"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 

Home

 Whats New

Trans State Nation Tamil Eelam Beyond Tamil Nation Comments Search
Home > Truth is a Pathless Land > Selected Writings by Nadesan Satyendra  >


Selected Writings by Nadesan Satyendra
- நடேசன் சத்தியேந்திரா

Sathyam Commentary
7 August 1999

Tamil Eelam & Neelan Thiruchelvam

Contents

Introduction
Neelan Thiruchelvam...
Nominated by TULF to the Sri Lanka Parliament  in 1994...
TULF continued to prop up Chandrika Kumaratunga government during genocidal onslaught...
Why did the TULF extend that support?
Neelan could have lent his voice to the cause of  freedom...
Neelan's failure and the question of  political morality...
Amnesty's tribute exposes its political standpoint...
President Clinton's comments  underlined Amnesty's political stance...
Reconciliation will not come by trodding the path that Neelan
Thiruchelvam had chosen to trod...
Reconciliation will come only from a dialogue between equals...

[see also  The Deals of Dr.Neelan - Revisiting the Views of G.G.(Kumar) Ponnambalam Jr - Sachi Sri Kantha, 19 July 2007]


up Introduction

"All who are able to ascertain good and evil will treat this dastardly assassination with the contempt it deserves...Such assassinations only help to demonstrate the arid and infertile terrain of the terrorist mind." ( Sri Lanka President, Chandrika Kumaratunga on the assassination of Neelan Thiruchelvam - reported by UPI, 30 July 1999)

The comment by Sri Lanka President, Chandrika Kumaratunga on the assassination of  Neelan Thiruchelvam is understandable. But it may be helpful to look behind the self serving rhetoric and examine some of the underlying issues that the assassination helps to surface.

What was the nature of  'the arid and infertile terrain'  of the mind of the young Tamil who blew himself up in the streets of Colombo on 29 July 1999, so that Neelan Thiruchelvam may die? Was that young Tamil a mindless fanatic, brainwashed with the 'dream' of Tamil Eelam? Was he a member of a 'suicide cult' which regarded life as worthless? Or was he a thiyagi who was intent on giving up that which he valued most, his life, so that the struggle of his people for freedom may succeed? Was the struggle for Tamil Eelam, his life, and did he give his life so that the struggle may live?  Did he feel with Ilakuvanar that the battle for Tamil was the battle of his life:

Ilakuvanar

(Ilakkuvanar, 1971 quoted in *Sumathi Ramaswamy Passions of the Tongue : Language Devotion in Tamil India, 1891-1970 (Studies on the History of Society and Culture , No 29, University of California Press, 1997)


up Neelan Thiruchelvam...

But, first, it may be necessary to ask: who was Neelan Thiruchelvam? He was a Tamil. He was a loving father and husband, and a good friend with admirable personal qualities. He was a successful lawyer and his academic credentials included a doctorate from Harvard University.

He was also a politician. His father, M.Thiruchelvam Q.C. was a member of the Federal Party and served for a period as the Minister of Local Government in the Dudley Senanayake government which came into power in 1965. It was during his period in office that the White Paper on District Councils was presented. M.Thiruchelvam Q.C. later resigned from the Cabinet with the collapse of the Dudley Senanayake - Chelvanayagam Agreement.

Neelan Thiruchelvam was  himself  a longstanding member of the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) and had the confidence of its leader, the late Appapillai Amirthalingam. At the 1977 General Election, the TULF, led by Amirthalingam, sought and won a mandate from the Tamil people for the establishment of the independent state of Tamil Eelam. The TULF Election Manifesto declared:

"The General election of 1977 is a crucial one to the Tamil Nation. ... in the Tamil territory, the question to be resolved is whether the Tamils want their freedom or continued servitude. The Tamil United Liberation Front will use this election to resolve the issue...

