Trincomalee - The Keystone in the Archway to Eelam

R Chandrasoma

The recent shootings and bombings in Trincomalee and its environs should come as no surprise to those who understand the unscrupulous mix of tactics that the diehard Eelamists employ in pursuit of a goal that they deem irrevocable. Any surprise should be occasioned by the purblindness of the leadership of Sri Lanka that sees the violence as instigated by 'extremists' hell-bent on destroying the fragile racial and religious balance that prevails in the area.

The plain truth is that the Eelamists regard Buddhism as emblematic of Sinhala Dominance and are determined to challenge its resurgence in any area under their control. Trincomalee is the vital crucible in this regard as there is a significant Sinhala-Buddhist presence in this famous seaport that the Eelamists regard as the future citadel of the Tamil State that they have long been fighting for.

They believe that the Naval Base and the fighting formations ensconced therein will be withdrawn in due course after a servile 'Government of Sri Lanka' decides to cede these facilities to the Eelamists on the basis of some specious agreement in which the 'International Community' will have a big hand. The problem, then, will be the presence of a substantial Sinhala population in the capital city of Eelam.

The Sinhalese will have to be driven out - but it will not be easy to chase them out by a dictatorial fiat in the same way that the Muslims were driven out of Jaffna.

What we see today is a desperate attempt by friends of the LTTE to make the Sinhala people unwelcome interlopers in a region that they regard as solidly Tamil. This is, of course fictitious history but the Eelamists know that the Sinhalese of Trincomalee have few friends in high places in Government and that the top leadership (notoriously anti-Sinhala-Buddhist in both sentiment and action) will be more than willing to yield to Tamil demands on this score 'for the sake of peace'.

The Sinhala-Buddhists of Trincomalee are displaying a mettle and a combative spirit that has surely come as a great surprise to the Peace-makers and Give-away strategists that currently rule Sri Lanka. Symbolic of this attitude of abject submission to the enemy is the President's response to the dangerous developments in the East.

It appears that Police and the Armed Services were ordered to act 'with strict neutrality' - a weasel worded phrase that amounts to a directive to the custodians of the law that the hot pursuit of the bomb-throwing Tamil Terrorists is not permissible. The President has a long-standing hatred of those whom she chooses to call 'Southern Extremists'.

Any Sinhalaya imbued with a touch of patriotism and disinclined to give in to murderous flaunts of the LTTE is an 'extremist' and a danger to peace. Bomb-throwing by a Tamil Tiger (according to this logic) is a mere expression of frustration occasioned by the intransigence of the wooden-headed Sinhala-Buddhists.

This weird logic had its clearest expression in the conference held recently under the aegis of the President to resolve the simmering conflict in Trincomalee. The Wise-heads invited to parley with the President were Hindu Priests, Mullahs of the Muslim faith and cassocked Catholic Fathers. Representatives of the Sinhala-Buddhists were, apparently, invited but had decided to keep away.

What was quintessentially a political and military problem rooted in Tamil terrorism was transformed into one of peaceful co-existence between the Buddhists and their fellow-religionists. How can the placement of a Buddhist statue in a region redolent of Buddhism in the not so distant past be an affront to Hindus, Muslims and Christians?

The North and East are dotted with Kovils, Mosques and Churches of recent vintage. Buddhist remains have been systematically erased. Is there a hidden law that fore-ordains the extinction of Buddhism in its own land?

The real problem has been willfully obscured by an unsympathetic President imposing a framework of understanding that excludes both history and autochthonal primacy.

What is the real problem? It is the contumacy of the Tamil Terrorists in their quest for a racially pure Eelam. Buddhism is equated with Sinhala-nationalism and they are prepared to use guns and bombs in what they regard as their 'homeland' to destroy the religious symbols of their inveterate foe.

So lamentable is the situation in Sri Lanka that there is no government or opposition politician of standing that would dare expose this naked truth.



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