Posted on October 25th, 2021


Revised 25.10.21

Tamil Separatist Movement got a new lease of life under Yahapalana rule of 2015 – 2018. Tamil Youth Organization and Canadian Tamil Congress hoisted Eelam flag and homage to Prabhakaran on internet in 2015.

 ‘Tamils for Obama’ and ‘American Tamil Forum’, asked Washington to arrest Gotabaya Rajapaksa who is visiting the USA.  They say he was responsible for large scale killing of Tamils and rape of Tamil women. He is a war criminal.  They allege that around 70,000 Tamils were killed in the six months of 2009. This could amount to Genocide.

In 2016 a delegation of Sri Lanka’s Yahapalana ministers met the UK Tamil Diaspora in a public forum and responded to their concerns. The meeting was organized by the Nonresident Tamils of Sri Lanka. Harsha de Silva and Rosie Senanayake participated.  Rosie made a public apology for the 1983 riots.

After Yahapalana took power, the Northern Provincial Council became bold.  It passed a resolution demanding the UN Human Rights Council to establish a special court in Sri Lanka to probe allegations of war crimes and human right violations in the North at the last stage of war.

In April 2016 Northern Provincial Council unanimously adopted a resolution for setting up two states in the island merging North and East in one state. . The resolution also proposed a separate state parliament for the north and east  as well as an autonomous state for the estate Tamils. Muslim majority districts would be considered as autonomous provinces within the state. There was a petition in Supreme Court against this resolution.

Yahapalana puppet government cleared 267 persons of terrorism charges. In 2016 the media reported that Yahapalana government had cleared more than 400 people with links to LTTE. Yahapalana released 32 terrorists held under the PTA, a further 32 will also be released reported the media in 2015. Top sea Tigress, Pakeerathy   was discharged. She had fled to France in 2000.

Critics complained that Yahapalana was pardoning and releasing hardcore LTTE cadres. Dangerous LTTE cadres who were deemed by the previous government to be impossible to rehabilitate, were released without trial by the present government, observed Chandraprema.

Yahapalana  government removed the proscriptions on 8 banned pro LTTE  organizations,  British Tamil Forum, Canadian Tamil Congress,  Australian Tamil congress, Global Tamil forum, National council of Eelam Tamils, Tamil National council, Tamil Youth Organization , and World Tamil Coordinating committee. The National War Heroes Front in Sri Lanka strongly criticized the lifting of the ban.

Yahapalana period  saw the creation of several new separatist  organizations in Jaffna namely  Tamil National People’s Front (TNPF), Tamil Civil society Forum (TCSF) and Tamil Peoples Council . The members are largely from Jaffna urban professional class of lawyers, doctors, Christian clergy, university lecturers and journalists.  Not rural Jaffna and Vanni district.  They have one foot in the Tamil Diaspora and their children consider emigration, said Ahilan Kadirgamar.

There were open expressions of support for Eelam during Yahapalana time. In 2015 university of Jaffna had black flags and posters deifying Prabhakaran and a calling for Eelam. Hartals and hunger strikes were organized in the north. The NPC ordered schools to be closed.  In 2016 The Tamil undergrads of University of Jaffna celebrated the dead LTTE before an Eelam map at the University.

 ‘Maaveerar Naal’ celebrations in the north continued. The north annually celebrated Mahaviru Day on November 27, at decorated tombs where LTTE cadres had been buried.  In 2017 at least 40 events were held across the province.

Most of those who took part in the celebrations in 2017 were very young people from 18 to 25, who were too young to remember the war and terrorism and the atrocities that were perpetrated. Now martyrdom, terrorism and suicide bombers are being glorified and the state has allowed that, observed Arun Tambimuttu.

There were a lot of protest marches in Jaffna in Yahapalana time. In October 2016, the Tamil People’s Council (TPC) staged a protest march and rally called the Eluga Thamil. ‘Eluga Tamil’ means ‘Rise Up Tamil’. They wanted a federal constitution, and the merger of North and East into one large Tamil controlled province. This was a very successful   protest march and rally. The rally is estimated to have drawn the largest crowd after the war. An estimated 10,000 to 15000 had attended. The rally was supported by the university of Jaffna and the civil society groups.

This rally demand that the occupying forces immediately leave the north and east and a civilian administration be provided for north and east. The land remained militarized and the security forces continue to intervene in the day to day civilian administration of the north and east. The social fabric of the Tamil nation is eroded by heavy militarization and deep surveillance of the north and east, the rally said.

