Foreign Affairs

Tamils & The Political Culture Of Auto-Genocide

By Rajan Hoole

The Surrender of the Intellectuals and the Cancer of Fascism

Man in his fullness is not powerful, but ideal. For that reason, to turn him into mere power, you have to curtail his soul as significantly as attainable. When we are totally human, we can’t fly at one particular another’s throats our instincts of social life, our tradition of moral ideals stand in the way. If you want me to take to butchering human beings, you have to break up that wholeness of my humanity by means of some discipline which makes my will dead, my thoughts numb, my movements automatic, and then from the dissolution of the complicated personal man will come out that abstraction, that destructive force, which has no relation to human truth, and can consequently be easily brutal or mechanical. Take away man from his all-natural surroundings, from the fullness of his communal life, with all its living associations of beauty and love and social obligations, and you will be able to turn him into numerous fragments of a machine for the production of wealth on a gigantic scale. Turn a tree into a log and it will burn for you, but it will never ever bear living flowers and fruit.” &#8211 Rabindranath Tagore, from Nationalism

Over the final few years, the use of the young children as combatants has turn into a burning concern worldwide. This phenomenon is generally linked with post- colonial societies with a history of exploitation, that are coping with extremes of poverty and wealth, and where neighborhood group or tribal rivalries have been mobilised behind the global competition for main resources. West Africa had all this apart from the social disruption resulting from numerous centuries of slave trade exactly where millions have been dispatched in chains, especially to the Americas. But how did the nationalism of the Tamils of Jaffna &#8211 a reasonably modernised society with a level of education commensurate with developed components of the world &#8211 come to be linked with kid soldiers?

The principal paradox of this society is that one section &#8211 the diaspora &#8211 love life to the utmost and are averse to the slightest risk that may impair it. Then there are the kids fighting for the LTTE who disdain life and apparently take pride in blowing themselves to smithereens at a sign from the Leader. Recently a journalist from the French journal Le Point had the opportunity to talk to an LTTE girl Mariana close to Batticaloa (Daily Mirror 27.4.2000). She connected proudly how even ladies do not take prisoners and how ‘traitors’ are publicly executed and their severed heads stuck on a pole. The rare Sri Lankan soldier taken prisoner, she said, was drained for his blood and then executed. Mariana also spoke of her readiness to explode herself.

LTTE colomboletegraph

*File Photo

There is nevertheless an inherent drawback in such hugely newsworthy disclosures. It seems as an abnormal outgrowth. It is amenable to getting played down as an exaggeration or as becoming isolated. But the insider who knows and feels the organic growth of cancerous fibres trying to strangle the whole society, needs a sense of humour to keep his sanity. His expertise is seldom sensational. It is for the most element absurd and commonplace. It is not newsworthy. One particular demands to ask inquiries and probe deeper to recognize its sinister import. Take a few examples.

Amongst those who fled to the army- controlled region when the LTTE overran the Thenmaratchy sector in Could 2000, was an ordinary driver from Palai. He spoke to a buddy resignedly about his plight. He mentioned, “If those LTTE fellows come right here as well, God knows no matter whether my personal young children will be mine or theirs!”

In the early 1990s, very young young children from poor families taken by the LTTE in Jaffna have been corralled in camps. A single was sited on the way to the cremation ground in Irupalai, a single in Manthuvil and so on. The one particular in Irupalai had a flimsy fence of palmyrah fronds. Parents of the youngsters taken, loss and bewilderment writ on their faces, surrounded the camp and waited passively. They lacked the defiance collectively to go in and get their youngsters out. In Bulletin No. 23 we gave an example of a couple who got into a camp in the Vanni exactly where their child was taken. The couple was assaulted for trespass.

A single mother stated, “You must see the inexpressible agony of the parents whose youngsters are so taken. They go from pillar to post for weeks and months trying to uncover their child. There is for them no rest thereafter.” In what has become quite typical in the Vanni these days, the parents of a boy saw nothing of their son who was taken away. Following several months, the LTTE brought residence a sealed coffin that was stated to include the remains of their son. The father insisted on opening the coffin. The LTTEers objected, saying that the stink would be unbearable. The father said, “What does it matter to me, is it not after all my son’s stench?” He then took an axe and broke open the coffin. The coffin was found to include stems of plantain trees. The father, in a fit of agony, assaulted these who brought the coffin.

