ERASING THE EELAM VICTORY Part 27 A1
Posted on November 24th, 2021

KAMALIKA PIERIS

The   Tamil politicians had planned to achieve a separate Tamil state in Ceylon, long before Independence or Sinhala Only. The words Tamil Eelam” was used for the first time in 1923, by Ponnambalam Arunachalam when he spoke before the Tamil League. In this speech he spoke of the ‘desire to preserve our individuality as a people.’

In 1931, HAP Sandrasagara said,”I will make Jaffna an Ulster and I will be its Lord Carson.  In 1935 C.S. Rajaratnam, an Indian Tamil proctor resident in Kandy presented a memorandum to the British administration asking for three self governing federal states. North and east for the Tamils, the rest divided into two states for Kandyan Sinhalese and the Low Country Sinhalese. This vision of a separate Tamil state was maintained steadily thereafter. A select timeline is given in Appendix 1.

Illankai Tamkil Arasu Kadchi, ITAK said, [probably in 1948]  The Tamil-speaking people in Ceylon constitute a nation distinct from that of the Sinhalese by every fundamental test of nationhood, firstly that of a separate historical past in the island at least as ancient and as glorious as that of the Sinhalese, secondly by the fact of their being a linguistic entity entirely different from that of the Sinhalese, with an unsurpassed classical heritage and a modern development of language which makes Tamil fully adequate for all present-day needs and finally by reason of their territorial habitation of definite areas.

Tamil United Liberaton Front (TULF) declared the Vaddukoddai resolution in 1976.The first National Convention of the Tamil United Liberation Front meeting at Pannakam (Vaddukoddai Constituency) on the 14th day of May, 1976, hereby declares that the Tamils of Ceylon by virtue of their great language, their religions, their separate culture and heritage, their history of independent existence as a separate state over a distinct territory for several centuries till they were conquered by the armed might of the European invaders and above all by their will to exist as a separate entity ruling themselves in their own territory, are a nation distinct and apart from Sinhalese and this Convention announces to the world that the Republican Constitution of 1972 has made the Tamils a slave nation ruled by the new colonial masters, the Sinhalese ,who are using the power they have wrongly usurped to deprive the Tamil Nation of its territory, language citizenship, economic life, opportunities of employment and education, thereby destroying all the attributes of nationhood of the Tamil people.

This Resolution also wanted ‘restoration and recognition of the free sovereign secular socialist state of Tamil Eelam based on the right of self determination inherent to every nation. (See Appendix 2)

in 1977 TULF stated  that in the next general election it seeks a mandate to establish an independent secular socialist state of Tamil Eelam that includes all the geographically continuous areas that have been the  traditional homeland of the Tamil speaking peoples of the country.’

At the first Peace talks at Thimpu, (1985) the LTTE stated its conditions. Any meaningful solution to the Tamil national question must be based on the following four cardinal principles:

  1. Recognition of the Tamils of Sri Lanka as a nation.
  2. Recognition of the existence of an identified homeland of the Tamils in Sri Lanka.
  3. Recognition of the right of self-determination of the Tamil nation
  4. Recognition of the right to citizenship as a fundamental right of all Tamils who look upon the island as their country.

The first three conditions have been received joyfully by the   opponents of Eelam. They are bashed around, with great enthusiasm. The Sinhalese are not attempting to squash any of this, commented Chandraprema. They intend to let this issue drag on to its natural end. The Sinhalese like to fight to the finish.

The Tamil separatist movement has never deviated from its demands.  TNA manifesto for the 2010 General election demanded the right of self determination, power sharing on federal model and a re-merger of north and east. TNA also wanted direct foreign investment to the north and east.

TNA manifesto for NPC election of 2013 said that the Tamils were a distinct people and from time immemorial have inhabited this island together with the Sinhalese, the North and East are the historical habitation of the Tamils.  They are entitled as a people to self determination.

The TNA manifesto for the 2015 General election   was more elaborate. The manifesto said the Tamils are a distinct people with their own culture, civilization, language and heritage. From time immemorial Tamils have inhabited this island together with the Sinhalese people. The continuous Tamil speaking Northern and Eastern province is the historical habitation of the Tamil people and the Tamil speaking peoples.