What is the alternative now left to the Nation that has lost its rights to its language, rights to its citizenship, rights to its religions and continues day by day to lose its traditional homeland to Sinhalese colonisation ? What is the alternative now left to a Nation that has lost its opportunities to higher education through standardisation and its equality in opportunities in the sphere of employment ? What is the alternative to a Nation that lies helpless as it is being assaulted, looted and killed by hooligans instigated by the ruling race and by the security forces of the State? Where else is an alternative to the Tamil Nation that gropes in the dark for its identity and finds itself driven to the brink of devastation?

"There is only one alternative and that is to proclaim with the stamp of finality and fortitude that 'we alone shall rule over our land that our fore fathers ruled. Sinhalese imperialism shall quit our Homeland'... the Tamil United Liberation Front seeks in the General Election the mandate of the Tamil Nation to establish an independent sovereign, secular, socialist State of Tamil Eelam that includes all the geographically contiguous areas that have been the traditional homeland of the Tamil speaking people in the country...."

The Manifesto went on to declare:

"...The Tamil speaking representative who get elected through these votes, ....will.... form themselves into the "NATIONAL ASSEMBLY OF TAMIL EELAM" which will draft a constitution for the State of Tamil Eelam and to establish the independence of the Tamil Eelam by bringing that constitution into operation either by peaceful means or by direct action or struggle."

And at election meetings in Jaffna in 1977, TULF candidates  squeezed blood from cut fingers and ceremonially sealed their resolve for an independent Tamil Eelam by placing a 'Ratha Thilakam' on their foreheads to the applause of  thousands of Tamils who later voted for them - and the young Tamil who blew himself up on 29 July 1999 may have been one them.

In 1982, Neelan Thiruchelvam was nominated to serve as a Member of Parliament by the TULF. Later, after Genocide'83, the TULF Members of Parliament (including Neelan Thiruchelvam) refused to take their oaths under the 6th Amendment to the Sri Lanka Constitution - an amendment which required them to give up their demand for an independent Tamil Eelam. All the TULF members accordingly forfeited their seats in Parliament.

And, in the years after 1983, the 'direct action or struggle' that the TULF election manifesto had envisaged, gathered momentum and manifested itself as the armed resistance of the Tamil people,  led today by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.


up Nominated by the TULF to the Sri Lanka Parliament  in 1994...

Meanwhile, Neelan Thiruchelvam was nominated (for the second time) by the Tamil United Liberation Front to the Sri Lanka Parliament  in 1994. This time, he took the oath under the 6th Amendment - an oath which the TULF had refused to take in 1983 and an Amendment about which the International Commission of Jurists had declared:

"...The freedom to express political opinions, to seek to persuade others of their merits, to seek to have them represented in Parliament, and thereafter seek Parliament to give effect to them, are all fundamental to democracy itself. These are precisely the freedoms which Article 25 (of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights) recognises and guarantees - and in respect of advocacy for the establishment of an independent Tamil State in Sri Lanka, those which the 6th Amendment is designed to outlaw. It therefore appears to me plain that this enactment constitutes a clear violation by Sri Lanka of its obligations in international law under the Covenant...." (Paul Sieghart: Sri Lanka-A Mounting Tragedy of Errors - Report of a Mission to Sri Lanka in January 1984 on behalf of the International Commission of Jurists and its British Section, Justice, March 1984)

Neelan Thiruchelvam, 'the constitutional lawyer and human rights advocate', had no reservations in taking an oath of office under a Constitutional Amendment which was 'a clear violation by Sri Lanka of its obligations in international law' under the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights.

In addition, Neelan Thiruchelvam together with the TULF supported President Chandrika Kumaratunga's Peoples Alliance (PA) government and helped her to secure a majority in the Sri Lanka Parliament. Neelan Thiruchelvam was one of the architects of President Kumaratunga's 'Devolution Package'

Sri Lanka President Kumaratunga released her 'Devolution Package' on 3 August 1995. At the same time she re affirmed her intention to wage war against the Liberation Tigers.  She promised the Buddhist High Priests in Kandy that the 'Devolution Package' will not be finalised until the 'war is won'.

