The Facts About So-called
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on LTTE Tamil Tiger Terrorists
A Canadian Member of Parliament returning
from a visit to Sri Lanka got into conversation with his neighbour on the plane. He was
horrified to discover that his companion had entered Canada seeking asylum from the
"repressive" Sri Lankan regime, and was granted entry into Canada as a refugee.
He too was now returning from a holiday in Sri Lanka two years after he was granted asylum
in Canada. He had landed openly at the Colombo International airport, using his own name
and had left openly - unmolested - from that same airport. Yet he was a refugee with
special privileges in Canada. How amusing.
Yet, the western politicians, the public and especially the press
are so ready, willing, nay eager to condemn governments in countries like Sri Lanka that
they fall into traps like this, very easily.
The "refugee" has to only use the word "discrimination" for everyone to fall over each other in the scramble to come to the
refugee's rescue. This is a very powerful word that makes those who have first hand
experience at discriminating feel very uncomfortable.
Down the passage of history we have read about the discrimination
of the Europeans against anyone who was different, be it race, religion or anything else.
The wiping out of many native American tribes, atrocities against the Jews, persecution of
Protestants by Catholics and vice versa, the witch hunts in the middle ages as well as the
more recent "communist" witch hunts, the treatment of homosexuals even today are
a few examples of discrimination that spring to mind.
The powerful propaganda machine of the LTTE is fully aware of
this psychology. They have, therefore, made maximum use of this. They played on the
aversion of the westerners to this word with its connotations of the pogroms, atrocities,
the most base qualities of humans, as a maestro plays on a violin. The allegations made
against the Sinhala people and the government in Sri Lanka ranged from racist policies to
LTTE started the war in 1983 stating that they were discriminated
in education and jobs and for that reason they now want a separate state. Most Westerners
have been told this story, and they have been fully convinced that it is the truth. But,
if one looks at the facts one can see for oneself, that it is very far from the truth.
|Let us take each of these allegations and
examine them one by one in depth. Take the charge of Genocide.
Tamils consist of 12.6% of the total population of Sri Lanka or 2.6
million. Of this, only 400,000 live in the areas under the control of the LTTE. The
balance live in the South: even so far down south as Galle and Matara. This means that 1.9
million Tamils live among Sinhalese who are supposed to be carrying out a systematic
program of genocide. If the charge of genocide is true, the Tamils living in the south are
either very daring or extremely masochistic. If the charge is not true, it means they feel
safer among the Sinhalese than they do with the LTTE
|POPULATION IN SRI LANKA BY
If statistics released by various
government ministries are examined, a very interesting picture emerges. These figures
reveal that there has been discrimination; but not against the Tamils. The discrimination
has been against the Sinhalese themselves, and they have borne it without complaint even
while they realised it. The following are figures taken from the last census that could be
held in the country in 1981. The composition of the population is as follows:
- Sinhalese : 74%, Sri Lankan Tamil: 12.6% (Tamils who are citizens
by descent), Moors: 7.0%, Indian Tamils: 5.56% (Estate labour) The balance comprise
communities such as Burghers, Malays and others.
|Sri Lankan Tamils
(Sri Lankan Tamils are the descendants of migrants from India
during the 13 and 14 centuries. They are and have always been citizens of Sri Lanka. Those
who came prior to the 13 and 14 centuries as either armies or traders have merged and
assimilated. Indian Tamils were brought in by the British as cheap, almost slave labour to
work on the Estate plantations, which were carved out of lands wrested from Sinhala
peasants and on which the peasantry refused to work as wage slaves. The Indian Tamils have
been absorbed into the population as citizens by registration.)
|The following graph is very interesting: these
give percentages of Tamils living in Sinhala areas and Sinhalese in predominantly
In 1971: 29.2% of Tamils were
living in Sinhala areas while the percentage of Sinhalese living in the Northern province
was 4.5%. In 1981: there were 32.8% Tamils living in Sinhala areas while Sinhalese in the
NP were 3%. Sinhalese living in Jaffna had dwindled from 2.9% in 1971 to 0.6% in 1981.