After viewing the videos of the speeches of major players, I believe that the campaign had dual objectives of raising the socio-political issues the Tamil people face in the Northern Province and kindling Tamil nationalism, said an analyst. (I think it is Keethaponcalan)

the direction of the Tamil politics under Wigneswaran is clear. It is taking a solid turn towards radical politics, which could, in the long run, turn to violent politics of the past. the analyst continued. Speakers of the rally called for Tamil people to get on the streets and protest, because, according to them, sending representatives to legislative bodies has no meaning and it will not win Tamil rights. Wigneswaran also to a certain extent reflected this sentiment. If and when these events turn violent, Vigneswaran and his lieutenants will not be able to   control them, he concluded.

Tamil Makkal Peravai Organisation held a hartal in 2017, demanding the merger of the North and East, dismantling of security forces camps in the area and the right to information about their missing persons. The event was organized by Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran. Districts observed a shutdown. Offices, businesses, schools and public transport came to a halt. There was a mass rally in Jaffna. Stones were thrown at a Vavuniya bound bus carrying army personnel.

In 2018 students of Jaffna University observed Independence Day on February 4 2018 as a Black Day.  Black day was also observed in 2019.  The media reported that led by the Students Union of Jaffna University, large numbers of men and women in several major towns wore black armbands or headscarves and demonstrated in public places demanding the release of lands occupied by the Sri Lankan army, information about the whereabouts of their missing kin, and justice to Tamils who were subjected to war crimes” by the Security Forces during the last phase of the war. Posters called upon the army to leave the Tamil lands.

Jaffna University students also had a major protest on March 2019, to coincide with UNHRC session in Geneva.  They demanded a hybrid court to investigate war crimes allegations against Sri Lanka. Several vehicles carrying the replicas of ‘war memorial’ built at the Jaffna University in memory of LTTE cadres paraded the streets.

Tamil Separatist Movement succeeded in getting the support of foreign agencies too. Pasumai Thaayagam is an Indian NGO that promotes nature conservation. It has special consultative status with the United Nations. In 2017 Pasumai Thaayagam strongly recommended that the UNHRC must immediately refer Sri Lanka to the General Assembly and the International Criminal Court (ICC). It is high time the UNHRC and the International Community respects the right of the Tamils to exercise the right to self determination and find a lasting solution through a referendum, it said.  

Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran was very active on behalf of Eelam during Yahapalana rule. He said that when water from Moragahakanda is diverted to the Northern Province, some form of ownership of the project should be granted to the NPC.

In February 2018,  Wigneswaran called for an “international legal framework” for the Tamil Question, at a seminar in Jaffna and pledged to have this raised at the upcoming March session of the UNHRC in Geneva .

Wigneswaran wanted to see greater collaboration between the Government of India and his administration in development projects in the province. We would like to be brought in as an active stakeholder, in projects being carried out in the Northern Province. At present, they are mostly done unilaterally by the Colombo government.

He met Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Taranjit Singh Sandhu and discussed possible development of the Palaly airport into a regional airport, and the revival of ferry services between Dhanushkodi and Talaimannar.

Wigneswaran, when visiting Canada, wanted to sign a sister city” agreement between Vavuniya and the City of Brampton in Ontario. However, the members of the Brampton Council were opposed to the move.  Wigneswaran was also scheduled to sign another Friendship Agreement” between the city of Markham, Ontario and Mullaitivu. Wigneswaran said these agreements are not for any economic assistance or regional co-operation but to coordinate the Tamil identity globally.” The city of Markham is home for 30,000 Tamils of Sri Lankan origin while the Brampton’s Tamil community numbers around 20,000.

In 2019 five Tamil political parties from the north put forward 13 demands. These demands mark a watershed in northern Tamil politics.

The five political parties involved in the process were the Ilangei Thamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK), Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation (TELO), Peoples Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE) ), the Eelam Peoples’ Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF) faction led by Suresh Premachandran and the Thamil Makkal Koottani led by C.V.Vigneswaran. A sixth political party, the All Ceylon Tamil Congress (ACTC) led by Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam participated in the process but did not sign the final document.

These political parties represent the majority of the Tamil voters of the north and east and this list of demands can be said to mark a turning point in the Tamil politics of the north.

With the hope and expectation that a final solution to the continuing problems faced by the Tamils consequent to the effects of the concluded war and yet continuing effects of such war, could be found, we the members of Political Parties that represent the Tamil People do hereby submit hereunder to the Presidential Candidates representing major Political Parties and to their respective Party Leadership the following requests:

1. A solution to the Sri Lankan Tamil issue must be found by setting up a new federal constitution rejecting the heretofore unitary constitution accepting the nationhood of the Sri Lankan Tamils and recognizing its sovereignty and also accepting that Tamils under the provisions of International Law are entitled to the right of self determination.

2. Full fledged independent impartial International mechanisms through the International Criminal Court /International Arbitration Tribunal must be set up to inquire into the War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity and Genocide committed during the final stages of the war.

