Is Sri Lanka’s Eelaam Project shaping into a Reality?

Shenali D Waduge

A question on everyone’s mind is whether TNA would be able to achieve what Prabakaran could not and why the Government that stopped Prabakaran would allow an Eelam to emerge under its defacto political party the TNA? The answer to that question is not as easy to conclude which is why Eelam is being described as a project involving various stakeholders who not necessarily desire the same objective.

Eelam a project of Tamil elite caste politicians:

Divide and Rule was the colonial strategy to plunder invaded foreign lands while keeping natives in continued conflict with each other. The strategy adopted for Sri Lanka was to divide people along ethnic lines. Thus, minorities were provided disproportionate status in education, employment and governance (on condition that they converted to Christianity) throughout colonial rule but reversed the status quo before handing over independence knowing the outcome. Governance at independence came to the hands of neither Sinhalese Buddhists representing the majority or Tamil Hindus but to a handful of English educate elite from both Sinhalese and Tamils who were trained to think and behave more like the colonials. It was this same English educated elite class of Tamils that objected to their own Tamil people gaining education when S W R D Bandaranaike introduced the Social Disability Prevention Act in 1957. These elite Tamil politicians educated in English went so far as to even write to authorities in London making their objection and these same elite Tamil politicians educated in English objected to the Sinhala Only policy when Tamil was never a language of administration and they did not speak a word of Tamil. The caste system within the Tamil community was broken only after Prabakaran not belonging to the elite or high caste realized it was an impediment to run a guerrilla movement where the ideology could not be hampered by divisions within – so LTTE declared a ban on caste system yet the Tamil elite high caste wish to continue to dominate over the rest of Tamils.

Eelam a project of Tamil Diaspora

The flow of Tamils out of Sri Lanka to western climes increased with the July 83 riots and subsequently as a result of the massive propaganda campaign of the LTTE to promote discrimination and virtually all applications were addressed to countries that would eventually enable a steady flow of funds to maintain the LTTE terror as well as nations that would assist in funnelling illegal arms to Sri Lanka. The tide turned when in 2001 the West strategized to use terror as a means of advancing neo-colonial agenda to advance the notion of humanitarian military intervention and descend upon nations and eliminate their erstwhile leaders using media to promote them as ‘dictators’. The Tamil Diaspora whether they belonged to LTTE or not did contribute to the LTTE (by choice or force) because it meant a better living condition for them in a western nation which has now prompted them to be referred to as ‘economic refugees’. It is nothing we can hold against them as most Asians always think they can have a better life in the West. The LTTE used this to their advantage and without concern for Tamils. This self-interest remains a key feature in the silence of most Tamils in a dilemma even they find difficult to explain though many are now rising against the brainwashed ‘Tamil Only nation’ ideology to say life with the Sinhalese has never been that which LTTE had promoted. The Buddhist-Hindu ties are certainly one way to bring the two ethnic groups and cultures closer.

Eelam a project of Indian Government:

It has become a debate to determine as to when India began to train Sri Lankan militants on Indian soil to carry out a prolonged armed struggle in Sri Lanka against the Sri Lankan Government in cohesion with Indian South Asian strategy. Suffice it to say India has to at one stage admit that it trained Sri Lanka’s militants including females on Indian soil well before 1983 riots though it used 1983 as a prima facie case to openly admit training them. India cannot hide the fact that India clandestinely trained Sri Lankans without Sri Lanka showing any hostility towards India and that guilt is something India cannot escape from even with the excuse of its anger at President Jayawardena’s pro-US stand, allowing a Voice of America in Trincomalee or allowing Pakistan to refuel in Sri Lanka during the Indo-Pak war. In providing Indian Government support, Indira Gandhi, her son Rajiv Gandhi and most of the successive Indian Governments ended up inviting trouble to India’s Southern borders and what India thought to be an easy issue to solve between India-Sri Lanka and Tamil militants has ended up drawing too many foreign players that has left India’s national security a concern for its establishment. India could not have been naïve not to explore the scenario of Tamil Nadu converging with Sri Lankan Tamils on a bogey of Eelam handled by different players and to eventually exclude Tamil ideology, Hinduism and Tamil nationalism altogether! When the genesis of all conflicts finds itself to the same doorstep India should have been aware that every opportunity is taken to attempt to divide lands and territories and create conflicts that benefit a handful of people while the collateral benefits amongst others is what keeps these conflicts from being solved. The mistake has always been in thinking that movements manufactured can be crushed. IPKF debacle should have surely taught lessons for India.

Nevertheless inspite of the dangers to India it is ready to apply its own incursions via economic domination of Sri Lanka, political bullying and other incursions to which Sri Lanka lacks the strategy or personnel to counter.

