Tamil Diaspora warming to peace initiatives
The Tamil Diaspora is gradually warming to peace initiatives
surfacing in Sri Lanka as the Tamil cause brutally hijacked into a
ruthless terror outfit breathes its last. Judging by the mood in many
western cities, the trend towards a non-violent approach is taking hold
according many observers. Representatives of the Tamil Diaspora for
peace and development seemed receptive to Rajapaksa Government's
initiatives to rehabilitate and reconstruct the North and East.
"The path ahead is hard but it is worth all our efforts", said a
longtime resident in Los Angeles. "Threats and intimidation and even
prospects of bodily harm from die hard LTTE activists still lurk like
ghastly ghosts of the Vanni." he added. The news of a dozen or more
representatives from seven countries, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia,
Norway, Germany, Switzerland and France meeting recently in Mt. Lavinia
hit the headlines here in Los Angeles. The meeting reportedly
coordinated by Dr. Noel Nadesan of Australia was the first ever
interaction program between the Government and the Tamil Diaspora, under
the theme, 'Diaspora Dialogue.' Said one representative in LA "shedding
the garb of a brutalized approach to the ethnic issue is hard, but we
are bent on talking the only responsible path-the peace approach".
Consumerism and growth are the key words. There is work to be done in
the development of infrastructure, education, agriculture, fisheries,
tourism and other sectors in the North and East. The first ever session
on the North-South dialogue was well received here as participants as
Foreign Affairs Minister Rohitha Bogollagama and Ministers Prof. Tissa
Vitharana, DEW Gunasekera, Member of Parliament and Presidential
Advisor, Basil Rajapaksa, Foreign Secretary, Dr. Palitha Kohona and
Secretary to the President, Lalith Weeratunga and the Tamil Diaspora
members were taking a shot at a consensus building.
The terrorist shackles that Prabhakaran used to thwart the Tamil
cause included killing all moderate Tamil leaders starting with Alfred
Duraiappah and disabling any semblance of dissent within the LTTE
demoralised the Tamils.
Amicable political approach was anathema to Prabhakaran. The Diaspora
in the US, Canada, Europe and Australia were silenced as tactics of
terror occupied centre stage.
Moderates who had been voicing strong sentiments against the war and
violence in the North and East seemed to have pleaded in vain as their
desires fell on deaf ears and the LTTE goons held sway all these years.
The handmaid of terror was the extortion of money. Prabhakaran knew
and practiced the dictum that no terror group can exist without a
substantial quantum of foreign funding. They were the means to ensure
arms, logistics, food supplies, training facilities, propaganda and
The world watched the Tigers become the most internationally
networked terror group in the world, milking the Diaspora to the tune of
over 300 million dollars every year. As nearly one million Tamil
civilians migrated to Canada, Australia, US, UK, France, New Zealand,
Germany, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden and several other countries since
the early eighties, some of them became the funding source for
Prabhakaran's sinister plot. Using blatant intimidation mixed with
extortion and sometimes violence, funding went on. The Tigers found a
goldmine in these expatriates.
While smaller section of the Tamil Diaspora voluntarily funded the
Tigers, others who were reluctant to open their wallets for the
terrorist coffers faced "intimidation, extortion and even violence to
ensure a steady flow of funds for operations in Sri Lanka and to
suppress criticism of human rights abuses by the LTTE. Human Rights
Watch reported these activities but nothing was done to stop them.
LTTE tentacles reached even those leading normal lives and making
decent living in Jaffna and sometimes Colombo. Saving relatives back
home from the vengeful LTTE punishing squads became an excruciating
exercise for many.
The ability of the LTTE to form front organizations became legendary
and the US Government, for example, had their hands full in tracking
down these sinister groups in disguise. Ninety percent of the LTTE
funding was extracted from the Diaspora by foul means.
Prabhakaran also planted the seed of the Eelam dream using the
internet and the hero's day messages. Gradually, the dwindling and
residuary hard core field workers in Prabhakaran's outfit lost its verve
to generate support for the Eelam cause. They are losing their foothold
in groves as we write. A few die-hard groups continue to get
brain-washed and duped ad nauseam despite the inevitability of the
demise of LTTE hegemony in the North. Using Tamil civilians as a human
shield nailed Prabhakaran's claim to be a leader. It is likely that some
misguided elements of the Tamil Diaspora, will continue their activities
as before but not for long. The conscripted civilian mass is now out of
Prabhakaran's grasp. He is not able to use human beings as canon fodder
anymore. The majority of the Diaspora knows that.