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Countless young people took up arms in the North and East to fight for better rights and a just deal for the Tamils in Sri Lanka.  Different moments sprouted up and grew, all of whom had the same visions and made the same sacrifices.  These movements were mobilized along lines of region, caste, personal friendship and loyalty which added fuel to already existing friction.  Thus somewhere along the line, these frictions gained a dynamism of their own that turned the whole nationalist struggle into a black farce.  The culnination of this regressive trend was the recent grotesque alliance between the LTTE and the government.  The nationalist struggle in the process of challenging the State has taken a strong authoritarian turn and has subjugated all opposition and criticism.  This has manifested in control of all forms of public and semi-public expression, the infamous internecine warfare and the elimination of “traitors”.

The EPRLE-ENDLF-TELO alliance arriving under Indian subservience turned their wrath upon the people.  The LTTE through connivance and terror ruled by suppressing all independent thought and activity.  In September 89 the EPRLE imposed a complete ban on Jaffna based dailies.  In February 1990 the ban was lifted and the newspapers were allowed to run, on the orders of the LTTE.

In some of LTTE events and functions is a must and any item out and the daily in question pulled up.  Independent trade union activity is also banned and a certain trade union was asked to sever its ties with its southern headquarters.  In the absence of freedom of expression on the home front, protest has sprung up amidst the expatriate community, especially among the recently emigrated asylum seekers.  33 small journals are published in Tamil from Western capitals, many of whom have voiced their protest at the wanton killing of civilians and the anti people activities of the LTTE.  One such journal called “Mother land” based in Toronto was subject to a banning order and the editor threatened with death.

The consequences of dissent and resistance are fatal.  Widespread fear is the order of the day.  The state of terror as obtains in our society has deep-rooted causes.  Jaffna society,fragmented and atomised, has not found a cohesive capacity to look beyond the limitations of its present structural construct.  It has since historical times accepted and nurtured trends and tendencies which have tended to preserve a cohesive mid-level hierarchical structure.  Jaffna society offers its uncritical patronage to the strongest and probably the least threatening to middle class ideology, thus giving up all right to intitiate and criticise.  Almost compelled to accept the LTTE as their saviours, they washed the hands off so many others who struck out on the same path of liberation.  Today 5000 young people and their families have ended up in Orissa - a land perhaps more alien to the Jaffna person than London or Paris.  While May Day tamashas with floats depicting military victory paraded the streets of Jaffna no one seemed to worry about the detainees and the dispossessed-chained, killed or in hiding.  PTA detainees and the streets of Jaffna no one seemed to worry about the detainees released from Welikade prison are known to have disappeared.

Women in arms in control of their future may gladden the minds of feminists, but once again this is a paradoxical position.  The women’s wing of the LTTE military section has evinced a few signs of consciousness on women’s position in society today.  Their pamphlets appear to verify this.  But the LTTE being a conservative and monolithic organisation, the women’s wing will not be able to move a certain limited terrain.  Their practices are entirely subsumed by the overall ideology of the LTTE.  At least, in one instance, their methods of torture had in no way deviated from normal LTTE practice.

In this enveloping state of fear and apprehension of what comes next, the task of any solidarity forum will be to consistently support and encourage people’s participation.  Any independent action that might come out at present, be it a women’s organisation or newspaper activity or environmental, needs the whole hearted solidarity of all interested parties.  For only through mobilisation of people’s structures can the democratic process be strengthen and society as a whole achieve a progressive dynamism.



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