Urgent appeal seeking immediate rectification of diluted Tamil demands
Urgent appeal seeking immediate rectification of diluted Tamil demands
Eelam Tamil activists in the North-East of the island of Sri Lanka and their diaspora are collectively seeking the Tamil leaders, movements and organizations across the globe to impress upon the elected Tamil politicians in the occupied homeland to change the course and rectify the watered-down demands, which have been reportedly finalized in a letter addressed to the Indian Prime Minister His Excellency Narendra Modi, seeking the latter’s involvement on their behalf.
Tamils right to express their political aspiration is suppressed through the 6th Amendment. The 13th Amendment is not a meaningful power sharing arrangement and has totally failed to protect the rights of Tamils for the past 34 years.
In fact, none among the arrangements under the unitary Sri Lankan constitution, could be regarded as a viable starting point for resolving the national question.
The situation demands, on the one hand effective international accountability to the crime of genocide, and on the other, an extra-constitutional interim arrangement in the North-East to put an effective end to the ongoing state-sponsored genocidal land grabs, demographic changes and create a conducive environment for resolving the decades-old ethnic conflict. Only a such approach will bring international assistance, diaspora investment, contribute to rehabilitation and economic development as well as paving the way for the stability in the island and the region.
நீர்த்துப்போகச் செய்யப்பட்ட தமிழரின் கோரிக்கைகளை உடனடியாகத் திருத்துமாறு அவசர முறையீடு
இலங்கைத்தீவின் வடக்கு-கிழக்கிலும் புலம்பெயர்ந்து வாழும் ஈழத் தமிழர்கள் மத்தியிலிருக்கும் செயற்பாட்டாளர்கள் உலகெங்குமிருக்கும் தமிழ்த் தலைவர்களிடமும், இயக்கங்களிடமும் அமைப்புகளிடமும், தமது ஆக்கிரமிக்கப்பட்ட தாயகத்திலிருக்கும் மக்களால் தெரிவு செய்யாப்பட்ட கட்சிகளின் அரசியல்வாதிகள் இந்தியப் பிரதமர் மாட்சிமைக்குரிய நரேந்திர மோடி யை தமக்காகத் தலையீடு செய்யுமாறு கோரித் தயாரித்துள்ளதாகச் சொல்லப்படும் வேண்டுகோள் கடிதத்தில் நீர்த்துப்போன கோரிக்கைகளை முன்வைத்துள்ள நிலையில் மாற்றம் ஏற்படுத்தும் வகையில் அழுத்தம் தருமாறு கோரி முறையீடு செய்கிறார்கள்.
தமிழர்களின் அரசியல் வேணவாவை வெளியிடும் கருத்துச் சுதந்திரத்தை ஆறாம் சட்டத்திருத்தம் தடைசெய்கிறது. அதேவேளை, ஆட்சி அதிகாரப் பங்கீட்டை அர்த்தமுள்ளவகையில் ஏற்படுத்த இயலாததாகவும் கடந்த 34 வருடங்களில் முழுமையாகப் பிழைத்துப்போன ஒன்றாகவும், 13ம் சட்டத்திருத்தம் இருக்கிறது.
உண்மையில், இலங்கை ஒற்றையாட்சி அரசுக்குட்பட்ட எந்த ஒழுங்குகளும் தேசியச் சிக்கலைத் தீர்ப்பதற்கு ஏற்புடைய ஓர் ஆரம்பப்புள்ளியாகக் கொள்ளப்படமுடியாதவை.
ஒரு புறம் இன அழிப்புக்கான சர்வதேச நீதியை நிலைநிறுத்தும் அதேவேளை, மறுபுறம் அரசியலமைப்புக்கு அப்பாற்பட்ட ஓர் இடைக்காலத் தன்னாட்சி அதிகாரசபையை அமைத்து, அரச ஊக்கத்துடன் மேற்கொள்ளப்படும் இனவழிப்பு நில ஆக்கிரமிப்பையும், மக்கட்பரம்பல் மாற்றங்களையும் தடுத்து நிறுத்துவதோடு, பல பத்தாண்டுகளாகத் தொடரும் இன முரண்பாட்டைத் தீர்ப்பதற்குரிய சுமுகமான சூழலையும் தோற்றுவிக்கமுடியும் என்பதையே களச்சூழல் வேண்டி நிற்கிறது.
