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Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
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Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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Home > International Tamil Conferences on Tamil Eelam Freedom Struggle > > World Federation of Tamils Conference UK, 1988 > Expatriates & the Eelam Tamil Liberation Struggle -  Ana Pararajasingham

The Tamil National Struggle & the Indo Sri Lanka Peace Accord -
An International Conference at the Middlesex Polytechnic, London
30 April & 1 May 1988

Expatriates & the Eelam Tamil Liberation Struggle

Ana Pararajasingham

Australasian Federation of Tamil Associations

I wish to begin my presentation by establishing a few basic premises and refuting certain widely held notions, notions, which, we believe, have resulted in the dissipation of the efforts and resources of the expatriate Tamil community.

The liberation of our homeland may hold different meanings to different people. To some, it is an end to the violence that has become a way of life in our homelands. To others, it may mean the establishment of our position as a nation and yet to certain others, the freedom to pursue our own goals be they economic, cultural or social and to some others it may mean the confirmation of our identity as a distinct people. The liberation of our homeland of course is bound to result in all these and more.

The most significant aspect of the liberation struggle, however, is the emergence of a new social order. Such a development is inevitable given that the Tamil uprising which we are currently witnessing is a mass movement drawing its support and its leadership from the grassroots of our society. Tamil political leadership today is not in the hands of Men of Letters or professionals or for that matter, not even with those often loosely described as the Educated Middle Class. Tamil leadership today is not an elitist movement but truly representative of the Tamil masses of the North and East of the island.

As expatriates living away from our homelands, it is our bounden duty to recognise this essential nature of the liberation struggle and direct our efforts in the full knowledge of the fact that we are in the process of creating a society that would meet the goals and aspirations of the masses -in other words, a more equitable society. Secondly, it is vital that we understand the will and determination of the Tamil nation in pursuing this goal, despite the hardship imposed by almost six years of continuous war.

The undeniable fact is that the liberation movement, despite all assertions

By Ana Pararasasingham (Australia)

to the contrary by the governments of Sri Lanka and India, continues to enjoy popular support amongst our people. How else could one explain the phenomenon of a huge Indian occupying force not being able to disarm the LTTE or for that matter the plight of the Sri Lankan troops being tied down to their barracks, before the Indian intervention?

Thirdly, it must be clearly understood that the current Tamil leadership has exhibited not only great courage but also all the qualities one should expect from a perceptive and pragmatic leadership. In support of this assertion I wish to cite the reservation expressed by Mr.Prabaharan in regard to the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord in his speech to the nation delivered on the 4th of August 1987, in Suthumalai.

Subsequent events have not only proved Mr.Prabaharan's words to be true, but most importantly have revealed his perception of India's ulterior motives to be deadly accurate. It must be admitted, however, that these leadership qualities were not acquired overnight but have been gained through a process which has included false starts, costly errors and perhaps a tendency to over-react. Nevertheless, the leadership which has emerged today, through this process, is one we could all be confident would see us through.

Fourthly, as expatriates, we too must

admit to having been misled into supporting groups and organisations which have allowed themselves to be manipulated by those seeking to exert their own dominance. We are all only too aware of the quisling groups which are being used to hunt down the LTTE and the immense damage these groups have done to our cause. I am positive that at some stage of their development, these groups too were committed to the liberation of our land, but have fallen by the wayside due to their lack of vision and an honest dedicated leadership. Again, let us be frank with ourselves and admit that these mistakes were made because our own vision of the liberation was unclear and was based on emotions rather than reason.

The role of the expatriates

The role to be played by the expatriates in the liberation of our nation should be based on an accurate perception of the situation as it exists today. Essentially, the current situation could be summarised as follows:-

(1) The Tamil uprising is a mass movement drawing its support and leadership from the grassroots.

(2) The masses have shown their will and determination to realise the objectives of self-determination despite the hardship imposed by a prolonged war.

(3) The LTTE has emerged not only as a military organisation but as a strong political leadership with an accurate understanding of geopolitical realities.

(4) The Tamil liberation struggle is not the struggle of a minority attempting to fight for its rights but a nation exerting its rights of self-determination.

The main strength of the expatriate community could be briefly listed as follows:-

(a) The expatriate community is in a position to influence public and  government opinion in countries of their domicile. Such opinions could be used to persuade the Indian government to seek a political solution.

(b) The expatriate community is in a position to directly influence India by appealing to Indian politicians and the Indian media.

(c) The expatriate community is in a position to broaden and strengthen the vision of the Tamil leadership by contributing their own views and understanding.

(d) The expatriate community is in a

position to assist in providing the necessary frame-work for the Tamil right of self-determination being taken up by International bodies.

Some practical suggestions:

We submit that the Conference considers the following suggestions which the Australian Federation wishes to present:

1. Formation of an international body consisting of accredited representatives of Tamil leadership (LTTE and its allies) and representatives of the expatriate community.

2. Assign to this body the task of co-ordinating the activities of the various expatriate groups and the Tamil national leadership.

3. Assign to this body the task of internationalising our struggle.

In conclusion I wish to thank the organisers of the Conference and express the gratitude of the Eelam Tamil Association of Australia for having been given an opportunity to present its own view-point.



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