Dr. Noel Nadesan ,Australia
Today the Tamils are stranded in no-man’s land as political and economic orphans abandoned in every sense of the word. Tragically, the Tamil diaspora that put the Tamil people in Sri Lanka in this miserable plight by funding a futile war is refusing to help with the same kind of commitment with which they financed the futile war. To the last day they made the Sri Lankan Tamils believe that they would be there for them and today they are manufacturing excuses for the not helping the Tamils orphaned by their war.
Tamils must accept that going back to a militant past, with all its ideological baggage, cannot be on the political agenda of any pragmatic Tamil concerned with the welfare of the Tamils or their future. That past went down with Prabhakaran in Nandikadal. Our task is to recognize the immediate physical, psychological, cultural, and economic needs of the Tamil victims of the 33-year old war and do out best to serve their needs.
It would be a crime against our people if our people are led once again to the failed politics of the past. Over the years the Tamil leadership failed to understand and respond creatively to the ground realities. They were blinded by their own egos and imagined power which misled them and the Tamil people into Nanthikadal. I anticipated the end of Tamil violence many years ago. Tamil violence, despite its short gains, was doomed to end in disaster. But when I spoke of settling issues with the Sri Lankan government I was dismissed as a pro-government stooge. Somewhere in the middle of 2008, during the peak of war, a program was organized to open a dialogue with the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry and the Tamil diaspora. This was not only rejected by the Pro LTTE elements but they also made use of it to abuse me over the radio. They did not spare my family either. Our diaspora group organized Mr Manoranjan to be stationed in Colombo and strengthen the Diaspora voice in Sri Lanka in positive way to help the Tamil people But for various reasons many did not want to join it. They preferred to sabotage this move.
At the moment Tamil Diaspora instead playing the pragmatic role of being helping the Tamils in SRILANKA, they are playing very destructive role by organizing Exile in Eelam and Global Tamil Forum. Individuals like Mr V Uruthrakuraman and Nediyan along with TamilNet are playing n into the hand of extreme elements of Sinhala nationalism. Their actions helped the army to occupy the north and east instead of easing the military presence. Historically Tamil leaders led the Tamils down a destructive path. This has been the common story from MR S J V Selvanayam G G Ponnampalam to Veluppillai Prabaharan. The Tamil Expatriate leaders like Uruthrakumaram and the former Vicar of Jaffna, S. Immanuel continue to lead the Tamil people to go down the same path while they sit in the comfortable quarters of the West. I have some respect reserved for Old Guard including Prabaharan because they were willing to face the consequences of their actions but not the new leaders, including the “Prime Minister in Exile of Eelam”. What a joker?
The best option available for the diaspora is to engage the Sri Lankan government. Is there an alternative to this role? The alternative talked about by the pro-LTTE die-hards is to go back to the failed past. How is that going to help our people? We threw out best to boost Prabhakaran. If he failed is there any point in going back to the failed past?
Whatever drawbacks there may be we must recognize that we Tamils have no alternative other than to work with the government in helping our Tamil people. Some see this as surrender to the government. My attitude is simple: I am ready to surrender to anyone as long as it can serve our people. This does not mean I am stooge of anyone. It only means that I am prepared to give up my ego to serve our people who have no one left to look after them. After the collapse of the LTTE regime there is no alternative instrumentality for us to help our people except the Sri Lankan government. Whether we like it or not we have to accept this reality. Those who talk of going back to failed politics using aggressive tactics to twist the arm of the Sri Lankan government cannot succeed. We tried every tactic in the book in the past and we failed. Should we then go back to the failed past or engage the Sri Lankan government and work constructively with the efforts of the government?
We must also recognize that there is vacuum in the Tamil leadership. All our leaders were liquidated and most of our talent has gone abroad. There is no one even to guide the IDPs in the Vanni. Our initial reaction in the post-Prabhakaran period was to attack the government which was a mistake. We have to admit that despite all defects the way the government handled the IDPs who ran away from the grip of Prabhakaran is the best among the worst. Even a cursory glance at the plight of the IDPs in other parts of the world will reveal that the Tamil IDP’s in the Vanni had a better deal than any one of those languishing for years like, for instance, the Muslims in Puttalam after they were thrown out of Jaffna by the LTTE, or the Pakistani IDPs after the recent floods. Even the recovery programme is commendable considering the circumstances faced by the government. This may sound like providing excuses for the government. But the fact is that objective observers like the Tamil Nadu MP and the editor of The Hindu, N. Ram, did not fault the efforts of the government to provide refuge to the IDPs who were used as a human shield by Prabhakaran when he was retreating.
However, it must stated that the situation of the remaining IDPs in the Vanni has not changed since they were sheltered in the camps. They have language difficulties in communicating with the authorities. They have to depend on the military for everything. Civil society is not there to give them adequate resources though they shed crocodile tears. Our leaders are bickering among themselves trying to exploit the misery of our people for their political gain. There are, of course, dedicated Tamil public servants who are doing their best with limited resources. But that is not enough
New times need new leaders. Pillaiyan and Karuna were a part of the Tiger outfit. Now they are serving the needs of our people using the government channels and resources. Their critics see them as serving the government more than the Tamil people. But this is cheap criticism which ignores the fundamental fact that the government instrumentalities and the political system are the only available means available for the current Tamil leadership to serve our people. Our people also forget that even during Prabhakaran’s time the LTTE used government resources and instrumentalities to serve our people. If it was good for Prabhakaran to use the government institutions and resources to keep him in power why is it bad for other who are willing to serve the Tamils more effectively join with the goverment and help the people?
Of course, this may not suit the political agenda of the pro-LTTE critics. But we are not looking to promote a political agenda. Our objective is to serve the economic and the urgent needs of our people. We are looking for pragmatic solutions. There is no roti and curry for our people to eat in ideal political solutions. Are we going to wait for the ideal day when ideal conditions will rise to serve our people? Who is going to give them bread, medicine and education in the meantime?