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TAMIL NATIONAL FORUM
Selected Writings - Fr. Chandiravarman Sinnathurai
10 June 2006
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
In the out set it is useful to quote the words of Mr Prabaharan:
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 façade of the Empire striking at the heart
and conscience. That was his genius. The Gospel-oriented British Raj smarted
under the onslaught of Satya.
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.
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.
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 learnéd 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
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.