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Heroes’ Day 2009: The year for keeping the flame for Tamil Eelam

[MISC, Saturday, 28 November 2009 11:32 No Comment]

By Satheesan Kumaaran

Unlike the previous years, this year’s annual Heroes’ Day celebrated, as usual, at the critical time when the LTTE is not holding an identified territory as they previously did as a de facto state. This year the concept is kept alive through celebrations that are kept by the Tamil Diaspora. The Tamils, world over, join hands this year with the slogan that they will meet in independent Tamil Eelam next year. The million dollar question is whether the independent Tamil Eelam State will be gained through violent means, or peaceful means, and how the so-called defeated LTTE will change their strategies to gain independence and self-determination for the Tamil people.

When the LTTE was facing defeat at the hands of the Sri Lankan armed forces last year, the LTTE leader, Velupillai Pirapaharan, delivered his Heroes’ Day speech on November 27, on the final day of the week-long celebrations to commemorate the martyred heroes. Incidentally, this was just the day after Pirapaharan’s birthday. Rather than declaring war, he refrained from throwing strong words at the Sri Lankan armed forces and the government. Pirapaharan focussed mostly on calling on the international community and India to lift their ban on the LTTE and to help create an atmosphere of mutual friendship, since the LTTE did not pose a threat to any other country in the world.

Last year Pirapaharan spoke more about peace, outlining the need for a peaceful settlement to the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. He outlined circumstances leading to Tamil youths taking up arms against the Sri Lankan government, subsequent to the Sri Lankan State, failing to address the grievances of Tamils through peaceful means from the time the country gained independence from Britain, in 1948.

Global intelligence agencies and anti-LTTE elements were calculating that the LTTE leader would declare war and fight back against the Sri Lankan armed forces, but the LTTE leader made a decisive decision. He realized the need of the hour was to change his strategy towards winning the rights of Tamils through peaceful means, in stark contrast to his previous statements in which he showed more interest in dealing with the Sri Lankan State through military means. This statement shows that the LTTE leader was handling the issue seriously, through political and strategic thinking.

Last year I raised the question as to whether Sri Lanka would fall into the trap of the LTTE military. Will it suffer both political and diplomatic blows in the international arena? An answer to these questions came with a sad end. The LTTE withdrew tactically to fight another day, and if they had failed to achieve freedom through peaceful means, it was well understood that the LTTE would not have needed years to fight. They already had the good reputation of the international community of being good co-operators with the new world order. The Sri Lankan State is now facing political and economical chaos, awaiting diplomatic blowback from the international community. The military murdered more than 20,000 civilians, abused human rights of normal civilians, and incarcerated nearly 250,000 Tamils within razor wired camps, in Vavuniya and elsewhere, in the traditional Tamil homeland. Even the Sri Lankan Consul General in Toronto, Bandula Jayasekera, when giving a short interview to Steve Paikin, of TVO, on November 24, at 11 p.m., said that there are no minority issues in Sri Lanka.

To the question of treating the Tamils in the internment camps in Vavuniya, Jayasekera, once the editor of the Sri Lankan government-controlled the Daily Newspaper, said that the LTTE propagandists are making the issue a huge one. The many Tamils were already released and the remaining Tamils will be released soon. He further said there is no violence or other such events taking place against Tamils. He also made a contradictory statement to the question of why the Sri Lankan government expelled the former Ontario premier and the current Liberal Party foreign critic, Bob Rae, when he arrived at the airport in Colombo, Sri Lankan immigration officials deported him without letting him go inside Sri Lanka. Jayasekera said Bob Rae knew the reason why he was expelled and Sri Lanka would not tolerate anyone who supports LTTE.

To the question of what would be the political solution to the Sri Lankan ethnic conflict, he said Sri Lanka would not have to study the Canadian or Indian model to solve the Sri Lankan conflict. But, Sri Lanka will have its own model to solve the problem. He said democratic politicians such as Anandasangaree of TULF, Siddharthan of PLOTE and Devandana of EPDP support the government. However, he said politicians like Mano Ganesan, many NGOs like Amnesty International speak in favour of their paymasters, which is the LTTE. He reiterated that the Sri Lankan government had given access to more than 50 organizations, including the UN agencies.

Political commentators say that the statements of Jayasekera are incorrect. Even now, the Sri Lankan government does not allow any agencies, except the ones hand-picked by the government with the condition that they would only visit the areas designated by the government.

