Ilankai Tamil Sangam

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Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

A Letter to HC Dominic Chilcott

by Vadivetkaran, January 14, 2007

What has the IC done to measure wants and needs of the Tamils? Has the IC organized a referendum just for the Tamil people in the island or the Tamil Diaspora to find out what they really want? Why is it that the voice of ordinary Tamils is not listened to or collectively branded as LTTE supporters by the IC and the world Media?...

Tamils are the victims of an unjust government. Any solution must be based on their aspirations!! Not at on the whims of the Sinhala leaders...

A United Serendipity or United Taprabane, consisting of the states of Sri Lanka and Eelam, may be a possible plausible offer to win the hearts of Tamils. But will that work with the Singhalese, Sir? You ought to know by now….

An Open Letter to the Honorable British High Commissioner Mr. Dominick Chilcott

Honorable Sir,

The speech which you gave as you departed your post in Sri Lanka, the DUDLEY SENANAYAKE MEMORIAL LECTURE on 10 DECEMBER 2007, has been interpreted by different corners in different ways. Thank you for your outspokenness and your willingness to recognise the legitimacy of Tamil political rights. Thank you also for speaking out about the terrible abuse that the Tamil community is undergoing at the hands of what claims to be its own government.

As an ordinary Tamil, I submit the following opinion to you. (I'm not a politician, nor have any graduate studies.)

Let me start from your comment about Mr. Prabhakaran's critics in the international community:

"Prabhakaran conveniently ignored the international community's wish to see movement from the LTTE on the key issues of democratization and the pursuit of political goals through non-violent means."

It would be appropriate to point out that until 1970 there was no shot fired from the Tamil side.

42 Tamil students,** who were planning to hoist black flags against the then finance minister Dr. N.M. Perera on his visit to Jaffna in 1973, were arrested and kept incommunicado till 1977 just before the election. Mr. Prabhakaran, who eluded the arrest, stayed behind to fight back. I, one of the 42, was scared after all the torture I endured, left the country and became a refugee in Europe.

The pursuit of Tamil political goals through non-violent means, had lost any
hope and chance by 1973 if not already in the sixties, when the then government - using the army and thugs - broke up our Satyagraha, along with tearing up the Bandarnaike - Selvanayagam and the Dudley - Selvanayagam Pacts.

That was 30 years ago. And the world was not interested in the internal affairs of Ceylon/Sri Lanka. But, as you said, "the world is now a much smaller place."

The international community could have given some hope to moderate as well as Tamils extremists, that the pursuit of political goals through non-violent means may have a chance even today. But the IC failed to give hope to not only the LTTE, but also moderate Tamils, by

  • Ignoring the Tamil National Alliance's massive win in the last general
    elections
  • Not forcing the Sri Lankan military to pull out of Tamil schools, Temples and privately owned lands as called for in the 2002 Cease Fire Agreement, instead allowing the military to declare High Security Zones.
  • By holding the Donors conference in Washington and knowingly keeping the LTTE away from the conference.
  • Failing to pressurize GoSL to have come up with an equivalent to the ISGA proposal of the LTTE.
  • Silently sleeping while the P-TOMS was evicerated.
  • Allowing the east and north to be split up through judicial verdict.


The IC not only failed to persuade moderate Tamils the pursuit of political goals through non-violent means was possible, but also made us lose any hope and trust in the democracy, freedom mantras the west has preached.

Sir, you said….

I say moderate Tamil opinion because I don't believe the aim of the government's devolution offer should be to put something on the table that will engage the attention of the LTTE.

Who are the moderate Tamils, in your view sir?

Leaders of the so-called Tamil political parties that work closely with the Sri Lankan Government, the ordinary Tamils in and out of Sri Lanka or the Tamils living in the areas under control of Sri Lanka or the LTTE?

What has the IC done to measure wants and needs of the Tamils? Has the IC organized a referendum just for the Tamil people in the island or the Tamil Diaspora to find out what they really want? Why is it that the voice of ordinary Tamils is not listened to or collectively branded as LTTE supporters by the IC and the world Media?

You said,

"There is a tendency to put people into one of two camps – either one is an uncritical supporter of the military campaign against the LTTE or one's loyalty to the Sri Lankan state is considered suspect."

But you, a representative of the IC, and the IC together have condemned the TNA for their views as 'cronies' of the LTTE, proving the Tamils suspicion that the IC is not ready to support, let alone help to usher in, a just solution for the Tamils.

Tamils are the victims of an unjust government. Any solution must be based on their aspirations!! Not at on the whims of the Sinhala Leaders.

Your said,

"Similarly there should be no further equating support for human rights and the rule of law with support for the LTTE. This is a particularly ironic position."

Why then, is our support for the fight for Tamils' Birth Rights such as equality, human rights and full freedom equated with terrorism?

