Friday, June 5, 2009

A Letter not to be missed

Patriots(Sinhalese,Tamil,Muslim) Tamil Diaspora, Ealamists, this was an E mail I received. I have posted it here without editing. This is a must read.

This was one of the best and most thought provoking pieces, written on the aftermath of the recent tragic events. It brings in an element of sober introspection and analysis, that was sorely lacking among the spate of wild accusations and hysteria that was sweeping the nation. I think it needs to be blogged!


Of special interest was the fact that we knew a Mohan Sahayam a long time ago, and to see his name in this mail brought back many pleasant memories. I doubt, however, whether he will remember us. Mohan Sahayam's father was the Vice Principal of Trinity College.

Mohan Sahayam was a handsome bloke and a crack rugby player for Trinity,CR&FC and Sri Lanka. He was stand off and was quite a hero for many of us.

I think Mohan has brought in an element of rationality and a sense of equipoise to the current situation! What he proposes is the only logical way forward
.

As Gandhi once said, an eye for an eye will make the whole world blind.


And we have to hope that the common sense that Mohan speaks of can help to make people see reason. It's also courageous of him to state what may be considered as unpopular by many, in the immediate scenario of the post-LTTE hurrah! He has not shied away from stating his views and I salute him for that! Lets all stand together with him and help to heal the grievious wounds of the last three decades.

The Letter


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Hi Friends,

I write this with a lot of sadness, relief and hope, from what has
happened in the past few months. As a Tamil, (and proud to be one) I
deeply feel that together, we can build the burnt bridges and pave a
path to peace, happiness, equality and prosperity for us and for the
future generations to come.

We cannot forget what happened for the past three decades, however we
need to put aside our emotions, despair and remember those lives,
which were lost in bloody war in the name of “equality”! We (Tamils)
have to now reconcile and win the trust of the nation. For decades, we
have been secretive, unpredictable and uncompromising. Sure enough, we
were discriminated in the past, deprived of our equal rights and
treated unfairly. Now we have to give the nation a chance to prove
that, it is not the case.

We have to let go of the past and not react to our feelings in an
irrational and selfish way. We talk about the 1953 era, of the riots
and how the Tamils were discriminated and treated badly. In 1953, the
whole world was a different place and had a different attitude.

In America blacks could not go in to a restaurant or a supermarket or
attend a white school, the aborigines in Australia did not have any
rights. Now America has a black president, and the Aborigines have
equal rights. We Tamils now have to give it a chance for change to
happen in our motherland. We are hanging on to views and ideologies,
which formed thirty years ago, which are not appropriate anymore. I
think that, in the past 20 years we have created a doubt in the minds
of the Sinhalese and the nation, making them wonder weather every
other Tamil is a Tamil Tiger or not?

Prior, to 1988, before I left to Australia, I remember after a rugby
game at Longden Place and a few (in my context) drinks at the club,
going home in the early hours of the morning, my only fear was whether
I will be stopped and breathalysed and charged for DUI. In the later
years in my many trips to SL, the fear was whether I would be subject
to harassment because of my Tamil name. Why do you think it is so? Is
it not because of the war, the suicide bombings? All of this distrust
of Tamils started after the war began. So, did we not create this for
ourselves?

This is not only happening to the Tamils, in fact if you
send money to the US or visit the US bearing an Arabic name, you are
scrutinised vigorously, which began after “9/11”! The Arabic world
calls it “discrimination”!

In 1983, the news of the death of 13 soldiers sparked an organised
riot, and over 2000 Tamils lost their lives and over 100,000 Tamils
were displaced. The nation soon realised that it should not have let
it happen, and the wider community shared the same sentiment. In 1996
a raid on a Military camp in Mullaitivu by the Tigers, 1,500 soldiers
were killed, yet there was no repeat of 1983, or for that matter since
1983, several thousands of soldiers have lost their lives and we did not
see a repeat of 1983.

We talk about “Genocide”, which is a very powerful and compelling
word. No doubt, that many women and children have lost their lives,
but one has to remember in every war, innocent people lose their
lives. There is blame on both the armed forces and the Tigers. Lets
not be the judge of that, let the appropriate organisations
investigate and report the findings.

The Tamil Diaspora and number of organisations are having protest
marches and their websites are relentlessly publishing calls for the
IC to intervene about the mistreatment and harassment of the
civilians. However much we are angry and anxious, we must have
patientce and let the government, UN and the other aid organisation to
embark on the huge task ahead of them to relocate, resettle and
reconcile the civilian casualties.

We have been having protest marches for decades around the world. Has
one head of state or a member of a parliament taken a flight and gone
to Sri Lanka and discussed the problem with the authorities? I do not
think so. The IC will mention our plea in their speeches, or talk
about it when the next election comes around.

Does the IC know the differences between Jayasinghe and Jayasingham?
It is up to us reconcile and rebuild friendships. What has happened
in the past has happened, we cannot turn back the clock. The truth of
what happened in the battle zones will only surface, if the victims
have no fear in revealing the truth. From this point, onwards it is up
to us to make sure that this is possible. We should regain the trust
and the sympathy of the greater community.

We Tamils started this war, this was never an option. For thirty years,
we have fought a bloody war with no results. Are we going to continue
this for another thirty years? No. We, have lost too much, the nation
has lost too much. It is time to take a step back and think sensibly
putting aside our emotions and pride.

The Tamil Diaspora and community leaders, spokespersons and
organisations are calling for the Tamil community to “re-group and
realise our leaders dream”, after three decades of war, is it not the
time now to wake up from that dream? They say now that the Tigers are
defeated that we will be systematically eradicated, as there is no one
to protect us. We should stop speculating of what the future holds for
the Tamils in Sri Lanka and need to get these myths out of our heads
and win the trust of the nation. We should responsibly publish and
circulate articles and news items, or even refrain from doing so until
the displaced civilians are settled. Now we need to concentrate and
work closely with those who are in SL to help the refugees.

In the past, few days there are reports that, during the celebrations
following the governments victory over the Tigers, that many Tamil
business were forced to give money towards the celebrations, and this
news is from “Reliable Sources”. This may be true - may not be true,
however when we hear such news we need to think rationally and
responsibly before we spread it around, Sometimes, in times of
sadness, desperation and anxiety the truth is often exaggerated and
taken out of context. We all remember, back in SL at a big match we
generally have a “hat collection” to pay for our celebrations. This
has been a culture.

Every Christmas, New-year, Vesak or during Vel
Festival, the garbage collectors, the posties etc go house-to-house
collecting money for celebrations. It is not an unusual thing to
happen. The people who have not experienced this should not be alarmed
and portrait such incidents as “ discrimination and harassment”.

I ask those who receive this mail, to support me in achieving a united
and equal Sri Lanka for all who were born there. One day I wish to
return to the country of my birth, and live as an equal citizen in
peace and harmony.

How can you help?

Tamils should reach out to the Sinhalese and speak
about the grievance you have, and ask them to help you achieve
security and equality. My Sinhalese friends should reach out to a
Tamil and unconditionally trust them and help them achieve security
and equality.

We, Tamils have to realise that this is the only nation that Sinhalese
is spoken and we should respect that, win their trust and respect in
return.

Cheers,

Mohan.
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Btw Mohan Sahayam presently lives in Sydney, NSW Australia..
- and in the words of the great John Lennon - shall we all now chant
"Give Peace a Chance"..
'cos that's all he's sayin'...
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