Commemoration of war dead and national integration

5 December 2023 12:00 am – 3      – 282

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As alerted by some foreign intelligence agencies a few days ago, a person identified as Dwaraka, the daughter of the slain leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) Velupillai Prabhakaran appeared on a Europe-based website last Monday (November 27) and made a speech, marking the outfit’s Maveerar Naal (Great Heroes’ Day).
The intelligence agencies had told that Dwaraka’s image had been created using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to show the world that the LTTE leader’s daughter had not been killed in the last battle of the separatist war in Sri Lanka, in May 2009.
Should the world believe that Dwaraka is still alive and still holds the separatist ideals? If so, where has she been for the past 14 years? Has the organization, if it is still active, appointed Dwaraka as her father’s successor to make the speech? If so, does the LTTE, which was claimed to be a revolutionary movement also follow family succession?
Those who believe the Dwaraka story must raise these questions. However, a large majority of people who have heard about the LTTE do not believe this story, not even those who wish that the story be true.

Yet, some Tamil media in Sri Lanka also made a faint attempt to portray this as true. It must be recalled that veteran Tamil writer D.B.S. Jeyaraj had written in the Daily Mirror last year explaining how some Tamils hoodwink the Tami diaspora in Europe in their fundraising campaign, claiming that Prabhakaran is still alive and seriously ill, needing financial assistance.
The fake Dwaraka’s speech coincided with the commemoration of those Tamils, especially the LTTE cadres, who were killed in the three-decade-long war and the speech was primarily aimed at persuading the Tamils to continue their struggle for a separate State, in the name of the war dead.
This, as happened in the past has rekindled the controversy on the right to commemorate the anti-government armed rebels, with one group justifying both the cause and the means of the rebels, while another group totally rejecting not only the cause and the means of the war dead but even the right to commemorate those who resorted to violence in order to carve out a separate state within the territory of Sri Lanka.
Meanwhile, a third group respects the right for such commemorations while rejecting the glorification of secession and violent means towards that end.
The controversy has been standing in the way of national integration, with an ethnic group seemingly living in a separate State psychologically.
The best case in point was last year’s Aragalaya, the public uprising against the economic hardships which the people of Northern and Eastern Provinces dissociated themselves with. In spite of the severe scarcity of fuel and cooking gas, unprecedented price hikes and the 13-hour-long power cuts having turned upside down the lives of the people in the north and the east as well, participation of those people in the Aragalaya was negligible.
They argued that people in other parts of the country didn’t care for them when they were undergoing harder situations during the war.
Commemoration of the war dead has been a thorny issue that often reopens the old wounds. the Police and the Army have often been accused of desecrating graves of the war dead while the Tamil groups are accused of promoting Tamil Eelam and violence, in the process of glorifying sacrifices made by those who are being remembered.

From a mere civilized point of view, nobody can deny the rights of a community or a group of people to remember those who they believe were killed in their name. However, if how those remembrances are held promotes the cause and means of such rebels – that is secessionism and armed violence – that wouldn’t be in the interest of the country or the community in question either.
This is a matter that the Tamil leaders have to be serious about since they claim that they stand for an undivided country and not for a separate State. Both sides must be sensitive to the need for national integration, rather than playing for the gallery with the next election in mind.