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The Breakaway of the East, Karuna and Taraki - 'SILENCE BREAKS' by Nadarajah Kuruparan - Part 4

 

The Breakaway of the East, Karuna and Taraki - 'SILENCE BREAKS' by Nadarajah Kuruparan - Part 4

 

Before continuing to the fourth episode, I would like to present a reader-response to the previous episodes as well as my reply to it. As this serial is to go a long way, I know many such criticisms are likely to arise throughout. The point I am trying to drive home is that we Tamils must come out of our traditional mindset that is typically not tolerant to criticism and must look critically into our past and future. Now let me furnish the reader’s response and my reply.

The reader: 
 
Dear Kuruparan,
 
I am one of those who are reading your serial “Silence Breaks” with keen interest. 
 
We for sure look for many interesting accounts. However, you are a media person who stands for nationalism, and I need not warn about the repercussions of disclosing whatever you know. 
 
For instance, in the third episode you have written about the disregard shown to the East. There may be some verities to it. But I don’t think it is relevant to describe them at this time. The poisonous seed of regionalism was sowed and watered in the vested interests of Karuna. It is still promoted by his partisans in the East. (This doesn’t mean that regionalism is not there among the people of Jaffna.) 
 
In my opinion, some of the points that you have mentioned should have been avoided. (‘Even falsity attains the status of truth, when it yields incorrupt benefit.’ - Tirukkural). For instance, Sornam’s statement could have been avoided. 
 
To the best of my knowledge, the LTTE has never neglected the East purposively, even though there was regionalism in some quarters.

Friend PT
 
My reply:
 
Friend, 
 
I understand your concern and anxiety. But I decided to break my silence only after a long agitation. If we do not talk now, it will be of no use or good in talking at any time to come. 
 
As the whole world looked as if butter wouldn’t melt in its mouth, the 60 year long struggle of the Tamils (30 of non-violent and 30 of armed) was brutally buried into the Mullivaikkal waters and woods. To overcome that grief, to get healed of that wound, there is only one way: the Tamils should look back into their past uncompromisingly and reappraise things. 
 
Our failure to engage in timely self-criticism was certainly one of the reasons for the disastrous failure of our struggle. 
 
The liberation struggle for Tamil Eelam has made theoretical as well as practical mistakes in the past thirty years when it came to such issues pertaining to regionalism, casteism and the minorities. It is necessary that we should thoroughly reexamine these mistakes and derive our learnings. 
 
If Tamil Nationalism continues to ignore these things, it will only imply that the movement is nothing but an illusion. If we do not disentangle ourselves from illusions, we cannot think of liberation for another hundred years. We may become a toiling people doomed to eternal slavery. It is for this reason of self-criticism that I have decided to call a spade a spade. Whatever I have experienced, whatever I have witnessed and whatever I have grasped, I will put down keeping nothing under wraps. 
 
Sometimes I may have to face some troubles from those who have no faith in freedom of expression or democracy. But as a straightforward media person, and more than that, as a member of an ethnic group that has always faced oppression, I have decided to face those troubles, thanks to people like you who add to my moral strength. I hope you can understand my position. I am grateful for your concern for me and for the interest in my writing. 
 
The episodes yet to come will shatter many illusions. I am only looking forward to your response from the heart to those as well. The disquiet Tamils get when they engage in self-criticism is not of greater importance or consequence when compared to the loss they have suffered because of the lack of self-criticism. It is not covering but exposing that helps in aerating and healing the wounds. 
 
In the light of this reply, I request you and the many like you to follow the rest of my serial. 
 
The Breakaway of the East, Karuna and Taraki
 
Many of Karuna’s supporters had driven home the need for a medium of their own in the East. They had suggested for a print medium and a website. Accordingly, a periodical named Tamil Alai and a website named Meenakam (not the Meenakam as found now) were started. 
 
In this regard, I think it is my historical duty to make public the hitherto unrevealed secret alliance that the famous writer late Dharmaratnam Sivaram aka Taraki had with Karuna’s power centre. Taraki at the public level was known as a nationalist working for united Tamil nationalism. What I am going to say will reveal how deviated he was in practice. 
 
It was our misfortune that many of our media persons and intellectuals did not realize the fact that the struggle for Tamil nationalism included an internal struggle against all reactionary practices within the Tamil community. Sivaram was no exception.
 
High degree of centralization and the lack of awareness about regionalism among the Tigers helped in the creation of a separate power centre in the East for Karuna. What is more agonizing is the fact that that power centre of the East has now been totally taken over by the Sri Lankan state. 
 
It is an obvious truth that regionalism has always been there among the various communities of Sri Lanka. What distinguished the Tamil community was that as it rose up for liberation, it had the opportunity for educating the masses on regionalism as well as on other reactionary tendencies with theoretical clarities and practical projects. Unfortunately, no such endeavors were made during the three decades. They saw nothing of critical learning but only war.
 
