|To the British Prime Minister The Rt. Hon. Tony Blair
From Ramalingam Shanmugalingam, San Diego, USA.
Dear Mr. Prime Minister:
Don Stephen Senanayake the first Prime Minister of Ceylon, in his “(Tamils) great men of the last generation” speech in Parliament on November 8, 1945, fooled everybody:
“I put this question bluntly to my Tamil friends. Do you want to be governed from London or do you want, as Ceylonese, to help govern Ceylon? … I am glad that there is hope in the hearts of the minorities. There is determination on our part to cement the good feelings that exist in the Country now. My good friend the Member for Balangoda (Mr. Molamure) and the Minister of Local Administration have given to our feelings, and can assure those communities that every Sinhalese here is worthy of the trust placed in us and will not disgrace our ancestors. We shall see that good feeling is fostered as far as the Sinhalese, to the best of our ability.”
By the Citizenship Act No. 18 of 1949 and by the Ceylon (Parliament Elections) Amendment Act No. 48 of 1949, D. S. Senanayake did countenance the betrayal of Tamils, within a few months.
Mr. Prime Minister, your government has a moral obligation to protect Tamil interests, if not any legal responsibility, for failing to act, when the only protection under the Soulbury Constitution was cleverly mitigated in promoting Sinhala chauvinism with the unilaterally adopted 1972 Sri Lanka Constitution that left the Tamils destitute.
Unlike successive governments of the United States, your government is fully aware of the antics of the Sri Lankan Government and particularly that of the Foreign Minister a foreigner among Tamils. His threats and tantrum could be ignored in the light of the belated “mea culpa’ by Lord Soulbury:
“Unhappily and for reasons indicated by Mr. Farmer, the death of Mr. D. S. Senanayake led to the eventual adoption of a different policy which he would never have countenanced. Needless to say the consequences have been bitter disappointment to myself and to my fellow Commissioners. While the Commission was
in Ceylon, the speech of certain Sinhala politicians calling for the solidarity of the Sinhalese and threatening of the suppression of Tamils emphasized the need for constitutional safe guards on behalf of that and other minorities, despite the confidence felt by the Commission in Mr. D. S. Senanyake and any Government under his control.”
Therefore Mr. Prime Minister, Tamils do not expect you to fight their war but definitely expect you not to repeat the mistake made by your predecessors - trusting the Sri Lankan Government to be fair and just in treating Tamils as equals in citizenship. What else can Tamils ask of you and the international community that can be done for liberty against overwhelming odds?
7 February 2001