Eelam project of India’s intelligence and other intelligence:

‘LTTE are our boys… we will handle them’ was the message given to the IPKF commanders sent to Sri Lanka depicting the close ties established between Indian intelligence and various groups of Tamil militants that India helped train. Many a time the Indian army had accused the Indian intelligence of supplying wrong information that proved detrimental to its own troops. That intelligence agencies have followed a line of their own out of the scope of their governments is nothing that needs to be repeated – it is often believed that they run a shadow government with their own polices sometimes running contrary to the country’s national policy and jeopardizing the cordial relations between nations – possibly that being their agenda having aligned to divergent interests of their own. Nevertheless, the fact that Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination itself was connected to a string of controversial claims speaks volumes of such possibilities. It is not a can of worms any government would dare open on any grounds lest it would reveal too many skeletons from the closet.

Eelaam a project of Tamil Nadu politicians:

Eelam or Nation for Tamils only emerged not in Sri Lanka but in India’s Tamil Nadu where Tamils were showing their dissatisfaction against Hindi. The various calls to separate were however crushed by India’s central government though it has not stopped the Tamil nationalism rising in Tamil Nadu. The only issue has been the fact that Tamil Nationalism via Eelam has been usurped by non-Hindus though Hindus constitute the majority of Tamils in both Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka. No Tamil Nadu politician has dared to use the separatist issue as an election slogan in Tamil Nadu. The various calls made related to Eelam in Sri Lanka has at best only got the attention of the Indian Central Government for it has been a good bargaining platform to coerce the Indian Government while the Indian Government sheepishly uses it to get Sri Lanka to agree to its terms and conditions. In other words the Eelam slogan used by Tamil Nadu politicians and referred to in turn by Indian Government has at best served their interests and not the Tamils of Sri Lanka.

Eelaam a project of the Church

The links with LTTE and the Church is a factor that has been raised even in India. Sri Lanka’s North, East and Tamil Nadu have been experiencing a rise in conversions helped by the numerous charity organizations that have been using ‘charity’ to hide their inner mechanizations. Numerous articles by Indian authors give detailed links to these ties. Father Emmanuel heads all the Tamil Diaspora organizations under his umbrella the Global Tamil Forum. Father Emmanuel calls Prabhakaran Jesus Christ, LTTE the soldiers of Christ, suicide bombers the martyrs of the Catholic Church to whom the Church provided a Catholic burial, and self proclaimed himself, the Moses who would lead the Tamil nation from the bondage of the Sinhalese-Buddhists to the land chosen for them by God: Ealam. Numerous other members of the clergy have openly spoken on behalf of the LTTE or been chief guests at LTTE events and have been associated with some of the orphanages from which LTTE recruited their child soldiers. Rajappu Joseph Bishop of Mannar, declared open the “Embassy of the Tamil Eelam”, the Eelam House in London. LTTE Voice of Tigers tied up with Radio Veritas, a Catholic broadcasting station run by Asian Catholic Bishops Conference based in Philippines.Tamil Nadu is a major benefactor of Church funds and Christian humanitarian organizations. The power of the Church is such that the present Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu even repealed the anti-conversion law (in 2004) implemented by her own Government.

Eelaam a project of the West:

The West that is well aware of how conflicts arise and how helpless Governments are does not have to be told who the terrorists are. 3o years of terror has shown us that Western politicians have preferred to take the side of the terrorists primarily because the ‘terrorist’ situation gives them leverage to push governments to adhere to their objectives. Given that conflicts take place in Third World developing countries who need to take loans to purchase arms and ammunition and expand its military to defend itself, Western Governments have made merry with terrorism to continuously strangulate Third World nations into debt. Many of these Western governments have interests of their own – either they are puppets of those who tell them where to wage wars and when to wage wars or they sponsor conflicts because it suits the neo-colonial agenda applying maxims of trade and geopolitical leverage in which again the same handful of people end up pocketing profits from the woes of others. They have the explicit backing of the UN because the same people influence how the ‘peace’ bastion runs with only Russia and China now providing any balance and so these two nations and their allies will soon form the two camps that would eventually lead to the ultimate showdown on account of the nuclear and chemical arsenal both camps have in their possession.

Eelam a project of arms profiteers

Anyone that manufactures arms does not do so for a hobby and the scale of the manufacture ensures sales are not meant only for defence of one’s nation. What we need to at all times remember is that politicians themselves are people who are owned by a handful of people not seen but very much in control of all that we do. It is no exaggeration to say that they control every action and inaction taking place around the world – they decide to give jobs or make people redundant, they will create jobs where they find cheap labor, they will increase taxes and have no qualms about destroying the environment or destroying lives of people. All the contemporary conflicts are manufactured and engineered by these people. If at all anyone needs to be charged for war crimes it is them.  Is it now difficult to understand the Eelam Project and those involved?

Where do Sri Lankan Tamils fit into in this agenda?

