Resolutions of the Ceylon Communist Party, 15 October 1944

  • Resolutions of the Ceylon Communist Party, 15 October 1944

    Posted by Vel on January 13, 2022 at 4:56 am

    Resolutions of the Ceylon Communist Party,
    15 October 1944

    Central Headquarters,
    85, Cotta Road,

    Dear Friend,

    I am forwarding for your information copies of two resolutions passed unanimously at a public rally of over 5,000 people, called by the Ceylon Communist Party at the Town Hall, Colombo on Sunday, October 15.

    Should you wish, we shall be glad to have a representative of ours discuss further with you any points raised in the resolutions.

    With patriotic greetings,


    First Resolution

    ” This rally of Colombo citizens, called by the Ceylon Communist Party, welcomes the decision of the Special Sessions of the Ceylon National Congress to summon an All-Parties Conference to forge a united demand for recognition of independence and a free constitution and urges the Congress to summon this conference without delay. It appeals to all political parties, public organisa�tions and communities to abstain from making any separate or unilateral representation to the Royal Commission but instead support such a conference and seek to establish a united demand for recognition of independence and a free constitution on the basis of common patriotism and mutual recognition of the interdependence and just subst�ance of each others’ demands. It appeals to the Board of Ministers and State Councillors not to seek settlement merely among themselves within the framework of the ” Reforms Offer ” but instead make common cause with the people for a united demand for recognition of independence and a free constitution. “

    Second Resolution

    “This rally of Colombo citizens, called by the Ceylon Communist Party, declares that, in order to achieve unity between the different communities and a common demand for the recognition of independence and a free constitution, it is necessary to recognise that the development of Ceylon is taking and will take a multi-national form and that a united and free Ceylon can be realised only on the basis guaranteeing full and equal opportunities for the development of all nationalities and minorities in Ceylon.

    As there are distinct, historically evolved nationalities– for instance, the Sinhalese and Tamil�wilh their own contiguous territory as their home-land, their own language, economic life, culture and psychological make-up, as well as interspersed minorities living in the territories of these nationalities, this meeting declares that the constitution of a free and united Ceylon should be based on the owing democratic principles : �

    (a) Recognition of the equality and sovereignty of the peoples of Ceylon;

    (b) Recognition that the nationalities should have the unqualified right to self determination, including the right, if ever they so desire, to form their own independent state ;

    (c) Recognition that the free constitution should contain statutory guarantees protecting and advancing the political, social, economic, educational and linguistic rights of interspersed minorities, as their freedom of religious worship; and, secondly, statutory abolition of discriminations and privileges based on caste, race or community and making it a penal offence under the constitution to infringe the above ;

    (d) Recognition that those Indians, now in Ceylon, who are prepared to make this country their permanent home and adopt Ceylon citizenship, should have the same rights and privileges as any other community.

    �As, however, the most economically developed areas are the traditional homelands of the Sinhalese people and the Tamils and minorities have contributed and will contribute towards such development, as well as to the general development of the whole country, this meeting further declares that the constitution of a free and united Ceylon should provide for two equal chambers, one a Chamber of Representatives, elected on the basis of universal adult franchise according to territorial electorates and the other a Chamber of Nationalities, elected on the basis of universal adult franchise and ensuring the principle of the equality of the nationalities of a united Ceylon.”

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    Memorandum on a Federal Constitution submitted to the Working Committee of the Ceylon National Congress at its Request by Pieter Keunemanan, A,Vaidialingam of The Ceylon Communist Party, October 1944

    The Working Committee of the Ceylon National Congress, at its meetings on October 16, requested us to elaborate further the views and principles expressed in the second resolution of the Ceylon Communist Party in the printed sheet attached. We ware further asked to send this memo�randum to the members of the Working Committee in time to allow for a discussion on it at the next Wording Committee meeting on Monday, October 23.

    Multi-National Development

    1. The first point of departure of our resolution is the recognition of the fact that in Ceylon there are and will be several nationalities.

