ERASING THE EELAM VICTORY Part 9
Posted on December 12th, 2019

KAMALIKA PIERIS

The Tamil separatist movement was not prepared to take the Eelam war defeat lying down. The war ended in May 2009. The very next year, TNA called for a day of mourning in May 17.2010 the government objected but the commemoration took place. May 18 became a day of tension in the North, said the media. May 18 is for them a stark reminder of all they have lost. The government was celebrating its victory, in Colombo while prohibiting any public memorial services in the North. 

After Yahapalana took power the Tamil Separatist Movement regained its confidence. Yahapalana rule saw the rise of an assertive Tamil separatism in the Northern Province.

 In December 2015 the University of Jaffna put up black flags and posters which deified Prabhakaran and a call for Eelam. There was a revival of the Pongu Thamil movement. This movement supported the nationhood of the Tamils, their right to self-determination and the framing of the North and East regions of Sri Lanka as the Tamil homeland , said analysts. 

In October 2016, the Tamil People’s Council (TPC) staged a protest march and rally campaign called the Eluga Thamil. ‘Eluga Tamil’ means ‘Rise Up Tamil’. the Ezhuga Thamil rally called for the return of land, finding missing persons, release of those detained without trial, resettlement of displaced people and demilitarization and restoration of full civilian rule.  It also had political demands.   They wanted a federal constitution, and the merger of North and East into one large Tamil controlled province.

This was a very successful   protest march and rally. Speakers   asked Tamil people to get on the streets and protest, because sending representatives to legislative bodies will not win Tamil rights. The rally is estimated t have drawn the largest crowd after the war. An estimated 10 to 15000 had attended. The rally was supported by the university and the civil society groups, This means that the intelligentsia of Jaffna were supporting the rally, said Jehan Perera.

S.I.Keethaponcalan commented on the rally. The campaign was organized not only to protest about the problems of the Tamil people, but also to kindle Tamil nationalism. This is exactly what the slogan of Eluga Thamil means. It asks the Tamil people to rise up. Eluga Thamil type events, which are marked by nationalist fervor, could turn violent easily. They need only a minor incident, an ignition, executed by a Tamil nationalist sympathizer or a motivated opponent. The direction taken by the TPC is clear, said Keethaponcalan. It is towards radical politics, which could, in the long run, turn violent.

Tamil Makkal Peravai Organisation held a hartal in 2017, demanding the merger of the North and East, dismantling of security forces camps in the area and the right to information about their missing persons. The event was organized by Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran. Districts observed a shutdown. Offices, businesses, schools and public transport came to a halt. There was a mass rally, in Jaffna. Stones were thrown at a Vavuniya bound bus carrying army personnel.

In 2018 students of Jaffna University announced a plan to observe Sri Lanka’s Independence Day on February 4 2018 as a Black Day”, reported the media. Since independence from Britain in 1948 successive Sri Lankan governments have continually denied the Tamils their legitimate rights and heaped disabilities on them. Black Day will bring to the attention of the world the fact that since independence from the British in 1948 and even ten years after the end of the war in the island, successive Sri Lankan governments have only discriminated against the Tamil people, and failed to address their basic concerns, they said.

Black day was observed in 2019.  The media reported that Led by the Students Union of Jaffna University, large numbers of men and women in several major towns wore black armbands or headscarves and demonstrated in public places demanding the release of lands occupied by the Sri Lankan army, information about the whereabouts of their missing kin, and justice to Tamils who were subjected to war crimes” by the Security Forces during the last phase of the war. Posters called upon the army to leave the Tamil lands.

In the Jaffna University campus, the Sri Lankan national flag was brought down and a Black Flag was hoisted. former Chief Minister of the Northern Province C.V.Wigneswaran participated in a protest at the Kandaswami Hindu temple in Kilinochchi. TNA did not support the activity. TNA said that Sri Lanka’s Independence Day could not be considered a Black Day.

Jaffna University students had a major protest on March 2019, to coincide with UNHRC session in Geneva.  They demand a hybrid court to investigate war crimes allegations against Sri Lanka. Several vehicles carrying the replicas of ‘war memorial’ built at the Jaffna University in memory of LTTE cadres paraded the streets.

Vijayakala Maheswaran, State Minister of Child Affairs, staged a protest of her own. In a speech delivered at the 8th Presidential Public Service programme titled ‘Nila Mehewera for Northern Province’ held at the Veerasingham Hall in Jaffna on July 3,2018  Vijayakala Maheswaran  called for the return of the LTTE.

