On the 27th of November we remember the thousands of Tamil heroes who died fighting for our country. Fighting for our freedom. Fighting for our future.
Every year we come together to honour and pay our respects to our fallen soldiers and give our love and support to the families who have lost their loved ones. We remind each other of who we are and why we should be proud to be Tamil through our speeches and cultural performances. We think about the bravery showcased by our heroes who had to say their farewells to their families knowing full well they may never see them again. These courageous heroes put their lives on the line to combat the discrimination, torture and killings inflicted upon the Tamil people by the racist Sri Lankan state. They will go down in history as martyrs inspiring us to carry on the fight for our freedom.
This year we may be separated physically but that should not stop us being united through our identity and our hunger for justice. For decades now the Sri Lankan state has tried to divide us and make us feel powerless through fear which is evident by the genocide of Tamils since the 1950s. Even after the height of the Tamil genocide in 2009, the Sri Lankan state has not stopped its ruthless pursuit to erase the Tamil identity with disappearances and abuse still going on to this day.
However, we cannot let them achieve their goal. When they try to divide us, we must unite. When they try to destroy us, we must rebuild. When they try to silence us, we must speak out.
I look at the Tamil youth and see a generation with unlimited potential. The intelligence, talent and awareness we possess should not be wasted. We as a generation differ greatly to those that have come before us due to the majority of us being born outside of our homeland, in the Tamil Diaspora scattered across the world. Our upbringing, education and experiences are vastly different to our parents’ and we must take advantage of that without abandoning our roots, identity and history. The day we stop keeping in touch with our identity, culture and traditions, is the day we help the Sri Lankan state eradicate our history and values that our heroes died for.
I have faith that day will never come as I have seen many examples of this generation, Tamils and non-Tamils, standing up against injustice and creating mass movements on social media that even the major governments across the world fear. I see Tamils across the world using their social media platforms to inform the world about current affairs with the hope of getting justice for our people. I urge these people to carry on and for others to join to show the major powers that we are a force to be reckoned with. We have a unique opportunity to unite all the Tamils around the world in a way which was not possible before. The power we have being united without country borders separating us is something that’s going to make us unstoppable. We cannot be complacent with our situation because no matter how privileged our lives are in the Diaspora, our roots belong in Tamileelam.
As the next generation of Tamils, it is our duty to protect the spark our elders lit and turn it into a flame that burns bright for the world to see clearly. We will use this flame to shine a light on the atrocities and injustices committed by the Sri Lankan state and when the flame is big enough we will burn down the walls that they think can contain us. We must be the parents our children look up to for getting Tamil Eelam by fighting against injustice, discrimination and genocide. By doing this we will answer our Thalaivar’s call in 2008 where he urged the youth to unite and continue their efforts to achieve Tamileelam. In 2008, Thalaivar said ‘I would request Tamils, in whatever part of the world that they may live in to raise their voices, firmly and with determination, in support of the freedom struggle of their brothers and sisters in Tamil Eelam.’
So now as a final note I ask you, what are you going to do for our country?
For our freedom?
For our future?
Tamilarin Thaagam Tamil Eela Thaayakam.
The text of a speech delivered by TYO UK member Saumya Suresh at the Maaveerar Week Commencement Event on Friday 20th November, 2020. See the full video of the event below.