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Selected Writings - Dr. Adrian Wijemanne
On 'Tiger Terror' - Letter to Editor London Times
10 August 1995
I am a Sinhalese deeply concerned for the restoration of peace to both Sinhala and Tamil nations on the Island of Sri Lanka. Your editorial under the above-mentioned caption oversimplifies the serious rift between our two peoples and personalises the problem by demonizing Mr. Prabhakaran. In doing so you reinforce the fundamental misconception in the minds of the Sinhala people as to the cause of the conflict. It is a disservice to the cause of peace.
Tamil nationalism on the Island long pre-dates the birth of Mr.Prabhakaran, going back to the `20s. Its evolution into full-blown separatism in the 70's (long before the Tigers achieved their present dominance in Tamil Society) was caused by the adamant refusal of all Sinhala politicians to recognise Tamil nationalism as a legitimate and moral aspiration. That refusal is the fundamental cause of the present conflict. Persistence in it has left the Tamil people with no option but recourse to arms.
The fundamental and indispensable pre-requisite for peace now is the recognition by the Sinhalese that the Tamil people are a nation with the right to a state of their own in what they regard as their homeland and where they constitute the majority of the resident population.
In this country if the majority of the residents of Scotland of Wales or Northern Ireland voted for secession from the U.K. there would be no let or hindrance to their departure. The overwhelming majority of the Tamil people voted for secession in 1977 at the general election conducted by Mrs. Bandaranaike's government. It was the clearest possible proclamation of the vox populi of the Tamil people. Every Sinhala government since then, including the present one, has refused to respect it and comply with it. Mr. Prabhakaran struggles with might and main to implement the clear wishes of his people.
As the 20th century draws to a close we see now that its most pervasive human motivation is nationalism. I am a Sinhala nationalist seeking the welfare and happiness of my people. They can be achieved only by acknowledging the nationalism of our valiant neighbour and helping in the fulfilment of their perfectly legitimate aspiration for a state of their own. Mr. Prabhakaran is only a passing phenomenon in the march of freedom of great people.