[News] Tamil diaspora sceptical over 'win'

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed May 20 10:59:44 EDT 2009

Wednesday, May 20, 2009
16:12 Mecca time, 13:12 GMT

Tamil diaspora sceptical over 'win'

By Claudia Theophilus in Kuala Lumpur

The struggle of Tamils in Sri Lanka has drawn 
sympathy from many in Malaysia's Tamil community

As the Sri Lankan government basks in its 
self-declared victory over Tamil rebels, the news 
of an end to almost three decades of civil war 
has been met with scepticism and criticism by 
many Tamil descendants in Malaysia.

The Southeast Asian country is home to a sizeable 
Sri Lankan Tamil community, many of whom were 
first brought here by the to work in the British 
administrative services during the colonial era.

Over the years many have kept in touch with 
relatives and friends back home in Sri Lanka's 
northeast, and as with other parts of the 
diaspora there is continuing and strong support for a Tamil homeland.

Ethnic Indians make up about eight per cent of 
Malaysia's population, and are mostly Tamils.

S Senthe, a chartered accountant based outside 
the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, echoes the 
feeling of many, describing the Sri Lankan 
military's victory over the Tamil Tigers as 
"shallow" and saying it would lead only to "superficial peace".

'Blatant discrimination'

Senthe said he had little doubt the struggle for 
a Tamil homeland would continue after the Tigers' 
defeat, but on a more intellectual and sophisticated level.

"No community will take up arms unless they have 
suffered decades of continuing oppression"

M Manogaran, Malaysian member of parliament
"The Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora, about one million 
scattered around the world with many holding high 
positions in big corporations, will fuel the next stage," he told Al Jazeera.

"But it will not be through an armed struggle like before."

Senthe said the world must try to understand why 
the Tamils were forced to take up arms.

"It is because of the intransigence and 
unwillingness of the Sinhala government to 
address long-standing grievances of blatant discrimination," he said.

Recent months have seen the Sri Lankan Tamil 
diaspora stage huge protests in major cities 
around the world demanding international 
intervention to bring peace and aid to the 
escalating humanitarian crisis triggered by the conflict.


In Malaysia, several ethnic Indian groups held 
protests outside the High Commissions of India 
and Sri Lanka, as well as the US embassy.

Among the groups calling for action was the Kuala 
Lumpur-based Global Peace Initiative (GPI), which 
in April petitioned the Indian government to stop 
its military assistance to the Sri Lankan army 
and to save the Tamil minority there.

S Pasupathi, a lawyer and the coordinator of the 
GPI, said the Sri Lankan government's refusal to 
allow independent media and aid agencies access 
to the war zone showed it was unconcerned about the plight of Tamil civilians.

He said the government may have won the war but 
"are far from achieving real peace".

"The mental and emotional scars resulting from 
decades of fighting are not that easily healed," he said.



Tamils from Sri Lanka first came to Malaysia to 
work during the British colonial era
"As long as the government acts in a very 
oppressive nature, any reconciliation in real 
terms between the Sinhala Buddhists and Hindu or Muslim Tamils will be hard."

While the government may have declared victory, 
he said, Sri Lanka will not see enduring peace 
"unless the dignity of the Tamils is restored and 
some form of autonomy is considered".

There were also doubts over the Sri Lankan 
government's claim that Velupillai Prabhakaran, 
the LTTE commander, was killed in the final battle earlier this week.

M Manogaran, a member of parliament of Tamil 
origin, said he does not believe official claims 
that the LTTE has been totally wiped out because there was no evidence.

But he stressed that the more important and 
contentious issue is the plight of the injured 
and displaced civilians in the war zone.

"Why is the government not allowing international 
aid groups and government representatives into 
the area to verify the extent of the damage?"

He also alleged that China, Russia and India had 
a role in providing intelligence and arms for the bloody conflict.

Manogaran said even the Tamils in southern India 
were sympathetic to the Sri Lankan Tamil cause, 
particularly because of the prolonged suffering of civilians in the war.

"The Sri Lankan government should look at the 
root of the Tamil struggle before it can work out 
any form of lasting peace," he said.

"The fact is 
 no community will take up arms 
unless they have suffered decades of continuing oppression."
  Source: Al Jazeera

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