(1998 November 18)

The current visit of Mr. Lakshman Kadirgamer to South Africa will naturally lead to speculation among many individuals and groups. It has been known for some time that the LTTE is planning to shift its headquarters from London to South Africa LTTE IN SOUTH AFRICA ). It is also an open secret that the LTTE has been very active in South Africa for some time and that it has links with some organisations there. The LTTE and the African National Congress (ANC) have had close ties and that after Mr. Mandela came to power, the LTTE, with support from some members of the ANC, has been able to organise training camps in South Africa.

According to Mr. Rohan Gunaratne, (The Sunday Leader of 15th November) a fourteen member delegation of the LTTE leaders has met Mr. Mandela in his office around the same period Mr. Kadirgamer was visiting South Africa in early 1996. Mr. Mandela has apparently taken some action against the LTTE training camps only after Ms. Kumaratunga had brought the LTTE activities in South Africa to his attention when they were attending the commonwealth heads of government meeting in Edinburgh in October 1997. However some of the measures that were taken against the LTTE activities have been relaxed subsequently.

Is Mr. Mandela playing a double game or is he trying to satisfy the 600.000 strong Tamil/Dravidian community in South Africa? Or has he been converted by the propaganda of Tamil racism in general and the LTTE in particular.

Mr. Rohan Gunaratne in the article quoted above mentions that the LTTE was able to obtain a message from Mr. Mandela for a so- called human rights conference held in June 1996, in Australia. The person who had obtained the message is one Mr. Gordhan, who is an ANC ideologue. He has been engaged in drafting the newly completed constitution of South Africa. Mr. Gunaratne further states: "Some South African colleagues of Gordhan believe that he had been duped by the LTTE into believing that the LTTE struggle against Colombo is similar to the erstwhile conflict between White and Black South Africans. Even some of the better educated South Africans, particularly those of Indian Tamil origin, view the LTTE struggle through the lens of Apartheid."

As Tamil racism was created by the British and sponsored by the western powers that are neither Buddhists nor Hindus, one finds a section of the Christian and Catholic churches among or behind the Tamil racists. Thus it does not come as a surprise to find, from the article of Mr. Rohan Gunaratne, that Dr. S. J. Emanuel, the former Vicar General of the Yapanaya Diocese, has been a key figure in the organisation of the LTTE propaganda network in South Africa.

It cannot be denied that the Tamil racists have been very successful with their propaganda. If some people in South Africa believe that the situation in Sri Lanka is similar to what was in apartheid South Africa then nobody but the governments, present and past, have to be blamed. All the governments have failed in their duty to project the true picture of the country to the outside world.

The fault lies with those who gave the leadership. Most of then were only after power and were not interested in the welfare of the country. Some of them did not have the courage to confront Tamil racism as they did not want to be branded as Sinhala chauvinists. It has become a fact of life that those who oppose Tamil racism and Muslim racism and the associated propaganda are branded as Sinhala chauvinists etc.

For example in this country when a Muslim minister appoints 425 Muslims, out of about 450, to positions in the port it is not racism, but a Sinhala person who questions such appointment is branded as a chauvinist. With all the problems in the country it is allright to take steps to declare Sitaeliya a Hindu sacred city, based on mythology and not on any concrete historical facts. Sitaeliya has nothing to do with Sita of Ramayanaya.( Sita in this case means cold and the short vowel 'a' in Sita has been converted into the long vowel 'a' by the English pronunciation with the emphasis on the second syllable. The Sinhala imitators of the English, who make female Nanda(r)s out of male Nandas with their imitative pronunciations, have done the rest). The Sinhala people who oppose the move, however, are branded as chauvinists who are a threat to the ethnic harmony in the country.

The situation in Sri Lanka is, in fact, somewhat similar to what was in South Africa, though not the way it is presented by the Tamil racists. In South Africa the Europeans who came very late to the country as conquerors ruled over the original people of the country using force and discriminating against them. Probably they would have preferred to 'solve' the problem of the original people by massacring them, the way it was accomplished in the countries in North America, Australia and New Zealand.

