0- Focus on Sri Lanka – Canadian Parliamentary Hearings on Human Rights – 0 Why Sri Lanka sees Canada as a Hostile Nation.
Posted on February 8th, 2014

Review by: Chandre Dharma-wardana, Ottawa, Canada; Dec-2013

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The separatist conflict in Sri Lanka and the souring of Canada against Sri Lanka.




Sri Lanka's flag Sri Lanka satellite photo

Since 1980 waves of Sri-Lankan Tamil immigrants and refugees have arrived in Canada. They have escaped from the horrors of the Tigers, or the military wrath of the government, inter-racial violence since 1956. They were also, in over 50% of the cases, economic refugees who took advantage of the humanitarian situation. The tigers established in Canada a network of legal and illegal financial and military support that nourished their war. The ‘Tamil diaspora’ also became a powerful political force. This ensured that the successive Canadian governments ignored the warning of security services and (at first by by default, later tacitly) allowed hostile action against Sri Lanka, for many decades. In the next phase refugees became immigrants and entered politics, with many ex-Tiger leaders entering and funding civil activism, human-rights lobbies, and contesting elections. NGOs and academic conferences were financed to bring mainstream academics into the fold. Meanwhile immigration, and even just visiting Canada by Sinhala-speaking Sri Lankans were made extremely difficult. The Sri Lankan government, engaged in a war with the Tigers began in its turn to view Canadian legislators and journalists visiting Sri Lanka as agents of a hostile power . This comprehension was compounded by the fact that since ~1990s, CIDA, WUS and other Canadian agencies stopped dealing with the Sri Lankan government and worked entirely through NOGs headed mainly by Tamils with openly-expressed pro-separatist views. Thus Canada focused attention only in the North and East, then controlled by the Tigers. Almost all Canadian emissaries visited the North, but failed to visit the South (populated by Sinhalese and also a sizable percentage of Tamils who co-exist peacefully). The south had suffered three decades of injury and horrific attacks by the Tigers. The number of dead and injured, widowed etc., on the Sinhala-speaking side was at least a factor of two to three larger than among the Tamil-speaking Sri Lankans.
The Tamil diaspora was firmly with the liberal party when the Conservatives defeated Paul Martin. In retaliation, the Harper government used the strong evidence accumulated by the CSIS and the RCMP and banned the Tigers, the World Tamil Movement (WTM), and subsequently the Tamil Rehabilitation Organization (TRO), as well as other Tiger-front organization. However, after a short lull, the members of these organizations regrouped under new names for money collecting, developed thrusts embracing `human rights’, and joined the Harper government. They showed their financial and political power in bringing Toronto to a halt by blocking its streets in 2009 May, demanding that Canada intervene to save the Tiger leaders who were suffering imminent defeat.
This show of power was enough for all major Canadian political parties to actively woo the Tamil-Canadian diaspora. All three parties in the Canadian House of Commons have become the voice of the Tamil-separatist sentiments. This movement tried to achieve its ends militarily. Having failed, it is seeking a Kosovo or Dafur type action where the international community is the instrument. The international community had been (see main text) preventing the eradication of the Tigers, allowing the Diaspoara to fund the Tigers, and unrealistically demanding a ‘political settlement’ with the Tigers for several decades. Hence, expressing sentiments in resonance with Tamil voter demands fits seemlessly with the hostile policy against Sri Lanka that Canada had followed for decades, perhaps without clear insight. Furthermore, the hostile reception accorded to even well-meaning Canadian emissaries who ignore the South and focus only on the North has further crystallized the hostile attitudes in Canadian circles against the Sri Lankan government.
While the Tiger leaders in Sri Lanka were defeated and killed, the actual international leaders of the LTTE, living in Canada, USA and Europe were untouched, with funds coming from trans-national’ collections of a legal and illegal nature. Clear-cut human smuggling of Tamils who had left Sri Lanka decades ago and were living in Indonesia and Malaysia, etc., waiting for a chance to settle in the more affluent West have been used for fund raising. The Tiger transnational leaders used their refugee networks and financial power in UK, EU and Australia to achieve similar control over the political processes in those countries and in UN agencies. Highly paid US attorneys like Bruce Fein were used to sue or harass opponents and lobby government agencies. The Tamils for Obama campaign successfully influenced the US attitudes towards Sri Lanka, with Hillary Clinton. On 12th May 2009, US and UK Governments made a ‘last-ditch’ attempt to save the trapped Tiger Chief and called on Sri Lanka and the Tigers to end hostilities immediately and resume political negotiations.
In the following text we briefly review the rise of armed separatism in Sri Lanka in the 1980s, due to ethnic polarization that began with the introduction of Universal Franchise in 1931, and the involvement of Canada on the side of Tamil separatists by its lop-sided refugee policies, and how its politics became a process of stalking successive Sri Lankan governments, in consort with other similarly afflicted Western nations. The text will review in detail the hearings of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, Canada, that took place in November 2011, and again in November and December 2013.
Depuis 1980, des vagues d’immigrants et de r©fugi©s tamouls sri-lankais sont arriv©s en Canada. Ils ont ©chapp© aux horreurs des tigres, ou la brutalit© militaire de la gouvernement, ou bien la violence inter-raciale depuis 1956. Ils ont ©galement, dans plus de 50% des cas, les r©fugi©s ©conomiques qui ont profit© de la situation humanitaire. Les Tigres ©tablis au Canada un r©seau de soutien financier et militaire l©gale et ill©gale qui a nourri leur guerre. La `diaspora tamoule’ est aussi devenu une force politique puissante. Cela a permis que les gouvernements canadiens successifs ont ignor© la mise en garde des services de s©curit© et (dans un premier temps, par d©faut, plus tard tacitement) a nourris, depuis de nombreuses d©cennies, une action hostile contre le Sri Lanka. Dans la phase suivante, les r©fugi©s sont devenus des immigrants et entr©s en politique, avec de nombreux leaders ex-tigre entrant et finan§aient de l’activisme civil, lobbies de droits de l’homme, et   se pr©senter aux ©lections. Les ONG et des conf©rences universitaires ont ©t© financ©s pour apporter des universitaires dans leur bergerie. Pendant ce temps, l’immigration, et mªme simplement visiter le Canada par Sri-Lankais parlant cinghalais ont ©t© extrªmement difficiles. Le gouvernement sri-lankais, engag© dans une guerre avec les Tigres a commenc©   son tour   traiter les l©gislateurs et les journalistes canadiens en visite au Sri Lanka en tant qu’agents d’une puissance ennemie . Cette compr©hension a ©t© aggrav© par le fait que, depuis ~1990, l’ACDI, WUS et d’autres organismes canadiens cess© de traiter avec le gouvernement sri-lankais et ont travaill© enti¨rement par NOG dirig©s principalement par des Tamouls qui sont ouvertement pro-s©paratistes. Ainsi, le Canada a accord© une attention seulement au nord et  ; l’est, alors contr´l©e par les Tigres. Presque tous les ©missaires canadiens ont visit© le Nord, mais n’ont pas visiter le Sud (peupl© de Cinghalais et aussi un pourcentage important de Tamouls qui coexister pacifiquement). Le sud a subi trois d©cennies de blessures et horribles attaques par les Tigres. Le nombre de morts et de bless©s, veuves, etc , sur le c´t© cinghalais ©tait d’au moins un facteur de deux a trois plus grande que chez les Tamouls.
La diaspora tamoule ©tait fermement avec le parti lib©ral lorsque les conservateurs ont d©fait Paul Martin. En repr©sailles, le gouvernement Harper a utilis© la preuve solide accumul©e par le SCRS et la GRC et a interdit les Tigres, le `World Tamil Movement’ (WTM ), et par la suite `The Tamil Rehabilitation Organization’ (TRO), ainsi que toute autre organisation liees avec le Tiger. Cependant, apr¨s une courte accalmie, les membres de ces organisations regroup©es sous de nouveaux noms pour le collect du fond, entrer dans des groupes pour les droits civiques, et egalement rejoint le gouvernement Harper. Ils ont montr© leur puissance financi¨re et politique en apportant Toronto   un arrªt, en bloquant ses rues en 2009 mai , demandant que le Canada intervienne pour sauver les leaders Tiger qui souffraient une d©faite imminente.
Cette d©monstration de force a ©t© suffisant pour tous les grands partis politiques canadiens   courtiser activement la diaspora tamoule du Canada. Tous les trois partis   la Chambre des communes du Canada sont devenus la voix des sentiments s©paratistes tamouls. Ce mouvement a essay© de parvenir   ses fins militairement. Ayant ©chou©, il est   la recherche d’une action de type Kosovo ou le Darfour oƒ¹ la communaut© internationale est l’instrument d’action. La communaut© internationale a toujours empªch© l’©limination (voir texte principal) des Tigres, permettant la Diaspoara pour financer les Tigres, et exigeant un irr©aliste “r¨glement politique” avec les Tigres depuis plusieurs d©cennies. donc, exprimant des sentiments politiques en r©sonance avec le pointe de vue Tamil-speratist ©tait facile pour le Canada, etant donne© que le Canada avait suivi une telle politique pendant des d©cennies, peut-ªtre sans vision claire. En outre, la r©ception hostile accord© par Sri Lanka aux des ©missaires canadiens bien-intentionn©s (qui ignorent le Sud et se concentrent uniquement sur le Nord) a encore cristallis© les attitudes hostiles contre le gouvernement sri-lankais.
Alors que les dirigeants de tigre au Sri Lanka ont ©t© d©faits et tu©s , les leaders internationaux r©els de la LTTE, vivant au Canada, Etats-Unis et l’Europe n’ont pas ©t© touch©s. Ils control©s les fonds provenant de collections `trans-nationales’ de nature l©gale et ill©gale. Le passage de clandestins de Tamouls qui avaient quitt© le Sri Lanka il ya plusieurs d©cennies et vivaient en Indon©sie et en Malaisie, l’Inde etc., et en attendant une chance de s’©tablir dans l’Ouest plus riches ont clairement ©t© utilis© pour la collecte de fonds. Les dirigeants transnationales Tiger utilis© leurs r©seaux de r©fugi©s et de la puissance financi¨re au Royaume-Uni, l’Union europ©enne et l’Australie pour r©aliser un contr´le similaire sur les processus politiques dans ces pays et dans les agences de l’ONU. Les avocats am©ricains tr¨s bien pay©s comme Bruce Fein ont ©t© utilis©s pour poursuivre ou de harceler les opposants et les organismes gouvernementaux. Les Tamouls de campagne d’Obama a r©ussi   influencer les attitudes des Am©ricains envers le Sri Lanka, via a vis Hillary Clinton. Le 12 mai 2009, les gouvernements am©ricains et britanniques ont fait une tentative `de la derni¨re chance’ pour sauver le chef de Tigre pris au pi¨ge et ont appel© le Sri Lanka et les Tigres de mettre fin aux hostilit©s imm©diatement et reprendre les n©gociations politiques .
Dans le texte qui suit, nous examinons bri¨vement la mont©e du s©paratisme arm© au Sri Lanka dans les ann©es 1980, en raison de la polarisation ethnique qui a commenc© avec l’introduction du suffrage universel en 1931. Nous examinos egalement, la participation du Canada sur le c´t© de s©paratistes tamouls par sa politiques d©s©quilibr© relatives aux r©fugi©s, et comment sa politique est devenue un processus de harc¨lement des gouvernements sri-lankais successifs, en consort avec d’autres nations occidentales. Le texte examinera en d©tail les audiences du Comit© permanent des affaires ©trang¨res et du d©veloppement international, le Canada, qui a eu lieu en Novembre 2011, et   nouveau en Novembre et D©cembre 2013.



