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Tamil Eelam will be free – Green Left

[MISC, Sunday, 12 July 2009 06:42 No Comment]

Review by Graham Matthews

The Tamil Freedom Struggle in Sri LankaBy Chris Slee, Dr Brian Senewiratne & Vickramabahu KarunarathneResistance Books, 2009 38 pages, $5 (pb)Available from

There is no reason and no logic why the Tamil nation, just like the Kurdish, Basque or Palestinian nation, should not have the same national rights as the nations of the world represented in the United Nations. The new Resistance Books pamphlet, The Tamil Freedom Struggle in Sri Lanka, is a compilation of articles supporting the right to national self-determination of the people of Tamil Eelam.

There is no historical crime that was committed by oppressed nations that means they should forever be relegated to second-class status — denied the use of their own language; their culture repressed and despised; their youth jailed; their community ghettoised and even worse, as we have seen all too clearly on our TV screens, in both Palestine and Tamil Eelam over the last year and for many years.

There is one force that tries to decide who will be given national rights and who will not — imperialism.

The Tamil Freedom Struggle in Sri Lanka is a useful and timely look at the 60-year-long struggle of the Tamil people for self-determination and the complicity of imperialism in the oppression of the Tamil people.

Chris Slee, an Australian socialist who has campaigned in solidarity with the Tamil people for many years, presents a history of their struggle for freedom — from the official granting of independence of the island from the British in 1948, through the unspeakable acts of repression committed by successive Sinhala-chauvinist governments in Colombo, through to the military defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in May.

While acknowledging mistakes made by the LTTE, which alienated potential allies including Sinhalese workers and Tamil-speaking Muslims, Slee nevertheless calls for the unequivocal support of the Tamil people’s right to national self-determination.

Two articles from Socialist Alliance member Dr Brian Senewiratne — who is Sinhalese, but a strong supporter of the Tamil struggle for national self-determination, which has made him persona non grata in his homeland — clearly identifies the bloody hand of imperialism in supporting genocidal policies by Sri Lankan governments and explains the imperialist interest in opposing Tamil self-determination.

“The prize”, he says, “is Trincomalee, the forth largest natural harbour in the world, in the Tamil northeast. Trincomalee remaining in the hands of a corrupt Sinhalese regime in Colombo is a better option to it falling into the hands of an independent Tamil state.”

He explains, “to negotiate with a corrupt regime is a far easier task than negotiating with the much more disciplined Tamils”.

The pamphlet also has a contribution by Vickramabahu Karunarathne, general secretary of the New Socialist Party (NSSP), a mainly Sinhalese-left party that, unlike most of the Sri Lankan left, supports the Tamil people’s right to national self-determination.

The Tamil Struggle for Freedom in Sri Lanka does more than simply provide a history of the movement for Tamil liberation. It paints a vivid picture of a people who will not be denied their democratic right to determine their own future.

As Slee says: “The government’s denial of the right of Tamils to self-determination remains the obstacle to peace. The [Sri Lankan army] is an army of occupation in Tamil areas. Its removal from these areas is a precondition for real and lasting peace.”

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