Such events are so widespread that a single forgets their significance. Here is a force, which, in the name of liberation, has imposed an astonishing legality by the use of thuggery. It has created the poorer sections helpless to the point doubting their rights and duties by their own youngsters. It has lowered governance to a branch of cattle ranching or factory farming. In the LTTE’s management of society, parenting has been curtailed to eating and breeding offspring to feed its infernal machine. No agent of external terror could have imposed such a glaring indignity with such remarkable thoroughness. There are other experiences exactly where the intensely sinister lies hidden behind a manifestation of heart-rending innocence.

A man was cycling to Jaffna by means of the Ooriyan passage, east of Elephant Pass, in the early 1990s. It was previous mid-evening when he passed an LTTE sentry. A kid in uniform was sharing a gun with an older boy. Apart from the gun, the one particular mark of adulthood in the youngster was his wrist-watch. The man asked the child the time. Right after a pause, the youngster replied, “Seven- five”. The man knew instantaneously that the time was 1-thirty five AM! Such innocents were the first to be killed anytime the Army produced a foray.

This force has brazenly violated the sanctity of the most basic of human relationships. It destroyed living associations that make for a powerful and vibrant individuals. A force that has brought this ignominy upon its personal individuals is capable of any depravity. Everything about it becomes a lie. Only, it does not know that the people see through it. The most dastardly of its actions have become an region of insider understanding that is incommunicable.

To these who have lived under this regime and kept their humanity who feel its shame and the abasement of a folks its leaders, and their agents, can not be forgiven. These who diminish the degradation triggered by the Tiger phenomenon would also fail to appreciate the malignancy of its parent &#8211 the Sri Lankan State.

Then there is that strangest of ironies. These campaigning most feverishly on the genocide of Tamils by the Sri Lankan State and supporting the Tiger result in for a separate state, are Tamils living overseas. At each boast of a Tiger ‘victory’ millions of dollars are collected for armaments to be sent to the Vanni jungles. But in the Vanni itself worry stricken parents hide their young children at residence to hold them away from LTTE press gangs. This one particular way trip of children into the LTTE forms the largest single element of ongoing genocide.

Furthermore, it is not as though these persons who speak about genocide in Sri Lanka arrived in Canada or Europe from some such predicament as in Rwanda. They for the most component like ordinary Sri Lankans applied for their passport and flew out of Colombo International Airport by following standard procedures. And in cities with a main concentration of Tamils like London, Toronto and Geneva, they study Tamil papers flown from Colombo. These papers use their democratic freedom to reinforce the speak about genocide, compliment the LTTE and to run down the handful of Tamils who openly differ. They also derive revenue from birthday advertisements displaying richly attired Tamil youngsters living abroad, wishing them lengthy life and prosperity. Surely the remedy for the problems faced by the Tamils in Sri Lanka does not require such draconian measures as condemning native children to explode themselves at the Leader’s behest?

How did a nicely-educated community where parents are normally over-careful of their children turn out to be element of this public crime against children? The primary part of the answer is to do with the neighborhood itself, and stemming from it, a element regarding today’s worldwide culture as articulated by the West.

The most potent aspect of the LTTE’s accomplishment is its strike against dissent. It was in the major completed by 1987, although it could not have been so evident then. From then onwards, its effects proceeded steadily like a cancer consuming the best element of the Tamil intelligentsia. The extent to which it would go was not so evident to us when we completed the Broken Palmyrah in 1988. It is correct that the foundations for the LTTE’s achievement have been laid by state oppression of the Tamils. This was additional aggravated by the intolerant Tamil nationalism of the Federal Celebration. Writing in 1988, Dr. Rajani Thiranagama traced the weakness of Tamil nationalism to the nature of the Tamil middle class (The Broken Palmyrah, Sects. 6.two.five. and six.two.11):

“[Getting a item of British colonialism] ensured their position as an intermediary controlling group&#8230..This privileged position produced an overblown psychology of superiority. Nonetheless, the underpinning material base consisted of economic activity entirely beneath the manage of the state structure and dependent on the South. This weak and paradoxical position was to create each the impetus as effectively as the impediments to the development of Tamil nationalism.”

But, from the time these words had been written Tamil society has gone through 13 years of sheer destruction with no finish in sight. For those who care to see, the Tamil individuals have often, by overt and covert implies, expressed their wish for peace with democracy. But a quantity of burdens imposed on the individuals by the distinct actors, have obstructed the latent prospective for renewal blossoming out from inside Tamil society. Disenchantment with the LTTE emerged into the open in 1987,1990 and 1995, but it led to absolutely nothing that was sustained. This cannot be explained with no reference to the current international atmosphere.