It has been alleged that young Tamils have resorted to arms because they
are unemployed. This is a very popular theory that is acceptable to many in the west. A
look at the following figures will give the lie to this allegation:
In 1981 in Sri Lanka there were 14.7% of Sinhala males and 37.1%
of Sinhala females unemployed. Unemployment rate of Tamils in 1981 was males 8.8% and
|Students Admitted to
Universities in 1981 (2 Years before the war started)
Tamils can study in Tamil anywhere in Sri Lanka, in schools and
in the Universities. But in the Universities in Jaffna and Batticaloa where there are
faculties of Medicine, Engineering, Science and Agriculture which provide for study in
Tamil medium only. Tamils can study in the Universities in Colombo and Peradeniya together
with Sinhalese and other students.
Almost all the staff in the Universities in the North
and East are Tamils, while in the Universities in Peradeniya and Colombo, there are a
considerable number of Tamils on the staff.
|During the time of British, more English
Schools were opened in the North, so that there were more English-educated Tamils than the
English-educated Sinhalese. When the British left in 1948, most of the well paid jobs such
as Doctors, Engineers, Solicitors, Accountants, Bank Managers, University Teachers etc
were Tamils, while Sinhalese had the minor jobs.
Tamil language is an official language in all government documents, on
currency notes, coins, postage stamps, name boards on roads etc.
Aerogramme in all 3 languages (Sinhala,
Tamil and English)
Postage Stamps in all 3 languages
(Sinhala, Tamil and English)
This is just a typical Document of the Sri Lankan
Government. All Sri Lankan Government documents such as Birth Certificates, Marriage
Certificates, Passport Application Forms, Passports, Customs Forms are in all 3 languages
(Sinhala, Tamil & English).
This is what the Tamils call DISCRIMINATION.
- All currency notes and coins are in Sinhala, Tamil and English
- This is what the Tamils call DISCRIMINATION
All Governments ducuments are printed in all 3 languages, Sinhala, Tamil
This is what the Tamils call DISCRIMINATION
letter from a Tamil Gentleman
- Over the past several months there has been an easily
recognizable resurgence of
- 'national-mindedness ' among the Sinhalese and
Buddhists which has caused some anxiety and
- apprehension among the minority communities. It is
worth examining the causes for this resurgence
- and the people responsible for it. As a retired
government servant belonging to a minority
- community (Tamil) who had lived and worked with the
Sinhalese for over 4 decades I feel I can
- write confidently about the psyche of the Sinhalese
and more particularly the Buddhists.
- I should add that I have also traveled extensively in
the West to know about their lifestyles, their
- attitudes and perceptions, etc. I also watch the
audio-visual media almost daily to update myself
- about current affairs, international politics, etc.
The way that international political interaction takes
- place, globalization of the economy, the role of the
multinational companies, the unfair and unjust
- pressures and dictates of international money lending
organizations, the emergence of Islam as a
- political force in counties like Afghanistan,
Pakistan and the old USSR, make me very
- apprehensive about the future of this country.
- As a Sri Lankan, and a much-traveled Tamil, I must at
the very outset say that I would never leave
- this country for another as long as I remain in
possession of a rational mind. I must not and cannot
- forget the fact that it is the Sinhalese and the
Buddhists who constitute the majority who make this
- country what it is a most hospitable, welcome and
congenial place to live in. If not for them this
- country would never be Sri Lanka!
- If this country had a Tamil/Hindu majority like in
South India or a Muslim majority as in a
- Middle-East country I would never opt for such a
country as a domicile. I have a strong feeling that
- the majority of the Tamils and Muslims living in the
South would think the same.
- The country that I count as my home should always
have a Sinhala Buddhist majority with their
- pacifist, tolerant and friendly ways. If somebody
were to say that these qualities are found wanting
- among the Sinhala Buddhists today, it is not because
of their fault, but the fault of
- the minorities who have abused their kindness and
hospitality, and have made many unfair and
- unreasonable demands from them. To elaborate a little
further on this subject, one has to look at
- other countries to see how they treat the minorities
in those countries.
- Malaysia is a predominantly Muslim country, which has
legislation favouring the 'Bhumi-Puthras' in
- employment, education, etc. In Afghanistan one reads
about the horrendous desecration of ancient
- Buddhist statues such as those found in the Baamiyan
valley by the Taleban who now control 90%
- of the country.