Neelan Thiruchelvam on visits abroad, sought to persuade opinion makers in the Tamil expatriate community to accept the Kumaratunga  proposals, even though the proposals were dismissed by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam as a 'peace mask' to President Kumaratunga's war face and even though President Kumaratunga herself had declared to her Sinhala electorate that the package will not 'erode the powers of the centre' and that 'there would be no merger of the North and East'.


up TULF  continued to prop up the Chandrika Kumaratunga government during genocidal onslaught...

Genocide'95During the subsequent four years, Neelan Thiruchelvam, as a Vice President of the TULF, together with other TULF MPs continued to prop up the Chandrika Kumaratunga government - a government which was engaged in a  genocidal onslaught on the Tamil people. It was a genocidal onslaught  that was proved by -


up Why did the TULF extend that support?

Why then did the TULF extend its support to the President Kumaratunga government? It is not enough to respond that the TULF was trying to resolve a conflict which had caused much suffering and thousands of deaths. It is not enough to say as the London based Tamil Information Centre stated in a recent press release:

"Neelan saw Sri Lanka as a plural society and reforming the structural bases of the Sri Lankan state along a devolutionary direction as the only way forward to politically address the root causes of the ethnic conflict and achieving lasting peace." (Press Statement, 2 August 1999, TIC INDEX:PR/August/99)

The attempt to reform 'the structural bases of the Sri Lankan state along a devolutionary direction' had, after all, gone on for more than forty years.

"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)

The appeal to Sinhala Buddhist fundamentalism always succeeded because its roots were deep seated. It was the continued failure to reform  'the structural bases of the Sri Lankan state along a devolutionary direction' that had led the TULF to declare in 1977:

"There is only one alternative and that is to proclaim with the stamp of finality and fortitude that we alone shall rule over our land that our fore fathers ruled."

The political reality which the 1977 TULF Election Manifesto recognised was that ethnic identity had in fact determined the way in which both the Sinhala people and the Tamil people exercised their political right of universal franchise. No Tamil has ever been elected to a predominantly Sinhala electorate and no Sinhalese has ever been elected to a predominantly Tamil electorate - apart, that is, from multi member constituencies.  The political reality is that the Sinhala nation is a nation that dare not speak its name. To pursue its assimilative agenda, the Sinhala nation sometimes masquerades as a 'multi ethnic plural Sri Lankan  society'   (albeit with a privileged position for Buddhism and in practice, for the Sinhala language as well).

Furthermore, the stand taken by Neelan Thiruchelvam goes beyond a simple question of a difference of opinion about 'political approaches'. The stand goes to the root of the question of the role of a Tamil political party in relation to the armed struggle for Tamil Eelam.

And  Martin Woollacott's comments in the Guardian in 1993, on the Bosnian conflict serve to highlight the issues that face an armed struggle for freedom in the world of real politick:

''Nobody involved in this war, in fighting it or in trying to stop it, was born yesterday. What matters most in any agreement, is territory, what matters secondly is international legitimacy, what matters thirdly are constitutional arrangements and what matters least are human rights provisions..''

The Tamils, too, were not born yesterday. They know that it is because the armed resistance of the Tamil people led by the Liberation Tigers has succeeded to the extent that they hold territory in the North-East, that Tamil rights is on the international agenda. They know that if that resistance fails, Sri Lanka will have no further use for 'mediators' - Tamil or otherwise. They know that if that resistance fails, the Tamil people will be left with the pleaders and petitioners of the TULF, whose efforts during the past forty years and more, did little to stop the onslaught on Tamil rights and Tamil lives.

Territory, international legitimacy, constitutional provisions and human rights are, ofcourse, inter connected. Without human rights, legitimacy may be more difficult to achieve. Without legitimacy, it may be more difficult to hold territory over a period of time. But without territory, a people will cease to exist - and in the end it is this which is fundamental.

It was this, which Neelan Thiruchelvam  chose to ignore. The TULF and Neelan Thiruchelvam persisted in the error that Appapillai Amirthalingam had made. They sought to play the role of 'mediators' between the struggle and the Sinhala ruler - and in this way, their actions separated them from the struggle, and at the same time, undermined it. They refused to recognise that an armed struggle is essentially political, and that for this reason the political cannot be counterposed to the military; and that an armed struggle cannot be directed from outside but only from within, by a leadership which accepts 'its full share of the risks involved.'

