By Waruna Rajapaksha
After the prolonged nationalist war the reality confronting the masses from all national communities should be explored carefully.
‘Stop Disappearances and Abductions’ ~ [International day against disappearances] ~ in Vavuniya – 2012 August 30, Organized by-Committee for Investigation of the Disappeared- pic: courtesy of: VikalpaSL
The Rajapaksa regime manipulates the so-called victory to implement its militarized political programme in the North and East by forcing the Tamil masses to believe that the defeat of the LTTE is a defeat for the Tamils.
After hoisting the Lion’s flag in Jaffna the unfinished tasks of neo-liberal capitalism have been implemented rapidly by imposing the illusion of “war victory” to deceive the Sinhala masses. However, the regime carefully manipulates the situation to win its class war. The mass destruction of society during the nationalist war, and its aftermath of the catastrophe unfolding in the North and the East, proves that the whole of Lankan society was defeated.
Even though it’s three years since the end of the war the regime still maintains a military rule in the North and East with minimum opposition. The deliberate denial of civil administration and the continued military domination meets different political objectives of the regime and the state. On one hand, it paves the way to implementing neo-liberal capitalist, socio-economic and cultural manipulation in these areas without much resistance.
On the other hand, the entire country is being gradually militarized, not to fight against terrorism but to terrorise the masses. Political goals are achieved by suppressing mass struggles, political opponents and the democratic forces. The contradictory nature of glorifying military victory to deceive the masses while creating consternation at the re-emergence of the LTTE is evident.
Apart from militarization, an unlawful culture of abductions is being imposed on society. This military culture in the North and the East exceeds similar experience in the South. Even against judiciary orders the Tamil people have to show their family photographs.
Forceful participation in the political activities of the government and their supporters has become a common feature. Civil administration is operated by the military and the entire North and East are being restructured according to a long term military strategy.
By exceeding normal legal and moral obligations, the people of the North and East are being subjected to arrest, detention or even murder by the military and government operated paramilitary groups.
The biggest ever challenge confronting progressive political movements in our history in terms of rebuilding unity among the oppressed masses comprising national communities is to defeat the imposed ideology attempting to subdue and deceive the masses in the South by the regime using all ideological apparatus to justify this unlawful and inhuman process.
The government’s resettlement project has forced the affected Tamil masses to become refugees again. They are being denied basic human needs of food, medication, water and shelter. They are forcefully being denied access to their original lands.
For instance in Sampur, (Trincomalee district), 675 sq km were leased to Indian companies to create a special economic zone. The livelihood of these people has been destroyed and no effective programme had been implemented to provide land, water, fertilizer or seeds for agriculture. The fisheries industry is in disarray; not only are they not provided with the necessary equipment but also the freedom to fish is being denied by the naval presence in Northern and Eastern waters.
Large numbers of women are being widowed due to the destruction of the community which creates a distinct social crisis among this community. The issue of asylum seekers has become more critical in national and international political spheres and the majority of these illegal migrants are Tamils.
Government sponsored cultural domination imposed on Tamils and Muslims has become a common feature of the present regime. Changing the names of streets and villages into Sinhalese, organizing uninvited Buddhist cultural activities by the armed forces in Tamil and Muslim populated areas could be defined as a cultural dominance of the Sinhala majority.
The regime or the state doesn’t reflect the real needs of the Sinhala masses; it is also an adversary and oppressive institution against them which dominates its class ideology. Instead of implementing an effective programme to introduce all three languages in administrative and other spheres which would further national unity among all communities, it is spreading politically motivated nationalism.
Lanka’s backward capitalism hasn’t been able to produce a strong national movement to unify national communities. Contemporary imperialism still implements the same but modified policy in different regions of the globe by using every sort of national, religious, ethnic and all other sectarian tendencies to implement their world order.
In 1949, quite surprisingly, the All Ceylon Tamil Congress limited its action only to a nominal opposition to the undemocratic parliamentary act of citizenship to abolish the voting rights of the up-country and low-country Tamil workers.
On the other hand the Tamil and Muslim elites did not hesitate to bargain with successive governments to secure their “fair share” by using the Tamil and Muslim peoples votes. In 1956 the Bandaranaike era came into existence under the pretext of the “right of native languages” instead of English. This was transformed quickly into a “Sinhala Only” policy for the sake of political power.
In 1972, by introducing the republican Constitution, the capitalist state abandoned the responsibility to represent the aspirations of the minority (in terms of population) communities. Simultaneously, on May 14, 1972, the creation of the Tamil United Liberation Front, and on May 16, 1976, its adopted policy declaration for a separate Tamil state at Vadukkodai, had marked a qualitative difference on the national question. Since then, a series of atrocities took place in the evolution of the national question.
At the beginning of the 17 year long UNP regime, the election fraud and pillage in 1981 at the Jaffna Development Council, the massive destruction of the Jaffna Library which was a cultural symbol of the Tamil people, the creation of “Black July” under the guidance of the then head of state were quite significant as Lanka’s national question, exploded beyond the national boundaries, and Tamil nationalism transformed into a distinctive qualitative level from a mere ideology to a destructive material force.
The common usage of replacing the crises of capitalism with mere nationalism has been practiced throughout the history of Lankan backward capitalist politics. All successive governments failed to solve the agricultural crisis by introducing settlements for the oppressed landless peasants in the Eastern districts.
On the other hand the LTTE introduced ethnic cleansing by murdering innocent Sinhalese and Muslim villagers and expelling them from North and East. Since then, most of us have witnessed the unfolding human catastrophe.
Even though not staging a war, the long standing subjugation of upcountry and low country tea and rubber estates affiliated Tamil workers and the Muslim oppressed masses that populated the Eastern districts, is one of the most critical issues in contemporary Lanka in terms of the National question.
The poverty and the ignorance of the subjected estate Tamil workers are being used against them. They are being constantly denied a liveable home, a fair salary or a cultural life. They have been subjected to slavery by the successive governments as well as the elites of this community. The plight of the Muslim oppressed masses is also not much different to that of the Tamils.
Not only the capitalist but also the former left movement has betrayed the rights of the minority communities. The old left fell into the nationalist line to secure their popular vote base in the South. The JVP, which we belonged to, wasn’t able to avoid the same “plight” and added more to it by its adopted nationalist and reformist programme.
It made the situation even worse by strengthening the hands of the oppressive regime and the state by supporting them ideologically. The history of betrayal should be put right.
Defeated masses of all communities should unite to defeat the oppressor who is not among the masses but above the masses. A united struggle for the rights of every community would pave the way for the emancipation of the oppressed masses of all communities.
Sri Lanka has never experienced a movement in which different national communities fight for each other’s rights. Practicality would confront the utopian sentiments. We all should have a political conscience and courage if we are compelled to review our theoretical stand and tactical approaches for the sake of a broader social movement.