Opinion Article

Time for Eezham Tamils to think afresh

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 07 December 2010, 02:23 GMT]
Despite two nasty wars India got involved against Eezham Tamils in crushing their national aspirations, and despite constant demonstration that whatever genocide may take place or whatever counter-Indian alliances Sri Lanka may make India would continue to hang on to any devil that is sitting in Colombo, Eezham Tamils are so far not stirred up to evolve an integrated foreign policy to meet the equation. Just as Mahinda Rajapaksa told N. Ram of The Hindu that “What we refused to give Prabakaran we won’t give to others”, what India refused to act on so far, it is not going to act, whatever exclusive dependency Tamils may continue to show. The relentless may try and everyone should be happy if there are any yields, but it is time for the mainstream to think and seriously act on other avenues that are complimentary to Eezham Tamil interests.

The Heroes Day observation has gained more political significance than before in 2010.

On one side it was observed with more vigour and solidarity by the Eezham Tamil diaspora and on the other side it was observed with more seriousness than the Eezham Tamils by the oppressive Colombo and New Delhi in the island and in Tamil Nadu.

The events of the week brought out a clear picture of what New Delhi and Colombo are hatching for Eezham Tamils and what lacuna continue to exist in Eezham Tamil polity despite the spirit, psyche, need and longing of the people for an appropriate political course.

In the homeland of Eezham Tamils, the observation of the day even in religious terms by the kith and kin of the fallen was oppressed by an occupying military that went to the extent of ordering the temples not to toll bells on that day. It was oppressed in India in the guise of a ban on the LTTE.

Family members of the heroes paid homage silently at home in Tamil Eelam while posters paid homage throughout Tamil Nadu. The establishments in Colombo and New Delhi observed the day more seriously than the Eezham Tamils, observers in the island and Tamil Nadu said.

Meanwhile, in an ironical show of diplomacy, the Indian foreign minister S. M. Krishna chose that day to open a branch of the Indian High Commission at Kantharmadam in Jaffna. This is the first diplomatic mission opened ever in the Tamil land.

Mr. Krishna had nothing new to say either on political solution or on the military occupation and colonial activities of Colombo. He sounded absurd in still talking about the implementation of the 13th Amendment, after more than two decades of Indian failure on it and after waging two wars on Eezham Tamils, one directly and another indirectly.

Krishna was talking in Jaffna about the relationship of Eezham Tamils with South India, quoting Arumuga Navalar and Thamodarampillai, while in the south of the island he was talking about sending the relics of Kapilavastu to the 2600 anniversary of Buddha’s birth.

While conning in Jaffna on the 13th Amendment, which Tamils rejected long ago but India is harping on for more than two decades, media reports from Colombo said that he agreed with Colombo about having ‘phased discussions’ on political solution. Political observers find it a honey-coated way of echoing Mahinda Rajapaksa’s dodges to political solution.

Apparently Colombo government circles are happy that the Indian government now agrees with them even theoretically in blunting in a phased way the need for any effective political solution, as the phased discussions could go side by side with phased colonisation and militarization.

Colombo artfully shadowed Krishna’s visit by the visit of the president of Pakistan the following day to discuss defence treaties and by the visit of a Chinese bigwig earlier to it.

The Economist, a few days ago, said in an article that India and China have demonstrated in Kashmir and in Tibet respectively that it is possible to keep resenting local populations militarily oppressed for decades, hinting at the inspirations Colombo could be getting from India and China. The article sounded sceptical whether under the unfolding scenario any post-war bright future could be expected in the island.

Ironically, the Heroes Day observations of Eezham Tamils, even though overwhelmingly participated by all shades of their national polity, did not reflect in any concrete terms what course of action the Eezham Tamils should take in the unfolding scenario.

Eezham Tamils should not have the feeling of their nation and identity is what the establishments of today and their organs, which try to reduce the issue within a ‘minority’ paradigm, tell them.

But, the paradox is that they tell this with full awareness of the genocidal intentions of the Sri Lankan state that gives no option other than either suicide of identity, self respect and territoriality of Eezham Tamils or struggle for liberation.

Those who preach sermons to Eezham Tamils were never able to prove their mantle even when there was a holocaust.

What the Eezham Tamils face today is unfortunately a situation comparable to nations hemmed between bigger ones, ranging from the Koreans, Mongolians and the Poles to the Basques.

Many have repeatedly pointed out that the Sinhalese projection of the Tamils of Eezham, as an extension of Tamil Nadu, is unfounded. It is a mischievous excuse for not accepting Eezham Tamils as an equally rightful historical nation in the island.

In fact, the idea of Eezham Tamils to assert to their separate national identity in the model of modern day nationalism first manifested in the 19th century, not as a response to the Sinhalese but as a response to how the Tamils of Tamil Nadu viewed them. Arumuga Navalar was the first to tell that the Eezham Tamils are a parallel Tamil nation of its own historicity and literary contribution (Nalla’rivuch chudar ko’luththal, 1869, Arumuga Navalar Pirapanthath Thiraddu).

Eezham Tamils have made significant contribution to Tamilness in modern times right from the rediscovery of the literary corpus in the 19th century to globalisation of Tamil identity in contemporary times. But due recognition to the parallel nation of Eezham Tamils is yet to come in assertive terms in the consciousness of Tamil Nadu. If it doesn’t come from Tamil Nadu, how to expect it from the Sinhala nation?

The West Bengalis, separated only in 1936, readily accepted and were convinced of the nation of Bangladesh in their consciousness and that was a fundamental strength for the liberation of Bangladesh. Much need to be done in this respect in Tamil Nadu.

Some Indian writers are particularly keen in telling that there are three Tamil-speaking peoples in the island. Some even try to make it four. The idea is to reduce all of them as ‘minorities’. How to evolve a convincing emotional platform in which all of them find the creation of Tamil Eelam inevitable to their existence with self respect, wherever they live in the island, vests with fresh efforts of the Eezham Tamil nationalists.

Eezham Tamils could surely find useful alliances with nations sharing their plight within South Asia and elsewhere. Secessionism need not be advocated as dogmatism. What is ultimately needed is a life of self-respect and freedom from oppression from the point of which one is oppressed. If oppression and genocide is based on the identity of one’s nation then one has to meet it in that plane and fight for absolute independence and sovereignty of that nation. But affected nations in South Asia may also ideologically explore the possibility of working for a EU model in South Asia, where many small nations could be equal partners.

An ideological discourse in this regard - separation for eventual reconciliation, has to be addressed to understanding sections of the Sinhala nation.

Some Eezham Tamil camps may be hopeful in taking refuge in the backyards of some powers. But, it is high time that credible political sections of them boldly, openly and confidently deal with all shades of global power equations. Eezham Tamils should not keep China and Pakistan in the distance.

There is the need for an internationally-guaranteed situation, considering the nature of the long continuing crisis in the island and the affected should work for it in all possible ways.

Nothing can be achieved unless Eezham Tamils take their own efforts in proving that it is of utmost necessity for others to take care of the Tamil needs.


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