Desperate Tamils and Delaying Solutions with Deceptive Promises

relatives of the missing srilanka tamils

Tamils in Sri Lanka, being the original inhabitants even before BC 500 according to legend, have ruled Sri Lanka before the arrival of Buddhism in BC 247 and formation of Sinhalese language during the 6th century AD, which marked the beginning of Sinhalese race. Dutagamini, a Hindu Naga king turned Buddhist ruling the southern parts of Sri Lanka, desiring to rule the entire Sri Lanka, began his march towards Anuradhapura in BC 101. On his way, he encountered thirty-three Tamil Kings who were the local rulers in various regions. After overcoming them, he reached Anuradhapura and waged the epic battle with King Elara, a Chola Tamil King. From where King Elara entered Anuradhapura is still unclear as some say he came from South India while some say he was a King ruling Jaffna. The battle of Dutagamini was to capture territory and not a battle against Tamils as distorted by the Mahavamsa . However this battle and victory sowed the seeds of racism and chauvinism, to be exploited to serve the Sinhala politicians for electoral gains and initiation of the Buddhisisation and Sinhalisisation of Sri Lanka.

The hidden agenda of obliterating the Tamils, their history and identities like language, culture and traditions to make Sri Lanka a Sinhala Buddhist state, was set in motion as soon as independence from colonial British rule was granted in 1948.  The first target was the Indian Tamils who fell victim to this agenda when the Citizenship Act 1948 was passed and about 700,000 were denied citizenship. As a result their parliamentary representation of seven members in 1947 was wiped out.


As for the Eelam Tamils, the political program of Sinhala Governments included the land reclamation of huge projects such as the famous Gal Oya, Allai, Kantalai, Padaviya, Manalaru  [Now renamed in Sinhalese as Weli Oya] and the ongoing Mahaveli ‘L’ development schemes went hand in hand with settlements of Sinhalese which began in 1949. Time and time, Sri Lankan Governments carried out the Sinhalisiation and Buddhisiation agenda methodically, overtly and covertly with legislation and Government directives with the assistance of Security Forces in this scheme.

The Sinhala Only Act 1956 heralded the supremacy of Sinhala language paving the way for the gradual elimination of Tamils in Government appointments, the main form of non-agricultural employment. This was a double barreled gun to shoot down the Tamils to frustration and despair while shooting up Sinhalisiation and Sinhala nationalism.

The 1972 constitution brought Buddhism as the first and foremost religion to be protected and fostered by the state. This provision placed Buddhism as the supreme religion and statutorily bound the Government to foster it by building Buddhist Viharas and Buddhist statutes in selected places throughout the island whether Buddhist worshipers are residing or not.  The statutory protection given to minorities in the earlier constitution [29 -2] was removed as well.

At the end of 2012, 10,812 Buddhist Viharas have been built in the North and East while 413 Viharas were built in 2013 in North and East alone. Besides, hundreds of Buddha statutes have been erected along the side roads and highways so as to create the image of a Buddhist identity and image for Sri Lanka.[1]

The Sinhalisiation of Tamil areas is reinforced with the presence of about 140,000 security personnel in the north with about 60,000 personnel stationed in Mullaitivu for a population of 130,000. Almost 147 Camps are in the Jaffna peninsula for the security forces occupying about 269 individuals’ private lands.

Besides, the population of Tamils in the Northern Province has shown sharp decline due to migration and increased Sinhalese colonization. The table below reveals the truth.

Northern Province:

1921                1981                 2012+

Tamils                         356,801          1,021,006       993,741
Sinhalese                    3,795               35,128             32,331

Trincomalee
                                    1921                1981                 2012
Sinhalese                     4.5%               33.6%             40.4%
Tamils                         54.5%              36.4%             32.3%

Jaffna

1981            2012                2018

Tamils                         734,474          583,071            577,246

Ampari
                                    1963                2012

Sinhalese                     29.3%             38.7%
Tamils                         23.8%             17.4%

Tamils in 1981 constituted 12.7% of the total population, but in 2012 that percentage has declined to 11.2% The continued Sinhalese colonization sponsored by the Governments, and assisted with the involvement of security forces [99% Sinhala Buddhists] aim at the complete demographic changes in Tamil lands and eventually making the Tamils to become minorities in these areas, while reducing their parliamentary strength, which stands 9 in Jaffna peninsula when it was 11 in the 1989 general elections. It is feared that this number will be further reduced to 6 when a future population census is carried out.

