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Now it is the turn for cultural Genocide in the Tamil homeland

[Press Release, Friday, 29 October 2010 07:30 No Comment]

By Satheesan Kumaaran

With the genocide of the Tamils almost complete, no time is being lost to culturally change the face of the Tamil homeland with xenophobic zeal. When the war was raging in the traditional Tamil homeland, many countries around the world, including India, raised their voices to say that Tamil aspirations should be fulfilled peacefully.  Things have changed.  With the LTTE silencing their guns in May last year, the Sri Lankan government is taking every opportunity to destroy the Tamils and their culture through various methods including grabbing their lands for the Sinhalese from the south with hundreds of thousands of Sinhalese plunging into Tamils’ cultural city Jaffna with malicious a agenda, and new Buddhist temples being erected on a daily basis throughout Tamil home lands.

The Sri Lankan government’s agenda to eliminate the Tamils by destroying their culture follows the adage that “if you want to destroy a particular ethnic group, destroy their culture and their concept of a homeland”.  With this in view, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s brother, Basil Rajapaksa, a renowned racist and Minister for Economic Development and Chairman, has been entrusted with the task.  Presidential Task Force for Development, Resettlement and Security in the Northern Province has come up with the agenda in order to achieve the Sinhalisation of traditional Tamil homeland for which Tamils have fought over 60 years both peacefully and militarily until the defeat of the LTTE last year.

The latest instance was the unauthorised entry into the Jaffna public library by some Sinhalese people from the South who demanded that they be allowed because they had come from the presidential secretariat a classic example of how the unauthorized Sinhalese people could once again desecrate cultural centres with government patronage and with impunity. 

On Saturday, 23, October 2010 a group of Sinhala visitors from the South rushed into library while the All Ceylon Medical Association sessions were in progress. The group was a section of Sinhala tourists who had arrived in more than 30 buses to the main entrance of Jaffna Public Library. Although there was a sign board in three languages – Sinhala, Tamil and English — on display that no visitors will be allowed during the usual visiting hours 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm on account of the  conference, the Sinhala visitors had demanded from the  security guard and the only unarmed policeman to allow them in. Following a heated argument, the visitors smashed the sign board and overpowered the guard and stormed into the library where the seminar was in progress. Meanwhile, the policeman had alerted the Jaffna police station. The local headquarters inspector arrived on the scene, but was threatened by a member of the group claiming he was from the Presidential Secretariat. The Inspector was forced to withdraw from the scene. Later, Jaffna Town Commander and Civil Affairs Co-ordinator, Major Bandara, arrived at the scene. He, too, failed in his attempt to control the crowd. The visitors who stormed into the library had torn some of the Tamil newspapers displaying photographs of Tamil politicians. They also threw into disorder the books in the Library shelves which were systematically arranged according to standard procedure. The mob spent nearly three hours inside the Library, defying rules of the library. This is instance of the serious threats to Tamil culture in the future.

Sinhala Buddhist Xenophobia

Sinhala Buddhist extremists continue to claim that the Tamils are either boat-people or conquerors who encroached the lands occupied by Sinhalese, stating that the Tamils from South India occupied north and eastern parts of the island.  On the other hand, the main Sinhala Buddhist Chronicle, the ‘Mahavamsa’, the bedrock of Sinhala Buddhist chauvinism, clearly states that Vijaya, the first Sinhalese to reach Sri Lanka from north-eastern part of India to Sri Lanka, India, along with his 700 followers, went back to South India to marry Tamil women whose descendents constituted the Sinhalese race, before the Tamils settled in Sri Lanka. 

One does not have to be a rocket scientist to assume that the Dravidian Tamils were seen as pearl divers and they were popular seafaring people.  As this is the case, why would not these people settle well before the arrival of Vijaya in the 6th century B.C. to Sri Lanka as stated by Sinhala-Buddhist chronology?  It is logical to believe that the Tamils were inhabitants of the island.  As these people were native to dry lands, they settled in north and eastern parts of the island which with warmer climates as their counterparts in South India.  Even historians and archaeologists claim that Shiva, the Hindu god, temples were seen in ancient Sri Lanka.  There were five Eeswarams of Siva-Thiruketheeswaram near Mahathitha, Munneswaram dominating Salamatte (Chillaw), pearl fishery Thondeswaram near Dondra, Thirukoneswaram near the great Bay of Kottiyar (Trincomalee) and Naguleswaram near Kankesanturai.  Through this analogy, it is obvious to believe that the Tamils who were Hindus were well settled in Sri Lanka before Vijaya reached Sri Lanka.

The Sinhala-Buddhist claim for the entire island as Sinhala-Buddhist land has no credibility at all.  Tamils were living throughout North and Eastern parts of Sri Lanka well before the Europeans arrived on the island.  They had their own kingdoms and even when the Sinhala kings sent their troops to take over Tamil lands, the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu Chola Empire sent troops to save Tamil kingdoms in Sri Lanka.

