Sri Lanka: How Rights of Tamils Eroded

srilanka tamil

Tamil Nation existed until the British conquered Sri Lanka [then called Ceylon] and amalgamated the Sinhala Nation in the South with the Tamil Nation in the North and East in 1833. Before that Jaffna Kingdom was ruled by Tamil Kings. There are several historical records to prove this fact. The British in 1948 gave independence to Sri Lanka [Ceylon] without considering the plight of Tamils, handed all the powers to the majority Sinhalese who are Buddhists. Since then [1948] Tamils were marginalized, Tamils’ traditional and historical lands were colonized with Sinhalese from the South. Sinhala colonization of Tamil areas was willfully carried out to change the ethnic and political character of Tamil areas. After 1948 the government’s settlement plan deprived the Tamils of 7,000 in the Eastern Province and 500 in the Northern Province. Although Tamils protested, the Colombo administration ignored the Tamils and settled Sinhalese in the Tamil areas. Tamils’ ancestral homelands are still being plundered by the Sinhala state under the pretext of:

{1[ Erection of  Military Camps and cantonments.

[2] Forest Department

[3] Archeological Department

The Tamils and the Sinhalese are divided based on territory, language, religion, and culture.

The Mahavamsa, a Buddhist chronicle was written in the 6th century AD  by a Buddhist Monk. This chronicle made a virtue of killing in defense of Buddhism. The Mahavamsa has perpetrated the myth that Sinhalese-Buddhists are a chosen people with the special mission of preserving the Buddhist religion Sri Lanka.

It should be noted that it was Sir Arunachalam Ponnambalam who first [1923] exhorted the Tamils who proclaimed that “They [Tamils] should work towards promoting the union and solidarity of what we have been proud to call TAMIL EELAM. We desire to preserve our individuality as a people, to make ourselves of inheritance. We are not enamored about the cosmopolitanism which would make us neither fish, fowl nor red-herring.”

It was Samuel James Velupillai Chelvanayagam Q,C  – MP for Kankesanthurai who formulated the historical Vaddukoddai Resolution – for self-determination.

After representing the Tamil people for five general elections, experiencing repeated disappointments in over 3 decades of negotiation with the Sinhala majoritarian government, Chelvanayagam QC formulated the Vaddukoddai resolution, which remains a cornerstone of the Tamil movement for self-determination in Sri Lanka.

This convention resolves that restoration and reconstitution of the Free, Sovereign, Secular, Socialist State of TAMIL EELAM, based on the right of self determination inherent to every nation, has become inevitable in order to safeguard the very existence of the Tamil Nation in this Country

In the late fifties, Chelvanayagam QC signed the first ever pact between the Sinhala and Tamil community to resolve the issue of Tamil political demands. The Bandaranaike-Chelvanayam pact, signed in 1957, was abrogated by the then President due to vehement opposition by Sinhala parties.

Following another decade of civil disobedience and negotiations, Chelvanayagam QC signed a pact to settle Tamil political demands with the then UNP leader Mr Dudely Senanayake. The 1965 general elections, which preceded the signing of the Chelva-Dudely pact, saw no Sinhala political party obtain an absolute majority in parliament. Despite having the support of the Tamil political parties in parliament Mr Senanayake abrogated the pact as vehement opposition arose in the Sinhala South.

The foregoing facts of history were completely overlooked, and power over the entire country was transferred to the Sinhalese nation on the basis of a numerical majority, thereby reducing the Tamil nation to the position of subject people; And the successive Sinhalese governments since independence have always encouraged and fostered the aggressive nationalism of the Sinhalese people and have used their political power

  1. On 24 March 1965, PM Dudley Senanayakesigned a pact with the Tamil Leaderto redress Tamil grievances, in return for Tamil support for the PM’s party to form the government. Most provisions in the pact were not implemented, and the Tamil leadership withdrew their support for the government.
  2. On 25 July 1958 an agreement was signed between the PM S.W.R.D.Bandaranaikeand the Tamil leader S.J.V. Chelvanayakam. In April 1958 Mr. Bandaranaike, under pressure from extremist Buddhist monks, unilaterally abrogated the pact.
  3. The present government is trying its delaying tactics as usual in implementing the UNHRC recommendations fully, denying a federal system of government, unwilling to engage foreign judges and foreign involvement in the war crime investigation. It is very clear that Tamils will never get justice from the politicized judicial system viewing the latest verdictsregarding the killing of Tamil Parliamentarian and human rights activist Nadarajah Raviraj.

              In conclusion, the writer wishes to quote what the Washington Post, August 4, 1983 said about the situation in Sri Lanka after the 1983 pogrom againt the Tamils.  “ If living together is so hard, what about a separate state in the north for the Tamils?. They have as good a claim to a nation of their own as most members of the United Nations. But as always it is a question of power, and in Sri Lanka the Sinhalese have the power. Do they also have the wisdom to see that the Tamil minority is treated in a way that justifies its retention within a unitary state?”.

 Kumarathasan Rasingam – Secretary, Tamil Canadian Elders for Human Rights Org.


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