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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Selected Writings -  Fr. Chandiravarman Sinnathurai

�Take up the White man�s Burden�
[see also Satya-Lobby: Prophetic Praxis and Imagination (1) and
Satya-Lobby: Prophetic Praxis and Imagination (2)]

10 June 2006

  "I do believe that where there is only a choice between cowardice and violence, I would advise violence�I would rather have India resort to arms in order to defend her honour than that she would, in a cowardly manner, become or remain a helpless witness to her own dishonour" M.K. Gandhi, �Young India�, 11 August 1920.

The Tamil struggle has reached a tipping point particularly in the �Global North�. The paramount importance is to engage seriously, as we do, in a systematic, well-thought out [as opposed to last minute approaches], diaspora-wide co-ordinated �Satya-lobby�. This writer has employed the compound word Satya + Lobby for the following reasons.

No one doubts that the Tamil struggle is based on indomitable truth - Satya that is under girded by historical facts. (The words Satya and truth are interchangeably used however it is employed to express the idea that Satya is dynamic truth.) Eelam emancipatory struggle and suffering is far from the figment of imagination. Eelam is much more than an ideal; it is a well-rooted idea; and more over it is indeed a REALITY.

The division of the island has occurred in people�s minds, hearts and consciousness. It is with that undying conviction, rationale and courage that the Eelamites must continue to lobby unflinchingly in a media-dominated globe. The term lobby in this writing denotes a wider category. It encompasses a larger scope. It includes varied forms of legitimate democratic exercises � human right and civil liberties of both an individual and as a diaspora community: From an individual writing an open letter to the PM/President or to the UN or organising a Mass non-violent action. Sadly, it should be noted these rights are blatantly denied for Tamils in Sri Lanka.


In the out set it is useful to quote the words of Mr Prabaharan:

"We are not chauvinists. Neither are we lovers of violence enchanted with war. We do not regard the Sinhala people as our opponents or as our enemies. We recognise the Sinhala nation. We accord a place of dignity for the culture and heritage of the Sinhala people. We have no desire to interfere in any way with the national life of the Sinhala people or with their freedom and independence. We, the Tamil people, desire to live in our own historic homeland as an independent nation, in peace, in freedom and with dignity. "

These words shed a fresh light on the person who is leading the struggle and the message explains the motivations of the Tamil freedom movement.


Satya-Lobby sets before us Mahatma Gandhi as a model of praxis and theory. We shall remind the reader briefly about the man who encapsulated the message by his being and doing! In other words the man was fully identified with the message and the message it self was the man. One appreciates that this is not a one-night wonder. The preparatory ground was South Africa.

He was a simple man � simple in his approach but his actions emanated profundity. Simple truth is unmistakably profound. Gandhi was also a very complex person. His spirituality was eclectic and every action he undertook was inspired after prolonged prayerful reflection and meditation. In other words, these were not reactionary, intellectually barren, often-predictable last-minute moves. He kept the Raj guessing; even though he would tell them of his plan of action in advance on a �need to know� basis! Gandhi was hilariously one-step ahead of the machinery of the Empire.

One finds that his protest activities or more accurately his truth-portraying gatherings centred simply round both prayer meetings and bhajan singing. Protest marches transformed into prayerful pilgrimages. He baffled the British-Raj and they were perplexed not knowing what to do � perhaps they thought this was just one of those eccentric parades. Yet Gandhi managed to penetrate the fa�ade of the Empire striking at the heart and conscience. That was his genius. The Gospel-oriented British Raj smarted under the onslaught of Satya.

Was Gandhi a political man? He essentially understood the secret of perfect timing � �when� and �how� to advance the struggle. He discussed and planned his every move like a military operation. In one important sense, while engaging himself in the experiment of truth, he was gently �opening the eyes� of the opponent. He perceived the changing winds of the political currents. In all of these he rose above petty politics, cheap gimmicks, selfish ambitions, pointless rhetoric and rigmaroles. He kept his promises by being utterly truthful to the core. He rarely minced his words.

The Empire honoured him for that [not with a Q.C or Peerage] � and that pricked their conscience even more! In all of this neither did he loose his common touch nor did he loose his stubbornness or child-like sense of humour. He was human to the point of fallible frailty but the task he handled needed divine strength. Mahatma understood this need with impeccable humility. Whether he sat before the Viceroy or stood before a Harijan he employed punctilios courtesy. The British public by and large paradoxically �loved� him to bits! Sardonically the idiosyncrasies of the man fitted well with the notorious eccentricity of �mad dog and the Englishman� image.

Gandhi was immensely a compassionate man. He fought with the empire for independence while struggling within India for social justice; economic reformation; liberation from religious bigotry and fanaticism.

Narrative Strategy

The Tamil-lobbying in the West of course has taken these revolutionary principles to heart. One finds through experience that such principled actions will break barriers within while building bridges without. The point being as we all know, that the Diaspora should not continue to be insular. The pangs of suffering and the longing of the exiled Eelamites in the Western world should not be understated. Many new-comers in particular, struggle to fit into the new cultures and languages of their host countries. They are some times faced with blatant racism and pigmentocratic regulations of the immigration.

