Sri Lanka: A Voiceless Majority

Inactivity of the diplomatic missions in the Western countries paved the way for the prejudices created about the Sinhalese as a community in Sri Lanka which is harassing innocent Tamil people. The truth about Sri Lankan Tamil people living everywhere in Sri Lanka, doing business and purchasing property was kept hidden.


by Ananda Ariyarathne

( January 5, 2017, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Sri Lanka may be the unique example for a ‘majority’ being turned into a ‘voiceless entity’ within the nation’s own borders. Although they, the Sinhalese, make up 75 per cent of the total population, they have been branded as the most chauvinistic people, and due to their misfortune they have now ended up powerless and wait helplessly watching and feeling the destructive developments. The call for self rule was quite adequate enough to understand the level of deterioration of conditions perpetuated by the extremists chasing a goal of their own. A nation that could have been based on a firm foundation, beautifully and harmoniously integrated and bonded by two of the friendliest cultures is waiting helplessly.

Political complacence

Aimless and clueless politics has prevented noticing even the obviously visible realities. The first rulers of this country after Independence took the Sri Lankan Tamils for granted though it was never expressed openly. The fact that Tamil people in Sri Lanka were identified as Ceylon Tamils and Indian Tamils proves the situation that existed then. Tamil Community identified as Ceylon Tamils, had been a community smaller in numbers than the Indian Tamil Community in 1946. Having such a large number of Indian Tamils had already become an inseparable factor in Indo-Ceylon (Sri Lankan) relations. The concern the Indian Central Government had over the Tamil people based in Sri Lanka became an unavoidable balancing factor, in handling Tamil Nadu which had started screaming for a Separate Tamil State- the Dravidastan. By that time, Sri Lanka had a contented Tamil community. It was only some of the leaders who were agitating.

Indian Tamil question was a pending issue, but not grown to a crisis while the Ceylon Tamils had no grievances. The educated Ceylon Tamils had no problems in getting employed within Sri Lanka; and around the time of Independence, approximately 60 per cent of Government Servants were Tamil citizens. Everything was fine until the Language Issue came in. That was the beginning of the end of good times.

Language issue was a cheap way out seen by the opportunists. It is obvious now; it was that indifference that gave reasons for the Sri Lankan Tamil Community to feel frustrated. What came was closer to the expression- ‘we are a community taken for granted’. When the socialist politicians objected to such a measure, they were laughed at. They prophesied ‘One Language Two Countries’ as a possible eventuality.

With the introduction and implementation of the Language Policy, the deterioration started and it affected all aspects of life, starting with the simple forms used for the Registration of Births, Marriages and Deaths. Education was affected with examinations, higher studies, and the availability of opportunities. Solutions were pursued only when problems surfaced. Opportunities became limited for Tamil citizens as they had a language barrier, and it was natural that frustration followed. The friction resulted in changes, but, by that time the damage had been done. The complacence of all the governments that came, postponed problems, and that in turn caused a very positive environment for ‘outsiders’ to intervene.

Inseparable Indian Politics

It was mainly the Tamil Nadu politics and ‘Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’, which was founded in 1949, as an ‘offshoot’ of ‘Dravida Kazhagam’, caused even the ‘Indian Constitution’ to be amended to treat any call for separation described as ‘a demand for secession a criminal act’, in 1963. Area Covered by Greater Tamil Nadu. Compare the area shown in the Map of Sri Lanka and the Famous Map of Prabhakaran and now the area shown as Traditional Homelands of Sri Lankan Tamil people. Also, see the emblem of the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam in the picture shown to the right.( Source-Internet.)

On the recommendations of the Committee on the ‘National Integration and Regionalism’ of the ‘National Integration Council’ the Indian Parliament unanimously passed the 16th Amendment to the Constitution with a specific narration like: “….prevent the fissiparous, secessionist tendency in the country engendered by regional and linguistic loyalties and to preserve the unity, sovereignty, and territorial integrity” of India.

That became the beginning of the end for the call for a separate State for Tamils’ in India, but it would not have killed the sentiments and aspirations. Till then, the agitations by the Tamil extremists in Tamil Nadu openly expressed their aspirations. Although those areas shown have some specific area, it should not be misunderstood as a region completely occupied by Sri Lankan Tamil people. But that was the picture given to the outside world.

