Ilankai Tamil Sangam

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Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

The Tamil People's Struggle to be Free

by Nagalingam Ethiveerasingam, Ph.D.

"Where the sentiment of nationality exists in any force, there is a prima facie case for uniting all the members of the nationality under the same government, and a government to themselves apart. ... Among a people without fellow feeling, especially if they read and speak different languages, the united public opinion necessary to the working of a representative government cannot exist.  The influences, which form opinions and decide political acts are different in the different sections of the country."

-- John Stuart Mills

Paper read at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House. Oct. 1998

"I have always said that the rights of a given crowd are what they will fight for."

                        Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes
(In a letter, dated July 23, 1925, to Harold Laski)

Abstract

The paper argues that Tamils are a nation.  The Tamil nation and the Sinhala nation were brought together by Great Britain and ruled as one state since 1830.  In 1948, both nations were bonded together with a covenant which prohibited the Sinhala majority parliament from passing any laws that would, “confer on persons of any community or religion any privilege or advantage which is not conferred on persons of other communities or religions;” which also gave the rights to all citizens of Ceylon the right to appeal decisions of the Ceylon Supreme Court to the Privy Council. The Sinhala majority parliament denied its citizens the right to appeal to the Privy Council in 1971, and set aside the covenant with a new constitution in 1972. Great Britain who brokered the covenant did not intervene on behalf of the Tamil people. The Tamil Nation reverted to its original state as a nation. The Sri Lanka government then exerted its grip on the Tamil people as a colonial power. The Tamil then took up arms, when negotiation of a new covenant failed repeatedly, to free them from the new colonial power, Sri Lanka. The Tamil nation is appealing to the United Kingdom to exercise its mandate given by the 1960 UN Declaration on de-Colonization, to hold a referendum of the Tamils to exercise their right to self-determination.

John Stuart Mill's Concept of Nationality

John Stuart Mill, writing in 1861 on the subject, "Of nationality as connected with Representative Government," says that,

"A portion of mankind may be said to constitute a nationality if they are united among themselves by common sympathies which does not exist between them and any others ...  This feeling of nationality may have been generated by various causes.  Sometimes it is the effect of identity of race and descent.  Community of language and community of religion greatly contribute to it.  Geographical limits are one of its causes.  But the strongest of all is identity of political antecedents; the possession of a national history, and consequent community of recollections; collective pride and humiliation; pleasure and regret, connected with the same incidents in the past."

Mill's writing on the subject is so relevant to the Sri Lanka situation that quoting him at length provides some insight into the dynamics of the present violent conflict.

"Where the sentiment of nationality exists in any force, there is a prima facie case for uniting all the members of the nationality under the same government, and a government to themselves apart. ... Among a people without fellow feeling, especially if they read and speak different languages, the united public opinion necessary to the working of a representative government cannot exist.  The influences, which form opinions and decide political acts are different in the different sections of the country.  An altogether different set of leaders have the confidence of one part of the country and of another.  The same books, pamphlets, newspapers, speeches do not reach them.  One section does not know what options or what instigation are circulating in another."

Mill seems to be describing the two nationalities in Sri Lanka.  He describes how an army composed of one nationality occupying areas populated by another nationality would behave.

 "Above all, the grand and only reliable security in the last resort against despotism of the government is in that case wanting - the sympathy of the army with the people. ... To the rest of the people foreigners are merely strangers; to the soldier, they are men against whom he may be called, at a week's notice, to fight for life or death... Soldiers to whose feelings half or three fourths of the subjects of the same government are foreigners, will have no more scruple in mowing them down, and no more desire to ask the reason why, than they would in doing the same thing against declared enemies. "

The history of atrocities committed by the armed forces since the burning of the Jaffna Library on May 31, 1981 bear witness to Mill’s thoughts on Nationality.  The Chemmani mass graves, still to be excavated, and the many other mass killings of Tamil civilians that have previously occurred validate his predictions.  But the world waits on the sidelines giving the reason that Sri Lanka is a sovereign state.

