Ravi4 made some excellent points in the previous thread on the violence in Sri Lanka, regarding the British angle. So I’m posting part of it here, to concentrate on how all this affects British Sri Lankans and Tamils.
I understand most people of Sri Lankan origin resident in the UK are Tamils. Most of them rightly condemn the SL Government forcesâ€™ violence and brutality, and the hardening of the Governmentâ€™s position on Tamil autonomy. Most see the UK Governmentâ€™s position as too supportive of the Sri Lankan government and not critical enough of its abuses, and thereâ€™s something in that argument.
But most Tamils here also seem to have a naively uncritical view of the LTTE and Prabakharam, in spite of their oft-demonstrated violent, intolerant and autocratic nature. Hearing some UK Tamils, youâ€™d be forgiven for thinking that the LTTE was a misunderstood Social Democratic movement, instead of a virtually maoist, militaristic grouping with enormous personal power given to Prabakharam.
Prabakharamâ€™s disastrous decision to enforce (at gunpoint) a Tamil boycott of the November elections to help the extremist Rajapakse gain power and thus justify an LTTE return to war seems to have begun to stir some discontent amongst UK SL Tamils. Virtually everyone else has spotted this tactic for the transparently self-serving piece of cynical dirty politics that it is. Yet there has still hardly been an outcry against the LTTE leadership.
Given Sri Lankan Tamilsâ€™ notorious educational (and class/caste) snobbishness â€“ at least amongst the high profile middle classes here â€“ Iâ€™m constantly amazed at how much blind faith they persist in placing in Prabakharam and his clique. A man most of them would not allow in their house, employment or welcome into their family by marriage in better circumstances is entrusted with the future of their â€œancestral homelandâ€. The more stereotypical educated Tamil Ã©migrÃ© Balasingham is clearly just a mouthpiece â€“ he obviously doesnâ€™t drive the LTTEâ€™s political strategy. (If he does, then clearly he isnâ€™t half as clever as he seems â€“ sort of a Tamil Ming Campbell.)
Should the Tamil â€œcommunityâ€ be doing more to push the LTTE leadership towards more democratic/pluralistic politics, full respect for the rule of law and due process, and particularly to give up suicide bombing, even if they do see the LTTE as a legitimate force for the protection of the Tamils in the North and East of the country? Shouldnâ€™t they be pushing this agenda when contributing money to projects back in Sri Lanka, when going back there, or offering their services for free there? (as many young graduates do, taking financial and security risks that their parents would never dream of)
Ironically â€“ and here I know Iâ€™m exaggerating â€“ might the very success of Tamil emigration have contributed something to the deficiencies of the LTTE leadership? Tamil emigration has given the North (and the LTTE) a source of serious financial support and wider political reach. But it has also meant that a large proportion of potential Tamil Nehrus, Jinnahs, Mandelas are now doctors, accountants and lawyers in the UK, Canada and Australia. Has that made it easier for a Prabakharam to emerge as the dominant personality in the Tamil independence camp? (Not that we can or should turn back the immigration clock now.)
Iâ€™m not asking Tamils to apply their reputed snobbishness to the LTTE. That reputation for snootiness is in any case to a large extent unfair. And caste, class and educational snobbishness is a wholly unacceptable way of addressing this (or any other) situation.
But I would be happier if Tamils here made a bit more use of their intellect and common sense, attributes theyâ€™re rightly praised for, when it comes to thinking about and influencing events in the country that they or their parents originally came from. That would give the cause of Sri Lankan Tamil self-determination a much better chance of producing a successful – and democratic – result.
Although that shouldnâ€™t mean we treat the Rajapakse Govt and the SL security forces as whiter than white either.
Many have also mentioned the BBC’s coverage. Coincidentally, they wrote a recent article on BBC coverage regarding the Sri Lankan conflict. It’s quite amusing.
Also amusing is Mirax’s comment in the above mentioned thread: “This thread is so civilised and polite – imagine if this was Indo-Pak or hell, an Israel-palestine discussion! It is good thing that you guys are not carrying too much emotional baggage and that this is not a â€˜fashionableâ€™ cause like with the Palestinians where outside â€™supportersâ€™ also become infected with bilious hatred of the other side.“
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Filed in: South Asia,Sri Lanka