It is obvious that the global community have clearly understood the aspirations and the demands of the Tamils. They strongly condemned the Sri Lankan State for the systematic programme of unleashing genocide on Tamils with the Sri Lankan State at the top of their list for genocide. Despite their empty rhetoric in international forums, it is unlikely that the Sri Lankan State would be able to recover from such a slur that has come to stay.

India cannot abandon Eelam Tamils

As what Pirapaharan reiterated in his speech last year, great changes are taking place in India. India cannot remain a silent spectator until the Eelam Tamils gain their share of justice, which was what the LTTE was fighting for. For over three decades, over 30,000 LTTE fighters, and more than 120,000 Tamil civilians, have paid a supreme sacrifice in the name of freedom.

The LTTE and the Eelam Tamils are expecting the Tamils of India to support the freedom movement for Tamil Eelam. India should remember that the independent Eelam will be a lot friendlier than the Sri Lankan State, unlike what anti-LTTE and anti-Eelam elements might accuse them of. They claim that separate Tamil Eelam would encourage the southern Indian States to fight for separate States to secede from Indian federation. There is no truth in this because the people of all the States in India enjoy political equality and democracy, unlike the Tamils of Sri Lanka. In fact, politically and economically, it would be an advantage to live in a greater land mass, as in India. The Sri Lankan Tamils were driven to seek separation to break the shackles of oppression by the Sri Lankan State.

The Sri Lankan government declared publicly that the LTTE leader was killed in the final phase of the war, which ended in May 2009. Indian senior officials, too, acknowledged that they would investigate the matter, and submit the dead certificate of the LTTE leader, but the issue does not seem have taken any effect so far.

Tamils, world over, are hoping that India immediately gets the certificate, closing the Rajiv assassination case, allowing India to lift the ban on LTTE. Tamils in India, especially the Tamil Nadu government, must put pressure upon New Delhi to lift the ban on LTTE.

No time to discuss conspiracy theory

This is not the year to discuss what exactly happened to the LTTE leader. The Tamils should, however, understand that the LTTE leader was a classic tactician with over three decades of military, political, and diplomatic experience and manoeuvres. There is no doubt that his vision would enable to create independent Tamil Eelam. So, the Tamils have no need to enter into disputes and discussions on whether or not the LTTE leader is dead or alive. The principles that the LTTE fought for remain alive amongst the Tamil Diasporas. The question is what strategies should be adopted to achieve these? There is a cauldron of thinking amongst before a final shape is given to the form of the struggle.

The immediate issue is not of entering into arguments, but rather directing the energies towards getting the release of tens of thousands of people who are incarcerated in the camps, as well as to get the release of those kept as prisoners without any form of trial or inquiries and those held in secret locations by the Sri Lankan armed forces, with the allegation that they are members of the LTTE. These members are severely tortured and their whereabouts are still unknown.

Our energies and our oath are on this Heroes’ Week. We have the challenge and duties ahead of us to face as our brethren are facing enormous hardships as never before. We need to help them resettle in their villages. Also, we have the duty to put pressure upon the international community to bring the perpetrators of the genocidal war to book for crimes and crimes against humanity.

We can’t simply ignore the claims by the enemies of Tamil Eelam. We need to let them bark, because barking dogs never bite. The reality is that Tamil Eelam will come into being sooner than late. Facing defeat is nothing new for liberation movements such as the defeat of LTTE, by the Sri Lankan armed forces, which was nothing but a tactical approach to keep the enemy at bay. The friends of Tamil Eelam around the world will have no choice, but to declare Tamil Eelam an independent state in the near future.

This is not the week for weeping for the martyrdom fighters, and people who died for the cause of Tamil Eelam. This is the week for taking forward what they left behind when they were dying. It is the responsibility of global Tamils, whether they are Indian, Burmese, Malaysian, Singaporean, Fiji, Australian, South African, Canadian, American, British, Swiss, German, French, Norwegian, Swedish or Danish Tamils, to take the oath to fulfill the last undying wishes of the martyred freedom fighters and the people. Let us keep the flame, for the martyred freedom fighters, and for the people this year in our homes, while conducting peaceful assemblies around the world. Take this phrase, ‘Vanakkam, let’s meet in Tamil Eelam next year, as our vow on this year Heroes’ Week, as the dawn of Sun in the east is clearly seen.’

(The author can be reached at e-mail: satheesan_kumaaran@yahoo.com)

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