This section provides basic background information for orienting our discussion.

Sri Lanka is a tiny island within swimming distance of Tamil Nadu, at the southern tip of India. It is small enough to be packed between Ottawa and Oshawa, as it is about 400 km long and ~200 km wide. But its population is 22 million. Imagine if both Quebec and Ontario were packed between Oshawa and Ottawa! Wouldn’t the two solitudes (Ontario 13 million, Quebec, 8 million) be truly at each others’ throats? Will separation or power devolution work? Or should they just learn to live together?
Tiny Sri Lanka also has two solitudes, some 17 million Sinhalese, and Sri-Lankan Tamils, some 858,000 or 2,200,000 depending on how you count, with the CIA World Factbook (CIAWFB) giving the lower figure. So the Tamils are a small minority, similar to the Canadian aboriginal population of ~1.4 million. In the following we assume some 10-12% as the Tamil population instead of the ~4% figure of the CIAWFB. It should also be noted that only about half this, i.e., about 5-6% live in the so-called “homelands” demanded exclusively for the Tamils by the LTTE.

A separatist conflict funded from outside Sri lanka, and mounted by a very militant section of this already small Tamil minority against a majority which was almost 5 to 10 times bigger than itself lasted three decades creating untold misery and brutality. Canadian legislators played an ignoble role here, allowing hostile Tamil groups in Canada to fund the war for decades. Consequently, many Sri Lankans had began to think of Canada as a hostile nation.

Rise of Separatism in Sri Lanka, 1931-2009

Below we review the evolution of Canada from a friendly, helpful country to one that appears hostile to Sri Lanka, and had allowed terrorist activity against it for several decades.

Sri Lanka’s perception of Canada as an increasingly hostile nation.

Although the RCMP and the CSIS agencies had warned successive governments since the 1980s, Canada passively allowed the agents of the Tamil militant groups to collect millions of dollars, mostly by illegal methods, and fund a terrorist war against the Sri Lankan government. Leading senior politicians participated in fund raisers and rallies of LTTE-front organizers, with well-known LTTE activists participating in them. In fact, a National Post article, viz., Sri Lankan blood on Liberal hands – National Post 22-July-09 was right on the mark. But the guilt is even more strongly on the HR-NGOs and immigration lawyers that lean on the Diaspora. Canada gave easy immigration to Tamils who left Sri lanka during the conflict, while the Sinhalese found that they could not even visit their kith and kin living in Canada – even visitors’ visas were hard to come by for the Sinhalese. Canada ran a High Commission in Colombo which, since the beginning of the conflict employed only Tamils as locally-hired staff. This has created in the minds of the Sinhalese (the over-whelming majority), the view that Canada is a nation hostile to the Sinhalese and their sovereign nation. Canada’s involvement in the institution of the UN-International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty’ (ICISS) in 2000, and the attempts to invoke the R2P doctrine by Gareth Evens, using the Canadian-funded `International Center for Ethnic Studies’ (ICES) has been interpreted by many Sri Lankan academics as confirming their worst fears about Canada.
The massive influx of Tamil immigrants and refugees, compared to the number of Sinhalese immigrants in Canada has also strongly influence the type of information presented to Canadian legislators. They in turn have ‘accepted’ the ‘narrative’ of Canada-based Tamil separatists and have become advocates of a punitive, hostile attitude to the Sri Lankan government.
In order to understand how Canadian law makers have accepted the narrative of Tamil Eelamist groups and their fellow-traveler NGOs, we review the hearings of the parliamentary subcommittee on international human rights on the topic of Sri Lanka. According to some scholars who have been long-standing students of Sri Lankan history, e.g., Roberts in Australia, “Amnesty International, HRW, ICG, Hilary Clinton, David Miliband, Bernard Kouchner, James Blake, et cetera became cats-paws in a grand LTTE strategy”. That NGO-narrative has been unquestioningly placed before the Canadian parliament, with no one to dissent or review.

