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Rest in peace, Bala Annai

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Bala Annai, as you were once a Marxist I don’t know if you believed in God and heaven and such things, but wherever your atman is now I hope you are looking upon your people gathered here today to say goodbye.

Look at your people Bala Annai: you helped us find our dignity, helped us find our self-respect, find our humanity.

Though you did not fire a shot in anger, you were a warrior as powerful as any that have fallen in battle. Your mind was a weapon more deadly than any our oppressor throws against us. Your courage a shield that would withstand any blow. Your wisdom a national treasure that enriched us all; you were Bhima to our Yudishtara; anna to our anna.

For those of us growing up in another land you helped us understand what we were fighting for. You helped bridge that gap that sometimes separates us. You made us realise that we are not terrorists and that our path was just. You gave us the courage to say I am a Tamil and demand respect.

Look at your people Bala Annai – from Toronto to Thiruconamalai – from Wembley to Vanni – from Melbourne to Mullaithivu – your people have gathered to bid you farewell and to show the world how much you were loved.

Look at us: students and surgeons; factory workers and farmers; doctors and doormen; professionals and peasants – your people stand united in all our glorious diversity.

Look at your people in Vaharai - again suffering at the hands of our oppressors. Look at your people in the Diaspora in their massive houses but with no place to call home.

The people you fought so tireless for…the people you sacrificed so much of yourself for.

You gave us a voice Bala Annai: when no one would listen - you spoke of injustice; when others tried to use us as pawns you spoke with self-respect; when we were accused of being irrational and barbaric you spoke with enlightened clarity; when our oppressors spun tales of deceit you spoke truth.

You spoke at Thimpu; you spoke with India; you spoke with Chandrika amma and Ranil mama; you even went to Geneva. Surely you must have known they would not give us what is ours? Surely you must have known their words were cheap?

Yet you spoke Bala Annai, somewhere inside you found the strength, you found the faith in humanity, you found the courage to trust our oppressor so that no more lives would have to be sacrificed.

You showed the world our movement and our people wanted a just peace; you showed the world that our people had war thrust upon us; we do not lust for blood; we would rather quench our thirst with the water that flows through the streams of our land.

They say that politics is the art of the possible, and you knew it was possible for us to live in our own land with dignity and pride, you knew it was possible for our two nations to live side by side. You knew that our movement would not rest until our people could hold their heads high. But our oppressor does not know now what you knew then Bala Annai.

But look at your people carefully Bala Annai…look in their eyes…can you see it? It is not the dullness of defeat and humiliation…no it is the sparkle of self-respect and pride… our spirit is not broken.

At this dark time we mourn your passing but we know…we know you will be reborn in a free Eelam…your tiny feet will walk upon the fertile soil of a Vanni free of fear. Your ears will hear waves crashing on a liberated beach in Batticaloa. Your eyes will look upon a Nallur Murugan who is not shackled by our oppressors. Your nose will smell the salt air that blows in across Trincomalee harbor. You will drink your mother’s milk in our motherland Bala Annai – these things will come to pass…this is our legacy to you…there is debt we must erase.

While we know we must say goodbye, we make this promise to you Bala Annai: your people will not rest until your dream of a free Eelam is realized; your people will seek peace at every juncture; but we will not cower as our oppressor seeks to crush us; your people will treat our oppressor with the same humanity that brought to back to the negotiating table time after time; your people will speak out for themselves now that your voice is silenced.

Rest now bala Annai you must be tired, age will not weary you, your eyesight will not fail you, nor will you stoop. We will remember you standing tall, the giant of a man you were. Join Kittu Annai, Theelepan Annai, Malathi Acca and all the other maveerar who have gone before you.

Do not worry for Adele Acca - a nation awaits to wipe her tears, a thousand sisters will hold her hand as she bids you farewell, there will be a thousand sons to light her funeral pyre when her time comes.

It says in the Bible that ‘unless a wheat grain falls into the earth and dies, it remains only a single grain; but if it dies it yields a rich harvest’ - many grains have fallen into the soil of Eelam – the time to harvest is near.
Rest in peace, Bala Annai.

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