In looking at distinct fascist experiences, 1 would notice several common features. Particularly accurate of them all is the German joke cited by Helmut Thielieke in his In between Heaven and Earth: “&#8230 of the three qualities, namely, getting a Nazi, becoming intelligent and obtaining character, 1 can have only two. Either 1 can be a Nazi and be intelligent, in which case one has no character or 1 can be a Nazi and have character in which case 1 is not intelligent or one can be intelligent and have character, in which case one is not a Nazi”. The stifling of dissent was in all situations the very first step towards fascism.

What fascism imposes on society is conformity with a method of total destruction &#8211 both material and spiritual. Thus even the handful of voices that continue to proclaim the ideals of freedom and equality turn out to be anathema to the rulers. But having already been decreased to a minuscule minority, these voices are effortlessly isolated and crushed. This can happen only in societies where the elite have already lost faith in freedom and equality, and are in turn mired in cynicism and opportunism. Fertile ground for this is pervasive insecurity and despair, amidst a political vacuum.

In Germany the circumstances were precipitated by the post Globe War I economic collapse. In the Tamil case, the main responsibility for creating situations of insecurity and despair lies with the State, which ultimately pushed matters to breaking point in July 1983. A considerable part of the blame also lies with the immature nationalist politics of the Tamil middle class which thrived on insecurity and despair rather than in their alleviation. From this boorish brand of parliamentary politics emerged that notion of ‘traitor’ that has wreaked havoc within the neighborhood over the years. Circumstances have been hence made ripe for the Tamil elite to worship a demon of their own creation.

The 1st achievement of the Tigers in silencing the intellectuals from a weak middle class was accomplished with tiny work. This victory was to make sure their silence over assassinations of men and women. To some extent, the foundation was laid by the Federal Party’s attacks on ‘traitors’ followed by the political murder of Alfred Duraiappah in 1975, which elicited weak protest. The turning point was the assassination of St. John’s College principal and citizens’ committee activist C.E. Anandarajah in June 1985. He was not a political figure, but rather a valued educationist and a member of the Jaffna University Council.

The LTTE almost completely muffled any protest by paying visits to some top members of the Jaffna Citizens’ Committee and abducting an editor who spoke out of turn. The Citizens’ Committee, which initially wanted to get in touch with for a day of mourning, backed off. The University Council discharged its obligation by merely sending a condolence message to Mrs. Anandarajah. A reputedly bolder physique, the Students’ Council of the University, asked the LTTE to ‘show cause’. The incident showed the Tamil intelligentsia to be deficient in the redeeming qualities of courage, civic sense and intellectual depth. They had been so effortlessly cowed down by the loutish indicates of selective violence major to pervasive worry.

Most people remained complacent, pondering this a passing phase. But it was the beginning of the cancer. After the LTTE imposed itself as the sole arbiter more than life and death, even these who had earlier shown token dissent subsided into acquiescence. Right here one was able to witness and even feel the progressive character degeneration of the intelligentsia. 1 could feel it at meetings of university, church and other civil bodies. The accepted issue was to utter platitudes and drop some hints that a single appreciated what the LTTE was undertaking. Nonetheless, these persons knew in their heart that they had been wrong and additional, that they have been betraying the individuals.

By contrast, when an individual rather exceptionally discussed actual problems and raised queries about what this silence and complicity had been performing to the folks, there was pin-drop silence. No one particular contradicted the speaker. A lot of of them looked at the speaker as even though wishing that one thing would take away him or her from their midst. They and their self-esteem have been getting challenged. In a society that was for extended grudging in its tolerance of dissent, the all-natural trend beneath the LTTE was to universalise its attitude to dissent, particularly among the elite. Repression by the LTTE became for these among the intelligentsia who co-operated, a means to boost their international standing as accredited spokesmen for the Tamil people.

They unashamedly articulated the LTTE’s line. How uneasy they felt even about dissent that had to take refuge outside the North-East is reflected in a statement created by a bishop, who was also effective in the World Council Churches:

“Those who do not assistance the LTTE have left the land (the North-East). Almost all these who live in the land support the LTTE. Unfortunately, those in the West are paying heed to reports from those who have left the land. Nonetheless these reports are extremely far from the truth.”

