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Sinhala-Tamil Relations

Myth: Tamils are discriminated against by the Sinhalese
Reality: Tamils are treated as a different ethnic group.

Discrimination (practice) arises from prejudice (attitude) in the society. Prejudice here is the thinking that one's ethnicity is superior and the others are inferior. If Tamils are discriminated, then the Sinhalese must be thinking of themselves as superior in ethnic and cultural terms to the Tamils. But this is not true. In the 19th and early 20th century there were some attempts to identify Sinhalese with Aryans and thus to consider them superior to the Tamils. However, this view has died a natural death. Sinhalese only consider the Tamils as a different ethnic group having a different yet related culture. In fact in cultural terms there are more commonalities between the two groups than one would first assume. However, the expedient and extremist Tamil political leaders and the Tamil terrorists have deliberately omitted any reference to these commonalities. Further, a group of foreign "scholars' led by a cult of anthropologists who manipulate and interpret the Sinhalese culture still tries to portray them as intolerant villains and demons. It is only the academics who propagate this ideology for their advantage while it is not so at all at the ground level'

Sinhalese and Tamils go to same restaurants, buses, toilets and live in the same streets and villages and work in the same offices. They even go to the same Kovils. They intermarry. However, Tamils have separate Tamil medium schools and universities exclusively for the Tamils. Same is true for the Muslims. Thus, if at all, it is positive discrimination. Hindu Gods are housed in Buddhist temples and homes. Sinhalese attend Hindu festivals and prey to Hindu Gods. In fact the integration is so much that ordinary Sinhalese would not know that many of the Gods they prey to are from the Hindu pantheon.

Until recently, when the Tamils came to be identified as extremists, terrorists and murderers, thanks to LTTE and other such terrorist movements, Tamil were seen as industrious and hardworking people worth emulating. Given the corrupt nature of the UNP and PA politicians and the government, Prabhakaran is admired for his commitment to the cause, although the cause is rejected.

Myth: Sinhalese areas are unsafe for the Tamils

Reality: Sinhalese areas are the safest areas for Tamils while LTTE controlled areas are the most unsafe and the Sinhalese areas have become unsafe for the Sinhalese because of LTTE Terrorism.

The following points will prove this. The percentage of Tamils living in Sinhalese majority areas (outside Jaffna and Batticaloa Districts) have steadily increased during the post independence era. . While the extremists Tamils ethnonationalists and LTTE terrorists paint a picture of Sinhala majority areas as being unsafe for Tamils, the ordinary and not so ordinary Tamils have, in large numbers, thought otherwised and moved into and live in Sinhala majority areas. The percentage of Tamils living among the Sinhalese today is higher than ever in the history of this country. The self-evident answers to the following questions will help us understand the real picture.

1. Where do the TULF MPs live?
2. Where do the TELO MPs live?
3 Where do the EPDP MPs live?
4. Where does the Mayor of Jaffna Live?
5. Why are Tamils fleeing the LTTE controlled areas?
6. Why are Tamils moving into the army controlled areas?
7. Has the number of Tamils business establishment in Sinhalese majority areas increased over the years? 8. Has there been an increase in the number of Tamils business establishment in Sinhalese majority areas since 1980 when the LTTE terrorism intensified .
9. Has there been a mass exodus of Tamils from the Sinhala majority areas into the LTTE controlled areas.

While the Sinhala majority areas are becoming the safest place for Tamils in Sri Lanka, the LTTE controlled areas are becoming the most dangerous place for Tamils for the following reasons.

1. LTTE has used the Tamils as human shields in its guerilla attacks against the armed forces of Sri Lanka. 2. The ordinary Tamils have been used as a part of their guerrilla strategy. For example, the Tamils were forced out their homes and made refugees when the army decided to flush Jaffna peninsula of the LTTE terrorists. 3. LTTE terrorists extort money from Tamils at will.
3. LTTE terrorists torture and kill Tamil who opposes them.
4. LTTE terrorists forcibly recruit young boys and girls as soldiers without their or their parents consent and get them killed in the battle front.
5. LTTE terrorists brainwash the children into hate-souls and suicides.
6. LTTE terrorists create a war culture among the young who have come to despise the value of centuries long Hindu culture which taught them good and bad.

As a result of the LTTE terrorism in the LTTE controlled areas, the standard of living of the Jaffna Tamils (remember that LTTE has ethnically cleansed the peninsula of people of other ethnic group) has been reduced to levels before Independence. The people in these areas have been victimized by a war culture, fear, poorest standard of living, authoritarianism, unmarried women, limbless men, dead people by the liberators who were once adorned by these people as "boys".

Myth: Sinhalese are extremists and intolerant of minorities

Reality: Sinhalese are the most accommodating ethnic group while the LTTE Terrorists and the racist Tamil ethnonationalists are the extremists intolerant of others.

