The terrible to the horrible

By: Dr. Rajasingham Narendran

Sontha Sahoethararhal Thunpathil Saathal Khandhum

Sinthai Irankaaradi -Khiliyey,

Seyvathu Arriyaaradi (Tamil)

Suffering and deaths of their own kind, do not evoke compassion

in some people and they are ignorant of what needs to be done.(Translation)

Nenjil Uramum Indri, Nermai Thiranumindri,

Vanjanai Seyvaaradi-Khiliyey,

Semmai Mharanthaaradi (Tamil)

Lacking strength of character and the power of honesty,

Some people engage in devious deeds and have

Forgotten what is right (Translation). 

(Poems by Subramanya Bharathi –Bharathiyar. The poems are addressed to a little girl, who he affectionately and in accordance with Tamil tradition calls ‘Khili’- parrot).

If what the Tamils in Sri Lanka have experienced in the past is called ‘ Terrible’ (unpleasant, nasty and very bad), what is in store for them in the future is bound to be ‘Horrible’ (shocking, dislikeable, very unpleasant, very fearful and full of worry and sadness), unless drastic remedial action is instituted immediately. The SLMM (Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission) in its statement of 11th May’2006, has described the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam) attack on the naval convoy off the Northern seas, as a gross and reckless violation of the ceasefire agreement. What made it worse was that the SLMM inspectors were with the naval convoy. This was brazen disregard for accepted international and moral norms and can be compared to Ravanan setting fire to Hanuman’s tail in the Ramayana! The Sri Lankan air force has bombarded Killinotchi, Iranaimadu and the Sampoor areas in retaliation. SLMM calls its task as that of trying to monitor a war rather than the implementation of the erstwhile ceasefire agreement. The LTTE wants war to achieve its Ealam and is ready to make the Tamil people its canon fodder, once again. The Sri Lankan government while not desiring a war is ready to retaliate against LTTE provocations and sacrifice the lives of its own citizens (albeit mainly Tamils) in the process. The LTTE lays a cleverly planned trap and the government of Sri Lanka, quite willingly walks into it! This is a recurring tragi-comedy in Sri Lanka. Both the government and the LTTE have little or no concern for the human suffering and deaths that result from war and are ready to make the people of Sri Lanka- Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims, the unwitting victims of their Machiavellian games. The lack of concern for the people, by those who have governed in the past, are governing at present and those who hope to govern in the future has made Sri Lanka the twenty fifth in the list of nations considered failed states! We are not far away from Somalia on this list. An achievement after six decades of independence, we should all be ashamed of!

The LTTE had the overwhelming emotional support of the Tamils at one time, as it was perceived as a manifestation of their struggle for equality, justice and fair play in Sri Lanka. Its excellence at war and everything that this involves, made the Tamils feel proud they had finally produced a phenomenon that can counter the evil the Sri Lankan governments had come to represent. However, regrettably and lamentably, the LTTE has grown to become a monster that surpasses the evil, the Sri Lankan governments were perceived to be. The support base for the LTTE among the Tamils is eroding fast and will become non-existent soon. The mistakes made by the LTTE; the fault lines in its modus-operandi and structure; the lack of a moral base in all its activities; and its transformation over time from a grievance and emotion-based liberation movement into a cynical, self-seeking, tyrannical, violent, maniacal, fascist, terrorist movement have become increasingly clear over the years and are matters of serious concern and alarm for the Tamils and the world at large. During the course of its degeneration, most Tamils, who had no personal commitment to the LTTE, and viewed it only as an organization spear heading the Tamil resistance, perceived the LTTE as the lesser of the evils confronting them. This tolerance has permitted it to become the monster it is now. It was certainly my conclusion the LTTE would be a major problem the Tamils have to deal with, once the problems with the Sri Lankan government and the Sinhala polity are sorted out. Unfortunately, or may be fortunately for us as a people and the world, the LTTE has become an intolerable problem that has to be immediately dealt with, before the problems with the Sri Lankan government and the Sinhala polity are resolved. 