Group Identity

The Tamils admire the group identity that Mr. S.W.R.D. Banadarnaike gave the Sinhala and the Buddhist communities.  Tamils only wished that he could have also given the same opportunity to the Tamils to develop their own Tamil cultural identity.  Instead, with the consent of his people, he tried to force the Sinhala identity on the Tamil community.  All successive Sinhala Prime Ministers and Presidents, while giving small concessions, refused to recognise the Tamils as a people.  They still refuse to do so.

Senator Daniel Moynihan, in his book, On the Law of Nations says that,

“The essential fact is that the nations of the world are committing themselves to the proposition that there is a category of individual entitlement called ‘human rights’”.  These rights go beyond the elemental rights of citizenship. They extend to group identity.  Each of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 dealing with the treatment of prisoners of war and the protection of civilians in time of war has the same Article 3 (known as “common Article 3”), which provides that during “armed conflict not of an international character” those caught up in the event must be treated humanely “without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith.”  The International Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide recognised a right of “national, ethical, racial or religious groups” to be free from genocide and imposes obligations on the states that are parties to the convention to prevent genocide.” (81) (U.N.T.S. 277 (1951).”

Moynihan further comments that,

“Other major human right instruments speak primarily in terms of individual rights, but not exclusively so.  The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the General Assembly in 1948, recognises the family as “the natural and fundamental group unit of society” and states that it “is entitled to protection by society and the State. [(82) G.A. Res. 217 (1948); U.N. Doc. A/811,art. 16(3)] The International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights recognises the right of trade unions to exist and to “function freely subject to no limitations other than those prescribed by law and which are necessary on a democratic society in the interests of national security or public order or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.”[(83) 993 U.N.T.S. 3, art. 8(1)(C) (1976)] The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights recognises the right of “ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities ... to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practice their own religion, or to use their own language.”[(84) 999 U.N.T.S.171, art. 27 (1976)] The Final Act of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (Helsinki) recognises the right of “national minorities” to “equality before the law” and to “the full opportunity for the actual enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms. [(85) International Legal Materials, 14 (1975), 1292.)]”

Moynihan added that, “All of which guarantees fission, and arguably makes a claim on the attention of those who advanced these propositions in the first instance, notably the United States.”

Tamil and Sinhala Nations Before the Colonial Period 1505 - 1832

Archaeologists have established that the Megalithic people lived in the North and South of the island around 5000 BC.  The fact that succeeding waves of migrations have come to the island from India since then is indisputable.  Hindu Temples were built during the fifth or sixth century BC in the North, South, East, and West of the island.  The following authors observed that the Tamils traditionally occupied the North and East of the island:

Fernao de Queyroz, (1687); Paviljeon, (1665); Donald Ferguson; Van Goens, (1675); Van Imhoff, (1740); Anthony Mooyart, (1766); Hugh Cleghorn, (1799); Robert Brownrigg, (1813); Emerson Tennent, (1859).

They describe the extent and boundaries of the Tamil and the Sinhala Kingdoms by observation in the early years and later with maps.  King Sankilian fought the Portuguese to defend the Jaffna Kingdom. Just because the Tamils and the Sinhalese were ruled and paid taxes to colonial rulers does not mean that they were never nations.  Personal sovereignty is not transferable.  And neither is a group’s sovereignty.  It is only the portion of the sovereignty that is necessary for a group of people, or a group of nations, to govern themselves that is transferred by a covenant to those who govern. Czechs and Slovaks in the former Czechoslovakia, Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia in the former Yugoslavia retained their sovereignty to claim independent status later and be recognised by the international community. In US v. Curtiss - Wright Corp. 29 US 304 (1936), the US Supreme Court said, “[Rulers] come and go, governments end and forms of governments change but sovereignty survives.”

John Locke and the Concept of Covenant

The Tamil and Sinhala Kingdoms ruled Lanka during various periods in its long history.  The problem Sri Lanka faces is a problem between the people of two nations that were brought together under British rule and were held together by a covenant in the Soulbury Constitution.  John Locke, advanced the concept of a covenant between the ruler and the people in 1681 in his, ‘The Second Treaties of Government.’

