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'The time to give life to Tamil nationalism is now' - Shritharan tells Mannar

The Sinhalese people have started to experience the suffering that the Tamil people have long suffered said the newly elected leader of the Tamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK), Sivagnanam Shritharan, claiming that with the Sri Lankan government overwhelmed with fear and panic, “it is also an opening for the Tamil people to come together and unite for our collective cause”.

“Even though we have sacrificed so many lives in this land, we are at a point where we cannot breathe, we remain alienated,” he told a party meeting in Mannar.

The Tamil people are a nation that has been fighting for more than 75 years, he continued. “Father Chelva said in 1949 that Tamils are a national race and he worked to recover the recognition that we lost and to retain the identity we rightfully deserve,” Shritharan said, referring to S. J. V. Chelvanayagam who is widely regarded as the father of Tamil nationalism.

Referring to LTTE leader Veluppillai Prabhakaran, Shritharan said "Our national leader Prabhakaran has guided us and trained us with impeccable discipline and commitment”.

“Thus history has given us another opportunity now. We should keep the faith that the day when we unite and gather as a Tamil community is near and the world will recognize us the same way too,” he said, adding that the government is in denial of the fact that there exists a national crisis. “The world is aware that Sri Lanka is deceiving it.”

He went on to claim that the international community was giving life to the aspirations of the Tamil people.

“Those who have departed us are giving us inspiration to carry on," he added. "The purpose and meaning of their death is not lost on us. Tamils have lived long before the Sinhalese and our identity is bound here.”

Coinciding with Tamil Heritage Month being marked in both Canada and the UK, Shritharan told the audience that the Tamil language, its place in the country, the art and culture are unique.

“That is why we must struggle to regain our lost identity. We ask this country, will they give us lasting peace? It is a question we have been asking over and over again.”

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