For the first time after the defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 2009, the dreaded outfit that fought for a separate State within the territory of Sri Lanka the Maveerar Varam (Great Heroes’ Week) and the Maveerar Naal (Great Heroes’ Day) announced by that organization were commemorated by the people in the North and the East without any hindrance by the security forces, according to the Tamil media.
The Maveerar Naal had been announced by the LTTE during its heyday to mark the death anniversary of Shanker, its first cadre to die after sustaining injuries during a skirmish with the security forces on November 27, 1982 and later the Maveerar Varam, a whole week was declared to be commemorated covering Shanker’s death anniversary as well as the birthday of the LTTE leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran, November 26. However, it has now become a day commemorated by the kith and kin of LTTE cadres killed in the war.
Though the Sinhala and English media had stopped short of publishing one or two stories on the commemorations, the Tamil media had given wide publicity for the events held in the North and the East, with full page pictorials and front page lead stories.
However, some Tamil politicians in the south had warned the Tamil people to be cautious in commemorating their loved ones, saying it might hinder the reconciliation efforts. Minister in charge of coexistence Mano Ganesan had said that people should commemorate their loved ones without commemorating the LTTE. Rehabilitation, resettlement and Hindu affairs Minister D.M. Swaminathan also had expressed a similar view.
Meanwhile, a motion presented in the Northern Provincial Council last week to commemorate the Maveerar Naal was rejected by the Council Chairman C.V.K.Sivagnanam, on the grounds that it was not conducive under the present situation in the country. In fact, such a move by the Council might amount to espousing separatism as the Day and the Week had been formally announced by a separatist outfit.
Commemoration by the relatives of the LTTE cadres killed in the war is a sensitive as well as a tricky issue. Though they were involved in unlawful activities and were inhuman in most cases, they were the loving sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters of those still living, and it would be ethically wrong to prevent those living from commemorating their loved ones. On the other hand, there is a danger of people glorifying the LTTE and their activities through these commemorations which might instigate the present day youth towards secessionism or to take to arms in order to solve their problems. Ministers Ganesan and Swaminathan too seem to be on this line of thinking.
Some politicians in the North vowed during the commemorations to strive to see that the aspirations of the “Maveerars” to be fulfilled. One might interpret this as a vow to fight for a separate State while another claiming that it was just an expression of determination to dedicate oneself to solve the problems faced by the Tamils, since there was only a razor thin difference between the two interpretations. Competitions and opportunism among politicians might push the youth towards dangerous trends through these double-edged utterances. One should not forget that it was the so-called moderates who initiated the separatist struggle which was taken over by the youth resulting in a bloody thirty-year long war that devastated the country, especially the Tamil dominated region.
The simple truth that was ignored by the LTTE leadership and that has to be kept in mind by the current Tamil leadership is that India which is home to over 50 million Tamils in its southernmost State would never allow carving out of a separate Tamil State in the northern Sri Lanka, as it would be a launching pad for the Tamil separatism in Tamil Nadu. Hence, even if another separatist war breaks out in the future in Sri Lanka, it would also end up in a calamity to the very Tamils, claiming thousands of lives and billions worth of properties. Therefore the commemoration of the people killed in the war including the members of the LTTE and the breathing of new life to the disastrous political ends should be clearly identified and differentiated by the Tamil leaders.