Feature Article

Latin America readily understands US game on Eezham Tamils: Dr Malathy

[TamilNet, Saturday, 18 June 2016, 23:19 GMT]
“It appears that in Latin America people readily understand the geopolitical issues and the USA’s leading role in inhumane interventionism. Obviously this is neither understood nor accepted in the English-speaking world. Strangely vast majority of the people in India and Eelam Tamils too have so far failed to understand this. But the Latin American people do […] Immersed in the English-speaking world Eelam Tamils have no direct experience of solidarity from others. On the contrary, the Eelam Tamils only know the incessant and derogatory bashing of their struggle from the English-speaking world,” writes Dr. N. Malathy a key member of North-East Secretariat on Human Rights (NESoHR) and the author of ‘A Fleeting Moment in My Country’, who recently visited Ecuador as a member of a solidarity delegation.

Members of the delegation, who were new to Latin America, were taken aback by the solidarity and real concern displayed by the indigenous people.

Dr. N. Malathy
Dr. N. Malathy
The Ecuadorian organization of indigenous peoples that had invited the delegation of Eezham Tamils, Sinhalese and other activists from around the world, observed the Mu’l’livaaykkaal Day with an Anjali and declared “Tamil Eelam lives on. The struggle continues.”

“Members of the delegation were amazed at the highly radical tone of the speeches coming from the deans [of the Central University of Ecuador]. One cannot imagine such radical talk from deans of universities either in Europe or in South Asia. What has happened to us,” Malathy wonders.

Malathy’s experience with Ecuadorian academics and aesthetics is eye-opener to theoretical shaping of our historiography, academics, literature and aesthetics, deviated by funds and recognition coming from the very sources that have planned the genocide and keep it ongoing.

Ecuador solidarity event (1)
Students of Central University of Ecuador attending the event on May 19th


Full text of Malathy’s report follows:

Experiencing the Latin American Solidarity

In the month of May2016, a delegation made up of a few Eelam Tamils, Sinhalese and other activists from around the world made a trip to Ecuador. They were invited by an organization of indigenous peoples of Ecuador. Some of the members of the delegation, who are part of the Permanent Peoples Tribunal on Sri Lanka group, had made trips to Ecuador earlier and had become friends of this organization. After learning of the Tamil Genocide this organization had invited the delegation to overlap with the Tamil Genocide week in May 18th. This is the background to the trip.

In order to comprehend the experiences of the members of this delegation in Ecuador, it is necessary to have some knowledge of the politics in this region. 500 years ago, Latin America was colonized by the Spanish. The Spanish committed genocide of the many indigenous peoples of Latin America to exploit the resources of the land. The indigenous people remember their history of genocide. Once the Latin American countries gained independence from Spain, USA stepped in to assist its own corporations to continue to exploit the resources of Latin America. You can learn more about the USA role by searching “USA operations in Latin America” in the Internet.

Ecuador solidarity event (2)
At Central University on May 19th


The first engagement of our delegation in Ecuador was the commemoration of the Mullivaikal Day on May 18th. The indigenous organization had prepared a beautiful flyer publicizing this and two more events the next day. All three events were held at two universities in Quito, the capital of Ecuador.

On the day of the first event, 18th May, there were two strong earthquakes. The Simone Bolivar University where the Mullivaikal commemorative event was to be held decided to cancel all public events that day. We were amazed at the determination of the key people in the indigenous organization to ensure that the event went ahead defying the ban by the university. In the end the event was transferred to the small hall in the office of the organization. More than 70 people came on short notice to the new venue. Most of those attending were leaders of various indigenous groups.

The event started with a brief Anjali to the Mullivaikal victims followed by lighting of candles. A survivor of the last days in Mullivaikal then gave a brief talk describing the Tamil Eelam de-facto state, and some personal experiences of the massacres. Another speaker explained the geopolitical dimension of the Tamil Genocide and the role of USA in destroying the peace process between the Eelam Tamils and the Sinhalese. A Tamil dance group of seven from Canada with their teachers and well wishers had also joined the delegation. The small hall was re-arranged for dances performed by the Tamil and indigenous dance groups.

Ecuador solidarity event (3)
Depicting Mullivaikaal Genocide at Central University


Members of the delegation, who were new to Latin America, were taken aback by the solidarity and real concern displayed by the indigenous people. To them these indigenous people appear to be from a very different and a more humane world. Immersed in the English speaking world, Eelam Tamils have no direct experience of solidarity from others. On the contrary the Eelam Tamils only know the incessant and derogatory bashing of their struggle from the English speaking world. Indeed so immersed are the majority of South Asians and even a large number of Eelam Tamils in this English speaking neoliberal militarized world, they too have failed to recognize the importance of solidarity with the struggling Eelam Tamil people. The experience in Quito on that day and on the subsequent ten days was touching for the Eelam Tamils who have been bashed by the English-speaking world for decades.