அவ்வாறான ஓர் அணுகுமுறை மட்டுமே சர்வதேச உதவியையும், புலம்பெயர் முதலீட்டையும் கொண்டுவருவதோடு மட்டுமன்றி, புனர்வாழ்வையும் பொருளாதார மேம்பாட்டையும், தீவுக்கும் பிராந்தியத்துக்கும் வேண்டியதான ஸ்திரத்தன்மையை உறுதிசெய்யவும் வழிவகுக்கும்.
Urgent appeal seeking immediate rectification of diluted Tamil demands
Unitary Sri Lankan constitution cannot be a starting point for resolving the national question. Diluted and ill-advised requests in Tamil political parties’ draft-letter to Indian PM need immediate rectification.
We the undersigned Tamil activists in the North-East and the Tamil Diaspora have come across the content of a draft letter, that has been prepared by the mainstream section of Tamil political parties from the occupied homeland of Eelam Tamils to the Prime Minister of Union of India, His Excellency Shri Narendra Modi, dated 29 December 2021.
This appeal seeks rectification of the issues concerned and if not done so, aims to bring these to the attention of the Prime Minister.
Our observations and requests are based on the letter entitled “The Indo-Lanka Accord and the Political Aspirations of the Tamil-Speaking People on Power Sharing”, leaked to the Colombo media.
First of all, our congratulations for all parties that came together to discuss the content for a joint effort at this crucial juncture.
However, there are serious concerns to some key issues in the draft letter. These are issues that could never be accepted by the nation of Eelam Tamils as a whole.
The latest letter seems to have been composed without consulting all necessary stakeholders, including the elected representatives of the parties involved in the drafting of this letter. There has been no genuine effort to consult the members of the involved parties at the divisional or district levels in the North-East.
The Tamil people are aware of the fate of the past seven-decades long history of political negotiations to resolve the Tamil national question.
Therefore, we want to share our concerns to the masses and make a last-ditch effort to course correct the failing politicians of all parties. The Tamil political parties, including those who participated and those who refrained from participation, need to rectify the mistakes and contribute to constructively re-draft the letter reflecting the real issues and the aspirations of the nation of Eelam Tamils and the Tamil-Speaking people in the North-East.
All the members of the nation of the Eelam Tamils and the people belonging to various Tamil-speaking communities in the island and outside of it, are urged to prevent this historic blunder through emancipating themselves without failing the need of the hour.
This appeal is an initial and a coherent attempt to detail at least some of the pertinent concerns rising out of the inappropriately drafted document. There are more issues. Those of you who recognize the significance of this letter are urged to sign this appeal.
At the same time, we also urge other Tamil stakeholders to provide their opinion in different ways, if possible also referring to this appeal, in order for the elected politicians to make informed and wiser choices, at least in the future.
Main problems of the draft, our proposed rectifications and requests that need to be considered for inclusion in the final letter to the Indian leader follow:
1. Asking India to demand Sri Lanka to implement the 13th Amendment is nothing else than misleading New Delhi and the Tamils into a wrong starting-point, paves the way for Colombo to continue deceiving the occupied nation of Eelam Tamils
The letter itself admits that the Tamil-speaking people do not have any trust in devolution under a unitary constitution and it attempts to document that the 13th Amendment (hereafter referred as 13A) was futile as it was an exercise deemed to fail right from the beginning as it was aimed at decentralization rather than devolution.
The enactment of the 13A was completely rejected by Tamils. It has gravely and historically failed throughout the past 34 years. The exiled elected Tamil politicians of the TULF and the main liberation movement, the LTTE, have clearly provided the reasons for the Tamil rejection of the 13A in 1987. The LTTE provided a well-documented provisional assessment of the 13A to the Indian Government (“An Autopsy on Autonomy – A Provincial Assessment of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of Sri Lanka”).
Furthermore, the LTTE, which rose to the status of the sole representatives of the Tamil people obtaining a democratic mandate through the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) election manifestos in 2001 and 2004, proposed the Interim Self-Governing Authority (ISGA) in 2003. This proposal makes no reference to the 13A or the Indo-Lanka Accord of 1987.
The main constitutional problem with the Sri Lankan state is not the 13A alone. The real problem is being a unitary constitution, with legal and political hurdles posed by the so-called entrenched articles of the constitution. Any arrangement under this constitution cannot be regarded as a starting point if one genuinely seeks meaningful power sharing that could result in a federal system of governance, capable of resolving the underlying conflict.