"The phrase 'armed struggle' is brandished, repeated endlessly on paper, in programmes, but the use of the phrase cannot conceal the fact that in many places ....the positive definition of a corresponding strategy are still lacking. What do we mean by strategy? The differentiation between the primary and the secondary, from which comes a clear priority of tasks and functions. A happy pragmatism will permit all forms of struggle to drag on together, will let them come to an understanding among themselves.

At one point, however, the negative definition of strategy may appear, in the form of a refusal to the idea that under certain conditions peaceful forms of mass struggle must be subordinate to armed mass struggle, has sometimes been opposed the idea that such a subordination would be equivalent to making the political line of the vanguard party dependent on military strategy, on the party's armed apparatus, and would subordinate party leadership to military leadership. In reality this is not the case. Once more it has been forgotten, in spite of verbal acquiescence, that guerrilla warfare is essentially political, and that for this reason the political cannot be counterposed to the military." (Revolution in the Revolution?-  Regis Debray -Pelican Latin American Library, Penguin Books, 1967)


up Neelan Thiruchelvam could have lent his voice to the cause of  freedom...

Neelan Thiruchelvam could have paved the way for a just peace if he had been willing to recognise  that whatever role that the TULF had to play in the context of an armed struggle, should begin with the acceptance that the political leadership of an armed struggle can come only from within it.

Even though he may not have taken arms, Neelan Thiruchelvam could have lent his powerful voice to the cause of  freedom - the cause of freedom that his party had so eloquently espoused in 1977, and for which his brothers and sisters, his udan pirapukal, were continuing to put their lives on line.

Again, as a 'human rights advocate', Neelan Thiruchelvam could have used his undoubted influence in the international arena to initiate an investigation into the war crimes committed by President Chandrika Kumaratunga and those under her command and into the systematic use of torture, rape, extra judicial killings, and  food blockade as instruments of state terrorism.

He could have called upon the People's Alliance to which the TULF had extended support, to move towards a just peace, and to recognise that:

"So long as the Sinhala people believe that a military solution remains an option, so long as they believe that they can conquer the Tamil homeland and rule a people against their will (through quislings and collaborators), so long will they fail to see the need to talk to the Tamil people on equal terms. So long also will they fail to see the need to recognise the existence of the Tamil people, as a people, with a homeland and with the right to freely choose their political status. So long also will they fail to see the need to structure a polity where two peoples may associate with each other in freedom.... "

Neelan Thiruchelvam could have used the opportunity afforded by his personal relationship with President Chandrika Kumaratunga, to urge upon her  that it was not enough to tell the Sinhala people that the war in the North-East was draining economic resources and hampering development;  that it was  necessary to tell them that the war against the Tamil people was unwinnable, because it was unjust; and that it was unwinnable because the spirit of a people resisting alien rule of their homeland cannot be suppressed.


up Neelan's failure and the question of  political morality...

But Neelan Thiruchelvam chose not to take any of these steps. And, his failure, coming as it did from the Vice President of a political party

  • which had solemnly proclaimed to the Tamil people  in 1977  'with the stamp of finality and fortitude that we alone shall rule over our land that our fore fathers ruled';
  • whose members had refused to take the oath under the 6th Amendment in 1983, but who in 1994, took that same oath; and
  • whose members continued to support a government which was engaged in a genocidal war in the Tamil homeland

may have  led the 'arid and infertile mind' of that young Tamil who blew himself up on 29 July, to conclude that Neelan Thiruchelvam had betrayed the Tamil people, and more importantly, that his actions were increasingly putting at risk the lives of thousands of Tamils engaged in the struggle for Tamil Eelam.