The successive Sri Lankan governments have manipulated the initiatives of pogroms to subjugate the Tamils, to position them to live with permanent fear, insecurity, suspicion and mistrust.  The 1956, 1958, 1971, 1977, 1983 pogroms were all state planned, orchestrated and organized to indulge in the genocidal killings of Tamils.

The burning of the Public Library in Jaffna [One of the best libraries in Asia at that time] in May 1981 and the 1984 violence unleashed against the participants at the International Tamil Research Conference were pre-planned to strike at the heart and soul of Tamil Language, history and culture.

In addition, at least 196 massacres of Tamil civilians were executed by the security forces beginning from 12/6/1990 in Kalmunai up to 2009 in Mullivakkal. [Mass graves are now found in Mannar and other places while digging the ground for foundation for buildings etc.]  It is shocking that so far neither Tamil National Alliance [TNA] nor the Government has called for a full investigation into the circumstances of these violent deaths of civilians.

Sri Lanka’s culture of impunity is another lethal weapon of Governments and security forces which is generously facilitating the commission of all violence and crimes against the Tamil civilians.

GORDON WEISS: In his book ‘The Cage- 2012 – Page 141 stated the truth as follows:- ‘SRI LANKA’S JUDICIAL SYSTEM, THE PURPORTED BACKBONE OF DEMOCRACY IS CURENTLY A SHAM. THE CULTURE OF IMPUNITY ALLOWS THE LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES TO DO WHATEVER THEY LIKE, ARREST WITHOUT REASON, TORTURE AND DETAIN FOR LONG AND FABRICATE CHARGES.”

Interestingly, the Government has embarked on a program of development in the North and East to please the United Nations and the International Community. Even if this scheme is implemented in the North and East “erosion of Tamils hold on land through development has once again made possible the total domination of the narrative of state”, as stated by Gordon Weiss – The Cage – Page 225.

The presence of Army which is stationed in 153 Camps occupying more than 4000 acres of land in the North with permanent military installations is an indication as to how far the development will go without the involvement of security forces who are already running hotels, schools, restaurants farming etc. in the North from seized civilian lands.

Prevention of Terrorism Act of 1979 and the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution were draconian measures passed by the Sri Lankan Governments specially targeting and threatening the Tamils to silence their voice and freedom of expression to permanent subjugation.

Another menacing political force is the violence-prone group of Buddhist monks like the Bodu Bala Sena [BBS] and Jathika Hela Urumia [JHU] who function as part of the Government’s program to silence the Tamils and subvert and scuttle any offer of concessions to Tamils

It can be stated that the Tamils in Sri Lanka have been ignored by the International Community, United Nations and Security Council in spite of human rights violations and genocidal killings which have been committed systematically against them again and again in 1956, 1958, 1971, 1971, 1977, 1983 and from 2006-2009 by the security forces in furtherance of the goal of Sinhalisisation and Buddhisiation to make Sri Lanka a SINHALA BUDDHIST STATE.

On July 28, 1983, the then President J. R. Jayawardene Said that “TIME HAS COME TO ACCEDE TO THE CLAMOUR AND NATIONAL RESPECT OF SINHALESE PEOPLE”.

Former President Mahinda Rajapakshe underscored the target of eliminating the Tamils in Sri Lanka by stating in May 2009 after the GENOCIDAL WAR:- “WE HAVE REMOVED THE WORD MINORITIES FROM OUR VOCABULARY THREE YEARS AGO, NO LONGER TAMILS, MUSLIMS AND OTHER MINORITIES. THERE ARE ONLY TWO PEOPLES IN THIS COUNTRY, ONE WHO LOVES THE COUNTRY AND THE OTHER SMALL GROUPS WHO HAVE NO LOVE FOR THE LAND OF THEIR BIRTH’.

