04 December 2020
WHOSE HEROES – YOURS OR MINE?
Long time ago, when I was working at Air Lanka, our Advertising Executive who returned from a holiday in Male, shared his amusing experience with me. He said that he was approached by a Sikh who asked him ‘Are you from Motherland?’ My colleague had responded ‘Whose Motherland – yours or mine? I recall that from time to time, in virtual reality mode, and smile to myself.
Today when I read the Daily Mirror Editorial’s caption ‘Our true heroes must be celebrated’ the question that popped into my mind was ‘Whose heroes – yours or mine?’.
The Editor introduces us to the topic as follows:
[Just a week ago Tamil civilians were denied
of the assistance of the law when they were unsuccessful in filing four
petitions in the Jaffna Court requesting the green light to proceed with a
ceremony to commemorate their loved ones who perished during the civil war. ]
… The loved ones of the Tamils, who perished in the war, wanted three days to commemorate their ‘war heroes’ and similarly the JVP wanted November 13 to celebrate their dead colleagues who threw their weight behind a struggle to free the nation from Indian forces who were here in Sri Lanka and the dictatorial regime led by the UNP.
The LTTE and the JVP were both banned movements at some time for being disruptive. But the JVP is allowed or tolerated because its leaders or ‘Sahodarayas’ are Sinhalese. But if you take both movements they had moved away from the frame of democracy and took the law into their hands. And most importantly they both wanted one culture to dominate and form a regime. There were times when the LTTE’s word was law in the north and the JVP controlled the south; during the late 1980s.]
Both JVP and the LTTE killed members of their own respective ethnic groups. A just law/policy applies on Equal footing to every member of a sovereign group. So long as a group is bound by ‘belief’ the sharing of feelings and disciplinary actions are confidential. Once these are done transparently – they become ‘relative’ to that extent. That is when we need written laws to maintain justice.
LTTE’s word was enforced as law beyond this circle of belief. It was relative through rewards and punishments. By killing Tamil Politicians, the LTTE specifically separated themselves from mainstream Tamils who sought to govern ourselves through the democratic pathway. More importantly they cut off the connection with the political roots of the Tamil People who made the Vaddukoddai Declaration which invoked the blessings of gods on Tamils as Equals in National Parliament. This can never be through the armed pathway, unless majority Tamils wanted autocracy under Armed Rulers.
To the extent Tamils identify with LTTE that has merged with Political groups such as the Tamil National Alliance, they would consider the LTTE as their protectors from the excesses of the Sri Lankan Armed Forces that in reality include a good proportion of members who lack discipline. That was a huge lesson learnt through the Black July experience in 1983. Each time there is a Sinhala Buddhist government in power, the Tamil reliance on ‘De Facto Forces’ would increase.
Such memorials are valid to the extent they are ‘common’ to all those who fought for independence and died in the cause. When LTTE heroism is separately celebrated, we celebrate also the killing of politicians and therefore Democracy. This weakens Tamils as well as Sri Lanka as a whole.
The Editor confirms as follows. such a role played by the JVP :
[JVP wanted November 13 to celebrate their dead colleagues who threw their weight behind a struggle to free the nation from Indian forces who were here in Sri Lanka ]
As per my knowledge – the LTTE also helped the then government in this mission.
If JVP is allowed ‘ celebrate their dead colleagues’ – then that confirms that the approving authority seeks to be Autocratic Armed Ruler or that it realises the need for such de facto power, should India invade Sri Lanka. The Tamil parallel of the Indian Government for Sinhalese is the Sinhalese Government.
To the extent a section of Tamils joined the LTTE which was largely to defend the community against armed, unlawful Sinhalese, they are a sovereign group. They have the right to celebrate their heroes within their own boundaries. To the extent it is belief based – it would be confidential.
But not all Tamils seek this. They have the right to the protection of the Government Forces and hence the right to have no knowledge of such celebrations which would dilute their confidence in the Government Forces. Whether these forces are disciplined or not – we need to accept the limitations and supplement the forces through our own resistance to unlawful conduct. When we participate in National Elections, this is our commitment to commonness. In a just system, we would get the return when we need the protection. If the system is unjust we need to correct the system and not abandon it. Celebrating an alternate armed force is confirmation that we have given up on the official forces.
Those who seek to ‘show’ are confirming that they lack the strength of sovereignty. The constitution provides for belief based expressions under the fundamental rights chapter. ‘A ceremony to commemorate their loved ones who perished during the civil war’ - includes Politicians and who were killed by the LTTE or JVP as the case may be. Those Politicians and Democratic civilians belong to another circle of belief / planet. When one claims to represent both – that confirms that we are not a sovereign group. Then the claim is that both groups fought for relativity – seniority to dictate.
Belief is Nirvana. True Buddhists would not seek to enforce their way on others, but facilitate others to join them when there is a need. Likewise those who are genuinely fighting for the community as a whole. If LTTE members seek to mourn their loved ones – they have every right to do so as a family and as a private group. They have no moral right to celebrate publicly.
The dangers of exceeding our powers of belief to ‘show’ funerals was confirmed by ‘Black July’ – reported as follows by Wikipedia:
[The Army—including its commander, Tissa Weeratunga—decided that the soldiers' funerals shouldn't be held in Jaffna because of the high likelihood of disturbances at multiple locations. The decision was made to hold the funerals, with full military honours, at Kanatte Cemetery, Colombo's main burial ground, instead. Prime Minister Ranasinghe Premadasa, fearing violence, was against holding the funeral in Colombo, but was overruled by President J. R. Jayewardene. The president, the prime minister, and the rest of the cabinet were to attend the funeral, which was to take place at 5 pm on 24 July. This arrangement went against the standard procedure of handing over fallen soldiers to their families for burial in their home villages]
Standing procedures are visible expressions of the consolidated Energies of all rulers. By failing to recognise the Democratic manifestation of the 1977 Elections in which Tamils became Equal partners in Parliament, Mr Jayawardene crowned himself the President. When there is a true manifestation, it needs to rendered ‘visible form’ and not suppressed so one would take the credit. By crowning himself as President, Mr Jayawardene also facilitated the Tamil parallel to be President. Hence the LTTE actions which resulted in the above killings. Mr Jayawardene and his government became the Equal of the LTTE which ‘showed’ its might by abandoning the common law. Abandoning standard procedure is to cut ourselves off from our Administrative heritage. This caused Mr Jayawardene to go down in history as the President who submitted to India through the 13th Amendment to the Constitution through which Indian leaders continue to apply pressure on Sri Lankan government.
That which is common confirms blessings; when separated the elders within curse us.