This statement appeared in an interview in the Europe-based LTTE journal Kalatthil of 10th July 1992. It came at a time when properly- authenticated reports of torture and elimination of dissidents in the LTTE’s mass detention camps have been beginning to emerge (our Reports five,6,9 and ten, and Bulletin five). This was also a time when Tamil dissidents had been really active in the West and a number of Tamil journals essential of the LTTE have been in circulation. The subsequent main accomplishment of the LTTE, and a most outstanding one, was to silence, assimilate or utterly marginalise this dissident segment in the West. In contrast to in Jaffna this happened in the quite ‘citadels of freedom’ where the appropriate to dissent was regarded as sacred.

This was critical in enabling the LTTE to become a really versatile parasite on the global technique, tapping each and every chance it offered, including crime and extortion. The cover is again provided by the Westernised Tamil elite who are organised into cultural groups, peace groups and charities. Their function has been crucial in exploiting the foibles of churches, democratic politicians and NGOs. Money collected by them, ostensibly for refugees, is brazenly spent on placing a lot more kids at residence beneath arms.

As a result the facility offered by the LTTE’s worldwide attain enabled a properly-financed war to be fought in the north-eastern dry-zone of Sri Lanka, that had couple of resources to boast of. The worth of the land rather lay in what was made of it by its inhabitants who tended and cherished it. Right here was massive funds pouring in from all corners of the planet into this little location to destroy everything that had been painstakingly constructed up more than many generations, and indeed the politics of the struggle thrived on destruction. The Tamils living abroad, who had the greatest freedom to question it, have turn into its chief agents.

The effective accomplishment of this created it absolutely necessary to crack down on all powerful Tamil dissent abroad. It was accomplished very simply by variants of the same approaches utilised at residence &#8211 threat, physical attack, arson and even murder. A notable example of the latter was the murder of dissent intellectual A. Sabalingam in Paris on 1st May 1994. Handful of months earlier D.B.S. Jeyaraj, a properly-identified Tamil journalist in Toronto, was grievously assaulted since even his tactically worded reporting of internal developments did not conform to the LTTE’s sensibilities. His leg was broken and he was forced to close down his Tamil paper &#8211 Mancharie. The basic signifies of closing down a dissident journal was to threaten shops that sold it. Thedakam, a stridently anti-LTTE dissident group in Toronto, which ran a library and study centre, had its premises destroyed by an LTTE arson attack.

The impunity with which the LTTE is in a position to function in the West is exemplified by many murders ascribed to it in Paris alone by neighborhood residents. Two other notable killings in Paris are those of senior LTTE operatives Perinpanathan and Gajendran by a gunman on 26th October 1996. The LTTE leader bemoaned their loss as triggered by ‘the enemy’. Nevertheless, other factors, such as the precipitate and mysterious removal of the LTTE’s European spokesman Lawrence Thilagar, confirmed that the killing was an inside job. The European authorities dismiss such incidents as intra-communal violence inside migrant communities. To them Sabalingam and Thilagar &#8211 the 1st, a man with noble suggestions, so beneficial to the community, and the second, a crude killer &#8211 are like Tweedle-Dum and Tweedle-Dee. Tamil dissidents under attack in the West are therefore extremely significantly on their own. Quite tiny was accomplished by the governments or by non-governmental organisations to sustain the victims of these attacks. The end result was very considerably a coup in the LTTE’s favour.

A particular aspect of the modern day Western milieu is advantageous to groups like the LTTE. For the duration of 1940 a group of German dissidents conceived of a plot to murder Hitler. In urging timely action, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the drastically respected Christian thinker and martyr had exclaimed: “If we claim to be Christians, there is no area for expediency. Hitler is the Anti-Christ&#8230.” If 1 had been to say anything mildly approaching that in the West nowadays about the LTTE leader, one particular would be greeted with incredulity and disapproval. A single would be swiftly branded an extremist, and asked to cool off and take a course in peace making. Considering that the last World War there has been a quiet revolution in the West, where evil has been relegated to a primitive superstition.

