“There is no other way for securing yourself against flatteries, except that men understand that they do not offend you by telling you the truth, you fail to get respect”. Nicolo Machiavelli (The Prince 1513)
(December 23,London,Sri Lanka Guardian) The second anniversary of Anton Balasingham’s death is reported to have been remembered last week, by Northern Tamils under LTTE control and by the Tamil Diaspora who support the LTTE.
The writer wishes to remember Anton Balasingham in a different light.
Despite being a representative of a Terrorist organization, the British authorities took no notice of Balasingham’s public inflammatory speeches on the LTTE national Heroes’ days in London. Balasingham once made a bawdy comment about the former President Chandrika Bandaranayake when he addressed the LTTE national Hero’s day event in London.
He also once boasted about the LTTE’s might and ridiculed that “the Sinhalese would only understand beatings” when he was referring to the armed forces. It is confirmed by those who were once close to Balasingham, that MI5 had consistent contacts with him until his death, thus he enjoyed a privilege from being a spokesperson for a proscribed terrorist organization. His activities in Britain were not subject to any scrutiny but it was said that he was frequently approached by the British Authorities, whenever there were complaints against the LTTE’s activities. It is unthinkable that any spokesperson for Hamas or other proscribed terror organizations in the UK would be able to enjoy similar treatment. The spokesperson for the pro -LTTE British Tamil Forum, (BTF) claimed in his recent interview with a pro -LTTE London based radio that some of the UK parliamentary members admitted that they were branded as “White Tigers” for their participation in the campaigns of the BTF and that they were happy about it. This is the double standards British policy of subjugating small independent countries with their arrogant colonialist mindset in the name of human rights whilst they themselves are occupiers and violators of human rights of sovereign states like Iraq and Afghanistan.
As for Pirabakaran , Balsingham’s death was irreplaceable and this seems to be the case even after two years of his death. In his message of condolence he acknowledged that Balasingham was LTTE’s guiding star. He also legitimized Balasingham’s role in the movement “he (Balasingham) has a permanent historic place in the growth and the spread of our movement. He was its elder member, its ideologue, its philosopher and, above all, my best friend.” He also bestowed on him the title the “Voice of the Nation”.
The condolence message from Rauff Hakeem looked more or less similar to that of Pirabakaran and his well-expressed condolence message was well-received by the LTTE supporters. Hakeem’s accolade conveyed Balasingham as a great intellectual, philosopher, meticulous negotiator, Tamil nationalist, statesmen, the erudite, a political philosopher and the ears that ardently listened to the Muslims’ voice . The irony is that Pirabakaran said Balasingham was the voice of the nation whilst Hakeem remarked that he was the ear that listened to the voice of the Muslims. Although Balasingham listened to the Muslims, he voiced the Tamil nation. It is sad that he could not hear the cries of the thousands of Muslims who were expelled from the North by the LTTE in October 1990.
An excerpt of an interview between Anton Balasingham and a journalist from “Centre Point.” (November/ December 1993) is reproduced in order for the readers to judge as to what extent Balasingham had been truthful of the facts,
CP: It is ironic that you are restricting people, who want to leave, but it is the opposite for the Muslim community-how can you explain you’re asking them to go?
B: The Muslim situation has to be viewed differently. In the East there was a lot of violence by armed Muslim groups and to prevent reactive violence in the North we had to ask them to leave, but we have told them that once the situation becomes normal they will be allowed to come back
CP: You are right! What About people like Professor Nuhman who taught Tamil at Jaffna University for 14 years... isn’t this exactly what the chauvinist Sinhalese in the South did? Also, isn’t this similar to the logic under lying the arrest and harassment of Tamils in Colombo now?
B: The problem is that you are not viewing our plight in the Eastern province where Tamils were subjected to atrocities and thousands were forced to leave their villages and go to India. 8000 Tamils were wiped out in the Eastern province, many of these by armed Muslim groups with state backing.
CP: That is precisely the point. Whatever be the truth of these claims that their “Muslimness” has anything to do with their killings. See, the argument in the South is similar about terrorist attacks and bombs. Does “Tamilness” have anything to do with these attacks? Take the claim from the statistical probability which says that if there is a bomb in Colombo it is more likely that a Tamil is responsible. Does this justify the harassment and arrest on so on of hundreds of Tamils who are going about their ordinary business?
B:Then why was there no response from the wider sections of the Sinhala public when their chauvinist government had embarked on genocidal policy?
CP: Again, surely the same question can be raised about the silence of the Tamils when 50 000 Muslims were asked to go?
B: None of the Muslims were violently treated, nor were they subjected to any harassment or killing by the LTTE.
CP:I think what the concept of a traditional homeland shows powerfully is that to be forced to leave your home is violence, is great violence. Does the LTTE position have anything to do with “ethnic cleansing of the North East?
The LTTE political analyst, Sabesan from Australia, claimed in his second anniversary Remembrance Day broadcast at a London based Pro-LTTE radio that “Balasingham was the voice of the thoughts of the leader”. The reason set forth for the expulsion of the Muslims from the North is merely a repetition of what Prabakaran told the BBC. Yet Hakeem made another blunder in his message of condolence that “In a liberation organisation that has a one dimensional policy the decision of the leadership is conclusive, he (Balsingham)
took his own decisions and had the ability to stand firm in his decisions” .However the Former LTTE second in command, Karuna also admitted that neither Balasingham nor anyone else in the movement could make any decision other than Pirabakaran.
A close relationship between Balasingham and Eric Solheim was evident when he participated in his funeral in London. Eric Solheim, the Norwegian minister who attended his funeral in London claimed in his exclusive interview with the IANS.
"He was one of the persons in the peace process who never lied to me. He always spoke the truth as he saw it. I had a great amount of respect for him..."
Erick and the Balsinghams must have spent ample time together in London. When the writer contacted Eric Soleheim to verify the information as to whether he had dinner with Balasingham , his wife and a third person , presumably Shanthan , at a restaurant in Tooting, London; Eric confirmed it. Shanthan was later arrested and detained by the British authorities for his alleged involvement in the LTTE. It appears that Balasingham is no more and thus cannot see the difficult time and the rapid changes taking place in the theatre of war set in the Eastern political landscape but the UK Tamils, comprising of professionals, academics and students are teaming up with the UK parliamentarians to quench the “thirst” (Tamil Eeela Thayagam) of the LTTE. It is notable that unlike the LTTE Diaspora fanatics in the UK, Balasingham had the conscience to admit in his response to a question posed by the “Centre Point” journalist that his vague explanation would not satisfy the expulsion of the Muslims from the North by the LTTE and he eventually reinforced his remark by making clear that it was a “ political blunder”.
The majority of Diaspora Tamils who live in the UK outdo Balsingham in their efforts to get the British parliamentarians to mobilise the LTTE’s hidden agenda of “Tamil Eelam” in the name of the victims of war, both in and out of the British parliament.
( S.M.M.Bazeer is a political analyst based in London )- Sri Lanka Guardian