Hearings of the Subcommittee on International Human Rights: the situation in Sri Lanka

We discuss in these documents, the proceedings of the Subcommittee on International Human Rights Committee of the 41st Parliament of Canada on `the Human Rights situation in Sri Lanka’. Two hearings took place in November 2011, while six hearings took place from November to December 2013. We examine each of them in detail to show the misleading nature of the process, the the partial truths and false allegations that have not been rectified due to the lack of a balanced approach in the proceedings.
However, to sustain a long-term empirico-historical approach, the accepted narrative must be critically evaluated, reviewed and recorded. It is our hope that this study would help other scholars, and also help the Canadian Parliament to restore due process in future hearings. We proceed in chronological order, and begin with the presentation of Elaine Pearson, the DD-HRW, i.e., Deputy Director, Asia Division of the Human Rights Watch (HRW), in November 2011. Starting in 2011 is useful even though some two years have passed (thisdocument was prepared in Dec-2013 to Jan 2014).



Notes to the Main Text.

1. Tamil opposition to Universal Franchise from 1931, casteism giving way to racism, and the creation of a Tamil separatism party in 1949.

During colonial times the land-owning upper-caste Tamils were the favoured agents of the British government. In fact, the Ramanathan family ruled over the Sinhalese and the Tamils from the 1880s to almost the early 1930s. The introduction of universal franchise by the British in 1931 was bitterly opposed by the Tamil leaders who saw in it the end of their power not only over the Sinhalese, but also over the lower-caste Tamils or women who had no vote up till then. Ramanathan’s politics (based on caste orthodoxy rather than race) was rejected by G. G. Ponnambalam who came forward as a leader of all Tamils. High-caste Sinhalese were not included in his politics. Ponnambalam prided himself as a “Dravidian” (see The Handard of Ceylon, Col. 39045, 1935) and created the first raced-based political party, viz., “The Tamil congress” in Sri Lanka. The first Sinhala-Tamil clashes were also provoked by a political speech by Ponnambalam in 1939

First Sinhala-Tamil Riot, 1939 provoked by G. G. Ponnambalam’s Political Speeches. Ponnambalam’s proposal (instead of universal franchise) was to reserve fifty ridings to the majority Sinhalese (~75%), and an equal 50 ridings to the minority Tamils (~12%), in a chamber of 100 parliamentarians. Lord Soulbury, representing the British rejected this, and the first post-independent parliament was based on universal franchise for both men and women. Independence from Britain occurred peacefully in 1948, with many Tamils in the cabinet, and in all walks of life, in significant excess of their demographic weight.

The many strips on the Sri Lankan national flag represented the minorities. The flag as well as the national anthem were evolved with multi-ethnic consensus in the wake of independence, under D. S. Senanayake who attempted to develop the “Ceylonese” concept, instead of individual ethnicities. The attempt by the first prime minister D. S. Senanayake, and some anglicized Tamils to forge a “Ceylonese” identity transcending the ethnic divisions failed. Sebastian Rasalingam is a low-caste dissident-Tamil writer of the old generation who has described this phase of the conflict in many penetrating articles. One of them describes how the Ceylonese identity was subverted by separatist-racist politics.
The Rise and fall of the “Ceylonese” or “Sri-Lankan” Identity” and Chauvinistic politics.

The growth of Tamil nationalism within land-owning upper-caste orthodox Tamils as a reaction against Universal franchise, and the concurrent rise of Sinhala nationalism led by S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike, as well as the first race-riot between the Sinhalese and the Tamils, and the push to independence under the ‘Ceylonese’ vision of D. S. Senanayake, have been described by the British historian Dr. Jane Russell in her book Communal Politics under the Donoughmore Commission, 1931-1947, Tissara Publishers, 1982. This book is a must read for every student of the conflict in Sri Lanka.
In spite of Soulbury, Senanayake, and Ponnambalam’s subsequent cooperation with Senanayake, all was not well. Already in 1949, a number of wealthy Colombo lawyers who were disappointed by the failure of the 50-50 proposal, and led by Chelvanayagam rejected co-existence and formed the Ilankai Tamil Arasu kadchi (ITAK), i.e, the Lanka Tamil-Kingdom party. Their declared that Ponnambalam was a ‘Traitor’ to the Tamil cause. Their Tamil-language political manifesto declared (in 1949) that the North and East are “the exclusive homeland of the Tamils“, and from then on did everything that a separatist party would do. They explicitly stated that the Sinhalese and the Muslims have no right to live in the exclusive Tamil homeland. Their party name and the ridings contested by them were based on ethnicity. All their parliamentary candidates were from the Vellalar caste. Although many of the ITAK politicians lived in the wealthy parts of Colombo, the were major land owners in the North. However, they were defeated in the 1952 general election and appeared to be just an extremist fringe party. It attempted to present itself, rather unsuccessfully, as a moderate party, at least to the very small but powerful English-speaking Ceylonese by using the name “Federal Party” in English, without the “Thamil” racial identification, and also avoiding the `Arasu’ which implied the Tamil kingdom that was emphasized in the Tamil versions of their manifestos.



K. M. de. Silva Managing ethnic tensions in multi-ethnic societies: Sri Lanka, 1880-1985, University Press of America, 1986
Jane Russell Communal Politics under the Donoughmore Constitution 1931-1947, Tissara Prakashakayo, Dehiwela, Sri Lanka, 1982

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2. Separatists gain from Language and anti-caste legislation.

The British, as well as their native agents ruled the country in English, incomprehensible to some 97% of the population at the time of independence. Naturally, the new nation enthroned Sinhala as the official language. The use of Tamil (used by ~12% of the population) was accommodated almost as an after-thought. The Muslims (who speak Tamil) supported the Sinhala-language legislation. The separatist ITAK party, hither-to only a fringe party, took advantage of the language legislation to whip the Tamils into militancy. The Tamil Congress (TC) led by Ponnambalam fell behind the ITAK in Tamil support.

The Sinhalese felt that their language legislation was no more discriminatory than those of other countries (e.g, USA which has a much bigger percentage of Hispanics than the percentage of Tamils in Sri lanka, or uni-lingual Canada at the time with a big French minority). To complicate matters, a good fraction of the Tamils lived in the south, among the Sinhalese, and did not live in the claimed “exclusive homeland” in the North. The hill-country ‘Indian’ Tamils who had come to work in the tea plantations, and led by their own leader Mr. Thondaman, did not participate in ITAK separatist politics. Thus, at the time, most Sinhalese, Muslims, and many Tamil speakers accepted the language legislation with equanimity. Although the language switch over was supposed to be swift, it was initially, mostly ineffective. Most government business chugged on in English for sometime, since cadre had to be trained in Sinhala. The government was ready to give concessions and time windows for government servants to acquire proficiency in the official language. However, the ITAK moved in and began a campaign of dissuasion and intimidation urging the Tamils to not to study Sinhala. It is interesting to contrast this with the typical view-point of Western NGOs who usually quote the analysis successfully disseminated by separatist writings. These have acquired a dominant position since 2001, when large amounts of money were pumped by Norway and other nations into NGOs (like the ‘Center for Policy Alternatives), supporting a political solution with the Tigers. Sash Jayawardena (SJ), writing for “Impunity Watch”, a Netherlands-based NGO that targets small countries like Guatemala, describes the Sinhala-language bill as the infamous ‘Sinhala-Only Act’, which made Sinhala the sole official language of Ceylon and impacted the education and employment opportunities of the Tamil community (and quotes Manoharan, 2006). SJ further asserts that “in 1957, the Prime Minister of Ceylon bowed to pressure from Sinhala Buddhist nationalist elements and unilaterally abrogated the Bandaranaike-Chelvanayagam Pact, which sought to address the growing concerns of Tamils (Manoharan 2006). Below we discuss how the B-C pact had already run foul of Tamil extremists.

