The Guardian succumbs to pressure from SL High Commission on indigenous term Eelam

[TamilNet, Saturday, 16 May 2020, 16:54 GMT]
“Eelam is an indigenous name for which popular holiday island?,” was a question posed by a travel quiz published by the Guardian on 15 May. The quiz had rightfully stated the term, which is one of the ancient names for the island. However, in a political move, the High Commission of the unitary state of genocidal “Sri Lanka” reacted against the term “Eelam” sending a letter misinforming the paper that the term had “never been used as an indigenous name for Sri Lanka”. The paper has removed the question without defending the term “Eelam”.

The term Eelam, pronounced by Tamils with the retroflex Ḻ (ZH), predates the armed movements of Eezham Tamils by centuries.

While the term Eelam is a geographical term for the entire island, another term, “Tamil Eelam” stands for the geographical regions belonging to Tamils in Eezham, the Tamil homeland in Eezham and the political goal of nation state aspired by the Tamils of Eezham.

Eezham is found in Changkam literature (Paddinappaalai) and in the Thirupparangkun’ram Tamil Brahmi inscription dateable to the dawn of the Common Era, if not earlier.

Among all the names that are currently in use for the island of Sri Lanka, Eezham is the oldest one simultaneously attested by literature as well as epigraphy.

ETE 507 / 55
Estampage of Thirupparangkun'ram inscription. The one-line inscription is given here in two pieces of estampags. [Image courtesy, Iravatham Mahadevan, Early Tamil Epigraphy, pp 507]

ETE 390 / 55
The lettering of the Thirupparangkun'ram inscription in Tamil language and Tamil Brahmi writing. This one-line inscription is reproduced here in two lines in the sentence order, as given by Mahadevan. Note the writing Eezha in the 6th and 7th letters of the inscription [Image courtesy: Iravatham Mahadevan, Early Tamil Epigraphy, pp 390]

The term was used by the unitary state itself in the Tamil version of the “Sri Lanka thaayea” anthem in 1949.

Now, the SL State wants to get rid of the Tamil version of the anthem.

The move is rooted in the genocidal nature of the unitary state and the hate-speech driven sections of the Sinhala society in the South.

Even today, several registered Tamil political parties including the party, Eelam People’s Democratic Party (EPDP) that collaborates with the Rajapaksa regime, use the term “Eelam” in their official names.

For more details on the identity specific terms of Eezham Tamil and Tamil Eelam, see “Eezham Thamizh and Tamil Eelam: Understanding the terminologies of identity,” which was published by TamilNet in September 2008.

Guardian Quiz on Eelam
Travel quiz by The Guardian [Courtesy: Snapshot by the Internet Archive/ Wayback Machine]
SL High Commissioner's letter to The Guardian
The letter by SL High Commissioner to The Guardian, misinforming the paper that Eelam was never been used as an indigenous name for “Sri Lanka”
Guardian Quiz on Eelam
Travel quiz by The Guardian after SL reaction on the term “Eelam”

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