There are thousands of issues that take the attention of the citizenry everyday. However, national security cannot be pushed to the backburner. Tamil Elamists are on the march again. Tamil intellectuals, priests, academics, lawyers, teachers, doctors and various other ‘front-end’ service providers who constantly interact with thousands of people have demanded from the TNA that it sticks to its guns of Tamil racism. They have warned TNA against “giving into” government pressure and dropping Tamil nationalist demands including a Tamil Nation for 85 million Tamils around the world.
Readers are requested to read the above and take a note of the signatories, their professions and take in the fact that they are opinion creators in the society.
Since ancient times Tamil invaders tried to take over the island nation. They were violently defeated. Sri Lankan policy makers since 1948 let the past bury its dead and carried on regardless of the imminent danger that was unfolding around them.
We don’t seem to be doing anything about it! Doing the same thing (or abstaining from doing what needs to be done) and expecting a different result is insanity according to the great mathematician Albert Einstein. History is already repeating. It will be a matter of years when the next major terrorist attack occurs.
Tamil violence and ultimately militancy grew stage by stage since the late 19th century.
Why didn’t we see this coming? – Earliest warnings of Tamil violence
“In 1871, Caste clashes erupted between Vellalar, dhoby caste and barber caste in Maviththapuram. The root cause of the riot was alleged that dhoby caste people refused to wash the clothes of barber caste people. Vellalar caste people were blamed for the violence. This is the first known caste/race riot in the island.
September, 1923 saw another caste riot in Jaffna. In Sutumalai, Vellalars attacked Paramba caste people who had hired drummers for a funeral alleging that Paramba caste people had no right to emplot drummers for their funerals as they were ‘low caste’. In 1931 a similar violent riot took place in Canganai, Jaffna where Pallar caste individuals were attacked by Vellalar people for hiring drummers for a funeral. According to Tamil tradition, only ‘high caste’ people could hire drummers and ‘professional mourners’ (a unique practice in the north) for funerals.
In June 1929 caste riots broke out again in the north in response to the ‘equal seating directive’ of the government which was applicable to grant-aided schools. Under this directive ‘low caste’ students were allowed to sit on the bench. Until then they sat either on the floor or outside the classroom. Resultant riots bunt a large number of houses mainly of low caste Tamils. Their children en masse were stopped from attending schools. Repeated petitions were made to the government by ‘high caste’ Vellalars begging to cancel the directive!”
Quoted from: Tamil Caste Discrimination by Thomas Johnpulle, Sri Lanka Guardian,http://www.srilankaguardian.org/2011/10/tamil-caste-discrimination.html
If the Vellahla Tamils could unleash violence for nothing on their own kind, what would stop them from using violence against the Sinhalese? Please note that the first race riot was not the 1915 riot but the 1871 (105 years before the start of the Vadukoddai War in 1976) caste riot within the Tamil community. Since then, until independence, periodic Tamil caste riots took place. Tamils were also responsible for the 1939 Tamil-Sinhala riot that started in Nawalapitiya and the 1958 riot started with SJV Chelvanayagam’s tar brush campaign against the Sinhalese and the Sinhala language. Even the 1983 riot was initiated by Tamil Tigers. The 1985 Tamil-Muslim riot and the 2002 Valachchenei Tamil-Muslim riot were also initiated by Tamil nationalists.
Despite these clear indications, why didn’t we see a full scale war coming our way following independence?
Why didn’t we see this coming? – Latter warnings of Tamil violence
“The failure of the 1961 “satyagraha” set several (Federal Party) leading lights thinking. Mahatma Gandhi, they argued, succeeded in India with his concept of non-violence and non-cooperation because he was leading a majority against a minority, however powerful; whereas in Sri Lanka, the Tamils were a minority seeking rights from a majority. And the majority was not willing to give concessions.
Some of 20 men associated with the Federal Party thought Gandhism had no place in such a scenario. They decided after the prolonged deliberations to form an underground group to fight for a separate state. Most of them were civil servants and had been influenced by Leon Uris Exodus. At a meeting in Colombo, they christened their group Pulip Padai (Army of Tigers).
