The issue regarding a separate homeland for the Tamils of the world has evoked considerable interest over the past 70 years or so. From the 1950s to about the early 1980s, a strong campaign took place in India for carving out a separate state of Dravidastan in the southern part of India. That campaign reached a level where it nearly threatened the break-up of India; but with some strong-arm tactics and quiet diplomacy, India was able to manage the issue. Nevertheless, as is well known, the yearning is still strong among the Tamils in India to set up a separate state, and many are waiting for a new spark from anywhere in the world to trigger the call once again. The Tamils in Sri Lanka too, attempted to establish a separate State in the Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka, even prior to Sri Lanka’s independence from the British, and have made many efforts to realize such a goal.
When the call for a separate state in Sri Lanka was mooted, it was no secret that the Tamils in Tamil Nadu were overtly and covertly assisting the effort of the Sri Lanka Tamils to do so. That support was akin to the support that the Tamils in Sri Lanka gave to the Tamils in India, when the Tamils in India tried to realize the dream of a Dravidastan nation. In fact, it is well-known that Tamils in India were supporting the Tamils in Sri Lanka, not because of their sympathy or affinity towards the Tamils in Sri Lanka, but rather as a result of their own compelling desire to create a separate Tamil State, which then, could be of benefit for all Tamils, worldwide.
Unfortunately, the separatist effort in Sri Lanka evolved into a violent and terror phase because of the ruthlessness of the terrorist leader Prabhakaran. But even so, the Tamils worldwide tolerated the terror and the cash extortions, since they perceived Prabhakaran as the possible conduit through whom the elusive Tamil homeland could be won for all Tamils of the world.
It is estimated that there are about 100 million Tamils living in many countries across the world. That, therefore, makes them one of the few races in the world with such a large population, but are yet without a geographical land mass to call their own. This drawback perhaps may be the psychological factor that drives the Tamils’ inner desire to carve out a homeland of their own in some part of the world. However, since their attempts to do so in India and Sri Lanka have failed, it is necessary for the Tamils to now examine the option of identifying a new location, or a part of a country, to create a homeland of their own. It is only if they are able to do so, that they could practice self-determination, nurture their culture, and protect their customs in a comprehensive and sustainable manner.
To achieve that vision, three important factors need to be fulfilled in the identification of a country to host the Tamil nation. First, that country must be sympathetic to the cause of the Tamils, and be one which would encourage the Tamils to express themselves in their own style. Second, that country must already have a critical mass of Tamils. Third, that country must have a sufficient land mass to be able to allocate a land area for setting up such a new Tamil homeland. Then, the billion-dollar question world is which country fits these specifications?
A host country that could comfortably fulfil the conditions as referred to above, is undoubtedly Canada, which is a second largest country in the world. It has a land mass of almost 10 million square kilometres, which makes it 153 times the size of Sri Lanka! It practices bilingualism and is one of the most ethnically diverse, multicultural nations. It has a population of only 38 million. Nearly 15% of its people are Asians, with a large proportion of them being Tamils. Canada is already divided into 3 territories and 10 provinces, many of which are very sparsely populated. That also suggests that the influx of a few million new immigrants to Canada could be accommodated without much tension or displacement of the existing population. In addition, Canada’s Constitution provides for a significant degree of autonomy to its provinces, which would conveniently allow a new ethnic group to establish themselves as an autonomous group, living in a specified location within a federal system of government.
The number of Tamils living in Canada as Canadian citizens is estimated to be around one million, and therefore a critical Tamil population mass has already been established in that country. Many Tamils from Sri Lanka and India have made Canada their home, and serve Canada diligently and loyally. In return, Canada has been sympathetic and generous towards them. At the same time, based upon the benign and tolerant attitude that the Canadians have developed towards minorities, the Canadians have also been able to understand and appreciate the aspirations of the Tamil People. Therefore, Canada will be in a position to actively provide the Tamils with the opportunity to express themselves in a separate state of their own. Moreover, many European Canadians, especially the current leadership in Canada, have openly supported the Tamil aspirations to establish a separate homeland for the Tamil people. They have done so at many world fora, and also canvassed for the Tamils at many global organizations, including the United Nations. Taking all these factors into consideration, Canada seems to be the ideal host country to provide the necessary framework for the Tamils of the world, to help establish their own nation.