Ecuador solidarity event (4)
Another Tamil Dance at Central University


The two events the following day on May 19th was held in the Central University and was aimed at two different groups of students. Both events were launched with speeches by the deans of respective faculties whose students were attending that event. Members of the delegation were amazed at the highly radical tone of the speeches coming from the deans. One cannot imagine such radical talk from deans of universities either in Europe or in South Asia. What has happened to us?

The dean’s speech was followed by a speech by a survivor of Mullivaikal genocide. In both these two events also there were many dances by the Tamil dance group and by indigenous dance groups. The “No Fore Zone” documentary was screened followed by a question and answer session. Again the students’ questions and opinions showed that the students readily understood what had happened to Eelam Tamils. It appears that in Latin America people readily understand the geopolitical issues and the USA’s leading role in inhumane interventionism. Obviously this is neither understood nor accepted in the English speaking world. Strangely vast majority of the people in India and Eelam Tamils too have so far failed to understand this. But the Latin American people do. At the end of each event the compere, an indigenous person, shouted “Tamil Eelam Lives On. The Struggle Continues.” The audience repeated in unison.

Ecuador solidarity event (5)
Mural at Parliament Chamber Depicting USA Brutality


We visited the Parliament chamber of Ecuador. One side of the chamber from floor to roof is covered with painting by a famous Ecuadorian painter, Oswaldo Guayasamín. The mural has many anti-USA messages. It is astonishing that it is displayed in such a public place.

We also went to the town of Otavalo, a three hour drive from Quito. Here is the church where the liberation theologian, Leonidas Proano, whom the people revere, is buried. In this church we were given a grand welcome with 200 Quechua people standing outside the church to welcome us. The church was a simple building with the tomb of the priest. Eight to ten stained glass pictures of the people’s past liberation fighters were high on the wall. There were women among them. Some were armed defenders others were leaders. Though they are not recognized as saints by Rome, the people consider them saints. We sat around on the benches.

Ecuador solidarity event (6)
Saints of Otavalo Church


The Anjali and candle lighting was performed. Then an indigenous couple did a ritual performance to welcome us. The man sat in the middle and sang and chanted. A woman slowly walked in with smoking tinder with a red rose which she handed to the Mullivaikal genocide survivor.

A mass was then performed by Fr François Houtart, a priest, a world renowned academic, author of many books, and of many more achievements. In the mass he referred to the people of Asia and the indigenous people of Latin America. He said both should develop solidarity in their struggles. Earlier, he also referred us, the members of the delegation, to his book, “From ‘Common Goods’ to the ‘Common Good of Humanity’”. A PDF version of this book is available on the internet.

After the mass, an indigenous woman danced depicting trauma. It was beautifully expressive. Some of the indigenous people also handed gifts to a few visitors. The same indigenous woman also did a dance in defense of the land. She used sand, water and fire extensively in the dance. Again it was very expressive. There were many more dances by the Tamil dance group and indigenous dance groups. At the end everyone danced including the audience. It was a very beautiful day. That night we slept in the retreat attached to the church.

Ecuador solidarity event (7)
Saints of Otavalo Church


Next day, on our drive back to Quito, we visited the Otavalo market - the most colorful place. The knitwear galore was a splash of colors. So were the bags, pictures and smaller ornaments. Colors played magic in this market.

If you go to Quito as a tourist, everyone will tell you that you must see the “old town”. It is an expansive area that preserves the colonial setting even today with cobblestone roads, large expansive park like areas and most stunning and numerous massive grand churches built in proximity to each other. I thought only Tamils build grand temples. The Spanish beat the Tamils pants down on this. One friend said that the old town was so well preserved that you could use it as the setting for a period movie by just removing the cars and the buses.

Ecuador solidarity event (8)
Saints of Otavalo Church


Before concluding this note, one more event must be added. On the way to Quito from Auckland, New Zealand, I stopped over in Chile where a friend took good care of me for a day and two nights. As it turned out this friend was an activist during the Pinochet times and lived in fear for her life. Her cousin was held in an underground prison and was tortured. The picture of Salvador Allende was the centre piece in her living room. Browsing through her books in the living room, I noticed the number of memorials the Chilean people had built around the country for the atrocities committed during the Pinochet time. There was also a large Museum of Human Rights that commemorated those who were killed. My friend decided to take me to this museum. It was an impressive memorial museum and many young people were visiting when we were there.

The greatest regret of this trip is that we did not know the Spanish language.

Ecuador solidarity event (9)
One of the hosts of the solidarity delegation show the Delegation her ancestral land


PS: If anyone likes to keep up to date on Latin American developments there is a good news website called Telesur.

They also have a YouTube channel in which the “Empire Files” series is particularly interesting.


Related Articles:
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