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The Tamil Times and 'a War on the People'
15 September 1990
The Tamil Times editorial of the 15th of June 1990, entitled 'A war on the people', merits careful consideration not only because of its captivating title but also because it appears that the Tamil Times would have its readers believe that it has been overwhelmed by its concern for the well being of the Tamil people.
The editorial declares that the war that broke out in the North and East of Sri Lanka, in June this year and which continues to rage today is 'a war on the people' and that once again the Tamil people are 'at the receiving end'.
The Tamil Times is concerned about 'the plight of the civilian population' in consequence of the 'war that has broken out between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and the government' of Sri Lanka.
The editorial adds:
According to the Tamil Times 'the LTTE leadership had, not so long ago, been proclaiming their belief in the sincerity of President Premadasa' and President Premadasa's 'government would appear to have conceded the three basic demands of the LTTE, namely the dissolution of the North East Provincial Council, holding fresh elections for this Council and the repeal of the Sixth Amendment'.
In the view of the Tamil Times, the government of President Premadasa, had taken meaningful steps in regard to the dissolution of the existing provincial council and was making 'serious efforts' to repeal the 6th Amendment, and the Tamil Times concludes that 'in this context, unless there are some other more important reasons about which the people had not been made aware, the present war and its tragic consequences are a callous imposition upon a people whose agony and suffering do not seem to matter very much in the minds of those who have launched this war.'
But, what are the true underlying reasons which led to the conflict in June - reasons which the Tamil people are well aware of, but which have somehow escaped the attention of the Tamil Times.
There is a further aspect to the matter. The view of the editorial writer of the Tamil Times that the people of Tamil Eelam were the unfortunate victims of a war between the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE, echoes President Premadasa's claim that his government is engaged in a war against the LTTE and not against the Tamil people.
It appears that both President Ranasinghe Premadasa and the editorial writer are at one in their efforts to distinguish and separate the Tamil people from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. Whilst President Premadasa's pronouncements may be understood as the 'divide and rule' policy of a Sinhala government which seeks to conquer the people of Tamil Eelam, the views of the editorial writer of the Tamil Times are not so easily understood.
Readers of the Tamil Times may well ask themselves why it is that after nine years of uninterrupted writing on the Tamil national liberation struggle, the Tamil Times has not yet recognised
It appears that the Tamil Times continues to make the same mistake that Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi made when he declared at a public meeting in Tamil Nadu on the 21st of December 1987 that 'the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam represent no one but itself' and that the LTTE is a 'small outfit of 1500 to 2000 persons'.
The Tamil Times editorial concedes that the LTTE has achieved a 'dominant position' in the 'north-east'. But, at the same time, the editorial remarks that the LTTE has 'not gone through an electoral process to prove their representative status'.
According to the Tamil Times, the LTTE may be in a 'dominant position' but the LTTE does not represent the Tamil people - 'it represents nobody but itself'. Ergo, the war is a war between the LTTE and the government of Sri Lanka and the war is a 'callous imposition' by the LTTE (and the Sri Lankan government) on the Tamil people! The sequential logic though clear, is gravely flawed.
The Tamil Times fails to recognise that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam are themselves but a manifestation of the stubborn will of the people of Tamil Eelam to live in equality and in freedom; that the people of Tamil Eelam cannot be separated from their feelings of national solidarity; and that therefore, the Tamil people cannot be separated from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam who, today, represent the force of that solidarity.
It is the refusal of the editorial writer of the Tamil Times to recognise the existential reality of the Tamil nation in Eelam and the force that it generates, that leads him to take the view that the present war is a callous imposition on the Tamil people, rather than a war by the Tamil people in the defence of their nation.
The Tamil Times makes the sweeping generalisation that 'experience throughout the world has shown that guerilla wars have an inherent capacity to last for decades, brutalising the people that are affected by it and bleeding the country and its economy'.
The Tamil Times appears to forget that 'experience throughout the world' has also shown that guerilla wars have been instrumental in bringing freedom to a people who have been oppressed by the rule of a brutal alien ruler. Guerilla wars do not necessarily brutalise - they may purify, strengthen and free a people, and each one of us can do that which we can to this end.
Guerilla wars do not necessarily last for decades - on the other hand they can quickly put an end to decades of oppression by an alien ruler. The cyanide capsule in the hands of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam is evidence enough, that it is much more than a piece of political rhetoric to say, that it is not for glory or riches or honours that a people fight but only for liberty which no human will consent to lose but with his or her life.
Concerned as it is for the well being of the people of Tamil Eelam, the Tamil Times will, hopefully, come to recognise that at a time when the Tamil nation in Eelam is fighting a battle for survival against the armed forces of a rampant Sinhala chauvinism which seeks to conquer and rule, there is an urgent and imperative need for Tamils everywhere to strengthen the Tamil cause and not to undermine and weaken it.
Perhaps, the moment of truth has come for the Tamil Times to declare unequivocally, whether it supports the national liberation struggle of the people of Tamil Eelam or not. And hopefully, the Tamil Times will recognise the relevance of the words uttered by the leader of another people many years ago: