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Home > Tamils - a Nation without a State> Tamil Nadu > Tamil Nadu & the Tamil Eelam Freedom Struggle >  Karunanidhi on the Art of the Possible - and  living in hope 

tamil nadu
& Tamil Eelam freedom struggle

Chief Minister Karunanidhi on the Art of the Possible
- and Living in Hope

2 July 2009

Comment by tamilnation.org  It should not come too much as a surprise that Chief Minister Karunanidhi who was vociferous in his support for an independent Tamil Eelam during the Indira Gandhi regime now tells his 'udan pirapukal'  that they should follow in the foosteps of the  DMK which had shelved the demand for  Dravida Nadu in 1962 to avoid proscription. We are reminded of the old story about the fox - வால் வெட்டின நரிக் கதை - .

"Once upon a time there was a fox, whose tail had been cut off by a steel-jawed trap. And because he was so ashamed of his lost beauty he fancied that his life had become unbearable. He grew embittered of it and he wanted to bring all the other foxes in the same situation, so that in their mutual suffering his own mutilation would be a common thing. Therefore, one day he called all the foxes together and tried to persuade them to chop off their tails, because, as he said, it was not only an ugly object, but also an unnecessary burden which was tied up to them. But someone interrupted him and said: 'Hey fox, if your tail hadn't been cut off you certainly wouldn't have said this to us.' This story applies to those who give their fellow people advice not out of kindness but out of self-interest. " Lazy Fox's Spot

The story applies to those who give their fellow people advice not out of kindness but out of self-interest. And ofcourse, Chief Minister Karunanidhi has not been backward in declaring his self interest -

"On Monday, after calling on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and separately meeting Congress president Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi, Karunanidhi revealed to reporters what he had told Thondaman: "The central government's policy (on Sri Lanka) will be the state government's policy." " New Delhi's Policy on Sri Lanka will be Tamil Nadu's Policy says Karunanidhi, 6 July 2006

And as for India's self interest and its policy on Sri Lanka we know that only too well -

�We have a very comprehensive relationship with Sri Lanka. In our anxiety to protect the civilians, we should not forget the strategic importance of this island to India's interests,... especially in view of attempts by countries like Pakistan and China to gain a strategic foothold in the island nation...Colombo had been told that India would "look after your security requirements, provided you do not look around". "We cannot have a playground of international players in our backyard." Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee 24 October 2008

Said that, there are a couple of matters in Chief Minister Karunanidhi's remarks that we may usefully address.

Chief Minister Karunanidhi says that hauling up Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa for war crimes would be an exercise in futility, 'as it would only adversely affect the safety of the Tamils in that country'.  Bringing war criminals to justice 'would adversely affect the safety of the Tamils in that country'. That is the state of the country in which more than 300,000 Tamils live in concentration camps.

But it is in that same country that Chief Minister Karunanidhi suggests that Tamils  "should henceforth work for their livelihood rights in the island nation and (peacefully) struggle for equal rights, equal status for the language and devolution of powers at the regional level." Was not that what the Tamils did for several decades before the birth of the armed resistance movement? And when Tamils struggled peacefully  were they not set upon and assaulted, robbed and killed by Sinhala government supported thugs in 1956, 1958 and again in 1961?

"What happened on 6 June 1956 when the Sinhala Only Bill was being debated in Parliament? The members of the Federal Party, exercising their undoubted constitutional right, wanted to protest against the imposition of (the Sinhala Only) Bill. The Members of the Federal Party said that they would sit in silence on the Galle Face Green... It was a silent protest which they were entitled to make. They were seated there on the Galle Face Green, and Parliament was sitting solemnly listening to the Prime Minister. Troops and police were drawn round the place.

What happened? Hooligans, in the very precincts of Parliament House, under the very nose of the Prime Minister of this country, set upon those innocent men seated there, bit their ears and beat them up mercilessly. Not one shot was fired while all this lawlessness to persons were let loose... Why?

Orders had been given: 'Do not shoot, just look on.' Thereafter on that day, 6 June, every Tamil man was set upon and robbed. He was beaten up. His fountain pen and wristlet were snatched away. He was thrashed mercilessly, humiliated and sent home. The police were looking on while all this was happening before their very eyes.

Shops were looted... but the police did nothing... Why did that happen? All that happened because specific instructions had been given to the police that they should not shoot, should not arrest, should not deal with the lawlessness and disorder that was let loose... rowdies and hooligans were given a free hand to assault, humiliate and rob any innocent Tamil walking the roads on that day. That was the attitude taken up by a Cabinet composed of Sinhalese Ministers...

