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"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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Selected Writings by Sanmugam Sabesan

ANZAC Day and Eelam Tamils

25 April 2008

(This article is a translation of the analysis broadcast on Melbourne's 3CR Tamil Voice on the 21st  of April 2008. The Tamil version is published in www.tamilnaatham.com.  Translation by Jude Prakash.)

"Anzac Day mirrors the soul of our nation,
And shows the price it was willing to pay,
To secure our freedom, knowing if it was lost,
That soul would sicken, and would wither away"
- Bernard Sprunt

ANZAC Day - 25 April - is probably Australia's and New Zealand's most important national occasion. It marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War. ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. The soldiers in those forces quickly became known as Anzacs, and the pride they soon took in that name endures to this day.

Anzac Day

Australians of the past era were well aware of the evils of a war. Darwin and Sydney experienced aerial bombardment during the Second World War. Australian soldiers went to the war theatre in Europe and Asia Pacific. The above verse written by an Australian perfectly illustrates the significance of the war clouds clearing and dawn of peace in 1945.

Australian youth came forward in droves enthusiastically to defend their country. The following story illustrates the patriotism and dutifulness of an Australian youth who came forward to serve his motherland.

An Australian youth called Alec Campbell was barely sixteen years old. On 2nd July 1915, two months after the landing at Gallipoli was reported in the Australian newspapers, Alec presented himself at the recruiting office where he gave his age as 18 years 4 months. He was at that time, he stated, a clerk in an insurance company, and had served three years in the Senior Cadets at Launceston's Scotch College. He was 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighed 135 pounds. Parental consent was necessary for anyone between the ages of 18 and 21 to enlist in the Australian Imperial Force, which should have presented an obstacle to enlistment because Alec had in fact lied about his age, raising it a full two years above his actual 16 years and 4 months.

He met the problem of how to show the authorities he had his parents' permission head-on; he simply got it from them. His mother and father signed a letter in which they give their consent to his 'enlistment for the front', unwittingly reserving a special place in history for their son, No. 2731 Private A. W. Campbell, 15th (Queensland & Tasmania) Battalion, 4th Infantry Brigade, Australian Imperial Force. He would be nicknamed and known by his comrades as 'The Kid.' The famous picture of Alec Campbell with a rifle justifies his nickname "The Kid." In that picture one could see the adolescent face of Alec and the rifle he is carrying is taller than him. During the First World War more than 324,000 Australian men enlisted themselves to defend their country and approximately 60,000 of them attained martyrdom.

The Kid" Alec Campbell was 103 years old when he died on the 16th of May 2002. The Australian Prime Minister immediately returned home from his trip to China. The Australian nation went into mourning. The national flag flew at half mast. Australian media paid tribute to "The Kid." A state funeral was held. Australia's present and past Governor Generals, Prime Ministers and the who's who of the Australian political spectrum joined thousands of mourners to say farewell to "The Kid."

Alec Campbell had a very large family. He is the father of nine children from two marriages (both to women named Kathleen), 30 grandchildren, 32 great grandchildren and one great-great grandchild. Australians bowed their heads to Alec Campbell, not only as a good husband, not only as an exemplary father, not only as a kind grandfather, but as a national hero. They came together to honor a kid who overstated his age to enlist himself in the Australian forces and defend his motherland.

The Australian nation and the Government paid tribute to "The Kid" who went to the battlefield to safeguard the nation and its peace-loving people.

The Australian government issued a commemorative stamp and a MINT coin in honour of "The Kid" Alec Campbell prior to his death. The MINT coin was embedded with the image of "The Kid with the Rifle."

The Australian nation honors the patriotism of the late Alec Campbell when it celebrates ANZAC Day every year. Australia is celebrating "The Kid" as one of its national assets. The Australian nation recognizes and appreciates the sacrifice made by this juvenile towards his country and its prosperity.

Every year on ANZAC Day Australians appreciate and remember the sacrifices of the martyrs and soldiers who laid the foundations for the peace and prosperity they enjoy today, even though decades have passed since the war came to an end, a ceasefire agreed and normalcy restored. Tamil people are able to appreciate this gratefulness. The Tamil nation could rightly feel the Australian sentiments expressed by the Australians during ANZAC Day.

The Tamil Nation has started to honor its martyrs and freedom fighters, even though the nation is yet to attain independence. The Tamil nation honours its Heros whilst pursuing their struggle for independence with permanent peace yet to materialise. We, as a nation, do recognize and remember the sacrifices made by these young martyrs towards the liberation of the motherland and its masses, even though the liberation struggle is still in progress. Tamil people understand the significance of ANZAC Day very well.

Tamil, people both in Tamil Eelam and overseas, do appreciate that it is the selfless sacrifices made by the martyrs which

Safeguarded the Tamil people from Sri Lankan state-sponsored terrorism,

Defended the Tamil homeland from the occupation forces of the Sri Lankan government

Enabled the International community to recognize the issues faced by the people of Tamil Eelam as a "national problem" which needs international mediatory efforts

Forced the Sri Lankan government to negotiate with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, accepting them as the sole representatives of the Tamil nation.

Tamil Nationalism is flourishing today. The Tamil Eelam liberation struggle has made its presence felt through its fundamental concepts of self-determination, nation and homeland. The Tamil nation is yearning for a political solution for the Tamil national problem through negotiations.

However, the newly elected Government of Mahinda Rakapakse does not seem to be interested in peace. Rather, he seems to be more interested in securing his  political future. His actions are very obvious towards this selfish end.

It should be noted that successive Sinhalese governments have never attempted to find a political solution to the Tamil national problem through negotiated means. The primary objective of these Sinhalese governments has been to crush the upsurge of Tamil nationalism through military means.

The historical lessons for the Tamil people have been very sour. Even though they are sour that is the truth, the unpalatable truth. Therefore, if in the future where the people of Tamil Eelam are denied an honorable and justifiable solution, as the sole representatives of the Tamil nation, the Liberation Tigers of the Tamil Eelam (LTTE) will be forced to act upon the election mandate they have received in the last general elections. It should be remembered that the 2004 TNA election manifesto reinforces the 1977 election mandate given to the Tami United Liberation Front (TULF).

Maveerar Resting Place

The 2004 election manifesto, whilst recognizing the LTTE as the sole representatives of the Tamil Nation and urging the Sri Lankan Government to accept the Interim Self Governing Authority (ISGA) proposals submitted by the LTTE on behalf of the Tamil nation, states that "If the Sri Lankan state continues to reject the legitimate aspirations of the Tamil people and continues to deny them an acceptable political solution; and if military occupation and state oppression continue instead, then establishing the sovereignty and independence of the Tamil nation on the basis of its right to self-determination would become an inexorable reality,"

Velupillai Prabakaran has already echoed the same sentiments in his 2003 Marveerar Day message. He said, "We cannot allow the life and potential of our people to be systematically destroyed in the spider web of Sinhalese chauvinism. Having renounced violence, we have been making every effort through non-violent means to promote peace and reconciliation. The international community is fully aware of this. But if the Sinhalese chauvinistic ruling elites continue to deny the rights of our people and oppose reconciliation and if the conditions of oppression continue, we have no alternative other than to secede and form an independent state invoking the right to self-determination of our people."

Therefore, Tamil people all over the world should prepare themselves to execute their part at this historic juncture to fulfill the dreams of our martyrs and establish peace and prosperity in our beloved homeland.


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