Extremism and intolerance if exists must be reflected in reality. It does in Sri Lanka. There is one ethnic group, which gave rise to a terrorist group. The shortsighted and extremist politicians of this ethnic group nurtured the creators of this terrorist group. The politicians and the people of this ethnic group secretly endorsed terrorism and assassinations directed against the Sinhalese and the government. No one ever wanted to speak against this terrorist group first by their own choice and later because they had no choice. As pointed out, now it has become the most ruthless terrorist movement in the world. This ethnic group is Tamils in Sri Lanka.

The ordinary Tamils were brainwashed and pushed towards extremism first by the Tamil ethnonationalist political leaders and then by the LTTE terrorists. Not so ordinary Tamils who live in western capitals have intellectualized this extremism and intolerance. And now the Tamils find themselves unable to transcend their extremism and intolerance as they are under the LTTE terrorists guns. The TULF whose original leadership was completely wiped out by the LTTE finds itself incapable of even naming LTTE as responsible for these assassinations. Instead they lobby the British Government against the possible ban of LTTE in Great Britain. Such is the extremism and intolerance and hypocrisy of Tamil political parties.

The following ground realities will indicate clearly as to who are extreme and intolerant. 1. No Sinhalese live in LTTE controlled areas. 2. The number of Tamils living in Sinhalese areas have increased over the years 3. Over 400 Sinhalese- Buddhist monks have been killed by the Tamil terrorists. 4. No Tamils were harmed even when the two most sacred Buddhist shrines in the country, namely the Sri Maha Bodi and Sri Dalada Maligawa was attacked and bombed by the Tamil terrorists. 5. The number of Sinhalese infants killed by the LTTE is over 300 6. The number of innocent Sinhalese killed by the LTTE is over 4000 7. The number of times the Tamil political parties condemned LTTE for these attacks is zero. Instead they continue to blame the "Sinhalese government".

Tamil Political Parties

Myth: Tamils want a just and fair solution.
Reality: Tamils want to break Sri Lanka into two pieces and establish a separate state.

There are several problems with the assumptions and the strategies of the Tamil political parties which have now gone into oblivion for all intent and purpose and the LTTE terrorism has taken over that role of course through terror. The assumption that Tamils aren't a minority, that by being a statistical minority they have become second class citizens; that Sinhalese are extremists and intolerant; that livening under "Sinhalese" governments is a disgrace; "Sri Lanka" army is occupying "Tamil homeland"; and that LTTE is engaged in a liberation struggle are completely wrong. The Tamil demands have always emanated not from any ground realities but through the above wrong assumptions. In a recent confrontation this came out very clearly when TULF agreed that it is not Tamil grievances but Tamil aspirations that is central to their struggle.

We too sympathize with the Tamil aspiration of not having a state of their own. But it was not the fault of the Sinhalese Tamils do deserve a state going by the "right to self-determination". Tamils should have got their separte state in Tamil Nadu (Madras) which was their cultural and political hearth. It was denied to the Tamils first by the British and then by the Ghandhi-Nehru rule in India. Thus if the Tamils in Sri Lanka want to fulfill the aspiration of the greater Tamil diaspora, they should negotiate it with the British. Perhaps the British may be kind enough to pay for the political crime committed as imperialists by curving out a part of England as Tamil homeland. Or the Sri Lankan Tamils should negotiate with India and forced India to declare Tamil Nadu free and sovereign.

Here in Sri Lanka, operating on wrong assumptions Tamils political leaders have been unreasonable, unjust and unfair from early days. First, they opposed the introduction of universal adult franchise, then demanded 50/50 distribution in the Parliament between Sinhalese and minorities. They opposed the national flag and some Tamils in Jaffna raised the nandhi flag on the Independence day. They defaced the letter Sri in the number plates arguing that it is domination by the Sinhalese. The Tamils parities competed with each other at the election campaigns in Tamil areas to vilify the Sinhalese as the worst enemy of Tamils. Then Tamil agued for a Federal State where Northern and Eastern Provinces will be exclusively Tamil and other areas will be for all ethnic groups including the Tamils. Then from the mid 1970s they wanted a separate state. The Tamil political strategy which was mostly peaceful up to 1970s changed it course and took a terrorist turn directed against the Sinhalese masses, Sri Lankan government and also those who oppose the Tamil terrorist agenda. Tamils themselves were not spared if they cross path with the terrorists.

We wish that Tamil aspirations will be realized one day in Tamil Nadu where it should have happened if not for the imperialists from the West and then the East. If terrorism is fair and just, if killing is fair and just, if sacrilege is fair and just, if suicide is fair and just, if extortion is fair and just, if using innocent people as human shields is fair and just, if the use of child soldiers is fair and just, then Tamil politics is fair and just.

Myth: Tamil political parties are moderate
Reality: Tamil Political parties are opportunistic and irresponsible and extremist.

