Photograph of Anil Chawla

No Tears For LTTE

Author - Anil Chawla

As the war in Sri Lanka comes to an end, it is necessary to get back to the Buddhist values of kindness and compassion. Historical relations between Sinhalese and Tamils need to be rebuilt. There is need to exorcise the ghost of LTTE and work towards national reconciliation, reconstruction and integration.

Sri Lanka army is heading for a victory over LTTE. The defeat of LTTE has disturbed many in India, especially in Tamil Nadu. It is understandable that many Indian Tamils emotionally identify with the Tamils of Sri Lanka and are moved by their plight.

However, it is important to understand the true nature of LTTE before Indian Tamils let their emotions rule their heads. LTTE under its leader Vellupillai Prabhakaran has earned reputation as the most violent and ruthless terrorist organization across the globe. There can be no denying that Tamils in Sri Lanka had and still have genuine grievances which were repeatedly ignored by the Sinhalese political leaders. From the fifties to late seventies, the grievances were constantly raised by many moderate Tamil leaders who believed in a process of dialogue. Sure enough, the moderates among Tamil politicians had a difficult time in convincing the Sinhalese politicians to yield ground and work towards fair and equitable governance. Nevertheless, the efforts of the moderates had attracted attention and sympathy from the international community. It may not be an exaggeration to say that the moderates might have succeeded if they had been able to continue their efforts of dialogue, reconciliation and integration.

Efforts of the moderates were cut short by a series of brutal assassinations carried out by LTTE. The first major operation was assassination of the mayor of Jaffna, Alfred Duraiappah in 1975. Assassination in 1977 of a Tamil Member of Parliament, M. Canagaratnam, was carried out personally by Prabhakaran, the leader of LTTE. These are just two examples of hundreds of cold-blooded murders of Tamils carried out by LTTE. The violent and ruthless ways of LTTE led on one hand to extermination of all other Tamil militant groups and, on the other, forced moderate Tamils to either withdraw from political activity or side with Sinhalese parties.

The radicalization of Tamil political space found its echo in the Sinhalese parties and mutual hardening of stances closed all avenues of national reconciliation and integration. This led to the civil war that had been raging in the island for the past three decades.

The violent, merciless, cruel bloody ways of LTTE have no precedence in the history of South Asia. Hindu and Buddhist minds have streaks of kindness, compassion and pity. The militants of Indian Freedom Struggle were often soft-hearted poets. There is no prior instance of an Indian (or Sri Lankan) militant killing people of his own community with such ferociousness as Prabhakaran did. It is also important to note that for thousands of years, Buddhism and Hinduism have co-existed through much of Asia, without a single instance of a major clash.

It is hence necessary to clarify that the civil war in Sri Lanka was not a Buddhist-Hindu war. Though much of Sinhalese leadership is Buddhist, LTTE cannot be called a Hindu organization by any stretch of imagination. LTTE leadership has never found any sympathy among Hindu organizations of India. Prabhakaran is a Christian (his son's name is Charles Anthony) and most of his close associates are also Christians.

It seems reasonable to guess that LTTE could attain its superiority over other militant Tamil groups (a) by its ruthless ways and (b) by the vast superiority of resources that LTTE could manage. Rabid fanatical elements of Christian churches are known to fish in troubled waters across the world. In all probability, these elements supported Prabhakaran and his men giving them money as well as arms and ammunition. Along with the resources to fight the war, the rabid Christian elements seem to have also supplied to LTTE a mindset that is typical of one-book-religions and is completely alien to this part of the world. All one-book-religions have no place for tolerance. Spread of Christianity through Europe, Africa and America was achieved by widespread genocide and torture. As the Pope talks of harvesting a new crop of souls in Asia, there is no attempt on the part of Church to apologize for inquisitions, witch-hunting, slavery, or opium wars or even the Bengal famine. These are viewed as acts of piety necessary for saving the souls of millions.

In the eighteenth, nineteenth and first half of twentieth century, the evangelical agenda of Church was carried out in Asia by British, Portuguese and other European colonial powers. Thousands were brutally tortured and killed in Goa inquisitions. Script for Opium Wars was written by Christian missionaries. After the Second World War, the mainline political parties of Europe and America had turned too secular and could no longer be relied upon to further the expansionist agenda of fanatical elements of Church. The Church had to turn to native converts to carry the flag forward. Prabhakaran is one such native convert.

