Comments made by a Northern Tamil youth about the Ava Group during a television interview opens a window to view the National Question from a different perspective
The Government has tried to belittle the situation in the north where armed groups are a threat to peace
Nine years after the defeat of the tiger rebels we still hear stories about disgruntled Tamil citizens demanding justice and also of attempts by certain parties to give hero status to rebel cadres who perished during the conflict.
Last Saturday (February 9) relatives of missing Tamil people staged a protest outside the Vavuniya Post Office against politicians A.Sumanthiran and R.Sampanthan claiming that the duo have not helped in solving their grievances. Also of concern is the work of some university undergraduates who have forcibly completed a monumental structure- which they refer to as a ‘Mahiviru memorial- at the Jaffna University. In this backdrop the interview done by Derana with an individual said to be a member of the much talked about ‘Ava Group’-a violent group which disrupted peace in Jaffna-is significant.
- The young man cautions viewers that the slain LTTE Leader Velupillai Prabakaran’s revolution failed
- Arun maintains that there are no organised criminal gangs operating in Jaffna
- Arun too sees the Tamil politicians having failed to find a solution to the ‘national question
- His stance is that all human and political problems can be sorted out through discussions
- We have seen former LTTE cadres who sided with the Government now leading super luxury lives
There are questions about the authenticity of the group because the interviewee, Arulanandan Arun, maintains that he is a member of a group that has been labelled by politicians as the ‘Ava Group’. The video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9PmD5PT20v8) has gone viral and also attracted much comments where ever posted on social media websites. We may have questions about this man, but he answers most of the questions that the Tamil people of the country have been struggling for answers.
Arun could be in his early 30s and his answers are spiced by his radical thinking. He refuses to be labelled a Hindu and says that he is a human. He says he isn’t a Hindu and adds that he is in search of a religion. These are the signs of revolutionist, but the young man cautions viewers that the slain LTTE Leader Velupillai Prabakaran’s revolution failed.
We came to know of a collective called the ‘Ava Group’ about four years ago when the print media started cultivating an interest towards reporting on violence initiated by this group. Politicians from the opposition were quick to take mileage out of the developing trend of armed groups surfacing in the north and accused the Government of being unable of retaining the hard earned peace in Jaffna.
Arun maintains that there are no organised criminal gangs operating in Jaffna. The guy is smart, well read, speaks all three languages used in the island and most importantly is sharp and vigilant during during the interview. He doesn’t allow the TV presenter to pin any labels on him and says that he is a member of a group comprising youth who’ll not hesitate to get aggressive in the face of social injustice.
Arun recalls how a parent had once given a photograph of a child to the security authorities when the latter had visited the house of a person, who was suspected to be a rebel. The picture had showed the person during childhood dressed as a rabbit, probably to take part at a school concert. This resulted in giving birth to the name ‘Hava’ which had later become ‘Ava’.
There are enough newspaper reports and television visuals showing the aggressive acts of the Ava Group. Arun defends these violent acts and vouches however that no deaths have been caused in the society despite the disruptions. But the interview seems to go nowhere when the presenter tries to make young Arun confess on behalf of the group that causing violence in society is bad.
Like most youth and ambitious parents in the north, Arun too sees the Tamil politicians having failed to find a solution to the ‘national question’, despite having had the privilege of entering parliament. He condemns the stance taken by the TNA that it is the sole representative of the Tamil people. He says such an ideology doesn’t fit in with the thinking of democracy.
He maintains during the interview that the present youth would never take to arms again. Arun picks from the best philosophical quotes underscoring the fact that ‘A true revolution is initiated with non-violence’. He adds that parents should teach their children that ‘there is no glory in war’. He also affirms that ‘the glory comes from the people who work to prevent the war’.
Armed groups have surfaced time and again in Jaffna despite a military presence
Arun might have got what he wanted; publicity. All these hits for his video clip and airtime in one of the most watched television stations in the country will stand him in good stead. His approach to gaining media attention draws similarities with former JVPer and political activist Kumar Gunaratnam, who later became an Australian citizen.
His stance is that all human and political problems can be sorted out through discussions. He says that the Tamil diaspora is willing to fund his activities, but adds that he doesn’t want to touch the money on offer because if he did he would be branded a LTTE terrorist. He requests nations like America and Canada to stop interfering in the activities of Sri Lanka. He goes onto state that the migration problem that European countries are complaining about will cease to exist then.
We have seen former LTTE cadres who sided with the Government now leading super luxury lives. Arun warns during the interview that the LTTE revolution wasn’t genuine and that the rebel group didn’t achieve any of its goals. He also warns that politicians who made a hero out of Prabakaran are now in the process of building another such terrorist leader so as to ensure their survival in the political scene.
Arun also probably sees that past rebels who shelved their revolutions and struggles had earned ‘a better ticket to life’. He seems smart enough to foresee this reality or on the other hand might be stubborn enough to pursue achieving a daunting goal like changing how powerful politicians administer this nation. But to achieve any of these two targets he has to first shed the heavy metal like vest he wears as his personality and replace that with something light and comfortable.