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Sunday, 11 January 2009

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Sunday Commentary:

First, Tamil unity Next, a solution!

The country is now on the pathway to meet the urgent need to affirm the national character in our society with LTTE terrorism being crushed. Because, it's time that we recognise and identify ourselves as one people of one country. The world must recognise us as Sri Lankans and not by our respective ethnicity. If we act as Sri Lankans, we could then defend the unity and the sovereignty of this island nation, which is a vibrant democracy in Asia. Therefore, it is incumbent upon all races of people in this country, to uphold the foundation and programs of democracy to achieve the noble objective of building a strong national character to share a new destiny.

The Tamil community has been demanding a lasting solution to their grievances over the past three decades. Successive governments have made attempts to meet those demands over the years. The Tamils fought for the recognition of their language. It was enshrined in the 1978 constitution. They claim to have more grievances in other spheres of social life. All those have been accepted by those who ruled in the past and the incumbent at present. However, democratic rights cannot be won by unleashing terrorism on the nation and the people. Just demands could certainly be met by just means under a democracy.

Today, the immediate issue before this country is the Tamil-Tamil crisis.

The division between Tamils have thwarted a solution at all times. The Tamil community cannot fully blame the majority community or the rulers of this country for the sad situation among them. Because, the Tamils themselves are responsible for creating divisions among their own community. No other political party nor any other community have caused division among Tamils. Then, what was the cause for this division among Tamils? Let us now analyse the crisis carefully. Three decades ago,the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) led by Appapillai Amirthalingam introduced the infamous Vaddukkodai Resolution, that, for the first time demanded separation. It was the root cause of the current crisis faced not only by Tamils but also by the nation at large.

Politicians of our country have a tendency to play to the gallery to grab power at times of elections. While Amirthalingam gathered momentum from the distant dream of a separate state in 1977, our Southern politicos harped on the murder of beauty queen, Premawathi Manamperi killed in 1971 and, made it a slogan on the 1977 election platform. Those were slogans which made the masses look asses. Such were the political tragedies of the past. Given that scenario four decades ago,what happened to the Tamils thereafter is another question to examine. As it happened in the South in 1971 with an insurgency from the JVP, the Tamil youth were carried away by the promise of a separate state.

Day by day, pressure mounted on the TULF leaders to implement the pledge of a separate state. In the process the distant dream of a separate state made way to terrorism. The Tamil youth took to arms and several armed groups emerged under various names. The 'India Today' magazine was the first Indian publication to run pictures and stories of Sri Lankan Tamil terrorist training camps in Ramanathapuram, Tamilnadu, when the late Indira Gandhi was the Prime Minister.

As time passed by, TULF leaders realised that separation was only a distant dream. By then, terrorism had taken control of the Tamil community.

Terrorism was unleashed countrywide and the Tamil leaders looked helpless.

A dejected Amirthalingam participating in a debate to extend the state of emergency by a further month in parliament said, "Mr. Speaker Sir, if this trend of violence unleashed through terrorism is allowed to continue in this unprecedented manner, I doubt my presence in this House at the next emergency debate". A few days later his prediction came true. He and his colleague Vettiveli Yogeswaran were gunned down by the LTTE inside the Opposition Leader's official residence in Colombo.

Today, the unfortunate victims of the distant dream of a separate state are the innocent civilians living in the strife torn areas. Terrorism has taken them hostage to be used as human shields. The power of LTTE terrorism now seems to be over with troops driving them into the jungles. Therefore, the Tamil community must unite to resolve their grievances. The question of separation is now no more. It was only the LTTE which demanded separation.

The TULF under the incumbent leader Veerasingham Anandasangaree speaks of unity and not of separation. The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) should not fear the retreating Tigers.

Instead, they should now unite with other Tamil political sections to find ways and means to resolve the grievances of the Tamil people within the concept of a single nation.

No government could work out a solution when Tamils stand divided. Tamils must realise that the LTTE is the common enemy of all peace loving Tamils in this country. The Tamils must also realise that a terror outfit like the LTTE which has killed people from all communities cannot survive under a democratic framework. Tamils themselves have a responsible role to play in the restoration of normalcy in the areas they live. First, they should set aside differences among them. Tamil unity is vital,if the Tamils are keen to find a lasting solution to their grievances. They must accept the fact that a solution to the crisis in this pluralistic country should be based on the willingness of all people. It is on such a basis, the Centre could explore possibilities to find a lasting solution to meet the aspirations of all Tamils. A lasting solution should necessarily meet the future of all people in this country.The future of our country is defined and derived from the material conditions of our society. Therefore, any division among Tamils, will only place them on the edge of a mountain. All Tamil leaders who uphold democracy must discuss and adopt practical ways to overcome the current crisis. None of those Tamil leaders should await invitations if they sincerely represent the unfortunate masses in those strife torn areas.

They must free themselves from the political hysteria and the belief that governments err all the time. The pursuit of partisan objectives should not be allowed to further heighten tensions, fed by an atmosphere of brinkmanship in the conduct of Tamil political contest which we witness at this moment. Tamil politicians should not behave in a manner, ignorant of the obvious and the urgent needs of their people who yearn for peace, safety and security for over three decades. Nor they should sacrifice those human needs and aspirations before the Altar for political gain. What remains to be seen is whether all Tamil politicians are ready to unite,to live up to the challenge,to make a serious effort, which in a practical way could tell the Tamil people that they have now come to the end of the tunnel where there is light.

Unity among Tamils is the base to move towards national reconciliation and that should be the noble objective of the Tamil community. It is then all people shall respect each others language, culture and identity.

The need is an open, practical and meaningful participation of Tamil leaders in the journey to determine the destiny of the Tamil community.

Despite setbacks, they should move forward with determination. It is through such setbacks one could embark on the path to peace. The need is a sincere commitment though it may sound improbable to the sceptics. The government plans to usher a new spring to the Tamils living in the North.

If Tamil leaders assist in that effort, the Summer would not be far behind.

Then something new will always emerge through Tamil unity-"Semper Aliquid Novi".

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