[News] Tamil diaspora sceptical over 'win'
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".
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
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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