These (hooligans) were instigated by some members of Parliament... they were heading the gang of hooligans. The Prime Minister made a remarkably wonderful speech on that occasion. He came, he smiled and he told the crowd, "Don't do that. Rain is coming down. They will be cooled in no time." That was the type of appeal he made. If Sinhalese men were being thrashed by Tamils and their ears bitten, I wonder whether the Prime Minister would have adopted the same attitude." - Senator S.Nadesan Q.C., Sri Lanka Senate Hansard 4 June 1958

"At no time did we underestimate the might of the Prime Minister�s (Srimavo Bandaranaike's) government. We are quite aware that she has powers enough to turn her armed forces against us. �The Prime Minister has made a radio speech touching on satyagraha. That speech is more benefiting an imperial dictator speaking to her subjects than a speech made by a democratic leader to her people. In fact the manner and the contents of her speech correctly depict the true status of the Tamil-speaking people in Ceylon. The rule over them is indeed colonial imperialism. � In her radio speech just before her departure to Great Britain, she made an appeal to those whom she called reasonable Tamils , �To disown the actions of the mischief makers, namely the Federalists�. � The factual position is that there is no section of the Tamil-speaking people, certainly in the northern and eastern provinces, which does not fervently support the satyagraha movement.� S.J.V. Chelvanayakam, 4 March 1961.

Now that Tamil armed resistance has been defeated, would it not 'adversely affect the safety of the Tamils' if they peacefully struggle for equal rights? Would a peaceful struggle for equal rights also be an exercise in futility - in the same way as it was in the decades before the birth of armed resistance?  Would Chief Minister Karunanidhi have us forget that which Professor Marshall Singer said in 1995 -

"...One of the essential elements that must be kept in mind in understanding the Sri Lankan ethnic conflict is that, since 1958 at least, every time Tamil politicians negotiated some sort of power-sharing deal with a Sinhalese government - regardless of which party was in power - the opposition Sinhalese party always claimed that the party in power had negotiated away too much. In almost every case - sometimes within days - the party in power backed down on the agreement..." - Professor Marshall Singer, at US Congress Committee on International Relations Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific Hearing on Sri Lanka November 14,1995

Mr. Karunanidhi calls upon the people of Tamil Eelam to live in hope for a 'Sri Lanka government led by Tamils'  and says disingenuously -

�Like how Barack Obama from the oppressed community became the President of the United States, let us hope that a government led by Tamils would be formed soon in Lanka.�

Barack Obama spoke to the US electorate in English. In what language would a Tamil 'Barrack Obama' speak to the Sinhala Sri Lanka electorate?  In the Sinhala language?

"...In the Sinhala language, the words for nation, race and people are practically synonymous, and a multiethnic or multicommunal nation or state is incomprehensible to the popular mind. The emphasis on Sri Lanka as the land of the Sinhala Buddhists carried an emotional popular appeal, compared with which the concept of a multiethnic polity was a meaningless abstraction..." [Sinhala Historian K. M. de Silva in Religion, Nationalism and the State, USF Monographs in Religion and Public Policy, No.1 (Tampa, FLA: University of South Florida 1986) at p31 quoted by David Little in Religion and Self Determination in Self Determination - International Perspectives, MacMillan Press, 1996]  

Or does Mr.Karunanidhi suggest that the Tamil  'Barrack Obama' should engage in the politics of the bird world and speak in English -

" As children, we read in the Hitopodesa that at night birds from all directions would gather on a shimul tree on the banks of the Godavari. Why? To cackle for a while and then go off to sleep. Cackle in this context means to discuss the politics of the birdworld... In a language learnt by rote you can only express ideas learnt by heart..." For Province, Read Nation - Pramatha Chauduri, 1920

And on egalitarianism and equality, Chief Minister Karunanidhi may want to attend to the words of Professor Harlod Schiffman -

 " Much is made in Singapore of how policies are egalitarian, especially the ethnicity policy. But an example from the literature on North America, French in Canada, may be apt. In French Canada (and in adjacent parts of New England) the French language is spoken by a minority of about 5 million, surrounded by a sea of 270 million English speakers. In that situation, the Qu�b�cois express the feeling (LaPonce, 1987) that legal egalitarianism is simply not enough, and have attempted to legally restrict and diminish the domains of English within the French-speaking territory. Though this enrages many English Canadians, who feel that egalitarianism is what the law requires, and is inherently fair, the francophones, however, contend that egalitarianism is not equal, because it does not lead to equal outcomes, but in the case of Canada, to English dominance. In this situation, the only way to guarantee equal outcomes, that is, that French speakers will be French-dominant bilinguals, is to create a “safe haven,” a reserved space for French, so that the overwhelming dominance of English can be kept at bay. Similarly in Singapore, the egalitarianism seems to exist only on paper; the outcome of the policy has not led to the strengthening of Tamil, and the housing policy has guaranteed that no territory for Tamil will exist. In the final analysis, egalitarianism is not equality if one group is ten times the size of the other, whether in North America or in Singapore. " Tongue-Tied in Singapore: A Language Policy for Tamil? - Harold F. Schiffman

In the final analysis, egalitarianism is not equality if one group is ten times the size of the other, whether in North America or in Singapore or for that matter in Sri Lanka.  And the  continuing Sinhala colonisation of the Tamil homeland with renewed vigor by the President Rajapaksa regime is directed to ensure that no territory for Tamil will exist. And without territory, the Tamil language also will cease to exist in the island of Sri Lanka. We have said it before and we say it again -

