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And the Tamil response …

Article Author: 

Despite the biblical injunction not to answer fools, an exception can be made for you, Mr. Ambassador.

You may deny it for all you are worth, the Tamils of Sri Lanka comprise a nation. There is ample evidence to show that the Tamils have lived in the island for centuries. The Tamils have preserved a language, religion and culture with which they are identified. It is a fact of history that there are two nations in the island – the Tamils and the Sinhalese.

Prime Minister SWRD Bandaranaike, has to bear the brunt for the deterioration of relations between the two peoples. His attempt to ram the Sinhala language down the throats of the Tamil people evoked the strongest resentment. This has a direct impact on the integrity of the island and its bifurcation.

The collapse of law and order begins with him. He is the progenitor of the series of anti- Tamil riots and pogroms which started with his infamous Sinhala Only Act of 1956. The riots of 1956, 1958, 1961, 1974, 1977, 1979, 1981, 1983, resulted in the destruction of Tamil lives and property.

Can you think of another South Asian country with a record like this? Can you blame the Tamil people for their urge to be free of the Sinhala yoke at any cost?

The Banaranaikes are the initiators of the state policies which precipitated and aggravated the island conflict. Language, anti-Tamil riots, colonization of Tamil lands, unleashing the military and the police on unarmed citizens and standardization of marks. Standardization is the euphemism for adding points to Sinhalese examination grades.

You are the only person in living memory to justify this evil. That Tamil students benefited from standardization is a blatant lie. Standardization is a nefarious education policy loaded against the Tamils.

The so-called father of the nation, D.S. Senanayaike, Sri Lanka’s first Prime Minister is the worst culprit. He disenfranchised a sizeable section of the Tamil people and started his policy of settling Sinhala colonists in Tamil lands calling it dry zone development.

There is no let up, colonization is still going on with military patronage. Colonization is a wedge in Sinhala hands for parceling Tamils into isolated villages for eventual annihilation.

You talk of Sri Lanka as a democracy. It is an ethnocracy fast descending into a theocracy.

Sinhala Buddhist priests hold the whip handle and of recent date they have set foot in the Parliament also. The constitution of 1978 has given expression to Sinhala Buddhist fundamentalism by giving the “foremost place to Buddhism”. What is more the priests and the all Sinhala military are busy installing Buddha statues in the Tamil and Muslim lands of the North and the East.

What type of democracy is this? What permeates the Sinhala consciousness is the pervasive belief that the Buddha bequeathed Sri Lanka exclusively to the Sinhalese people as their home and the home of Buddhism. This belief is set out clearly in Chapter 6 of the Mahavamsa.

We will come to the business of official languages. Tamil is an official language in name only. The 13th Amendment to the constitution adopted in 1987 declared Tamil as the other official language. The Amendment itself is as dead as the Dodo though some attempts are made to revitalize it.

Twenty years after Tamil was so enshrined the constitution guarantee of language parity is not implemented. In government offices, hospitals, police stations, and courts of law Tamil language has no official status. In government administered institutions from the highest to the lowest levels including Parliament down to the local councils including the grass root Grama Sevaka level Tamil is observed in the breach.

Can you digest this instance of a callous disregard of the Tamil people’s language rights? Nuwara Eliya district with an 80% Tamil population has the largest concentration of Tamils outside the North-East.

It does not have a single Tamil Administrative officer. The posts f District Secretary, Additional District Secretary, Assistant District Secretary are held by Sinhalese. All five Regional Secretaries and their assistants are also Sinhalese.

It is the same with Hatton, Diekoya and Talawakelle where a large concentration of Tamils are found. Even the electoral lists on the basis of which parliamentary elections are held in these districts are in Sinhala only.

Mr. Ambassador you have a big faith in the Sri Lankan judiciary. The Tamils have lost that faith long ago. The Sri Lanka Judiciary is part and parcel of the Sinhala monolith. If it grants justice to the Tamils occasionally it is a deviation.

The landmark case of the eviction of Tamil lodgers in Colombo is a rare instance where the Supreme Court has driven to mete out justice because the international community was appalled at this violation of human rights.

When the Tamils of Muthur East filed a judicial application in the same court for the restoration of their lands seized by the Sinhala military, what did this institution do? They refused to entertain this application on the grounds “that it is an emotional issue”. It is clear that the Supreme Court is on the side of the military. The courts show a marked reluctance to decide against the military or the police.

Have you heard of the Bindinuwewa rehabilitation centre massacre of October 25, 2000? More than 27 young Tamil detainees of this centre were killed by Sinhala thugs ably assisted by the Sinhala police. 41 persons were charged with murder. Gradually all had been released by the courts on the grounds of lack of evidence. The last 4 accused were released by the Supreme Court on 27 May 2005 on the same grounds of lack of evidence.

The Sri Lankan system of justice gives immunity to offenders in police or military uniform. This has occurred umpteen times with an occasional deviation from the norm.

You say that Tamils are living in safety and peace among the Sinhalese. That is a cliché handed out by the government propaganda machine. Those who can afford it have fled the country and that applies to Muslims and even affluent Sinhalese.

Do you know that an extortion gang is operating in Colombo with the blessings of the triumvirate led by the President himself? Have you heard about the death squads roaming the streets in so-called white motor vans for abducting innocent Tamils? The abductions, disappearances and unsolved murder rate in the city is a crying shame.

The Tamils of Colombo have no choice, if they get the chance they will sell their property and seek safety in distant lands.

Sri Lankan is a basket case. It is a failed state. It is Sinhala mob rule and every facet of life is dominated by ethnicity.

The underlying root of the conflict in Sri Lanka is the Tamil perception that they had been denied their rightful place right from the days of independence. The Tamil struggle for self-determination boils down to egalitarianism, justice, honour, democracy, pluralism, human rights and dignity.

You may wonder why separatism refuses to die in Sri Lanka. The Sinhalese refuse to let it, they want to subdue the Tamils militarily. Accommodation is not their books. These is no conscious effort to remove Tamil insecurity and to demonstrate that they are equal citizens. The Sinhala state continues to alienate the Tamils by bombing and shelling them and carrying out a deliberate scorching earth policy.

Look Mr. Ambassador you have your Sinhala army, police and government machinery. We have our Tamil apparatus too. The lines are drawn and the twain shall never meet.

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