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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United States & the struggle for Tamil Eelam

US and us

Pathma Naban 
Courtesy: Tamil Circle - 9 March 2001 

[see also: (1) Annotated text of ' Observations on Sri Lanka's Conflict' - E. Ashley Wills, United States Ambassador to Sri Lanka and (2) An Open Letter to the US Ambassador in Sri Lanka  by S.Sivanayagam, formerly Editor Saturday Review]

The State run Daily News published excerpts of the speech given by the US ambassador on his recent visit to Jaffna. As expected, the portions of the sermon that suited the Sinhala point of view were presented. Now that the ambassador has spoken, let us now respond. 

From The Fifty-Six Men who Signed the Declaration of Independence ..."Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence? The history books never told you a lot of what happened in the Revolutionary War. We didn't just fight the British. We were British subjects at that time and we fought our own government! 
  • Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died.
  • Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned.
  • Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army, another had two sons captured.
  • Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War. 

They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.

- - We respectfully remind the ambassador that he himself hails from a country founded by a bunch of terrorists according to the British, headed by none other than the renegade General George Washington. 

- - The ambassador went to great lengths to advise and extol the virtue of unity and the need for people of different background to work together in a united Sri Lanka. Sounds good! But, we ask the ambassador, if you believe in what you preach, why did you create an enclave in Iraq for the Kurds, now militarily protected by you, on the grounds that the Kurdish people needed protection from the tyrant that we all love to hate, Mr. Sadam Hussein. 

- - If you believe in what you preach on unity and reconciliation, why, we ask, is it that you are adamantly against the reunification of South and North Korea. Your opposition to their unification is vigorous to the extent that the South Korean prime minister found it necessary to visit the US for the sole purpose of persuading you to change your stand on North Korea. 

- - Only yesterday, you were calling North Korea a rogue and a terrorist state. What made you change your principle on terrorism for the former secretary of state Ms. Madeline Albright to be able to visit the terrorist state? Is it because of your apprehension resulting from a string of visits by top Chinese officials to North Korea? Don't the Koreans have much more in common among themselves than the Tamils and the Sinhalese? 

"...The implicit claim is that democracies have a right to prevent secession, at least under some circumstances. But it is equally possible to reverse the approach, and ask if there is ever a right to prevent secession - regardless of the political regime. More specifically, if there is a right to prevent the formation of a new state, by secession..." Paul Treanor on Ethics of Secession 

- - You insist that people of different race and ethnicity should come together to build a nation. Why then, we ask, is that you were euphoric on the break-up of the Soviet Union? 

From the International Frame of the Tamil Struggle: "...there may be a need for the international community to accept the solid political reality of not simply the third world but the emergent fourth world as well. The way forward for the US as well as other states concerned with securing a stable world order, may be to recognise that, whatever the short term results, in the longer term, stability will not come by furthering the rule of one people by another. Stability will not come by the North building alliances with ruling Third World governments to suppress non state nations.  Stability within Third World States will not come from a new version of the 'melting pot' theory. Peoples speaking different languages, tracing their roots to different origins, and living in relatively well defined and separate geographical areas, do not easily 'melt'. And in any event, a 'third world' economy will not provide a large enough 'pot' for the 'melting' to take place. Nations and states cannot be made to order - not even by a super power.

Stability lies in securing structures where the different peoples of the world may voluntarily associate with each other in equality and in freedom. And if this be perceived by some as an unrealistic 'idealism', the European Union (established albeit, after two World Wars) may help to focus our minds and our hearts - and serve as a pointer to the future..."

- - When you talked about the US as a role model for diversity and accommodation, we presume that you did not have Puerto Rico in mind. When the people of this Spanish speaking commonwealth of yours expressed their desire to separate from the US, you arrested their leaders and jailed them branding them as terrorist not withstanding the fact that many of them did not even engage in a single act of violence? Why, we ask, are the separatist sentiments still growing in Puerto Rico? Is it because their way of life is different from yours and that they speak a different language? Sri Lanka, Mr. Ambassador is not US, and it never will be. 

