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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2760

Tamil Nadu and the LTTE

By Stephen Long, Los Angeles

An exclusive private meeting that was held in the early 1980’s in Sacramento, California, has recently come to my attention. This gathering of approximately five hundred wealthy, influential Tamil expatriates from around the world charted the course for the LTTE, and developed a strategic plan for using it as a vehicle for establishing a Tamil homeland. The motivation was the fact that there were nearly one hundred million ethnic Tamils scattered throughout the globe, but alas, there was no independent sovereign state they could call their own.

These members of the elite Tamil Diaspora felt that they were “step-children” wherever they lived, and their low collective self-esteem determined that it needed a nationalist sentiment with which to identify. They decided that only by having a separate, mono-racial country could they improve their self-esteem, regardless of the fact that all of them were successful professionals who had made material fortunes in their adoptive countries. They felt inferior as “second class citizens” and they wanted a piece of the global pie to make them feel equal and whole.

They chose to take on the struggle of the LTTE against the Sri Lankan government because they couldn’t find another solution anywhere else in the world. Even though Tamil Nadu is the real ethnic homeland of the Tamils, a civil war against India for a secessionist state held no hope at the time. They also realized that to go up against the governments of Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Canada, or any of the European countries would be futile. The very thought is ridiculous to the extreme.

By proximity and by opportunity, they focused on Sri Lanka as the place where they felt they had their best chance to fulfill their nationalist ambitions. By “opportunity” I mean that the conditions were better there than anywhere else. There was the general disorganization of the Sri Lankan government at the time, and the fact that Sri Lanka had been home to tens of thousands of ethnic Tamils for nearly one thousand years. They also knew that they could take advantage of the existing bitterness between the Sri Lankan Tamil factions that were based on caste and education.

Religion played its part in this decision as well. The Catholic Church had long been the religion of many of the Jaffna Tamils, and a large percentage of the priesthood was made up of men of Tamil origin. This elite group in Sacramento knew they could get support from this ecclesiastical organization if they promised some sort of reciprocity as part of their end game. Catholic Church history is filled with similar arrangements that closely mirror this model, and many of the members of the Tamil Diaspora were now assimilated Christians in their new countries. Fundamental Christianity also played a part in this developing drama, but at a later date with its marauding missionaries.

I have begun to suspect that the meeting in Sacramento went a step further in identifying its real end game: a unified Tamil Eelam with pieces of it in both Sri Lanka and India – in Tamil Nadu to be specific. If the LTTE was able to establish a separate, sovereign Tamil state in Sri Lanka then it would be a perfect launching pad for coordinating the same thing in Tamil Nadu. Funds and arms flowing into the region from other countries could be supplied to Indian rebels over the Palk Straights unobstructed and with ease from a Tamil state in Sri Lanka – much in the same way weaponry and financial supplies have flowed for the past twenty five years, but in the other direction.

Ethnic conflict in India could be easily fomented with enough arms and money pouring in non-stop and un-curtailed from wealthy Tamils around the world, and the Indian government would be faced with a situation similar to breakaway civil wars in other parts of the globe. Tamil Nadu could easily become another Pakistan or Bangladesh. Perish the thought.

The current furor over the Tamil Nadu political position on the war against the LTTE in Sri Lanka is easy to figure out when you think about it. It is to the best advantage of the Tamil Nadu politicians to keep the war going, and to have the Indian federal government step in to persuade the Government of Sri Lanka to halt its operations – ostensibly for peace talks and humanitarian concerns. As in the past, this would give the LTTE an opportunity to re-load for yet another assault on the people of Sri Lanka, and the world goes round and round.

The establishing of a separate Tamil state in Sri Lanka is crucial if this idealized, unified Tamil end game is to be realized. The only way this will happen is if the GOSL succumbs to Tamil Nadu pressure and halts the war, or if the federal government of India succumbs to Tamil Nadu pressure just to keep its fragile coalition alive. Or both. The two sovereign governments need to stay their course at this point, realizing that ending the war against the LTTE is in both of their best interests for both the short and the long terms.

I hope that the Prime Minister of India might consider the possibility of an eventual Tamil Nadu uprising, and by doing so realize that if he wants to keep India in tact, the LTTE insurgency in Sri Lanka must be crushed. I also hope that the Hon. Dr. Singh will begin investigating possible links between the LTTE’s assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, and the Tamil Nadu politicians headed by Mr. Karunanidhi. I feel that looking for these links has never been taken seriously, but the time has come.

I congratulate Mr. Rukman Senanayake, the president of the United National Party in Sri Lanka, for joining the GOSL’s position on finishing the war against terrorists, and for his opposition to the popular Tamil Nadu political perspective, which is pushing for a halt to the war. I admire him for putting country first – and party second. I hope that Mr. Ranil Wickramasinge will wise up and follow his party president by adopting this intelligent view.

Peace has never been so close. I urge the Government of Sri Lanka to continue its excellent job of ridding the country of terrorists and their merciless suicide bombers. You’re getting closer than you ever have been before. Be strong. Don’t give the LTTE a single inch. Get Prabhakaran.

- Asian Tribune -

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