The Party of the Dead

Bar Man

Noel Nadesan
The heading is taken from the Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s masterpiece ‘The House of the Dead’. This novel speaks about a hard labor prison in Siberia and is an ideal tool in my depiction of the principal Tamil party and its character at this juncture.
The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) took a decision not to participate at the 19th
session on human rights in Geneva – one of the wisest steps taken by the party in its long and chequered history. After all, how can a political party work against its own country in a world forum? Could we imagine the American Republican Party or the British Labor party campaigning against their own country in the United Nations even though they disagree with their government of the day? Political parties disagree and dispute with the party of the government, but the dirty linen should not be washed in a world forum.
However, the TNA member M. A. Sumantiran’s effigy was burned at the Jaffna University by extreme elements that are part of the LTTE rump still active in the pores of civil society. This type of action has been supported by people who were expelled from the TNA during the last parliamentary elections. As soon as this act occurred, the Leader of the TNA, Mr. Rajavarothayam Sampanthan, MP, started wetting his pants and wrote to all the members of the human rights council to support the American draft solution on the question of
accountability of the last days of the war in Sri Lanka.
The Tamil leadership at present is at the lowest level in our sixty year history.
The elimination of Tamil leaders by the LTTE during the last 30 years has created a leadership vacuum among the North- East Tamils. Since the LTTE
evaporated three years ago, the TNA has pushed to fill this vacuum.
Who is this TNA?
The TNA, like the cocktail Bloody Mary, is Tomato juice, Vodka, Horseradish, Lemon, lime, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, and salt.
Who is the bar man?
During the time of the LTTE, pursuing instructions from the Liberation Tiger leader Prabaharan; D. Sivaram manufactured the TNA from many different elements. D Sivaram, however, had emerged from the Peoples’ Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE) in the 1980s and then became a journalist. Given his militant background, he was able to write
and analyze the armed struggle from a different angle. His writing
was popular not only among Tamils but also among the Sinhalese. He
too was targeted by the LTTE killers but later became one of their
beloved men. Indeed, he was posthumously crowned as a Mahmanithar by the LTTE leader, Prabaharan.
Though Sivaram was a good wordsmith in Tamil and English, he was hardly
a man of ethics and principles. He also enjoyed self-aggrandizement and was happy to engage in the task of king-making. He enjoyed manufacturing this Tamil alliance because he got the instructions from the strongest Tamil leader on earth at that time. All the members of the TNA
were variously under rendition by the LTTE already. A senior leader was threatened at gun-point and forced to join; one MP’s jeep-driver was an LTTE intelligence man. Eventually, most of the members voluntarily surrendered their integrity and joined this process. So this TNA was a Bloody Mary mixed by D. Sivaram as bar man.

Prapaharan took this decision because he needed some parliamentary representation during the ceasefire. The LTTE needed pliable people. With vote rigging, they were able to send the maximum number of representatives to the Sri Lankan parliament. Only one man resisted this process, namely, Mr Ananthasankari . Not that he was politically opposed to Tamil unity. Rather,
because Anathasankari is a very proud man, he could not be a yes man to the
LTTE, so he rebelled.
During its last days as a militarized state regime, when the LTTE was herding the people to the war front as cannon fodder, not one member of the TNA could raise his voice for the people because to do so would earn the wrath of the LTTE. Only Mr. Anathasankari was able to raise his voice for those people because he was, and is, his ‘own man.’
Elimination of the LTTE, lack of vision from pro-Government Tamil parties and desire of the Sri Lankan Government to demonstrate that democracy had been restored to the North and East, presented a gift to the TNA to become the main representative of the Tamil population of the Northern and Eastern provinces. But, it is not certain whether the TNA was prepared to handle the responsibility or accountability that went along with that position.
They began with a big historical blunder by supporting Sarath Fonseka
against the President Rajapakse in the Presidential Elections. However, on this occasion the ordinary Sinhala peasants saved not only Sri Lanka, but also the Tamil community by rejecting that choice. I can recall what Robert Knox said: once “you have washed the mud from the Sinhala farmer he can be king”
After recovering from their blunders, the TNA is now being manipulated by many
elements who have no interest of the ordinary Tamil people in their
heart. A small body of people expelled from the TNA is showing they are more
Tamil nationalist than Velupilai Prabaharan, while the Sri Lankan
Tamil daily papers today look worse than the tabloids printed by the LTTE
because these papers are trying to appease the diaspora element. We can
see the transnational government led by Rutharakumar (it is very
surprising a rebel government is able to function from the American soil —
the last rebel leader supported by America was Mr Jonathan Savambi
from Angola) also having dialogue with some elements in the TNA. I am sure
Nediyavan and Tamilnet group are also working along this path.
The TNA is a party without any proper policy and principle. It is therefore a
fertile hunting ground for those diaspora elements who want to put their fingers
not only into Tamil affairs, but also into Sri Lankan affairs. Internationalizing the Sri Lankan problem is counterproductive to the Tamils living in Sri Lanka. It is easier for the expatriates because they do not have to face the consequences of their action.
Note too that most of the TNA members have parked their families abroad.
We can learn from history: after the Indo-Lanka Accord of 1987, India with 120,000 military personnel could not solve the political problems in Sri Lanka. That action promoted the JVP rebellion. Many thousands were killed on both sides and the Tamil problem became more complex. My honest feeling is that while the men who manufactured the TNA are dead, this political party has many Zombies who are bent on self-destruction and are eventually going to lead the Tamil people to conditions that are not far different from Mullivaikal.