Article 2 of the SL Constitution states that the country is a unitary state. Similarly, the articles in the first two chapters that deal with the national flag, national anthem, language status and the clause that accords Buddhism with the foremost place, are all entrenched articles. Article 9 (Chapter II) of the SL constitution says that the “Republic of Sri Lanka shall give to Buddhism the foremost place and accordingly it shall be the duty of the State to protect and foster the Buddha Sasana.” These Articles could only be amended or repealed with the support of two-thirds of all the members of the SL Parliament and only if the people thereafter approve such amendment or repeal in an island-wide referendum. The executive SL President should also support that change. Such conditions cannot be met under any internal circumstances through the electoral politics due to the ethno-nationalist nature of the Sinhala Buddhists.
Similarly, any power decentralized under the so-called devolution within the entrenched unitary constitution, would be withdrawn, even without the need for a two-thirds majority. This is exactly what we have witnessed through the de-merger of the North and East, and the consistent denial by the Sri Lankan state to devolve the land and police powers with Tamils and the Tamil-speaking people in the North-East. The various ministries and departments of the Sri Lankan unitary state have been overriding and sidestepping all what was devolved.
The 13A pretends that the Tamil Nation does not exist. It denies to the Tamil people the right to sit as equals with the Sinhala people to determine the political structure within which the two people may live in equality.
2. The united and indivisible Northern and Eastern Provinces are the Traditional Homeland of the Tamil speaking people
The epithet “Historic Habitation” used in this letter should be removed and the North Eastern Provinces are the motherland of the Eelam Tamils and traditional homeland of all Tamil speaking people. Tamils have therefore chosen phrase traditional homeland as the common denominator, accommodating both the ancestral and later origins in one phrase.
The phrase “areas of historical habitation” adopted by the 1987 Indo-Lanka Agreement doesn’t provide the due recognition required to achieve parity of status needed for the resolution of the national question, between the two main formations in the island, which is the Sinhala-speaking and Tamil-speaking peoples.
Even though there are reasonable evidence to prove the foremost place of the Tamil language, given its antiquity, based on the linguistic traces in the island, which predate even the first known awareness of a separate, Sinhala language, in the island.
However, Tamils have preferred the approach which recognizes none as second to the other.
The contiguous northern and eastern region of the island is the Traditional Homeland of the preponderantly Tamil-speaking people in the island of Ceylon. (The term Sri Lanka has no Tamil mandate and the use of Sri to imply sacred land for a chosen people goes contrary to all norms of identity as far as the Eelam Tamils are concerned.)
3. Territorial integrity of North-East vs “united, undivided Sri Lanka”
The letter uses the following phrase suggesting a political solution “within the framework of a united, undivided country.” This should be fully avoided.
How could Eelam Tamils, as a people and as a nation, vow to an undivided and united Sri Lankan state that doesn’t guarantee the collective rights, repeatedly fails to provide a political solution, razes Tamil Eelam National Heroes memorials, continues unabatedly the ethnic Sinhala colonization of Tamil homeland and erects Buddha statues and viharas in places of Tamils’ temples of worship using the constitutionally entrenched Article of providing foremost place only to Buddhism?
Tamils should not even opt for a united federal framework that fails to recognize their inalienable Right to Self-Determination. Even a federal solution that doesn’t guarantee the right to self-determination cannot be a viable solution, just by naming it federal.
Therefore, we prefer a confederal arrangement. Among the four forms of constitutional solutions, unitary, federal, confederacy and independent state, Eelam Tamils at the brink of a protracted genocide, find their international guarantee for security only through the Right to Self-Determination being recognized.
If Tamils are taking of a “united and undivided country”, then there must be specific conditions that stipulates the Sinhala nation in the island to earn that quality in its future conduct. Therefore, Eelam Tamils should not be asked to rally behind the phrase of “united, undivided and indivisible Sri Lanka” abandoning the Right to Self-Determination, especially in a situation where the Sri Lankan state and the Sinhala nation regard Eelam Tamils, as vanquished. The letter to the Indian Prime Minister needs to explain the narrative instead of falling prey to cunning deceptions.
4. Letter fails to explicitly state the form of the desired political solution
The letter doesn’t explicitly put forward the proper terminology for the aspired solution, such as federalism with right to self-determination. The letter should have demanded, at least a federal solution that retains Tamils Right to Self-Determination.
The letter states in its preamble: “We remain committed to a political solution based on a federal structure that recognizes our legitimate aspirations.” However, what is being asked in the concluding part at the end has been formulated ambiguously as enabling “the Tamil speaking peoples to live with dignity, self-respect, peace and security in the areas of their historic habitation, exercising their right to self-determination within the framework of a united, undivided country”. While making a specific reference to 13A and other promises made to go beyond the 13A in terms of an evolutionary path to power sharing based on meaningful devolution, it avoids to join the two terms, “Federal” and the “Right to Self-Determination”.
The letter needs to specifically state the desired solution is a Federal Solution with the Right to Self-Determination. Such a solution could only be clearly articulated with the term “Confederal”. This needs to be sharply articulated.
The minimum acceptable political solution for the people would be a federal solution with the Right to Self-Determination, including land, finance, justice, police and administration, all of which could never be snatched, separated or reduced in the traditional motherland of the Tamil-speaking people in the undivided and merged North-Eastern Provinces is the understanding of almost every Eelam Tamil individual in the North-East. A meaningful path towards this solution cannot start from a unitary constitution. To clarify the precarious situation further, we need to point out that it is not possible at all in a unitary solution in a country with constitutions entrenched by two-third majority belonging to one community, the Sinhala speaking people, which is the permanent majority as demonstrated in the “democratic” state of genocidal “Sri Lanka” since its inception.
It must be the duty of the involved stakeholders of the International Community to do the needful to create a situation conducive to achieve a political solution to the national question in the island, which is the root cause of the protracted genocide and which is also the raison d’être for most of the human rights abuses.
A political solution should make sure both the collective and individual human rights of the Tamil-speaking people to be adequately protected by the rule of law, so that they need not to “have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression,” as stated in the Preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
It is indeed a crime against humanity to demand and instruct the subjugated Tamils to extend commitment to “undivided and indivisible Sri Lanka” and, adding “united” to the phrase doesn’t change the context.
Tamils are entitled to the Right to Self-Determination, which is protected in the United Nations Charter and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. This right must be protected as the main Collective Right as a starting point for a meaningful path towards the resolution of the conflict.
It should be possible for the Tamil politicians to point this out urge India to recognize the need for a confederal solution which is the only defined form of federalism, that retains the Right to Self-Determination. There are international examples such as the case of Quebec in Canada and the Cantons in Switzerland. Many confederacies have later become federal states without the right to self-determination through the process of confederating experiment.
A binary problem needs a binary solution.
Even the Indian model is not suitable for the island due to the nature of the composition of the bilingual peoples.
5. Eelam Tamil view of former solution frameworks proposed through the involvement of previous governments of India
The second paragraph of the letter reads, “The Government of India has been actively engaged in this pursuit for the past 40 years and we are grateful for the firm commitment expressed by India to find a just and lasting solution.” The fact that the information is untrue causes great sadness and anger among the Tamils.
This paragraph should be completely removed. If the current letter is aimed at a different India than what was involved in the island in the previous occasions, that needs to be clarified.
Although it was primarily the Congress Government of India that came with inappropriate solutions in the past, the current PM needs to know the issues concerned from a Tamil-perspective.
Eelam Tamil leaders should not provide room for biased Tamil politicians of the ruling Indian government to misrepresent or misuse the conflict only with the prism of Indian Foreign Policy. The concerns of Tamil Nadu and the Diaspora Eelam Tamils also need to be represented. Tamils in the homeland view the considerable number of overseas displaced Tamils in Tamil Nadu being unable to return to their traditional homeland and the diaspora Eelam Tamils in other countries, as constituting the integral part of the nation of Eelam Tamils.
The Tamil politicians, who are denied of freedom expression through the 6th Amendment, cannot represent the true aspirations of the nation of Eelam Tamils and they have no legal right to abandon the democratically mandated peoples’ verdict held in the last-ever free elections that took place in the island in terms of the political aspiration in 1977.
The Tamil politicians who only reject the 13A also need to be reminded that they should make it clear that they reject the unitary constitution with 6th Amendment and other discriminatory and constitutionally entrenched Articles.
6. The situation demands an extra-constitutional interim arrangement for conflict resolution and self-governing rehabilitation and reconstruction
The Sinhala-Buddhist chauvinist regime want the unitary constitution further emboldened. Sinhala colonization of the traditional Tamil homeland and demographic changes are carried forward through various ministries, departments and institutions of the unitary Sri Lankan state beyond the power of the Provincial Councils.
The interplay between the state and the extremist sections of the Sinhala-speaking South escalates the subjugation of Tamil-speaking people, specifically in the North-East. The Sinhala political elite is dependent on the religious establishments with foremost place accorded in the constitution. The unchecked process of structural genocide is the returning favor the extremist sections expect from their state and leaders who ultimately depend on the Sangha to retain their political power. Under these circumstances, the system of governance, be it unitary or anything non-descript, would not establish a conducive environment for a meaningful resolution of the conflict. Only a clearly defined holistic solution would bring permanent peace and stability to the island.