3. The Prevention of Terrorism Act must be withdrawn.

4. (Consequently) All Tamil Political Prisoners must be freed unconditionally.

5. Justice must be found for those affected by the enforced disappearance of persons through appropriate International mechanisms.

6. The Governmental Forces occupying private and state lands / buildings in the Northern and Eastern Province which were occupied by Tamils before the war must be withdrawn, the lands released and resettlement process must be immediately set in motion.

7. Sinhalisation, Buddhistization and Sinhala Colonization taking place in the Northern and Eastern Provinces presently with State assistance must be stopped immediately.

8. Since the Mahaweli Development Authority is engaged in planned Sinhala Colonization in the Northern Province under the pretext of redirecting the Mahaweli River to the North, the jurisdiction of the said Authority in the Northern Province must forthwith be terminated. Also the planned Sinhala Colonization taking place in the Eastern Province under the Mahaweli Development Scheme must also be terminated.

9. The Moragaskande Irrigation Scheme recently introduced is indulging in planned Sinhala Colonization in the Vanni Region. All such Sinhala Colonisation must forthwith be terminated.

10. The expropriation of lands and areas of religious worship by Government Departments including Archaeology Department, Wild Life Department, Forests’ Department must forthwith be stopped. Those lands and places of worship already expropriated through these Departments must be freed from the effect of the Gazette Notifications which so expropriated them.

11.Those affected in the Northern and Eastern Provinces by the War, wanting to economically improve themselves or youth wanting to enhance their job opportunities receiving direct investments from our Diaspora and elsewhere must have all legal obstacles faced removed so that handling lands and finances here would be easy and quick.

12. Priority must be given to those belonging to the Northern and Eastern Provinces in Governmental and Private Sector job opportunities in the said two Provinces.

13. An independent mechanism must be set up under the supervision of Elected Representatives of the people of the Northern and Eastern Provinces to handle all finances for Development in the said two Provinces, after proclaiming the Northern and Eastern Provinces as areas affected by the War.

the Maha Sangha commented on the 13 points of the Tamil Separatist Movement. Panamure Tilakawansa of Arsirimale aranya spoke. This must be rejected in toto he said. At Palaly they didn’t play the national anthem in Sinhala said Ven. Munhene Mettananda, chief priest Seruwila Raja Maha vihara.

In 2020 the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils of the House of Commons, UK has requested the government to designate former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka, Army Commander Lt. Gen. Shavendra Silva  and some others in terms of the Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulation, 2020.

All-Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils wrote to Dominic Raab MP Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.  We welcome the introduction of the Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations 2020 which reiterates the United Kingdom’s commitment to the rule of law. We are writing to you to kindly request you to consider applying the new regime in respect of Sri Lanka, they said.

As a first step to doing this, we would urge you to designate former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka, Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva and Staff Sergeant Sunil Ratnayake under the new Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime for their role in perpetrating atrocity crimes that violate the right to life.

 Kumaratunga served as president of Sri Lanka and Commander-in-Chief of the military forces from 1994 to 2005. A period marked by human rights abuses and mass bombings, including the bombing of Navaly Church that resulted in 140 civilian deaths and Nagarkovil School that resulted in 71 civilian deaths including 25 school children. Despite the atrocity crimes she committed whilst in power, Kumaratunga regularly visits the United Kingdom. For many torture victims of her regime who sought asylum and currently reside in the United Kingdom, her visits instill fear and acts as reminder of the impunity Sri Lankan war criminals enjoy at home and abroad.

Fonseka was the commander of the Sri Lankan Army from 2005 until the end of the armed conflict in May 2009. Sri Lankan forces under his command have been implicated in numerous instances of unlawful shelling of civilians and hospitals, rape and other sexual violence, and the summary execution of prisoners.

Shavendra Silva was head of the 58th Division of the Sri Lankan army during the last phase of the war, which is named in the OISL report as having committed the most egregious crimes. Instead of holding Silva accountable, the Sri Lankan government promoted Silva to Head of the Army in August 2019, demonstrating their unwillingness to hold those accused of even the most heinous atrocity crimes accountable.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa is also mentioned. During Rajapaksa’s tenure as Secretary of Defence, both during and after the armed conflict, he is alleged to have overseen the abduction, torture and disappearance of several primarily Tamil journalists and human rights defenders.

Kumaratunga, Fonseka, Silva and Ratnayake are only four of a long list of individuals from the Sri Lankan military against whom there is credible evidence of grave human rights violations,  but their designation will have the symbolic effect of sending a strong message to the Sri Lankan government that the UK will not let go of the need for accountability for war crimes and thereby contribute towards preventing further atrocity crimes. Accordingly, we ask respectfully that you consider our request to designate Kumaratunga, Fonseka, Silva and Ratnayake under the Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulation 2020.  (continued)

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