    2. We regard a nation as a historical, as opposed to an ethnographical, concept. It is a historically-evolved, stable community of people, living in a contiguous territory as their traditional homeland, speaking a common language, having a common economic life and a common psychologi�cal make-up, manifested in a community of culture. In the light of the above definition, we recognise that the Sinhalese and Tamil people, for example constitute distinct nationalities.

    3. Historically, in the early period of capitalism, the development of nationalities coincided with the formation of centralized states, e.g., France, Italy and other countries in western Europe where different tribes coalesced into a single-nation state, with a common language. In Eastern Europe and elsewhere such development was not possible. Here capitalism developed later and centralized states were already in existence before nationalities could develop into their own. Thus we find the phenomenon of multi-national states, based on the leading position of one nationality and the subjection of the rest, e.g., Hungary, Yugoslavia, Tsarist Russia or colonial countries like India and Ceylon where British imperialism forcibly established a centralized state.
    4. The development of capitalism and the democratic and anti-imperialist awakening in the whole world makes the national problem a burning one in the multi-national states. Here the developing nationalities come into conflict with the existing centralized state, which forcibly holds back their national consolidation and development. The problem therefore arises of organising a multi-national state which will eliminate national oppression or discrimination and unify the nationalities, guaranteeing to each full and free development. The problem in Ceylon is, therefore, how to unify the different nationalities in the period of the general national movement for freedom.

    Two Stages

    1. The second point of departure of our resolution is, therefore, the building up of the unity of all sections of the people to win the freedom of our country and to maintain that freedom on the basis of the unity and equality of all nationalities and minorities in Ceylon. UNITY OF THE PEOPLE CANNOT BE REALISED WITHIN ANY OTHER FRAMEWORK AND THIS UNITY EXCLUDES SUCH INDIVIDUALS AND ORGANISATIONS WHICH STAND FOR THE CONTINUED SUBJECT STATUS OF OUR COUNTRY. Any attempt at building unity with those who do not stand for freedom of Ceylon is doomed to failure.

    2. Our resolution, therefore, envisages two stages : (a) creating the basis for building unity for the common national demand for recognition of independence and a free constitution, and (b) carrying forward this unity when we have won our freedom and the right to determine our own form of life.

    First Stage�Recognition of Principles

    1. In the first stage, we consider that what is essential is a recognition of principles which would eliminate the fear of the non-Sinhalese peoples that freedom of Ceylon will mean their domination by the Sinhalese people, ensure them of their right to free development and thus bring them into the common united national front.

    2. We therefore consider that Congress should give a lead which will eliminate the fears of the minority nationalities. It should declare its allegiance to the princi�ple of the equality of the nationalities in a free Ceylon, including the guarantee of the rights of the minorities. It should declare that freedom for Ceylon will mean freedom for all sections of the people of Ceylon,

    3. We consider that the essential principles to form the substance of such a declaration should be those set out in the second resolution attached. In this connection, we would like to deal with three points : (a) the rights of nationalities ; (b) the problem of Indians in Ceylon; (c) the interspersed minorities.

    4. When we say that a nationality has the right to independent political existence, we do not consider that this right is an obligation. Our recognition of the Sinhalese and Tamils, for instance, as separate nationalities does not oblige them to form independent states. On the contrary, the very development of Ceylon politically economically and culturally makes it possible and even desirable for these nationalities to exist in a united Ceylon. The recognition of their right to independent political existence is necessary as it shows that there is no qualification of their right to self-determination and removes the fear that one nationality wishes to dominate another.