Caste Discrimination. The “Sinhala offical languages” act was not the only thing that incensed the upper-caste Tamil leaders. A law banning caste discrimination was also passed concurrently:
The dynamics of caste politics in Jaffna, Interview with P. G. Anthony
Johnpulle on Tamil Caste Discrimination, 2011
Keeping Tamil culture and uprooting the caste system from the North.- Rasalingam
Sri Lankan Tamils still wed to the ancient caste structure-Daily-Mirror, 2006


The prohibition of discrimination on the basis of caste, enabled the lower-caste Tamils to use public transport, and engage in other perfectly normal types of civil activities (at least on paper). At the time ~1950s, even in urban Jaffna, the lowest castes were not allowed to be seen in public; low-caste men and women were not allowed to cover the upper body. Many lower castes were not allowed in shops, temples, public transport, ‘good’ schools, near drinking-water wells etc.

However, in spite of this 1957 legislation, ITAK separatists covertly ensured caste discrimination at all levels in society. Even two decades later, a break-away wing of the communist party accused the separatist party (ITAK) of caste discrimination and challenged the leader (S. J. V. Chelvanayagam) to re-contest his parliamentary seat.

The Sinhalese masses failed to comprehend the intense opposition of the Tamil leaders to what the Sinhalese felt was “just legislation”. For them, it was restoring their rights after 500 years of Colonialism. The Marxist leaders could not support the sentiments of the masses as their power base, viz., the government workers, was almost 50% Tamil although the Tamil population was ~10%. This lopsidedness was a result of the divide-and-rule politics of the British, as well as the high endowment in English education invested in the North by Christian missionaries. As a consequence, the leftist leaders also opposed the Sinhala language legislation and demanded parity of status for Sinhala and Tamil, in spite of the gross difference in demographics. According to one observer, this proposal seemed similar to demanding that Yiddish be made an official language at parity with English in New York state.

Sinhalese incomprehension of the opposition of the Tamils (i.e., ~12% of the population) to what the Sinhalese felt was their “just right” was exacerbated by the fiery and uncompromising position of the ITAK leaders. Tamil militants as well as peaceful Tamil protesters carrying wooden pistols were met with unbridled violence by Sinhalese hooligans, kindling rapid ethnic polarization between the Tamils and the Sinhalese. This was in fact what the ITAK wanted. Many Tamils began to feel unsafe among the Sinhalese. The separatists soon became the main-stream Tamil party. They led tar-brush campaigns obliterating Sinhala street signs, vehicle registration plates, and organized `makkal padai’ groups (people’s forces) in the North and East, vowing to kneel the government. Illegal Eelam postage stamps were printed. The point of view of an uncompromising Tamil Nationalist, V. Navaratnam, educated at a Sinhala-Buddhist college (Ananda College) in Colombo, can be gathered from his book (1991) The Fall and rise of the Tamil Nation: events leading to the Tamil war of independence and the resumption of Eelam sovereignty, available at the Toronto University library. Unfortunately, Tamil intellectuals did not go to the Sinhalese areas and attempt to explain their concerns in Sinhalese, at any time in the past, as they had decided on separatism already in 1949. The situation remains the same today, with the post-Eelam TNA rejecting pan-Island politics.

Separatist Postage stamp, designed by V. Navaratnam in 1956, issued in 1961. (click to enlarge)

V. Navaratnam had written in 1957 a short tract called ‘Ceylon in Crisis’, stating ‘the irreconcilable antagonism’ between the Tamil people and the unitary state. He also attacked the ‘Colombo Tamil intelligentsia’ and branded them as traitors. Thus, various compromise solutions (e.g., the Bandaranaike-Chelvanaygam pact) were immediately rejected by the Tamil nationalists. When Jaffna nationalists opposed the B-C pact and staged sit-ins, saying that the pact aborted the creation of a “Tamil Kingdom”, Chelvanayagam unwisely answered that a “bit now, and more later” is the real policy. This precipitated a strong reaction of Sinhala-Buddhist groups who declared that the B-C pact was merely the thin end of the wedge of separatism. They in turn staged protests and got the pact abrogated.

An affirmative-action university-entrance scheme put in place by the minister Bd-ud-deen Mohamed, giving preference to students from educationally poorly established areas was denounced as discrimination against the Tamils (however, Jaffna alone had good schools, while other Tamil areas and most Muslim areas did not – but this did not matter to the separatists). Almost all the university entrants from the Tamil areas were upper-caste Vellars or wealthy Karaiars. Furthermore, within the North and the East, the ITAK-separatists covertly ensured that low-caste children were not allowed entry into “good” schools. Similarly, they were at the vanguard of the orthodoxy that insisted that low-caste Tamils be not allowed in places of Hindu worship, excluded from drawing drinking water from wells, etc., except as allowed by the caste system. The lack of jobs for the poorly educated low-caste children was attributed to “all the jobs being taken by the Sinhalese majority in the south”. Sinhalese extremists explained the lack of jobs as resulting from jobs being given to Tamils by ethnic favoritism by the “Tamil-dominated” mercantile and banking sector!. A break-away wing of the Communist Party of Sri Lanka actually challenged (late 1970s) the leader (S. J. V. Chelvanayagam) of the separatist party (ITAK) to re-contest his seat in Maviddapuram, accusing him of supporting caste discrimination.

Fiery speeches about the glory of the Tamil Kingdom (Eelam) were made claiming it to be the solution to all Tamil problems. This resonated with the repressed nationalist politics of Tamil Nadu, where such speeches were not possible due the strong hand of the center that had banned the promotion of local nationalism. Tamil Nadu politicians like Nadumaran and M. G. Ramachandran became supporters of Lanka’s Tamil-separatist politics.

A resolution re-affirming the North and East as the “exclusive homeland of the Tamils” and the Tamil determination to set up a separate state, was passed in 1976 in Vaddukkoddai. Ironically, this was an old Sinhalese garrison town known as Batakotte (“Bhata” = soldier, “Kotte” = fort) even in 1900. Such facts are conveniently ignored by the proponents of an exclusive Tamil homeland .



Sash Jayawardane A Study of Impunity in Postcolonial Sri Lanka, Impunity Watch, Holland (2013)
V. Navaratnam The Fall and rise of the Tamil Nation: events leading to the Tamil war of independence and the resumption of Eelam sovereignty, (1991)
Michael Roberts   Tamil Nationalism, Journal of South Asian Studies, n.s., Vol.XXVII, no.1, April 2004.
K. M. de Silva Sri Lanka and the Defeat of the LTTE, Penguin books, (2012)

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3. The 1976 Vaddukkoddai resolution calls for a separate Tamil `Eelam’, even by force.

