Every year, in the month of November, Remembrance Day is commemorated to remember the fallen soldiers who defended liberty, equality and humanity of their homeland with their life – this is observed in North America and in many parts of the world. Many of those wars were fought outside their homeland to prevent the invasion of their homeland and a dictatorship state.
As the people of Tamileelam, we commemorate our Remembrance Day, Maveerar Naal on the 27th of November. In Tamileelam before 2009, there was the Maaveerar Week that had incorporated many festivities in different cities were people showcased their love for our heoroes of Tamileelam. Themes such as sacrifice, determination, dedication were very dominant. Almost every family had a Maaveerar who sacrificed their life for Tamileelam. Thuyilum Illam was filled with not just graves, but legacies of the past that our resistance movement was built on. I was told how even vehicles passing by Thuyilum Illam slowed down to show their respect to our fallen.
I can only imagine how much our people held this month dear to their hearts in Tamileelam because I never had the chance to go back to my homeland. I didn’t even get the opportunity to be born in my own homeland because of the genocidal Sri-Lankan onslaught against our people, which forced my parents to flee the country.
Today in our homeland, everything has been wiped out to erase our identity, history and pride. Will this stop us from remembering our heroes of Tamileelam in our homeland and the diaspora? Will this shake our morale to such an extent to forget the 30+ years of legacy that paused in Mulivaaiykal?
During the early stages of our resistance movement, the honourable national leader of Tamileelam, V. Pirapaharan, showed the outmost importance to our heroes starting from Shankar Anna. They are the heart and soul of our struggle, without them there will be no progressive resistance movement for the people of Tamileelam. The goal of the resistance movement was not to bolster the armed struggle but to develop and build on the concept of self determination, nation and homeland which led to the formation of the defacto state of Tamileelam.
Almost many recognized nation state during their independence movement, never had the idea of having a rememberance event during their struggle but were commemorated after. We have a proud history were we remembered our heoroes who sacrificed their lives from the early stages of our resistance movement against the Sri-Lankan genocidal opression. Moreover, when most wars were fought outside the borders, ours has to do with resisting the genocidal opression of the Sri-Lankan state in our homeland. The Sri-Lankan state can try to convulute the history of the Tamils of Tamileelam but our heroes made sure our history and identity stayed intact by sacrificing themselves.
Many heroes took a bullet in their chest so we could escape the genocide, many heroes gave up on their everyday life for a life of war so people in Tamileelam would be able to have an everyday life. If the commonwealth cannot forget their heroes so cannot the citizens and diaspora of Tamileelam. You can destroy the Thuyilum Illam physically present in Tamileelam but not the Thuyilum Illam we built for the thousands of Maaveerar in our hearts. What the resistance movement did in 2009 was temporarily silence the arms in their hands and accelerated the feeling of Tamil nationalism thereby strengthening the movement for free Tamileelam worldwide as one powerful force to reckon with. We will only rest when we see our homeland of the Eelam Nation with right to self determination.
Written By: Prynth N.
25th Anniversary of Maveerar Naal
Maveerar Naal is a day of remembrance for our beloved soldiers who fell fighting for a cause they felt worthy enough to sacrifice their lives for. This year marks the 25th anniversary of Maveerar Naal and it is more important than ever to remember why these soldiers sacrificed their lives for us. One shouldn’t just use this day of remembrance to reflect on the struggles of our brothers and sisters, rather we should relive their sacrifices on a day to day basis. Our brothers and sisters who have perished wouldn’t want us to reflect negatively on the past; moreover, they would want us to fight for the future so that the struggles they went through would not be wasted. On November 27th we should pay homage to our brothers and sisters out of respect, compassion and gratitude. They sacrificed they lives so that we could grow up without the barriers and hardships they faced. When people imply that our children are our future, I immediately think back to our Maveerar. Most of our freedom fighters were just like you and I, young people with big ambitions, a long life to look forward to. They all dreamt about making their mark on the world; however, as much as they wanted to live their lives, they were willing to give it all up so that the kids of tomorrow never would have to worry.
