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Maaveerar Naal 1997
மாவீரர் நாள் – National Heroes Day National Heroes Day, November 27, 1997 “…Fifty years have lapsed since the governing authority of the island was transferred to the Sinhala majority. What have the Sinhala political parties, which have been ruling the island for the last half century, done to the Tamils to redress their grievances?…” My beloved people of Tamil Eelam, Today is Heroes’ Day, a sacred day in which we honour and remember our beloved martyrs who have sacrificed their lives for the cause of freedom of our nation. Our martyrs were extra-ordinary human beings. They chose the noble cause of liberating our people. Having lived and struggled for such a cause they finally sacrificed their precious lives for that higher ideal. I venerate our heroes since they renounced their personal desires and transcended their egoic existence for a common cause of higher virtue. Such a noble act of renunciation deserves our veneration. Our liberation movement pays highest respect and reverence to our martyrs for their supreme sacrifice. We honour our martyrs as national heroes, as creators of the history of our national struggle. We commemorate our heroes and erect them memorials so that their memories should remain forever in our hearts. It has become a popular norm to bury our martyrs with honour, erect stone monuments for them and venerate these war cemeteries as holy places of tranquillity. The practice of venerating heroic martyrdom has become an established tradition in our society. Our tradition of venerating martyrs as war heroes has always irritated the Sinhala chauvinist state. The Sinhala chauvinists find it intolerable the very fact that those whom they categorise as terrorists are venerated and glorified by the Tamils as war heroes. Furthermore, they feel that this tradition has become a source of inspiration to the Tamil freedom movement. Impelled by this hostile attitude, they committed a grave crime that deeply offended the Tamil nation. This regrettable incident occurred when the Sinhala army of occupation took control of the Jaffna peninsula. The enemy forces committed the unpardonable crime of desecration, disrupting the spiritual tranquillity of our martyrs. Their war cemeteries underwent wanton destruction, their tomb-stones up-rooted and flattened and their memorials erased without a trace. I call this act of desecration of the graves of martyrs whom the Tamils venerate as their national heroes as wicked, immoral and uncivilized. This act cannot be dismissed as a wanton display of an occupying army. This is a grave act of terrorism which has left an indelible stain in the soul of the Tamil nation. This heinous act clearly demonstrates the fact that the racist Sinhala regime has no respect for the deeper sentiments of the Tamil people. Nor are they prepared to do justice to the Tamils in recognition of their national aspirations. Fifty years have lapsed since the governing authority of the island was transferred to the Sinhala majority. What have the Sinhala political parties, which have been ruling the island for the last half century, done to the Tamils to redress their grievances? Have any of the reasonable demands of the Tamils been fulfilled? Has the burning question of the ethnic conflict been resolved? Nothing has happened. Rather, during this lengthy period of time, the Tamil people have been systematically burdened with intolerable suffering. Successive Sri Lankan Governments adopted a policy of genocidal repression aimed at the gradual and systematic destruction of the Tamil nation. The planned annexation of the traditional lands of the Tamils, the denial of their linguistic rights, the deprivation of their educational and employment opportunities, the disruption of their social and economic existence, the destruction of their national resources and the mass extermination of the Tamils during riots and military campaigns indicate such genocidal policy. Chandrika’s rule constitutes the worst period for the Tamils in the long history of the Sri Lankan state oppression. Not a single Tamil has been spared from harassment or suffering over this three years period. It is during Chandrika’s rule that the flames of war have escalated into major conflagration and scorched the Tamil lands. This has resulted in mass exodus of populations causing immense hardships to our people. It is during her regime that historically renowned traditional lands of the Tamils came under Sinhala military subjugation. Her Government has intensified aggressive military campaigns and has tightened the embargo on food and medicine causing indescribable suffering to the Tamil people. It is during Chandrika’s administration that Sinhala chauvinistic oppression against the Tamils has become harsh, severe and rigorous. The central objective of her policy is to repress the Tamil freedom movement spearheaded by the Liberation Tigers and to subjugate the Tamil nation under Sinhala military rule. Her Government is pursuing this military option with single-minded determination. In order to cover-up the monumental tragedy suffered by the Tamils as the consequence of the massive war effort and to distract world public opinion, Chandrika’s Government has staged a political play in the name of the devolution package. In reality, this political drama is intended to