Former Prime Minister/President Chandrika Kumaratunge
She too emphasized this view with her slogan during the Presidental election: “AS ONE NATION, ONE PEOPLE “ and has in the past while in South Africa also stated that “THE TAMILS ARE NOT THE ORIGINAL INHABITANTS OF SRI LANKA, THEY DO NOT BELONG TO SRI LANKA’.

The above statements of Sinhalese leaders unequivocally confirm their sinister intention of decimating the identities of Tamils in Sri Lanka.

The struggle of Tamils for equality, justice, distinct identity and accountability as a nation in Sri Lanka commenced in 1956and is still continuing, and there is no hint of a political solution to remove the underlying causes and grievances of Tamils.

The non-violent struggles and resistance launched by late Tamil Leaders like Samuel James Velupillai Chelvanayagam [popularly known as Gandhi of Tamil Eelam] and former Leader of the Opposition A. Amirthalingam were crushed ruthlessly by force by the security forces and were handled by the Sri Lankan Governments with usual charming guiles and wiles leaving the Tamil leaders deceived and dejected. A frustrated Chelvanayagam’s last call “THAT GOD CAN ONLY SAVE THE TAMILS’ still remains un-responded and it is anybody’s guessing as to its fulfillment.

 “Minorities in Sri Lanka Tamils and Muslims feel that they have a place in Sri Lanka as long as they are compelled to fall in line and be slaves within a Sinhalese identity and within the contour of Sinhalese nationalism”.

Tamil National Alliance [TNA] leader Mr. R. Sampanthan’s above statement in Parliament in 2008 summed up the plight of Tamils.

History is meant for learning and past lessons of political history of Tamils should be the guiding factors instead of frittering the energy and efforts chasing the mirage of promises appearing as a lasting solution to the 60 years old problems of Tamils.

In Short:

The following reasons and facts reveal the progress of Tamils in Sri Lanka towards a probable non-existence through assimilation and genocide including structural genocide.

  1. Reduction of Tamil Representation in Parliament. The Jaffna district now elects 9 members which are expected to be reduced to 6 members in the next election.
  1. Exodus and migration of Tamils from North and East. Out of 1.2 million Tamils in the North in 1983 about 700,000 Tamils have migrated to overseas after the Pogrom against the Tamils in 1983. Tamils were hunted and butchered, burnt alive and their houses, establishments, looted and set on fire. Added to this is the reduced growth of Tamil population through reduced birth which stands at 1.5% of the total population compared to 5.51% for Sinhalese.
  1. Entrenched culture of impunity for security forces, Government officials and a judiciary which is politicized.
  1. Permanent residence of security forces and their operational freedom. Civilians are now living with and among security forces.
  1. Lack of International support and/or intervention. Past responses show only trickery and deceit for the 60 years sufferings of Tamils.
  1. Sri Lanka’s disregard of International opinions, suggestions, blatant rejection, and refusal to comply with UNHRC Recommendations and United Nation’s muted response to rein in Sri Lanka for its non-compliance of international commitments.
  1. Discrimination of Tamils in Government sector in employment and allocation of resources including neglect of development schemes in the North and East.
  1. Nil prospect of constitutional guarantee of recognition of North and East as one unit. [As agreed in the Indo/Sri Lanka Accord of 1987] and also freezing the powers of the Provincial Councils to control land/police as agreed in the Accord.
  1. Rejection of International Investigation into war crimes with dim prospects of Internal Judicial mechanism to be set up by Sri Lanka as promised.
  1. Accelerated program of Sinhalisiation and Buddhisiation including neglect of Tamil language for official use and communication with Tamil civilians.
  1. A limited Northern Provincial Council functioning at the mercy of the Centre

With no possibility of International Community and/or United Nations intervention, the gradual extinction of Tamils in Sri Lanka cannot be ruled out in the future.

The present President Ranil Wickramasinghe is not different from others as he appears to be a moderate leader but does not hesitate to seek refuge and exploit the Sinhala and Buddhist nationalism.

Thambu Kanagasabai, LLM {Lond.]  Former Lecturer in Law, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka

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