The recent demonstrations by the Tamils in Canada have given expression to this growing sentiment, and that must now be recognized by the Canadian authorities. Hence, a suitable official response should be given by Canada to the Tamils of the world, without allowing such peaceful demonstration to take the shape of more violent expressions, as those that took place in Sri Lanka and India. In that regard, the best course of action for Canada would be to respond in a fair manner, and grant the Tamils in Canada the freedom to exercise self-determination in a demarcated part of Canada in a land area of around 200,000 square kilometres, which would, in effect, be only about 2% of its massive land mass. That would then provide the Tamils in Canada the political and economic space to engage in self-rule within the demarcated territory, thereby fulfilling a long felt need of the Tamils.
In that context, the province of Manitoba in Canada seems to be the ideal location from which a suitable segment of land could be conveniently demarcated for the new Tamil nation, since that province has one of the lowest population densities in the world. Such a new nation of the Tamils could, in due course, accommodate Tamils from India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Mauritius, Fiji and from any other country, who wish to migrate and make a home in the new nation within the Canadian territory, in much the same way that the Jews from difference lands migrated and settled in Palestine, and established the new state of Israel. This type of a gesture by Canada would not only be a magnanimous humanitarian expression, but also one in which the world surely would position the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau as the foremost contender for the next Nobel Peace Prize. Even more importantly, that action would also lead to the Tamils of the world being finally able to realize their cherished dream of having a separate nation for themselves, with land under their control, and with their own government.
Dr. LIONEL PETERSON
Mrs Paripooranam Rajasundaram- A Gracious Lady
I first came to know Mrs Pariapooranam Rajasundaram, who was born in Singapore on October 25, 1935 while serving a short stint in Jaffna with police intelligence. Her late husband who called her “Pari” was my very close friend, Mr. Vaithilingam Rajasunderam, the former principal of Victoria College, Chullipuram who was introduced to me by my friend and police batch mate, late Tissa Satharasinghe, who was the Personal Security Officer, to the late Mr T.B. Ilangaratne in 1971.
Mrs Rajasundaram was blessed with three sons and a daughter and several grandchildren and can be truly described as a very faithful spouse and dedicated mother, mother-in-law, grandmother and a great grandmother to the family of which she was matriarch.
My short spell in Jaffna in 1973 brought me closer to the Rajasunderams who celebration their 25th wedding anniversary in 1974. Theirs was an open house and my wife and sisters too came to know them well.
Mrs Rajasundram and her husband were good hosts and his assassination was a shock to all of us. It was then she became part of our family as she lived with us briefly till she obtained a UK visa to join her daughter and son-in-law there.
Many years later when she was living in England, I had joined KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and my family used to spend vacations with them in Cockfosters in North London. Mrs Rajasundaram treated us to sumptuous meals lavishing attention on us. She was very fond of my wife and two children and had a heart of gold. A devout Hindu she never failed in her religious obligations, lived within her means and was never greedy for what she could not afford. She firmly believed in being patient and willingly gave to those in need.
She was a lady who was selfless, full of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, very virtuous, and full of love and character. I can say of her: “People may forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel!”
My prayer as a Christian is that God grants you eternal rest.
NIHAL DE ALWIS
Independence celebrations for whose benefit?
Celebrating what? Bankruptcy, corruption and nepotism to name a few. Surely isn’t there one MP among 225 who feel we have nothing to celebrate. We say we cannot pay govt. servants’ salaries in time, the pensioners’ their entitlements. A thousand more failures confront us.
In our whole post-independence history such a situation has never arisen. We should be mourning our lost prestige, our lost prosperity our depleting manpower. Our youth in vast numbers are leaving the country for greener pastures. We should be conserving every cent to live, not to celebrate a non-existent independence. We should be mourning, walking the streets in sack cloth and ashes in protest at this wanton waste of money by an irresponsible government.
