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Who really wanted Tamil Eelaam & why?

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Who really wanted Tamil Eelaam & why?
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More & more we are made to wonder the connotations behind the quest for a Tamil Eelam. Was it an ideology that was not meant to go beyond conceptual phase, was it a past time for those who had everything in life & wanted a little excitement, was it a seed planted to create regional & sub-regional discord & friction & create the necessity for western interference, was it meant to allow large numbers of Tamils to reside overseas & uplift their living standards & most of all was it really because the Sinhalese were discriminating the Tamils or was it an experiment gone wrong & out of hand? In reality there is much more to the quest for Tamil Eelaam than meets the eye which requires closer analysis & thought.

We cannot deny that there prevailed separatist thought on the lines of a separate state for Tamils! This first emerged in Tamil Nadu. This was natural for 65million of the world's 80million Tamils resided there. It came in the form of a We Tamil Movement in the late 1960s which was crushed by the Indian Government. India ensured it didn't expand or gain any untoward propaganda. Another reason why it did not get the kickstart it desired was probably because the people of Tamil Nadu would not have heralded around this idea. India was desiring no separation in India & India successfully managed to steer separatist thought away from Tamil Nadu for well over 40 years. How so...part of India's policy unfortunately was to be at odds with their immediate neighbor & in harmony with their neighbor's neighbor. India's SAARC neighbors will all have their reservations about India's sincerity in many matters. Why did Indira Gandhi feel she needed to train, arm, finance sets of Tamils to embark on an armed struggle against Sri Lanka's Government - how long did she plan this to continue & did it never strike India that armed movements eventually forget to appreciate their masters? Several factors did contribute towards Mrs. Gandhi's decision & one of these was Sri Lanka's President's tilt towards the West & in particular relations with the US & Israel the other of course was to direct separatist movement away from India to Sri Lanka where Tamil Nadu separatist mongers would be kept happy watching separatism take shape in Sri Lanka but it would only remain a "quest" - India never meant for the Sri Lankan militants to go beyond the "struggle phase". So, when India gets into action training Sri Lanka's military, providing arms & other expertise it was always after India understood that the LTTE was getting the better of the Sri Lankan Government - which India wanted to happen but not to completely overwhelm Sri Lanka's military. While we need to understand India's diplomacy & actions, it was for Sri Lanka's Governments to have read these & been intelligent enough to counter them. Therefore, India is not to blame for the follies of Sri Lanka's leaders whose primary interest should have been to protect the country's territorial integrity not just being in power.

When arms, training & financial assistance is given to men who have no hope of making a proper livelihood it is not difficult to understand the obvious results. Who was Prabakaran? He was essentially a low-caste Tamil from a fishing village. He like all the other rebels India trained eventually made terrorism their means of livelihood. Most of these rebels had not studied, they were marginalized amongst their own community first by the caste factor & then by their own disadvantage in not having studied. Yes, standardization of the 70s would have upset some Tamils, but those who were upset were the Jaffna Tamils & mostly the high caste Vellala Tamils who really opposed standardization because their quotas would get divided & would include Tamils of Trincomalee, Mannar, Batticola areas (who had hitherto had none of the luxuries the Jaffna Tamils had) How would a Prabakaran who never studied beyond O/L's have any personal grievance regarding standardization - how could he enter any university when he hadn't studied? Similarly, how would a Prabakaran who had little or no links to Sinhalese hate them enough to start an armed struggle more so how can he have any grievance when he hasn't even worked in the State sector or even the private sector - Prabakaran's first & only employment was in terrorism & his employers eventually became evil men living abroad whose only aim was to use "emotional" attachments into a global terror movement? What Tamils do not like to accept & project is that Prabakaran first started out his movement against his own people - targeting the highest caste & the learned & if one looks closely at all the Tamils that Prabakaran has assassinated starting out with Alfred Duraiappah in 1975 it becomes easier to understand that he hated the Tamil high castes & he hated the Tamil learned. As such he silenced 35 such Tamils which included Sri Lanka's foreign minister Lakshman Kadiragamar who was not only a high caste but very much a product of Oxford.

