Since my blog is called A Journey from Jaffna, it behooves me to write my thoughts and opinions on the struggles and the brutal war that consumed at least two generations of Jaffna Tamils during the last three decades or more. War stopped the clock in Jaffna for decades and the scars of the battle show on the walls dotted with bullet holes and shelled homes. Most of the Jaffna landmarks that I knew growing up are either no more or remain in ruins.
What is being witnessed in Jaffna today is the “plight of the vanquished” and it is really sad that even the total victory over the Tigers has not brought in any justice, peace or sense of optimism for the Tamils. Sri Lanka’s past, present and the future has been engulfed with flames of hatred, violence and irrationality. What will be the future of the Tamils? Why would the Tamils believe that justice will prevail today, when it was not contemplated when the Tamils had their own army, navy and a semblance of an air force?
Jaffna peninsula is very small, but nurtured a culture of its own for more than a millennia under its own kings. Jaffna Tamil’s cultural dimensions and sense of ethnic belonging began to evolve from that day in 1505, when a Portuguese named Almeida landed on the shores of this peninsula. The impacts of five centuries of colonial rule, under the Portuguese, Dutch and the British, had created the uneasy but functional accommodation between the two major ethnic communities. There was a “working harmony” particularly under the British and even after independence, until the “Sinhala only Act” was introduced in 1956. The ethnic conflict is a result of the deep seated and irrational fear of the majority Sinhalese community.
I also have to express my opinions in terms of why the Tamils lost the battle. Their leadership was politically naïve and depended solely on military tactics (but lacking a strategy), instead of a political game plan. Pirabaharan nor his immediate inner circle were unaware of how the geopolitical landscape had changed after September 2001. If they were aware, the only conclusion I can come to is that their overconfidence on the strength of their weaponry must have blinded their vision. This was a crucial and historical mistake that led to the total defeat and the massacre of 2009. It is a pity that India stood on the side lines as a silent spectator during the final annihilation of the Tamils. Tigers’ philosophy of ignoring or wiping out those who disagreed with them instead of winning them over was the beginning of the end.
My questions regarding the future are …. Will the peace-loving Sinhalese masses draw a line in the sand and let the extremists know where they should stand?. Or, will our painful memories be tarnished further by more sinister events to come? Will the specter of racism resulting in a genocide emerge in Sri Lanka again?