The 2015 Manifesto spoke of the need to exercise our right to determine our destiny, to ensure self government in the Tamil speaking north east of the country within a unified and undivided Sri Lanka. Sovereignty lies with the people and not with the State, the manifesto said. The Tamil people are entitled to self determination.

C.V.Wigneswaran gave a speech in Jaffna, in 2016 before representatives from the Swiss Institute of Federalism, Fribourg, for  which he used the TNA Manifesto. His speech went on the Internet. There were over 100 comments within two days, most of them insulting.

R. Sampanthan, Leader of TNA gave a talk at the 14th annual ITAK convention, 2012.  He said ITAK was created by Chelvanayagam for ensuring self determination of Tamils. We must have unrestricted authority to govern our own land, protect our own people and develop our own economy, culture and tradition

 The Tamils people have a distinct culture. The position that the north and east     are the areas of historical habitation of the Tamil speaking peoples cannot be compromised. Sri Lanka was united for the first time by the British. Up to 500 years ago, the Tamil people had their own government in Sri Lanka, said Sampanthan.

The 30 years after independence were filled with betrayal and humiliation. Agreements were never kept. Tamils could not live as equals and their peaceful struggle was met with violence. The Tamil Separatist Movement therefore took the historical decision in 1976 to ask for a separate government for Tamil Eelam.  ‘It was the violence against the Tamils that drove them to take up violence themselves, continued Sampanthan.’

Achieving Eelam by ourselves was becoming increasingly unrealistic so we turned to India [and got] the 13th Amendment. The rise and fall of LTTE has shown us that regardless of how strong such movements may be, or how just its demands, it is not realistic for the Tamils to resort to violent political struggle. Also a struggle that is built on military might not last.

The struggle for political rights has now entered an entirely new chapter, continued Sampanthan. Although the issue at hand is the same, the prevailing conditions are different. In the new environment we have found new ways of continuing with our struggle  together with the support and assistance of the international community, said Sampanthan.

An environment which may fulfill our duties is slowly coming into existence. The world has recognized that the Tamils people have faced continuous political persecution and that this persecution has begun to manifest itself in new ways in recent times. The international community had now started to exert pressure on the government. The intervention of the international community and the pressure being exerted upon the Sri Lanka will oblige the government to act. We must be patient, continued Sampanthan.We must work in cooperation with the international community. We must follow their advice and also advice them. We must prove to the international community that ‘that we will never be able to realize our rights within a united Sri Lanka’.

 We must be patient until the international community realizes that the Sri Lanka government will never give political power to the Tamils in a united Sri Lanka .We must be patient till then. (Sampanthan repeats this exhortation to be patient about six times.)

We are not defeated. We must act with wisdom and caution. The softening of our stance in certain matters   are diplomatic strategies to ensure that we do not alienate the international community. We have not abandoned our fundamental objectives. The struggle is the same but the approaches we employ are different, the alliances are different.  US and India are now with us, said Sampanthan.

Sampanthan is preaching high treason. To counter this, Sampanthan also addressed his ‘dear Sinhala friends’. He told them, our political aspirations to acquire the rights due to us and the right to govern our   civil, political economic, social and cultural affairs ourselves is a reasonable demand. It is a just aspiration with its roots in history. It is also a fundamental right of our people.  We do not seek to divide the country. Just as you live in your homeland we also want to live in our homeland.

 This Tamil homeland is called Eelam. The Eelam map starts north of Chilaw, goes up to Jaffna, then down the east coast and ends at Panama. Eelam includes 1/3 of the land mass and 2/3 of Sri Lanka‘s coastline. This means that a vast proportion of our valuable natural resource will be held by a mere 10% of the population.

Eelam takes in the oil producing seas near Mannar. Two successful hydrocarbon deposits have already been found in the Mannar basin. On the east coast Eelam gathers in the valuable Pulmoddai mineral sands, and Trincomalee harbor. The east coast faces the Bay of Bengal along its full length. It is beautifully positioned.

