Ethnic cleansing – Tamils of Eelam in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka

The Tamils are an ancient people. Their history had its beginnings in the rich alluvial plains near the southern extremity of peninsular India which included the land mass known as the island of Sri Lanka today. The island’s plant and animal life (including the presence of elephants) evidence the earlier land connection with the Indian sub continent. So too do satellite photographs which show the submerged ‘land bridge’ between Dhanuskodi on the south east of the Indian sub-continent and Mannar in the north west of the island.

“The world doesn’t need any more proof to recognise the war crimes that are being committed against Tamils. Hospitals are bombed. People are deliberately forced into starvation and death. Voices of the victims are suppressed. Chemical weapons are used against innocent civilians. Many Tamils are locked up in barbed wired concentration camps… It is time for the West and India to support the Tamils to establish a State of their own”


… has energised and continues to energise the growing togetherness of  more than 80 million Tamils living today in many lands and across distant seas…  a togetherness rooted in a shared heritage, in memories of their valour, values and ideals… a togetherness expressed in a  rich language, literature, and a  vibrant culture the Tamils –  a nation without a state

Given President Rajapaksa’s genocidal record, it seems that his theory of reconciliation may be simply stated:  kill off as many Tamils as you can and then marry those that you have failed to kill.

Ethnic cleansing often occurs in stages . The preferred route of a conqueror is to achieve his objective without resort to violence – peacefully and stealthily. But when that fails, the would be conqueror turns to murderous violence and genocide to progress his assimilative agenda. Genocides do not just happen. And Sri Lanka is no exception to these general rules.

In the island of Sri Lanka, the record shows that during the past sixty years and more, the intent and goal of all Sinhala governments (without exception) has been to secure the island as a Sinhala Buddhist Deepa.

“…One of the essential elements that must be kept in mind in understanding the Sri Lankan ethnic conflict is that, since 1958 at least, every time Tamil politicians negotiated some sort of power-sharing deal with a Sinhalese government – regardless of which party was in power – the opposition Sinhalese party always claimed that the party in power had negotiated away too much. In almost every case – sometimes within days – the party in power backed down on the agreement…” – Professor Marshall Singer, at US Congress Committee on 

International Relations Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific Hearing on Sri Lanka November 14,1995

Tamils are today a trans state nation. They are a nation without a state. What is a nation? A nation is a community. A state is an institution. A nation is not a state. A nation is a togetherness rooted in the shared heritage of a people, in their memories of their valour and ideals. It is given expression in language, literature and culture. Language communicates the richest thoughts and gives expression to the noblest feelings of man. And the Tamil language is related to the thoughts and feelings of the Tamil people as they evolved over a period of two thousand years.

The Sinhala Buddhist nation masquerading as a multi ethnic ‘civic’ ‘Sri Lankan’ nation set about its task of assimilation and ‘cleansing’ the island of  the Tamils, as a people, by

– depriving a section of Eelam Tamils of their citizenship,

– declaring the Sinhala flag as the national flag,

colonising parts of the Tamil homeland with Sinhala people,

– imposing Sinhala as the official language,

discriminating against Tamils students seeking University admission,

depriving Tamil language speakers of employment in the public sector,

dishonouring agreements entered into with the Tamil parliamentary  political leadership,

– refusing to recognise constititutional safeguards against discrimination,

– later removing these constitutional safeguards altogether,

– giving to themselves an authocthonous Constitution with a foremost place for Buddhism,

– and changing the name of the island itself to the Sinhala Buddhist name of Sri Lanka – appropriately enough, on  the ‘tenth day of the waxing moon in the month of Vesak in the year two thousand five hundred and fifteen of the Buddhist Era’.

When the attempts at ethnic cleansing by Sinhala majority governments (within the confines of a single state) were resisted by the Tamil people by non violent means and parliamentary struggle, Sinhala governments resorted to violence in 1956, in 1958, in 1961, in 1974, and again in 1977  and 1983 a murderous violence directed to terrorise the Tamils into submission.  Rule by a permanent ethnic majority within the confines of a single state was and is the dark side of democracy.

The inevitable rise of Tamil armed resistance to State terror was then met with enactment of laws which were an ‘ugly blot on statute book of any civilised country’, with arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, extra judicial killings and massacres, indiscriminate aerial bombardment and artillery shelling, wanton rape, and by genocide in 1983 and thereafter  – together with press censorship, disinformation and murder of journalists. And the impunity granted to Sinhala armed forces, para military groups, goondas and Sinhala thugs, exposed the encouragement, support and direction given by successive Sri Lanka governments for the crimes committed against the Tamil people.

Impunity: Crime & No Punishment

Impunity means freedom from punishment.  During the past five decades and more the Sri Lankan security forces, para military groups and Sinhala goondas have violated the rights of the Tamil people, have killed, tortured, raped and massacred with impunity, free from any fear of punishment. The pattern of behaviour established by the Sinhala  Sri Lanka government’s refusal to adequately investigate the crimes committed against the Tamil people and the overt statements made by Sinhala politicians from time to time expose the true nature of the assimilative agenda of  Sinhala Buddhist governments.

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

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