As part of our series - 'Tamil Nadu activists speak out' - on the growing activism in Tamil Nadu on the Eelam Tamil issue, Tamil Guardian caught up with leading activists across the state.
This week, we publish our interview with the Save Tamils Movement based in Chennai.
It is the 'democratic wish' of the Tamil Nadu state to support Eelam Tamils, with Tamils across the world supporting a free Eelam, stated the Save Tamils Movement, in an interview with Tamil Guardian.
Speaking from their office in Chennai, the Save Tamils Movement Coordinator, Senthilkumar, stated that the Eelam struggle "is very close to the heart of Tamils".
"It is not because they speak Tamil and we speak Tamil here, though we are different nationalities. The historic relation between these two nationalities, is very strong... it's not just a matter of language".
Yet despite this strong relationship between the two nations, India had repeatedly been acting against the sentiments of Tamil Nadu, explained Senthil.
"[During the war] the sentiments of the people of Tamil Nadu was to stop the war and to save the people over there. But the Indian government didn't listen to struggles of the people of Tamil Nadu. Around some 17 Tamils self immolated themselves to stop the war in Sri Lanka, and we were pleading to the Indian government to intervene on the right side and stop the war."
"India, a country that claims itself to be the largest democracy in the world, didn't listen to the voice of its own citizens, which counts to around 70 million in Tamil Nadu. After 2009, solidarity to Eelam Tamils from Tamil Nadu has been growing a lot... We elected 40 MPs from our state and they represent our sentiments and our demands in the parliament but that has never been taken into account by the Indian government and it hasn't influenced the foreign policy of India... So now things have changed from a solidarity question to a democratic question. it is our democratic wish to support the struggle of Tamils on the island."
"Contrary to this the Indian government is supporting the chauvinistic and Sinhala supremacist state. It is aiding and in complicity with genocide of Tamils, by helping Sri Lanka in all means, diplomatic, economic and military... giving diplomatic protection to the Sri Lankan government in the international arena."
"Now the solidarity to Eelam Tamils has [risen] to another stage where we are fighting for our democratic right... This is a very critical point which I want to stress. Now the solidarity movement in Tamil Nadu is an inherent question of democracy for ourselves from the Indian state, which claims itself as largest democratic country in the world."
See the full interview in English below.
Speaking in Tamil, Senthil went on to recall the history of the Eelam Tamil struggle and the various actions taken by India, before stating that current circumstances on the island were extremely dire. He said,
"We need to provide the people there with circumstances that will help them to have their voice heard. Today, people there are being crushed in the Sinhala military's rule, where they cannot even speak up for themselves, and they are suffocating. A change to these circumstances must be the immediate demand of ours in today's world. In the North-East, since the end of the war, it has only got worse for Tamil people, with militarisation, Sinhala colonisation, land grabs and Sinhalese influence in Tamil political representation".
He added in English,
"[The current situation] has been portrayed as peace by the international community... The last 60 years, the politics of the Sinhalese has been nothing anti-tamil, and the genocide of Tamils in the island... The war is the ultimate massacre, ultimate physical ethnic cleansing of the tamils over there. Now demographic genocide is being carried out over there."
Calling on the international community to act, he went on to say,
"My question to the peace loving and justice loving people around the world... what is the rationalistion behind supporting the Sri Lankan state and having an expectation that it will bring peace and justice to the Tamils on the island?"
"Before the Sri Lanka government achieves their aim of abolishing the entire Tamil population on the island the international community should intervene"
"Every time they allow a genocide to happen in any part of the world they say it should never happen again. They say 'never again, never again'. But they allow it to happen every time. At least now in the 21st century which is claimed to be a modern civilised world, so civilised in that the international community should take a right and just stand towards a nationality in the 3rd world."
See the full interview in Tamil below.
Elangovan, Save Tamils Movement's spokesperson, also spoke to the Tamil Guardian, detailing the organisation's roots in organising mass protests and demonstrations against Sri Lanka's massacre of Tamils, during the final stages of the armed conflict.
"From there we have decided to clarify the misunderstanding of the Eelam struggle that the people had. It existed among both people inside and outside Tamil Nadu and it was important for us to create awareness.
He went on to add that,
"In this manner, we had established a forum called, ’Forum against War Crimes and Genocide’. This forum aims to establish branches in each state in India, concentrated in Kerala, Andhra, Karnataka, Delhi and West Bengal at its initial stages. We got in touch with mainstream media, academics, and leading human rights activists and provided them with documents about war crimes and genocide by Sri Lanka. This has helped us build a supportive circle of people outside of Tamil Nadu."
"For example: in Hydrabad, at a university we had spoken to students about the war, at that time there was also the Dublin report and Channel 4 documentary which we shared with them to give them more awareness than what they had already known. There was also screening and discussion with the rest of the students."
These projects were just a few of the many that had taken place since the group's formation, stated Elangovan, adding that with the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting due to be held in Colombo this year, Tamils across the state would be working to raise awareness and call for Sri Lanka to be expelled from the Commonwealth.