Today we realize from our bottom of our heart how proud we are to have lived under the times of LTTE prior to May 18, 2009. We must resurrect the LTTE in the North and East, if we want to lead a peaceful life. If our school going children are to return home safely, the hands of the LTTE should be strengthened. The LTTE must come back for us to live and to be free,” she said.

Jaffna applauded. There were posters in Jaffna in support of Vijayakala. There was uproar in Parliament. National Sangha Council asked for her arrest. Protests against Vijayakala’s statement in Galle, Biyagama, Ampara. Sinhala Ravaya filed a case against her in Colombo.

Yahapalana government   ran to appease the separatists. In 2015  it removed the proscriptions on 8 banned pro LTTE  organizations,  British Tamil Forum, Canadian Tamil Congress,  Australian Tamil congress, Global Tamil forum, national council of Eelam Tamils, Tamil National council, Tamil Youth Organization , and World Tamil Coordinating committee.

Yahapalana government released 32 terrorists held under the PTA. a further 32 will also be released reported the media in 2015. Top sea Tigress, Pakeerathy   was discharged. She had fled to France in 2000.   dangerous LTTE cadres who were deemed by the previous government to be impossible to rehabilitate, were released without trial by the present government, observed Chandraprema. it was pardoning and releasing hardcore LTTE cadres. In 2016 the media reported that Yahapalana government had cleared more than 400 people with links to LTTE.

In 2016 a delegation of Sri Lanka ministers met the UK Tamil Diaspora in a public forum and responded to their concerns. The meeting was organization by the Nonresident Tamils of Sri Lanka. Harsha de Silva and Rosie Senanayake participated.  Rosie made a public apology for the 1983 riots.

After Yahapalana took power, the Northern Provincial Council became bold.  In April 2016 NPC unanimously adopted a resolution for setting up two states in the island merging North and East in one state. The resolution also proposed a separate state parliament for the north and east.

There would also be an autonomous state for the estate Tamils. There would be Muslim majority districts as autonomous provinces within the state. Muslims opposed this. It is ridiculous to make language the basis for a re-merger. Muslims have a distinct religious and cultural identity. There was also a petition in Supreme Court against this resolution.

A resolution demanding the UN Human Rights Council to establish a special court in Sri Lanka to probe allegations of war crimes and human right violations in the North at the last stage of war on terrorism was also passed by the NPC.

The TNA was courted by the western countries during Yahapalana rule. The list of foreign official who met the TNA leaders, Sampanthan and Sumanthiran included, US House of Representatives Armed Services Committee delegation, led by McClellen Thornberry, visiting US Assistant Secretary of State, Ambassador Alice Wells   visiting United States member of Congress F. James Sensenbrenner and His Chief of Staff Matt Bisenius and Rodney Frelinghuysen Chairman, House Appropriations Committee and Rep. Henry Cuellar.

From UK cameMinister of State for Asia and Pacific Mark Field   and Members of Westminster Foundation for Democracy.   A delegation from the European Parliament Committee on International Trade, including the Standing Rapporteur for South Asia, the visiting Belgium-Sri Lanka Parliamentary Friendship Group, the visiting Norwegian State Secretary for Development Cooperation   and a senior Japanese diplomat and United Nations administrator Yasushi Akashi also met the pair.

TNA leaders Sumanthiran and Sampanthan spent the full Yahapalana period, (2015-2019) telling fancy stories to these gullible visitors. There was a glorious return to the old Tamil Separatist arguments. They said the Tamils are separate nation, the Tamils have a homeland comprising of the northern and eastern provinces and they are entitled to the right of self-determination.

Before Colonial subjugation, there were Sinhala and Tamil Kingdoms in the Country, which were captured by different Colonial powers, differently, and at different times. These different territories were unified together in 1833 under British Colonial Rule.

TNA wanted a merger of North and East provinces citing ‘the two provinces largely represent Tamil majority’. They wanted a new constitution. The 1972 Constitution was framed by one of the two major Sinhala political parties without the consent of the Tamils. So was the 1978 constitution.

Tamil people in this country are hurt and offended that they are always being treated as second-class citizens. We have been insulted and humiliated. “We cannot go on like this Sampanthan said.

Tamils were subjected to physical violence whenever they made just political demands .This happened for several decades. The result was armed revolt by Tamil Youth for almost three decades .This was a classic instance, in which the Bullet filled the void created by failure in the process of the Ballot, said Sampanthan. Sampanthan is justifying LTTE terrorism, said critics.

There was a veiled threat. if Sri Lanka’s leaders failed to negotiate with all the people to evolve an acceptable political solution, We will not hesitate to do what we must to get a just solution.