Sacrifice can mean many different things; giving up that last piece of chocolate; giving your cousin that toy you loved as a kid; offering your seat to an elderly person, these are all examples of sacrifices we make on a day to day life. Now let’s look at the sacrifices our fellow brothers and sisters made back home. They sacrificed first and foremost their families, a thought that many of us will never be able to comprehend. One truly cannot appreciate the value of family until they are taken away from us. Our freedom fighters in a selfless act, willingly left their families so that they can fight for the many. Another sacrifice that was made was the education of our freedom fighters. We all know the oppressive and underhanded tactics used by the government to singlehandedly restrain Tamil students from progressing on towards higher education. This methodical process prohibited even the greatest of minds from succeeding. To combat this issue, our brothers and sisters sacrificed their careers for us. Many of our fallen soldiers would be in their 40′s right now if they were alive today. Who knows what great scientist, doctor, engineer or better pioneer we could have known had they been alive. The list of sacrifices that our brothers and sisters made can go on for a very long time but there is one final sacrifice I would like to mention, comfort. Our freedom fighters gave up the comforts we take for granted in our day to day lives. Our freedom fighters gave up the comforts of their own homes; they oftentimes fought in the jungles of Mulliyvaikal; they gave up their friends; they gave up their favourite foods and many more. These small comforts cannot be undervalued. Sacrifice according to you and I may now might not seem as drastic as it once did. On November 27th we should pay our respect to those very sacrifices our brothers and sisters made.
Maveerar Naal is a day of remembrance. We should stand in silence and reflect on the lives of our freedom fighters. When you go and lay your flowers or garlands on the Thuyilum Illam, you should stand humbly and with appreciation. We should as a collective whole try to find a way to bring to fruition the dreams of those we lost. The struggle to fight for our own homeland continues, we the students of today have the opportunities and means to wage a new kind of war. A war that has the capabilities to bring to light the atrocities that were committed by the government and their senior members. This war can achieve accountability and punishment for the crimes that were committed; furthermore, this war can achieve our own national state of Thamil Eelam. While our fallen soldiers rest in heaven, they will only truly rest in peace when they see the rise of a new sunrise on the soils of Thamil Eelam.
“Nothing I can say will ever be able to express the feeling of Maaveerar Naal. I have always celebrated Maaveerar Naal abroad, and to actually know what sadness and pride combined would feel like whilst standing on the soil that we so long to own as ours, the soil on which thousands had shed blood and tears whilst fighting for self determination, the soil that we would one day call Tamil Eelam, was absolutely amazing.” (Sampavi, 2005)
KaarthikaiBy: Athithan Kurukulasingam
My Hero – A True Story
We all have a hero in our lives, in my family our hero is my sister. She is not my blood sister, she is my cousin sister. She is the daughter of my mother’s younger sister. She was known as Yaal Esai, and was the only female Maveerar of my family.
At a very young age she left home to fight for freedom. Freedom that will give ethnic Tamils rights to speak their mother tongue, go to school and be treated equally.
She was a courageous girl. She had a strong personality. She had her own style, her own uniqueness. She was a different beauty. Her hair was as black as the night sky, and her brown complexion was like a chocolate river. Her attitude was sharp, with a strong personality. She had the will power and confidence to take on any challenge, but she was only 18, an age that was too young to trust. She was in the 10th grade, and was a great student. Her strongest subject was math and science. Everything in her life went smoothly, until that one day. It was a day we could never forget, a day that changed her life.
It was a school day and a rainy one too. The clouds cried rain, pouring on to the roads making it flooded with water. The streets were filled with huge mud puddles. The students had to run for cover under the nearest tree. It wasn’t like a school that we assume to see with tables, chairs, rooms or a roof. It was in an open field, and consisted of sitting in the hot sun. She was one of the children who stood under a tree waiting for the rain to stop. As they waited, an army truck pulled into the school property. Six Sri Lankan military soldiers got off the truck. They said they were inspecting and spoke to the teacher. After questioning about the school the men walked around the children. Vasanthi, was a friend of my cousin, was standing under small mango tree, which was a bit further than where the rest of the students were standing. Her uniform was soaked because of the rain, making the outline of her undergarments visible. She was a year older than my cousin, and was ripening as a woman. She was fair with skin clear like ivory, with glowing eyes like night stars. She just hit puberty and was glowing, looking ever so beautiful each day.