The ethnic polarization and violence of the two decades following 1956 led to the “Vaddukkoddai resolution”(VR). It had the support of a majority of Tamils, although the hill-country Tamils and Muslims (who also speak Tamil) did not endorse it. Tamils (e.g., Mr. Duraiappah, the Mayor of Jaffna and SLFP member, Mr. Subramanium, UNP organizser of Killinochchi) who supported pan-national political parties (e.g., United National party, the Sri Lanka Freedom party) also did not endorse it. The Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF), made up of the ITAK and the Tamil Congress (TC) rejected pan-national solutions in endorsing VR.

The Resolution was passed at the first Convention of the TULF on 14 May 1976. TULF regarded this as their key position for the 1977 general elections of the country. This Resolution declared the intent of forming a sovereign State of Tamil Eelam. Chelavanayakam who presided over the Convention had already stated that dream at Maradana in 1949, at the founding meeting of the ITAK. The ITAK had become a part of the TULF by 1972. Chelvanayagam’s ideas had been formed by his opposition to Universal Franchise in his formative years, and the Nationalistic writing of Tambimuttu, who wrote in 1945 a book entitled Dravida, A History of the Tamils from Prehistoric Times to 1800. The idea of Eelam separatism existed long before Sinhala language legislation and the ensuing racist violence. The language legislation did not worry most Tamils. But the violence created a sense of insecurity, and they began to increasingly support the separatist agenda.

In fact, the TULF won unequivocally in the Northern province, while it failed to secure a majority for its cause in the multi-ethnic Eastern province. Details of the Vaddukkoddai Resolution may be found in: Vaddukkoddai resolution

The present-day trans-national Tamil separatist organizations are headed by veterans or close kin from the political era of 1976. Their thinking has not changed over four decades. Their rejection of peace talks, constitutional amendments for ‘mere devolution of power’ (federalism, the 13th amendment brokered by the Indian government) etc., is based on holding onto the Vaddukkoddai resolution. The kingdom of Eelam is for them as an “Israel” for all the Diaspora Tamils. However, the religious and ethnic confluence found in the concept of Israel is not found with the `Tamil cause’ because the leadership is mostly christian, while the rank and file (ordinary Tamils) are Hindus. Nevertheless, a Dravidastan or Thamilacam extending from South Africa, through South India and Sri Lanka to Malaysia is evoked by Tamil Nationalism which draws its inspiration and many of its symbols (e.g., the Tiger symbol) from the medieval Chola empire.

The rise of militant Tamil separatism was viewed with favour by many Indian politicians. Mrs. Indira Gandhi, irked by `Yankee Dikie’ President Jayawardena’s total alignment with the USA, realized that Tamil separatist groups could be used as a turn-screw on the Sri-Lankan polity. Meanwhile Tamil Nadu politicians saw in them a means of holding `the center’ to ransom by drawing strength from the Nationalism of Eelamist separatism.

Comparing Tamil-separatist politics with those of `Indian’ Tamils of Sri lanka.

The militant approach of the Tamil nationalists should be contrasted with the approach of the Indian Tamils (who came to Sri Lanka to work in the Tea plantations in the late 19th and early 20th century). They were led by S. Thondaman, a skillful practical politician who faced many challenges and had very little financial resources compared to Chelvanayagam and others. However, Thondaman successfully guided his community to win virtually all the objectives they set in the late 1940s.
Facts about Plantation Tamils of Sri Lanka, by Sebastian Rasalingam
Building Bridges, by Neville Ladduwahetty
During the 1930s, the Tamil leaders were openly or covertly against giving citizenship to Indian Tamils, as they were regarded as ‘low-caste’ people who were distinct from them. The Kandyan Sinhalese were also against giving citizenship (and hence the vote) as this would undermine their power base in the hill country. Nevertheless, D. S. Senanayake had agreed with Nehru that those Indian Tamils who had lived continuously in Sri Lanka for a sufficiently long time should be granted citizenship. However, the attempt by the Marxist leaders to woo plantation workers to their fold, as well as the ‘Brace-Girdle affair’ frightened the conservative UNP leader.
However, D. S. Senanayake, with the advise of K. Vaithyalingam and the concurrence of G. G. Ponnambalam, formulated an Indian citizenship act which limited citizenship to Indian Tamils who had a continuous residency of seven years in Sri Lanka. Chelvanayagam used Ponnambalam’s concurrence with the Indian citizenship act and Ponnambalam’s participation in the new cabinet to substantiate his claim that Ponnambalam was a ‘traitor’ to the the Tamils.


Sir Ivor Jennings, the archtect of Sri lanka’s contitution and ‘constitutional Guru’ to D. S. Senanayake wrote: “So far as can be ascertained without a detailed comparison of the correspondence and the Act, the Indian and Pakistani Residents (Citizenship) Act No.3 of 1949, was based on the agreement of 1941 (with Nehru) modified by the concessions made by Mr. Senanayake in 1948” (Sir Ivor Jennings, “The Ceylon Historical Journal”, Vol. 11, 1952, p. 197)

This was a setback to Thondaman, since this dis-enfranchised many of his key voters. The total number of Indian Tamils in the electoral register of 1946 just prior to independence based on a 5 year residence, was 242,403, when the total population was ~7 million. He recognized that both India and Britain had let them down by ignoring their responsibilities. Hence he worked closely with the Sinhalese as well as the Tamil leaders, forging alliances and lending his support in a very strategic manner. Thondaman maintained good relations with politicians of all hues, and subsequently worked within the ‘Sirima-Shatry’ pact, even though it fell far short of his objectives. Later Thondaman used the tension between the Sinhalese and the TULF leadership to his advantage and accepted a cabinet position in the J. R. Jayawardena government, in return for citizenship concessions to Indian Tamils. He refused to support the Vaddukkoddai resolution, knowing the folly of militarily pitting a small minority against an over-whelming majority.


The separatist struggle of the Sri Lankan Tamils was both a set back, and finally a help to the ‘Indian estate-Tamils’. If there had been cooperation between the Sinhalese and the Tamils, the Sinhalese would not have been afraid of absorbing the Indian Tamils as citizens. The Muslim Minister of S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike (nicknamed `Sinhala Marikkar’) had even attempted to help Thondaman in this regard. However, the politics of the ITAK created suspicion against all Tamils, delaying any possibility of absorbing the Indian Tamils into citizenship. Two decades later, Thondaman found his chance when Jayawardena was keen on ensuring that the ‘Indian Tamils’ would not support the TULF. Ironically, the old guard of the ITAK and the TC had never wanted to link too closely with the Indian Tamils who were regarded by them as low-caste individuals unfit to be called Sri Lankan Tamils. They had even been happy with the Sirima-Shastry pact that sent many Indian Tamils back to India. The usual position taken by NGO writers about the Indian citizenship act is interesting, and tracks the position taken by the Tamil-Separatist websites. The Sash Jayawardene (SJ) of the Dutch NGO named “Impuntiy Watch” writes: ” The provisions of the Citizenship Act disenfranchised a large proportion of Plantation Tamils by requiring that a person born in Ceylon and claiming citizenship by descent prove that his father was born in Ceylon or that his paternal grandfather and paternal great-grandfather were born in Ceylon (Citizenship Act1948: Section 4(1); De Silva Wijeyeratne 1998: 44) … However SJ fails to mention the provision based on seven-year residency (see Ladduwahetty ), and thus gives a very lop-sided view of the act.