Thus, the arms these rebel movements held became their virtual tool for social acceptance and the gates to power which eventually led the worst rebel (Prabakaran) to kill the leaders & members of all the other movements that India had trained. A man with so much hatred for his own people becomes easy prey & thus it came as no surprise how Prabakaran emerged greater & more powerful of all the rebels India trained & explains how easy it was for Prabakaran to kill practically all the leaders of the other Tamil rebel movements India had armed, trained & financed. Prabakaran eventually became a remote controlled leader first taking instructions from India & then from sets of people stationed all over the world. It was this enterprise which eventually became a profit making entity worth USD300million annually. Did not the Tamil people, the ordinary, at least the middle class Tamils ever wonder why this money was never used for their benefit in areas that LTTE easily dominated for years without the presence of any Sri Lankan administration & given that they had access to cement, fuel & other materials as well as support from Tamil Nadu...why did the LTTE not make schools, libraries, buildings, roads, public utilities etc...were the Tamil people so fearful of the LTTE that they preferred to silently watch the LTTE make hundreds of air-conditioned bunkers, massive buildings for their use only? Were Tamils actually willing to live in an Eelaam where they would have no voice - was this not directly against the norms that even the Western powers & NGOs themselves professed - equality of status, gender rights, freedom of speech, freedom of movement etc???

Therefore, when LTTE claims itself to have taken to arms to fight for the Tamil people we cannot put aside that the rebels were first taught to hold weapons by India which leaves little credibility for their "freedom fighter" argument. An LTTE fighting for a Tamil Eelaam should have utilized the money they made illicitly for the benefit of the people (isn't this what Robin Hood did - stole from the rich & gave to the poor?). After all, their slogan was that they wanted to liberate the Tamil people from Sinhala oppression. Why was it that Tamils in the North were never beneficiaries of the USD300million LTTE wealth - instead the LTTE had to even steal the food that was sent to the North to feed their own while the masterminds of the LTTE were living in luxury abroad making use of the wealth?

So when the world speaks of Tamil civilians they require to be a little aware of the background of the LTTE before making accusations at Sri Lanka's Government. It was evident that the civilians rescued by the armed forces were of two types. The first lot of civilians were the large numbers of people who had been sacrificing their children to the LTTE...they had not eaten, they had no money & they were just skin and bones. The other set of civilians rescued by the armed forces were distinctly different - they belonged to the Mahavir families & their living conditions were far better than those of the former lot. The Bank of Ceylon had collected 390million in two days of opening an outlet in the camp & these families had in their possession chunks of gold & bundles of money. We then hear that LTTE cadres had to be removed to other camps because the smaller lot were attacking the seniors obviously because they now are beginning to realize the lies & shams they had been fed by the LTTE leaders all these years. It was the public in these IDP camps that identified Prabakaran's parents who are now in protective custody, it was these IDPs that identified other LTTE sympathizers thus we can slowly see the people reconciling themselves to reality & are beginning to understand the charade by the LTTE & all of its support bases abroad & locally.

Now we come to the big question....who wants a separate state? Is it all the Tamils or the Northern Tamils, the Southern Tamils, the Eastern Tamils, the Estate Tamils, the Tamil Diaspora or certain Tamil leaders in Tamil Nadu? Is this separate state based on the need to liberate from oppression by the Sinhalese or the desire that 80million Tamils the world over feel an innate need to have a separate state for their own. How many Tamils actually espouse for a separate State for Tamils - this is an important question which is again never answered. Do those espousing for a separate state actually propose to live in it. It is amazing to imagine how 80million Tamils plan to live in a small stretch of 8,884 square kilometers (3,430.1 sq miles) ? Or is this Eelaam just an exercise an experiment to see how far world powers are prepared to give into demands & for Colombo Tamils to remain where they are with the Sinhalese (despite the discrimination tag), for Tamil Diaspora to continue to live abroad & steadily bring the rest of their families while those poor who suffered through the LTTE rule remained in these territory merely to sustain the desire to have a separate state. Again it must be reiterated that these people of the North - have never known to compare their lives with any better conditions. What they see is what they see & therefore they do not even question the lives they lead. It may look wretched to us but to them it is their life - which is why when westerners & NGO groups bemoan the status of life in the IDP camps it could possibly be that they are actually better off than they were before. Some of the people rescued by the forces declared they have eaten only one meal a day...the camps offer three meals & even tea time snacks. No one is saying that these camps are luxurious it is purely to declare that some of these western standards used to argue against the Government are really meaningless.