You referred to,

"The starting point is that any state has primary responsibility to protect individuals within it. But that is not the finishing point: where the state fails in that responsibility, through either incapacity or ill will, a secondary responsibility to protect falls on the wider international community"

Because the international community was in deep sleep for more than forty years, the primary responsibility to protect the lives and property of Tamils fell on Tamils themselves. Simply, this was the origin of the LTTE. The violence the LTTE engages in is only a matching reaction to the one prompted by the Sri Lankan government.

I beg you to refer to Robert I Rothenberg:

In Sri Lanka, Solomon and Sirimavo Bandaranaike, one after the other, drove the LTTE into reactive combat by abrogating minority rights and vitiating the social contract on which the country had been created as Ceylon. ROBERT I. ROTBERG CHAPTER ONE
Failed States, Collapsed States, Weak States: Causes and Indicators

In Sri Lanka, the contemporary picture of liberalism is confused. There is a Liberal Party here, but its voice on human rights, individual freedoms and accountable government – core liberal values - is silent. This is a major handicap at the present time. That has been Sri Lanka for decades. Not only are there no Singhalese parties liberal enough to accommodate the Tamils' Aspirations, but they have used the Tamil Aspirations to build their own political power.

I write from the perspective of someone who has been intensely involved in Sri Lankan affairs for the past 20 months, drawing on an experience in politics and diplomacy going back 25 years.

Mr. Prabhakaran, the LTTE leader, dismissed the idea of negotiations with the government in his 2006 Heroes' Day speech when he said the LTTE was "not prepared to place (its) trust in the impossible and walk along the same old futile path." Tamils as a whole agree with him. Tamils are in a position to place trust the Sri Lankan Government and walk along the same old futile path.

You said,

"I say moderate Tamil opinion because I don't believe the aim of the government's devolution offer should be to put something on the table that will engage the attention of the LTTE."

Can you be kind enough to point out one step that the Sri Lankan Government has taken towards building the trust of Tamils?

You said -

In the present circumstances, I see little prospect of the LTTE responding to anything from the government that did not offer them separation.

What has the Sri Lankan Government offered so far to Tamil People, let alone the LTTE? ISGA, P-TOMS, Demerger of East & West… A long list, isn't it Sir?

You said,

"I am not saying that the political aspiration for ELAM is illegitimate".

But then again, you said

" I have serious doubts as to whether the LTTE leadership would be sincere about reaching a negotiated settlement that reinforces democratic values within a united Sri Lanka."

United like the United Kingdom and the United States? Not unitary, I hope.

A United Serendipity or United Taprabane, consisting of the states of Sri Lanka and Eelam, may be a possible plausible offer to win the hearts of Tamils. But will that work with the Singhalese, Sir? You ought to know by now….

The LTTE as well as all the Tamils, as far as I know, have accepted that the basis for any solution are the Thimbu Principles.

The Ceylon / Sri Lankan governments have not respected democratic, non-violent methods to this date. Kumar Ponnambalam, Joseph Pararajasingam, Taraki and thousand more Tamils were killed though they were non-violent, democratic politicians and citizens.

The IC including the UK and EU have not to this day encouraged the Sri Lankan Government to respect the democratic, non-violent struggle of the Tamils. Unless that happens, no ordinary Tamil would want the LTTE to lay down their arms.

For Tamils, IC will be a stepmother only until

  • They themselves start recognizing the TNA as the democratic voice of Tamils,
  • Bring the GoSL to its senses to respect the democratic struggle of the
    Tamil people.

Sir, if you ask any Tamil, the LTTE came into being as a defense force of the Tamil People and one would want them to continue to be militant to match the militancy of Sinhala Nationalism.

The LTTE's methods are not their choice. They are forced to adjust their method to match the forces of the Sri Lanka.

Please do not construe! These are not just my words. The following from an interview from Late Kadirgamar:

But one must try to understand why a generation of young Tamils who had witnessed unsuccessful satyagraha campaigns and other peaceful attempts to secure redress for their grievances came to the conclusion that there was no alternative but to resort to arms. Many Tamils, even those of a moderate persuasion, hold the view that if the LTTE had not taken up arms the question of a negotiated settlement of the ethnic problem would never have been considered by any government in the South.

You said:

"I believe the government offer on devolution should be addressed to moderate Tamils that I don't believe that a future peace process should be based on talks exclusively between the government and the LTTE. Obviously, such bilateral talks are probably necessary to arrange a cease-fire. But the political process needs to be more inclusive and also more demanding of the participants."

Who are these moderate Tamils, you intermittently mention? Anandasangaree, Douglas Devananda or the Pillayan group?

For Tamils they are not moderates… They are a fifth column. What is a moderate Tamil for you or to the IC? One that has succumbed to the blandishments of the Sri Lankan Government and is working as a fifth column against Tamil interests, but still carries a name like Eelam Peoples Democratic Party or Tamils United Liberation Front? (Did you ever wonder why these names still consist of EELAM, Liberation, etc? If you did, then you know by now what the hearts and minds of Tamils cling to.)