To use President Kumaratunga's words,  'all who are able to ascertain good and evil' will be able to judge for themselves as to the righteousness or otherwise of Neelan Thiruchelvam's political actions - and that of the young Tamil who blew himself up on the streets of Colombo on 29 July. The words of Aurobindo may be helpful:

"Justice and righteousness are the atmosphere of political morality, but the justice and righteousness of a fighter, not of the priest. Aggression is unjust only when unprovoked; violence, unrighteous when used wantonly or for unrighteous ends. It is a barren philosophy which applies a mechanical rule to all actions, or takes a word and tries to fit all human life into it."  (Morality of the Boycott - Sri Aurobindo's Political Writings, 1908)


up Amnesty's tribute exposes its political standpoint...

Amnesty International's response to the assassination, serves to draw attention to the international significance of the role that Neelan Thiruchelvam had carved out for himself. Amnesty declared on 29 July 1999:

"Amnesty International today strongly condemned the assassination of Tamil Member of Parliament (MP), Neelan Thiruchelvam, and paid tribute to him as a politician who contributed greatly to his country.... A constitutional lawyer, Neelan Thiruchelvam entered parliament in August 1994 as a member of the TULF, a moderate Tamil party. He was a member of the parliamentary select committee on constitutional reforms, which devised an autonomy devolution package for north-eastern Sri Lanka. The package was aimed at settling the 16-year-old armed conflict between the Sri Lanka Government and the LTTE, who are fighting for a separate Tamil state called Eelam in north-eastern Sri Lanka..." (News Release Issued by the International Secretariat of Amnesty
International News Service: 144/99 - AI INDEX: ASA 37/19/99)

Amnesty's condemnation of the assassination may be understandable - as the act was an unlawful act within the framework of the Sri Lankan legal system. But Amnesty's tribute to Neelan Thiruchelvam 'as a politician who contributed greatly to his country' exposes Amnesty's own political standpoint. In what did the greatness of Neelan Thiruchelvam's political contribution lie? Amnesty's evaluation of  that political contribution was at best, economical with truth. Amnesty failed to state

That Amnesty failed to address these matters, may be because these 'political' issues were outside its 'human rights' remit. But, if that be the case, it was equally true that  Amnesty's tribute to Neelan Thiruchelvam 'as a politician who contributed greatly to his country' also went outside its 'human rights' remit, and conflicted with  its oft stated position that it does not 'take sides' in the conflict in the island. The result is that Amnesty's 'political' assessment is partial - and therefore, misleading.


up President Clinton's comments  underlined Amnesty's political stance...

President Clinton's comments on the assassination of Neelan Thiruchelvam, perhaps, not surprisingly were at one with Amnesty's political stance:

"Hillary and I were shocked and saddened by the tragic death of Neelan Thiruchelvam at the hands of terrorists in Sri Lanka today. We extend our deepest condolences to his wife and family. Neelan Thiruchelvam was a constitutional lawyer and human rights advocate who was well-known and well-respected far beyond his country. He devoted himself to seeking a peaceful and just solution to the tragic conflict that has caused so much bloodshed in Sri Lanka. Hillary was deeply moved by her meeting with Mr. Thiruchelvam during her 1995 visit to Sri Lanka. With his death, a powerful voice for reconciliation in Sri Lanka has been silenced. I hope that this tragedy will spur efforts to find an end to the fighting and to build a lasting peace in Sri Lanka." (US President Clinton in a statement released in Sarajevo today, where he is attending a summit on Balkan stability 30 July, US News Wire)

Neelan Thiruchelvam was not a head of state. Nor was he a Minister serving in the Government of a state. The fact that the President of the sole remaining super power in the world should have found it necessary to express the views that he did (and take time off from the Balkan summit to do so) reflects, perhaps, on the importance that the US  placed on the future role that Neelan Thiruchelvam may have been called upon to play in the island.

That the United States, at the present time, finds it difficult to accept the political desirability of establishing an independent Tamil state, may be understandable. But an independent Tamil state will one day come into existence. The growing togetherness of more than 70 million Tamil people, living in many lands, but rooted in an ancient heritage, in a rich language and literature,  in a vibrant culture, consolidated by struggle and suffering  and given purpose and direction by a determined aspiration  to live in equality and freedom, will not forever be denied.