Indian Tamils came to Sri Lanka, often on foot, with many perishing on the way, to escape the utterly abject economic conditions as well as caste-imposed servitude in India. They found (in their view) better prospects in the British plantations of Ceylon. Their main demand was to stay in Sri lanka as citizens. Today they have won their objective and merged into the political and economic life of the country. There have been ethnic clashes between the Hill-country Tamils and the Sinhalese; there were attempts by Eelamists as well as Marxists to get their cooperation for separatism or revolution. But Thondaman successfully steered them to a path of relative safety. They have found easier acceptance in the less caste-conscious society in southern Sri Lanka (as recounted by the Tamil writer Sebastian Rasalingam). They have taken advantage of free state education to raise their status in life. It remains to see how their younger leaders propose to cope with future challenges.

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4. The assassination of the TULF leaders and the rise of the LTTE.

The separatist leaders of the Eelam resolution soon found that their power was usurped by young militant armed groups. They assassinated the TULF leaders as well as leading non-separatist Tamil leaders, and rival groups in cold-blood creating a reign of terror where dissent was not tolerated. The surviving terror group, known as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was led by Prabhakaran, a young secretive fighter and high-school drop out. By the early eighties Prabhakaran dominated the Tamil political arena, both by instilling fear and also by capturing the adulation of hardened Tamil nationalists who saw him as the ‘only answer to state terror’.
Prabhakaran came from a well-to-do, well connected family originally from Kerala, India. His father was a respectable government servant who lived in the coastal village of Velvettithurai, where a majority of people were of the sea-faring Karaiar-caste. The old Sinhalese place-name (Vaeli-Vaetti-thora) means `sand-bunded-bay’. It was extensively used by smugglers who were equally at home in the Indian-coastal villages across the Palk straits. The embryonic armed groups generated by the TULF used the possibility of crossing over to India to escape detection. Some of the battles for supremacy between rival groups were even fought on Indian soil, and finally the LTTE emerged as the dominant group, with Prabharakan as the leader. During the heady days of the Vaddukkoddai resolution (1976), the TULF leaders had encouraged the rise of armed militancy among its young cadre, and termed them as ‘our boys’. The “boys” had no experience of the tolerant multiculturalism of Colombo, and believed the worst propaganda about the Sinhalese who were depicted as their mortal enemies. The ITAK hard-liner V. Navaratnam had declared that Colombo leaders were ‘traitors’ who were ready to negotiate with the Sinhalese. The Tamil poet Kasi Ananthan adulated vengeance against traitors in his poetry, suggesting that they should not die natural deaths.
Chelvanayagam is often regarded as a Gandhian who avoided violence. However, he had no hesitation of supporting youth leaders who engaged in armed robbery against the state, and in swearing-in a militant-armed groups like the Pulip Padai group in Trincoamlee (Gokanna) in 1961. See also:
Was S. J. V. Chelvanaygam an advocate of an armed struggle for Eelam ? (from Eelam as livelihood -Nation 7-July-2013
A picture of Chelvanayagam posing with Sivakumaran, the Tamil militant who later committed suicide biting cyanide.
Alfred Duraiappah, the Mayor of Jaffna who worked closely with the pan-Island SLFP party was the first to be gunned down by Prabhakaran while attending a religious ceremony in 1975, even before the Vaddukkoddai resolution. Mr. Subramanium, The UNP-Killinochchi organizer was gunned down later. This was in line with the TULF-psyche of the times against ‘Traitors’. The attempts by the TULF leaders to come to a settlement of the `Tamil grievances’ with the Sinhalese leaders was rejected as betrayal of the push for Eelam. Prabhakaran was able to go in and out of the houses of the TULF leaders who regarded him as their “Thambi” (boy). He and his buddies took advantage of this trust to assassinate most of the the TULF leaders in unsuspecting situations.

Who killed Duraiappah, Amithalaingam et al.?, by Shamindra Fernando, Island newspaper, Oct. 2010.


However, many moderate Tamils and Sinhalese moaned the fact that Amirthalingam and other more democratic TULF leaders who were assassinated by Prabhakaran would have come to a peaceful settlement with the Sinhalese leaders like Jayawardena if their lives had not been extinguished by the LTTE.

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5. The rise of the Diaspora and the external support to the LTTE.

It has been customary, since the opening of the Jaffna-Colombo railway in 1905, for economically well-to-do Tamils to move to Colombo and other southern cities. With the onset of language-based confrontations and the rise of the Ilankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi (ITAK), English-educated Tamils began to migrate to the West in increasing numbers. Today there may be as much as 180-200,000 Tamil immigrants comprising the Tamil Diaspora, (compared to about 60-70,000 Sinhalese immigrants). These may be compared with the ~500,000 Arabic-speaking immigrants in Canada. The latter group has much less political power than the Tamil Diaspora. They are the victims of the 9/11 backlash, as well as the strongly pro-Israeli politics of the Harper government.


The goings-on in the North were not well understood in the south where the Sinhalese and the Tamils lived relatively peacefully, but interrupted by bouts of increasing violence arising from the political confrontations of the two groups. The Sinhalese smugly felt that the Tamils have ‘every right open to every Sri Lankan’, and perhaps more privileged ‘because of their dominant position in government, commerce and in the professions’. It was (and is) common for Sinhalese to ask “what are the tangible grievances of the Tamils”? The Sinhalese felt that the strident demands of the ITAK for an `exclusively Tamil homeland’ containing 1/3 of the land mass, and 2/3 of the coastal area for a small minority of about 12%, with half of them opting to stay in the ‘Sinhalese south’, was simply a non-starter. Nevertheless even Tamils who opted to live in the South wanted a separate ‘Tamil Eelam’ for their kith and kin, while most Sihnalese were against ‘any attempt to divide the country’. Given the slogans of the ITAK since 1949, they believed that federalism and devolution are just paths to separation. Eelam map & LTTE emblem with a Tiger, rifles and bullets (click to enlarge)

Many informed commentators (e.g., K. M. de Silva, Gerald Pieris, Sebastian Rasalingam, Dyan Jayatilleke, D. B. S. Jeyaraj) felt that even if an Eelam were created, it would still lead to explosive border confrontations, battles for fishing rights in the sea, for water which comes from the central hills outside the proposed Eelam, and so on. These sober observations were put aside once India and the West began to support ‘a political solution’ with the Tigers, and dumped large sumps of money to change public opinion to fit the Norwegian stance formulated by Solheim and Balasingham. The political views of the Western nations like Canada today are skewed by those events.

Meanwhile, the North itself became increasingly under the thumb of terrorists groups, especially the LTTE. The government responded by strengthening its security operations in the North, and easily found informants against the LTTE from among the low-caste Tamils who had been the victims of the Tamil social system. Prabhakaran’s response was to capture some (probably innocent) low-caste Tamils and hang them by lamp posts for public display.
see: Lamp-post murders of low-caste Tamils by the LTTE
Skirmishes between the security forces and the armed groups increased gradually. However, what happened on the night of 23rd July 1983, was a turning point in the history of the country and in the emergence of a hardened Diaspora. The “Report on the Presidential Truth Commission on Ethnic Violence (1981-1984), Volume I; S. Sharvananda, S. S. Sahabandu, M. M. Zuhair; September 2002”, states that:


around 11.30pm, 13 soldiers on a routine patrol in the North traveling in a jeep and a truck, came under terrorists attack and all 13 soldiers were killed. This was at this time the largest number of army men killed so far in any incident in the North. News of the killing spread instantly on Sunday in the country”, igniting emotions.