Prabhakaran - leader of LTTE

Prabhakaran's bloody ways can only be compared to the medieval Christian knights / vikings, who tolerated no dissent and killed innumerable members of their own communities on slightest pretext. If LTTE had succeeded to create a Tamil Eelam, Prabhakaran would surely have been the worst possible despot the world has ever known. Tamil Eelam would have done more harm than good to Tamils. Historically, Tamils of Sri Lanka were well educated and quite progressive. This changed after LTTE took control of Jaffna. During their reign in Jaffna, the liberals were brutally killed. Even academicians were not spared. Dr.Rajini Thiranagama was killed by LTTE on September 21, 1989. Her only fault was that she criticized LTTE for their atrocities. She was the head of the Department of Anatomy at University of Jaffna. She was also a Tamil human rights activist and feminist.

Dr. Rajini Thiranagama

The poisonous cancerous mindset of fanatic proponents of one-book religions has led to balkanization of South Europe. Success of Prabhakaran would have led to initiation of the same process in Asia.

The Prabhakaran effect would not have remained confined to just Sri Lanka, but would have impacted the whole continent giving inspiration and strength to separatist elements in various regions. For example, Church-sponsored terrorism would have received a boost in north-eastern states of India. The Maoist or Naxalite elements have been known to receive support and cooperation from Churches in tribal areas of India and Nepal. Having tasted success in Sri Lanka, the fanatical rabid elements of Churches would have stepped up efforts towards disintegration and Christianization of India, China and rest of Asia.

India has been fighting various forces, both Islamic and Christian, aiming to disintegrate her. Besides fighting them, India has had a close brush with the brutal ways of LTTE. On 21 May 1991, LTTE's suicide bomber killed Indian ex-Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. This made Indian public lose patience with LTTE and Prabhakaran. The fact that the assassination paved the way for a Roman Catholic (and her Christian coterie) to get complete control of the oldest political party of India may well be purely coincidental and need not be discussed here.

Rajiv Gandhi

The point here is only about the mindset of Prabhakaran and his organization. The mindset that tolerates no dissent and has no hesitation in cold-blooded killing of fellow politicians, women professors and even old friends, is a grave danger to peace and co-existence of human beings on this earth.

Fortunately, LTTE has lost the war. But it may not be the end of the war. A war is fought not just on the field with guns and bombs. The most important place where a war begins and ends is in the minds of the people. As guns silence in northern and eastern Sri Lanka, the challenge before Sri Lanka Government is to ensure that LTTE does not become a myth ? larger and more glorified than what it ever was. Government of Sri Lanka must take steps to write a true history of the civil war without mincing any words and portraying LTTE in its true colours.

For the sake of good relations with majority population of India, the academicians, journalists and historians of Sri Lanka should clarify in unequivocal terms that the so-called civil war was a war between Sri Lanka government and a terrorist organization. It is necessary to underline the fact that there is no conflict between Buddhists and Hindus, who have been brothers through thousands of years. Actions speak louder than words. The Sinhalese political class must use the end of civil war as an opportunity to initiate extensive efforts for national reconciliation, reconstruction and integration. President of Sri Lanka must walk over the ghost of LTTE to extend a hand of friendship and brotherhood to Tamils of the country. If the Sinhalese population can act with the Buddhist qualities of kindness and compassion towards their Tamil brethren, they can surely win their hearts over. That will truly be a victory for everyone in Sri Lanka. Let us pray - May the Sinhalese have the strength and wisdom to be kind, considerate and compassionate towards their Tamil brethren; And May the Tamils of Sri Lanka have the strength and wisdom to exorcise the ghosts of LTTE from their minds and rebuild bonds of heart with their Sinhalese brethren. Lastly, let no tears be shed for LTTE either in Sri Lanka or in India.

26 April 2009

Please write to me your comments about the above article.

ANIL CHAWLA is an engineer (and now a lawyer too) by qualification but a philosopher by vocation and a management consultant by profession.

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