The Right to Self-Determination
And Prabakaran's media conference
by Sabesan, Melbourne, Australia
We must realise the importance of why our National leader keeps on emphasising our right to self-determination. Though the Liberation Tigers presently enjoy a position of undisputed strength after their chain of victories over the enemy, our leadership still wants to resolve the ethnic issue through political means.
The LTTE leadership has continually emphasised that the political resolution for the Tamils national issue should be based on the principle of Self-determination. The Sinhala regimes, in the last four years of the so called 'period of peace,' have persistently refused to allow the Tamils even the basic necessities of life. We feel that this may call for the need for the Tamils to exert their right to self-determination.
Readers are aware that we have been discussing the Tamils' right to self-determination for many years now. Four years have passed since the Honourable Velupillai Pirabhakaran convened an international media conference in April 2002. We believe it would be appropriate to consider some fundamental aspects of the right to self-determination here.
In that international media conference, clear explanation was given not only on the need to restore normalcy in the Tamils' life, but also on the right resolution to the Tamils' national issue. But the majority of the international journalists present did not raise even a single question about the military embargo and harassment which were the causes of the Tamils' sufferings. Neither did they question about the government restrictions placed on food, medicine and other essential items intended for the Tamils. Nor were questions asked about how the basic needs of the Tamils are expected to be fulfilled; about the plans for rehabilitation and restoration; about how the Tamils' fundamental rights are to be regained.
What did those international journalists repeatedly probe into? 'Have you given up the demand for a Separate State? Will suicide bombings continue?' Only questions of this type were asked again and again. Some others came up with illogical and impertinent questions.
There was one question, that too in Tamil, which inquired as how the principle of the right to self-determinaton is to be employed in solving the Tamil national issue. The leadership requested Mr. Anton Balasingam, the political adviser to the LTTE, to expound on the matter in English so that not only the Sinhala nationalists, but the international reporters also could understand. Mr. Balasingam put into words the thoughts of the leadership on the right of self-determination, in English.
'Our people are a distinct Nation, possessing its own traditional homeland, its own unique language and a unique culture. The Tamil nation has the right to determine its own political and economic life. And this right is called the right to self-determination. This right has two forms known as the right to internal self-determination and the right to external self-determination. The right to internal self-determination is the right to self-rule by a people over their homeland whereas the right to external self-determination is the right to go separate and form an independent state of their own.'
Having clearly explained the issue, Mr. Balasingham further dealt on an important matte rwhich binds the Tamils and the right to self-determination. We request the readers to kindly consider what he said.
The essence of which:
The Tamil people's right on the basis of the principles of a traditional homeland, nationhood and the right to self-determination should be recognised. Failing which we have to go separate and establish our own separate state.
This concept of the Tamils' right to self-determination was not something that was disclosed for the first time at the 2002 international media conference! The Tamil Eelam leader had expressed and emphasised this concept for many years before this conference. Nineteen years ago our national leader, in his public address to the Tamils, had already dealt with the subject of the right to self-determination, on the 4th August 1987 in Suthumalai, Jaffna, which became to be known asthe famed Suthumali Declaration.
On that day, our leader had foretold that the Indo-Sri lanka accord will never regain any rights for the Tamils and that he did not recognise the accord. Additionally, he also expressed another important matter on that day.
It is as follows:
'India's regional strategic interest is in conflict with the Tamils' right to self-determination.' Thus our leader had openly voiced his view on the Tamils' right to self-determination.
Apart from this, our leader has continually expressed his determined views on the importance of the right to self-determination of the Tamils in his annual Heroes' Day speeches. In 2002 also, the very year of the international media conference, the leader of the Tamil nation spoke on the right to self-determination of the Tamils in his November 27th Heroes' Day speech. It was a reiteration of his view on the right to self-determination.
He stated as follows:
'The Tamils wish to live independently and honourably in their own traditional homeland without the interference or rule of alien powers. They wish to develop their language, maintain their culture and protect their unique identity. This is our people's aspiration. The essence of the right to internal self-determination is embodied in this justified aspiration.... in the event of this wish being rejected there, is no other alternative for us other than to go our own way and establish an independent state for us.'
Those who carefully listen to the Heroes' Day speeches of our National leader will realise that he continually stresses the right to self-determination. He dealt on it nineteen years ago in his Suthumalai declaration, he stated it in the international media conference four years ago and he has unfailingly emphasised it in all his annual Heroes' Day speeches.
We must realise the importance of why our National leader keeps on emphasising our right to self-determination. Though the Liberation Tigers presently enjoy a position of undisputed strength after their chain of victories over the enemy, our leadership still wants to resolve the ethnic issue through political means. The Liberation Tigers have adopted a flexible, but balanced attitude throughout these four years of ceasefire. Their insistence on the proper implementation of the Cease Fire Agreement in the first round of Geneva talks shows their desire to resolve the national ethnic issue through peace talks.
The resolution envisaged through peace talks should be just and reasonable, affording the right of the Tamils to rule themselves in their traditional homeland. A just resolution to the ethnic issue could be found only on the basis of the right to internal self-determination leading to self-rule. Any solution rejecting this principle will never be the right solution to the Tamils' national ethnic issue.
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is at its height of strength, both militarily and politically. The Tamil people, through democratic electoral means, have clearly given their verdict that the LTTE is the sole representative of the Tamils. They have emotionally expressed the same verdict through several Pongu Thamil - Tamil uprising events - throughout the Tamil homeland and in the expatriate countries, too. They continue to do so.
Some may question as to why one should seek a final resolution to the national ethnic issue when the very basic livelihood needs of the Tamils remain unfulfilled. The attitude and actions of the present regime in Sri Lanka clearly reveal that it is not prepared to engage in the peace talks sincerely and honestly.
Therefore, soon, there will arise the historical and urgent need for the expatriate Tamils to stage great protest demonstrations in their respective countries urging them to recognise the Tamil people's right to self-determination. Such a gesture is certainly their moral responsibility.
We believe that the time is not very far from us!
We conclude with the satisfaction of having used the fourth anniversary of the international media conference to discuss and stress on the importance of the Tamils' right to self-determination in a meaningful manner.