The dead bodies were brought to Colombo to stage an ill-advised public funeral at the main cemetery in Colombo, creating a very inflammatory situation. Mobs seeking to take vengeance attacked Tamil homes and created a pogrom where the police did not intervene to help the Tamils. Strangely, the Inspector General of Police, and six of his immediate deputies were themselves Tamils who controlled the line of authority. Were they ordered at the highest levels of political power to not to act, or not, is not known as none of them have come forward to explain, even after retirement and in the safety of other lands. However, the police took no action while innocents were murdered, burnt alive etc. There is evidence of planned attacks on many Tamil houses, as well as spontaneous attacks by sundry groups profiting from the events. While the negligence of the government (UNP) was nothing short of a criminal act, many individual Sinhalese risked their lives to help-out Tamil families under attack. The violence went unabated for three or four days.
See:   Views and Reviews of the 1983 ‘Black July’ Pogrom
As many as 4000 people may have been killed in the pogrom, with 130,000 in refugee camps, and some 2000 business undertakings destroyed. The bulk of the people affected by the incidents were Tamils living in the South. The July 1983 pogrom saw more than a hundred thousand people fleeing to India as refugees, thereby giving India a ‘justification’ to intervene in Sri Lankan affairs. However, the more well-to-do Tamils and professionals began to head West as legitimate refugees. It was a destination that many had eagerly sought for, even in better times.

Thus the `diaspora Tamils, largely entrenched in the English speaking common-wealth countries, and secondly in European countries, consist of a hard core of articulate educated Tamil refugees who have bitter memories of violence, personal humiliation and loss of property. Every year, they have commemorated `Black July’. But these Black-July events in the West are not focused on reconciliation and building bridges. Instead, the ‘Black July’ event is used to nurture a historic anger and a sense of vengeance. The original moral advantage that was with the Tamil people, and the sense of remorse and guilt felt by Sinhala public opinion about July 83 is now largely undermined. Furthermore, the Disapora easily fell into the moral quicksand of supporting the LTTE financially, logistically, and politically.

A ‘disapora’ is a trans-national community dispersed from its original `homeland’, and presently living in host countries, and holding onto various idealized aspirations of returning to their homeland. In the case of the Tamil disapora, they hold on to the Vaddukkoddai ideas of Eelam, while not wanting to leave their adopted countries in the affluent West and go back to the ‘homeland’. They have no interest in ‘devolution of power’ to the North, dialogue or reconciliation. It is necessary for them to continue to assert that their kith and kin still living in the ‘home country’ are persecuted, killed, raped etc., and are denied basic human rights. This helps their immigration claims as refugees, and also strengthen their efforts in fund collections against Sri lanka. To this end, the Tamil diaspora has re-circulated old horror incidents, (possibly committed during the war by the LTTE) or use exaggerated distortions as well as any true cases to further their claims. The events at the end of the war has been labeled by them as ‘genocide against the Tamils’. The humanitarian sympathy of ill-informed western audiences has been tapped to push this agenda skillfully. Heads of NGOs run by well-known sympathizers of Tamil separatism are in close contact with the International Crisis Group (ICS), Human-Rights Watch (HRW), Amnesty International (AI) etc., and have present themselves for many years as the `civil society’ in Colombo. Hence their views have become respectable and entrenched in the ‘international circuit’. Sometimes one can recognize whole sections of text appearing in websites of various international HR groups, as direct-copies of text from some Colombo NGO with separatist objectives. It recorded that the Western-sponsored Colombo NGOs that called for a deal with the LTTE (declared a Terrorist ogranization by the UN in 2001) received just from Norway over 28 million US dollars over 2002-2004, while other Western countries also contributed large sums through their front organizations.

Massive Foreign NGO-funding to achieve political agendas.

The funding sources for NGOs included Meyers Norris Penny Ltd RM (Canada), Canadian International Development Agency, Berghof Foundation (Germany), `Facilitating Local Initiatives for Conflict Transformation’ (Germany), Stichting Cortaid (The Netherlands), Norwegian Embassy, Commission Des Communautes (Norway), ICT for Peace Foundation (Switzerland), Dep. F. Auswaert, Angelegenheiten (Switzerland), Swedish Embassy, Swedish International Development Agency, Goldman Sachs Grant (UK), Minority Rights GRP Ltd BCA (UK), European Commission, Transparency International Division (UK), Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (UK), European Union, Diakonia (US), Forum of Federations/Forum Des (US), International Media Support (US), the Ford Foundation (US), Fredskorpset Bergen (US), National Endowment for Democracy (US), Partnership for Transparency Fund (US) and Academy for Educational Development (US).
Out of Rs. 618.33 million received by the ‘Center for Policy Alternatives’ (headed by Pakiasoothy Saravanamuttu), ‘National Peace Council’ (Kumar Rupasinghe) and ‘Transparency International’ during the three-year period, Rs. 111.48 million had been donated by various other sources but not named. There were many other NGOs, ‘Asian-Human-Rights foundations’, organizations dedicated to force a ‘federal solution’ (with websites like federalidea.com), etc., created by Western funds, as well as Western Church groups during this period. These organizations completely over-whelmed and distorted news reporting and local journalists using their funds. They mis-represented and white-washed the activities of the LTTE (e.g., the assassination of Kadirgamar), and also engaged in propaganda against the army `in the name of peace’. Their situation reports echoed the separatist views of the CPA and other NGOs. These were carried to the West by AI, HRW, ICG and other Western agencies that the Western governments trust. Thus, while the `peace effort’ of Norway to legitimize Prabhakaran failed, the organisms created under its leadership have permanently distorted the Western view of the Sri Lankan conflict, with opinion slanted against the Sri Lankan Government. This has been a key facilitator of the indictment of Sri Lanka using the UNHRC.

The Diaspora itself has formed a plethora of organizations, directed at influencing the politicians and civil activists of the host country. In addition, many of these organizations siphon off funds from the host government claiming to help settle refugees, teach languages, organize inter-ethnic events, run news media etc. The last is very important for propaganda and agitation. In 2005 there were nearly a dozen Tamil language newspapers. Many of these were distributed via Tamil-ethnic groceries, and carried articles and distorted news in a way unacceptable (as hate material) in a Canadian English-language newspaper. There were 4 Tamil-language radio stations broadcasting seven days of the week. A Tiger-funded Television network that was to have been authorized by the CRTC was stopped when groups hostile to the LLTE contested its licensing, establishing a history of hate-mongering by the group behind the application for the TV channel. Three cinemas showing only Tamil films were also used to show propaganda war-footage provided by the LTTE’s own war photographic unit, recording events at the battle front and presenting them to its advantage. Tamil businesses were required to display a prominent picture of Prabhakaran, and also contribute regularly to the war chest under pain of reprisals. Many estimates suggest that this collection is of the order of one to two million dollars per month from Canada. The amounts decreased drastically after the fall of Prabhakaran, and has again slowly increased to about 30-50% of it from Canada, once the initial battles for capturing power within the Diaspora became less intense.

Inflammatory movies from the war front, usually doctored up heavily against the Sri Lankan government were used in University campuses to create ethnic associations of Tamil undergraduates who have little or no knowledge of the homeland. Tamil academics like Prof. R. Cheran, Prof. Chandrakanthan and others wrote strongly partisan accounts of events in Sri Lanka, organized workshops and ‘Tamil-studies’ conferences, with main-stream academics invited to participate, often with expenses paid. These conferences included good academic material as well as propaganda material. In fact the first of that series was held in Malasiya, in 1978, with hand-picked academics favourable to Tamil separatism.

The internet, social media, and the Wikepedia have been used as effective instruments of propaganda. The articles dealing with Sri Lankan ethnic politics, history, anthropology and even toponymy have been plagued by cyber-terrorism, with a large number of volunteers working on the side of Tamil separatists. Consequently, many articles bare the sign of a balanace with one-side pulled down, to warn the reader that the article may be partisan. Even such signs depend on how much support is there for labeling contested articles.