Proscription in India was a kind of a climax for Extremist Tamil politics there, but it coincided conveniently with the Sri Lanka situation. Growing frustration among Tamil citizens in Sri Lanka provided an ideal fertile base to have ‘Tamil nationalism’ to be exported to Sri Lanka, where the people really had some valid reasons to be frustrated. It had become a time, any Tamil politicians having close links with the Sinhalese dominated government in the South were treated as ‘traitors’. The Tamil youth had by that time seen how the Sinhalese youth took up arms and challenged the government. But they preferred to depend on Tamil Nadu as the sanctuary. It reached more serious levels with Tamil Nadu openly harbouring training camps for Tamil youth.

International Relations

The blame for the Indian Government’s clandestine involvement in Training Sri Lankan Tamil Youth should be taken by the Government of Sri Lanka, which thought USA would come to the rescue proves ignorance in global politics.

On the contrary, such intimacy with the Indian Government showed the underlying assurance given for the future separate State for Tamils in Sri Lanka. There, again, the whole blame should go to the then government in Sri Lanka for its failed international relations.

Inactivity of the diplomatic missions in the Western countries paved the way for the prejudices created about the Sinhalese as a community in Sri Lanka which is harassing innocent Tamil people. The truth about Sri Lankan Tamil people living everywhere in Sri Lanka, doing business and purchasing property was kept hidden.

Such a tendency in Sri Lanka provided the positive background for Western countries to encourage the separatist movement, openly. The numbers and types of sophisticated weapons reaching the LTTE, wished it to happen that way.

Those nations promoting intervention in Sri Lankan affairs started that way. The promotion of concepts like ‘Right to Protect’ and the ‘Centre Periphery Application’ became the foundation for the Constitutional changes. The set of words ‘genocide, killings, rape and atrocities’ constituted the alleged human rights violations in Sri Lanka. The ignored fact is that, if such support was not given, the only option could have been a ‘negotiated settlement’ under which such alleged sufferings could never have happened.

Tamil militancy and suffering

The killing of Alfred Duraiappah signalled the beginning of the era of defiance developing into a carnage that went out of control. Tit- for -Tat kind of incidents grew into a dimension where it became full scale conscription for Tamil militants, dragging each and every household into the suffering. Imagine a life style with a ‘cyanide capsule’ reminding more death than the aspiration to live. Invisible hands in Tamil Nadu provided a haven for Tamil militants from Sri Lanka, and the affluent Tamil nationalists living comfortably in Western countries provided the funding needed, initially to stabilize the movement and it became an almost a ‘self relying’ organization with resource centres created both by legal and illegal dealings. The resources created were freely available for the acquisition of the most sophisticated weaponry for a conventional war with a government as well as for the dedicated, well planned and executed propaganda to construct networks and support bases for the cause. The Indian Tamil promoters saw their opportunity emerging in Sri Lanka and made everything possible within their reach to make every minute and moment to serve their purpose.

Prabhakaran, who may have definitely started as a great emancipator, got spoilt by the pampering received from the Western Governments. They saw the opportunity of getting a unique and a geo-politically strategic location like Trincomalee, coming towards them so easily, on a platter, and did their part in supporting the LTTE. It is funny to note a government knowingly making arrangements to save the life of the most ruthless terrorist in spite of having the LTTE listed as a notorious Terrorist Organization in their own countries.

The picture given was becoming scary for any Sinhalese, as it showed Sinhalese as a Minority in ‘Dravidastan’.

West and UN

The present ‘Constitution’ pushed in a hurry had never been to bring any solution to the Sri Lankan Tamil people who suffered. A conflict that could have been resolved without a bloody armed conflict; if the LTTE was not supported with the most sophisticated weaponry, in the first place. The hope given to them made them pursue their military programmes and at the end, the ‘Human Shield’ became a tactic. Now, the Sri Lankan Government which had no choice but to defeat a terrorist organization, is accused of genocide and a variety of allegations used elsewhere in the world too.

The matter was taken up by the UN and then Geneva arranged to accuse the Sri Lankan Government. Now, hiding behind all such work, the Tamil extremists are trying their best to get the Eelam somehow or other.

And we have an ‘Unwanted Constitution’ forced on the majority which is actually a ‘minority’ in the ultimate picture they are chasing to achieve.

Is it the end of the road?

No..! Definitely not! It is very encouraging to note that our President has indicated his plan to take the Geneva issue up with the newly elected President- Donald Trump in March this year.

If the President seeks a just solution, the best is to request US President Trump to appoint an impartial committee to re-examine the evidence on the allegations made against the Sri Lankan Government before taking action to please some ambitious extremists who have other goals. Before everything else, let the truth come out. This is not against the innocent Tamil brethren. We are one people.

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