Locke stated that people are slow to act.  In general, only a long series of repeated abuses by a government will cause people to act.  He specified that the term "rebellion" indicate a return to the state of war and denial of the principles of civic society.  When the government is the abuser, it is the government that has rebelled.  Under these circumstances it is the community that stands for law and order and the community puts down the rebellion by the government.  Locke concluded his treatise with the justification of the people's right to overthrow governments that violate the trust and the law of nature.

Locke, in Chapter Three, ‘Of the State of War,’ in  ‘The Second Treatise of Government’ said:

"17.  And hence it is he who attempts to get another man into his absolute power does thereby put himself into a state of war with him... To be free from such force is the only security of my preservation, and reason bids me look on him as my enemy to my preservation, who would take away that freedom which is the fence to it. So that he who make an attempt to enslave me thereby puts himself into a state of war with me."

The Covenant Between the Majority Sinhalese and the Minority Tamils

In the 1920s, in preparations for independence, the two communities were at odds with each other with respect to power sharing in an independent Ceylon. The Sri Lanka Colonial Papers published by the University of London recently document some of the dialogue on the concerns of the Tamils. The Crown, after many years of debate, brought about a covenant -- Section 29(2) of the Soulbury Constitution given below.  Under this constitution, Tamils of Ceylon had recourse to the Privy Council if their rights under the covenant were violated.  The Privy Council and the Crown were thus the guardians of the covenant between the Tamil and the Sinhala communities:

"29(2)  No such law shall

            (a) Prohibit or restrict the free exercise of any religion; or

            (b) make persons of any community or religion liable to                disabilities or restrictions to which persons of other                  communities or religions are not made liable;  or

            (c) confer on persons of any community or religion any                    privilege or advantage which is not conferred on persons of other communities or religions; or

            (d) alter the constitution of any religious body except with                   the consent of the governing of that body.

Professor G.L. Peiris, the Minister of Constitutional Affairs, in a series of articles he wrote on the constitutional process, in the Sunday Island of February 25 and March 5, 1995, refers to Section 29(2) and (4).  Professor Peiris pointed out that Section 29(4) which allows the constitution to be amended by a two-thirds majority of Parliament did not apply to Section 29(2)...

"...because Section 29(2) represents basic conditions subject to which minorities are prepared to accept, in the first place, in the transfer of power to Colombo.  In other words there is something impregnable or invulnerable about Section 29 subsection (2).  It possessed a special attribute of quality.  And the powers conferred on Parliament by Section 29 subsection (4) could not legitimately be invoked in respect of letters imposed upon Parliament by Section 29 subsection (2)."

Again on March 12, 1997, as reported in the Ceylon Daily News, Prof. Peiris pointed out that a constitutional,

"...Safeguard was provided for the minorities by Article 29(2) of the Soulbury Constitution.  It prevented parliament from conferring benefits on the majority community and imposing disabilities on the minorities.  The Privy Council in Bribery commissioner vs. Ranasinghe had ruled that Article 29(2) couldn’t be amended even with a two-thirds majority. It was on the basis of this safeguard that the Tamils acquiesced in the granting of independence in 1948." (Emphasis is mine.)

The 1972 Constitution and the Final Break of the Covenant

In 1956, Mr. S.W.R.D Bandaranaike’s government passed, “The Official Language Act” disregarding Tamil concerns and in violation of Section 29(2) of the Soulbury Constitution that formed the Covenant between the Sinhala and Tamil Nations. That single act initiated peaceful demonstrations and legal protests that continued for more than 20 years.

Kodeswaran’s challenge to the Official Language Act, in 1962, was upheld by the District Court, but the Supreme Court set aside that judgement on the grounds that government servants cannot sue the government. In Kodeswaran’s appeal to the Privy Council, the Privy Council, in 1969, set aside the Ceylon Supreme Court’s decision and directed it to rule on the constitutional question. The legal consensus at that time was that if the appeal goes to the Privy Council again, it would uphold the District Court’s decision.

As a result Mrs. Bandaranaike’s United Front government, as custodian of the Sinhala Only Act, abolished appeals to the Privy Council by Act No.44 of 1971.  Section 29(2) was dropped from the new Republican Constitution without consent of the Tamil people in 1972. The 1972 and the 1978 Constitutions declared Sri Lanka as a Buddhist Sinhala country. 

