27th November 2020. Today is the day of Maveerer Naal (The Great Heroes Day/ The National Remembrance Day). It is the “Poppy Day”1 for Tamils. Our commemoration to the great heroes and innocent people who have lost their lives in the liberation struggle of Tamil Eelam.
«Tamil Eelam Liberation Struggle». The modern history of Eelam Tamils can be identified as the period from the independence of Sri Lanka in 1948 till now. In this period, Eelam Tamils have been fighting for equal rights, equal opportunity, self-determination, freedom of speech, freedom of information, right to preserve and protect their traditional homeland, language, culture and heritage and sovereignty in Eelam. This struggle has been in form of non-violent-, political-, armed struggle and the continuing resistance to Tamil genocide. In each phase, there have been a number of political organisations and liberation organisations who have aimed for Tamil Eelam. However, “the two central Eelam Tamil nationalist organisations of the past century, the Federal Party and then the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), both incorporated the economic and material development of the Tamil speaking regions as important components of their activities and demands” (Tamil Guardian, 2012). Thus, it is a conscious or unconscious association of the term «Tamil Eelam Liberation Struggle» with these two organisations. However, the history of the Tamil Eelam liberation struggle has a wider spectrum. It is a history that has the platforms of Eelam, the Tamil Diaspora and Tamil Nadu. As well as the different phases of the struggle from the non-violent-, political- and armed struggle that had a number of political and liberation organisations.
Based on history, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was one of the two central Eelam Tamil nationalist organisations of the past century. They demanded the political aspiration of Eelam Tamils. As so the Tamils accepted them as their sole representatives. Thereby the history of the Tamils is intertwined with the history of these freedom fighters. The history of the freedom fighters is intertwined with the lives of the Tamils. However, there are different perspectives on this liberation organisation at the international level. That perspective is experienced as contradicting the perspective of Tamils. Perspectives are based on a set of values. Because of a set of international values history of this freedom struggle is subject to threat and destruction. Because of those set of values the history of this liberation organisation and the freedom fighters are endangered than other organisations in Eelam. So, the destruction of the history of this freedom struggle is the destruction of Tamil history. It is a destruction of a part of the Tamil cultural-historical heritage.
On the other hand, it is essential to prevent the unconscious technological destruction caused by unawareness. Downloading and uploading video and audio files digitally will lead to loss of quality. Every time a video or audio is uploaded and downloaded the quality of the video is getting lost because of compression. Loss of visual and audio quality leads to difficulty in hearing, reading, seeing the content. Over time, it will be impossible to understand the content, and the historical document will be lost. The remaining pieces of the cultural-historical heritage of the Tamils need to be protected and preserved from this technological destruction.
A letter from a martyr
Above is a video clip of a freedom fighter reading a letter. The video says that this letter was written by another freedom fighter called Anpumani. He wrote this letter to the national leader before he went to a battlefield. It is doubtful that this letter would have survived the Tamil genocide in May 2009 in Eelam. This video is what we have left and is now the one and only evidence for the letter written to the leader. Below is the English translation of the letter:
«…he shares his dream of Tamil Eelam with the leader.
Dear Anna (meaning elder brother), When we carry an explosive, we explode relying on you. We believe that you will build a nation of Tamil Eelam in which our people will live in peace and freedom.
Dear Anna, our people are very sinful. They are tired of carrying the suffering. Freedom for them must be earned at any cost. I explode with complete confidence that you will archive it. If the emerging Tamil Eelam have to have a fully self-sufficient economy, the foundations must be laid now…
And he continues.
…there should be no beggars in our country. Whether it is adults or children. Our government (referring to the government of Tamil Eelam) must take responsibility for the development of such people. Similarly, all citizens in Tamil Eelam should be educated. That too should be taken care of by our government. Likewise, all the sports in the world should be coached in our country and our players should be the forerunners in all sports. A society without differences between the rich and the poor must be ensured, and free of caste and religion inequalities. Dowryatrocities against women must be completely eradicated. Our government should pay close attention to it.
As his letter goes on. This is one letter onlyfrom a fallen warrior named Anpumani.»
Genocide is not only the mass killing of human lives, but it is also the mass destruction of traces of an ethnicity.
Posts on social media is a reflection of the urge to tell and transfer the stories of Tamils to the world as an act to transfer, resist, upraise and remember. But these kinds of actions need to be navigated with a long-term vision. How many times can Tamil society upload and download the same video to tell the stories for tomorrow? Tamil society needs to find a strategy to preserve these stories to tell them to the world for 100 and more years. That is to say that a secured version needs to be preserved. So when the quality of the dissemination version gets lost, Tamil society will have a secured version to create another dissemination version. This secured version needs to be preserved with all the information about its origin, purpose and context. These documents need to be accessible for 100 or more years. A long-term vision should secure and preserve all available documents for the long term. In addition, the memories and experiences of people need to be documented as oral history. Appropriate worldwide Tamil organisations and individuals need to take action now to implement a long-term vision. This vision needs to secure and preserve the original documents for the long term. Other Tamil organisations need to empower those who already doing documentation, preservation and public access work. This should apply to all available documents including text, video and sound formats, and also all analogue and digital formats. In this way, the historical and cultural heritage of the Tamils can be preserved for the long term.