Furthermore, a question that needs to be asked of the Tamils especially those who hold placards & shout abroad is how they could support a group who kills & expect to live peacefully themselves if the LTTE is able to create that Eelaam? This same question is put to countries who have openly supported the LTTE - what would they have done if they happened to say or do anything that went against what the LTTE wanted them to do. Rajiv Gandhi gave his own bullet-proof vest to Prabakaran, Premadasa gifted the LTTE arms, ammunition & money & what happened to both these men - they were killed brutally by the LTTE. Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden were both one time friends of the West - the West armed these men & even financed them & what happened eventually - they both turned into enemies of the West - one was hanged without proper trial & now the West is supposedly searching for an elusive bin Laden...could he still be the West's friend afterall & indirectly helping to secure Western interests in Middle East & Asia?

That the separatist agenda in Tamil Nadu was crushed suavely by the Indian Government foretells that Tamils of the South cared little to actually separate. Most of the present Indian politicos like Vaiko have no political supporters & hardly get votes which also foretells that the Tamil people of Tamil Nadu are more intelligent that their politicians think. Contrary to what most project anyone visiting Chennai for the first time would be greeted with warm welcomes like "Jayasuriya" "Muralitharan" "Sri Lanka cricketers" which easily tell how much India & in particular Tamil Nadu people like Sri Lankans - it is not the picture that is projected & the attacks that did take place was probably instigated by these small political groups just to show their might. Each time we explore the question of Tamil Eelaam it seems that it was a handful of Tamil political leaders more interested in their own rise to superiority that pushed these separatist thoughts, similarly we see the comparisons in thoughts to Chelvanayagam & others who first asked for 50-50 representation from the British & who craftily translated his separatist political party to "Federal Party" in English. It was he & others who through the 1976 Vaddokkodai Resolution that urged youth to take to arms purely because these sets of men wanted to be leaders in their own right & had no concern whatsoever for the ordinary Tamil people. There are some who continue to bring up the topic of disenfranchisement - this was relevant to only the Estate Tamils who are even today looked down upon by both the Northern & Eastern Tamils. They were never accepted as indigenous Tamils. How many North or Eastern Tamils have married an Estate Tamil?

Sri Lanka is urged not to take too seriously the bellows by Tamil Nadu politicians whether in the ruling or opposition for it is purely on the grounds that they are well aware of India's role in Sri Lanka vis a vis the Tamils & their desire to make use of this for their own political gain & with no sincerity towards Tamils of Sri Lanka. So, if India's Central Government is sometimes exasperated by Tamil Nadu politicos it is as a result of its own errors in judgement. India's Central Government has given Tamil Nadu enough reason to use the "Tamil" theme for political gains. The first mistake was to arm Sri Lanka's rebels, the second was to airlift & save a cornered Prabakaran in 1987, the third was to send Indian troops to Sri Lanka & force Sri Lanka to accept a quasi-federal model & introduce Provincial Council system & the 13th amendment & to also silently allow the LTTE to use Tamil Nadu as a base to supply arms, ammunition & even have LTTE cadres gain medical treatment as well as allow Tamil Nadu politicians to have cordial relations with the LTTE despite the LTTE using Tamil Nadu as the very ground to assassinate Rajiv Gandhi. India would have preferred to allow the use of Tamil Nadu to supply arms, fuel & other requirements for the LTTE so that they would be aware of what was going through to the LTTE but they could not have been na‹ve to the fact that the LTTE was also running a very strong illegal network that involved global narcotics, human smuggling, illegal arms smuggling & links to other terrorists even rebel movements like the Maoists in India - very influential men who are wanted by Interpol but manages to escape. So, we all the while question why would India allow the LTTE to grow from strength to strength - was India so sure that it would be able to overcome the LTTE if it went beyond its mandate - didn't the LTTE go beyond its mandate when it assassinated Rajiv Gandhi? We know that the IPKF operation was a half hearted initiative that purely had India formulating a provincial council system that would unite the North & East providing greater advantage if India had no alternative but to militarily intervene in Sri Lanka (merger would also secure for India the Trincomalee harbor if India did militarily intervene in Sri Lanka). Yet, contrary to IPKF heads proudly declaring that the "peace" operation would be complete within months....India eventually had to turn back on their promise to usher peace through the Indo-Lanka Accord & turn their operation into a military one. Which still surprises us why no one has made use of the "Right to Information Act" to demand of the Indian Government how much India spent on the rebels though the late 1970s, 1980s which eventually eliminated 2000 Indian army lives? But, then the LTTE made a mockery out of the Indians who eventually had to leave having had to compete not only with the LTTE but a Sri Lankan Government (R. Premadasa) who armed, financed the LTTE just to chase the Indians out of Sri Lanka. Was India's last option to actually make the North & East a part of Tamil Nadu if things really went out of hand?