By not including Section 29(2) in the 1972 and the 1978 constitutions the Sinhala majority government broke the sacred covenant and the Tamil Nation reverted to its pre-colonial status of a Nation.  But by political and violent military strategies the Tamil lands and the Tamil people were colonised.  In 1983, the Tamil people, like the people of American colonies, took up arms to exercise their right to free themselves from the colonial government of Sri Lanka.

 In 1972, the Crown, the original brokers of the covenant, could have politically or militarily intervened to protect the minorities. But it did not.

S.J.V. Chelvanayakam, who for twenty years, like G.G. Ponnambalam in the twenties and thirties, led the Tamil people into peaceful negotiation for a new covenant with the Sinhala leaders in Parliament, finally gave up.  On 26 May 1976, The Tamil United Liberation Front was formed and it passed the “Vaddukoddai Resolution” for a separate Tamil State.  The Tamil people in the North and East gave the Resolution overwhelming support in the last free General election in 1977.  Chelvanayakam, the Tamil leader who dedicated his life to achieve the rights of the Tamil people by peaceful demonstration said in his last years:

"I am seventy-seven years old now and even in this old age I am fighting for the liberation of the Tamils because I am aware of the dangers that are lurking for the Tamil community in the Eastern Province.  There is no other alternative for the Tamils to live with self-respect other than fight to the end for a Tamil Nad.

                                                (11 May 1975 in a speech in Batticaloa.)

"We have abandoned the demand for a federal constitution. Our movement will be all non-violent . . . We know that the Sinhalese people will one day grant our demand and that we will be able to establish a state separate from the rest of the island ..."

                                                       (19 November 1976 in Parliament)

(Both quotes are in, A. Jeyaratnam Wilson.  S.J.V. Chelvanayakam and the Crisis of Sri Lankan Tamil Nationalism, 1947 - 1977.)

Colonial Countries and Peoples

The United Nations 1960 Declaration and the future Programme of Action for implementation of Declaration, RESOLUTION 2621(XXV), adopted by the General Assembly on 12 October 1970, applies to Sri Lanka.  The Tamils of Ceylon are still subjects of the Queen whom Sri Lanka has taken upon itself to rule without the consent of the Tamils who are demanding self-determination.  Tamil nation is being treated by Sri Lanka as if it is a de facto colony, preventing, by force, its right of self-determination. 

The UN General Assembly in 1960 declared that:

"1. The subjection of peoples to alien subjugation, domination and exploitation constitutes a denial of fundamental human rights, is contrary to the Charter of the United Nations and is an impediment to the promotion of world peace and co-operation..."

"2.  All peoples have the right to self-determination; by virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development..."

"4.  All armed action or repressive measures of all kinds directed against dependent peoples shall cease in order to enable them to exercise peacefully and freely their right to complete independence, and the integrity of their national territory shall be respected."

Resolution 2621 (XXV), "Reaffirms the inherent right of colonial peoples to struggle by all necessary means at their disposal against colonial Powers which suppress their aspiration for freedom and independence."  The Tamil Nation, a colony of the British before 1948 and after 1972, should have the opportunity for self-determination.  The Sri Lanka government has taken upon itself to unilaterally incorporate the Tamil Nation within Sri Lanka.  The Tamil people, after 25 years of peaceful protest, even in the face of communal atrocities by the Sinhala people and the government, took up arms to free themselves.

Thimpu Principles

On July 13,1985, the Tamils wanted to negotiate a political solution on the basis of four principles, now called the “Thimpu Principles.”  The original Thimpu proposal was as follows:

1. Recognition of the Tamils of Sri Lanka as a distinct nationality;

2. Recognition of an identified Tamil homeland and the guarantee of its territorial integrity;

3. Based on the above, recognition of the inalienable right of self-determination of the Tamil nation;

4. Recognition of the right to full citizenship and other fundamental democratic rights of all Tamils, who look upon the island as their country.