- - If you believe in what you preach on terrorism why then, we ask, is that you did not include the IRA in the list of terrorist groups when you first proscribed such groups? What did the LTTE do the IRA didn't, we ask you Mr. Ambassador? Your government gave the excuse that it would be detrimental for the Irish peace process if you were to proscribe the IRA. Is it not detrimental to the Sri Lankan peace process if you and the British were to continue with your proscription of the LTTE? Is it because of something that we don't understand or we the Tamils don't have such as a lobby as strong as the Irish and an icon as visible as Kennedy himself to speak for us? 

- - Our hearts were touched when you expressed your feelings for the innocent victims of LTTE terror. We share your grief as we have all lost many of our civilian relatives to the brutal bombing campaign of the Sinhala people. If you call this terrorism, why then we ask is that you decided to bomb Mr. Khadafi's residence amidst Libya's metropolis killing among other civilians his 18 month old adopted daughter? Why, we ask again, is it that you decided to shoot down an Iran Air passenger plane? Is it because you wanted to teach these rogue nations a lesson? Or, are they simply incidents of collateral damage as you wish to phrase them? 

Velupillai  Pirabaharan, 1992: "..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..."

- - You say that LTTE is intransigent because it is intolerant of dissent. Aren't you habitually involved in removing regimes and leaders who don't agree with your way of thinking? 

- - When General Ratwatte's men and machines rolled into Jaffna leveling anything and everything on their way, triggering a horrendous exodus of the Tamil people, where was the US ambassador and the international community? Not in Jaffna as far as we could recall. When the helpless Tamil people appealed to you for humanitarian intervention in their hour of crisis, you dismissed our cry for help saying that it is an internal matter for the Sri Lankan government to decide. When did it become an international issue for you to make a trip to Jaffna, Mr. Ambassador? Now, of all times, by your words and deeds you remind us of the fact that the LTTE and LTTE alone is the sole protector of the Tamils. 

- - If you refute the fact that LTTE is the true representative of the Tamil people as articulated in unison by the people of the North, East and the Hill country, why then we ask is it that you decided to go to Jaffna to talk to the people? Couldn't you have saved a trip by talking to Mr. Lakshman Kadirgamar and Mr. Douglas Devananda, the Colombo-based representatives of the Tamil people? Let the Tamils say who represent them - neither the Sinhala people nor the 3-member International committee can do it for them. 

You have your reasons for your demeanor and we have our reasons for our behavior. We understand your demeanor on separation given your own anxiety about Puerto Rico. We are aware of your concern on the meteoric rise of the Marxist JVP in the Sinhala nation. 

Velupillai Pirabaharan, Maha Veera Naal Address - November 1993 "...We are fully aware that the world is not rotating on the axis of human justice. Every country in this world advances its own interests. It is the economic and trade interests that determine the order of the present world, not the moral law of justice nor the rights of people. International relations and diplomacy between countries are determined by such interests. Therefore we cannot expect an immediate recognition of the moral legitimacy of our cause by the international community." 
Nadesan Satyendra in The Charge is Genocide, the Struggle is for Freedom, 1998: "...In the ultimate analysis, the struggle of the people of Tamil Eelam  is about democracy.  If democracy means the rule of the people, by the people, for the people then it must follow, as night follows day, that no one people may rule another. The right of self determination provides the framework within which democracy may flower. Every people have the right to freely determine their political status and the terms on which they may associate with another people. Democracy and the right to self determination go hand in hand - one cannot exist without the other. The struggle of the people of Tamil Eelam is about their democratic right to rule themselves..."

We are also mindful of the fact that by your engagement in Sri Lanka you might be seeking answers to your botched down efforts in Colombia where you have not made any inroads in your fight against one of the worlds most astute guerilla groups the FARC, albeit pouring billions of dollars of military hardware and several military advisors into Colombia. By using Sri Lanka as a test bed, you may seek to save the lives of a few American soldiers at the expense of a few thousand Sinhala and Tamil youths. But, at the end Mr. Ambassador, it will be the will of the Tamil people that would prevail. 

Tamil Eelam is not for you, or the Sinhala people, or the 3-member international committee to give. It belongs to the Tamil people in land and soul to chart their own destiny. There will always be a Tamil Eelam! Thank you for your concern and god bless America. 


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