Nalin, Champika and Prebaharan
Dr Vickramabahu Karunarathne
I had to face Prof Nalin Silva and Mr Champika Ranawaka in two separate debates recently. One at the Katubedde Campus other at the Public Library Hall. Both of them are vehemently opposed to the peace process started by the UNF regime. But they have two different political projects. Nalin wants to rebuild SLFP as the "party of the Sinhala nation". He says JVP could drop Marxism and collaborate with the SLFP. For Nalin , Champika is a Sinhala "Piribhaharan". On the other hand Champika believes both the SLFP and the JVP are not interested in a Sinhala National Liberation. He has no further comments on Nalin. However , both agree that there are no other community in Sri Lanka with national rights except the Sinhala community. All other communities should accept the supremacy of the Sinhala Nationality and adjust their community activities accordingly.
They say there is no real , organic Tamil National uprising in Sri Lanka. The Tamil campaign is a planted uprising maintained by vested interest. Even after these two consecutive debates with them, still I am at a lost as to who these vested interests are. They refered to three different elements: firstly the Tamil international conspiracy , secondly, the Christian conspiracy and finally the Western conspiracy dating back to 1505 AD. Neither of them present a social analysis and both are equally opposed to Marxism and refer to it to as a part of the Western cultural conspiracy , spread through out the world.
Of course I agree that there is an International Tamil net work based on Sri Lankan Tamil diasphora , that supports the Tamil Liberation struggle. All liberation struggles, in the recent past had such networks of supporters , build around emigre groups. These organizations arise when committed people are driven out of the country to find refuge in a tolerant foreign state. Thus, it is the result of the uprising and certainly not the cause of it. Secondly it is clear that Christian Churches are sympathetic to the struggle. Obviously Christian priests are interested in influencing the struggling Tamil youth with their Christian ideology. I believe, that is what they are for. At the same time there are Christian leaders and priests who are totally with either Nalin or Champika. At least having the same hate towards the Tamil liberation struggle. Mr. S L Gunasekara and Fr Oska Aberatne are two classic examples.
Finaly, the Western conspiracy theory is a monstrous caricature of the Marxist analysis of Global Capitalism. Global capitalism has to go along with nationalist movements in order to subvert them to their capitalist "Open" economic policies. There is a vast deference between the colonial policies of West European countries in the past centuries and the present polices of Global Capitalism. It is hilarious to claim on the onehand that a Western conspiracy is behind the Tamil liberation struggle , and then on the other hand to expect American, British and French forces to help Sri Lanka regime to suppress Tamil terrorism. One Champika supporter put the following question to me: "Why is it wrong to terrorise the criminal LTTE into submission, using the help of Western Armed forces ? " Both Nalin and Chamipka showed relief and approval that the Bush administration has moved against terrorism after Sept. 11th incident. In this context , I found it extremely difficult to understand what they mean by the "Western conspiracy behind the Tamil uprising". They could not give any valid reason as to why Western powers should undermine the Sri Lankan regime and plant a Tamil separatist movement in this country. Also it is absurd to believe that the same Western powers will use their armed power to crush this separatist movement.
Some of their followers are genuinely confused about the concept of homeland. No homeland in this world is exclusive in the sense that no other community, except one, could live there. Claim of homeland is not directly related to babaric ethnic cleansing. If a community has been living continuously in a region , by and large , in the recent period , then in general that land is considered to be their homeland. India is a collection of such homelands. In fact each state is named after the community related to it. But no one has exclusive rights. All are Hindustanis but Hindus have no exclusive rights either. Entire land of Sri Lanka could be considered to be the homeland of Sinhala , but not exclusively. In addition within Sri Lanka there could be a Tamil homeland for Sri Lankan Tamils. Already Veddha homeland is recognized in this since. So why not a Tamil homeland? If such recognition is not possible then Tamils have no option except the struggle for separation with terror and violence.
One repeated question coming from this camp is: what is the discrimination faced by Sri Lankan Tamils? To me it is such a foolish question that should not be answered. But surprisingly some people are really convinced that Tamils didnot face any discrimination in the past. This is totally false. In fact all Tamil speaking people faced a major problem when Sinhala only was implemented under the pretext of turning to Suwabasa from English. The Banda-Chelva pact which proposed redress to this imbalance was thrown into the dustbin due to the pressure of Sinhala Chauvinists. Then came the worse. Tamils were brutally punished by pogroms for demanding equality within Sri Lanka. Not only that. There after every time reforms were proposed , Sinhala Chauvinism rose its head and violence was directed at Tamils. This cycle went on until Tamils started armed resistance and counter attack.
" O K" they say, " What has the LTTE got to do with Tamil suffering?. It has eliminated all other Tamil leaders and doesnot discuss any discriminations , but fights for separation". Champika claims that the Tiger movement is not based on Tamil feelings at all. "It is an agency of a foreign conspiracy , keeping its hold by terror and intimidation". Champika goes further and claims LTTE to be a Nazi party, a fascist party with which no compromise is possible. They keep on hammering at it with the hope that any body listening will finally agree that elimination of the LTTE should be done before any discussions on Tamil rights. In fact ,many who donot agree with Nalin or Champika or with JVP , to that matter , consider this as a sound argument: the LTTE is separate and nothing to do with the Tamil Liberation. Hence the fight against the LTTE should continue and Tamil Autonomy should be discussed separately.
All this apparent good sense is merely a cover for outright racism. If cruelty and ferocity are the only factors that are considered to classify an organization as fascist , then all liberation movements in the past and in the present could be classified as fascist organizations. This will include the Viet Cong , ANC and the PLO. Of course , the JVP also cannot escape. However none of these organizations are classified as fascist by Nalin or Champika. The LTTE is a product of hatred and anger of Tamil people against discrimination and cruel repression. The negative features of the LTTE or the Tamil uprising in general , could be eliminated only by giving equality, autonomy and the right of self determination of the Tamil people. Tamils , and Tamils only , can decide in the final analysis the place to be given to Prebaharan and the LTTE. Those who propose war against the LTTE while paying lip service to a political solution, are really worse than Nalin or Champika. At least these two are open in their rejection of a political solution.
Fascism , as it appeared in history is a product of decaying industrial capitalist system. Defeat of German and Italian imperialisms in the first world war and the subsequent social crisis led to the rise of fascism , which had in its agenda the decimation of working class organizations and racial subjugation of non Teutonic people. Fascism is thus a political expression of the ruling class in a highly developed industrial society in crisis. What has the LTTE got to do with that? LTTE is an expression of desperate and oppressed Tamil people. Their barbarism and cruelty are products of oppression and discrimination.
Any one who is seriously interested in neutralizing violence and terror of the LTTE , or to break the dictatorial of hold of the LTTE , should promote peace and active participation of the Tamil people in democracy. Today Tamil masses are participating in the Pongu Tamil movement. This shows that masses will enter history and play a democratic role in the coming period. It is the duty of the left to counter Shinhala chauvinism and win the confidence of the Tamil masses and strengthen the unity among all communities.
Dr Vickramabahu Karunarathne MPC NEW LEFT FRONT 17, Barracks
Lane Colombo 02, Sri Lanka Tele; +94 1 430621 Fax; +94 1 305963 E mail
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