On November 27, 1997, marking the Heroes Day, LTTE leader Mr. V. Pirapakaran said, “From the time of the Thimpu talks we have been emphasising that the recognition of the Tamil homeland, Tamil nationhood and the Tamil right to self-determination should be the basis for any negotiated political settlement.  This is our position even today.”  In September 1998, the Thimpu principles as a basis for negotiation were again reiterated by the LTTE.

Thirty years of peaceful negotiation and fifteen years of violent conflict have not made any impression on the Sinhala political parties that have ruled Sri Lanka since independence in 1948.  Today, a draft constitution of devolution proposals that has been touted as a solution to the ethnic problem does not come close to addressing the aspirations and grievances of the Tamils.  And even that document has not gained acceptance by many in the present government and members of the opposition party.

H. L. de Silva, former Sri Lankan Ambassador to the UN, in his address at the 39th death anniversary of Mr. S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike stated, in the presence of Mrs. Bandaranaike and two of her Ministers:

          “An important part of it is the cultural ethos and the dominant ideological environment which is the wellspring of thought and action and from which people draw inspiration in their daily life. Sri Lanka is conceived of by the vast majority of its people not simply as one inanimate geographical entity but as a vibrant and pulsating body, an indivisible whole, and as an irrefragable unity, expressively of our deepest longings, our most profound ideals and the yearnings of the human heart. To them anything, which resembles division or fragmentation, is a kind of blasphemy and anathema, against which there is instinctive revulsion.

            No constitution can take hold of a people, command their loyalty or be in harmony with the psyche of a people unless it instantly strikes a responsive chord in them. Anything alien to the perceived sense of oneness, anything suspected as likely to fragment the perceived sense of unity couldn’t expect long-term survival. It would be a great mistake to imagine that a constitution will command respect and loyalty, if there is a tinge of suspicion that it is an artful contrivance, a political bargain for the benefit of an elite group that seeks to assure them of power, the work of skilful manipulation by political forces. It must be clear that it guarantees justice for all, not merely in the here and now, but for posterity.

            The deepest fears and apprehension of the common people of a break-up of the country's unity, whether real or imagined, is unlikely to be accepted in the long term and any proposal however persuasively argued, is unlikely to receive optimum benefits if such fears remain unresolved.”

(Sunday Leader, October 4, 1998)

Mr. de Silva eloquently describes the feeling of the majority of the present government and a majority of the Sinhala people.  He is speaking of the Sinhala majority.  Mr. de Silva does not include the Tamil people, what they feel and the values that they hold sacrosanct, or their “cultural ethos” in his equation.  He has virtually stated what the Tamils already know about the feelings of a majority of Sinhala people and their leaders about the rights of the Tamils. President Bandaranaike-Kumaratunga in Anuradhapura also recently espoused this view, on August 25, 1997.  She stated that “...Sri Lanka is a Sinhala Buddhist country.”  With such ethnocentric views being stated by the most powerful figure in the country the Tamils can only believe that they are, and will always remain, second-class citizens in Sri Lanka. Imposing the idea of Sinhala “Oneness” on the Tamil is what is not acceptable to the Tamils in the past, now or ever. A majority of the Tamils have no objection to Mr. de Silva or the President’s statements as long as the Sri Lanka of which they speak is not a part of Tamil Eelam.  Most Tamils would agree with Locke, if the Sinhala people or their leaders think the way Mr. de Silva thinks, “... he who make an attempt to enslave me thereby puts himself into a state of war with me."

There are political leaders saying that the present 13th Amendment should be abolished.  The media, both government controlled and non-government media, assume that the LTTE and the Tamils are separate entities.  While some Tamils do not support the LTTE, they are only in a position to discuss the devolution of powers because of the existence of the LTTE.  Other Tamils support the idea that the LTTE is fighting to establish the Tamils’ right to self-determination.  There is a substantial majority of Tamils who consider the LTTE as their liberators.