"..Do you not see that without an identified homeland, we could not have become a people with a separate language and a separate culture, and that without an identified homeland we shall cease to be a people?  Or is it the position that the Sri Lankan government does in fact see this reality and for that reason, refuses to recognise ... the existence of a homeland for the Tamil people, so that it may absorb the Tamil people into a single homogeneous 'Sinhala' nation?  Please tell us, if that which we say does not seem reasonable to you. We are a reasonable people and we will listen to you, if you show us where we are wrong. " We, too, are a people - Text of statement by Nadesan Satyendra at Thimpu Talks, 1985

It seems to us that instead of misleading the Tamil people to live in the forlorn hope that 'a government led by Tamils would be formed soon in Lanka' Chief Minister Karunanidhi should have paid careful attention to the words of a fellow Tamil,  Director Seeman -

But then again, it may be he has. It is difficult to imagine that Chief Minister Karunanidhi does not know that which Director Seeman has said.

It is difficult to imagine that Chief Minister Karunanidhi does not know that in the island of Sri Lanka, the record shows that during the past sixty years and more, the intent and goal of all Sinhala governments (without exception) has been to secure the island as a Sinhala Buddhist Deepa. It is difficult to imagine that Chief Minister Karunanidhi does not know that the current Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa is simply the latest in a long line of leaders of the Sinhala Buddhist nation, a nation which seeks to cleanse the island of Sri Lanka of Tamils as a people, and a Sinhala Buddhist nation which dare not speak its name,  - a Sinhala Buddhist nation which seeks to masquerade as a multi ethnic 'civic' 'Sri Lankan' nation albeit with a Sinhala Lion flag , with an unrepealed Sinhala Only Act, with Buddhism as the state religion, and with the Sinhala name  'Sri Lanka' which it gave itself unilaterally in 1972 .

Chief Minister Karunanidhi's role in Tamil politics is ofcourse dragging to an end. It is unfortunate that that end will be inglorious - unfortunate, because despite Mr,Karunanidhi's  contributions to Tamil language and literature, and despite his positive attempts to nurture the growth of a secular Tamil national identity (as evidenced by the declaration of the first of Thai as the  Tamil New Year), in the end  Mr. Karunanidhi will be remembered by the Tamil people living in many lands only as Kottum Mazhaiyil Makkalai Muttaal Akkiya Thalaivan -  கொட்டும் மழையில் மக்களை முட்டாளாக்கிய தலைவன்.

Eelam no longer possible, says Karunanidhi
2 July 2009, Times of India

CHENNAI: Advocating a fresh approach to the Tamil national question in Sri Lanka in the post-LTTE era, DMK president and Tamil Nadu chief minister M Karunanidhi on Wednesday declared in the assembly that achieving �Tamil Eelam� was no more a realistic possibility. He said Tamils should henceforth work for their livelihood rights in the island nation and struggle for equal rights, equal status for the language and devolution of powers at the regional level.

�Only this is possible, not Tamil Eelam,� he said, responding to views of members from various parties on a special mention on the Sri Lankan Tamil issue. He asked the parties not to make provocative remarks against the Sinhalese as that could further affect Tamils in the island nation. Counselling Tamil parties to adopt a flexible stand on the issue, Karunanidhi recalled that DMK founder C N Annadurai had shelved the party�s core demand � creating a separate Dravidian state (Dravida Nadu) � in 1962 to avoid proscription.

Distancing himself from the demand by the AIADMK and the PMK that Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa be hauled up for war crimes, the chief minister said that it would be an exercise in futility, as it would only adversely affect the safety of the Tamils in that country.

Let us hope that a government led by Tamils would be formed soon in Lanka says Karunanidhi - 2 July 2009, Sinhala owned Sri Lanka Daily Mirror

Chief Minister M Karunanidhi on Wednesday expressed hope that a government led by Tamils would be formed soon in Sri Lanka. He also said that the ailing Tamils in the island nation could at present get respite only through the Mahinda Rajapakse government.

Replying to a special call attention motion in the Assembly over the plight of Tamils in the neighbouring country, he said the conflict in Lanka between Sinhalese and Tamils was taking place for more than five decades now.

�I am the one who is aware of this problem since its beginning. I had even penned it in a detail way in my novel Pandaraka Vannian,� the Chief Minister said and added: �Both the Union and Tamilnadu governments are keen to help the Lankan Tamils.

A Lankan delegation met me recently and asked to send a committee to take stock of the situation there. I told them that the Centre should give clearance to take further decision and a formal invite should be extended from their end.�

Stating that former Chief Minister C N Annadurai had to give up the �Dravida Nadu� demand due to various reasons, Karunanidhi said there was nothing wrong in changing stands for the welfare of the people.

�The Centre is now respecting State governments thanks to the pressure from our side on various occasions. Likewise, a Lankan government respecting the sentiments of Tamils should be formed,� he said.

The Chief Minister further said: �Like how Barack Obama from the oppressed community became the President of the United States, let us hope that a government led by Tamils would be formed soon in Lanka.�

He however said that the only way to help Tamils in the present situation was through the Rajapakse government. �In order to help our brothers and sisters in the island nation, we should not come out with hard hitting remarks against Sinhalese. Because, in the present scenario, we could only reach Tamils through them,� he said.


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