- What would our plight be if we were to live in such a
country! As Tamils how many of us would
- dare to condemn the numerous atrocities committed by
the LTTE against civilians in the South.
- We are only too keen to complain about being searched
at checkpoints, raiding of lodges, etc.
- How many have been apprehended for trying to smuggle
arms and ammunition into the South
- concealed in fish lorries, official vehicles of GA's
- Even the traditional pot of curd has been used to
transport ammunition! Old ladies and gentlemen
- too have acted as couriers, as they are generally
treated with respect!
- How many Tamils have worked themselves diligently
into the trust and confidence of the
- Government and the Sinhalese community and then
betrayed them by being agents of the LTTE?
- These instances are far too numerous to mention.
- If the Tamils were the majority community in this
country would they have tolerated a fraction of
- these betrayals from a minority community? I, as a
Tamil, can boldly say 'Never'!
- How many of our leading Tamil politicians like
Messrs. Ponnambalam and Thondaman have
- exhorted the Tamils not to engage or indulge in such
activities as smuggling arms and ammunition
- into upcountry areas or to Colombo?
- On the contrary, they will make an internationally
heard din about 'innocent' Tamils being harassed
- as if 'innocent' Tamils have a label on them
proclaiming their innocence!
- At the same time I cannot help feeling ashamed and
disgraced by our Tamil brethren whenever they
- are successful in attempts at destroying innocent
civilian life in the South.
- I am deeply appreciative of the tolerance and
kindness shown by the Sinhalese in the South when
- they have to accommodate displaced Tamils and Muslims
as refugees among them.
- How despicable it is to bite the hand that feeds
them! The botched attempts to take over temple
- land at Dighavapiya and the request to set aside a
percentage in premier Buddhist schools for other
- religions are other sinister attempts to get the
maximum out of a government which is bending
- backwards to please minorities in order to please
- peace mongers and local NGO's who are in their pay.
Where in the world do we hear national
- anthems being sung in different languages!
- Why cannot we minorities be satisfied with the lion
flag as it is? Can such frivolous but yet
- provocative requests be made in any country where
Tamils or Muslims are in the majority!
- Should minorities always behave like Shylocks asking
for their pound of flesh and run the risk of
- alienating a hitherto unsuspecting and tolerant
Sinhalese? Though a Hindu, I would like to dissociate
- myself from the antics of those Hindus who want a
temple in Sita-Eliya and another in Ja-Ela area
- built at these times when understanding between
communities is at low ebb. It will do no good to
- anybody but can be the target of mischief or
provocative acts by interested parties or misguided
- Another frequently quoted argument is that by
redressing the legitimate grievances of the Tamils in
- the North and East the LTTE would have no cause to
espouse and the support base of the LTTE
- would be completely destroyed.This is a very naive
argument, just as much as the JVP in the South
- had no public support but only terror tactics to
frighten the people into submission in the late
- eighties, so is the LTTE. If not for their terror
tactics no sane Tamil would support them either here
- or abroad.
- Their 'sustenance' is not from the public but from
the largesse delivered to their doorstep by errant,
- corrupt or frightened government officials or
diverted from sources meant for the public. To be
- honest, I am personally aware of Hindu and Catholic
priests who openly
- support the LTTE either out of fear or misguided
- Finally, I wish to state that Sri Lanka is the only
country in the world where Sinhalese can call their
- home and where Theravada Buddhism is found. It is
their birthplace and their birthright to remain
- as a majority community while others at various times
have shown that their loyalties are divided.
- The situation today is such that a Sinhalese or
Muslim student cannot enter the precincts of the
- Jaffna University, whereas Tamil students can freely
go about in the South. The police, while
- carrying out their legitimate duties of looking out
for LTTE suspects in the estate sector, run the risk
- of incurring the wrath of Mr. Thondaman, even when
terrorist activities are taking place in the
- estates. He has the audacity to place the blame of
such activities on the Sinhalese when his
- conscience should say otherwise-but does he have one?
- These are the activities that promote the Sinhalese
to close their ranks and show their displeasure. I
- sincerely hope that the PA government will not
swallow the bait offered by scheming and
- self-serving politicians, which would surely, and
certainly lead to communal strife in the not too
- distant future.
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