By S. Vasudevan
Since Sri Lanka’s independence from Britain in 1948, the Tamil Politicians have been edged to conclude that they were marginalised and politically disenfranchised. Subsequently both Tamil and Sinhala nationalism started to grow more rapidly and ended up fighting with each other for more than 60 years. Latter part of 30 years was bloody gruesome and both side lost thousands of valuable human life and properties. During the same period, Conflicts of similar nature around the world were resolved by many means of acceptable and unacceptable solutions, As we all know that some of them were resolved by military means and a few of them were resolved by peaceful means. But no country had ever shepherded itself from tyranny to democracy more ably, and humanly than South Africa. It is a South African Miracle! Somehow our Sri Lankan politicians mainly the Tamil and Sinhala Nationalist have over looked it and discarded it.
I had an opportunity to speak to a senior Tamil Politician recently. When I mentioned about the South African conflict resolution, he turned around and gave me a big lecture about how Tamils were deceived by the Sinhala politician time after time. At the end of the lecture he said that Minority whites have given up their political powers to the Majority Black counter parts because so the conflict is now resolved in South Africa. But it will not work in Sri Lanka as we can’t trust the Sinhala Nationalist politician anymore and only India or International mediation can bring about a solution to the issue. Unfortunately this is what majority of the Tamils have in their minds and they have lost faith in Sri Lankan politicians.
For the last 60 years, Tamil Nationalist politicians have been leading the Tamils in one direction which has failed repeatedly without any solutions. Then came the armed struggle with the unrealistic hope and obstinately refused all the chances and perished eventually. Now after only six months of talk, this is what R. Sampanthan, the parliamentary leader of the TNA, said in Jaffna, “We have been engaging in talks with the Sri Lankan government to achieve an acceptable solution to the Tamils’ issue, but, there was no constructive outcome. The Tamil National Alliance cannot just keep continuing without any results, just for the sake of ‘engaging’ and ‘continuing’ with the engagement giving room for Sri Lanka to project an impression to the outside world that it is engaging in a constructive dialogue with Tamils”.
This is where I wanted to go back to the South African Miracle where Nelson Mandela a political genius has achieved the peace by winning the hearts of his enemy. Nelson Mandela had been imprisoned for 27 years for his heroic fight against apartheid rule by the Whites. During the last half of his prison sentence Mandela wasn’t thinking about revenge. Instead he learned Afrikaner’s Language and started to know more about Afrikaners. Mandela studied why Afrikaners are oppressing Blacks and prepared himself to be a leader not just for the blacks but also for the whole South Africans.
In comparison, Sri Lankan’s ethnic issue is not complicated as the South African crisis. Yes, there were discriminations, riots and so on, but for god sake, we all share the same DNA but speak a different language. The Sinhala Language only exists in Sri Lanka but for Tamils they are all over the world and worryingly for Sinhalese there are 65 million Tamils living across the Palk Strait in South India. This is an immense concern for the majority Sri Lankans who speak the Sinhala Language although this is a groundless fear fabricated for the political benefit of the ruling elite. Even the people who speak the same language were vulnerable by Tamil Ultra Nationalism when they were evicted from Jaffna. But Tamil Nationalist politicians are yet to reach out to the Muslim community and convince them regardless who did what, the atrocity perpetrated on them is not at all explicable and stop their rhetoric of narrow Tamil Nationalism which will inevitably bring more hardships and disasters to the Tamil speaking people not only in the North and East of Sri Lanka but elsewhere too. Disturbingly during the last local election campaign in July 2011 Tamil Ultra Nationalist took revenge and hatred as their election manifesto and accomplished their victory. During the campaign they have targeted the physiologically traumatised war victims with their speech with full of vengeance and remorse. These politicians do not care about these war victims mind set or their welfare but their prime target is winning the election at any cost.
For the last 60 years, this is where Tamil politicians have failed and are still failing. Why can’t they follow the history and do something positive for a change? Politicians are Politicians as they only count their votes and work accordingly. Tamil politicians are only worried about their votes and they always speak the language the Tamils can understand. But if these politicians wholeheartedly want a solution to the Tamils then they should start winning every Sri Lankans heart. As Nelson Mandela said if you want to resolve a conflict then don’t address their brains, Address their hearts.