parties needs to end; I think the first step would be to organize political parties from the grass roots so each MAJOR party runs legitimate honest candidates from all nationalities and compete in every constituency. Furthermore, cabinet positions are dwelled out in a way that reflects the different regions, and identities of Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is not a mono-ethnic Buddhist, Singhalese country, and the institutions that the minorities feared need to be transformed so they can participate and feel they have some control over their destinies. If the Tamil people start to feel like they are slaves in a Singhalese state (which I fear) then we will be back to instability, at some point or another. Tremendous resources will be wasted and we will be the scum of the Earth while other countries move on to higher stages of human development. Personally with the way things are going it’s going to take a generation for the old hardliners on both sides to DIE or SHUT UP, so I really don’t have much hope. We have a once in a lifetime opportunity and I am not sure exactly what the government is doing to change things to include the minorities in the governance process. IF anyone would be so kind as to educate me, I would seriously love to research these initiatives if any exist at all. As far as I am told here in Canada the government of Sri Lanka has only engaged in a fight with us, calling us all Tigers, and collectively punishing us (everything from the IDP camps to the national anthem suggests to me the Government of Sri Lanka wants us wiped off the face of the earth).

  2. KingSasanka Says:

    Immediately after observing the most auspicious and important days in the Buddhist Calendar, the suggestion of celebrating the death of a man no matter how dreadful his track records was so repulsive that I do not think that any Sri Lankan would dare even to think.

    However, I do not think that it is inappropriate to celebrate the crippling of a false based ideology on 19th May.

  3. ranjit Says:

    Let’s celebrate the anniversary by humanism yes that’s the correct word. We can write volumes about the past argue,counter argue and so on but almost two years passed since the blood bath was over now time to move on and treat every single individual who was born to our land respectfully and kindly as we are all sons and daughters of Mother Lanka.
    If all communities love their Motherland they should rally behind this Government and support them as there is no other Government who was so close to the people and listen to the people than this. Any issues concerned any community can be discussed mutually and in a friendly way with this Goverment or with the President as he always meets different groups in his official resdence all the time. We need to build trust among peoples of all races and Tamils should find new leaders who has ideas for the twenty first century not leaders who have old ideas which doesnt suits nowadays. They must reject leaders who instigate violence and supports seperatism. They should appreciate what this Government has done after thirty years of misery and denial for them to live as human beings. This is the best time to forget the past and start a new life together happily ever after as one nation.

  4. Lorenzo Says:

    Celebration of the defeat of evil is itself a noble act. This must be celebrated at the national level.

  5. Dr.K Says:

    We Sri Lakan Sinhalese invite the Tamil brotherhood who are still dreaming on having a self ruled part in the undividable Sri Lanka to look back and realize how much they have destroyed their own relatives by now by working on and by leading others on to this never happening exercise to stop it for the sake of their own future generations and join hand with other Sri Lankans to built united Sri Lanka and start from there.

  6. Sri Rohana Says:

    18th May is a Sri Lanka patriot’s day and we have a right to celebrate that day. It is a liberation day for Sinhala, Tamil and Muslims of Sri Lanka, from megalomaniac velupillai and his tamil racist gang.
    Those who will not celebrate this day are Norway, U.S, U.K and EU spies, N.G.O’s Jehan Perera, Pakiasothi Saravanamuttu, Uyangoda, Wickramabahu etc, tamilnadian racist expansionist, anti Sinhala-Buddhists fundamentalist, Urban lumpens, Reactionary forces of U.N.P, LTTE, T.N.A and J.V.P.

  7. ranjit Says:

    Prash by living in canada you cannot understand the reallity on the ground after the war of thirty years. Please visit the country you were born and see it for yourself and give your judgement about the way Sinhalese treat your Tamil brothers and sisters. The Government of President Mahinda Rajapksa after the war invited all the Tamil and Sinhalese sons and daughters of Motherlanka who left the country during the war to come back home and start a new life. President repeatedly called the Tamils to come back and serve the Motherland nobody can deny it.

    We never treated any race as slaves.As President said all are equal and citizens born here are all Sri Lankans no Majority or Minority as they were called therefore without listning to all rumors and lies of our enemies in those countries just visit your homeland and see by your own eyes. People are happy.Children are going to schools,Farmers have started farming various kinds of vegetables,fruits and started new enterprises, Fishermen going to the sea without any harasment like before.Nobody bothers around and put a gun on your head and tax you like the terrorits did in those dark days. There’s a big change and peace prevail all over the country not a single terror related incident happened like any other country. Housing indusry is booming and new jobs created by the Goverment,new roads,bridges,schools everything is coming up slowly but surely. So Prash nobody fights with anybody just be a worthy citizen and return back to your homeland and start a new life.No other country like Sri Lanka.It’s a free,peaceful,beautiful country for all of us to live in harmony and in peace.

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