06 November 2007
The path is long, my friends, and we have lost another companion.
A companion who walked besides us as he showed us the way forward. A companion who knew the ugliness of war and sought out an alternative path. A companion who told the world of our struggle even as they turned their backs on us.
Even as he walked with us there was no way of knowing how dear he was to the Tamil people or how crucial he was to our struggle. And there was none of the arrogance which comes with power. None of the distance which comes with authority. None of the coldness which comes with importance. Just a smile. A warm open smile which made you comfortable enough to speak your mind, to question, to criticize. A smile that we all see today when we close our eyes.
Behind that almost child like smile was a razor sharp mind that understood the path to freedom was long and dangerous. Behind that smile was a man strong enough to be humble; wise enough to seek the counsel of others. A man so sure of our cause that he was willing to negotiate with an enemy who ultimately took his life.
The path is long and lonely, my friends.
Thamilchelvan Anna understood better that many that we need many companions to reach our destination. As a young diaspora Tamil who was not fully accepting of the struggle, it was refreshing to meet a man secure enough in his own beliefs to allow them to be questioned. Although he had never been to the West when I met first him in 2002, I was surprised by how well he understood that young Tamils in the diaspora would have many questions about the struggle and the movement, and was willing to answer even the most trivial questions.
For some time now we have had two paths in front of us: the path of peace and the path of war. Our nation sent Thamilchelvan Anna down the path of peace. A path that was opened to us by the sacrifice of many lives. We sent him ahead and waited with bated breath; waiting for him to give us the all clear; waiting for him to tell is it was okay to move forward.
When a warrior comes to talk peace surely that must have a special significance? He has seen the ugliness of war first hand; he has seen comrades fall in the red soil of our homeland; he has seen parents grieve for dead children; he has seen our people driven like animals into the jungles. When a man who knows the loss of war sits across the table from you and offers a way to bring peace to the island - do you talk with him or silence him forever?
We sent Thamilchelvan Anna and we waited.
We waited hoping against hope that this path would lead us to freedom. Lead us to a life of dignity and security. Lead us to lives filled with laughter and joy.
But this path has led us only to misery and tears of loss. This path led us to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Tamils. This path led to daily killings and disappearances of Tamils across the island. This path led us to the assassination of Kausalian, Joseph Pararajasingam, Raviraj and now Thamilchelvan Anna and the five others who died at his side.
The Sinhala people have shown us that they are unwilling to walk down this path.
Despite all this we have been patient; our leaders have shown restraint in the face of provocation. Even as death rained down upon our people our leaders have kept the path to peace open. Now they have taken our messenger of peace. A messenger that went forward with the blessing of our people and our leadership. When our messenger is taken from us, the message is clear: the road to peace is closed.
My friends, we walk alone to our freedom. We are all tired for the journey has been long and we have lost many companions along the way. Many of us have lost flesh and blood; many of us have lost house and home; some of us have lost identity and self.
It is tempting to say enough. It is tempting to say I will walk no more. I must rest. It is tempting to lose hope, to fear where this road will lead us. This is what they want from us. They want us to forsake our revolution; to give up our dream.
Now is not the time, my friends. As long as we have the will and means to resist those who seek to oppress us we must stay the path to freedom.
We must show the world they may kill the revolutionary but the revolution will come. They may kill the dreamer but our dream will be realized.
We have lost another companion. But in his name we walk on. In his memory and the memory of so many others we remain strong.
Freedom will come one day. United as a people, we will reach that goal. Thamilchelvan Anna knew this. That is why he was always smiling.