Many dissidents had been appalled by what Tamil fascism has accomplished to the Tamil individuals and the hypocrisy and opportunism of individuals who pandered to it. But in the West, they had been largely ignored by their elite compatriots. Once attacked by the LTTE and confronted by Western attitudes, these dissidents also drew the conclusion that their strategy of denouncing what they knew to be evil was incorrect. Like everybody else, a lot of of them moved in the direction of subscribing to platitudes about conciliation, compromise and self-assurance creating, which meant totally nothing at all to the LTTE. Different shades of compromise in the globe-wide dissident camp resulted in division and, amongst themselves, a desultory war of attrition. Some gradually drifted into the LTTE’s camp &#8211 especially the more nationalistic &#8211 in a final act of character breakdown.

It left the LTTE supreme in the West. Even those who are uncomfortable about the LTTE find it challenging to say no to collectors who come with video war cassettes. There have been standard reports, and we as well have received testimony, that LTTE fund collectors extort money from refugee claimants in Europe by straight or indirectly threatening to harm their families. It is a context in which there is fear, and where issues concerning the excellent of these at residence, can not be discussed. This is the fate of Tamils in the ‘democratic’ West.

We appear at how the British government dealt with the LTTE just before it was formally listed a terrorist organisation in early 2001. Our testimony from impeccable sources for the duration of late 2000 relates to the all-important City of London. Fund raising is organised systematically. LTTE agents check out the neighborhood libraries and make copies of electoral lists. Tamil homes are marked off and collectors go there with their literature etc. Then a second list is made of properties that refuse to contribute. Senior LTTE operators then go to these properties and harangue the inmates on their want of patriotic fervour. The threat is implicit in the tone and manner rather than in the words. Additionally, realizing the LTTE’s reputation, no 1 likes to be on its blacklist.

Occasionally, there might be an altercation and the Police named in. The Police would generally take the collectors to a side and advise them in a friendly manner not to go to such homes. This much seems pedestrian, but there are other remarkable elements.

Scotland Yard officers preserve a friendly partnership with these who perform for the LTTE. A number of of them have been provided personal cards by Scotland Yard officers and asked to get in touch

if they needed help. In turn, Scotland Yard keeps a close watch on the LTTE and any irregularity is queried in a friendly manner. If for instance, a vehicle that frequently goes to the LTTE office is not seen for a couple of days, the owner would get a get in touch with from Scotland Yard asking him what occurred.

The LTTE workplace is a various world from ‘democratic’ Britain. Inside, no one dare raise queries. Those who do are reminded in colourful language of the cost of such impertinence in Tamil Eelam. Thankfully, such chastisement has to stop quick of providing the recipient a taste of Tamil Eelam.

One could nonetheless see a pragmatic argument emerging for Britain’s recent handling of the LTTE. Providing the LTTE rope to take some liberties with the law enabled close monitoring of the group. It produced it difficult for the LTTE to go to the next step and resort to violent crime in Britain, unlike in Continental Europe and Canada. Violent crime within the Tamil community in Toronto has reached notorious proportions. 1 sees what Anton Balasingam meant when he mentioned that need to Britain ban the LTTE, they would turn out to be actual terrorists!

Such pragmatism nonetheless threatened Britain’s credibility as a democracy. It discriminated against Tamil British citizens and residents by winking at LTTE extortion from this minority. Each democratic society maintains some basic checks on organisations that appeal to the public for money. The LTTE accosting men and women for cash is a very distinct phenomenon from collections by the Salvation Army. The LTTE’s history of terror carries an unspoken message. The British position was in effect a bias that conferred de facto recognition on the LTTE as the representatives of the Tamil people. It imposed a psychological inhibition on Tamils who wanted to organise and campaign for options to fascism. Further, it inhibited Tamil politics at residence from coming out of the fascist groove. In this respect, at least, Britain’s new position will have a salutary impact.

Of concern has also been the complacency and even complicity of many NGOs and church groups in the West (see our Unique Report No.11). What the LTTE had carried out to its folks at house is horrifying adequate. But right here is an organisation that has even developed the sophistication and versatility to defy all legal checks and to bring Tamils living even in the West under a covert regime of terror. Addressing the danger it poses for that reason becomes all the much more compelling.

The manner in which peace analysis sponsored from the West with each other with its local counterpart has avoided key concerns pertaining to the LTTE raises some searching issues. The resulting selectivity imposes dangerously false perceptions about the reality of the folks. This glaring misrepresentation can’t go on without having the help of characterless Tamil intellectuals in a society levelled down by fascism.

*To be continued..

*From Rajan Hoole‘s “Sri Lanka: Arrogance of Power – Myth, Decadence and Murder”. Thanks to Rajan for providing us permission to republish. To study earlier components click right here

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