Ilankai Tamil Sangam

Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

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International Human Rights Day Celebrations

10th December 2005

by K. Mylvaganam

The above celebration was organized by the North East Secretariat On Human Rights (NESOHR) at the Kalai Mantram in Kilinochchi.  The chief guest was Mr.S.P. Thamilchelvan, head of the Peace Secretariat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The special guests were Dr. Jehan Perera, Dr. Mendis, Mr. Nilhan de Mel and a few others from the National Peace Council of Sri Lanka. Mr. Joseph Pararajasingam, M.P. for Batticaloa, and Mr.Gajendran Ponnambalam were distinguished guests at the function. Nearly 250 people participated in the celebration.

Rev.Fr. Karunaratnam, chairperson of NESOHR who presided the meeting, called upon the chief guest, Mr. S.P. Thamilchelvan, to inaugurate the function by lighting the traditional oil lamp. This was followed by a two minute silence observed in memory of the martyrs who sacrificed their lives to safeguard their homeland.

A welcome dance in pure classical Bharatha Natyam style was performed by Miss.K.Potkodi.

The chairperson, after delivering the presidential speech, called upon Miss Sri Arulanantham, the Librarian of Jaffna University, to welcome those who attended the function. Representatives of NESOHR from Trincomalee, Mannar, Batticaloa, Jaffna, Mullaitivu and Vavuniya distrcts delivered short speeches on the human right activities in their respective areas and the need to foster human rights.

The chief guest, Mr. S.P. Thamilchelvan, while delivering his talk, condemned the innumerable abuse of human rights in Sri Lanka. He said that contacts have been established with several international organisations on Human Rights and constructive activities had been done by NESOHR. He added that community and religious leaders, intellectuals and Human Right activists have jointly originated the North East Secretariat On Human Rights in Kilinochchci. NESOHR has established relations not only with those living in our country, but also with the Tamil diaspora all over the world and with international Human Rights organisations at large. The people of Tamil Eelam have developed confidence in its activities and are extending their fullest cooperation to it. He thanked the chairperson of NESOHR, Rev.Fr. Karunaratnam, for his untiring effort for efficiently managing the secretariat. He also thanked all the others at the secretariat for their contributions. He stressed very much on the right to self-determination, which is one of the rights established by the resolutions and treaties of the United Nations. Since the fall of British colonialism, the Tamils have been systematically oppressed by the changing Sinhala regimes. This prompted the Tamils to resort to passive and nonviolent agitations, which were suppressed with brutal force. This resulted in the youngsters resorting to the present armed revolution. Our struggle is accepted internationally, endorsing the fact that the Tamils are a discriminated race. Since the attack on the twin towers in America the so-called war against terrorism has resulted in enacting several laws that are contradictory to Human Rights. These laws are in contravention to the resolutions passed in the UN. Several international Human Rights organizations and the UN have expressed concern over these draconian laws. Our struggle for freedom and self determination also are characterized by the Sri Lanka government as acts of terrorism. Many scholars have stressed on the urgent need for safeguarding the rights of individuals. They have stressed on the natural rights and the indivisible rights of a person. The natural rights are the right to live and the right to be free. A nation speaking the same language, practicing the same culture and living in one area has the right to self-determination. This is an accepted policy in the UN. In other words, there are three basic factors that are essential for people. These are the right to live, the right for self identity and the right to their own homeland. On top of all these, if the need arises, one race has the right to secede and form an independent state.

Today our people are threatened and prevented from living in their own places. They have been driven out of their homes by the armed forces under the pretext of the High Security Zones. They are denied the right to get back to their own homes, own fields and even to fish from their own shores. The SL government has denied the civic, political, cultural, social and economical rights of the Tamil people. The murders of innocent people, raping of women, abduction of youngsters, indefinite detention of persons, and torture are day-to-day activities of the government forces.

This speech of S.P. Thamilchelvan was followed by a panel discussion presided by Rev.Fr. Karunaratnam. The panel consisted of Dr. Jehan Perera, Dr. Malathy Naguleswaran, Mr. Gajendran Ponnampalam M.P., Miss Sri Arulanantham and Mr. K. Sivabalan, solicitor. After a short deliberation by each one, the house was opened for questions, comments and suggestions. The session concluded with a vote of thanks at 1.45 p.m.

A sumptuous lunch was served thereafter to all who were present at the function.