Referring to the all pervasive rule of the Sinhala military in the country of Eezham Tamils, Simon Denyer of Washington Post reports from Jaffna that “[t]he military has even inserted itself into almost every aspect of economic life in the north of the country, farming and selling vegetables, running hotels, restaurants and even barber shops” in a feature published Friday. Alluding to sources from the ground, the report gives a picture of how the military runs a state of emergency in the Tamil homeland, with land grabs, routine harassment, curtailment of the right to assembly and even forcible interventions in public functions.
The journalist, citing Father S.M. Praveen of the Centre for Peace and Reconciliation, notes that intimidation has increased after the recent US backed resolution in Geneva, which called on Colombo to promote “postwar reconciliation”.
But, whether the western observers and institutions that have pushed for this type of ‘reconciliation’, without addressing the fundamental political demands of the Eezham Tamils and recognizing the structural genocide of the Tamil people within unitary Sri Lanka are deliberately missing the woods for the trees, question activists in the island.
The ideological legitimacy given to the unitary Sri Lankan state will necessarily result in the prolongation of the individual human rights abuses that the western establishments seem content in highlighting overlooking structural problems, they said.
Interviewing Tamil women in the North, Mr. Denyer notes how humiliation at the hands of the almost exclusively Sinhala Buddhist army is a routine affair, and how the SL Army exercises its supervision in all gatherings and day to day activities.
“The women described how they were forced or tricked to attend demonstrations in support of the government and against its foreign critics. One said villagers were not even allowed to light a single prayer candle in their local church, because the army suspected them of trying to honor dead Tamil Tiger fighters buried nearby,” he writes.
Further referring to the occupation of Tamil social space by the Sinhala army, he notes “Today, without any fighting to do, soldiers attend meetings at Hindu temples and functions at primary schools. The military has even inserted itself into almost every aspect of economic life in the north of the country, farming and selling vegetables, running hotels, restaurants and even barber shops.”
But, what is conspicuously missing in the article is the genocidal face of this military corporatization. From the beginning, the US State Department officials and the abetting powers were particular in ‘convincing’ Tamils that there is no genocide.
Civil society activists in the Tamil homeland and TamilNet have been stressing on the phenomena of militarization and colonization of the Tamil homeland as a systemic process in the unitary Sri Lankan state, which has also brought along with it a model of ‘military corporatization’ – an exploitative economic model where the military aids the swindling land of resources in the Tamil homeland through creation of cantonments, military enclaves, and dispossession of natives.
However, the Indian and Western establishments, and some sections in the media, are pushing the argument that ‘development’ will resolve Tamil grievances, while ignoring how this ‘militarized corporate model of development’ works to ensure mutilation of Tamil political and social life.