The stories of my two direct contacts with the LTTE are revealing. I went to Madras in 1984, to visit my relatives who had sought refuge there, after the anti-Tamil pogrom of 1983 in Sri Lanka. During this visit, I made it a point to acquaint myself with the type of people involved in the various Tamil militant groups and their mission. I visited the offices of most of these militant groups, which were headquartered in Madras at that time. I found the LTTE more focused, more promising and the most acceptable amongst the multitude. However, I was utterly disappointed with ‘Dr’. Anton Balasingham with whom I had a long conversation. To many, the reason may appear as petty and insignificant. To me, it was a glimpse of his character and brought to mind the Tamil proverb, “Oru Paanai Soethitkku Oru Soerru Patham” (One grain of rice is sampled to see whether the rice being cooked in the pot has been cooked properly). The incident is worth narrating here. During the meeting Anton Balasingham received a telephone call from Point Pedro. He was visibly happy and full of mirth during the ensuing conversation. He later told me the LTTE ‘boys’ had apprehended some PLOTE (Peoples Liberation Organization of Tamil Ealam) cadres in Point Pedro and had spat on and harassed them (This was the period before the members of various militant groups started killing each other). He was very happy that this had happened and was obviously exhilarated. This was a period the title ‘Dr’ prefixing his name was assumed to be genuine. The meanness, sadism and depravity displayed did not befit the education he claimed to have. I conveyed this impression to many friends and relatives later. The monster the LTTE has become today is an extension of what I saw in Anton Balasingham almost twenty-two years back.

The second direct contact was in January’2005, when I accompanied my brother (Jayadevan) and his friend (Vivekanandan) to Kilinotchi. I was interested in meeting the leaders of the LTTE to discuss development issues in the context of the on-going peace process. I carried with me several copies of the book ‘The Wisdom of Lee Kuan Yu’ in its English and Tamil versions written by Dr.K.Sivam- my friend, critic, guide and lighthouse. In the Tamil translation the word wisdom was translated as ‘Waalariwu’. The LTTE cadre (middle ranking) who met me at ‘Nanthavanam’ told me,

  1. The ‘Thalaivar’ (Leader) knows everything about every subject and all the books published in other languages are translated for him to read and,
  2. ‘Waalariwu’ was not a Tamil word.

I was quite annoyed, but kept my peace, considering the circumstances. The ignorance, arrogance and thought processes behind these statements, and their implications for the Tamils, were deeply disturbing. However, I recited the Thirukural,” Katrathanaal Aaya Payanenkol- Waalariwan, Natraal Tholaar Enil” (What is the purpose of learning, if one does not worship at the feet of the ‘Wise One’) to point out that ‘Waalariwan’ was a Tamil word. This was followed a few days later by the incarceration (unconnected to my interactions) of my brother and his friend. It needs to be said the LTTE was not interested in development issues at all, but was only interested in trying to extract money. I was scared by what I saw in the ‘Dead’ eyes of the LTTE men I met and talked to- they were soulless robots. I came away very disappointed, very angry and very sad for the Tamils. 

 

These will be the experience of most Tamils with the LTTE to a lesser or greater degree. To recognize the problem the LTTE represents and seek solutions has to be the normal response of any Tamil. Fear should not any longer preclude us from exercising this birthright. We may die if we exercise it. But we will definitely die or be equivalent to being dead, if we do not. The first choice collectively exercised will definitely save more lives. We have to also relate our past experiences to present realities and work towards what is good for our future. What was an evil yesterday may have become relatively good today. What was good and hopeful yesterday may have become intolerably bad and hopeless today. What was right yesterday may be wrong today and vice-versa. The world is changing fast and as a result ground realities are changing fast. There is very little a human being can cling onto during the duration of his/her lifetime, in the world of today. When Mahatma Gandhi was asked why he changed his mind so often, he had replied that he knew more today than yesterday. Consistency is not a virtue, when it comes to human thoughts. Thoughts have to evolve with time, knowledge and experience. Our political affiliations and loyalties have to also change according to current realities and future possibilities. It is my firm contention and belief the LTTE should be immediately exorcized from the lives of the Tamils. It is also my firm belief that we will be worse off, if we continue to ride the Tiger. The Tamils are very likely to end up in the Tiger’s stomach, as the proverbial Brahmin did. We have to decisively choose the better of two evils. A Hobson’s choice has been thrust upon us and we cannot run away from it!

