A long match! Freedom from the Tyranny

‘They treat us animals as we did not have any money to give them, they would not let us go. When we ran away they shot us like a hunters shooting animals, many of us injured, some of us who ran with us died with LTTE’s bullets. It's terrible what they do to the poor Tamils’

By Rajeswary Balasubramaniam

(April 22, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Watching the exodus of Tamils on the 20th of April 2009 from the so-called no-fire zone to the military controlled area was very moving. They were crossing Nanthik Kadal, a lagoon between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan military. It is more like the episode where Moses led his people from Egypt to the promised land of Israel. The red Sea opened a path for the exodus to cross but in the Nanthik Kadal the exodus have to swim in water sometimes up to their neck, carrying their kids, possessions and whatever they can carry.

This is a pivotal point in Sri Lankas history. A group of people were the hostages for a ruthless group who used these powerless Tamil people as their last weapons against the Sri Lankan army.

The prosperity of the Tamil community suffered immensely for the last thirty or more years due to oppression by the leaders who they thought were going bring them freedom. Many took their lives to the West and the poor, the oppressed caste who did not have any money to buy their way out, faced the hardships of losing their kids to forced conscription and being moved from place to place to protect their ’protectors’.

Since the Mavilaru saga in 2006, the most ruthless rebel outfit in the world has faced their match in battlefields across Sri Lanka. For the LTTE, losing ‘Karuna amman’ from their battlefront since 2004 showed them the weakness in the military strategy. With not enough cadres and not enough well trained leaders, the LTTE faced defeat after defeat. Without hands to hold weapons against the enemy, the millions of dollars they have collected from abroad to gain freedom has ended in an absolute and humiliating disaster.

At the end of 2004 the people felt uneasy, as although the LTTE had split into two factions in the East and the North, the abductions continued. The children who went to school never returned home and the teenagers who went to work the field or to play football were never seen again.

At the end of March 2009, there were many former LTTE cadres in the Ambepussa rehabilitation camp. They are learning the simple things which were denied them by the LTTE abducting them when they were only fourteen or fifteen.

‘I volunteered to come as they were going to take my elder sister who is clever at school than me’ one said. She looked malnourished with saddened eyes in her double sized outfit.

‘They ask my father to join them, but I came with them as without my father there is no one to feed us. I was about fifteen at the time, I am nineteen now, ran away from LTTE when we faced the Sri Lankan army in the battle field, I wanted to be a computer programmer and I want to go to London’ this boy seems so thin for his age but there is determination in his eyes.

‘My mother allowed me to go with the LTTE when they came to take one of us, I have a twin sister, I think my mother allowed me that I am not pretty, now I do not know that my mother know whether I am alive ’Her eyes well up, looking away to the distance where a mountain was covered with the beautiful rays of a sun set

‘I joined the LTTE as there was a lot of harassment by the security forces against the Tamil boys in the areas, when they come they will arrest you with false accusation such as we have connection with LTTE, instead of suffering in the hand of the security I join the LTTE to fight for my people. Now I realize that that was a very wrong idea to continue the fight we cannot win and better to live together with Sinhala people than fighting against them, now I am cared by the people I fought against, the officer who lost his arm in one of our grenades is our guardian, he teach us many things’ The young man in his early twenty tells us that he is from the east. After Karuna’s spilt from LTTE there were many killings to sort out the differences.

The Ambepussa rehabilitation camp is situated in surroundings of tranquility and peace.
Thirty two former LTTE cadres are there, restructuring their future with the help of many former Sri Lankan security officials who are wounded or disabled. Former enemies in one quarter now with the single aim to rebuild each others lives.

Even one with vast experience of real life could break and cry when these kids opened their hearts to tell their past and how much suffering they went through for some one else’s dream of being an emperor.

‘We have to face many problems in the society. As we were with men in the battle field in the past, we fought for our society, but now they are treating us untouchable and no good for family life. They looked at us suspiciously, the mothers refuse their sons to marry us.’ One young lady from the East of Sri Lanka, a former cadre from in the LTTE said sadly.
‘I am angry that these people have no idea of how we abducted, trained, and the battles we fought, there are hundreds of young people like us lost their lives, became disable in the war but these all are waste, when are the diaspora Tamil going to realize that their dream of cutting the country is not going to materialized? No one in the world will help us to get a separate homeland as the leadership never shown any democracy or political guidance in his strategies’ the girl who said this was very attractive, no one would believe her when she said she was a fighter. She has lost her eye sight. The girls, about 1,500 of them from Trinco to Amparai, are setting up a women’s group called ’The Sakthi women’s group’ and want the help of the diaspora to rebuild their lives. To learn and earn to live independently, equally with others in their society.

‘They treat us animals as we did not have any money to give them, they would not let us go. When we ran away they shot us like a hunters shooting animals, many of us injured, some of us who ran with us died with LTTE’s bullets. It's terrible what they do to the poor Tamils’ a young Tamil with a sick child wept, the child as thin as a stick with eyes discharging a yellowish fluid from an infection. There were hundreds of sad stories like this at the Vavuniya refugee transit camp where 5,000 Tamil came in one go on the 31st of March.

Now nearly 40,000 came out of Pirabakan’s controlled area on the 20th of April. Many more will come. They are free. A steady stream of refugees are pouring into the government controlled areas. They need food and water, shelter, clothes, medicine, children’s food & wheelchairs for the amputees. Freedom is not just the physical freedom alone but it must have political, social, and economical aspects with it. When will these Tamil will have them all?
-Sri Lanka Guardian