The National Flag Makes a Statement; Let it be Made

"War, like an election, is a contest of various political ideologies. A winner and a loser emerge from it unless it ends in stalemate. The winner’s political aspirations shall be established and the loser’s political aspirations will be destroyed."

by Thomas Johnpulle

(November 24, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) War results when politics breakdown. However, once war commences, it is merely an extension of politics. The war in Sri Lanka is a violent contest between two national political ideologies. On one hand there is Sri Lankan national interests and on the other Tamil Elamist national interests. Obviously both cannot coexist and hence the contest. Either Sri Lanka or Tamil Elam will win this war and the contested areas will be decorated by its rulers with the winner’s flag. That is not an insult to the flag but an honour! Recent military victories in effect expanded the de facto territory under the government of Sri Lanka from what it was a few years back. In other words military victories helped Lanka regain what it lost to a band of terrorists. It is a cause to celebrate and there is no better symbolization that the National Flag.

The Sri Lankan National Flag replaced the LTTE flag in liberated areas. This symbolizes many things. Firstly it symbolizes who the rulers are and secondly it is a sign of one party vanquishing the other and emerging victorious. Thirdly it means the mono-ethnic Tamil mythical nation created through violence has collapsed in the liberated areas in favour of a multiethnic nation. The tiger flag is no accident; tiger was the symbol of the Cholas who were the most daring Tamil dynasty ever to rule over the Tamils. Their territory extended even to Malaya.

Recent battles replaced the tiger flag with the Sri Lankan flag which was a derivative of the old lion flag used by Sri Lankans for centuries. One nation has died and another is born. Fourthly it means the establishment of a relatively more religions-based governance system in place of guns-and-bombs. While green is a Muslim religious symbol, orange is a Hindu religious representation. There are symbols for Buddhists too. The age old lion flag has been framed in an overriding religious theme which is noble. In stark contrast the LTTE flag only represent the Tamil race and violence.

There are rules of war. Unless the enemy surrenders, the winner will go on attacking it and apart from the rules of war, there is absolutely no need to respect the enemy’s war monuments used to instill violence in the minds of the people under its rule. In a counter-terrorism war the need to respect the enemy’s military propaganda artifacts is further watered down. Therefore the armed forces need not refrain from conquering monuments erected by the LTTE in support of its brutal campaign. It must be remembered that LTTE replaced a violence-loving gun culture in place of the millennia old Tamil culture based on non-violence. For instance cemeteries are not part of the Tamil culture but it is very much part of the culture LTTE wants to instill. Another example is the tiger - an alien animal to native Tamils - which replaced the cow, the symbol of the Jaffna kingdom.

Some may find the victory of the Sri Lankan state - through its army - disturbing. However, they must accept the defeat of the LTTE and the victory of the security forces. LTTE established a de facto separate administration by using violence against the security forces and it is only fair security forces reverse it likewise. While the people in liberated areas must accept that they are living in Sri Lanka, the government must treat them like Sri Lankans. Any other combination will prolong violence and turn these areas back into hellholes.

War, like an election, is a contest of various political ideologies. A winner and a loser emerge from it unless it ends in stalemate. The winner’s political aspirations shall be established and the loser’s political aspirations will be destroyed. Tamil separatism failed to achieve its objects democratically; it was foolhardy to think that they could be achieved militarily. What lost to the advancing army is Tamil separatism, not just Tamil tigers. It is time to pursue a different political ideology that will not be resisted but embraced by fellow Sri Lankans. Tamils have already made their choice. More than any other community the Tamil community has integrated very well with the others in all parts of the country. They have set an example for others to follow which surely leads to total ethnic integration right throughout the island nation. It is high time hardcore Tamil elements toe the line and conform to peaceful coexistence in one undivided country. Go with the wind or go to hell. That’s what the Sri Lankan flag fluttering in Poonaryn says loud and clear.
- Sri Lanka Guardian