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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2678

Resolve ethnic Tamil problems within Sri Lanka, says a former Eelam campaigner

By K T Rajasingham

Opines that once the war in Vanni is over, the interest of diaspora will gradually diminish

Boston, 18 April, (Asiantribune.com): The issues T.SritaharanT.Sritaharanconnected with the Sri Lankan Tamils have to be resolved only in Sri Lanka. Whether we like the Sri Lanka Government or not, it is not the problem, says Thillaimapalam Sritharan, a Boston based SL Tamil activist.

A former Bank of Boston employee, Sritharan (69) once spearhead the Eelam movement with his two brothers and even managed to get a resolution in favor of Tamil Eelam adopted by the Massachusetts State Assembly.

'I am disillusioned (with Eelam movement) ….After a group of people started taking up arms, killing people, killing each other. That's how it changed,’ Sritharan told the Boston Globe in a recent interview.

He echoed the same sentiments to Tamil Osai, the Tamil Language Service of the BBC, and made it clear, 'I am no longer interested in division and separation of the country'.

The bitter truth, he Sritharan said, is that “the Sinhalese and the Tamils have to coexist in Sri Lanka.”

"Therefore we have to talk with the Government of Sri Lanka to resolve issues connected with Tamils. By antagonizing the Government of Sri Lanka, we are not going to arrive at any favorable conclusion. Right or wrong, we have to arrive at a conclusion with the Government of Sri Lanka and only with the support of the Governments of India", the erstwhile Eelam campaigner told the BBC.

Manivannan of the BBC Tamil Osai interviewed Sritharan on April 17

Given below is the English translation of the interview in Tamil:

T.Sritaharan: It has become clearly evident from the reports emerging from several countries within the last 24 hours, that the roadside agitations and protest involving thousands have not brought any favorable results at all. In the joint communiqué released by the Foreign Ministers of France and United Kingdom, they have only urged the release of trapped innocent people and have not displayed any support for these agitations. The comments and statements of the Leaders clearly show that they distance themselves from all these agitations and protests.

Even countries like United States, France, England, and Norway including India are urging for the release of trapped civilians and they have not given any consideration for these agitations. If they asked me, I will only say ‘Let my people go.’

The question before us, ‘Are these agitations and protests meant to safeguard the Tiger leadership or to rescue the people for their safety?’

None of those involved in these roadside agitations and protests has asked to allow the people to go freely, but only bent on safeguarding the leadership. It is unfortunate.

Manivannan - BBC: The agitations are being held demanding a ceasefire. We can interpret the agitations as a demand to safeguard the people also….

T.Sritharan: That is why President Rajapaksa has declared twice, 48 hours Ceasefire announcements. They (LTTE) could have released a section of the people held by them by giving due consideration to the appeals made by international community.

We never give due respects to the concerns of the people. We always do things just the opposite to what they say. That is why we have been forced into this precarious situation. We have to bring this issue to a conclusion with the support of another country. These agitations and protests have to be brought to an end.

Manivannan - BBC: By these temporary ceasefires, so far we haven’t had any beneficial results. Tell us what course of action the Tamil diaspora should take to bring these issues to an acceptable conclusion?

T.Sritaharan: The issues connected with the Sri Lankan Tamils have to be resolved only in Sri Lanka. Whether we like the Sri Lanka Government or not, it is not the problem; our Tamils are living in Sri Lanka. Sinhalese and the Tamils have to coexist in Sri Lanka. Therefore we have to talk with the Government of Sri Lanka to resolve issues connected with Tamils. By antagonizing the Government of Sri Lanka, we are not going to arrive at any favourable conclusion. Right or wrong, we have to arrive at a conclusion with the Government of Sri Lanka and only with the support of the Governments of India.

Manivannan -BBC: If you observe the present protests and agitations, you may find the second generation Tamil diaspora is participating in them in large numbers. In London some youth have gone on a fast; some even committed suicide. A section of the people has expressed concerns about pent up emotions of youth, which might in the end lead to radicalizing them? Your comment

T.Sritaharan: I bow my head for their concerns. They are youngsters. They are not aware of what is happening around them. They are simply worked up emotionally. I respect their emotions. In case those born in the West fail to control their emotions, then they might turn out to be revolutionaries and there is every possibility of they turning against the very countries where they are born.

Manivannan - BBC: In case their emotional agitation failed to bring about any political solutions, a section of these youngsters believe that the movement could spill over to the coming generation. Do you also think so?

T.Sritaharan: All these agitations are taking place on the efforts of the first generation. Once the first generation diaspora disappears, second generation will begin to ask why those issues connected with Tamils are occurring. They will simply stop showing any interest by asking, ‘Why we should waste our time?’ And they would say that they have no any interests in these issues.

Furthermore if these people continue to agitate in those countries where they presently reside, then people in those very countries where they reside will rise against them.

In Canada, the Canadians have started cursing and yelling at these people. They complain that by these agitations they are forced to experience lot of inconvenience. These agitations will not go thus far as expected. Once the war in Vanni is over then the interest of those living over here will gradually diminish.

- Asian Tribune -

Also Read:

SRI LANKA: THE UNTOLD STORY Chapter 26: When conflict turns to terror

Tamil cause consumes and divides brothers: Sri Lanka violence repels two while a third clings to hope

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