17 February 2015

Resolving to hate

C.V. Wigneswaran just another Appapillai Amirthalingam?
The Northern Provincial Council (NPC) has passed a resolution charging successive governments of perpetrating genocide on Tamils in Sri Lanka.  For a Council that has an ex-judge of the Supreme Court as Chief Minister the interjection of the word ‘genocide’ is mischievous at best.  

If language legislation in 1956 amounts to‘genocide’ then clearly Mr Wigneswaran does not understand the meaning of the word.  The point is, Wigneswaran does understand and therefore discredits the document and in the end does much disservice to legitimate grievances of the community he claims to represent.

The resolution is symptomatic of the disease that has always plagued Tamil Nationalism: exaggeration.  It does two things. First it amounts to rabble-rousing and preys on the most base of human sentiments.  It encourages extremism and empowers extremists.   Secondly, it ensures that whatever support you may have from those in other communities will erode simply because you’ve lost the legitimacy that comes from keeping your articulation within the dimensions of reality.  Together, they make for entrenchment of ‘hard lines’.   

There is no argument in the contention that Tamil people in this island suffered.  It would be as hard to dispute that their suffering can be attributed to one community and one community alone.  Wigneswaran who at one time was a member of a panel of judges that sentenced LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran to a 200 year prison term would know that the men who is party (Tamil National Alliance) affirmed were the ‘sole representatives of the Tamil people’ abducted Tamil children, murdered Tamil politicians, professionals and leaders of rival groups. He knows who held hundreds of thousands of Tamils hostage in the last stages of the armed conflict.  He also knows who saved them. 

Pointing the finger in one direction and pretending to be blind to crimes perpetrated by members of one’s own community against others in that very same community makes it hard to embrace such resolutions as being informed by moral and ethical consideration.  Do that and you cannot whine if those in the community you charge with ‘genocide’ decide to treat you as a third-rate rabble-rousing politician who is not interested in things like peace, reconciliation, inter-ethnic harmony and such. 

Wigneswaran and the TNA must not forget that it was not the Tamil community alone that suffered.  They should not forget that it was not only Tamils who spoke about the legitimate grievances of Tamils.  As of now, when the TNA refuses point blank to use existing space for airing legitimate grievances, the claim of being ‘lesser citizens’ does, ironically, gain credence not as something conferred but as something desired or at least acquired by choice. 

Spokespersons of this government, ruled by a coalition of which the TNA is a constituent, have expressed regret over the statement and its tendentious wording.  One might say this is the best the government can do given the tenuous nature of the governing arrangement, but there will be those who call it ‘wimpy’ or worse, ‘an insult to everyone who died in the last 30 years’.  The TNA is clearly sharpening knives of separatism.  And if truth and reconciliation are important (as the regime has often stated) then spades should be called spades. 

Wigneswaran, the so-called ‘moderate,’ is acquiring Tiger stripes at an alarming rate and clearly without his conscience being pricked on account of inconsistency, the shameless uttering of falsehoods, mislabeling of myth as history and conjecture as fact.  It just wrecks the search for truth because few would want to make conversation with such people. 

If this is what a former judge of the Supreme Court can do, what can one expect from others in the NPC?  Those who truly desire to reconcile and move on in the Tamil community are fast being marginalized.  The self-labeled ‘moderates’ of an earlier avatar of Tamil Nationalism, the Tamil United Liberation Front played this very same game.  Wigneswaran knows what happened to them.  Everyone knows the costs incurred by all communities.  We need not go into all that.  We need not walk that path again.