Two recent reports provide glimpses of the new tentacles the LTTE has grown and extended around the world. The implications are frightening in the context of its past history, present story, future intensions and, its well-known amorality, deviousness and ruthlessness. Vijay Shukla of the Observer Research Institute has reported the maritime division of the LTTE is engaged in addition to normal maritime trade, in gun running and, drug and human smuggling. He further reports the LTTE maritime assets are quite capable and can compete with the maritime facilities of a small island state, and that they include a fleet of merchant ships, a large number of fishing trawlers, high speed motor launches and professionally trained crews. Another report pinpoints the existence of ‘Internet Black Tigers’ as a unit within the LTTE (MIPT Terrorism knowledge base- A comprehensive Data bank of Global Terrorist incidents and organizations). Those of us who have been branded as traitors by the LTTE have experienced the cyber terrorism being unleashed by this unit in full measure. The ‘Black Tigers” and the associated suicide squads , the International Wing of ‘Castro’ and the Intelligence Wing of ‘Pottu Amman’ being what they are, one need not imagine the potential danger inherent in the new tentacles of the LTTE now being identified. The LTTE has emerged as the ‘Guru’ for all terrorist outfits around the world!

The LTTE has become larger than the Tamils and has assumed an independent existence of its own. It is like a cancer that grows to overwhelm the body it feeds on. It needs the Tamils only to justify its existence and camouflage its intensions. A Tamil Ealam is required not for the Tamils, but for it to headquarter its operations- both legal and illegal. The LTTE has acquired resources equal or surpassing that of the Sri Lankan state in many areas of strategic importance with money fleeced from the Tamils and earned from legitimate and illegitimate moneymaking operations worldwide. The concern for land over people has been the hallmark of the LTTE throughout its history. If we permit this state of affairs to continue, we are destined to become the bonded slaves of the LTTE, in the Tamil Ealam they are hoping to establish. The insidious and vicious control the LTTE has established over the Tamil Diaspora in distant lands is a clear example of its capabilities and proclivities. The LTTE has almost become a nebulous state that transcends known boundaries or borders.

What can we do, at this point in our history, when a war has been almost re-thrust on us?

  1. We have no alternative but to give up thoughts of an independent Tamil Ealam, once and for all and make no bones about proclaiming it to other Sri Lankans and the world at large.
  1. We have to also loudly proclaim to the other peoples in Sri Lanka and the world the LTTE and its ways are not acceptable to us. 
  1. We have to convince the world to clamp down on the LTTE and its activities, as these are detrimental to us as a people.
  1. We have to collectively, actively and non-violently oppose the LTTE according to our individual abilities and the tools available to us. This will be the most potent weapon against the LTTE.
  1. We have to encourage all the anti-LTTE political forces to come together to formulate an acceptable, clear and common agenda, to negotiate political solutions based on wide devolution of powers with the Sri Lankan government.
  1. We have to let it be known to the other people in Sri Lanka and the world that all Tamils are not Tigers and that we want their help to resolve our problems within the context of a united Sri Lanka.
  1. We should demand that all Tamil Para-military groups operating in Sri Lanka be incorporated within the Sri Lankan armed forces and be engaged to legally and legitimately oppose the LTTE. This will also prevent the emergence of these groups as additional oppressors of the Tamils in future. Para-military forces should not be permitted to exist or operate in Sri Lanka.
  1. We should demand the United Nations to deploy a Peace Keeping-Peace Enforcing force in Sri Lanka immediately as suggested by the Japanese peace envoy, Yasushi Akashi, a few days back.

The LTTE has become an unwieldy albatross around our necks and has to be cast aside immediately. It has to go as a deciding factor in our lives. The time is now. The resumption of a civil war has to be prevented at any cost. War should not be an option in Sri Lankan affairs any more. Let us talk, talk, talk,—,— and talk and scream to the high heavens for freedom, justice ,equality and political rights as a people in Sri Lanka. The world has heard us already. Let us make sure they hear enough to act. But let us demand the LTTE and the Sri Lankan government let us live in peace and get on with our lives as best as we could in the mean time.

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