What we need to post-LTTE defeat is to accept that it was the follies of the leaders (foreign or local) who gave to the LTTE their superior status & helped create an environment that the LTTE was invisible & impossible to defeat. It was easy for the LTTE to read through the politics that prevailed & to take all these players for a good jolly ride manipulating their peace formulas, manipulating their negotiations & manipulating all efforts they made for the LTTE knew that just as they were insincere to these efforts so were all these other players. This is the unfortunate truth of the three decades of terror that has destroyed Sri Lanka's society.

In a cosmopolitan world can a community envisage life without mixing with other communities & what guarantees can this community give that discord will not emerge within their own community especially when we are well aware that Tamils are very much divided by century's old caste systems? The Tamil community even now have different water tumblers to offer those who are low caste in their homes, they shun people who marry outside of their caste...are these divides not as important to uproot & change or should they be changed? India has made little progress to change the status of the Dalits & other "untouchables", we saw how the US treated the blacks of Katrina. Therefore, the UN needs to seriously address this "self-determination" ideology & discourage its existence completely. Issues that bond emotions & attract divergent interests should never be used to camouflage sinister plans that are afoot to create global disharmony & players that are accepted globally must use their office wisely & responsibly & not end up puppets of these sinister plans!

It is a shame that many of Sri Lanka's critics - the westerners living abroad are unable to understand the scenario in Sri Lanka. Can they not pause to wonder how over 50% of Tamils are living amongst Sinhalese if there was discrimination & the worse case of genocide taking place. Nothing of the sort that took place between the Hutus & the Tutsi's ever took place in Sri Lanka. If so, No Tamils should be alive, why should Tamils continue to arrive from the North & settle in the South amongst the Sinhalese. Given the argument that ethnic cleansing is taking place - shouldn't these Tamils be scurrying to reside in the North. Why is the North having fewer & fewer Tamils residing there & why is there more influx amongst the Sinhalese??? Similarly, an Eelaam is not meant for the Tamil Diaspora to be happy at what they have created or for Colombo Tamils to remain where they are amongst the Sinhalese & rejoice that they have carved out a separate homeland. "Separatism" is not a game. Therefore, it bemoans those in Colombo to be a little more sincere when they happily move with the Sinhalese & yet give an averse story about "grievances" is these dishonest claims that has dragged this issue for years. What are these them...let us even know what they are, because these grievances seem to emerge only for arguments sake & are never tabled to actually find solutions. This is one reason why Tamil parliamentarians become equally guilty as are the other politicians....why have none of them actually simply asked to name the grievances....couldn't the solutions have been found?

So we have Tamils living cordially with the Sinhalese, Tamil politicians also living also amongst the Sinhalese but for their own gains they bring up the "grievance" "discrimination" factor. Is this fair & is this ethical? Were the Tamils actually thinking of living in an Tamil Eelaam with Prabakaran as their leader when they are all well aware that Prabakaran had even killed his own confidantes who had fallen out with him? None of the Colombo Tamils would have left Colombo to live in Tamil Eelaam, none of the Tamil Diaspora would have left their western climes, the Eastern Tamils were looked down by Prabakaran thus Karuna & PIllayan leaving it, the Estate Tamils are never considered as Tamils ......therefore we question again for who was this Eelaam for?