Eelam will also get the sea around Eelam. Under UN Law of the Sea, Sri Lanka is entitled to claim an extended area of seabed, which will amount to about 20 times Sri Lanka‘s  land area. A good chunk of this will go to Eelam. Eelam will be getting, in the high seas,   the   territorial waters, the contiguous zone, and the extended exclusive economic zone, with its enormous untapped economic resources. (Continued)

APPENDIX 1

 (1923)  The word Tamil Eelam was used for the first time in 1923, by Ponnambalam Arunachalam when he spoke before the Tamil League. In this speech he spoke of the ‘desire to preserve our individuality as a people.’  

 (1931)  In 1931, HAP Sandrasagara  said I will make Jaffna an Ulster and I will be its Lord Carson.

(1935) C.S. Rajaratnam, an Indian Tamil proctor resident in Kandy  formed the  Federated Communities Progressive Association  in 1934.In 1935 Rajaratnam presented a memorandum to the British  governor asking for three self governing federal states. North and east for Tamil, with two other states for Kandyan Sinhalese and the Low Country Sinhalese.

(1935) In 1935, ‘ the Tamil politicians forwarded to Britain a federal structure consisting of 3 federal states,  north south Kandyan which even the Jaffna newspapers had dismissed as impractical. (Jane Russell “Communal politics under the Donoughmore Constitution” p 192)

 (1948). in 1948  Chelvanayagam  started the Illankai Tamil Arasu Kadchi,(  ITAK) Illankai Tamil Arasu Kadchi means Sri Lanka Tamil State Party”. It does not mean Federal Party. The inaugural and first business meeting of the ITAK was held, in 1949, not in Jaffna but in  Maradana at the GCSU Hall. Chelvanayagam made his first  Presidential speech there. It was  published by ITAK   and was known as the Maradana Resolution.

 (1949) HLD Mahindapala recalls that  on Independence day Feb 4, 1949  M Thiruchelvam, Neelan’s father, then Deputy Solicitor General was seen  travelling in a car which flew the Nandi flag. 

(1957) In 1957 Nadesan asked for regional autonomy. ( S Nadesan ‘Regional autonomy’ reprinted in 1984)

(1959) In 1959 Chelvanayagam asked for  an autonomous Tamil state as a single geographical unit. (Wiswa Warnapala. ‘Ethnic strife and politics in Sri Lanka’ p 127).

(1959)  In 1959  C. Suntharalingam founded the Eela Thamil Ottrumai Munnani (Unity Front of Eelam Tamils) .

(1959) In 1959 there was a request for a ‘university for the Tamil speaking people in the Tamil speaking areas in order to preserve their language and culture’ This was refused (University Commission Report, 1959 p 149)

(1963) In 1963 Suntharalingam published Eylom: Beginning of the Freedom Struggle[1], where he said, I propose to invite those Eyla (Eelath Thamils) Thamils who accept the policy that the time has come for the partition of Ceylon and for the restoration of the Thamil state that existed before  the British took over in 1802, to come forward and join the fight for the Freedom and Independence of the Eyla Thamil Nation.(Wikipedia)

APPENDIX 2

VADDUKODDAI RESOLUTION 1976.

The resolution unanimously adopted at the first national convention of the Tamil United Liberation Front held at Vaddukoddai on may 14, 1976.  Chairman  SJV Chelvanayakam

Whereas, throughout the centuries from the dawn of history, the Sinhalese and Tamil nations have divided between themselves the possession of Ceylon, the Sinhalese inhabiting the interior of the country in its Southern and Western parts from the river Walawe to that of Chilaw and the Tamils possessing the Northern and Eastern districts; And,

Whereas, the Tamil Kingdom was overthrown in war and conquered by the Portuguese in 1619, and from them by the Dutch and the British in turn, independent of the Sinhalese Kingdoms; And,