The international community must ensure that the promises and the commitments given by the Sri Lankan government are adhered to and implemented. The international community cannot be a spectator anymore with regard to Sri Lanka, said the TNA.

People in many areas in North and East are staging protests over land, persons in custody and on the issue of missing persons. “These are matters that are of concern to our people and we want the international community to play an important role in finding solutions to these issues”.

The International community must ensure that the promises and the commitments given by the Sri Lankan Government are adhered to and implemented. The International community cannot be a spectator anymore with regard to Sri Lanka. The international community must clearly state their position and ensure the non-recurrence of the past.

Chief Minister Wigneswaran agreed. “The international community has a responsibility to protect the Tamil people, he said.” Wigneswaran had his own take on the Tamil issue. The Tamils of North and East of Sri Lanka do not consider themselves as minorities, Wigneswaran said. They consider themselves as the majority. They have been in the North Eastern Province for more than 2000 years.  It is in the last 100 years that intrusions and incursions have been made into the terrain of the Tamil speaking by people from elsewhere. 

Many Sinhalese forget that the Tamils of the North and East occupied our Island even before the birth of Buddha.  The Sinhalese have another wrong perception that Sri Lanka is the land of the Sinhalese. Long before the Sinhalese language was born out of Pali, Tamil and indigenous dialects, the Tamil Dravidians have been occupying this land for centuries.   

Dayan Jayatilaka wanted to know, how come the Sinhalese, the much ‘later’ inhabitants, were settled in the best and largest part of the island while the original ones were not? Why were these so-called original (Tamil) inhabitants stuck in the least arable, most inhospitable part of the island instead of strolling down to the rivers and the lush vegetation. 

Also, If the Tamils were the inhabitants of the island before the Buddha was born and the Sinhala language arose, where did those Tamils come from? And if they came from across the water, then It is that group who are entitled to the status of original inhabitants and owners, concluded Dayan.  

Bodu Bala Sena and Sinhala Ravaya wanted legal action taken against Wiggie” and Sampanthan on their recent statements.  A complaint was lodged with the police, saying they have breached the provisions of the Constitution.

There is a highly significant degree of aggression and hostility among the Tamils in Jaffna. Here are three instances. Television news showed villagers in Kilinochchi killing a single leopard with mammoties, sticks, and knives. They kept on attacking long after it was dead. (Derana news 21.6.18) A  fight over cinema tickets at a cinema hall in Vavuniya, extended on to  the main  road. Television cameras showed youths hitting each other, with great violence.(Derana news 12.1.19)

Twelve Sri Lanka Navy personnel were injured following a clash with illegal sand miners in, Kinniya. Four among the injured were critically injured. Muttur Police arrived at the scene and called for more police reinforcements from Sampur and China Bay stations to control the situation. A group of soldiers also came to the scene. Navy personnel fired in the air to disperse an unruly crowd of about 500 people who had gathered there to protect the sand miners and protest against the Navy presence.

There was hostility abroad too. In September 2016, Chief priest of Malaysian Buddhist temple, Sentul,  in Malaysia,  was assaulted by members of the Malaysian Tamilan Association and other groups when they heard that Mahinda Rajapaksa was to visit there.  They had abused the priest with vulgarities and then hit him.  They punched him in the face and also kicked him. The group had gathered at the temple as they wanted to give a stern warning to all Buddhist temples not to allow the mass murderer Mahinda Rajapaksa here. They said they would keep vigil to make sure that Mahinda Rajapaksa did not enter the temple.

There was belligerence of another sort at the UNHRC meeting of March 2018 in Geneva. The Tamil Separatist Movement was challenged by a team led by Nalaka Godahewa and Sarath Weerasekera. Unable to   answer, the representative of the Tamil Separatist Movement got ready to assault them. They were led away. The Sinhala team observed,” You are leaving the meeting that you yourselves organized.”(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8Qf_yMu4O8.)

There was defiance too. S. Pathmanapan, a Central Bank employee, who was summoned by the Presidential Commission of inquiry probing bond scam, to record a statement, has complained to the Supreme Court that he was aggressively questioned by some officials of the Attorney General’s Department, assisting the commission.

He has said that he was taken to the Chamber of Dappula de Livera, Senior Additional Solicitor General, who questioned him. Later, he was questioned by senior Deputy Solicitor General, Milinda Goonetillake. The questioning was aggressive. He was questioned in an arbitrary, unreasonable manner.

The petitioner requested Supreme Court to prevent the Attorney General’s Department from taking action against him. Among the respondents are seven officials of the Attorney General’s Department, the present Governor of the Central Bank, some members of the Monetary Board and the members of the commission. The first respondent is de Livera. (continued)

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