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Time for diaspora to stand up for homeland Tamils: Father S.J. Emmanuel

[TamilNet, Monday, 6 July 2009 17:33 No Comment]

    Former Vicar General of the Catholic diocese of Jaffna, Rev. Dr. S.J. Emmanuel, in an open appeal issued from Germany on Monday urged the diaspora Tamils to hasten to help the Tamils suffering in the island Sri Lanka. "Neither the Tamils who are suffering in silence have the strength to stand up or speak up for themselves nor the few Sinhalese are able to give their voice for the Tamils because these are quickly labelled as non-patriots, if not, traitors. The only people who can help them in some way or other are the Diaspora Tamils," he writes in his first part of the article. The second part will deal with the need to unite and organise the diaspora for further Struggle.

    Let us hasten to help the Tamils suffering within Sri Lanka as well as unite and organise ourselves for further Struggle

    Father S.J.Emmanuel /Germany

    fr_s_j_emmanuel_71495_200 As a catholic priest and a direct witness and victim of the six decades of the ethnic conflict and its consequences especially for the Tamils in the island, I have also been struggling along with others for the just aspirations of the Tamils. Faced with a horrendous situation in the Tamil struggle, I want to share my concerns and express my views with regard to the Tamils still struggling to survive the atrocities of the GOSL as well as suggesting how best we can struggle further.

    • In Tamil: Article by Rev. Dr. S.J. Emmanuel (Part I)

        I am convinced of the urgent help we the Diaspora Tamils owe to our suffering brethren inside the island and of the need among us to be united in moving to the next phase of the Struggle with renewed convictions and with necessary adjustments in our roles and forms of actions.

          1. Our foremost priority is to help our brethren in pain

            None can exaggerate the importance and urgency of the work to be done immediately by the Diaspora Tamils to save our brethren still struggling to survive the genocidal actions of the GOSL with the connivance, if not, the euphoric support of the majority of Sinhalese.

            1. According to reliable reports almost 30,000 Tamil civilians have died, another 60,000 injured, and 20,000 disappeared from the internment camps. There are still 300,000 Tamils suffering immensely and humiliated behind barbed-wired concentration camps around Vavuniya, devoid of minimum freedom, food, clothing and shelter and separated from their dear children or parents. Over 9000 innocent Tamil youth are kept in special camps as terror-suspects along with other youth combatants who surrendered. These are kept under inhuman conditions. Many of the youth are taken daily to some secret locations in the south to be tortured and questioned. Some of them disappear after torture without any amnesty.

            2. The fears and humiliation of those Tamils living in the south among the Sinhalese are increasing as a result of threats and extortions. Similarly those living in the North under the Sinhala army control are subject to undue military control and illegal demands of Tamil paramilitaries and quislings.

              1. The GOSL is shamefully keeping all doors to the “concentration camps” still closed to media and NGOs – even of the UN and the ICRC. Basic humanitarian aid is either denied to or too little for the inmates. And the truth about the conditions therein is kept unknown to the world outside.

              1. The reasons for the shameful and arrogant refusal to open its doors to the media and INGOs and representatives of international bodies are strongly suspected to be the following:

                1. The armed forces are engaged in many insidious agenda of killings – of past combatants who already surrendered but could again become a future threat to its state-terrorism, of civilians who worked as bureaucrats in the Tiger administration of civilian life, and of innocent youngsters in the age group who the GOSL think that they could become future rebels.

                2. The armed forces are erasing all possible evidence for war crimes and of heavy weapons used against the people

                3. The armed forces are engaged in rooting out all semblance of Tamil presence in the historically established homeland of the Tamils, by planting Buddhist statues and preparing the place for future Sinhala settlements.

                  1. This was exactly the pattern of earlier genocides in other countries. Is there any hope of the GOSL changing its genocidal activities or saner Sinhala thinking returning?

