Feature Article

Do not weaken the goals and direction of Eelam struggle: Father S.J. Emmanuel

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 08 July 2009, 18:02 GMT]
"Let us not betray the struggle nor its goals as evolved, formulated and consolidated by the sacrifice of many thousands of combatants and civilians under the leadership of the LTTE," says Rev. Dr. S.J. Emmanuel, the former Vicar General of the Catholic diocese of Jaffna, in the second part of the open appeal to the Eelam Tamil diaspora. "Let the change of phase in the struggle from the last militant-cum-political phase to a political and international phase, not in any way weaken or water down the goals and directions of the struggle."

  1. Consolidating the unity and strength of the Diaspora Tamils for the new phase of the Struggle

    Let the change of phase in the struggle from the last militant-cum-political phase to a political and international phase, not in any way weaken or water down the goals and directions of the struggle. During the last phase under the leadership of the LTTE the direction and the goal of our struggle have been strengthened by the sacrifices of thousands of combatants and civilians and have been made clear and irreversible for the future. Besides, our national leader Mr.V. Prabaharan, spoke convincingly of the aspirations, the goals and directions of the Tamil struggle, especially in his annual Heroes Day addresses. “The strongest weapon of our struggle” he repeatedly told us “is not the weapon in our hands, but the deepest convictions we have within us” Hence it is beyond doubt that he foresaw and envisaged the possible end of the then militant-politico struggle and the continuation of the political struggle by other means in a new phase.

    He also foresaw a more active role for the Tamil Diaspora in our long struggle. While thanking for the help given to the Tamils struggling in the homeland, he indicated that the Diaspora has to intensify their future contribution in the international phase of the struggle.

  2. Challenges and Difficulties of the new phase

    Though the change in phase was foreseen, the shameful role of the international community in its connivance with the GoSL, the recent events in Wanni to our deep shock and regret, have only forced us, earlier than expected, to take responsibility for the next phase of a political struggle, not with weapons but with our strong convictions, mammoth demonstrations and powerful arguments vis a vis our home governments and the international community.

    The next phase of our struggle has new challenges and difficulties we all agree. But the way to face them and move further is to strengthen what we have and let events bring forth what we still need.

    At present there is no focus of visible and concrete leadership that nourishes our convictions and motivate our dedication to the Cause in the past. But this leadership, though personifying the Tamil cause, was subservient to the Cause. Hence it is absolutely important and necessary that we bereft of such visible leadership not loose the clarity and convictions, enthusiasm and momentum already gained.

    The form of leadership for the new phase in each of our countries may change according to the new challenges of the context and the compulsions of the national and international politics. But let us not forget that

    1. the Tamil struggle which started six decades ago is larger, longer and deeper than the militant action we have had against the GoSL
    2. the leaderships at all levels are determined by the goals and ideology rooted in our convictions, not the other way about. We do not give up, weaken or change our political ideology to suit a leadership. We only rearrange and adjust our formations to suit the changing context and go ahead.
    3. As long as the ban on the LTTE persists, the initiatives of the diaspora Tamils to carry forward the ideals so convincingly set out by the LTTE should stand on its own ground outside the island and not as actions of an LTTE hidden somewhere.

  3. A Confusion we should soon overcome

    Unfortunately, following the last phase of the tragic events in Wanni in mid May 2009, some confusion set in blurring our vision and weakening our unity for the next phase of the struggle. Let us hope that we sooner than later overcome this disunity and regain our unity to escalate our efforts for our double responsibility of saving those suffering within the island and intensifying our struggle in our own national arena as well as in the international arena. The enemies of our struggle are taking advantage of our temporary confusion and disunity to weaken if not to stop our struggle. Let us not betray the struggle nor its goals as evolved, formulated and consolidated by the sacrifice of many thousands of combatants and civilians under the leadership of the LTTE There is no question of giving up our ideals as articulated by the LTTE. We can only take it forward as our own carrying all responsibility for them.