On August 12, 1961, the Pulip Padai members converged at the historic Koneswaran Temple in the eastern port town of Trincomalee and, standing in its holy precincts facing the sea took a solemn oath to fight for a Tamil homeland.
Pulip Padai immediately got into the act, putting out leaflets and pamphlets printed clandestinely, advocating militancy. A student wing called the Manavar Manram (students council) was set up in 1963. Two Federal Party leaders the Pulip Padai strongly backed were Amirthalingam and V.Navaratnam ( Chavakachcheri MP).
Two of them were A.Rajaratnam and K.Sivagnanasundaram. Rajaratnam died in 1975 in Madras of asthma.( Rajaratnam was awarded a gold medal posthumously by Pirabaharan at a Jaffna public meeting after Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination. Indian investigators believe that Dhanu, the woman who acted as the human bomb to kill Gandhi was Rajaratnam’s daughter). Sivagnanasundaram became the staunch supporter of the LTTE. He was killed in Jaffna in 1988 by the EPRLF.
In 1969, Thangathurai and Kuttimuni and a few friends gathered in Jaffna to form an informal group that the former wanted to name the Tamil Liberation Organisation (TLO).
A college Prof’s house at Point Pedro, in Jaffna, was a regular meeting point for the group. It included among others Periya (big) Sothi, Chinna (small) Sothi, Chetti, Kannadi (a radio mechanic), Sri Sabaratnam (TELO leader) and V.Pirabaharan (LTTE supremo). One man who drifted by but broke away to chart an independent course was Ponnudorai Sivakumaran, who was to become one of the first martyrs to the Tamil cause.
In April, 1971, Thangathurai, known as mama ( uncle) and some 15 others were making explosives at the Thondamanar high school when a bomb went off, seriously injuring Chinna Sothi. The next year, a similar blast occurred, causing burn injuries to Thangathurai, Chinna Sothi, Pirabaharan and V.Nadesuthasan.”
Quoted from: Early Tamil Militancy, M.R. Narayan Swamy
(A selected electronic version can be found in: http://tamilnation.co/tamileelam/armedstruggle/earlymilitancy.htm)
The funny thing was they met in Colombo and formed the Army of Tigers in 1961! What were we doing?
Also of note is how government servants (teachers and lecturers) spearheaded the terrorist campaign while on the payroll of the government. Rings a bell? Well this is being repeated today!
What ought to have been done to the initial group of Tamil nationalists? They should have been secretly eliminated from the society without a trace. That could have saved the Tamil society from total destruction. The link between the creation of the political need for a Tamil nation by Chelvanayagam, etc. to the experiments with bombs is clearly explained in the above book.
Why didn’t we see this coming? – Humble beginnings of uncontrollable Tamil violence
“The first successful robbery blamed on Tamil militants took place in 1974 when 91,000 rupees was taken away from the Multipurpose Cooperative Society of Tellipallai. Tamil sources said Chetti and one of his cousins were among the responsible for the robbery, while one published account attributed the raid to Pirabaharan. Around the same time Chetti slipped to Tamil Nadu and teamed up with a crowd Valvettithurai that was camping in Salem.”
On March 5, 1976 Pirabaharan led a raid on the state run People’s Bank at Puttur and escaped with a half a million rupees in cash and jewellery worth of 200,000 rupees after holding the employees at gun point. It was the first successful bank robbery in Jaffna.”
Quoted from: Early Tamil Militancy, M.R. Narayan Swamy
These were matters to be handled by the armed forces not by the police. Despite the JVP using these very same tactics in 1971 to finance its violent campaign, the then government ignored them. It was a grave mistake for which the nation would pay a very heavy price. Lack of counter insurgency expertise was the main reason for the failure. Security was given a break until a dire security situation arose. At the very least now, this “wait and see” approach must change.
What most of us didn’t know about the 1970s Tamil Diaspora
Did the Tamil Diaspora turn anti-Sri Lankan after 1983 riots? No. Tamil Diaspora especially those who were in the United Kingdom were looking for violence and separatism way back in the early 1970s.