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About noelnadesan

Commentator and analyst of current affairs.
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2 Responses to The Party of the Dead

  1. Gerard Thurai சொல்கிறார்:

    I suspect that this is more a stance based on political expediency rather than on any higher principle.

    Justice is also about process. This is how civilised societies establish the truth and ensure fairness. Equating judicial process to “washing dirty linen in public” is correct, but some dirty linen MUST be washed in public. That is essential to the orderly functioning of society.

    Establishing the truth about war crimes is an essential component of healing and reconciliation. As witnessed in South Africa and Northern Ireland the establishment of truth was more important than punishment. Indeed, many of the perpetrators met their victims and apologised for what they did. Contrition helped healing. Furthermore, South Africa’s TRC established that nation’s government as a credible force in the world, both politically and economically. This is in stark contrast to the isolationistic stance taken by the Sri Lankan government, whose ruling family is seen as corrupt and not very bright.

    The TNA’s support for this government is wrong, shows very poor judgement and will backfire by losing the confidence of their supporters. Not just the rump of the LTTE who are universally loathed by almost every Tamil I know. I am reminded of the adage: “My enemy’s enemy is my friend”. By alienating their core of support, the TNA appears to have made friends of the Rajapakse government.

    We await the birth of a Tamil Mandela.

    • noelnadesan சொல்கிறார்:

      Very interesting point of view.I am cut and paste from my friend e mail

      Source:
      V O L U M E 1 C H A P T E R 1 Foreword by Chairperson PAGE 6

      25. Out of the Shadows of the Night: The Struggle for International
      Human Rights, Judge Frankel wrote:

      The call to punish human rights criminals can present complex and agonising
      problems that have no single or simple solution. While the debate over the
      Nuremberg trials still goes on, that episode – trials of war criminals of a
      defeated nation – was simplicity itself as compared to the subtle and dangerous
      issues that can divide a country when it undertakes to punish its own violators.

      A nation divided during a repressive regime does not emerge suddenly united
      when the time of repression has passed. The human rights criminals are fellow
      citizens, living alongside everyone else, and they may be very powerful and
      dangerous. If the army and police have been the agencies of terror, the soldiers
      and the cops aren’t going to turn overnight into paragons of respect for human
      rights. Their numbers and their expert management of deadly weapons remain
      significant facts of life…. The soldiers and police may be biding their time,
      waiting and conspiring to return to power. They may be seeking to keep or
      win sympathisers in the population at large. If they are treated too harshly –
      or if the net of punishment is cast too widely – there may be a backlash that
      plays into their hands. But their victims cannot simply forgive and forget.
      These problems are not abstract generalities. They describe tough realities
      in more than a dozen countries. If, as we hope, more nations are freed from
      regimes of terror, similar problems will continue to arise.
      Since the situations vary, the nature of the problems varies from place to

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