Monday, May 18, 2009

Am I happy that the LTTE is defeated?

Its Victoria day here in Canada and as the firecrackers are being lit my mind wanders to the elation in Sri Lanka and the military defeat the LTTE Terrorist Organization faced this weekend. Certainly there are firecrackers being lit aplenty back in Sri Lanka and the friends and family that I spoke to are all happy. Personally I don't know whether its happiness that I feel, but I know its definitely not sadness.

Unlike some of my fellow expatriate Sri Lankans here in Canada I'm not privy to the inner workings of the LTTE; as such I'm not fully aware of the depth of commitment and representation they have amongst the expatriate Tamil Community here in Canada. I always thought the LTTE Terrorist movement was a clandestine movement funded by select numbers of misguided expatiate Sri Lankans and affiliated street gangs but over the past few weeks my opinion has changed. The protests opened my eyes to another side of the LTTE: The complex face of the international diaspora that funds them.

I have seen how regular everyday expatriates I wouldn't look twice at, support the LTTE. I watched as they thonged the streets of Toronto with their families; hundreds strong at times and chanted along with students from York, Toronto and Ryerson Universities. I saw how they waved the red and yellow LTTE flag and passionately protested their cause. I feel a bit uneasy at the sight of such strong visible support for a banned Terrorist organization in the city that I call my own; but like many Canadians I understand their right to freedom of speech.

But I don't understand why they support the LTTE. I don't understand why they were protesting for a ceasefire to save civilians caught in the crossfire when it was the LTTE that was holding them hostage all along. I don't understand how they claim the LTTE is any better than the government of Sri Lanka. And I don't understand how they claim genocide when its the undeniably the LTTE that has killed and victimized all the other ethnic groups that lived in the areas they controlled including Buddhists, Muslims and Christians.

I do however understand the fear that the LTTE instilled in us Sri Lankans and the way in which they targeted civilians so as to have their demands carry weight. I remember how news of suicide bombings in Colombo sent chills down my spine and how waves of phone calls would flood the phone lines as friends, relatives, parents and children called each other. Calls to check on people, inquire on their safety and inquire after common friends. I understand the panic that the air attacks caused in the Sri Lankan capital and the pandemonium that each raid flung the city into. I understand how the war drove up our cost of living and how the average Sri Lankan struggles to make ends meet.

So do I feel happy that the Terrorist Organization which the pro-LTTE diaspora here support got defeated militarily? I don't know. But I hope this now means they will address their concerns democratically instead of through acts of terror.

Am I happy at the opportunity of re-unification that this now offers Sri Lanka? Of course. Am I looking forward to supporting a democratic solution to the underlying issues that lead to this conflict in the first place? Yes, absolutely....


  1. Would a similar group of passionate expatriates be permitted to conduct a public protest campaign on behalf of Al Qaida ? If not, could you please explain why the 'right to freedom of speech' in Canada is not extended to such a group of protesters ? We in Sri Lanka are unable to understand this act of discrimination.

  2. But "they don't all support the LTTE. And they don't represent the GTA SL tamil population--unless you are seriously stating that every single one, even a plurality, all went to the protest. Since rough estimates of that population range from 100-150k, that would mean 50,000-75,000 people turned out at every protest in Toronto. You seriously believe that? I hate the loudest mouths of the diaspora, the most visible members, those who do wave the flag and compartmentalize the depredations of the Tigers upon all from their 1983-era vision of them as Tamil representatives in the fight for equality.

    f you change "the diaspora support" to "those in the diaspora who support" you'd be accurate. Instead you smear every SL Tamil who's gone abroad in the name of making a statement. My mother didn't leave because of existential fear or that she could glorify some fat camo-covered cunt abroad--she left because there was a fracking rapine murderous mob outside her apt and the only reason they left was because the singhalese security guard was on duty and still human.

    Most people just don't have the time to speak up about anything, let alone question the sincerity of supposed 'good guys' who could rationalize the pulping of civilian heads by their gleeful pissing on Prabhakaran's grave that is likely to take up the remainder of the year.

    so let's get the disclaimers out of the way:
    1. I don't support the tigers--the very fact I feel it necessary reveals only the curious need of Singhalese abroad to vet the 'loyalties' and security considerations of any diaspora Tamil they meet while my mother, myself and many like us are content to live in harmony as was done in the old days...even with the people who have had to rationalize 'collateral damage' in the north, even with the people who insist that having a culture and religion elevated above all others constitutes nondiscriminatory governance and noncoercive public policy

    2. I don't give a rat's ass about Eelam.

    3. A unitary country without special rules for special interest groups is mandatory for future sucess.

    4. Burying heads in the sand is not the way to approach differences in the community abroad--you simply can't play 50% tamil film songs and 50% baila at gatherings and expect that to pacify everyone. Especially not now.

    5. I, like many others in the diaspora, have relatives in Toronto. They did not attend the protests and wouldn't have even if they had the time to do so. they, of course, were working to feed their kids and give them the kind of future they can't get in SL, now or even 20 years from now

  3. Anonymous: Well no group has ever protested in favour of Al Qaida in Toronto yet. So whether that would be broken up is yet to be seen.

    However as per Canadian laws on freedom of speech if any group chooses to protest in favour of Al Qaida, according to Canadian law as long as the protest is 'peaceful' in nature they would be allowed to do so. The closest example I can give you is a protest in favour of Hamas where protesters waved flags and rallied in support of that paticular terrorist group(the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement like the LTTE is a banned terrorist organization in Canada).

    I agree with you its disturbing, but then again, its fair that opinions are allowed to be freely and peacefully expressed.

    -Better than fighting a civil war, no?

  4. Nayagan: The point you make is pertinent and I thank you for taking the trouble make it.

    I apologize if my writing was vague.

    By 'they' I was referring the large volumes of Tamil diaspora (in the thousands at times) that DID come out and support the recent pro-LTTE rallies in Toronto. What surprised me was the large numbers and the diverse backgrounds of these protesters. And when I refered to that I did mean the pro-LTTE diaspora at all times.

    I didn't mean to rope in all expatriate Tamil Sri Lankans or imply that ALL Sri Lankan expatriates of Tamil descent supported the LTTE.