Tamil Civil Society Forum formally constituted
A loosely organised network of Tamil Civil Society Activists from the North-East of Sri
Lanka who had been functioning for the past five years under the leadership of the Mannar
Bishop have now formally constituted themselves as an organization – the Tamil Civil
Society Forum (TCSF). A policy document setting out the aims, objectives and core beliefs
of the organisation and a constitution were adopted by more than 60 Tamil Civil Society
Activists who took part in the Annual General Meeting of the forum held in mid-November
The following office bearers were elected:
1. Convenor: Bishop of Mannar Dr. Rayappu Joseph
2. Secretaries: P. N. Singham & Thiyagarajan Rajan
3. Spokespersons: Kumaravadivel Guruparan & Elil Rajan
4. Treasurer: Prof V. P. Sivanathan
In addition to the above the executive committee of TCSF also includes district
coordinators for each of the districts of the North – East and one coordinator for activities
outside of the North-East. A detailed discussion on the wide variety of issues faced by the
Tamil people and necessary interventions to be undertaken by TCSF were also discussed
and decided upon at the AGM.
TAMIL CIVIL SOCIETY FORUM
(Adopted on 15.11.2014 at the Forum’s Annual General Meeting)
Description: TCSF is a network of Tamil Civil Society Activists living and/or
working primarily in the North – Eastern1 parts of Sri Lanka
Aim: The aim of the forum is to protect and promote the existential rights of the
Tamil people and the exercise of their right to self determine their social, political,
linguistic, cultural and economic future.
Objective(s): The primary objective of the forum is to create, provide space and act
as a medium for the articulation and expression of the views of its membership on
contemporary issues of social, political, economic and cultural interests to the Tamil
people living in the island of Sri Lanka. Towards this end the Forum will strive to:
a) organize public events in the form of workshops, seminars, conferences,
public consultations art, drama and theatre.
b) mobilise grass roots activists through empowerment programmes and the
active creation of spaces.
c) engage in research activism relating to the social, political and economic
well-being of the Tamil people and related issues.
d) engage through advocacy and lobbying with relevant stakeholders in relation
to the well being of the Tamil people.
Core beliefs of TCSF:
1. TCSF endorses the Thimphu principles of 1985. The following two are core
principles in this regard: a) The right to self determination of the Tamil
people based on a collective self-conscious on the part of the Tamil people as
them being a Nation. Owing to their right to self-determination, the Tamil
people are a sovereign nation and vice versa. b) The North and East parts of
the island of Sri Lanka is the traditional homeland of the Tamil people and
thus constitutes the self determining unit of the Tamil Nation.
TCSF however does not claim exclusivity in its identification of the Tamil
homeland. It recognises that Muslims and Sinhalese live and have lived in the
North-East and recognises their claim to land in the North East to the extent
that such claim is unadulterated by colonisation that aims at ethnic reengineering
of the North-East, including most significantly state-aided colonization.
1 The hyphenated term ‘North-East’ is preferred over the term usage of ‘North and
East’ to emphasise the territorial contiguity of the Tamil homeland
2. TCSF stands for a negotiated political solution of the Tamil political question
underwritten by international participation and international law. Any
solution has to provide for the effective exercise of the right to self-determination
of the Tamil people within its self-determining unit. The form
and content of the political institutions that form part of the political solution
have to acknowledge the continuing nature of this right. Any political
solution and the resulting state structure devoid of prior recognition of the
right to self-determination will not guarantee an effective form of self-government
for the Tamil people. TCSF believes that any solution within a
unitary state would not be acceptable. Any existing structures within the
unitary state (the provincial council system) would not even be a starting
point to a political solution.
The forum believes in developing a political package that responds to the
Tamil National Question through a broader process of bottom-up
consultation of the Tamil people. Such a political package should address the
political, social and economic goals and vision of the Tamil Nation.
3. We recognise the right of the Sinhala, Muslim and Up Country Tamil people
to choose their own political identity and also believe that the Muslims and
Up Country Tamils should be treated as equal but independent partners in a
process that addresses their political rights. Muslims, Up Country Tamils and
Tamils should act in solidarity and should avoid allowing their politics to be
used by majoritarian politics to undercut and undermine the aspirations of
each other. TCSF believes that the Sinhalese as the numerically larger nation,
should recognize the right to self-determination of the Tamil people and the
chosen political identity of the other communities. Such recognition may lead
to a new social contract between the different constituent nations and
peoples of Sri Lanka and to a vibrant and genuine democracy for all.
4. TCSF believes in democracy, human rights and the rule of law. Our
understanding of democracy goes beyond representative democracy. TCSF
believes in the active creation of spaces for post-representative democracy
such as citizens committees and citizens action in the public sphere.
5. TCSF stands for social justice and equality in the economic realm and for
individual and collective economic autonomy in the pursuit of this goal. TCSF
stands for state investment and intervention for the delivery of public goods
and to ensure fair and equitable opportunity for every one. State design and
the war have placed the Tamils in an inherently disadvantageous position
vis-à-vis the other constituent communities of Sri Lanka. TCSF believes that
Tamils should be given the space to conceive and build their own economic
model that guarantees their collective economic well-being.
6.A vibrant space for cultural expression is essential for a democracy and for the self-expression of a nation.
TCSF recognises that culture is an evolving
practice. It however believes that the Tamils have had an internally
pluralistic but distinct cultural practice which needs to be given recognition.
TCSF is opposed to the forceful distortion of the historical, archaeological and
cultural heritage of the Tamils aimed at Sinhala Buddhisisation of the Tamil
7. TCSF stands for the promotion and protection of the Tamil language.
8. TCSF believes in social justice and will express solidarity and work with all
marginalized sections of society. TCSF firmly believes in a caste-less Tamil
society and believes in affirmative action as a means of achieving this goal.
9. TCSF has no religious affiliation. Tamil Nationalism never has and should not
have a religious affiliation. A future Tamil self-government should treat all
religions with respect and provide the space for all religions to co-exist and
flourish. A future constitutional settlement should not give any particular
religion a ‘foremost place’ status.
10. TCSF is committed to genuine gender parity and will strive towards the
eradication of all forms of discrimination against women.
11. TCSF stands for accountability for past injustices and maintains the position
that accountability cannot be bartered away for the attainment of a political
solution. We also firmly believe that domestic mechanisms lack sufficient will
to deliver on accountability.
12. TCSF believes that the Tamil people’s engagement with international actors
in the search for accountability and political solution should be mounted
from an independent, non-partisan platform. Such engagement should be
motivated only by the best interests of the Tamil people.
13. TCSF believes that the diaspora is a key component of the Tamil nation. Given
that it is an integral part of the Tamil Nation it is a legitimate actor in the
Tamils’ search for accountability and for a political solution.
14. TCSF also believes that the Global Tamil Community, in particular the people
of Tamil Nadu with whom we enjoy a special relationship, are an important
stakeholder in our search for accountability and for a political solution.
What is very often conveniently forgotten is that hyphenated North-East is strictly a fiction. It is stranger than fiction in many ways simply because such usage has NO DEMOCRATIC consensus nor does it have the approval of the inhabitants of the EAST. The East has got its own Catholic bishop. He does not play any part in this, WHY? The manipulative surreptiousness of
the battered North sadly hasn’t changed one iota. I’m sure this comment will wait the moderation of Sangam as it doesn’t fit in with their scope.