PLOTE office in Vavuniya
I read a fair amount of stuff from the Tamil Diaspora. I check TamilNet (via VTunnel), Tamil National, some people on Twitter, etc. I think the basic argument boils down to GoSL can’t be trusted, Tamils need their own state, international community should facilitate this. I think it’s wrong for one thing, but I also think the diaspora simply isn’t in a position to make any demands. They can be concerned and make suggestions, but unless they show up they’re not able to do anything. Participating in a political process or a struggle of any kind actually involves showing up. And they don’t.
To quote Canadian MP Deepak Obhrai, who did visit the camps:
I am going to be very candid with you. The issue is not with Canadian Tamils. The issue is with Tamils in Sri Lanka. The ultimate political solution has to come in consultation with the Tamils in Sri Lanka and not Tamils in Canada. While I appreciate the concerns of Tamils living in Canada and their willingness to contribute towards rebuilding of Tamil areas, I do not personally believe that Sri Lankans who live outside the country are the ones who will be instrumental in the direct political settlement in Sri Lanka.
I did indicate to the Sri Lankan authorities that there’s a desire on the part of Sri Lankans in Canada to be more active, but I would clearly state that they cannot be involved in the political process.
What I hear from some radical diasporals is that the Rajapakse’s are thugs, can’t trust SL, international community is blind, do this, do that. From some it’s literally negativity all the time, this is going to fail, this is wrong, sanctions, boycotts, trials, etc. They look everywhere except themselves. However concerned they claim to be, they won’t get on a flight here. They won’t vote. So they don’t really have a say in the political process.
Not that it isn’t difficult. Advocating for a separate state is illegal under the 6th amendment and Tamils that do speak out are in danger, both from the government and from radical Tamils. However, there are literally millions of Tamils here. There is patently and obviously not a genocide going on here. I went to a huge Tamil/Hindu festival in Udappu last week. I spoke over the phone to someone in Menik Farm yesterday. There are civil rights problems galore, but the claims of genocide and Nazi-style concentration camps only make sense in the echo chamber of isolation. I deal with many Tamil people here who I don’t agree with but I at least respect them for having the courage to be here.
Recently there were elections in the Jaffna and Vavuniya (and Uva in the south). There was low turnout in Jaffna especially, but I think it’s a start. I don’t agree with a lot of the candidates but I have a great respect for them and consider them players. I don’t agree with many of the voters, but I think they’re very brave. I think that’s the way to go. It’s not easy, but 80% of success is showing up. Those throwing stones from the diaspora don’t have the courage to show and I think the negativity can be safely rejected. Those voters in the north showed up and I think we should listen to them.