However, the Diaspora ought to be helped to climb out of the walls of the ghettos that they enclose them with. It is the duty of the Diaspora to change Western public perceptions of our struggle. Experiences have taught the Satya-lobby to hone the skills of public relations as one would, with dignified communication in a �stiff upper lip� non-confrontational mode. One does not have to be dry of emotions. Of course not; that would be artificial and wooden. One can of course express frustrations and anger in a measured way. The Tamils are renowned to be civil.

Mandela writes in Long Walk to Freedom:

"We made a variety of mistakes in the Western Areas anti-removal campaign and learned a number of lessons. �Over Our Dead Bodies� was a dynamic slogan, but it proved as much a hindrance as a help. A slogan is a vital link between the organization and the masses it seeks to lead. It should synthesize a particular grievance into a succinct and pithy phrase, while mobilizing the people to combat it. Our slogan caught the imagination of the people, but it leads them to believe that we would fight to the death to resist the removal. In fact, the ANC was not prepared to do that at all." (Mandela; 1994, p154)

Any effective protest/lobby/ group shuns away from the �Pelapaliya� mentality. In a pelapaliya participants are just following the crowd. �Kumbalil karakosam�-- what is known among learn�d circles as the crowd contagion. Every one else is clapping therefore I am clapping too. The person in front is shouting a slogan and the person behind unthinkingly repeats. Should an onlooker inquire as to the reason of the protest the person in the procession might typically reply �I don�t know I�m simply following the crowd.� Of course by the �presence� of the crowd one makes only a �Visible point� � that is important.

But the intended message has to be conveyed to the policy makers. That is where the diamond cut diamond. For any media operations the questions are routinely asked: What is our target audience? What is the best mode of communication through which slowly but steadily the conscience of the West could be helped to �See-Judge-Act?� How best can we influence the public opinion?

The �visible point� that is being made needs to push for �judging� [critical analysis, educated evaluations] in order for the message conveyed to be acted upon. Once the public awareness snow balls and picks up momentum, then of course the mainline-media can not ignore the Tamil cause. That is the key. Once the barrier is broken the news items cannot afford to miss out on media-friendly public engagements. Whether it is silent marches with enactments of people�s sufferings (similar to how the Australian Tamils portrayed in their recent rally); colourful but solemn parades depicting the holocaust of our nation � all these dignified and creative actions which readily appeals to the Western masses/media ought to be creatively and effectively utilised. �Events of erudition�- [Nikalvu] engaging in the synthesis of resistance literature, poetry, traditional and fusion music and song, drama etc is some thing that many from other cultures will be quite keen on, should the production of it takes matters of taste and contemporary scene into consideration.

Tamil struggle is yet to enter into the public consciousness of the Western nations. The first challenge is more than 95% of the time the Tamils are talking within the �ghettoised walls� and are satisfied with the echo of our voices. Brian Senewiratne has highlighted this to us more than once. That has got to be transformed. We must consciously emancipate ourselves from the ghettoising-effects whether it is coming from internal or external forces. There might be here a creative tension.

The primacy of reasoning of the Satya-lobby is necessarily to be non-confrontational. Aggressive communication is kept at bay. The aim is to be creative, positive and subtle with the clear focus of convicting the conscience of the West by making them to confront the Satya. The powers already know the truth. Our task is to lobby for the masses to feel our pain. Each action should signal a specific message. Nothing will be garbled with rhetoric or propaganda.

The Diaspora must convey solely the human narrative. That is what usually brings the mass appeal. It is the common ground. One also must underscore that silence is still an attractive and eloquent proposition in terms of getting attention and �listening� in a noisy world. What is not meant by silence is to sit tight and wait. No. Silent actions always speak louder than words. Within all of these variables one has to be wise in understanding strategic timing; the shifting of opinions and moods particularly among the Tamil Diaspora and further a field.


In conclusion one has to stress that our struggle, as always, have a two-pronged approach. Both in Eelam as well as in the Diaspora the Satya�lobby has to be pro- active and decisive in its co-ordination. There is however, equal importance to our defense-capabilities in order to counteract the aggression of the Sinhala armed forces. That is unfortunately the ground reality. We are pushed into the mode of self-defense against Sinhala hegemony and genocide. As things escalate however, this writer would predict that particularly Colonel Soosai with Sea Tigers will be playing a decisive role in the battle for Talainagar. As for the persuasive approach in changing mind-sets and opinions the onus has to be on an effective net work of Satya-Lobby. Like the Tamil men and women on the Munn Meetpu battle ground one has to strategise, plan and execute.

The non-violent battle-ground of the Diaspora is particularly in the Global North. The goal is two-pronged: 1) Convict the conscience. 2) Convince the minds of the inhabitants of the �Global North�.

In the corridors of power in the Western capitals or in locating the Eelam voice in a visible and strategic spot � in all of these the Satya-Lobby must march in synchronisation with the Tamil leadership of Vanni. The planning processes and approaches will most certainly have to lean towards pragmatic and tactical tools of public relations and mass communications. Preaching to the converted has its benefits. They now need to be called to make new converts: each one reach one. We must first convert the foreign-born young Tamil cerargal whose first language is not Tamil. They should be called to identify with the struggle. Now, the converted - individual or corporate, ought to become the message. In all of these the Tamil Diaspora has to be commended and encouraged.

We need to communicate the human narrative to non-Tamils and appeal to the common humanity. Again; and again; and yet again� Appeal we must.



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