In Canada 10 organizations supportive of the LTTE objectives were grouped under FACT (Federation of Association of Canadian Tamils). In 2001 The UN labeled the LTTE as a terrorist organization.

The political power of the organized diaspora resides in their numbers that play a decisive role in tipping the balance between the governing party and the opposition party in many electorates. It also depends on the fact that Canada had not allowed Sinhalese immigrants into Canada while facilitating Tamil immigration on humanitarian grounds. This has also led to a lop-sided representation of the nature of politics in the `home country’, given largely through Tamil-separatist eyes.

Tamil political action consisted of detailing a number of volunteers to selected members of parliament, and work for them with unparalled devotion to win their uncommitted support, and finally, making them absolutely essential to the targeted MP’s electoral organization. Tamil Christian priests also played a strongly partisan role in addressing congregations, and in also persuading `white Canadians’ to take their point of view. This view is essentially antagonistic to any reconciliation with any government in Sri Lanka, condemned as `Sinhala’ governments. Any reconciliation efforts between Tamils and Sinhalese in the `homeland’ were labeled as ‘treachery’. Whenever prominent Tamil bridge builders (like Neelan Thiruchelvan, or the Sri Lankan Tamil Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar) were assassinated, these were reported with unconcealed jubilation in the Tamil-language media of the diaspora, while a more guarded face was shown in the English language.

Increasingly, the objective of the Tamil Diaspora has been to use their political power and funds to get the Western powers to condemn the Sri Lankan government through international agencies and diplomatic action. The final objective is to intervene militarily, as in Kosovo, Darfur or Lybia with the help of western powers to partition the country.

Gerald Peiris Twilight of the Tigers, (Oxford) (2008)
Christine C. Fair Diaspora Involvement in Insurgencies: Insights from the Khalistan and Tamil Eelam Movements, Nationalism and Ethnic Politics vol. 11, no. 1, p. 143 (2005)
Sarah Wayland Ethno-nationalist Networks and Transnational Opportunities: The Sri Lanka and Tamil Diaspora, Review of International Studies, vol. 30, no. 3, p. 405 (2004)
Michael Roberts Tamil Nationalism, Journal of South Asian Studies, n.s., Vol.XXVII, no.1, April 2004.
Shamindra Fernando Who got the Norwegian Money?, Island newspaper, Nov. 13, 2011
Sandhya Jain Using NGOs to coerce nations – IBTL, May 8, 2012

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6. The 30-years of failed peace-talks and half-hearted but brutal military offensives.

The initial response of the Sri Lankan government was to hold `peace talks’ with the Separatist group, with oversight by India. When the Indian government realized that Prabhakaran was not interested in any settlements, he enforced his own `settlement terms’, where Sri Lanka becomes a federal state with a `Tamil province’ and a `Sinhala province’ as in the Indian model. India sent a large professional army, the Indian Peace keeping formce (IKPF), but couldn’t outwit the guerrillas who began to get covert support of the Sinhlases who also opposed India’s attempt to force a solution.

For the extened text, contact [email protected]

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7. The military solution in the teeth of opposition by Western Nations.

For this material, contact [email protected]

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8. Attempts by the Western nations to rescue the terrorist group, May 2009.

For this material, contact [email protected]

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see other Sri lankan studies posted on the web.

4 Responses to “0- Focus on Sri Lanka – Canadian Parliamentary Hearings on Human Rights – 0 Why Sri Lanka sees Canada as a Hostile Nation.”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    Reacting to reports that the United Nations (UN) is available to mediate between India and Pakistan on Kashmir, New Delhi has said that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of the country. The office of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said on Thursday that “our good offices are available if both sides (India and Pakistan) were to request” mediation. The comment was made by acting deputy spokesperson for the Secretary General, Farhan Haq, who is of Pakistani origin.

    Haq was responding to a question on whether the UN chief would propose to India to sit down and talk with Pakistan and resolve the longstanding Kashmir issue.

    South Block insiders are sticking to India’s stated position that there is no role for the UN in the Kashmir issue. In fact, India had gone on record earlier saying that the UN Military Observer Group on India and Pakistan should pack up and leave.”


    Soon Endia will be facing UNHRC and UN interference like SL. Let the fun begin.

    Pakistan or China should bring the KASHMIR issue to UNHRC and put it to a vote.

  2. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    Depending on the economic impact of these nations Sri Lanka should embark on a policy of removing their presence in Sri Lanka. I believe Canada does not have a significant economic presence in Sri Lanka but has a disproportionately high representation of supporting the pro LITE elements in Sri Lanka. It would make sense to eliminate the Canadian presence in Sri Lanka by closing her Embassy. If this was Russia or China facing similar selective accusations these nations would be barred from Russia or China.

    Other nations such as Norway can also be eliminated. Such drastic actions will send a message to other nations like the UK and the US that if they step over their bounds there is a prize to pay. In regards to those nations who have a greater economic role but also support the LITE severe restrictions can be placed on their diplomats, including prior approval of any activity they intend to indulge, and a Secret Service escort if their proposals are approved. Other limitations could include removing any special privileges granted to foreign dignitaries from them.

    These nations must be forced to understand that once in Sri Lanka do as the Sri Lankans do and not according to their preconceived notions. It is normal practice to restrict the behavior of foreigners in over 50 Muslim nations to a whole plethora of other nations in South America to the great powers of the US, China and Canada.

    Power is never given, it is taken. If Sri Lanka wants to be a power to reckon with it is time Sri Lanka acts like a growing power that will not take the defensive stand on trumped up charges by a select number of nations.

  3. jayasiri Says:

    Thank you Mr. Dharma-Wardena……..it is a very omprehensive article for our POLITICAL LEDERS to read & act on. Tamils from day ONE, have been a problem, NOT that there is a TAMIL PROBLEM. Tamils created this situation to get maximum mileage in PROVING THERE IS DISCRIMINATION in Sri Lanka.

    With 50% of the Govt.. jobs TAKEN by Tamils HOW can a govt of any shape or size govern a country?. ONLY good thing is the enactment of SINHALA ONLY policy. BUT that was SPOILED by attaching a CLAUSE to give Tamils also some language status. THIS IS THE PROBLEM, right there How can a 12% of the population has equal RIGHTS with the Sinhalese. IT IS NOT ON.
    Now look at the Tamils emigrating to France, Germany, Norway ,have to learn their languages of the HOST countrieses. THEN WHY not learn Sinhalesee and be what YOU ARE. The hardworking stupid people.

    They cannot somehow accept the reality. RUN TO INDIA or some other country to get REWARDS, COMPLAIN about Lanka & yet come back to Lanka for holidays.

    With respect to CURTAILING FOREIGN EMBASSIES & their perks, should START NOW. If India can do that to USA embassy officiials WHY CAN’T Sri-Laka?…. There are too many LIVING on the goodwill of our hospitality. BE STRONG & REACT forthwith. then ONLY other countries respect Sri Lanka,, NOT like Ghandi who is NOT AT ALL acceptable to our way of living.

    I wonder Mr. Dharma -wardena is helping matters in the UNHRC in March, because I find he is very knowledgeble in these affairs of STATE, HUMAN RIGHTS, International law etc………Hope he could assist other lawyers who are spearheading Lankan EFFORT………Thank you all………J

  4. AnuD Says:

    Canada is not the Canada of Pieureu Trudeau or Canada of Liberals or Canada of CHRETIAN.

    Harper’s Canada is very racist and want to subjugate other nations for their advantage, treat Immigrants and natives as Thrash.

    Notice, HARPER also had causations that he was the President of the KU Klux when he was young and inexperienced. That shows his mentality.

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