Whereas, the British Colonists, who ruled the territories of the Sinhalese and Tamil Kingdoms separately, joined under compulsion the territories of the Sinhalese and the Tamil Kingdoms for purposes of administrative convenience on the recommendation of the Colebrooke Commission in 1833; And,

Whereas, the Tamil Leaders were in the forefront of the Freedom movement to rid Ceylon of colonial bondage which ultimately led to the grant of independence to Ceylon in 1948; And, Whereas, the foregoing facts of history were completely overlooked, and power over the entire country was transferred to the Sinhalese nation on the basis of a numerical majority

thereby reducing the Tamil nation to the position of subject people; And,

Whereas, successive Sinhalese governments since independence have always encouraged and fostered the aggressive nationalism of the Sinhalese people and have used their political power to the detriment of the Tamils by-

(a) Depriving one half of the Tamil people of their citizenship and franchise rights thereby reducing Tamil representation in Parliament,

(b) Making serious inroads into the territories of the former Tamil Kingdom by a system of planned and state-aided Sinhalese colonization and large scale regularization of recently encouraged Sinhalese encroachments, calculated to make the Tamils a minority in their own homeland,

(c) Making Sinhala the only official language throughout Ceylon thereby placing the stamp of inferiority on the Tamils and the Tamil Language,

(d) Giving the foremost place to Buddhism under the Republican constitution thereby reducing the Hindus, Christians, and Muslims to second class status in this Country,

(e) Denying to the Tamils equality of opportunity in the spheres of employment, education, land alienation and economic life in general and starving Tamil areas of large scale industries and development schemes thereby seriously endangering their very existence in Ceylon,

(f) Systematically cutting them off from the main-stream of Tamil cultures in South India while denying them opportunities of developing their language and culture in Ceylon, thereby working inexorably towards the cultural genocide of the Tamils,

(g) Permitting and unleashing communal violence and intimidation against the Tamil speaking people as happened in Amparai and Colombo in 1956; all over the country in 1958; army reign of terror in the Northern and Eastern Provinces in 1961; police violence at the International Tamil Research Conference in 1974 resulting in the death of nine persons in Jaffna; police and communal violence against Tamil speaking Muslims at Puttalam and various other parts of Ceylon in 1976 – all these calculated to instill terror in the minds of the Tamil speaking people, thereby breaking their spirit and the will to resist injustices heaped on them,

(h) By terrorizing, torturing, and imprisoning Tamil youths without trial for long periods on the flimsiest grounds,

(i) Capping it all by imposing on the Tamil Nation a constitution drafted, under conditions of emergency without opportunities for free discussion, by a Constituent Assembly elected on the basis of the Soulbury Constitution distorted by the Citizenship laws resulting in weightage in representation to the Sinhalese majority, thereby depriving the Tamils of even the remnants of safeguards they had under the earlier constitution, And,

Whereas, all attempts by the various Tamil political parties to win their rights, by co-operating with the governments, by parliamentary and extra-parliamentary agitations, by entering into pacts and understandings with successive Prime Ministers, in order to achieve the bare minimum of political rights consistent with the self-respect of the Tamil people have proved to be futile; And,

Whereas, the efforts of the All Ceylon Tamil Congress to ensure non-domination of the minorities by the majority by the adoption of a scheme of balanced representation in a Unitary Constitution have failed and even the meagre safeguards provided in article 29 of the Soulbury Constitution against discriminatory legislation have been removed by the Republican Constitution; And,

Whereas, the proposals submitted to the Constituent Assembly by the Ilankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi for maintaining the unity of the country while preserving the integrity of the Tamil people by the establishment of an autonomous Tamil State within the framework of a Federal Republic of Ceylon were summarily and totally rejected without even the courtesy of a consideration of its merits; And,

Whereas, the amendments to the basic resolutions, intended to ensure the minimum of safeguards to the Tamil people moved on the basis of the nine point demands formulated at the conference of all Tamil Political parties at Valvettithurai on 7th February 1971 and by individual parties and Tamil members of Parliament including those now in the government party, were rejected in toto by the government and Constituent Assembly; And,