The Tamil racists have been going around the world propagating the myth that the Tamils were the original people of Sri Lanka and that the Sinhala people who arrived later conquered and reined over the destinies of the Tamils. However there are so many versions of this story that there is no agreement even among the Tamil racists as to what is supposed to have happened in the distant past. Some are of the view that there were two kingdoms, a Sinhala kingdom in the south and a Tamil kingdom in the north, for two thousand five hundred years. They claim that the Yapanaya kingdom, which was finally ruled by the British, was handed over to the 'Sinhala imperialists' when the former left in 1948.

Whatever the version is, the Tamil racists are agreed that, at present the Tamils are ruled by a Sinhala government and that the Tamils have an aspiration. There are some Tamils who still claim that they have grievances but they will not deny that the Tamils are a separate nation, that the northern and the eastern provinces are the traditional homeland of the Tamils and that the Tamils have the right of self determination. The picture presented finally by almost all the Tamil racists is that the Tamils are discriminated against by the Sinhala people who arrived in the country after the Tamils.

Of course, there are the 'enlightened moderates' who would claim, as if it was a concession given to the Sinhala people, that the original people of the country are neither the Sinhala people nor the Tamils, but the Veddas. This seemingly innocent view has the sinister motive of claiming equal status for the cultures and histories of the ethnic groups in the country with the culture and history of the Sinhala people within the context of the last two thousand five hundred years or so.

The past governments, as well as the present government, have failed to tell the world that Sri Lanka is a Sinhala Buddhist country with a Sinhala Buddhist history and a culture, in which the citizens belonging to a number of ethnic groups live as equal citizens with the Sinhala people, retaining their ethnic identities. They have not presented the historical background of the problem and have allowed the Tamil racists to gain the upper hand.

If the governments had done their duty by the country, the outside world, excluding of course the sponsors of Tamil racism who are also responsible directly or indirectly for the propagation of the myths, would have known that as in the case of apartheid South Africa, it is an ethnic group of recent origin that dictate terms, with the help of the western powers, to the people who built a unique culture in the history of the country.

Dr. Karthigesu Indrapalan in his Ph. D. thesis states categorically that the early history of the country is Sinhala. Even Prof. Ranaweera A. L. H. Gunawardane, whom the Tamil racists are very fond of quoting, does not deny the history of the Sinhala people. His argument, which was very ably met by Prof. K.N.O. Dharmadasa whom the Tamil racists conveniently forget, deals with the concept of the Sinhala nation and not with the Sinhala history. The fact, that the Tamil racists have tried to deny the Sinhala people their history, itself shows how dominating the Tamil racists are and how they have been dictating terms to the Sinhala people.

While in South Africa, Ms. Kumaratunga would have come across at first hand the LTTE activities and their myths that have been propagated. The only way to confront Tamil racist propaganda is by exploding these myths. Thus it is natural that Ms. Kumaratunga selected South Africa to tell the truth that the Tamils are not the original people of Sri Lanka. However it is unfortunate that an attempt has been made by a section of the government to deny Ms. Kumaratunga her due credit for standing up to Tamil racist propaganda. The behaviour of this category of people reveals once again the dominance of the Tamil racists. The country is in such a siege that the head of the state cannot tell the world the truth regarding theTamils in this country.

What is most deplorable is the attitude of Mr. Ranil Wickremasingha and the UNP on this issue. Acting opportunistically, in order to win the support of the Tamil racists at the next election, they have asked the government to resign for telling the truth. In other words the UNP prefers to lie only to please the Tamil racists. Who said that there is discrimination against the Tamils in this country?

It should not be concluded that it is now too late for the government to embark on a propaganda campaign against the myths propagated by Tamil racism. Ms. Kumaratunga with her statement in South Africa has taken a step in that direction.