The fact that the President’s 2000 devolution proposals have not been tabled in Parliament for debate indicate that even the ruling party members may not support, let alone the opposition UNP.  It has not also been put to the people for a consultative referendum, which the Presidential powers allow.  Therefore there is no agreement among the elected Sinhala politicians what powers should be devolved to the Provinces.  In fact there is no mention of devolution of powers to the Tamil community.  A substantial number of the Buddhist clergy, especially the key leaders of the Buddhist clergy whose leadership in political matters a substantial number of Buddhist Sinhala voters follow, are against any recognition of the rights of the Tamil community as a group and are against any devolution of power to the Tamils as group. The two main Sinhala political parties will not do anything that would jeopardise their remaining in, or ascension to power.  The Sinhala political leaders are unable, even if they were willing, to devolve power to the Tamil community and still expect to remain in power. The majoritarian democratic constitutional process is thus failing in Sri Lanka to resolve the problem of Tamil rights. 

Under such a scenario, any Sinhala party that says that they are willing to negotiate with the Tamils or with the LTTE on behalf of the Tamils, is only singing the fifty-year old refrain of negotiated political solution, knowing very well that there cannot be a negotiated solution that a majority of both the Sinhala and the Tamil communities will accept.  The LTTE will never fall for Bandaranaike/Senanayake/Bandaranaike/Jeyawardena/Premadasa/Kumaratunga strategies of deceptions.  Hence their proposition that the Sinhala political leaders agree among themselves that they are willing to accept the Thimpu principles as the basis for a negotiated solution to the ethnic conflict.  Without such an acceptance any talk of talks is just empty talk. The Tamils, who have taken up arms to liberate themselves, will never enter into talks without an assurance that there is a basis to begin negotiations.

The United States’ actions with regard to the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka are perplexing when one considers the events that surround the creation of the U.S.A.  The First Continental Congress, which met in September 5, 1774, sought fair treatment from Great Britain rather than independence.  It claimed the right of each colonial assembly to regulate its own internal affairs.

Great Britain ignored the congress and fighting broke out between Massachusetts’s farmers and British troops at Lexington and Concord in April 1775.  The Second Continental Congress met on May 10, 1775.  With the outbreak of war, the Congress approved the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. 

The Tamil people’s declaration for separation in 1976 is similar to the unanimous Declaration of Independence by the Thirteen Colonies on July 4, 1776.  The sentiments and reasons reflect similar feelings and thoughts of the Tamil people 200 years later.  Thomas Jefferson, invoking the ideas of Locke, expressed for all people the tyranny of Kings and parliaments that refuse equality, liberty and justice to a people because of their language, religion and ethnicity.  Quoting the Declaration of Independence is important to make bring home the struggle for equality, justice and liberty of the Tamil people relevant to those who will judge us:

            “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nation and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

            We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organising its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariable the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. - Such has been the patient sufferance of these to alter their former Systems of government...”

The wrongs and wrath successive Sinhala majority parliaments and the Sinhala people of Sri Lanka have done to the Tamil people since 1956 are well documented elsewhere.  Such wrongs were committed for over thirty years while the Tamil people peacefully protested and demanded their rights as a people.  The humanitarian and human rights violations by the Sinhala armed forces since independence, particularly since the 1983 Riots, forced the Tamils to take up arms to defend their Liberty.

The Tamil people are no longer willing to place their safety and their liberty in the hands of the Sinhala majority or their armed forces. In the words of Abraham Lincoln, “Finally, I insist, that if there is anything which it is the duty of the whole people to never entrust to any hands but their own, that thing is the preservation of their own liberties and institutions.”

We hope the United Kingdom will not abandon the Tamil people.  In 1971, a law passed in the Ceylon Parliament summarily took the right given to the Tamil people to appeal to the Privy Council away. In 1972 the covenant brokered by Great Britain was also set aside, by a Constituent Assembly, without the consent of the Tamil people.  Great Britain failed to intervene on behalf of the Tamil Community at that time. The Tamil people in Sri Lanka are appealing to the United Kingdom as the government that brokered the covenant in the Soulbury Constitution, which gave recourse to the Privy Council, to exercise her responsibility under the 1960 UN Resolution on De-Colonisation to advocate for their rights to self-determination.

End

Speech given by V. Rudrakumar at same conference here.