    5. The Indians in Ceylon occupy a special position, similar to the Indians in South Africa or pre-Jap Malaya. They have come and been brought to Ceylon since 1827 and live in the main in the traditional homelands of the Sinhalese people, as a large interspersed minority. The problem is whether all these Indians have to be repatriated or whether all or a section of them have to be absorbed in the country. The first possibility is obviously undesirable and would be a crime against a section of people who have made and can in the future make an important and substantial contribution to Ceylon’s development. It is worth noting that the Indians comprise nearly one-sixth of the total population of Ceylon and that, of these, the number permanently settled in the country (estimates vary between 40% and 70%)are almost as large as the Ceylon Tamils and larger than the Ceylon Moors.

    6. In view of this, it is only fair that those Indians, now in Ceylon, who are prepared to adopt this country as their permanent home should have the same rights and privi�leges as any other community. Ceylon, of course, will retain its right to control any further immigration into the island, according to its national interests.

    7. Point (c) in the second printed resolution contains the declaration of principles we consider necessary for the interspersed minorities.

    8. We contend that acceptance and declaration by Congress of the principles enumerated above and in the resolution under reference are necessary and sufficient to provide the basis for building up a united national front of the people of Ceylon behind the national demand.

    Second Stage�Carrying Forward Unity

    1. Acceptance of the aforesaid principles, building up of the united national front and the struggle for the freedom of Ceylon will lay the material and psychological basis for carrying forward the unity of the various nationalities and minorities in the period after we have won freedom,

    2. When we have attained freedom, the question remains as to what type of constitution and representation we must have in order to put the aforesaid principles into practice. We consider that this is feasible by the creation of two equal chambers, both elected on universal adult franchise. One should be a Chamber of Representatives, elected according to territorial electorates ensuring the principle of the equality of the citizens of a free Ceylon; and the other a Chamber of Nationalities, ensuring the principle of the equality of the nationalities of a free and united Ceylon.

    3. With regard to the Chamber of Representatives, the underlying principles should be (a) one representative for so many citizens, and (b) electoral boundaries should avoid cutting across national groupings. This form of representa�tion will ensure a majority ci representatives from electoral areas in traditional Sinhalese homelands. We suggest that it would be wortti while considering the question of creating certain joint electorates in order to give due representation to large interspersed minorities, if it is not considered possible to carry out the suggestion in paragraph 22 regard�ing Indians and Ceylon Moors.

    4. Regarding the Chamber of Nationalities, the only available figures of the distribution of population according to nationality are those of the 1921 census. These however are based on the present provincial delimitation which is not based on any principle apart from an attempt to divide nationalities into fragments. Nevertheless, a glance at the distribution of population given below clearly shows that, while the Singhalese people constitute 67% of the total population of the island, there are certain areas where definite nationalities predominate and also mixed areas where no nationality predominates. (Figures are from the 1921 census and percentages approximate.) S=Sinhalese ; IND� Indians ; CT=Ceylon Tamils ; CM� Ceylon Moors.
    1. Allowing for the fact that changes have undoubtedly taken place between 1921 and the present day, which cannot be established due to the lack of more up-to-date statistics; we see from the above table that (a) the Sinhalese people form a predominant majority in 5 provinces (W, S, NW, NC, SAB), (b) the Sinhalese people form an absolute majority in the Central and Uva Provinces, with Indians as a substan�tial minority; (c) the Tamils form a predominant majority in the Northern Province; (d) Tamils form an absolute majority in the Eastern Province, with Ceylon Moors as a strong minority; (e) in none of the existing provinces do Indians or Ceylon Moors form an absolute majority.

    2. While it is easy to delimit anew areas where the Sinhalese and Tamil people predominate, it is not so easy to delimit areas where the Indians or the Moors predomi�nate, as the following tables show: �




    We thus see that the Moors do not form even an absolute majority in any area, while the Indians have an absolute majority only in the Nuwara Eliya district, an area approximately 900 sq. miles with a population of 167,612 in 1921. The Moors speak Tamil and are an important interspersed minority in the areas where the Ceylon Tamils have an absolute majority; while the Indians, though speak Tamil, are cut off from the rest of the Tamil-speaking people and form a large interspersed minority in Sinhalese homelands.