Again, to place the 'terrorist' tag on those with whom the US has political disagreements, may appear useful in the short term. But as a US Court pointed out recently, the categorisation is beyond meaningful judicial review and therefore beyond independent judicial approbation or disapprobation. Over time, more and more people will  hopefully, see the need to address the geo political objectives which appear to have impelled the admittedly 'political' tag.


up Reconciliation will not come by trodding the path that Neelan Thiruchelvam had chosen to trod...

Be that all as it may, President Clinton is right to hope that the tragedy (and it is a tragedy) of Neelan Thiruchelvam's assassination  'will spur efforts to find an end to the fighting and to build a lasting peace in Sri Lanka'.

But, reconciliation will not come by treading the path that Neelan Thiruchelvam had chosen to trod. Reconciliation will not come about through outbursts of belligerence directed to manipulate international reaction:

"(Sri Lanka Foreign Minister) Kadirgamar  said the assassination was a slap in the face of the international community which has been calling for a political solution to the 16-year-old ethnic war. 'The world should take strong note of a monstrous event like this. It is a blow aimed at the democratic process,' he said." (Reuters, Colombo, 2 August 1999)

Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar's concern for the face of the international community, which has been calling for a political solution, may have been touching, if it had come from a Minister who had not insisted during the past four years and more, that the conflict in the island was an internal matter:

"Third parties coming here is absolutely out of the question. This is an internal matter.. several governments, individuals and non governmental organisations had offered out of goodwill to help end the war but…. It (mediation) becomes an interference in our internal affairs and we will not tolerate it at all." (Sri Lanka Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar, Reuters, 20 February 1997)

And his concern for the 'democratic process' will have a special appeal to those in the international community who are familiar with  Democracy, Sri Lanka style:

"The conduct of the local elections in north-western provinces in Sri Lanka last January (1998) deserves universal condemnation... instead of changing the vicious practices of the past United National Party regime, the People's Alliance has reversed the promise and becomes as ugly as their opponent party. The people of Sri Lanka can no longer hope for the peaceful exercise of their right to freely elect their representatives at national, or even local, elections. The concept of free and fair elections has become an illusion in Sri Lanka." (Asian Human Rights Commission Newsletter - Solidarity, April 1999)

Reconciliation is not a matter of rhetoric.  The use of hyperbole does not advance understanding.   Sri Lanka Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar will need to learn that not much is gained by  'monstrous' assertions of the kind that he made in his first speech at the United Nations on 26 September 1994:Monk

"In my first speech, one month ago, in our newly elected Parliament, I, as a representative of the minority Tamil community said, and I shall repeat it here in this supreme parliament of the peoples of the world: 'Let it never be said, if it could ever have been said, that the Sinhala people are racists. They are not. They are absolutely not, and I think this election has demonstrated that so handsomely that that particular argument can be laid for rest for ever"

For Sri Lanka Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar, in September 1994, at the United Nations, the belligerent face of Sinhala Buddhist fundamentalism did not exist:

"The history of Sri Lanka is the history of the Sinhalese race... The Sinhalese people were entrusted 2500 years ago, with a great and noble charge, the preservation... of Buddhism.... The birth of the Sinhalese race would thus seem to have been not a mere chance, not an accidental occurrence, but a predestined event of high import and purpose. (D.C. Wijewardena - Revolt in the Temple: Composed to Commemorate 2500 Years of the Land, the Race and the Faith, 1953)

For Sri Lanka Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar, Genocide'58 did not happen:

"News trickled out from Queens House that the Governor General had announced, off the record at the press conference, that the riots had not been spontaneous. What he said was: 'Gentlemen, if any of you have an idea that this was a spontaneous outburst of communalism, you can disabuse your minds of it. This the work of a master mind who has been at the back of people who have planned this carefully and knew exactly what they were doing. It was a time bomb set about two years ago which has now exploded.'... What are we left with (in 1958)? A nation in ruins, some grim lessons which we cannot afford to forget and a momentous question: Have the Sinhalese and Tamils reached the parting of ways?" - (Tarzie Vittachi: Emergency 1958 - The Story of the Ceylon Race Riots, Andre Deutsch, London 1958)