This makes us wonder more & more if the 1983 riots was actually a staged attempt to depict the Sinhalese as monsters & to enable Tamils to gain residency abroad & to launch a propaganda drive that would have India playing a lead role. All these were never any brainchild of Prabakaran he was merely the pawn who naturally was happy so long as he remained in the spotlight. If Prabakaran started a pawn & remained a pawn so must have been others in the LTTE hierarchy & if we look at the dynamics of the politics taking place & shape globally we are relieved that India has not been late to understand that the Eelaam struggle was being used to actually destabilize not Sri Lanka but India by western forces thus India's backing for Sri Lanka at the UN & UNHRC & while we can disregard comments made by Chiddambaran as playing to the Indian political gallery, we should be thankful regarding the statement of India's Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon & these are in deed golden words "a political solution for the National Question is a Sri Lankan affair and it is not the task of India, Norway or the United Nations to push Sri Lanka towards a political solution". Notice how he says National Question & doesn't say Tamil Question. This is coming a long way & we should appreciate this statement while also understanding that India's politicos are no different to ours in what they many of them actually even believe what they say?

Then into this Eelaam quest we have had a very large & influential set of players all put together & referred to as the NGOs/INGOs & UN. These are the new players in politics who are influencers of society & act probably on behalf of foreign governments as most of them have direct ties to governments which often channel aid to countries through these private organizations based on an argument that Governments of developing nations are corrupt. Agreed - but are these NGOs/INGOs all doves & paragons on virtue? They have been at work for years but there is no end to poverty, not much alleviation of poverty either, human rights abuses still prevail none of them has been even able to get the US to sign the Kyoto Protocol not even the former US VP who is now the champion of world climate change! They started out by protesting on streets but now they are into policy making & feel they have the answers to all the worlds woes & to this we should add the media outlets most of whom just want to sell a story & add to their profit! So when we question transparency & accountability we immediately wonder why NGOs/INGOs who were officed close to the LTTE headquarters in Kilinochchi did not report on the LTTE's procurement of arms, its operations, its child recruitment etc....the LTTE was never a legitimate entity for any NGO/INGO or even UN official to think they had to keep silent & just watch...didn't the LTTE collected arms that would kill innocent people. Therefore, we again question why these NGOs/INGO think they should have to keep mum about what the LTTE was doing under their very noses. Therefore when accusations emerge about links with NGOs/INGOs & even some media outlets & their personnel & accusations that they are being paid by the LTTE we are not at all surprised....especially so when we wonder how the LTTE made such massive earth bunds to be only told late that the equipment & heavy machinery used was "stolen" from one of these NGOs. Until NGOs/INGOs/UN & media outlets absolve themselves from the accusations within their entities of corruption, mismanagement & links with terror groups they are not going to be credible in the eyes of the public. In Sri Lanka we are well aware of how the 3000 NGOs/INGOs have functioned - presently the local NGOs are now openly accusing the international NGOs/INGOs of using the innocent Tamil civilians to humiliate the Government & the toilet example becomes a case in point. They are a rich entity & play with emotions of kind hearted people from whom they gain their deposits. Over 60% of the monies go towards their own upkeeping & a small number actually go towards the downtrodden - there are enough of cases to project through the tsunami to the present conflict in Sri Lanka. Today, in the eyes of the public NGOs/INGOs media outlets & even the UN have all lost their panache - most of Sri Lanka's public look down upon them for they have seen through their lies. Even the UN head is a mere puppet of the US...can we expect world peace!

Just as we question the Eelam & who it is for, we should question who actually want it - if the majority of Tamils desire to live amongst the Sinhalese we should finally call the bluff & put an end to this nonsense once & for all. Sri Lanka has no desire for devolution which will end up breeding another set of politicians who desire only to remain in power. It is better to have one entity that the public will have greater control over so that politicians themselves know that their existence in power remains in their ability to deliver the goods & services to its people.

Shenali Waduge ~ ~


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