    1. In determining representation to the Chamber of Nationalities, it is possible, depending on the circumstances then existing, to adopt one of the following two courses: (a) delimiting Ceylon into two national regions, namely, Sinhalese and Tamil wherein the Moors and the Indians will form large interspersed minorities. Each of these national regions should have the same number of representatives in the Chamber of Nationalities. In this case, we recommend for consideration that [sic] the principle of joint electorates to give due representation to large interspersed minorities in the Chamber of Representatives. At the same time we suggest that consistent efforts be made to develop the Moors and the Indians as distinct nationalities by giving them lands to ensure their national development; (b) delimiting Ceylon into four national regions�Sinhalese, Tamils, Indians and Moors. To make this feasible, the Indians and Moors should, we suggest, be given lands to develop as distinct nationalities. The question of developing Indians as a nationality in a national region will, of course, depend on the number of Indians who wish to, and will be allowed to, settle down permanently in Ceylon. In the Chamber of Nationalities, each region should have equal representation.

    2. If 21(b) is adopted, there is no need for joint electorates for the Chamber of Representatives.

    3. In conclusion, as we have still to build a united national front for our freedom, we again stress the importance of paragraphs 7-14. What is wanted today is the recognition, declaration and agreement on principles which will unite all sections of the population for the common struggle. The detailed drafting of a constitution ought to be left to a constitution-making body appointed by a Constituent Assembly after freedom has been won.
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    Pieter Keuneman’s Resolution Re A Federal Constitution, November 1944

    Congress Office,
    Borella Flats,
    21st November 1944.

    Dear Friend,

    The following motion will be moved on the 2nd December at the All Ceylon Congress Committee by Mr. P. G. B. Keuneman.

    Yours truly,
    J. R. Jayewardene,
    H. A. Koattegoda,
    Joint Hony. Secretaries,
    Ceylon National Congress.

    Declaration on Representation and a Free and United Ceylon

    The Congress creed is freedom for Ceylon. It is pledged to secure a united demand for recognition of independence and a free constitution.

    However, the Congress cannot think in terms of winning freedom without dispelling from the minds of the minori�ties the fear that the Sinhalese people will use their predo�minant majority against the democratic rights and national existence on the minorities.

    The Congress recognises that a free Ceylon can only be built on the secure basis of independence from foreign rule, of equality of nationalities and of common interest, good�will and trust.

    As the most economically developed areas in Ceylon are in the main located in the traditional homelands of only one nationality�the Sinhalese People� and as the entire people of Ceylon have contributed and will continue to contribute towards the development of the country, the Congress declares that it is in the interests of all nationalities and minorities that a free Ceylon should be a united Ceylon.

    At the same time, the Congress recognises the democratic principle that the people of any nationality�for instance, the Tamil people�who have a contiguous territory to which it is attached by historical tradition, its own language, culture, psychological make-up and common economic life, should have in a free and united Ceylon the right to unfettered [sic] self-determination on its own territory, including the right to political secession.

    The Congress further declares that, in the common and separate interests of the peoples of Ceylon, the future free Ceylon will have to be a United Democratic Republic of autonomous national regions. Such autonomous national regions will not, of course, correspond to the present pro�vinces but should be delimited so that a predominant majo�rity of people of any particular nationality are included in a contiguous territory.

    In order to ensure the democratic principles of the equality of citizens and of the equality of nationalities, the Congress declares that a free and united Ceylon should be adminis�tered by two equal chambers, elected through universal adult franchise.

    One such chamber should be a Chamber of Representa�tives, which, while giving due representation in mixed areas to large interspersed minorities according to their popula�tion, will guarantee the expression of the will of the nume�rical majority of the population by ensuring a Sinhalese majority.

    The other such chamber should be a Chamber of Nationa�lities, giving equal representation to each autonomous national region and thereby guaranteeing equality and non-domination between nationalities.