However, as to the origins of the earliest inhabitants of Sri Lanka, Dr A. Paranavtharna, a well known researcher  and  former Archaeological Commissioner and Professor of Archaeology, had said: “Thus the vast majority of the people who speak Sinhalese or Tamil must ultimately be descended from those autochthonous people of whom we know next to nothing”. 

After Britain left the island in 1948, the administration of the entire island went into the hands of the majority Sinhalese.  Sinhalese brought anti-Tamil legislation weakening the Tamils politically, economically and academically.  As a result, Tamils fought through peaceful means, but their peaceful campaigns were met with violence.  As a result, Tamil youths took up arms to protect their identity and return their legacy.  In the post 9/11 era, the world community began classifying all fighters as terrorists whether they fought for the right to self-determination or any other ideology.  Now, Tamils are in the clutches of the Sinhala government facing enormous hardships and their existence is being closely scrutinized and spied upon at every turn. 

Strategies to eliminate Tamils

Basil Rajapaksa, in overseeing the methods put in place to eliminate Tamils from their homeland, began by chasing away the Tamils from their villages in the 15,000 square-kilometer Vanni region.  When the Tamils fled their homes due to shelling and bombardment of the Sri Lankan government forces, the government put them in Nazi-style camps systematically and successfully. 

Even though the government claims that more than 250,000 Tamils have been resettled, the actual fact is that they have released most of the people who were incarcerated in the Nazi-style camps and yet many of them are not allowed to enter their home villages claiming that the areas are not safe from landmines, a story so stale that would be told till the cows come home. 

On the other hand, the Sri Lankan government is sending in hundreds of Sinhalese, who are relatives of government loyalists and especially families of the Sri Lankan armed forces, into the Vanni region.  The Vanni region is in the process of Sinhalisation.  While the original landowners live with their relatives or friends and or temporary shelters, Sinhalese from south are being given the prime real estate of their choice on the instructions of the rabid racist party of predominantly Buddhist monks.

Already, Tamils, who were the majority in the regions before the island gained independence, have been minorities in their homeland in the eastern part of the island.  Many village names are being replaced with Sinhala names.  Communal tension is high in this region.

Now the Sri Lankan government’s agenda is to colonize the North where over 90 percent are Tamils.  Unless the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), which is the Tamil political party with majority Tamils votes in Sri Lankan parliament, does take necessary steps to stop the Sinhalisation of Tamil lands, the North will become a Sinhalese region in less than five years.  The question is whether the Tamils who the Rajapaksa brothers claim live in Sinhalese areas have had the influence the naming of Sinhala areas in Tamil.

Sinhalese ownership claim in Jaffna

Basil is on the move to bring about 5,000 Sinhalese to Jaffna peninsula with the claim that they lived there before the war broke out in 1983. Actually, they were advised to leave the north by the security forces as there was a massive Pogrom that was being planned by the State. The first of these persons started to leave while the Jaffna public library was burning.   Already 500 families comprising 2,000 individuals have reached Jaffna, paying huge sums as rent or purchasing properties at high prices.

The Sinhalese tourists engage in activities which are not tolerated with conservative Jaffna civilians such as the promotion of pornography, prostitution and easy access to illegal drugs and alcohol available at cheaper prices.  The Sri Lankan government knows that by destroying Tamil culture, they think that they can eliminate the Tamils and their identity.  This way, the Sri Lankan government thinks that the Tamils are no longer a homogenous community but they have turned into a mix-breed, and hence they will not demand a separate Tamil State. 

In a new episode, a few weeks ago, 180 Sinhalese were brought into Jaffna peninsula, temporarily sheltered at the Jaffna Railway Station and the Duraiappa Stadium.  These people do not seem to be families, but they are mostly teenagers and adults.  Most of these people were brought from Anuradhapura and Mihinthale, and some of them are nurses and other professions in health care.

As per the Sri Lankan government’s agenda, Basil oversees the process of insertion of the Sinhalese with the support of the Sri Lankan army authorities and senior Sri Lankan government ministers.  They want the Sinhalese to be settled in the lands owned by the Tamils who were forced to abandon their homes by the Sri Lankan army with the excuse that those areas are designated as high security zones which apparently are suitable for the Sinhalese to live in but not the Tamils, revealing the degree of suspicion, discrimination and inequality that the Tamils who are referred to also being Sri Lankan citizens have to endure in a racist State. The irony is that the owners of the lands are not able to visit their properties as the Sri Lankan armed forces have put up camps in the civilian lands and the government is trying to settle Sinhalese in these areas. 

The government also thinks that by settling Sinhalese, it could create an ethnic confrontation like how it is in the East.  Further, the government feels that the settlement of Sinhalese will weaken the political representation of the Tamils. It is necessary that that Tamils take immediate necessary steps, especially the Diasporas, by setting aside their petty differences, coming closer together pressuring their respective governments to prevail on the Sri Lankan government to grant autonomy for the Tamils by the reorganization of North and East as the traditional homeland of Tamils, a concept which was put forward in 1976 by the elected representatives of the Tamils in 1976.

What do politicians say?

