relatives of the missing srilanka tamils

The political history of Tamils who inhabited the island before the arrival of Vijaya in 543 BC, a legendary prince, still to be proved by real and documented evidence, has been tarnished with the record of betrayals, pogroms, genocide and massacres in the hands of successive Sri Lankan Governments since 1948.Numerous articles and books have detailed these events locally and internationally. The International community including the United Nations watched these hearts wrenching human tragedies with their mouths shut, eyes closed allowing and encouraging the Sri Lankan Government’s to execute the agenda of militarization, Sinhalasisation, Buddhisisation with ease and unhindered, through state legislations and machinery. The United Nations Human Rights Council and International Community with a pricked conscience sprang into action after the genocidal war conducted by Sri Lanka from 2006 to 2009 which harvested more than 70,000 lives, with approximate 60,000 disappeared, 90,000 war widows and 200,000 disabled and 10,000 orphans. In between The armed struggle of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam [LTTE] was also crushed who were branded as terrorists while omitting to label Sri Lanka’s state terrorism, which is not comparable to the terrorism of rebels as a state is duty bound to protect its own citizens irrespective of race, religion or caste, and not indulge in terrorism.

From 1948 to 1956, Sri Lankan citizens enjoyed the democracy and its freedoms without any hatred, hostility or any bias based on religion, language or race. All of these plunged into irretrievable depths with the passage of Sinhala Only Act in 1956. Capturing political power was one reason while asserting the power of rural folk was another reason as Sri Lanka Freedom Party led by S.W.R.D Bandaranayake achieved the above goals while laying the groundwork and foundation for the growth and breeding of communalism, chauvinism and hegemony. The victims were the minorities, particularly the Tamils who bore the brunt of these ferocious dehumanizing weapons.

Sri Lanka’s major parties SLFP and UNP rely heavily on the votes of Sinhalese rather than the votes of Tamils and Muslims. Gestures of good will, reconciliation and respect are extended at occasions to lure their votes. History shows that all measures and steps so far taken to ensure equality in all respects like language, religion, state employment were brought down to nil effect.

To the credit of Sri Lanka, it can be proud to boast as a country which has followed and never breached the norms of democracy via free election, and associated democratic rights. However the darker side of Sri Lanka’s face of democracy is dotted with black marks and stains, as the democracy has only served the interests of majority community and the ruling Governments who have successfully exploited it to foist, thrust and carry out their agenda of Sinhalization, Buddhisisation and later Militarization.

The seeds for the above were sown from the time of ‘Mahavamsa” a chronicle [myth] wrote by Mahanama Thera in 6th century AD, when hardly any other books were written to detail the true history of Sri Lanka either in Tamil or Sinhalese. Mahavamsa’s author mentioning about Lord Buddha’s wish to choose “Sri Lanla as a suitable country to preserve Buddhism” which is unsubstantiated laid the foundation for the birth and growth of Mahavamsa mindset to achieve this goal and make it real.

“Mahavamsa” chronicle provided the gateway to “Mahavamsa” mindset which in turn acted as the springboard for the rise of inimical political agenda, slogans and Sinhala Buddhist nationalism. These can be summarized as follows:

[1] Communalism, racism and majority hegemony.

[2] Covert and overt execution of the agenda of Sinhalisisation and Buddhisisation and Militarization from 1948.

[3] Practice of the entrenched culture of impunity to deny accountability and justice.

[4] State sponsored encouraged and assisted organized massacres of Tamil civilians and pogroms in 1956, 1958, 1977, 1981, 1983, 1987 and 2006-2009.

[5] Discrimination at all levels and in all fields including state services and high level appointments against the Tamils.

[6] Breaches of promises, agreements, pacts and undertakings since 1958. All attempts and efforts conceived with some sincerity by the Sinhalese leaders went up in smoke unable to confront and withstand extreme Buddhist communal and racist propaganda. Recently, the Asgiriya Chapter has openly called on the Prime Minister not to introduce any new constitution as it is not necessary.

[7] The entry of religion into politics which was initiated by late S.W.R.D. Bandaranayake opened the gates for Buddhist Monks to practice politics while his life was also ended by a gate crasher monk Somarama Thera in 1958. Over the years, the influence of Maha Sanga and Buddhist Clergy in the day to day politics and decisions of ruling parties is making them as decision and king makers. It has now become a binding customary practice to seek the blessings of Maha Sanga as well their advice along with opinion as to any matter affecting the agenda of Buddhisisation and Sinhalization and making Sri Lanka a Sinhala Buddhist state. [Depriving the rights of Hindus/Christian/Muslim faiths to prosper]

As far as the Tamil Leaders, who have been elected to serve and protect the Tamils, less said the better. A history of betrayals by the Sinhalese leaders coupled with occasional conciliatory politics and hob knobbing have been the hallmarks so far without any inch of achievements in fulfilling the aspirations of Tamils. Pledges detailed in election manifestos have been treated with no concern and seriousness, like North-East merger, federal system of government, self-determination etc.

It is nothing but insulting for the whole Tamil politicians that not even a single Tamil prisoner has not been released, along with various other issues which were also taken up with the Government also frozen. The underlying truth is that the Government has exploited the unconditional and bowing-down co-operation of TNA and knowing pretty well that TNA will not take any steps to disturb their co-habitation risking their positions, perks and privileges.

All in all, the Tamils are left high and dry and are back to square one with no hope of an acceptable political settlement or any deliverance of justice and accountability. Tamil National Alliance’s silence as to an independent internal mechanism is proof of its unconcern in this matter, not to mention the international investigation mooted by the UNHRC which did not find favor with Tamil National Alliance solely to please the United National Party Government.

The parents and loved ones of the disappeared are still continuing their protests for more than 650 days. The internally displaced are left to look after and fend for themselves. President Sirisena’s promises as to release of lands and political prisoners were meant for those particular occasions. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe has already confirmed his commitments to guarantee Buddhism its foremost place in the constitution and preserve the ‘Ekya Rajya’ a “Unitary form of Government” leaving the Tamil National Alliances leadership to search for damage control measures for misleading the Tamils to believe it is “United or Unified system”.  Opposition leader Mahinda Rajapakshe is shedding crocodile tears that foremost place for Buddhism as stated in the constitution is not adequately and properly implemented throughout Sri Lanka. These are the realities of Sri Lanka’s politics. To refuse to accept the realities and relying on South leaders is nothing but purely fictional. The belief and hope of that two major parties have formed a ‘National Government with Good Governance has proved to be a myth as the truth is that whenever any offer of political settlement, even if a fraction is offered for the Tamils, the major Sinhalese parties and others will get united to defeat and abandon it.

The Tamil National Alliance has enjoyed the position of opposition until Mahinda Rajapakshe snatched it. To the credit of the TNA leader Sampanthan he fought hard to retain this position and also fought to uphold a constitution, but without staging any protests, legal battles or otherwise or even organizing a massive democratic campaign and agitations focusing on the accumulated grievances of Tamils. It is the wish to all Tamils that even if no good deeds have been done, better not to commit harmful deeds in the future.

Tamil Nation Alliance is sure to go empty handed to meet the Tamils in the next elections, but surely after preparing another bag of pledges in the next election manifesto.

Mere rhetorics and eloquent speeches though good for the gallery and public but what is needed is their translation into ground action. It is worth to recall what Mavai Senathirajah MP who stated his party’s [Tamil National Alliance] intention to start  a non-violent ‘satyagraha’ campaign in 2017 and hope he is still considering it with the approval of other parties.

Kumarathasan Rasingam, is a human rights activist


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