justify the strategic aims of the war and therefore, it is the other face of the military solution. The international community was misguided by the subtle and sophisticated propaganda of the Sri Lankan Government and opted to support the so-called package. We are surprised and disappointed to note that international countries have made a hasty decision on this matter without an objective analysis of the racist tendency of the Sinhala-Buddhist chauvinism and the bitter and oppressive history suffered by the Tamils. Chandrika’s political package fails to address the basic national aspirations of the Tamils. Severely watered down in its scope and content, these proposals have not yet evolved into a full-fledged comprehensive framework even after two and a half years of deliberations. Yet, we can perceive clearly the underlying objective of this political package. It aims at denying the Tamil homeland and the Tamil national identity. Its central objective is to subjugate the Tamil nation under the domination of the supreme power of the Sinhala state. The military solution of the government also aims at a similar strategy. Therefore, in our view, the political project of the so-called devolution package and the strategic objective of the military programme are similar, like two faces of the same coin. Chandrika’s Government lacks the political will and commitment to resolve the Tamil national conflict reasonably through peaceful means. Chandrika is not courageous enough to submit a substantial framework to fulfil the national aspirations of the Tamil people. To justify her political inability she blames the extremist elements of Sinhala-Buddhist chauvinism and the LTTE. In reality, Chandrika’s Government itself is an embodiment of neo-Sinhala Buddhist chauvinism. It is absurd on her part to blame these forces, since it was Chandrika’s political party which was instrumental for reviving and re-building Sinhala-Buddhist chauvinism as a monstrous phenomenon. There is no truth in Chandrika’s accusation that the LTTE does not seek a political solution through peaceful means. It is because we sought a political settlement through peaceful means that we participated in several political talks from Thimpu to Jaffna. During these political negotiations we firmly upheld the interests of the Tamil nation, whereas the Sinhala Governments denied justice to the Tamils. Therefore, the talks failed. This situation arose because of the irreconcilable and intransigent attitude of the Sinhala governments. Therefore, we cannot be blamed for this situation. From the time of the Thimpu talks we have been emphasising that the recognition of the Tamil homeland, Tamil nationhood and the Tamil right to self-determination should be the basis for any negotiated political settlement. This is our position even today. The recognition of the Tamil homeland is fundamental to a political solution, since the territory of the Tamils is crucial for their national life and identity. Any political framework that fails to recognise the historically constituted homeland of the Tamils cannot be a basis for a solution to the Tamil National question. It is questionable whether the Sinhala political parties will agree for a political settlement on the basis of Thimpu principles when they are not even prepared to recognise the Tamils’ right to a homeland. Such a political arrangement is inconceivable as long as the Sinhala-Buddhist chauvinistic ideology exerts hegemonic influence in the Sinhala political world. Having realised this political reality twenty years ago, the Tamil people opted to exercise their right to self-determination and fight for an independent state. Our liberation movement, in pursuance of the national aspirations of our people, has been engaged in a struggle for the last two decades to realise the right to self-determination. For the last fifty years, the Sinhala state has been adopting a singular policy of oppression against the Tamils. This irrational policy has given rise to war and violence destroying the peace in the Island. Unless this policy is radically changed the war will continue for ever with its disastrous consequences. It is not the LTTE, but the Sinhala chauvinists who have chosen this path of violence and destruction. By adopting a policy of military repression the Sinhala state has been destroying itself. Such a policy will never an put end to the Tamil freedom movement. One day the Sinhala chauvinists will realise this truth. We do not anticipate that the Sinhala chauvinists will renounce their policy of oppression and be prepared to do justice to the Tamils. We have not launched this liberation struggle with such expectations. We are aware that freedom is not a concession gained from the enemy, but a sacred right which has to be fought by shedding blood and making sacrifices. Therefore, let us continue to struggle until we realise our goal of freedom. Let us continue to struggle with the conviction that the immense sacrifices we have made will not be wasted. Let us continue to struggle to expel the enemy forces who have occupied our sacred land. Let us continue to struggle with the conviction that a determined nation will eventually win. Let us continue to struggle with the memory of those martyrs who have fought and died with dedication for the liberation of our land.
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