“As long as the LTTE remained, the Tamils felt protected and secure”
No ‘Hang-Rajapaksa’ slogans. No ‘Boycott Sri Lanka’ placards. No ‘Pro-LTTE’ speeches. It is an unfamiliar situation in Tamil Nadu. But that is how it has been for a while since the order came to hang the three convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case in August.
The only slogan one hears now is ‘Say No to Death Penalty’. Has the campaign against death penalty to save the lives of Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan derailed the pro-Eelam movement?
Rajendran (holding the mike) feels that the pro-Eelam movement will never die down
The Weekend Leader spoke to Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam General Secretary Viduthalai Rajendran, a strong proponent for bifurcation of Sri Lanka and creation of a separate State for Tamils, on the lull in the pro-Eelam movement worldwide. Will the movement survive or peter out, we asked Rajendran? Excerpts from the interview:
Q. There seems to be a lull in the pro-Eelam movement worldwide. What is happening?
A. In Tamil Nadu, our focus shifted to saving the lives of Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan after the order came to hang them on September 9. Though the Madras High Court has stayed the hanging for eight weeks, many groups are still active in demanding abolition of death penalty.
The Tamils in Sri Lanka are in a helpless situation. They are not in a position to demand their rights.
A Tamil journalist from Sri Lanka was in Chennai recently. He reportedly said that people outside Sri Lanka have not understood the real problems faced by the Tamils there. The Tamils are fighting for their survival and the government is not helping them in any way.
The money that the Indian government provided Sri Lanka to build houses for the Tamils has not been used for the purpose.
(According to a report in The Hindu, just 52 houses have been built with Indian funds in Jaffna peninsula out of a proposed 1000 houses.)
Colombo has been diverting the funds for other purposes. But India doesn’t seem to care or monitor how the funds are being used. India is not sincere about helping the Tamils.
As for the Diaspora Tamils, there appears to be lack of unity among them. The enthusiasm with which they came out into the streets during the final stages of the war in Sri Lanka in 2009 is missing now.
The Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (of Rudrakumaran) hasn’t lived up to expectations.
There are also reports that some groups in Europe are talking about reviving the LTTE.
Q. Do you think it is possible to revive an armed struggle in Sri Lanka?
A. It’s a big question mark.
Q. What about the fate of Tamils living in Sri Lanka?
A. Many are leaving the country and joining their relatives living abroad. As long as the LTTE remained, the Tamils felt protected and secure. Now, they have no safety or security. Sri Lanka is determined to wipe out Tamil identity. Their aim is to change the demography of the traditional Tamil territories in the North and Eastern parts of Sri Lanka. They are setting up Sinhalese settlements in Tamil areas. The army is extending full support to the new settlers.
Q. What do you think will happen to the Eelam movement?
A. There may be ups and downs in a movement, but the movement itself will survive.
Q. Is Eelam achievable?
A. There appears to be a lull now, but things can change any time. Didn’t the UN Report and the Channel 4 Expose give fresh impetus to the struggle? The future is in the hands of the younger generation.