Looking at Vasanthi, a solider reached out and touched her cheek, pinching it and then smiling. Scared as she was she didn’t look up. Squishing her chin in his palms he pulled her face up, so close that both their noses touched. He glared at her and smiled at her. His smile wasn’t greeting, it was a molestic smile, cold and disgusting, one that will give any child chills up their spine. After a half an hour the men left, leaving the students and their teachers alone. The rain stopped and school was dismissed. My cousin and her friend Vasanthi got on their bikes and rode home. On their way home, they were stopped by a truck, the same truck with the same men who came to their school earlier that day. They stopped Vasanthi’s bike and asked her to step out. Looking at my cousin, one of the men told her to leave and go home. Afraid of the men my cousin left, hoping that her friend too will be excused and will follow behind her. But that poor girls luck, she was never seen alive after that day. What happened to her? She was raped, by six Sri Lankan Military men. She was found outside the schoolyard covered in mud. Her cheeks were bruised and bitten, her uniform torn from the bust, her breasts were wounded and she bled from her rectum and uterus. They did not pity this child or even thought that she was a little girl, but yet used her for her innocence. The news spread out, and soon everyone in the village knew. After hearing of her school mate’s horrific death, my cousin struggled to find justice, she wanted answers. “Justice is something that we Tamils can not get,” told her teacher. “From the time you were born in 1983, students were burned alive and beaten to death because they were Tamil. The courts wouldn’t dare to rescue someone who was killed or hurt by the army. I had to fight for my rights to become a teacher; this isn’t something that will change. Yaal esai, you just have to move on and hope it doesn’t happen to you.” These were the words that her teacher told her, to forget what happened, to pretend and live on with her life.
She sat at home for several days, not going to school or speaking to anyone at home, traumatized by what happened and continuously questions her on whether she should step up and be a voice for her people. After a week of thinking she came to a conclusion. She wanted to join in on a student out reach, an army which programmed and controlled by united Tamil students of Sri Lanka. This was something against the government for sure, but that’s not what she cared about, she wanted justice, so she made up her mind.
She left and joined the movement. We never saw her after that, no one contacted her, and didn’t know what happened to her. After a few years, she came to visit. She saw her mother, my aunt, my chithi. But she did not smile or cry. She came bare, showed no emotion, for she was just a soul that had only one thing in mind, Tamil Eelam. She came home and ate to please her mother, and departed heading back to work. She would give surprise visits, making her parents feel safe that their daughter is alive. But all that ended on May 17 2009.
May 2009, was a month that I could never forget. It was the month that the Sri Lankan army planned to and successfully attacked Tamil civilians. It was a systematic genocide, and it was what killed my sister. How did she die? She died like a true hero, fighting till her last breath. She fought to protect not just her identity, but to protect her sisters and mothers, aunts and nieces. She did it to protect her kind and her people. She died on the second last day of war, May 17th. She was not just an idol to me, but also to many Tamils internationally. She is my hero, a person who made me stronger, who helped me understand who I am and where I came from. Her struggle, her fight and her sacrifice will never be forgotten. Her name was not just symbolic, it didn’t just represent the music of the ancient instrument ‘yaal’, but she also became an anthem. Every moment that I pronounce her name, I feel pride as she became a sacred chime, a healing mantra that motivates me pushing me further in search for success. My cousin always said to her siblings that, “we are all born to create history and make a change”, and she is right. Her sacrifice became one of the reasons I can proudly say my identity, create a better future and realise the value of what I have now. The freedom that she never had, that same freedom that I was privileged to have gotten became my reason to carry on her struggle and fire. Because I want to pass down her dream and let her rest in peace.
R.I.P YAAL EESAI
Every moment can be a new life
The death of a Soldier isn’t just any death,
It is a historical event, a beautiful sacrifice.
A sight which revives another’s soul,
Truly a soldier never dies,
The fire that burns within him, it never dies.
It ignites the fire within others to strive for success,
It ignites the fire within others to fight for their people, to fight for their land.
Our struggle is the seed we have planted towards victory,
Our Maveerar are the nourishments needed to grow strong towards our goal,
As the struggle grows stronger, the closer we are to fulfilling their dreams,
So why wait? Every moment can be a new life.
So why do you let them pass by?
Our Maveerars fought with dreams,
They fought with love and affection,
They fought to see brighter futures for us,
They fought to see the Tamil Eelam Flag fly high,
So why do you let them pass by?
Every moment can be a new life.
Written By: Lavaniya Rajah