  4. Characteristics of the New Situation

    This new situation among the Diaspora could be characterised on one side by our own helplessness, namely

    1. by the absence of a strong Wanni-leadership as our focal point

    2. by an intensely suffering people crying out for survival behind barbed-wires, and

    3. Worse still by confusion and disunity especially among those who up to now dedicated themselves actively for the Tamil cause.

    But on the other side, there are favourable conditions in our national and international arena calling us for urgent engagement and actions.

    1. the powers who largely misunderstood our cause and tarnished the image of Tamils as mere terrorists or potential-terrorists and helped the GoSL with all finance and weapons to annihilate our leadership, are at least now beginning to realise their past mistake in unconditionally supporting its “war against terrorism”

    2. Western Media and Governments ridiculed and spurned by the GOSL are now more interested in bringing to the world the war crimes and the horror-events of the concentration camps run by the GOSL for Tamils.

    The success of our struggle lies in not giving into helplessness, desperation and disunity but in grasping those new chances and conditions, adjust ourselves to new situation and move forward.

  5. Adjusting ourselves to the new situation

    The last phase of the militant-politico struggle and its leadership were both unique and unrepeatable in character. (I have written about this unique leadership of the LTTE in chapter 7 of my last book titled –Agonies and Aspirations of the Tamil Struggle) This phase of the struggle could be characterised as mainly taking place within the island, depending on the strengths and weakness of the two conflicting parties on the ground as well as subject to external aid or pressures of the international or Diaspora communities. But the new phase assumes a new character of a suffering, subjugated and silent Tamil people within the island and a more fearless and eloquent Tamil Diaspora vis a vis the international community.

    Hence we of the Diaspora, who have convincingly stood by the LTTE leadership, need to hold fast to the aspirations and the gains made with respect to our common symbols and signs.

  6. Let us acknowledge the “Peoplisation” of the struggle

    The struggle went through different stages during the last six decades. An important change was when the struggle was “peoplised” and the unarmed civilians too became part and parcel of the struggle. A whole people – within and without the island - were spirit-filled with the ideals and goals of the struggle. They were not all members of a “banned organisation” but normal citizens of these foreign countries marching with certain symbols and flags expressing their ideals. This peoplisation of the struggle was clearly seen when the earlier call “The thirst of the LTTE is for Thamil Eelam” changed into “The thirst of the Tamils is for Thamil Eelam”. Similarly the symbols and flags which were originally those of the LTTE have become those of a people and have come to stay as the expressions of their aspirations. Changing symbols will not change the world opinion about us the diaspora Tamils.

    Hence there is no need to unnecessarily give up what has got ingrained into the body and psyche of the Tamil people. They will serve to keep up the enthusiasm and momentum of the people for the struggle.

  7. Adjusting our organisations for political engagement and lobbying

    But in our engagement with foreign governments or in lobbying support from them, we do not carry not only flags and symbols; we carry convincing arguments in the name of well registered democratic organisations. This is an adjustment needed for our future lobbying purposes.

    Other adjustments called by the new situation will include

    1. Narrowing down the gap between the old and the young, between those who were supporters of the cause as well as those who were actively and “authoritatively” engaged in various functions at grassroots levels. Much dialogue as well as give and take must take place between the youth and elders of our communities.
    2. Changing mode of activities and effecting a division of labour to fit the new situation. Till now much was done within our Tamil communities and in the Tamil language, orchestrated mostly by the “Poruppalars”. Now the need arises for team-work and division of labour, not only for organising demonstrations and protests but also for lobbying in foreign languages and diplomatic moves.

    Humanity has witnessed how the GoSL, led by a dictatorship of the Rajapakse-brothers, with least respect for a people and its basic rights, using the cover of a “global war against terrorism” to win the finance and contribution of the international community, has crushed the last militant-political leadership of the Tamil struggle. State-terror has again succeeded in destroying a type of leadership it itself gave birth to. But the Tamil struggle, which started 60 years ago, based on Truth and Justice, will continue unabated in other ways still open.



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