Although the ruling United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) government always have opposite views on almost all issues with the opposition United National Party (UNP), both parties agree on one issue, which is the Tamil issue. If the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) or UPFA takes action against Tamils on any issue, the UNP will come forth with stronger terms much heavier than the SLFP or UPFA and vice versa.  This is what happens in the south when the Tamil question comes up since the island gained independence. 

In regard to colonizing Tamil homeland, while the Mahinda administration rapidly settles Sinhalese in the North, the UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake said that the government should take immediate steps to resettle the Sinhalese in their lands where they lived 28 years ago. He said the government should provide support to the Sinhalese who shelter in the Jaffna Railway Station and Duraiyappa Stadium as refugees.  He blamed the government saying that it is not taking rapid action to resettle them.

The extremist Sinhala-Buddhist party and the ally of the ruling government, Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) leader Ven.Omalpe Sobitha Thera, said that more than 150 Sinhalese are stranded in the Alfred Duraiyappa stadium and Railway Station in Jaffna, as they have not been allowed to settle in their lands.  The JHU maintains that the displaced Sinhalese families have necessary legal documentation to prove ownership to their lands. “The government should not give in to illegal acts,” said Ven. Omalpe Sobitha Thera.

He further said that 165,444 Sinhalese fled following the war that had erupted in 1983.  He said that the government should resettle them in their lands or JHU should come to the streets against the government with the support of Sinhala general public.  He further said that if the government fails to settle the Sinhalese, he reminded that the Hindu temples in the south will be destroyed, and at least by doing so let’s hope that the Hindu-Tamils would feel the sentiments of Buddhist-Sinhalese. 

Not more than a few hundred Sinhalese, most of them were traders, teachers, monks or students, stayed temporarily in the North but never had properties in the North as the monk is claiming.

Minister of Resettlement, Milroy Fernando, has promised Sinhala families temporary shelter at the Jaffna Railway Station and Duraiappa Stadium, telling them that they will soon receive the ownership of lands in Jaffna peninsula. He said the ownership of the lands within the Jaffna Peninsula previously dominated by these Sinhalese will be given back to them upon completion of the legal procedures with regard to government lands in these areas.

Ms. Imalda Sugumar, the Government Agent of Jaffna, had said that it was not possible to resettle these Sinhalese families in Jaffna immediately. In a communication to Basil Rajapaksa, Ms. Sugumar has reported that suddenly, some Sinhalese families have emerged at the Jaffna old railway station and they were demanding resettlement, and they do not have any legal rights to seek for settlement in Jaffna, as they did not own any properties despite their claim that they lived in Jaffna.  She said that just by staying in Jaffna does not mean that they had land ownership.

The EPDP leader and the Minister of Traditional Industries and Small Enterprise Development, Douglas Devananda, says that these Sinhalese families seeking residence in Jaffna do not have deeds or any other legal documents to establish that they are the owners of the homes they supposedly lived in at Jaffna.  Devananda did visit the families to discuss their troubles and promised to provide food and other basic needs until they were resettled.

Devananda said: “It is not possible to resettle these people immediately because there are a lot of land related issues in Jaffna. We are already having trouble resettling thousands of people who are already living in the North. It will take months to resettle these people in Jaffna.” He also said that the Sinhalese had lived with Tamil people in Jaffna for more than 50 years and now they are also not pure Sinhala as there are also many Tamils by marriage and they have Tamil relatives.  They also have told him that even today there are Tamil people here who bring them food and give other help as well.

Devananda took up arms against the Sri Lankan State in the early 1980s with the claim that the Sri Lankan State was discriminating against the Tamils.  Just for the leadership, he switched over various militant groups, but failed to obtain leadership, then, after working as a traitor with the Indian armed forces, he gained a reputation from the Indian government. With Indian monetary aid and the assistance of the Sri Lankan State as their plant, he founded the EPDP and fought the LTTE. He then joined the Sri Lankan government just for his own political and monetary benefit.  Up until now, he has not gained political rights of Tamils, rather his group is working side by side with the Sri Lankan armed forces.  The EPDP is responsible for the killing of thousands of innocent Tamils. Now, he says that people whether they are Sinhalese, Muslims or Tamils can resettle in Jaffna. 

In the meantime, the President of the Association of Sinhala Displaced Persons, Mrs. Kumari Sakunthala, said that they will not leave the Jaffna station until the government mediates and finds a solution for them. Mrs. Sakunthala has also visited the Jaffna Teaching Hospital with some of the Sinhalese with their academic credentials to apply for jobs at the hospital, as they are nurses and other professions in health care.  The Hospital administration told them that they would make inquiries with the Ministry of Health about the recruitment of new employees. 

Unless the TNA politicians and Diaspora Tamils take immediate action to stop the flow of Sinhalese into Tamil homeland in the guise of resettlement, Tamil homeland will be Sinhalacised within less than five years.  The Tamil identity will be wiped out soon from the anti-Tamil agenda as well as the increasing anti-social events taking place in the Tamil homeland.  After killing nearly 150,000 Tamils, the Sri Lankan State has turned its campaign to wiping out the Tamil identity.

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

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