Let my people go in peace
We are living in sad times where most Tamils are feeling desperate
not knowing what to do next. Each day the situation of our people is
getting worse as all our hopes are crumbling before our own eyes. Our
people have gone through terrible times. Our people have suffered
enough. They have gone through enough. Our people have faced the worst.
When the Sri Lankan Army came our people faced severe hardships. When
the Indians came it was no better, When the Tigers came ....I donít have
to tell you what happened, Should we watch the suffering of our people
without any hope of ending it ?
LTTE losing direction with cadres battered and bruised
the Sri Lanka armyís onslaught
What is our bravery worth if it is only to demonstrate in Western
capitals without gaining any positive results? Is our bravery only to
fill the safe streets of Melbourne, London, New York and Paris while our
streets in Mannar, Wanni and Kilinochchi are occupied by the Army or
Tigers in uniform abducting our children? Whoever comes and goes there
is no escape for our people. We argue. We go to seminars. We collect
funds. We hold concerts. But where has all this taken our people? Have
any of these decreased the suffering of our people?
If there is some relief to our people, if there is some hope after
sacrificing so much of blood and lives we can be happy knowing that our
people will derive some benefit tomorrow, or the day after or even in
We send millions in the name of our people, but they are still
dependent on the hand-outs given by the Sri Lankan Government. Are we
not hiding our heads in the sand and believing in our illusions and not
the reality? The glamour and the glory of our early struggle have
disappeared. Now we are faced with only the grim suffering of our
people. Our people are sick of this war. What is our duty?
That is the question that the Tamils everywhere have to answer.
For how long are we going to finance and find excuses for a war which
cannot guarantee our separate state? Which one of us can guarantee that
we can win this war? Military experts say that neither side can win this
war. We do not have even the basic manpower to fight the war. It is our
sick, our old and the school children who are thrown into this war,
according to the UTHR report.
Is this the kind of war we want? And can we win this war? Today we
are facing the biggest humiliation in our history. We are on the verge
of being defeated in a war that has brought no benefit to our people.
Our people are forced to sacrifice their lives for what?
Our people are far safer and much better off if we do not have a war.
Nobody wants this war but we are scared to tell the world that we must
end this war NOW and not later.
Those who speak out against this war are attacked as being
defeatists, cowards and traitors. Name calling is easy. But how is that
going to help our people? We have looked the other way when our entire
leadership was liquidated not by the Sri Lankan government but by our
own people. We pretend not to know that our children are denied
schooling and dragged out by our own people to fight in a useless,
We dismiss as propaganda when our own people are tortured in
concentration camps. We think itís heroic when our Tamil patients are
forcibly taken from hospital beds and forced to fight in a war that has
no end in sight.
We laugh when our old men are scolded and pushed around by our
podians for not doing guard duty properly at the war front. We canít
even go back to our homeland without paying Ďpoojasí to the one-man
regime that has denied our people the fundamental freedoms.
Our people cannot even speak freely without fear of being arrested by
the Ďguard dogs of the Police state in the Wanni.í
Is this the Tamil culture we are fighting for? Today our people are
trapped between the advancing Army and the retreating Tigers.
Our people do not want to be trapped in the middle. Who wants to be
trapped in the middle of a war? They want to find safe places. They
donít have shelter, water, medicine or even a decent roof over their
heads. If the Army shells or the Tiger abductors donít get our people
the snakes come out to get them. Over 25 cases of snake bites have been
reported. Who is responsible for all this?
Who is to be blamed? Why is it that the majority of the Tamils prefer
to live outside our homeland? How many of those who fund the misery, the
deaths and the destruction of the Tamils are prepared to live in this
Police state? Why are we fooling ourselves?
From the time I engaged in Tamil politics 25 years ago, we have been
blaming the Sinhala Governments. I also did so. I was one of the founder
and secretary for medical unit for Tamil in Chennai, which was the
supported by all militant organisation, including LTTE, and ran a
charity organization to provide free medical aid from 84 -87. The
present TRO has its roots in this organisation.
I used to blame the Sri Lankan government when I was in these
organisations. But there is a limit to blaming others for our own
mistakes and follies. After immigrating to Australia I did not sever my
connections with the Tamils who were facing severe hardships.
I launched the bilingual news paper, Uthayam to give voice to our
people. I have worked with refugees in Vavuniya, in India and in
With all my experience I find that blaming others is not the answer
to our problems. We have to take responsibility for our failure to look
at issues critically and take responsibility in areas where we went
wrong. Blaming the Sri Lankan government, India, the international
community and others, as we have done throughout our history, has not
The time has come to go beyond blaming outsiders for our own
blunders. Our duty is to use common sense and end the war sooner than
later. This can be achieved
only if we make a clear choice between our politics and our people.
Are we going to save our failed politics or are we going to save our
people? That is the ques
tion we must answer now.
It is hypocritical for us to cry for human rights when our people are
not even given a choice to decide whether they should be in the middle
of a war, facing unnecessary risks and sufferings, or given the choice
to escape to a safe haven.
How can we feel morally superior when our people are kept against
their will to face a war which they donít want?
If we canít decide between war and peace we can at least make a
choice between keeping our people as prisoners in the middle of a war or
letting them go.
The people have a right to decide where they should stay in times of
war. They cannot be kept against their will to face bullets and bombs.
Let the people decide with whom they want to stay.
It is time we all said: Let My People Go In Peace To Wherever They
Want To Go.
The writer is Editor, Uthayam (a Tamil Community News paper in