On the 3rd of March 2004 Karuna officially announced his secession from the LTTE. A statement announcing the secession was released with the signature of the then head of the political wing of the East, Karikalan. But there was a rumor that the statement had total contribution from Sivaram. The rumor was not totally unfounded as going to be revealed by the following incident. 
 
The night before the release of that statement, I got a call on my cell phone (0777356036) between 10 p.m. and 10.30 p.m. It was from Sivaram. He said that Karuna’s secession from the LTTE became certain and a statement on it had also been prepared. He asked me to release it as breaking news in Suriyan FM. I immediately replied that I could not do. I made it clear that I could do so only if the LTTE told me officially. I also added that it was a very complicated matter and that it would make it more complicated if a Tamil medium released the statement first. He immediately retorted that the typical Yaazhpaani in me was showing up (Yaazhpaani is a term literally referring to a person belonging to Jaffna, but in common practice a smear word). After a prolonged argument, I said, ‘You first release the statement in your Tamilnet. I will broadcast the news quoting Tamilnet as the source.’ He said it was not possible. I repeated the same. He did not leave me and, as if to assuage me, said, ‘Why are you scared? We are now present at the office of Tamil Alai. Karuna and others are right here. The reporters belonging to the East are all here. So you need not have any fear’. But I did not agree. Later when I contacted some of the reporters of the East, I learned that they were not present at Tamil Alai office on the said occasion. 
 
During the third round of peace talks in Oslo, the cat was let out of the bag. The association between Karuna and Sivaram became visible. Sivaram was present there. He said that he came to report the peace talks. But in fact he had come there to meet Karuna. I learned from other reporters that Sivaram was having personal meetings with Karuna. I also witnessed them talking separately on one occasion. During these meetings, Sivaram had emphasized the need for a separate medium for the East. While talking to me there Sivaram said, ‘This fool has at last come to understand certain things after I have enlightened’. Thus, Sivaram was one among those who were behind the launching of Meenakam and Tamil Alai. 
 
When, after the Jayasikkuru Operation, Karuna returned to Batticaloa with his soldiers all by walk, Sivaram confirmed the differences between Karuna and the LTTE leadership. 
 
In the long-awaited press meet of the LTTE chief Prabhakaran after the signing of 2002 ceasefire accord, a reporter from India had raised a question. It was about the most challenging time Prabhakaran had encountered in the entire history of his struggle. The reporter might have expected the LTTE’s successful defense against the Indian Peace Keeping Force at Nitthikaikulam as the answer. But contrary to his expectation, Prabhakaran lauded the defense against the Jayasikkuru Operation. The person responsible for that victory, Karuna, was also there beside Prabhakaran. 
 
Sivaram wrote an article in North East Herald on this press meet. That article revealed how Sivaram had marked Karuna for his designs right then. Sivaram had praised Karuna and added that Prabhakaran mentioned of Operation Jayasikkuru to dignify the people of the East and Karuna. After that, Sivaram wrote some five or six articles in North East Herald extolling Karuna as the great hero of the East. 
 
When Karuna organized a workshop for the higher ranks of the LTTE at Batticaloa in 2002, Sivaram was the chief resource person. In that workshop Sivaram underscored the distinctiveness of the East and the indispensability of the soldiers from the East. The media persons of the East know this. 
 
Later on I also came to know that Sivaram had submitted a report to Karuna that described the disparities in the standard of living of the families of the heroes of the North and their counterparts of the East.
 
When Tamilselvan, the head of the political wing of LTTE visited the East, Sivaram emphasized on the uniqueness of the East and complained about its conditions and also about the LTTE leadership’s indifference towards the East. Those who participated in that workshop told me that Tamilselvan on his part expressed his strong annoyance about Sivaram. 
 
There is yet another incident that comes to my mind. When the IPKF was in Sri Lanka, Sivaram had been one among those in the hit list of Karuna. Regarding this, Sivaram had narrated an incident to one of his friends. The Karuna faction had invited PLOTE’s military secretary Kannan aka Jotheeswaran and its political wing head Vasudeva for negotiation. These two along with five others of PLOTE who came for negotiation were killed by shooting and bombardment. When Karuna inspected the dead bodies, he enquired about the fate of Sivaram. He had expected Sivaram in the PLOTE team. Narrating these things to his friend, Sivaram exploded, ‘Is he a human being?’ 
 
A mutual friend of Sivaram and me had wondered if Sivaram tried to break the LTTE only to avenge this. Or was Sivaram an instrument used by other forces who attempted to divide and weaken the LTTE by instilling regionalism in Karuna?
 
Seeking answers to these questions let me take you to some other of my experiences.
 
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