A Venerable Tamil reviews his people’s recent past for the Benefit of a Young Tamil as 2012 dawns


To some of the “mistakes” mentioned by you in relation to the Tigers, if one is to be honest and frank, one should add, “crimes and sins”. Regarding “sins”, a lot of what they did is abhorrent in the eyes of all religions but “sin”, I think, can also have a non-religious application, namely, the violation of our common humanity. The catalogue of mistakes, crimes and sins is long: I don’t think they need listing to you. But

* if there was brutality, there was also incredible bravery;
* if there was strategic foolishness, there were also instances of tactical brilliance;
* if there was cynicism, there was also idealism;
* if there was megalomania and the lust for power on the part of some, there was also self-denial and self-sacrifice on the part of many.

It’s difficult to hold a balanced view (what’s more, one that is situated in historical context). Most of us slip into either total defence or total condemnation: it’s so much easier and convenient.

A desperate people – repeatedly disappointed and disillusioned; systematically subordinated; periodically set upon and assaulted – saw the LTTE leader as the much-needed, and long-awaited, “saviour” who would bring them freedom and dignity. No “price” seemed not worth paying.

Early military success can be fatal – see, among others, Napoleon and Hitler – in that it leads to
(1) belief in one’s invincibility and, with that,
(2) the refusal to listen to other voices, to reject any form of compromise: success and power leading to arrogance and cruelty.
Then followed the mistakes, crimes and sins we talked about.

Nor should one forget “9/11” and the “war on terror” that soon followed. The world  changed  but the LTTE leader didn’t: he was unable and unwilling to adapt: Charles Darwin’s thoughts on evolution and survival also have a political application. To attempt to understand is not necessarily to exculpate. I offer my “reading” and welcome your input – be it modification, amplification or correction.
The Tamils have endured the unendurable; they are, at present, shattered and exhausted. They need time – though that time is used by the government to consolidate occupation, and to further emasculate a defeated people. Hopefully, future generations, having learnt lessons, will shape – as far as they can – a different, a more successful, and a happier future.


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Filed under accountability, discrimination, Eelam, historical interpretation, language policies, LTTE, martyrdom, politIcal discourse, prabhakaran, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, sri lankan society, violence of language

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