Eezham Tamils await dividends to come from Mahendran’s book
“It is not a mere documentation sharing opinion, but it is on the demand for justice by the genocide-surviving Eezham Tamils, the plight of whom has not been experienced by any other society in the world,” writes Communist Party of India stalwart C. Mahendran, in the introduction to his book on the Vanni War. He encapsulates the global shame in a nutshell when he says “Mu’l’li-vaaykkaal is the heroes’ land in the 21st century world, where life was the weapon to claim one’s land.” The book in Tamil, “Veezhveanen’ru Ninaiththaayoa” (Have you thought that I would fall), brought out in December 2011 by veteran media publications Vikatan, Chennai, is on hot sales and has already found overwhelming appreciation among Tamil readers all over the world. Any good book is eventually judged by the impact it makes on society and Eezham Tamils await that dividend to come from the Tamil-speaking world.
The crowd that attended the book release of Mr. Mahendran at the Book Exhibition in Chennai on 13 January 2012.
“When my heart was stressed by bleeding while writing this, I thought of stopping it. But then I thought of the determination of the people who had stopped breathing at Mu’l'livaaykkaal, and the debate that thought evoked within me gave me the determination to continue writing,” Mahendran says.
A significant feature of the book is that Mahendran orientates it entirely from the people’s point of view, which strengthens his moral right in proclaiming the truth that there was a planned genocide and it is an immediate question for the humanity to attend to.
“Resulting from ethnic animosities harboured for centuries, Mu’l’livaaykkaal was a planned genocide to finish off everything without witnesses,” Mahendran writes. Many of his political contemporaries, academics and media empires in India still suppress their conscience from proclaiming the truth.
A revealing example portrayed in the book showing the depth of the genocidal attitude is the plight of a group of orphan children looked after by a Catholic priest. The priest who was looking after 157 children saw 58 of them killed in shelling. When he managed to reach the barbed-wire camp with the remaining children, the SL military first took away the priest from the crying children and he died in custody according to the SL military. The Tamil children were later taken away to a centre in the South, despite the pleadings of the Church to hand over the children to it.
The book, first serialised in the Chennai-based Tamil weekly Aanantha Vikadan, was stopped in the middle. The concerned pages were torn off by genocidal Sri Lanka before the weekly was allowed for circulation in the island. Truth reaching the people was frightening for many in India and even in Tamil Nadu. However, Aanantha Vikadan brought out a complete publication later.
Mahendran’s book is the first substantial publication in Tamil, narrating the Vanni War
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The reviewer was recently stunned by the naivety of an educated Tamil youth from Chennai who innocently asked whether there are still threats for Tamils in the island even after the LTTE had been crushed.
The reviewer couldn’t help comparing the awareness and emotions Tamil Nadu and its media evoked and showed during the liberation of Bangladesh.
It is against this backdrop, Mahendran writing this book addressed to the Tamil-speaking world with facts, insight, and in a lucid narrative style, makes an immense contribution.
Most of the frames brought out in the book by the author are not new to the Eezham Tamils in the island or even in the diaspora. They were living through it for ages. But there is a Tamil-speaking world outside of them that needs to know the basics.
Perhaps, it is the reality – the dearth of understanding among the general public in Tamil Nadu on the basic facts about what had happened – that might have made Mahendran to confine to simplification of the picture: The details and gravity of the genocide – the extent to which state in Sri Lanka controlled by the Sinhala nation had gone in doing away with the long-struggling nation of Eezham Tamils.
Passing references and remarks evenly distributed throughout the book show that the author is fully aware, and that he has also attempted to imply to the readers, about the India-involved international conspiracy risking even the genocide in engineering a dangerous paradigm for the world humanity.
But the focus of historiography falling on the genocidal and agent state of Sri Lanka, overshadows the role of the larger forces at work and master culprits in the Establishments of the powers, who have not only engineered and allowed the genocide but also sustain it after the war.
The activities of India, USA, China and many others in the aftermath of the war clearly show why, to achieve what, and to achieve it for whom, the genocidal war was conducted.
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Accounts of the tragedies befallen on Eezham Tamils (Eezhaththuk Ka’n’neerk Kathaika’l) have long been written and filmed in Tamil Nadu, after every spurt of violence against Tamils in the island. But the impact being shallow to counter the designs of State in India was explicitly evident during the Vanni War.
A possible reason for the past attitude could be that whatever had happened was projected and seen as the problem of another people, of another country–even though the people affected were Tamil brethren.
But there is a difference now. This time, the deceit and challenges have directly been addressed to the people of Tamil Nadu, pricking the self-respect of every one of them.
Besides, the paradigm set by the powers including India, show that whatever has happened to the nation of Eezham Tamils could happen to any of the nations in the region and elsewhere, whether through genocide, through setting peoples against one another, or through any other means. In our immediate region, if we are unguarded it could happen even to the Sinhalese, Tamils of Tamil Nadu, Malayalis or the Maldivians as well.
On Tuesday, inspiring the entire region, the people of Maldives have successfully demonstrated how a people’s uprising could make a regime to bow down, despite manipulations and props of powers.
No remedy for Eezham Tamils could be achieved unless there is collective struggle directed against the real culprits and unless the message is clear that none of them could achieve their interests without due justice delivered.
Mahendran writes he was stunned by the quest for justice shown by the diaspora.
But the real issue we face is not confined to the Eezham Tamils in the island or diaspora alone. It is the issue of every one of the peoples in the region. Tamil Nadu has the prime responsibility in playing a role.
We need a new historiography going beyond State to bring in an awareness among our people on the new realities of imperialistic nature that have come into our region.
Such a historiography that is not alien to the Marxist ideology of Mahendran would have helped him to focus the issue beyond genocide or war crimes accountability, into another level, where there is no inhibition in proclaiming liberation or independence to Eezham Tamils.
Liberation of Eezham Tamils is a paradigm-setting global test case that has to be upheld in response to new imperialism’s genocidal paradigm experimented in the island. This is a universal issue going well beyond the national confrontation of Tamils and Sinhalese, the right to protection of a people from genocide, or the right to self-determination of a nation.
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If the victors compose literature to parade triumphalism the vanquished also will have their literature to harbour the spirit of struggle with determination, Mahendran concludes his book, comparing the euphoria of one and the plight of the other in the island.
Tamil literary heritage, right from the times of Chilappathikaaram, has a long tradition in making epics out of tragedies, political injustices and social injustices. The tradition continued into folklore, such as the stories of Mathurai Veeran, Kaaththavaraayan, A’n’namaar etc. We even made demi gods out of them either to take psychological revenge on the oppressors or to inspire the spirit of struggle against injustice. In modern times they also became themes for successful entertainment films.
But the inspirations are meaningful only when there are focussed political efforts.
“Veezhveanen’ru Ninaiththaayoa” by a political leader of a progressive party cannot stop merely at documentation, as he himself has said in his introduction.
Speakers who attended the book release of Mr. Mahendran