Whereas, even amendments to the draft proposals relating to language, religion, and fundamental-rights including one calculated to ensure that at least the provisions of the Tamil Lanaguage (Special Provisions) Regulations of 1956 be included in the Constitution, were defeated, resulting in the boycott of the Constituent Assembly by a large majority of the Tamil members of Parliament; And,

Whereas, the Tamil United Liberation Front, after rejecting the Republican Constitution adopted on the 22nd of May, 1972, presented a six point demand to the Prime Minister and the Government on 25th June, 1972, and gave three months time within which the Government was called upon to take meaningful steps to amend the Constitution so as to meet the aspirations of the Tamil Nation on the basis of the six points, and informed the Government that if it failed to do so the Tamil United Liberation Front would launch a non-violent direct action against the Government in order to win the freedom and the rights of the Tamil Nation on the basis of the right of self-determination; And,

Whereas, this last attempt by the Tamil United Liberation Front to win Constitutional recognition of the rights of the Tamil Nation without jeopardizing the unity of the country was callously ignored by the Prime Minister and the Government; And,

Whereas, the opportunity provided by the Tamil United Liberation leader to vindicate the Government’s contention that their constitution had the backing of the Tamil people, by resigning from his membership of the National State Assembly and creating a by-election was deliberately put off for over two years in utter disregard of the democratic right of the Tamil voters of Kankesanthurai, and,

Whereas, in the by-election held on the 6th February 1975, the voters of Kankesanthurai by a preponderant majority not only rejected the Republican Constitution imposed on them by the Sinhalese Government, but also gave a mandate to Mr. S.J.V. Chelvanayakam, Q.C. and through him to the Tamil United Liberation Front for the restoration and reconstitution of the Free Sovereign, Secular, Socialist State of TAMIL EELAM.

And, while taking note of the reservations in relation to its commitment to the setting up of a separated state of TAMIL EELAM expressed by the Ceylon Workers Congress as a Trade Union of the Plantation Workers, the majority of whom live and work outside the Northern and Eastern areas,

This convention resolves that restoration and reconstitution of the Free, Sovereign, Secular, Socialist State of TAMIL EELAM, based on the right of self determination inherent to every nation, has become inevitable in order to safeguard the very existence of the Tamil Nation in this Country.

This Convention further declares – that the State of TAMIL EELAM shall consist of the people of the Northern and Eastern provinces and shall also ensure full and equal rights of citizenship of the

  1. State of TAMIL EELAM to all Tamil speaking people living in any part of Ceylon and to Tamils of EELAM origin living in any part of the world who may opt for citizenship of TAMIL EELAM.
  2. that the constitution of TAMIL EELAM shall be based on the principle of democratic decentralization so as to ensure the non-domination of any religious or territorial community of TAMIL EELAM by any other section.
  3. that in the state of Tamil Eelam caste shall be abolished and the observance of the pernicious practice of untouchability or inequality of any type based on birth shall be totally eradicated and its observance in any form punished by law.
  4. that TAMIL EELAM shall be a secular state giving equal protection and assistance to all religions to which the people of the state may belong.
  5. that Tamil shall be the language of the State, but the rights of Sinhalese speaking minorities in Tamil Eelam to education and transaction of business in their language shall be protected on a reciprocal basis with the Tamil speaking minorities in the Sinhala State.
  6. that Tamil Eelam shall be a Socialist State wherein the exploitation of man by man shall be forbidden, the dignity of labor shall be recognized, the means of production and distribution shall be subject to public ownership and control while permitting private enterprise in these branches within limit prescribed by law, economic development shall be on the basis of socialist planning and there shall be a ceiling on the total wealth that any individual of family may acquire.

This Convention directs the Action Committee of the TAMIL UNITED LIBERATION FRONT to formulate a plan of action and launch without undue delay the struggle for winning the sovereignty and freedom of the Tamil Nation; And this Convention calls upon the Tamil Nation in general and the Tamil youth in particular to come forward to throw themselves fully into the sacred fight for freedom and to flinch not till the goal of a sovereign state of TAMIL EELAM is reached. (END)


[1] wikipedia

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