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So, It Is Christmas!

By Chandi Sinnathurai

19 December, 2010

The war is over in Sri Lanka. If one were to take what the Sri Lankan Government is saying at face value, the re-settlement of the IDPs are complete! Some in the Tamil diaspora are working tirelessly to charge the Sri Lankan state for war crimes. It baffles many a minds, as to how on earth can the US have the moral authority to point an accusative finger at the Government of Sri Lanka? When war was happening none of these countries made any effort to stop the war. There was no concern for civilians.

In all probabilities, these are sheer noises at its best and its worst propaganda gone horribly wrong. None of these would enhance possibilities of peace-building between two major communities in Sri Lanka. Truth be told, down the ages, statecraft and global politics were not propelled by altruistic reasoning. Wikileaks is another example of such an interesting exposure.

Out of the ashes of the war, the traumatised Tamil people are trying to rebuild their lives. Having gone through war for nearly three decades the country is plagued by deeply-entrenched social problems. In the North and East there are many thousands of war widows and orphans. The work of rehabilitation and reconstruction is enormous. There is hardly a credible Tamil leadership in the island. Most are out there to fill their pockets with filthy lucre in one way or the other. If the war has produced multi-millionaires then, the post-war development is said to have increased that trend. President Rajapaksha is aiming in his second term to develop Lanka as a 'five-star-economy' in the region. China and India are already big stake holders in Sri Lanka. In this development scenario where do the Tamils fit in? Karuna, the ruthless ex-LTTE 'Colonel'; Pillaiyan, ex-LTTE/former child soldier; Douglas Devananda, an ex-militant (A wanted man in India and recently Britain refused him visa in order for him to be part of the presidential entourage.) All such notorious President's men are holding ministerial positions. And more over purporting to speak on behalf of the Tamils.

Within this credibility gap, the so-called diaspora 'leaders' are conjuring up inflated imaginings in multiple voices. The argument is that the Tamils in Sri Lanka have no voice hence it is the duty of the Tamils abroad to voice on their behalf. Some have voiced that they are struggling for an independent state. The grey area however remains whether the diaspora leaderships are trying to be "Voices in the wilderness" manipulated by various out-side forces. Mistrust in the Tamil street is echoed in the fact that these so-called leaders have not yet come up with any fresh and intellectually palatable ideas. Nor have they presented before the Tamils any achievable goals. People's quiet suspicion is whether these groups are trying to usurp and undermine the democratic right of the Tamil citizens in Sri Lanka to form their opinions, to choose and elect their own leaders in their own homeland. In other words, are the diaspora trying to parachute leaders into the island at an opportune moment (as happened in Iraq) - which will hardly ever come?

Tamils cannot struggle in mere flights of fancy. But there is hardly any strategy in place. Many are not even clear what they are protesting for! There is no bigger picture in sight.

The reality is change has happened in one sense. Tamils cannot dream on the things that is no longer there. In another sense, nothing has changed. Tamils cannot enter into new and current political realities with the old mind frame and reference points of the past. Caught up in a time warp in a fossilised state has to be shelved in a museum. Such a leadership misleads the people into a myopic vision in order to get into position and power.

The problem is when people are being told for a long, long time what to do, and what to say, and how not to think, but to do as told, they inevitably lose the capacity to think for themselves. Then eventually they lose the confidence to choose. This scenario was evident when the USSR suddenly fell and the nations in the Soviet block began to grapple with democracy and elections!

On both sides of the coin, whether it is the diaspora or the Sri Lankan Government, one has to intently dissect through what we read. Independent thought has to be maintained in order to differentiate between propaganda and truth-telling..

Both sides cannot get stuck in this vicious cycle of blame game. New vistas must open up in order for generations of mistrust, violence and abuse to be overcome. The future is in the hands of the new generation who ought to be thinking out side the box by transcending old ways of thinking. All communities must reject the path of the painful past and must open doors for a hopeful future! Hope and peace for the future generations.