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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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Home > Tamil National ForumSelected Writings by Dharmeratnam Sivaram (Taraki) > The writing is on the wall, and it is in red

Selected Writings by Dharmeratnam Sivaram (Taraki)

The writing is on the wall, and it is in red

Daily Mirror - 13 April  2005

An outsider in Batticaloa would get the impression that the JVP is the only organisation to build temporary houses for the people of this district who lost their homes in the tsunami. Eye-catching JVP posters announcing the public meeting to handover the houses to tsunami victims in Palamunai, a not-so-wealthy Muslim hamlet near Kattankudy, can still be seen in all the main towns and villages of Batticaloa. One often finds a crowd at the JVP office in Kattankudy. It is not uncommon these days for one to come across educated young men in the main Muslim towns of the Amparai district who seem quite impressed by the JVP's alacrity in helping people hit by the tsunami. Some of them are not just impressed but are beginning to learn the JVP's political philosophy.

Yet, the seriousness of the situation did not dawn on me until I ran into a young Muslim acquaintance recently at a 'soup shop' in Akkaraipattu. He, already a secret convert to the JVP's cause, told me that many young men like him are disgusted by the crass opportunism of Muslim politicians who use Islam to feather their own nests and care not for the poor.

You hear the same story, somewhat louder, in Muslim areas like Kinniya in Trincomalee.

The tsunami, no doubt, has created a political vacuum among the Muslims in the east. The JVP is shrewdly filling this void. And no mainstream political party can match the JVP's organizational skills in these parts of the country. The Divisional Secretary for Manmunai tells me that the JVP has appointed an MP to look after relief and reconstruction work in the Batticaloa district. I am sure the party is bound to make contact with Tamils here, sooner or later.

People cannot live by ethnic politics alone. There are many pressing social issues which the average money making politician is not intellectually or ideologically equipped to handle. The farmer is more worried about getting a good price for his rice than splitting hairs over Wahabi fundamentalism or Sufi mysticism. The JVP's message of social emancipation strikes a chord with the poor and marginalized classes. The party gets things done. It is not corrupt. There is no nepotism in the ranks. JVP MPs are not moneyed thugs. Its leaders are ordinary men and women. They can easily relate to the sentiments of the man or woman in the street.

The number of people who think the JVP is the right political choice is growing steadily. Wishful thinkers and armchair pundits in Colombo can say a thousand things to support their belief that the JVP is losing support. I certainly see it growing silently here in the east, in the plantations and in many areas of the south.

I see many Tamil youth in the Central Province today who think they should throw in their lot with the JVP to save the plantation community from the clutches of its incorrigibly crooked political and trade union leadership.

How is it possible that the JVP that is opposed tooth and nail to devolving any power to the Tamils and the Muslims could make this bold attempt in spreading its influence among them? Why is it getting a response after all?

It is a fact that the JVP is determined to prevent President Chandrika Kumaratunga from striking any sort of peace deal with the Tigers. For they know that if she does, she would be able to retrieve her party from the crisis in which it has been sinking since the formation of the UPFA. We all know that they want to cleave the SLFP until it is totally and irredeemably engulfed in a terminal calamity. The JVP stands to gain by blocking any move by Chandrika to talk peace with the Tigers.

The point here is that the JVP's staunch opposition to federalism is not merely tactical - the spanner they keep throwing in the works. It is deeply rooted in their political philosophy. It springs from Rohana Wijeweera's rigidly Marxist Leninist interpretation of Sri Lanka's history and society, enunciated in a long report to the JVP central committee on April 15 1986. The JVP's opposition to federalism does not automatically translate into a Sinhala hegemonic position, as it normally does in the south.

This is what makes it attractive to the JVP's potential recruits among the Muslims and the Tamils in the east and in the plantations. Their social deprivation makes them eager to change the system. They think the system is exploitative because it has been made servile to US imperialism. Increasingly, as these youth gain greater insight into the teachings of Marx, Lenin and Wijeweera, they come to believe that only US imperialism stands to profit from the ethnic conflict - that American capital is promoting the conflict to perpetuate the system of neo-colonial exploitation here.

Wijeweera says that the national question should be resolved to stop Sri Lanka from becoming "a slave camp of American Imperialism".

"The imperialist camp, led by American imperialism, has managed to increasingly reinforce its base in Sri Lanka using the crisis spawned by the national question. They have managed to greatly tighten their grasp economically, politically and militarily".

Also, the JVP says that all nationalities in Sri Lanka are equal. The JVP recognizes that there are Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim nationalities in Sri Lanka and that no nationality should be privileged over the other. This message sinks into the minds of the Tamil and the Muslim youth who are disgruntled by the social deprivation to which they have been subjected for many long years, with no light at the end of the social tunnel.

Let me quote from Wijeweera's 1986 report to the JVP central committee as it forms the basis of the party's current indoctrination programme.

"The social oppression of one nationality by another nationality and the oppression of one caste by another caste will be done away with and those who persist will be punished", declares Wijeweera in the report which is the JVP's political bible today. The complete policy framework of the solution of the national question is by bringing about national unity and national trust by abolishing national oppression, national inequality and doing away with the granting of special privileges to one nationality by subordinating the rights of another nationality. The present national question can be solved by simply implementing these policies. Whether the Tamil nationalist capitalist class agrees or disagrees with these points is not important".

"Whether the Tamil nationalist capitalist class and petty bourgeoisie class which call for the granting of special privileges for the Tamil nationality at the expense of the rights of the Sinhala and Moslem nationalities or whether the Sinhala nationalist capitalist class and the petty bourgeoisie class which calls on granting of special privileges to the Sinhala nationality at the expense of the Tamil and the Moslem nationalities agree with this or not, the proletariat will unfailingly implement it".

"After that the national inequality the national oppression and the national mistrust will be swept aside. This can only be achieved when the proletariat comes to power and abolishes all privileges. From this it should become clear why the national question cannot be solved except by the leadership of the proletariat".

(At one point in the report, Wijeweera says "innocent Tamil people were pushed towards Tamil Eelam by cruel repression")

The surprisingly forceful ideological arguments for supporting the JVP that one hears in this part of the world nowadays can be traced directly to Wijeweera's 1986 report.

This is not hearsay that one gathers from conversations with disgruntled youth in Muslim soup shops in the east and in the watering holes in Tamil towns in the hills. This is the reality today. The writing is on the wall, and it is in red.


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