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Home > Struggle for Tamil Eelam > International Frame of  Struggle for Tamil Eelam > United States & the Struggle for Tamil Eelam > Resolution of US Massachusetts House of Representatives Calling for the Restoration of the Separate Sovereign State of Tamil Eelam, 18 June 1981

United States & the struggle for Tamil Eelam

Resolution of US Massachusetts House of Representatives
Calling for the Restoration of the Separate Sovereign State of Tamil Eelam

18 June 1981

[see also
  Proclamation of Eelam Day by Edward J.King, Governor of Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 16 May 1979  
Human Rights for Tamils in Sri Lanka -  US Congress Resolution - Hon. Mario Baggio of New York in the US House of Representatives, 8 May 1980
Proclamation by Mayor of Somerville, Sister City of Trincomalee, Eelam (Naval Base), 22 June 1981]

Comment by tamilnation.org, 20 March 2007 -   The Resolution passed by the Massachusetts House of Representatives on 18 June 1981 (more than twenty five years ago) makes it abundantly clear that the United States is not without an understanding of the justice of the Tamil Eelam struggle for freedom. What then has changed in the ensuing 25 years? Not much, if we recognise that countries do not have permanent friends but have permanent interests. Not much, if we recognise that the interests of a state are a function of the interests of groups which wield power within that state and  'foreign policy is the external manifestation of domestic institutions, ideologies and other attributes of the polity'.

In 1981 at the time that the Massachusetts Resolution was passed, Indira Gandhi was building her influence within the Tamil militant movement. In 1998 at a Seminar in Switzerland, Jyotindra Nath Dixit Indian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka 1985 /89, Foreign Secretary in 1991/94 and National Security Adviser to the Prime Minister of India 2004/05 explained Indira Gandhi and India's Motivations in 1981-83 -

"...It would be relevant to analyse India's motivations and actions in the larger perspective of the international and regional strategic environment, obtaining between 1950 and 1981 President Reagan was in power and the Soviet Union was going through the post Brezhnev uncertainties preceding Gorbachev’s arrival on the scene....The rise of Tamil militancy in Sri Lanka and the Jayawardene government's serious apprehensions about this development were utilised by the US and Pakistan to create a politico-strategic pressure point against India, in the island's strategically sensitive coast off the Peninsula of India. Jayawardene established substantive defensive and intelligence contacts with US, Pakistan and Israel. The Government of India was subject to internal centrifugal pressures in Punjab and Kashmir and portions of the north east during this time. Tamil militancy received support both from Tamil Nadu and from the Central Government not only as a response to the Sri Lankan Government's military assertiveness against Sri Lankan Tamils, but also as a response to Jayawardene's concrete and expanded military and intelligence cooperation with the United States, Israel and Pakistan."

The Massachusetts Resolution of 1981 served to enhance US influence in the Tamil struggle (and build links with Tamil Eelam activists) in the same way as Indira Gandhi sought to enhance New Delhi's influence on the Tamil struggle by encouraging Tamil Nadu rhetoric (and build links with Tamil Eelam activists). We will not be too far wrong if we conclude that at that time, Massachusetts was to Washington what Tamil Nadu was to New Delhi. It was also during this time period that in the US, Tamil rhetoric was allowed to flow freely at International Tamil Conferences.

At the same time US General Walters,  a senior figure in the US strategic and intelligence establishment, was advising Sri Lanka and the US State Department proclaimed not long after the 1983 Genocide that "Sri Lanka is an open, working, multiparty democracy."

It is understandable therefore that today the same strategic US interests in the Indian Ocean region lead to statements such as those made by U.S. Ambassador Robert Blake on 1 March 2007 that "Sri Lanka has in President Rajapakse a strong leader " and by US Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns on 21 November 2006 that  "we hold the Tamil Tigers responsible for much of what has gone wrong in the country. We are not neutral in this respect." 

