Tamils - a Trans State Nation..

"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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Tamilnation > Tamilnation Library> Eelam Section > The Tamil Tigers : Armed Struggle for Identity Dagmar Hellmann-Rajanayagam.


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helllmanFrom the Conclusion:

"... Though a diagram would show LTTE as standing alone and independent from all the other groupings, this is of course not quite true. Communication lines and common features at intersections between LTTE and other groups do exist, but these connections are extremely loose and LTTE would never allow these connections or questions of party loyalty to hamper a course of action they have embarked upon and consider vital. The argument works also the other way round: LTTE would not let political or ideological differences stand in the way of cooperation if this suits their political objectives, provided they could keep control of the process as a senior partner.

Another point is even more important: As we have seen, quite obviously LTTE represent a strand of political will and thinking which is extremely strong and entrenched among the Tamils: a very conservative society with a deep feeling of its own worth and national/ethnic pride is much more easily swayed by national appeals and arguments even if they come wrapped up in socialist terminology, connected with a certain amount of social discomfort and upheaval, than by Marxist visions of world revolution and the equality of humankind.

The socialist stance, sincerely as it is peddled, is at best a thin veneer over a profoundly indigenous and national movement. Yet at the same time, aims of equality and social justice have been realised best by LTTE who are as mixed by caste and religion as one could wish. And there lies another source of LTTE's strength: the undoubted support of the movement depends on the mixture of deep loyalty to the culture and history of the Tamils and an attempt at social reform. This loyalty to history and tradition is revealed in the various ways described...

While the other groups claimed support and assistance from the population, LTTE was the only group that could prove to have grassroots support and influence, a support which enabled them to achieve military control. This was not solely based on military superiority, which is, after all, a relative concept, but much more on the ideology of the survival of the Tamil race, Tamil nation, Tamil language, Tamil culture and Tamil homeland...

Without doubt, the pattern of Tamil nationalism in Sri Lanka shows may similarities to other independence or liberation movements, especially in its arrangement of liberation groups and their ideology and the return to a glorious past which is recalled in sentimental terms. But the reason for the success of this particular strand of ideology (a fact which could become dangerous if Eelam is achieved) must lie somewhere in the direction Tamil culture took in the past, which determines the shape of Tamil nationalism of today.

This is the direction in which we have to try to marshal our research and our argument. There are more questions than answers here, and the answers may take a long time coming, since research on the Tamil militants has only just begun. But they are necessary questions if we want to come to a just evaluation of the role and significance of these militants in the context of Tamil society and Tamil politics. Kapferer's deterministic conclusion that violence is inherent and constitutive in Sinhalese ontology and cultural concepts is debatable in the Sinhalese context, and certainly not applicable in the Tamil case, the present cult of violence by the LTTE notwithstanding.

And what have the Tigers gained? Blood, sweat and tears, military control of Jaffna and a reputation for determination, tenacity, fanaticism and ruthlessness. On the negative side, isolation, loss of world sympathy and revulsion after Rajiv Gandhi's death and the loss of their fall-back bases and supply lines in India. All LTTE's successes up till now have been achieved out of the barrel of a gun, but can this go on?

One day the Tigers will have to enter the political process. And that is the point: experienced fighters they are, whether they are clever politicians is open to doubt. This is not at all a problem of intellectual ability, but of political naivete and inexperience which the Tigers display to a quite unbelievable degree. It says a lot for them, that a group of militants not versed in the wiles of their lawyer elders have come so far at all, but that does not lessen the difficulties. It was easy to take Kokkavil and Mankulam, to drive the army out of Jaffna Fort, but it is quite a different task to get normal life going again. LTTE admit openly that they have great difficulties there. And in order to guard against their own mistakes and others taking advantage of them, they will keep their weapons and for the present rely on force majeure.

Prospects for peace in Sri Lanka look grim indeed. The situation is tragic not only for the Tamil population, but the members of LTTE themselves, too. It is the tragedy of the Sri Lankan Tamils' schizophrenia, torn between Sri Lanka and India in the search for their identity. They have a choice of identities and histories to draw upon, but instead of offering a chance and providing a means of transcending ethnic or linguistic boundaries, this choice of identities and pasts has become their greatest problem. It causes them to veer wildly between India and Sri Lanka, alternately rejecting both and being repulsed in turn. This is the Tamils' own ethnic hell, and the real tragedy is that Satyendra and even the LTTE saw what was coming, but were, for all their attempts, powerless to prevent it."



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