An undeclared war on the Tamil people has flared up in recent months in Sri Lanka. But simultaneously another dimension of this human spectacle unfolds, which the world fails to see. Some 20,000 Tamils including Up Country Tamils have undertaken the hazardous voyage across the Palk Straits to neighbouring India in recent weeks as refugees; over 850,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs), have been forcibly driven out of house and home by war and near starvation eking out an existence, under open skies and in crowded camp tents, without hope for tomorrow. This is in addition to one million driven out of Sri Lanka to western countries out of the total population of 3.2 million. Yet there are no prizes for being Tamil in the world of today. Nor is there any dignity in surrender for the victim and the oppressed. The world sees them as weak and vulnerable. It cares little to offer sympathy or to enforce the protection of law, without diplomatic leverage.
Tamils after all, were looking forward to air their grievances before the world body, the UN Human Rights Council meeting recently in Geneva, as they have done at previous sessions. Dossiers on human rights violations were submitted to this august body, by Tamils, the Government authorities and by intermediaries like Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and others. On this occasion, pages of documentary evidence of extrajudicial killings, abductions, inhuman acts committed on named individuals in the North& East and in other places including the capital, Colombo by government forces and their paramilitaries were placed before this "court".
Whilst this was happening in Geneva, at the UN in New York, and elsewhere, a different message was canvassed to defer indicting the government - that the Government of Sri Lanka will look to implement the constructive recommendations that would stem from the forthcoming visit of two UN Envoys to the country later this year was propagated. Small wonder that it nullified the evidence produced and sought to buy time for the government within this august body. As nothing significant seems to have been achieved to shift either the Government or even the response of the world, to the blatant violation of human rights, it was a missed opportunity.
A "climate change" is in the making with the apparent indifference or inattention to the problems of extremism and intolerance, which constitute a grave threat to the civilised co-existence of nations. Though the need to preserve peace and to favour a negotiated and a peaceful solution of conflict resolution is highlighted by all, rhetoric has replaced ways of reconciliation, perhaps, for a reason.
It appears there is a lack of political will or commitment on the part of the world including the government and the parties to the conflict, to see an end to the violations of human rights in Sri Lanka. Perhaps, world opinion has yet to be convinced the time is ripe or even right for the UN to intervene at this stage, when there are conflicting sentiments from Government sources that it is clearly "winning the war" and from the Tamils wanting more than sympathy for their plight.
The piggy in the middle are the dispossessed " the Displaced Generation" of Tamils as refugees in tents and camps, who having craved for world attention are slowly but surely disillusioned, and seeking ways out of their maze of fear and deprivation, through techniques of self realisation and self confidence, to treat each day as a new beginning.
The Tamil people have a history over 5000 years and have a survival instinct unknown to many in the human race. They have seen many battles, many conquests, and have lived to fight another day. They are convinced of the near hypocrisy of the world to the pain and suffering experienced by their life in Sri Lanka. They are also plainly aware of the duplicity of the motives which drive the West to condemn human rights violations in Zimbabwe, whilst maintaining a diplomatic tolerance of the egregious violations in Sri Lanka.
Successive governments over the 59 years of post colonial times have tried out several strategies to breakdown the basic rights of Tamils to life and limb, without much success. Foremost among these plans was the easiest method used of denial that there was a problem. Enfeeblement of the minorities, colonisation, now procrastination bordering on paralysis in enforcement of the rule of law, has brought about a self realisation among Tamils that the outcome is not outside but within their ingenuity.
How long will this orchestrated whitewash of the Sri Lankan government allegedly "to provide a voice to the voiceless and power to the oppressed powerless Tamils" be able to fool the Tamils or for that matter the civilised world? How long before the people regain their freedom even if every window of opportunity is shattered now? One, two or three generations of Tamils have endured the hurt, the crimes against humanity, but "one day" perhaps someday, in the not too distant future, both oppressor and the oppressed people, will come to realise the bounty of their common heritage and use their talents to save their environment which they both cherish by ensuring Tamil self-determination.
While the hope of peace after war flickers, the world may wish, in fact want as a matter of its own self interest, rather than relying on moral righteousness, to call the parties to order and engage in a dialogue to bring back sanity and a negotiated settlement ensuring self-determination for the Tamils in Sri Lanka. The Displaced Generation of Tamils will, no doubt, live to see another day.
Source: Tamil Writers Guild
Date: 29 March 2007