It is correct that the US has never been neutral. Unfortunately, the US (unlike Jyotindra Nath Dixit) has failed to be transparent about its own strategic interests and the motivations for its actions in relation to the conflict in the island of Sri Lanka. Unfortunate, because transparency is a first step towards an open evaluation of  that which US  may 'perceive' to be its strategic interests - after all, as we have said elsewhere, GNP is not necessarily a measure of wisdom. Sacked Sri Lanka Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera has ofcourse helped the Tamil people to further their  understanding of international relations in this age of empire, when he said on 14 February 2007 -

".... two days after the vote (on Israel), US Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns telephoned me. The decision taken by us regarding the vote went a long way in building trust and strengthening US-Sri Lanka ties. Few days afterwards, at the Co-Chairs Meeting in Washington DC, Nicholas Burns expressed America's fullest support to the Government of Sri Lanka in defeating the menace of LTTE terrorism. After the meeting he also held a press conference that was very encouraging to the Government and the people of Sri Lanka..."


The Commonwealth of Massachusetts

In The Year Of One Thousand Nine Hundred Eighty One

Resolution Memorialising the President and the Congress to Recognize the Right of Self Determination by the Tamil people of Tamil Eelam


Whereas, the Tamils of Eelam, who number three million Hindus, Christians and Moslems occupy eight thousand square miles live as an oppressed minority in Sri Lanka where the majority is composed of ten million Sinhalese, most of whom are Buddhists, and

Whereas, from ancient times two nations the Sinhalese and the Tamils possessed distinct languages, religions, cultures and clearly demarcated geographic territories until the British who were characteristically oblivious to the differences between these two separate nations, imposed one rule for the purpose of colonial administrative unification,  and

Whereas, as was to be expected in 1948 when the British left the island and two unwilling nations were consequently left under a unitary governmental structure, the majority Sinhalese faction subverted democratic principles to become the new masters of the Tamil - speaking people, and

Whereas, one million Tamils on the tea and rubber plantations, who prior to independence and enjoyed rights similar to those possessed by other ceylonese, were disenfranchised and made stateless, and

Whereas, although the plantation Tamils were the descendants of Indians who were brought to ceylon more than one hundred years ago by  the seemingly ubiquitous British planters, and as such were  mostly native sri lankans who possessed no relationship with the india from which their ancestors sailed, in 1964 the government inhumanely and callously determined to repatriate compulsorily these Tamils, ordering them to depart the land of their birth, and

Whereas, successive Sinhala governments have been guilty of racism and acts of racial discrimination against the Tamils in the fields of education, employment, religion, politics,  economic development and trade,  and

Whereas,  from time to time violence is used it the Sinhala governments, army and the police against the Tamils without provocation as a political weapon in order to obtain subservience and

Whereas,  in 1972 the representatives of the Sinhala and Tamil nation met together and peacefully overthrew British sovereignty and thereby each nation resuscitated, and reverted to, its own sovereignty, and

Whereas, a new constitution, which reiterated that foremost place should be accorded to the buddhist religion and the Sinhalese language. was unilaterally adopted without the cooperation or consultation with the majority of the Tamil representatives in parliament, and

Whereas, the Tamil nation of Eelam at the general election of may 1977 gave a clear mandate for the restoration and reconstitution of the separate sovereign state of Tamil Eelam by winning 18 out of 19 Tamil seats in Tamil Eelam, and

Whereas, the Tamil people were again not a party to the constitution of 1978 which replaced its predecessor of 1972, and

Whereas, the Tamil nation of Eelam opposed the two constitutions as illegal impositions on them and their territory and asserted their right of self determination and sovereignty by non violent agitations, and

Whereas, the Sinhala government of Sri Lanka has occupied the territory of Tamil Eelam with its armed forces and security services and are denying the right of self-determination and sovereignty of the Tamil nation by the use of force on Tamil people, and

Whereas, the Tamil United Liberation Front which received the mandate of the Tamil  people at the may 1977 general election for the separate  sovereign Tamil state is continuing the struggle for freedom by non-violent ways preached and practised by mahatma gandhi  and by the late leader of Tamil nation, S.J.V. Chelvanayagam,

Therefore

Resolved, that the Massachusetts  House of Representatives hereby urges the President and the Congress of the United States to support the struggle for freedom by the Tamil nation for the restoration and reconstitution  the separate sovereign state of Tamil Eelam and to recognize publicly the right of self determination by the Tamil people of Tamil Eelam, and be it further resolved,

that copies of these resolutions be forwarded to the President of the United States, to the Presiding  Officer of each branch of Congress, to the members thereof from this Commonwealth, to the Secretary of State, to the Director of the World Bank and to the Secretary General of the United Nations.

House of Representatives, adopted June 18, 1981

Speaker of the House

Clerk of the House

Representative Mary Elizabeth Howe


 

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