Tamils: The Quest for Human Dignity

by Tamil Information Centre, London, March 2006


Tamils of Sri Lanka: The Quest for Human Dignity [PDF]


“The crimes committed by the Sri Lankan state against the
Tamil minority – against its physical security, citizenship rights,
and political representation – are of growing gravity for the
international community. Other countries across the world
which have had to shelter the thousands of Tamil refugees who
have fled and are still fleeing the island must increasingly bear
the cost of the denial of the fundamental political rights of the
Tamils of Sri Lanka…Report after report by impartial bodies –
by Amnesty International, by the International Commission of
Jurists, by parliamentary delegates from the West, by journalists
and scholars – have set out clearly the scale of the growing
degeneration of the political and physical well being of the
Tamil minority in Sri Lanka…everyone who possesses an
elementary sense of justice has no moral choice but to acquaint
himself fully with the plight of the Tamil people. It is an
international issue of growing importance. Their cause
represents the very essence of the cause of human rights and
justice and to deny it, debases and reduces us all.”
– David Selbourne, Ruskin College, Oxford, July 1984

Sri Lankan Tamils believe that Sri Lanka belongs to them as much as any other community and they are
entitled to rights and aspirations as any other group of people. Tamils are severely marginalised and feel
that they are losing their place irretrievably. This is a process that the Tamil parliamentarians are still
unable to arrest. In fact, the Sri Lankan parliamentary system has legitimised the marginalization.
Consequently, Tamils of Sri Lanka are unable to develop themselves as full citizens. In addition to
constitutional manipulation and blatantly discriminatory legislation and administrative action, violence has
been perpetrated systematically against the Tamil community, threatening their very existence as a people. p.7


Introduction 7
Demography 9
The early Tamils and Sinhalese 9
The early Muslims 10
Ethnic conflict and history 10
Early political history 10
Conquest by European powers 10
Departure of the British 10
Violations of human rights 11

Fifty years of human rights violations 12
Denial of citizenship 12
Disenfranchisement 13
Electoral rights 13
Constitution 14
Language 15
Education 16
Employment 18
Religion 19
Culture 20
Colonisation – Threat to land security 21
Destruction of property 22
Destruction of infrastructure and livelihood 23
Economic repression 24
Economic blockade 25
Freedom of movement 26
Expression 28
Healthcare and sanitation 29
Repressive laws 31
Military High Security Zones 32
Arbitrary arrests 33
Detention 34
Torture 34
Disappearances 35
Killings 36
Disposal of dead bodies 38
Crimes against Tamil women 38
Massacres 39
Impunity 42
Internally displaced people and refugees 43
Tamil persecution and dehumanisation 45
Government commitment to human rights 47
Militarization 49
Demand for separate state 50
Self-determination 51

Peace negotiations 52
Bandaranaike-Chelvanayakam Pact 52
Senanayake-Chelvanayakam Pact 53
The Thimpu principles 53
The Thirteenth Amendment 53
Provincial Councils under the Thirteenth Amendment 55
PA government’s devolution proposals 55
The Fox agreement 56
PA-LTTE peace talks 56
Norwegian involvement 56
Ceasefire agreement 2002 57
UNF-LTTE peace talks 57
The Oslo Declaration 57
Nakhon Pathom and Hakone decisions 58
Tokyo conference on reconstruction aid 58
The Tokyo Declaration 59
Sri Lanka government proposals 2003 60
LTTE proposals for an ISGA 60
Chandrika intervention after ISGA proposals 61
General election 2 April 2004 62
LTTE emphasis on ISGA 62
Tsunami devastation 62
Joint mechanism for tsunami relief 62
Opposition to P-TOMS 63
Supreme Court decision 64
The new President 64

International action and the role of the International Community 64

No Responses to “Tamils: The Quest for Human Dignity”

  1. Sengodan. M

    Why talk of Sri lankan Tamils? Does anyone talk of Sri Lankan Sinhalese as such? Why not we refer to all Tamils simply as Tamils?