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"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."

- Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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TAMIL NATION LIBRARY: Eelam

  • The Fall and Rise of the Tamil Nation by V.Navaratnam,
    published by the Tamilian Library, Montreal and Toronto - 1995
    (purchase inquiries to P.O.Box 70, La Prairie, Quebec, J5R 3Y1, Canada)

from the back cover and preface to the first edition...

V.Navaratnam born at Karampon in northern Ceylon on 18 October 1910 and educated at Ananda College, Colombo and Ceylon Law College, was a successful civil lawyer with the distinction of practising law for nearly fifty-eight years. He is the only living founder member of Federal Party which provided political leadership to the Tamils for over decades after independence.

A political activist and writer with a sharp intellect for strategic thinking, he is considered by many as the brain behind the Federal Party’s popular campaigns which paralysed governments. In 1956 he authored Ceylon Faces Crisis to bring to the international community’s attention for the first time the problems facing the Tamils in Ceylon.

He was a parliamentarian who refused to compromise the rights and interests of his people for political expediency. Since independence he participated on behalf of the Federal Party in all dialogues with Sinhalese leaders for peaceful solution. As a member of Parliament he broke with the Federal Party and opposed the law for the compulsory Registration of Persons and carrying Identity Cards. To him it was an instrument for the prosecution of Tamils. In 1969 he called upon the Tamil youth to fight for the restoration of the Tamil state using any means.

In this book he has chronicled his recollections of the events which led to the civil war, a book which must be read for an informed understanding of contemporary Ceylon. A man with a vision, a vision he cherishes that the Tamils must have their separate country for their very survival to live with dignity, freedom and peace.

In his preface the author writes:

  • "When a country is being ravaged by war, I think an account of the events and reasons which caused it is topical and calls for no apology or explanation.
  • "There appears to be a general misinformation concerning the war which is being waged in Ceylon, now illegitimately referred to as Sri Lanka. It is often repeated, particularly in the information media, that the Tamils are fighting for a separate state because they are discriminated against in education and employment opportunities by the majority Sinhalese. It is not true. No people ever have recourse to such a serious remedy as armed warfare against the state to correct discrimination in education and employment.
  • "While it is true that such discrimination provoked discontent and unrest among the Tamil youth, the real causes which led to their taking up arms and fighting a war for their separate state lie far deeper in the political and social history of the island, moreparticularly in the Tamil Sinhalese conflicts which surfaced during the last few decades of British rule and intensified after its withdrawal.
  • "When the Sinhalese unleashed a war against the Tamil people under the pretext of suppressing youth discontent, the Tamil youth realized quite early that discrimination was only a modus operandi to give effect to the Sinhalese quest for dominion and despotic rule over the Tamils. It is hoped, this book will enlighten readers of the real causes and help them to understand the war in its proper and correct perspective.
  • "This book is inevitably in the nature of a personal memoir of one who had been intimately involved in the story that is unfolded, sometimes as an active participant, sometimes as director or manager of some of the events, and an onlooker in others. For this reason the use of the first person 'I' could not be avoided. If it makes the reading jarring I offer my apology to the reader.
  • "As a matter of fact, this work owes its genesis to my children. When the good people decided at the Parliamentary Elections in 1977 that they no longer needed my services, and drove home to me the salutary lesson that among a people spoiled by corrupt politicians and men driven by unbridled ambition for leadership, principled politics and sincerity in public life have no attraction as against the power of big money and deceitful Madras DMK-style alliteration rhetoric, there was nothing I could do for the present except to draw into my shell and carry on with the Suyadchi Kazhagam activities.
  • "About 1982 my wife and I took a holiday abroad planning to return home in about an year after spending some time with our children and their families. Events, however, made our temporary trip abroad turn out to be what may be regarded as a self-inflicted exile in Canada. I was keeping myself occupied in reading and collecting material for a long cherished project of writing a history of the Mediterranean origin of the Tamils, when my children intervened and suggested that I would be doing a service of more immediate usefulness if I would leave behind to posterity a record of the several non-violent campaigns and of the interaction of political forces which preceded the present armed warfare. Because of the intimate part I played in those events, and since I was one of the only two survivors out of those who started the Federal Party in 1949, they suggested that I was the most qualified person to write it.
  • "I agreed that the lessons from my personal experience in the politics of our country were valuable enough to be bequeathed to the future generations so that they will not repeatedly allow themselves to be ensnared over and over again by grandiose formulae from time to time for the solution of the so-called Tamil problem.
  • "Recent history has a message to deliver, which I could convey through the medium of this book, namely, that the destiny of the Tamil people should not be left to depend on any type of statutory devices which leave the purse-strings and the military protection for the Tamils to the whims of Sinhalese leaders and Sinhalese military commanders. It should not even be left to depend on constitutional schemes such as confederation, federalism, autonomous regionalism, and whatever.
  • "To the Sinhalese these can be no more sacred, solemn, unalterable and inviolable than the sacred, solemn and unalterable constitutionally-entrenched provisions enshrined in Article 29 of the Soulbury Constitution which its architect, Sir Ivor Jennings, had thought were so foolproof that they could never be tampered with.
  • "A warning is also timely to those who still believe, and who ask the Tamils to agree and vote them to parliament, that by cooperating with Sinhalese governments they could achieve what generations of Tamil leaders before them during the past one hundred years had tried and failed to achieve..."
 
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