I can’t understand this mentality. The forces are also our young men who feel for their fellow men and women. Maybe their lot is a little better than the rest of us. But how can you order them to go parade? They cannot refuse. It is an unwritten or written code that they have to obey orders without question. I feel sorry for them. All that spit and polish – for whose benefit? Definitely not ours. We will be mourning in silence in our homes.
Aftermath Of Mr. Ranjan Wijeratne’s Assassination
It was on Saturday March 2, 1991 when that fateful LTTE bomb blast shattered the life out of Mr. Ranjan Wijeratne, Minister of Plantations and Deputy Minister of Defence, in front of the Havelock Road University Women’s Hostel opposite Keppetipola Mawatha.
Mr. Wijeratne used to take the same route from home to office every day. The LTTE had monitored his movements and found that it would be easy to target him on his way to office from a strategic point after receiving the information of his departure from home.
The LTTE targeted his vehicle right in front of the University of Colombo Women’s Hostel opposite Keppetipola Mawatha. The suicide bomber crashed into the Deputy Minister’s vehicle and killed the Minister instantaneously.
I had dropped our elder son at Royal College for scouting and then went to the public library to return some books and borrow new ones. After having done that, I was returning home when I saw a large cloud of black smoke going up from somewhere on Havelock Road. As I neared Thummulla junction, a university vehicle (I was Registrar of the Colombo University) was going in the opposite direction.
I stopped it and asked the driver what had happened. He said the Shanthi Vihar restaurant at the Thummulla had been set on fire. The police did not allow vehicles into Havelock Road from Thummulla. I parked the car on Reid Avenue between Thummulla and Lauries Road and walked down the Havleock Road to see what exactly had happened.
As I got onto Havelock Road, a policeman accosted me and told me that I cannot be allowed to proceed. Fortunately, at that moment the OIC of the Bamabalapitiya Police station, Mr. Angunawela, came to that spot and recognizing me told the police constable to allow me to proceed.
As I walked down I saw the damage caused. But there were no signs of any vehicle or any dead bodies as the police had got everything removed. There was a large gaping hole on the road where the blast had occurred. But immediately this was filled up and that section of the road carpeted.
I do not know who had ordered it and why it was done in such a hurry. There were pieces of human flesh hanging from the overhead telephone wires. The blast had also affected the house in front where there was a P& S outlet and a lady who had come to buy something had got her eyes blinded by the shrapnel thrown by the blast.
The parapet wall and the Temple flower (araliya) trees that had been grown just behind the wall were all gone. As I went into the hostel, I saw that the front wall of the hostel building badly damaged. When I went in the girls in the hostel were looking terrified and shivering with fright.
Two of the undergraduates who had gone out of the hostel as they had to sit an examination in the university had got very badly injured and they been rushed to the national hospital. Later one girl who was from Kobeigane, a remote village in the Kurunegala area, succumbed to her injuries. The university paid for her funeral. The security guard who had been close to the gate was thrown up and landed back on the ground. Fortunately, he had no injuries other than feeling groggy.
The next job was to evacuate the hostelers from the building. I telephoned the university office and found the Senior Assistant Registrar in charge of examinations was in office. I told her what had happened and to come to the hostel in a van. Thereafter both she and I packed all the hostelers in the van and sent them to the Bullers Lane Women’s hostel. This was done in three trips.
On inspecting the damage done to the hostel I thought the building would have to be demolished and a new building constructed to replace it. However, I contacted an Engineer, Mr. Upasena, at the Central Engineering Consultancy Bureau (CECB,) who came, inspected the damage to the building and stated that he will get it repaired to be stronger than what it was.
He stated that it might cost around Rs, 20,000/- to get the repair done. I contacted NORAD and they agreed to give the funds required for the repair and renovation. Mr. Manickam from NORAD came and inspected the building and agreed to get much more done than what we wanted repaired and renovated. The repair and renovation were done very quickly and the hostelers were able to move in again.
The reopening ceremony was attended by the then Ambassador to Norway, Mr. Manickam and the Vice-Chancellor. The Vice- Chancellor thanked the Ambassador, Mr. Manickam and the CECB for getting the hostel repaired and renovated to be used again. He never mentioned what I had done to get this hostel repaired and habitable again. That is gratitude!
HM NISSANKA WARAKAULLE
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