I am Tamil, hear me roar!

Posted on April 27th, 2009 3 great comments. Room for one more!

The minority Tamil population of Sri Lanka is arguably the oldest of the island’s groups and, therefore, probably has the best claim to independence in the country these days. Unfortunately, they are also the minority in a land that was quickly populated by immigrants from the Indian mainland. Tamil leaders signed away some of the rights of their people back when talks between them and the Sinhalese (Sri Lanka’s current majority) leadership were still peaceful, but it’s hard to justify the treatment they’ve received in what is essentially their own country. The word “racism” is used quite often, if you need an idea of what I’m talking about.

Given these things and the clear danger to Sri Lanka’s civilian  Tamil population in the last remaining stronghold of the rebel Tigers army, I sincerely hope that the situation is resolved immediately, that media is allowed into the region, and help reaches the people in the path of the Sinhalese war machine right away. So far, the Tamil people have nothing but my sympathy and support.

Alas, the vast majority of the people who were demonstrating this morning  in front of the US embassy not only do not get my support, they get the thumb-behind-the-upper-teeth gesture. If there was a counter-demonstration, I’d wave a placard.

Here’s why:

Tiger flag

Those flags that they’re flying are Tamil Tiger flags. The chants that they’re chanting are in support of the Tigers. This is not a pro-Tamil/pro-peace rally, this is a gathering of  people supporting a terrorist group. And it’s not just the Canadian government’s bumbling bureaucracy that thinks so; numerous other governments, human rights groups, and NGOs don’t think too highly of the Tigers either. I’m talking things like murder, abduction, extortion, and use of child soldiers. They’re even widely renowned for coming up with the idea for modern suicide bombings.

Still, it’s not a far leap to see why the Tamil people feel that the Tigers are their liberators. Who else stood up for them in their time of need? The situation isn’t too dissimilar to that between Israel and Palestine with the Tigers playing the role of Hamas. Most Tamil civilians are stuck between them and the Sinhalese army in pretty much the same way.

The recent large exodus of civilians (about 150,000), from the region when the Sri Lankan army moved in suggests, quite heavily, that the population was being used as human shields. They weren’t sticking around to support the Tigers, they were being forced to stay where they were. Looking at the Tigers’ track record, this is not a surprise. We even felt their tender caress here in Toronto in their donation campaign.

So why are we being asked to support them? Why are their flags flying all throughout the demonstration?

The Tamils gathered on University Avenue this morning (and in greater numbers in the afternoon) were, literally, marching under a banner that directly espouses and supports violence, even down to the imagery used on the flag — two rifles with bayonets crossed in battle behind a charging tiger. Heavens!

The Tigers still have their claws in but there’s not much left to grip onto. At this time, there are still about 50,000 people inside the little north-eastern bit of Sri Lanka; I recall reading stories about tent cities. It can’t last much longer, and it shouldn’t have lasted this long.

I’m sure the Sri Lankan community here at home wants this thing to end as swiftly and sanely as possible. The Tigers aren’t the route to that solution. Dropping these military goons would make the cause a lot easier to get behind.

And maybe get a nicer flag too; one that doesn’t want to kill everyone in the crowd.

3 Comments on “ I am Tamil, hear me roar! ”

What's on your mind?