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Strategic Thinking And Renouncing Of Violence

By Chandi Sinnathurai

11 June, 2009

The Tamil Diaspora could be an eloquent voice for the suffering people in the Tamil territories. But the Tamils who live through the daily post-war trauma must be given the choice and the will to elect their leaders from among themselves. To achieve this end the Diaspora must fight not usurp. This indeed is a fundamental democratic principle. The Tamils who live in the island have had enough of this cut-throat conflict. To say other wise is to be economical with the truth for selfish reasons. Those who have suffered the consequences of war including embargo of essential items and lack of development for the last numerous years are longing for a decent living and a daily four-square meal. To steal away from them their fundamental right of free choice makes a mockery of their liberty. The question arises as to why these people cannot be given the privilege to elect their own representatives?

If the Sri Lanka Government (SLG) is trying to impose its sinister agenda on the suffering Tamils, then the Diaspora with its "high connections" in the Western Democratic circles, perhaps, could exert pressure and expose the duplicity of the SLG. Said that, the Diaspora cannot play a patronising role for the Tamils in the island who have suffered the most in the 30 year long armed liberation struggle. This undermines the political maturity of the Tamils who have been boldly riding out the darkness.

There is an arm-chair view point of a Government-in-exile. O, it sounds very tempting and pre-sumptuous. But its a faceless leadership. "It" supposes to replace the demised Tiger leadership. The Tigers lived among the people until the last stand. The people knew their leaders. At this 'moment of unknowing', how can one expect the Tamils who are living in Sri Lanka to trust their lives with a "leadership" in the Diaspora whom they hardly know? Oliver Tampo, Sisulu and others germinated the idea of forming a Government-in-exile while most prominent leaders were imprisoned. Tambo was however later sent to London to mobilise opposition to apartheid and to engage in a lot behind-the-scenes diplomatic work. All these sesoned leaders paid heavy price in the anti-apartheid struggle both inside prison walls and out side. They had the South African people's support, trust and tremendous repect.

When Percy Yutar cross-examined during the treason trial Walter Sisulu scored an important moral point:

Sisulu: The National Executive of the ANC would not take a matter like this lightly. It is a serious matter, a serious matter of war.
Yutar: Of course it is, high treason!
Sisulu: I am not talking about legal liability; I am talking about the seriousness even to embark on a thing like this. That it requires serious consideration, it will involve the life of the people.
[ W.S - EVIDENCE, 291]
A US based internationally known activist remarked to this writer that "India's silence is particularly destructive." As long as India does nothing, the West will have a pretext for silence, he observed.

30 year armed struggle has brought the Tamils back to square one. All what the Tamils have witnessed sadly is suppression and lethal violence. It is necessary, for the Tamil leadership to continue the struggle for Tamil rights through democratic channels.

The following question was put to this writer by the above mentioned activist: Is it the best strategy to press for war crimes charges? (though that would be in order.)

This is not the time for revenge, tit-for-tat tactics, sound bites and sensational actions. Tamils must remember to build lives. The dead need no rights.

At this historical juncture, the Tamils in Sri Lanka must have their say, whether it is development, re-construction, or about electing their leadership. Their quality of life and their standard of living must be improved. The sound of guns and bombs must completly cease. And the Tamil citizens must find the best strategy to achieve their goals without being hijacked.

As for the Diaspora, they will need to look for the best way to help their brethren in the East and North to find a humane solution to the Tamil Question.

The Sinhalas cannot think of peace without respcting the rights of the Tamils. Its high time they too exert pressure on their leaders to think in terms of sustainable peace, not in terms of vanquishing military solutions.

Unless both sides come up with honourable visionary leaders all solutions will be short-lived. Sri Lanka will be caught yet again in a vicious circle.

No one in their right mind would want that. Not in a million years!

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