The behavior of Tamil political parties remind me of the "crab's advise". While being extreme and dangerous in rhetoric against the Sinhalese and the Sri Lanka government, the Illankai Tamil Arasu Kadchi, TULF and other political parities were calling themselves as moderates. In fact it was the ITAK and its successor TULF's rhetoric and its agitations in Jaffna that misled the youth eventually to take arms. TULF kept a blind eye for its youth wing becoming a terrorist organization. The initial killings by these youth were hailed as heroic acts of Tamils in its goal of achieving a separate state. The extreme rhetoric of some TULF leaders and their next of kin treated the Sinhalese with such a contempt (e.g. Sinhalese's skin to make shoes for Tamils) that Tamil youth considered Sinhalese to be the reason for all ills.

TULF's language not only in Jaffna but even in the Parliament is filled with extremism and irresponsibility. When the TULF failed to deliver its utopian promise of a separate state, the task was then taken over by the Tamil youth turned terrorists. Inability to see the reality is a pathological problem of the Tamil political parties. Even when theirown founders and other leading figures are being assassinated, TULF fails to condemn the LTTE. Even when the young Tamil children are conscripted into terrorist armies, the TULF fails to condemn the LTTE. Even when the Tamil people are used as human shield in its guerrilla attacks TULF fails to condemn LTTE. Even when the LTTE extort money from the innocent civilians TULF fails to condemn LTTE. Even when the moderate Tamils begin to speak their mind, they were brutally gunned down, TULF fails to condemn LTTE. Even when the most sacred places of the Sinhalese-Buddhist among whom the live are bombed, TULF fails to condemn LTTE. Even when the Buddhist monks are assassinated in hundreds TULF fails to condemn LTTE. When infants, young boys and girls, women and elederly are brutally murdered in hundreds TULF fails to condemn LTTE. The behaviour of other Tamil political parties are not different. Tamil political parties which are condemned to follow extremism in rhetoric cannot condemn LTTE which puts these rhetoric into practice.

The latest manifestation of extremism of Tamil political parties became evident when they lobbied the British government not to ban LTTE from the British soil. Certainly, we are at a loss to see how moderate they are. Tamil people are still waiting for a moderate political party, which sees the reality not fantasy.

LTTE

There are several myth on LTTE as well. The chief among them are

LTTE is the sole representative of Tamils
LTTE are Freedom Fighters
LTTE fight only against the Sri Lankan armed forces
LTTE is an organization with high morals
LTTE respects war conventions and does not involve children
LTTE is only a passive reaction to Sinhalese discrimination

The various terrorist activities of the LTTE in Sri Lanka and abroad are more than enough to dispel the above myths (An analysis of the LTTE's long list of terror is a subject matter of a much lengthier article. It is well known that the LTTE is one of the most ruthless, senseless terrorist organizations in the world today. One may argue that it LTTE is a liberation army and only the Sri Lankan government and the Sinhalese are treating it as a terrorist organization. No and far from it. The United States has banned LTTE as a terrorist organization. United Kingdom is in the process of declaring so. The leader of LTTE, Prabhakaran is one of the most wanted terrorists in the world according to Interpol. This terrorist is according to latest available reports is responsible for over 90,000 deaths.

Conclusion

It is a fact that there is no ethnic problem in Sri Lanka and that the problem is simply LTTE terrorism directed against the Sinhalese and the Sri Lankan state and also anyone including Tamils who opposes it . It is a myth that there is a Tamil homeland in Sri Lanka and that the creation of a separate state of eelam will solve the problems of the Tamil whatever they are. We are yet to identify factually, not mythically the real problems of the Tamils that are different from those of the Sinhalese. Thus the first step in finding a solution to the problem in Sri Lanka is simply to understand what the problem is not mythically but factually. Thus it is very important for all to dispel the myths about Tamil ethnonationalism and LTTE. The half informed foreign journalists, international peace makers who are more concerned about making a name than solving a problem, so called Tamil intellectual who are trying to pay for the guilt of living a luxurious life in the west, the misguided Tamil politicians who are not willing to accept that Tamils are a minority in Sri Lanka and that there is no Tamil homeland here, the LTTE who thrives upon an utopia of a separate state of eelam and the ordinary Tamils who have suffred the most from the wrong rhetoric, policies and strategies of Tamil political parties and the terrorist movements must dispel the myths and must accept the reality.

The biggest challenge for Sri Lanka today is nothing but to protect the state, the Sinhalese, other minorities and the Tamils themselves from LTTE terrorism. It is the constitutional duty of the state to do so. It is the moral duty of the Sinhalese as creators and founders of this country to do so. It is the politically correct thing for the Tamils of all walks of life to help the Sinhalese and the Sri Lankan state to bring an end to LTTE terrorism before the LTTE will bring an end to the Tamils of Sri Lanka. Time is still with good people.

 

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