“EROS was formed in 1975 by Eliyathamby Ratnasabapathy and Shankar Rajee, both of whom were living in Great Britain at the time. Initially a think-tank concerned with Tamil issues, its leadership established ties with the Palestinian Liberation Organization and formed militant training camps in Sri Lanka. These camps eventually militarized and trained most of the rebels who formed other Tamil movements in the 1980s. Although the most radically nationalist of all the Tamil groups, EROS was the least militarily active of all such groups. However, the group was responsible for a string of bombings in Sri Lanka in the mid-1980s as well as for the kidnapping of British journalist Penelope Willis.
EROS gradually lost its influence as Tamil independence movements emerged as offshoots of EROS. These groups, the largest of which is the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), took the majority of EROS members with them.”
Tamil intellectuals in the Tamil Diaspora with their resources, intellect, networking and organisational skills initiated the Tamil armed violence that was absorbed by the LTTE and ran with it. This not only gave the LTTE vital initial funds, but also an international network.
Isn’t this what is happening today?
The only solution
Equipped with the knowledge of history, ancient, past and modern, we must approach this problem proactively. Support for Tamil Elam was not the same in all Tamil enclaves in the island nation. It was mostly concentrated on the north which was over 96% Tamil at that time. Today the north is 100% Tamil as others are not allowed to live there by Tamil politicians and their voters.
State sponsored and military backed new settlement schemes must be put in place to dissolve Tamil-only ideologies. Tamil separatists must be identified early through a wide spread secret service and eliminated without a trace. Time to time the northern Tamil-only societies should be given baits to identify Tamil separatists hiding in the society. Tamil Diaspora activists’ local agents should be closely monitored and any suspicion of Tamil nationalism should be handled using appropriate violence. There are no sizable pro-Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora groups at the moment.
Giving into Tamil demands is the worst crime the government can do. Appeasement doesn’t solve any problem. Instead it encourages further demands. Northern development should be separated from developing Tamils. Northern development should benefit 74% Sinhalese, 8% Muslims, 12% Sri Lankan Tamils, 5% upcountry Tamils and 1% others.
The only political solution is ethnic integration, especially in the north by creating multi ethnic colonies. Any other political solution will fail and end up in war again.
Every year the government spends 750 billion rupees of taxpayer money on the Jaffna University. Unfortunately the Jaffna University is at the heart of Tamil separatism. From student unions to prominent lecturers, graduates and connected persons, there is a huge movement towards Tamil racism. Are we to allow this in the open?
At the moment there are 5,000 undergraduates studying at the Jaffna University, almost 99% of undergraduates and lecturers are Tamils. Just like a Tamil Nadu university. It was a very unwise move by the government to establish the Jaffna University in 1974 that is now a hotbed and safe house of Tamil racism. Tamil intellectuals instead of being grateful to the then government for a Tamil-only university, strongly drifted to the ultra-racist Vadukoddai Resolution at the 1977 election. It is time to learn lessons or dig our own grave with our own money.
The government should strongly clamp down on lecturers and students who engage in promoting Tamil nationalism. Disciplinary action must be taken and either the university should be weakened gradually or the ethnic composition should be changed. Interestingly although the government follows a strict approach towards all other university student trouble, it has been very reluctant to discipline Jaffna University’s violent and illegal student unions! Naturally this will encourage further violence.
National security related decisions must be taken by those who are educated and experienced in defence, not by those ignorant of defence. The former group would use military theory to resolve matters successfully whereas the latter group would resort to unscientific means to resolve the issue. LTTE violence never responded to spiritual, moral or religious approaches.
Peace everyone enjoys today came after millions of kilograms of bombs were dropped in Tiger controlled areas, tens of thousands of artillery and mortars fired at them and the entire shipping fleet of Tamil Tigers was sunk in the mid-sea. These extreme measures can be avoided if and only if troublemakers are identified early and eliminated. There aren’t the resources to mollycoddle them. Nor the people have the patience to put up with them and their racist demands.