An Open Letter to Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF)


17th. April 2000

Dear Members of the TULF,
As a Tamil Christian Priest of Jaffna, I feel it my duty, at this critical period of our history, to make an urgent appeal to you on behalf of our people. From my student days, I have admired Thanthai Chelva and his leadership, and followed up the sad turn of events thereafter. In recent times, I have had the pleasure of meeting Mr. A. Sambandan, Mr. Joseph Pararajasingam and Mr. Mavai Senadirajah, and of exchanging views with them regarding the Tamils. Today, while watching the latest developments taking place, both within and without Sri Lanka, I write to you, humbly reminding you of an indispensable role, that the TULF is called to play at this decisive point in the history of the Tamils of Thamil Eelam.

As senior politicians, you all are the most qualified to tell the story of the Tamil struggle, at least up to the decisive turn taken in 1976-77. For reasons well known to you, you have distanced yourself from the militant struggle on behalf of the Tamil people, and characterised your leadership as that of the Tamil “moderates and democrats, who can work within a Sinhala Buddhist dominated democratic system”, however corrupt and dictatorial it may be, to win the basic rights of the Tamil people. These two terms – moderates and democrats - used in relation to the militant struggle of the Tamils - have won for you a respectable niche and a credibility, in the so called democratic institutions and nations of the world, while those militants fighting and dying for the Tamil cause as well as those innocent Tamil civilians killed by the Sinhala forces have been all branded as terrorists and terrorist-supporters.

During this long 17-year period of death, destruction and displacement of Tamils, you have chosen to play your role first from India and later in Colombo and in the Army-captured Jaffna. Hoping against hope, that some good and democratic solution will come out of the Sri Lankan Sinhala Buddhist Government, you have supported the Government and its devolution proposals, presumably with the intention of modifying them along Thimpu principles which were agreed on by all Tamil groups at Thimpu.

During the darkest hours of suffering of the Tamil people, some of you have tried, from time to time, to run to the President, to bring to her notice the plight of the Tamil people and in your characteristic style, pleaded for some mercy to soften the atrocities committed against the Tamil people. In gratitude for your support to her Government, she did at times tone down her aggression and offered temporary favours, only to follow it up with more vengeance on a later date. The bitter price, the Tamil struggle had to pay, for these little and temporary favours, was enormous and devastating. The Government of Chandrika and her Foreign Minister were making the biggest propaganda against the Tamil cause that the “moderate and democratic Tamil leaders of the TULF were not backing the separatist demand of the Tamil terrorists” but are in support of the Government and its devolution proposals. In fact, making this propaganda to the South and to the outside world, President Chandrika, was oppressing and killing the very Tamil people, you were, probably in your hearts, trying to protect and defend. Is this not a determined stab on your back?

While declaring the so-called “war for peace”, I know by my personal experience in the war zones, the President was not targeting merely the LTTE, but the whole Tamil people. If you add up all the pleadings you were making to her on behalf of the Tamil people, it will become clear that the proclaimed “war for peace” was factually a war against the Tamils, escalated by bombs, blockades, rapes and mass-murders behind a media blockade. Besides your not voting for the extension of emergency, how did you oppose this war against the Tamils? Were you not aware, that your style of “pleading with the powers for clemency” and her benign stepping down to meet you, were really weakening, if not negating, the whole Tamil Struggle for Justice?

The above double-faced action of the Chandrika Government is not a true democracy, but only a “dictatorial democracy”. By holding parliamentary elections, though corrupt with vices, she convinces the world outside that there is democracy. But by imposing the majority-consensus, won among the Sinhalese Buddhists for war on the Tamils, she practices ruthless dictatorship of one nation on the other. This peculiar character of the Sri Lankan “democratic dictatorship”, which you have till now faithfully served, has reached the hour for questioning and exposition. Only you “moderates and democrats”, acknowledged by the world as part of this democracy, could tell the world the truth of this “ dictatorial-democracy”, not having the true power and potential to resolve the present conflict in the country.

Any keen observer of recent developments in the South of Sri Lanka will agree that the historic moment of truth has arrived. With Norway agreeing to play a role of facilitation or mediation, the world is observing the political events in Sri Lanka more closely. The false propaganda so far successfully made by the President and her Foreign Minister, that there is not a Tamil problem but only a Terrorist problem, the increasing consensus between the PA and the UNP that the Tamils must be subjugated by a slight devolution of power within a unitary form of government (as allegedly agreed with the Tamil moderates!) and the extremist non-negotiable views as expressed by the Buddhist Mahanayakas  - these are all attempts at twisting the Truths of history concerning the Tamils and covering up the multitude of injustices heaped on the Tamils.  It is at this critical period of our history, I appeal to you, Sir: Stand up! And speak with one clear voice the Truth concerning the Tamils and their  just demands to be a respectable people in the land of their birth.

The President has made much use of your support as from a democratic and moderate Tamil party and she will go even further with this “stab-on-the-back approach”,  in order to achieve the verdict given to her by the Sinhala people. Recently she made two claims – one misleading the world that she had a democratic mandate of all the peoples of Sri Lanka, including the Tamils, and the other that she had had successful talks with you on the key proposals of the devolution package. Except for a statement from Mr.Joseph Pararajasingam, denying the second claim, there was no official statement from the TULF denying or questioning her claims to the UNP. Your present silence is an eloquent affirmation of her claims. Dear Sirs, please stand up as democrats and moderates before the world, and speak out unanimously and eloquently  the very Truths you yourselves have formulated and professed in Vaddukoddai and in Thimpu?

I am making this appeal to Tamil leaders, conscious that they got democratically elected by some sections of the Tamil people. As a religious leader, I humbly exhort you, Sirs, to stand up immediately and speak courageously for truth and justice concerning the Tamils. The time has come for you either to serve the Cause of the Tamil people, as unanimously espoused in Vaddukoddai and Thimpu Resolutions or to bow out of a situation, in which your “conniving silence” may further damage the Tamil Cause. At least then, if you bow out, the world will come to know, within what type of democracy and against what oppression, the Tamils of Thamil Eelam are struggling to survive.

Thank you,

Yours truly

Rev. Dr. S. J. Emmanuel

Horneburgerstr. 58, 45711-Datteln-Horneburg, Germany, Tel/Fax. 0049 2363 62520