The international community, particularly the regional power India, could contribute to establish such stability through shaping the required equilibrium for a permanent solution. This is only possible through creating an extra-constitutional self-governing interim situation in order to enable the Eelam Tamils to govern their rehabilitation, reconstruction and resettlement in their traditional homeland while engaging in a negotiation process, which is internationally mediated and monitored with necessary international guarantees.
The proposal for an Interim Self-Governing Authority (ISGA) of the Tamil-speaking people in the North-East was put on table in the last internationally-facilitated process in 2003. This framework could be modified to the current context through the international community invoking the doctrine of Right-to-Protect. India is also duty-bound to protect the right to self-determination and to act to bring justice to genocide and ensure non-recurrence in its backyard. Invoking these peremptory norms, a conducive situation of extra-constitutional interim governance could be created in the North-East.
The ISGA will also put an effective end to the genocidal land grab, disable demographic changes and create a conducive environment for international assistance and Tamil diaspora investment, ensuring rehabilitation and economic development.
7. Urge India to call for international investigation based on Genocide Convention
The genocide against Eelam Tamils in the island is a protracted one, that has continued commencing even before the so-called Independence from the British in 1948.
Sinhala-led administration under the British rule was responsible for the first pogrom against the Tamil-speaking Muslims in 1915. The Tamils witnessed the first All-Sinhala Cabinet for 10-years under the Donoughmore Constitution. Massive ethnic Sinhala colonization of the Eastern province was schemed and launched already in the 1930s. And the list goes on, both before 1948 and after on every discourse of constitution-making. It should also be noted that the Tamil people have not given democratic mandate to 1947 British-made Constitution as well as the 1972 and the subsequent 1978 Constitution.
After waging a physical genocide until 2009, the unitary state of genocidal Sri Lanka is again destroying, now without any force to checkmate the existence of the Eelam Tamils as a nation in the North-East. In fact, the same process that happened until 1983, is now repeating with a bulldozing effect, deploying sophisticated demographic, religious, heritage and structural acts of genocide, not to mention the international development assistance also being channeled into the programs.
India could play a meaningful role in bringing justice to the Tamil people by calling for both the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and the UN Security Council, where it serves as the chair for 2021 – 22. It should be possible for India to make a real move in the Security Council if it moves a resolution on genocide investigations. It would be a serious issue if any country with veto power dares to vote against the crime of jus cogens status.
Since all Tamil national parties extended a call to the Core Group on Sri Lanka in the UNHRC in January 2021, and the parties making the request to Indian Prime Minister this time are none else than those involved in the January 2021 joint statement, they are all duty-bound to reiterate the previously agreed demand also in the letter to the Indian PM.
In addition, India could also file a case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) as The Gambia brought the case against Myanmar’s genocide of Rohingya people.
We would also urge the Tamil politicians in the island to not to deviate from the earliest possible date in terms of the temporal jurisdiction applicable to the first genocidal act that occurred following the date on which Genocide Convention entered into force on 12 January 1951.
As per the international criminal prosecutions, India could support the establishment of a Commission on Inquiry to be set up with the specific mandate to look into the purported crime of genocide. For crimes that occurred after 01 July 2002, the ICC could be also approached. But, what Tamils want is a possibility to investigate those involved in the crimes prior to that date.
Any international judicial investigation on crimes against humanity and war crimes should be taken only after addressing the crime of genocide. Otherwise, we run the risk of limiting the scope of international investigations.
India needs to be enlightened on what exactly are the needed remedies and a must continue his lobbying for support and overcoming it in the years to come and gradually rebuild his lost support base to the Tamil-speaking people.
8. Inclusion of the concerns of the all Tamil-speaking people
The additional issues concerning the Tamil-Speaking people outside the North-East in the island, could also be accommodated under a separate section in the letter.
9. Key attachments must follow the letter to Indian PM
A set of documents must be provided to the perusal of the Indian PM and his officials. The well-articulated compilation by Nadesan Satyendra, titled “Thirteenth Amendment to Sri Lanka Constitution – Devolution or Comic Opera?” from March 1998, the ISGA proposals of the LTTE from 2003 and the verdict of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal from December 2013 as well as the Resolutions of the Northern Provincial Council and the Tamil Nadu Assembly that demanded international investigation on Tamil genocide as well as a UN-monitored referendum.
“Tamils thirst for Tamil Eelam Homeland”
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