“The struggle of the Tamil people will continue! No army can defeat a people!”

Patrick Mac Manus, from Oprør / Rebellion (Denmark) Speech to Tamil demonstration, Copenhagen, February 4, 2009. – Speech to Tamil demonstration, Copenhagen, February 4, 2009. by Patrick Mac Manus, Oprør / Rebellion (Denmark)

Today, there is a deep humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka. The Tamil people in the north and east are facing annihilation at the hands of the Sinhalese government and its army. Sri Lanka is and has for centuries been a multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multilingual and multicultural island. The Sinhala majority denies this; it claims that Sri Lanka is a Sinhala state. The present government has silenced many voices of dissent. We have seen the death of journalists, who have had the courage to expose the truths of war. We have seen the death of thousands who have wished a better life for all on their island.

The major Sinhalese political parties have in elections competed with each other to discriminate the Tamils. Discrimination in language, education and employment with the intention of winning the Sinhalese vote.

The head of the Sri Lankan army states in an interview in September last year: “I strongly believe that this country belongs to the Sinhalese …”

What is the aim of the present government in Sri Lanka?

Is it to drive the Tamils from their island? 1.3 million have already been its victims, there are still 2 million left. Is it this they want?

Is it to turn the Tamils into a “non-people”, a people with no other identity than that of ‘internal refugees’, and no more?

There have already been 500,000 refugees living in camps in the Tamil north and east. Or they have fled into the jungles to escape the Sinhalese army. In south India, there are 200,000 Tamil refugees; in Denmark, there are also thousands.

What is the aim of the present government in Sri Lanka?

Is it to make the Tamils “disappear”? Today, the government of Sri Lanka leads the world in the “involuntary disappearance” of a people.

Is the aim of the present government simply to do away with them — to commit genocide? Genocide, as we have seen it before, is the destruction of a national, ethnic, racial or religious group. Is this what we again can see in Sri Lanka?

The people are being starved, prevented in their labour, in fishing and agriculture. We see the destruction of their homes, of their hospitals, of their schools and markets. This is what we see today.

We see a war against the struggle of the Tamil people. A war against a people’s struggle for self-determination, their right to live with equality, for dignity and safety in their own land.

This war could not continue without foreign aid to the present Sri Lankan government. Without such aid, the Sri Lankan government would be forced to negotiate.

It is a government that has rejected negotiation. A government that has succeeded in its effort to include organisations of the Tamil people on the international terrorist lists.

The central problem today in Sri Lanka is not the violent reaction of a minority. The central problem is the terrorism of the state. Its aim is the transformation of Sri Lanka into a Sinhala nation.

Sri Lanka is a violent repetition of an apartheid strategy we have seen decades ago in South Africa. Political, cultural and economic sanctions are perhaps again a necessity. We have seen it before, when a state denies the necessity of change.

Here, we should pressure the government to force Sri Lanka – a recipient of considerable Danish financial assistance – to the negotiating table. To make it clear that a military “solution” to the Tamil question is and can never be accepted.

The geographical victory of the Sri Lanka army is not the end of the struggle for the rights of the Tamil people.

The struggle of the Tamil people will continue! No army can defeat a people!
The struggle will continue!