Ilankai Tamil Sangam

Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

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“Wait and Observe”

Tamil Eelam Leader's Modest Spiritual Approach

by Chandi Sinnathurai, December 1, 2005

The Diaspora is in reflection while the international community engages in analysis. The political chameleons are enveloped in tone change as the public intellectuals mull over. The 2005 Hero’s Day speech of Mr V Prabaharan[1] has had its impact on the world stage. As for this writer, the remark once made by G.K Chesterton sums it all up: “Self-denial is the test and definition of self-government.”

The public appearance of the Tiger intelligence chief, Mr Pottu Amman at Elephant Pass was a compelling signal.  The Tamil Tigers, as always, are not known for showmanship, hence this was meant to be a very significant symbolic gesture.  As the anti-liberation media spins its endless yarns of speculation, both Mr. Pottu Amman’s and Colonel Soosai’s public presence encapsulated the caveat that the Tigers will not tolerate any delaying tactics adopted by the Rajapakse Presidency.

The Tamils are proud of the acumen of their de facto state officials – the leadership commands without any doubt, people’s immense respect. Not just because of what they have spoken – but simply because their achievements speak for themselves. The Tigers are speaking only after liberating the best part of lost sovereignty – that is an historical achievement.

Tamil Eelam national flag (courtesy TamilNet)

The leader of Thamil Eelam is signalling to the President of Sri Lanka that “We will next year, in solidarity with our people, intensify our struggle for self-determination.”

The Vanni leadership is speaking from a position of strength; yet for the sake of a “Non war solution,” they are willing to “Wait and observe” how the Sri Lanka Government will respond in terms of pragmatic politics. This offer, Colombo can ill afford to miss.

It is no secret that the Tiger movement is driven with a singular motivation, and that is to free the Tamils from the oppressive hegemony of the Sinhalas and to re-establish Tamil sovereignty. In other words, the current leaders are not double-tongued politicians.  So what they say is trust-worthy, because they will act upon it faithfully since their actions flow from the mental framework of liberation fighters. 

The 18,000 LTTE cadres who fell in action died for a cause. A spiritual cause (not to be confused with a religious one) -- A concrete dream -- And that dream is to liberate the Homeland. This is perceived as a sacred duty (punitham) – strictly in a non-Theocentric sense – not even in an ethnocentric sense, as some Western scholars have sadly misinterpreted it to be!

Tamils are not carving out a territory solely for themselves narrowly on the basis of ethnicity.  They have incrementally come to embrace the idea of Eelam -- firstly, owing to the reality of appaling State terror systematically unleashed on them since independence (1948) from Britain; and secondly, they have come to the realisation that, prior to Western colonisation, they have indeed had their own sovereignty and, therefore, there is no reason for them to suffer systemic discrimination (putting it mildly) from the chauvinistic, majority Sinhala Buddhist state; finally, as the Tamil tradition dictates, Eelam will be a place of freedom for all, providing a hospitable space for not only to the Tamil speaking Moslems and Burghers, but also for non-Tamils as well. In a global village the illustrious Eelam Tamils, of course, would want their State to be a broad-minded global player and not otherwise. 

The eerie prospect projected, particularly by some Western scholars, that Tamil Eelam will be a closed territory is not without any axes to grind. The negative image that they are striving to paint is that Eelam would be some what similar to a Taliban state.  For one thing, the Tamil Tigers have acted efficiently on emancipating the Tamil women, something that was not on the Taliban's agenda.[2]

When the Tigers are speaking in a position of strength, it must be noted that they are acting in willingness to “walk an extra mile” primarily as an act of self-denial. They are doing this for the sake of bringing an honourable solution to the national question.  In spite of Tamil military strength, the Tigers are showing the capability to adopt strategic self-restraint to engage rationally with political foresight. This move now demolishes the lampooned portrayal of the Tigers as some fanatic rag-tag band of bandits by some pen-pushing 'Tail-waggers’ in the mainline media.

The Tamil leader qualified in his speech what he actually means by “Self-determination”: “Our struggle for national liberation in order to establish self-government in our own homeland.”  None needs a boffin to unpack that statement.