In many ways Tamils have been the bait of all the parties we call stakeholders – they have been victims of their own cause or for their own cause. A handful have certainly benefitted by now living overseas from where they take care of their families back home, however if Tamils were to dislocate themselves from the caste factor they would realize that a significant number of Tamils have never enjoyed anything called progress in their lives. It was this number that the Sri Lankan army saved having been the flock from whom LTTE chose their cadres, picked their child soldiers and those who were virtually slaves of the LTTE and if they are reluctant to even appreciate being saved by the Sri Lankan army it is because they have come to accept their fate which is no different to whatever party that handles them. They are now being steered by the TNA who have taken over from the LTTE and it will be from this group that the new LTTE is likely to emerge wherein LTTE cadres that escaped are likely to have returned as ‘holidaying’ expats, ‘Indian’ beneficiaries or as Indian labor to the numerous Indian projects set up in the North.

As for the Tamils, is it too much to expect that some gratitude for the development seen in the past 4 years that had never been seen throughout LTTE de facto rule is something to make them renounce the TNA? Or do they think that it is the duty of the Government to develop these areas and they need not show any special gratitude and it is not for others to question their allegiance to the TNA irrespective of LTTE existing or not?

Where have Sri Lanka’s politicians gone wrong?

The LTTE prevailed during the terms of 5 Presidents and it took the 5th to eliminate the scrooge of terror after 3 decades of death and destruction. Sadly there is little that can be said of the main opposition and one wonders if there is such in Sri Lanka given the irrelevant and lack of national interest topics it ties itself to and never speaking on behalf of the majority to ever come into power.

In looking back we can conclude that it was the lack of real will that stopped the country’s leaders from taking the all-important decision to defeat terror made difficult because most advisors were of the opinion that they were faced with an ‘unwinnable war’ combined with the lack of faith that Sri Lanka’s armed forces had the capability to take on the LTTE. It served them better to use the LTTE and the period of terror to hide their weaknesses and that became a perfect way to remain in power. The promise was that terror would be over after the next election victory! Sadly the proponents of this unwinnable war theory continue to remain holding very influential posts still and unapologetic of their actions that continue to haunt their current role.

It took push and pluck to go beyond Mavil Aru, the liberation of the East and the onward march to take over the North while several other factors also contributed including luck that had been a distant feature for the army put right through the efforts of the Defence Secretary.

Nevertheless what needs to be reiterated is that it was not only the lack of will to solve issues but the fact that leaders chose to use the chaos in Sri Lanka for their own political advantage. Whether the same lack of will prevails to crush the rising extremism gathering momentum is also being question given that external forces are now influencing the other minority in Sri Lanka. The fact that it has reached levels where the public are noticing the change shows that the politicians have been asleep or are taking a lacklustre approach signalling the possibilities of inviting another looming catastrophe unless addressed.

While politicians including those in government and opposition must share guilt for lack of will in solving crisis situations before they boil over, locals of all ethnic groups too have enjoyed collateral benefits of the war and constantly work towards creating such through the foreign apparatus ever ready to fund such.

What choices are left for the Government?

President Premadasa achieved what in today’s context appears to look the impossible. Not only did he send the IPKF packing back to India he also declared a British High Commissioner persona non-grata for interfering in local elections and was also able to declare null and void the first election held following the signing of the Indo-Lanka Accord and the Provincial Council system when the chief minister of the merged N-E provincial council declared a unilateral declaration of independence in 1990.

Thinking that with the demise of the LTTE all troubles were over and the rest could be handled on using political cunning on the logic of taking issues on a come what may basis has shown the Government has made a mistake.

Officials have never questioned some of the key statements that external forces have floated and without question our politicians have come to accept. Why are we not asking proof of animosities between Sinhalese-Tamils to justify ‘ethnic’ problem, why have we not questioned the legal jurisprudence of Geneva laws in relation to LTTE which was a designated terrorist movement since 2001?, why have we not questioned the validity and proof of a ‘Tamil homeland’, why have we not questioned on what premise that more than half of the Tamils can live amongst Sinhalese while Sinhalese are forbidden from the North and calling for a Tamil Only homeland in the North, why have our Governments not insisted that all communities must live anywhere in Sri Lanka as it is their constitutional right, why has the Government silently accepted ‘Sinhala colonization’ slogans….and there are many more issues that the Government with a will needs to now correct without keeping silent and using them for political advantage only.

Denazifying the LTTE as the Allies had done to the Germans should have adequately stopped the present calls by the TNA and Chief Ministerial candidate to use LTTE insignia, LTTE slogans and now even the calls to take up arms as well as the obnoxious calls for the military to withdraw the army from the north. 6th amendment to the Constitution is also sufficient to ensure separatism is legally taken care of. There is also the provision available to completely repeal the 13th amendment signed virtually under duress and a system that the people of the nation did not ask for and are not benefitting from. There was also the need to have dealt with the issue of illegal immigrants given that the census data does not make sense with ground realities but in arranging temporary ID cards the Government is virtually giving a walk over to the TNA. In so delaying decisions the entire country and possibly even the Government are in tenterhooks on how to handle the present scenario given that conditions for action will not be the same as when President Premadasa was able to annul the north election.

Political cunning serves only politicians. We now need leadership of a different kind based on the interest of the people and the nation.

Let us not repeat the same mistakes.

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