Neither did the 1977 pogrom:

"A tragedy is taking place in Sri Lanka: the political conflict following upon the recent elections, is turning into a racial massacre. It is estimated by reliable sources that between 250 and 300 Tamil citizens have lost their lives and over 40,000 made homeless...(The Tamils) have now lost confidence in their treatment by the Sinhalese majority and are calling for a restoration of their separate national status... At a time when the West is wake to the evils of racialism, the racial persecution of the Tamils and denial of their human rights should not pass without protest..." - Sir John Foster, David Astor, Louis Blom-Cooper, Dingle Foot, Robert Birley, James Fawcett, Michael Scott, London Times 20 September 1977

Nor for that  matter did Genocide'83.:

"Who attacked you? Sinhalese. Who protected you? Sinhalese. It is we who can attack and protect you. They are bringing an army from India. It will take fourteen hours to come from India. In fourteen minutes the blood of every Tamil in the country can be sacrificed to the land, by us. It is not written on anyone's forehead that he is an Indian Tamil or a Jaffna Tamil, a Batticaloa Tamil or up country Tamil' Hindu Tamil or Christian Tamil. All are Tamils. We have decided to colonise four districts including Mannar with Sinhalese people by destroying forests. A majority of Sinhalese will be settled there. If you like you also can migrate there." (Gamini Dissanayake, Senior Sinhala Buddhist Minister in President J.R.Jayawardene's Cabinet , addressing members of a Tamil Estate Workers Trade Union in the aftermath of Genocide'83 - October 1983)

And today, for Sri Lanka Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar, Genocide'95 does not exist:

"I have been struggling in my mind against the conclusion that the Sri Lanka government is trying to kill or terrorise as many Tamil people as possible; that the government is trying to keep the conditions of the war unreported internationally, because if those conditions were reported, the actions of the military would be perceived as so deplorable that foreign nations would have no choice but to condemn them. And this would be embarrassing to everybody.  But it seems now that no other conclusion is possible..." (Margaret Trawick, Professor of Social Anthropology, Massey University Palmerston North, New Zealand,  28 April 1996)

And as a Tamil nominated to the Sri Lankan Parliament by the Sinhala dominated Peoples Alliance and who had not contested an election from a Tamil area, Sri Lanka Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar, had no difficulty in claiming to be 'a representative of the minority Tamil community' and in this way give weight to his advocacy.

However, reconciliation will not come by prevaricating about the political reality which confronts the two peoples in the island of Sri Lanka. Reconciliation will not come from the efforts of those Tamils who accept majority Sinhala rule and seek to serve as power brokers between the ruler and the ruled.


up Reconciliation will come only from a dialogue between equals...

Reconciliation will come only from a dialogue between equals - a dialogue between the Sinhala political leadership and the leaders of the struggle for Tamil Eelam, the LTTE. The struggle for Tamil Eelam is not about devolution. It is about freedom. To dismiss the struggle for an independent Tamil state as 'fanaticism' (as Sri Lanka Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar has), is to display 'the arid and infertile terrain' of a closed mind.  It is also to fail to recognise the political reality of the emerging  fourth world

"Increasingly, the Fourth World is emerging as a new force in international politics because in the common defence of their nations, many indigenous peoples do not accept being mere subjects of international law and state sovereignty and trusteeship bureaucracies. Instead, they are organising and exerting their own participation and policies as sovereign peoples and nations." (Bernard Q. Nietschmann, University of California, Berkeley)

The demand for an independent Tamil state is not negotiable. But there may be a need to explore fresh pathways concerning the terms on which an independent Tamil Eelam may associate with an independent Sri Lanka. And here, there is everything to negotiate about. The Tamil people are not chauvinists.

"It is the Sri Lanka government that has failed to learn the lessons from the emergence of the struggles for self determination in several parts of the globe and the innovative structural changes that have taken place."  - Velupillai Pirabaharan, Leader of Tamil Eelam, 1992

Mail Us Copyright 1998/2007 All Rights Reserved Home