This writer recently met with an old friend -- who was one of those pioneering Tamil student activists and was imprisoned and tortured for many years (who also happen to be Taraki’s[3] wife’s brother) in the South.   He reminded this writer to search on the Web for an article entitled “The Idea of Eelam” penned of course, by Taraki.  It is useful to quote here Taraki’s analysis:

The concept of Eelam has been taken up by two kinds of people.  The one being those who have from the beginning or along the way of the struggle for Eelam looked beyond it and who have consciously or otherwise used it as a slogan or a tool in their Machiavellian perception of means and ends.  The other being those like my friend and many others who saw it as an end in itself as a non-negotiable goal. [Tamil Net, May 22, 2005] (Emphasis mine).

This writer is convinced that Mr V Prabaharan will entertain the idea of negotiation only with a keen eye on the “non-negotiable goal.”

The Tamil emancipation struggle has attempted to convince the world repeatedly over many years, as to their moral legitimacy[4].  The geo-political powers[5], while seemingly occupied in scatter-brain casuistry; are adamant in ignoring pleadings for international endorsement of the Tamil struggle.  It was therefore crucial for Mr V Prabaharan to point out in his speech that:

 “We are NOT war mongers, addicted to armed violence but firmly and sincerely committed to non-violent process.” (Emphasis mine)

The naked truth that the Colombo Government has to confront is that, as long as the Tamils are not free to determine their political destiny, the Sinhalas will be entrapped in a dogmatic position, caught in Dutugemunu inspired hate within a Mahavamsa world view![6]  It goes without saying that no peace could thrive in a fossilised context. Nazi Germany is a historical lesson. Unless a comprehensive approach is found, first, to working towards a contextual mind-shift in the Sinhala state, all else will be window dressing. The geo-political powers[7] shadowing the peace process will need to seriously take that into account.  Returning to “square one” may not be a positive option.

In the intervening space, however, this writer would propose, that the Diaspora continue towards its engagement, in a concerted effort focussed on PR--lobbying geared systematically on opinion shifting. Such endeavours ought to be safety-linked to the de facto state. This undertaking will be an intelligent antidote, one would have thought, against the noxious charm offensive of Colombo[8], especially in the Western capitals. 

Engagement in the fine art of logical and methodical moral persuasion becomes a lifeline of communication for the dispossessed people living in the Diaspora. All such democratic approaches ought to be under-girded by knowledgeable persons of utmost integrity (as opposed to insecure sycophants) who are primarily committed to the first principle of Tamil self-determination and are loyal to the core so that none will divert these exercises as means to a selfish end.

The veteran journalist John Pilger recently pointed out that millions of people are turning away from “traditional sources of news and information and to the world wide web” because, he said, mainline journalism is “the voice of rampant power.”

In so far as the information highway is concerned, dedicated alternative media sites, such as TamilNet; TamilCanadian, TamilNation and the Sangam have contributed immensely in terms of intellectual engagement; dissemination of balanced views and stimulating news on the plight of Eelam Tamils. Incidentally, the mainline media Establishment seems to be employed in subjugating such knowledge!

It is for the Diaspora to make a sea-change in this regard.  Such ceaseless actions will make a paradigm shift in public perceptions.

Taraki in the aforementioned piece detects a major distinction (from other groups) in the Tiger frame of mind.  Taraki observes:

The LTTE is the only organisation that still refuses to submit the dream of Tamil Eelam to the dictates of political and geo strategic realities.  For the LTTE the moral obligation is more important than political reality. It still feels that it should not betray those who like my friend laid down their lives for the cause while the dream was still fresh in them. (Emphasis mine)

The Tamils will continue however, the struggle for emancipation by abiding by the impassive command to “wait and observe.”  Let us be reminded that “Poruthar arasallvarr.” The proverb alerts: the one who patiently waits will eventually reign.   

Not a bad idea for a modest strategy.


[1] Prabaharan's Policy Statement:

[2] Thulasi, Paradigm Shifts in the Thinking of Eelam Women, January 24, 2003;

[3] Mark Whittaker, Taraki: A Journalist's Life,

[4]  Peace Secretariat - Vanni, Editorial December 1 2005, "Oh! International Community!"

[5] Chandi Sinnathurai, Competing Geopolitical Monologues in Sri Lanka, November 4 2005,

[6] Ana Pararajasingham, Obstacle to Peace: Political Buddhism 30 November 2002,

[7] Chandi Sinnathurai, Tripartite Strategic Considerations, November 2005,

[8] Chandi Sinnathurai, The Weapons of Misperceptions, October 22, 2005;