It was stated that «authentic and credible documents are being threatened, destroyed and erased from the Internet.» in the article “Tamil organisations: How to preserve documents safely and take good care of in the diaspora? », which was published by dspora.no on 11th November 2020.
Tamil documents can be about Tamil ancient history, Tamil language, art, music, culture, politics, Tamil Eelam liberation struggle and others. The various kinds of Tamil documents are not threatened, destroyed and erased in the same way. On the one side, Tamil documents are threatened, destroyed and erased because of unawareness, ignorance and unconsciousness. Others are subject to planned destructions for Tamil cultural genocide.
A document is generated as a result of an activity. It is evidence of that particular activity. An activity can be carried out by an individual or an organisation. Tamil documents by Tamil organisations and individuals are generated in Eelam1, Tamil Nadu in India and the worldwide Tamil diaspora2.
Archival documents in an organisational archive are generated as a result of an interaction with society. Archival documents in a personal archive are generated as a result of either an interaction with society or not. The origin of these archival documents will be the originating organisation or the person. These organisational and personal archives will contain documents based on various kinds of medium. They can be in text, audio, video or other formats, on either analogue or digital medium. These documents are evidence of the functions and activities of an organisation or a person. These organisations and individuals have also generated “தமிழீழ விடுதலைப் போராட்ட ஆவணங்கள்”, meaning Tamil Eelam liberation struggle documents. This kind of archival documents are intertwined part of Tamil and Eelam Tamil cultural-historical heritage.
«Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past»George Orwell3
Social media accounts and websites of many Tamil organisations are shut down, attacked and blocked several times because they talk about, disseminate and transfer this particular part, Tamil Eelam liberation struggle, of Tamil cultural-historical heritage.
Tamil organisations might face challenges, questions and opinions from Tamils as well as the International Community regarding Tamil Eelam struggle. They might raise questions to archive justice. They might raise questions to gain clarification and reflection. They might raise questions to create division and conflict among Tamils to create destruction on the political affair and aspiration of Eelam Tamils.
From an archive repository perspective, a nation is strengthened only when it has the means to preserve and access the documents of all aspects and sides of society. It becomes essential for a society to gain insight by examining the past to plan the future. It also becomes fundamental to examine our present to preserve the past.
This series of articles about “Tamil Eelam liberation struggle documents” will look at kinds of documents that could be the Tamil Eelam liberation struggle documents (தமிழீழ விடுதலைப் போராட்ட ஆவணங்கள்). Which significance do these documents have? and how are they threatened, destroyed and erased? Who has the responsibility to collect, preserve and give access to the Tamil Eelam liberation struggle documents? Who has the responsibility or authority (copyright) to, for instance, reprint or re-publish certain documents for dissemination or to transfer Tamil cultural-historical heritage in the development of the technology?
How are the Tamil Eelam liberation struggle documents threatened, destroyed and erased?
The Tamil Eelam liberation struggle documents are subject to various threats and destructions. A part of these documents is subject to restrictions by Tamils themselves. Others are subject to restriction by legal barriers. Others are restricted by technological attacks and destructions. In such a situation, documents of the Tamil Eelam struggle are an intertwined part of Tamil cultural-historical heritage.
Restrictions on struggle documents can be categorised as follows:
- Restricting ourselves from coming forward to preserve our cultural-historical heritage because of legal barriers in one country or other foreign countries.
- Restriction of documents contrary to or opposing a particular political policy.
- Restricting the documents created by others in a society that criticise or point out the issues in a particular political policy.
- Actions taken in the process of a political activity could have later been re-examined by the leadership itself. The re-examination would have been documented and published. Restriction of these documents by those who follow that policy or others outside that policy.
- Those who have worked under a political policy might have later stated opposing views or alternative views or criticisms. Thereby an organisation might restrict documents about former activists in that particular organisation.
- Re-publishers or re-users engrave their logo on a document published by another organisation. They either conceal the original logo or label the document with their own logo in addition to the original logo. This scatters and controls the origin, purpose and context of that document.
- Media, social media accounts and websites being shut down, attacked and blocked.
«Nature is my friend. Life is my teacher of philosophy. History is my guide»Hon. Veluppillai Prabhakaran 4
History will always guide us! But for history to guide us, it needs to be complete! Thereby, all Tamil organisations are requested to come forward to create a plan to preserve cultural-historical documents in the diaspora and give public access.
Please share with us your ideas, thoughts and suggestions on how to preserve Tamil documents safely in the diaspora.
Endnotes and references
1 «Eelam» is the indigenous name of the whole island, nowadays Sri Lanka (Ilankai).
IBC Tamil TV. (16.06.2020). ஈழம் இலங்கையின் பூர்வீகப் பெயர்?. Retrieved from https://fb.watch/1NrGM76p4L/
TamilNet. (2008). Eezham Thamizh and Tamil Eelam: Understanding the terminologies of identity. Retrieved from https://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=99&artid=27012
2 The word «diaspora» comes from the Greek word, «diaspeirein», meaning disperse or scatter. A diaspora is referred to an ethnic people who come from one original country or nation, or whose ancestors came from it. They will have a common native language, art, culture, history, and civilization. But now they will be living in many different parts of the world. Although the global Tamil migration has been going on for thousands of years, the term «Tamil diaspora» formed because of the worldwide migration of Tamils from Eelam (Sri Lanka) caused by the outbreak of armed struggle in the 1980s. However, the term has a wide scope that includes Tamils, who are native to Tamil Nadu (India) and Eelam.
Other examples of diasporas are the Jews diaspora and the African diaspora.
(Oxford dictionaries, Online Etymology Dictionary)
Aadhan Tamil. (16.11.2020). 2000 ஆண்டுகளாக உலகை சுற்றும் தமிழர்கள் | ஒரிசா பாலு, தமிழர் ஆய்வாளர் | தூரப்பார்வை EP11|Aadhan Tamil. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/wjcTfNG2JmI
3 «Den som kontrollerer fortiden styrer fremtiden. Den som styrer nåtiden, kontrollerer fortiden.» (Norwegian)
George Orwell. (2017). 1984. Oslo: Gyldendal.
«Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past»
George Orwell. (n.a). 1984: Part 1, Chapter 3. Retrieved from http://george-orwell.org/1984/2.html
4 Peter Schalk undertook academic work with professor Alvappillai Veluppillai. This is a work of translating the original Tamil publication of «Reflections of Leader» published by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 1995 and 2005. This work includes the original Tamil text as well as the translations in German, English, Swedish and Sinhala.
Schalk, P. (2007a). talaivarin cintanaikai. Retrieved from http://uu.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:173420/FULLTEXT04.pdf
Schalk, P. (2007b). Tamil Source in English Translation: Reflections of the Leader. Retrieved from http://uu.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:173420/FULLTEXT06.pdf
Schalk, P. (2007c). Uppsala University Publications. Retrieved from http://uu.diva-portal.org/smash/record.jsf?amp;dswid=contents&pid=diva2%3A173420&dswid=5816