Read an interesting article by Ruwan Weerakoon (via Bailaman). It’s an interview with a Black Tiger suicide bomber, now in custody. One thing that stuck with me was the quote: “One day, I came across the Tamil shop owner speaking in fluent Sinhalese to another person who was Sinhalese. This surprised me: During our training in the LTTE, we were impressed upon that the Sinhalese were the bitterest rivals of the Tamils.” One reason I never understood Eelam was Colombo, which is majority minority (Muslim and Tamil). No matter how much the LTTE tried to drive the races apart, we still can and do live together.
We simply have to. The place isn’t big enough for two states, especially two at war with each other. If an early separation had happened I suspect it would have been terrifying, like India’s partition, with trains of dead people going back and forth. If Tamils have land in the north, then what? Don’t we still need equal rights for the Tamils in Colombo? What about estate Tamils? Don’t the Muslims in the North and East deserve some consideration as human beings? Don’t we all need to travel and visit family and use the airport and just look at birds and go swimming and stuff? Can’t we all get along?
As mentioned, I don’t believe in Tamil Nationalism anymore than Sinhala Chauvinism because I don’t think race is a good thing to build nations or a future on. Races mix and change. I know children of second generation mixed marriages who are almost post-racial. They’re just Sri Lankan. I know mixed families and many suddhas with a great love for this country. They need a place where they too can feel at home.
I still have hope for Sri Lanka because, like America, we can still salvage our Constitution from years of neglect. Because there’s still the framework for equal rights to emerge. I see no such potential in Tamil Eelam, or Tamil Nationalism. I mean, the ‘Tamil’ bit in there just keeps a lot of people out who have every right to be on this island as well.
Sri Lanka today does not have equal rights and Tamils have less freedom than Sinhalese. However, we can and do live together and we can gain civil rights for all of us, together. Sinhalese and Tamils are not doomed to be rivals, we actually have a lot in common. For one thing, we’re all Sri Lankan.