    The Congress further declares that in such a free, united and democratic Ceylon : (a) the rights of interspersed minorities in the autonomous national regions regarding their language, culture, education, schools and freedom of religious worship will be guaranteed by statute. Similarly, all privileges and discriminations based on caste, race or community will be abolished by statute and any infringe�ment of the above will be made a penal offence ; (b) those Indians, now in Ceylon, who are prepared to adopt Ceylon as their permanent home will be given full citizenship rights. Ceylon will, of course, have the right to control further immigration according to her own national interests.

    It will be the constant aim and endeavour of the Congress to win the various peoples of Ceylon to acceptance of the aforesaid democratic principles so that, by their common efforts, can be secured that freedom of Mother Lanka to which it, and they, are in heart and mind, dedicated.

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    Notes To Members To The ACCC on The Resolution Submitted by Pieter Keuneman and A.. Vaidialingam,
    10 November 1944

    85, Cotta Road,
    November 10 1944.

    Dear Friend,

    We feel that a word of explanation is due for sending you these notes.

    At the last two meetings of the Working Committee of our Congress, we both jointly put forward a scheme which, in our opinion, would make it possible to bring together all the political parties for an All-Parties’ Conference, as envisaged by the last special sessions of our Congress.

    After a lengthy discussion, the Working Committee advised us to submit a resolution embodying our views for consideration at the next meeting of the All-Ceylon Congress Committee, to be held on December 2nd, 1944. You will, no doubt, have received a copy of the resolution which we intend moving.

    It should, however, be noted that the views expressed in this resolution are our own and that the Working Commit�tee was kind enough to permit us to place these views before the All-Ceylon Congress Committee for discussion.

    The purpose of these notes is to explain further certain points in our resolution which is entitled : “Declaration on Representation and a Free and United Ceylon.”

    We take for comment only the following points :�

    (1) Paragraph 5.�In this paragraph, we point out the main characteristics which go to make up a nation. The absence of any one of these characteristics in a racial com�munity means that that community has not yet developed or is prevented from developing as a distinct nation. Nor is the presence of any one or more of these characteristics, but not all, in a racial community sufficient to have that community regarded as a nation. In the light of this defini�tion, the Sinhalese and Tamil people, for instance, consti�tute two distinct nations. It must, however, be noted that having a common state is not a necessary characteristic for regarding all its citizens as constituting a single distinct nation, i.e., all states need not be single-nation states. They can be multi-national states, e.g., Yugoslavia, Hungary, Switzerland, USSR, etc.

    On the other hand, what is insisted upon in this paragraph is that, every nationality, whether members of a single state or not, must have the right to self-determination on its own territory, including the right to secession and forming inde�pendent political states. This right is not an obligation. Its recognition is necessary to ensure that there is no qualifi�cation of the right to self-determination and thus dispel fear of domination. In Ceylon, in view of its historical deve�lopment as described in the resolution, we consider that a free Ceylon should be a united Ceylon.

    (2) Paragraph 6.�We wish to say a few words about autonomous national regions. We do not regard the present provincial frontiers as permanent or based on either reason or justice. Despite the questionable administrative conve�nience of the present provincial frontiers, we consider them to be injurious to national development as they split up nationalities.

    What we advocate is a fresh delimitation on the basis of regional national autonomy. On this basis, the Sinhalese and Tamil people will be included in two distinct autono�mous regions. Similarly, provisions should be made for any other section of the people who have the characteristics of a nation. Otherwise they remain interspersed minorities in the above regions.

    (3) Paragraph 6.�We suggest joint electorates as a satis�factory means of giving due representation to large inter�spersed minorities according to their population. There may be other suggestions, but the point is to get agreement on principle.

    (4) Paragraph 9.�No provision can be made for repre�sentation of interspersed minorities in the Chamber of Nationalities as they do not possess a contiguous territory and hence cannot be regarded as a nation.

    Yours fraternally,
    (Pieter Keuneman)
    (A. Vaidialingam

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