Ordinary Tamils, as Kadirgamar mentioned, hold the view that if the LTTE had not taken up arms the question of a negotiated settlement of the ethnic problem would never have been considered by any government in the South?

This should clearly tell you and the IC that the LTTE, despite its violent methods, is loved, respected, supported and honored by the Tamils as their only sole and authoritative representatives.

You concede that constitutional change is not going to happen quickly. It would require a two-thirds majority in Parliament plus a positive referendum result to pass the law to bring in new devolution arrangements. The usual suspects will oppose them. As Dudley Senanayake found, those Sinhalese forces opposed to devolution and power sharing with the minorities are powerful. The only time that constitutional change was adapted to address the country's internal question was the 13th Amendment. Then President JR Jayawardene had total dominance in parliament, the resignation letters of his MPs in his pocket and the Indian army on the point of taking unilateral action. That conjunction of circumstances is unlikely to recur soon.

But sir, you expect the LTTE to give up its arms, desert the Tamils and leave them to the mercy of the Sri Lankan military?

Why should Tamils, let alone the LTTE, trust the IC to be on encouraging the government to come forward with an imaginative proposal on devolution that is capable of meeting the aspirations of moderate, democratic Tamils and Muslims, whereas the IC could not encourage the government

  • To bring forth a proposal matching the ISGA?
  • To allow Mr. Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary General to visit the Tsunami
    destroyed North?
  • To run the P-TOMS to help the Tsunami Victims to this date?

How could we expect the IC that failed to discourage the de-merger of the North & East to succeed in bringing a proposal on devolution of power?

If, the international community would like to see Sri Lanka reunited and its different communities reconciled with each other

All countries including the US, India, Pakistan, China, Israel and the Czech Republic should immediately discontinue all military assistance to the Government of Sri Lanka.

What would PM Dudley Senanayake feel like if he were to come back to the island of Serendipity? He would be sorry that he was not fair to Tamils during his tenure. He would be more sorry that the IC has never been fair to Tamils all this time.

Thank you for giving me this chance to bring my views to your kind attention.


**1n 1970, when the standardization was introduced by Srimavo govt, there was a mass protest march against the standardization sponsored by Tamil Student League. This student organization was lead by P. Sathiyaseelan, Ariyaratnam and Late Maaveeran P. Sivakumaran. The first two were graduates from Peredeniya University and the third was a tamil activist who later, to avoid being captured, introduced carrying cyanade.

Mr. Prabhakaran was a young student in the GCE O/L when he joined the TSL. He was just 16. He was called Thambi - due to his young age. As most of the Sinhalese believe he is not a dropout from the 8th standard. This is the truth what you may believe is propaganda. All the Tamils including the youngest ones know this. It is on record in his biographies.

The standardization heavily affected the Tamil students of the seventies. Mr. Prabhakaran is not a dropout, but he was made to drop out of higher education like thousands of other Tamil students. (I Know, several of the First Elamists are such.)

No Tamil believes that Mr. VP is God. But they rever him for how he has aroused the Tamils.

Back in seventies, all called him Thambi - He was the youngest in TSL. Nowadays, all young cadres refer to him as Annai - Elder brother. Those elder to him and of his age refer to him as The Leader. US presidents are referred in certain circles as The Man.

MR. Prabhakaran was an active member of the TSL. TSL mainly staged non violent protests in the NE against first the Standardization, then against the new constitution introduced in 1972. On March 9th, 1973, Dr. N.M. Perera, the then finance minister was going to visit Jaffna. TSL was very active in organizing a black flag hoisting protest.

To avoid any embarassment to the minister, the police arrested 42 active student organizers of the TSL on that same morning between 0400-0800hrs.

Prabhakaran was also one to be arrested. Quick thinking, he outwitted the CID (4th floor) group headed by the notorious late. Bastianpillai. Alfred Duraiappah, Mayor of Jaffna and SLFP organizer prepared this list for arrest. Those who were arrested were tortured and made to sign prepared statements by Bastianpillai group and were kept incommunicado till 1975.

VP absconded. And went to India, where so many of his villagers conducted business, mostly smuggling. He tried to get into colleges for his further studies. Without proper student visa and mainly having no certificates with him (as a fugitive) he could not.

He boiled that his future was spoiled. He boiled that his colleagues' future had been wasted by Duraiappah and the Bastianpillai group. This made him to decide to take up weapons. The GOSL turned a meek youngster into a giant warrior. Durraiappah and Bastianpillai'sgroup became candidates for elimination.

[Comment submitted by Ananth19 on Feb. 2006 to LankaNewspapers.com posting of " LTTE to put down arms for SAG ".