                4. Helplessness and Hopelessness of the victimized Tamils Vs Silence and Inaction of the Sinhalese

                  With the end of the war in Wanni and the massacre of our leadership that was in Wanni, we are facing entirely new situations within the island . With the present struggle for existence and fight for survival as human beings, the Tamils within the island cannot be expected in the near future to have the strength of will to stand up and question the unjust manner in which they are forced to suffer.

                  The GOSL is engaged in such a crime with an arrogance and total disregard for the views not only of the genuine peace-loving Sinhalese but also of the international community. Stories heard from the Tamils either behind barbed-wires or from those under Sinhala-army occupation in the North or from those living in the South point clearly to more arrogant and non-sympathetic attitudes among the majority Sinhalese.

                  The hope of the Tamils for a reasonable and peaceful resolution of the conflict was based on the goodness of the majority Sinhalese and the enlightened and courageous leaders among them. But the eloquence and activity of the few have overtaken the silence and passivity of the majority.

                  Even the Christians who, in spite of their minority and westernized character in earlier centuries, since Independence in 948 have enjoyed unique resources and strategy for a mediatory and peace-building activities among the Sinhalese and the Tamils. Besides Christians were called to play a key role in building a true Sri Lankan unity and identity out of the multi-ethnic multi-religious diversities. But they could not go beyond some humanitarian services and occasional appeals. Their silence and passivity is due to an innate fear for the Buddhist majority and lack of prophetic courage as expected of the followers of Christ. Their conspicuous silence and inaction has also contributed to the escalation of the conflict. (I here refer to my booklet of 1994 with the title – Church,Politics and War in Sri Lanka) and the present catastrophe.

                  Even during the last few decades when the LTTE leadership adopted a double strategy of confronting state-terrorism and of having talks with the GOSLs, this basic Tamil trust on the innate goodness of the Sinhalese was still present. But the stance taken by the GOSL of Rajapakse-Brothers vis a vis the Tamils as well as the increasing silencing or weakening of the religious-leaders, the civic- leaders and of the media leave the Tamils with very little hope of a transparent, reasonable and just handling of the Tamils caught up in inhuman and fearful situations.

                  In short, neither the Tamils who are suffering in silence have the strength to stand up or speak up for themselves nor the few Sinhalese are able to give their voice for the Tamils because these are quickly labelled as non-patriots, if not, traitors. The only people who can help them in some way or other are the Diaspora Tamils.

                  1. How can the Diaspora help?

                    Having the means and the resources in our Diaspora situation,

                    1. We have to be vigilant about the day to day moves by the GOSL and the fast worsening plight of our people. The future of Tamil-life on that island as a whole will depend much on what the GOSL does in the next few months, mostly behind closed doors – under the pretext of rehabilitation, filtering of terrorists or potential-terrorists and clearing of landmines in the Northeast for multi-ethnic settlements.

                    2. With freedom and democracy suppressed by an arrogant dictatorship of the Rajapakse-brothers and the genocidal events continuing behind closed doors, it is the sacred duty of the Diaspora Tamils to bring these crimes to the international community and press for action. Whatever information we get by various means about our suffering brethren have to be passed on to the Governments and NGOs in our respective countries. Thus we help make a systematic compilation of facts and figures, interviews and all forms of media-documentations regarding the war crimes committed by the GOSL.

                    3. We could organise material help in conjunction with int. NGOs like the ICRC and the Caritas International and other humanitarian organisations which work through state channels. Let us be careful in responding to calls by NGOs from south Sri Lanka, who connived with the Wanni massacre, but now making humanitarian calls for their own profits.

                    4. Added to the present suffering of the Tamils is the attempt by the Government to make full use of the pseudo-Tamil-leaders, who have been traitors and betrayers of the Tamil cause for liberation, cause more confusion and fear among them. They are used merely to further execute the will of the majority Sinhalese in completing the ethnic cleansing that is now going on. Large sums of money appear to be made available by the GOSL to bribe supporters and traitors; disappearances and tortures will further increase.

                    1. Let the above efforts by the Diaspora Tamils be hastened and not halted in expectations of future structures or organisations. Every day and every hour is decisive for the survival and liberation of our people.

                      (to be continued…)

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