FEBRUARY 4, 2000 – CELEBRATION FOR SINHALESE BLACK DAY FOR THAMILS!
February 4, 1948 will go down in the history of the Thamil People as a BLACK DAY. On this fateful day, 3 million Thamils of Ceylon exchanged their white British colonial masters for the brown neo-colonial Sinhalese.
Sri Lanka, then Ceylon, would not have gained independence from British without the support and consent of the Thamil people. In fact it was Thamil leaders like Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan (1851-1930) and Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam (1853-1924) who fearlessly spearheaded the struggle for constitutional reforms that led to independence. However, the Ponnambalam brothers in their evening of life realised that Sinhalese politicians have cleverly used them to usurp political power for themselves at the expense of Thamil people. Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan foresaw clearly that the democratic principle of one person one vote in a heterogeneous society would ultimately lead to tyranny by the Sinhalese majority.
In a speech to the Legislative Council during the debate on the Donoughmore Reforms, Mr. Ramanathan appears the precursor of the Thamils demand for a sovereign state of Thamil Eelam. He asked-
“Why did the (Donoughmore) Commissioners not study Ireland which is
next door to them? They (Irish) said that we are one lot and you are
another. We cannot work together. We must have separate governments.
Then I ask what happened in the Dominion of Canada?... The officials
concerned said, it is an impossible situation.... Let us give these
French descendants one form of government and let us give the other
people another form of government- forms of government suitable to the
interests of each of these great big communities. Why did the
Commissioners think of that?"
It was Sir Arunachalam Ponnambalam who first (1923) exhorted the Thamils that "they should work towards promoting the union and solidarity of what we have been proud to call THAMIL EELAM. We desire to preserve our individuality as a people, to make ourselves worthy of inheritance. We are not enamoured about the cosmopolitanism which would make us `neither fish, fowl nor red-herring."
D.S.Senanayake, the first Prime Minister of independent Ceylon, gave the solemn promise to the Thamil and other minority communities that no harm need they fear at the hands of the majority Sinhalese in a free Lanka. Speaking in the State Council in October, 1945 after all the Thamil members have unanimously voted for the acceptance of the Soulbury constitution in a White Paper D.S.Senanayake said:
"Do you want to be governed from London or do you want, as Ceylon, to
help govern Ceylon? ...... On behalf of the (Ceylon National) Congress
(founded by Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam in 1919) and on my behalf, I
give the minority communities the sincere assurance that no harm need
you fear at our hands in a free Lanka."
BETRAYAL BY D.S. SENANAYAKE
Little did the unsuspecting Thamil politicians realise that D.S. Senanayake’s speech was an exercise in subterfuge. In 1948, the very year of independence, D.S.Senanayake blatantly went back on his promise and bared his true colours as a champion of Sinhala chauvinism by depriving one million Thamils of their citizenship. It was the first legislative blow dealt against the Thamils before more to follow. It was also the first step at ethnic cleansing of the Thamil people. The Citizenship Act No.18 was unique in that it denied citizenship to a person born in the country before or after 1948 unless , at least, his father was born in or was a citizen of Sri Lanka. The following year, the same Thamils were deprived of their franchise rights which reduced the Thamils representation in Parliament to diminish from 33% in 1948 to 20% in 1952.
The Citizenship Act No.18 of 1948 opened the floodgates for scores of other discriminatory legislative and administrative acts which robbed Thamils of their land, language, educational and employment rights.
HISTORY OF THE NATIONAL CONFLICT
The Thamils and the Sinhalese are divided on the basis of territory, language, religion, and culture. The enmity and mutual distrust between the Thamils and the Sinhalese go back to atleast two centuries before Christ.
Mahavamsa, a Buddhist chronicle written in the 6th century AD by a Buddhist monk portrays the Sinhalese King Dutugemunu as the National Hero who defeated the Thamil King Ellalan and unified the whole of Ceylon. Though Buddhism infinitely values human life as being the one and only condition from which nibbana (salvation) could be attained, Mahavamsa made a virtue of killing in defence of Buddhism. This 2nd century B.C war has been used to raise the cry of
Race, Country and Faith, a lethal brew of jingoism, by the Sinhalese-Buddhist chauvinistic forces first led by Anagarika Dharmapala.
Mahavamsa has perpetrated the myth that Sinhalese-Buddhists are a CHOSEN PEOPLE with the special mission of preserving the Buddhist Sasana in Sri Lanka. Dr.Walpola Rahula, a scholar monk, wrote that " For more than two millennia the Sinhalese have been inspired that they were a nation brought into being for the definite purpose of carrying the torch lit by Buddha." In Mahavamsa tradition the Thamils are considered villains, invaders and half-animals. It is the Mahavamsa theory that the Island as a whole belongs to the Sinhalese Buddhists only, and that there is no place or only second class status for Thamils. This Mahavamsa tradition is the root cause of the present armed conflict between the Thamil Nation and the Sinhalese Nation.
Those who wish to see an end to the national conflict would have to take into consideration the Mahavamsa mind-set of the Sinhalese. For it is the Mahavamsa mode of thinking which has influenced all the rulers, especially the governments of post independence Ceylon.
President Chandrika always refers to the One Nation, One Country, One People theory which in effect is Sinhala Nation and Sinhala people. “We are Sri Lanka- _One Country, One People” proclaimed President Chandrika addressing a meeting held at Anuradhapura to inaugurate the ‘peace campaign’ (Daily news, September 2, 1997). To put it differently the Thamil people do not constitute a Nation according to the thinking of President Chandrika. This is the reason why Thamil life continues to be dirt cheap under President Chandrika’s rule despite her repeated statements that the “War for Peace” is against the LTTE and not against the Thamil people!
President Chandrika addressing a SWRD Bandaranaike Commemoration meeting at the Brent Town Hall, organized by the SLFP branch of the United Kingdom, said the late Mr.S.W.R.D. Banranaike’s policies play a major role in the Government’s strategy with regard to solving the ethnic problems. But everyone knows S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike and his Sinhala Only policy was part of the problem and never a solution. President Chandrika added-
“On, one side as the LTTE continue to attack innocent people we have to wage war even if we don’t like it. On the other hand between the LTTE and the Thamil people there is a clear difference and therefore it must be categorically stated that this war is purely to crush the terrorists and the terrorists alone and we have no wish to harm or bring any form of inconvenience to the Thamil people in general.” (Daily News, September 28, 1998)
President Chandrika’s speech borders on hypocrisy and rings pathetically hollow in the face of the bombing of Navaly St.Peters Church(1995), Nagarkovil Mahavidyalayam(1995), Puthukudieruppu(1999) and Madhu Church (1999) in which hundreds of innocent Thamil civilians died. The mass graves at Chemmani, the disappearances of 765 Thamil youths during 1995/96 after arrest by the army in the Jaffna peninsula ( out of which 540 cannot be traced for ‘lack of evidence’), the recent murder of three Thamil political detainees at Kalutura prison are a damning indictment against the government of President Chandrika’s genocidal war against the Thamil people.
BROKEN PROMISES AND PACTS
Thamil people and their elected leaders were fed on a diet of lies, deceit, betrayals and broken promises by successive Sri Lankan governments since independence. They include the tearing-up of the Bandaranaike-Chelvanayakam Pact ( 26 July, 1957)and Senanayake-Chelvanayakam Pact ( 24 March,1965 under pressure from Sinhalese-Buddhist extremists. Under these pacts, a limited degree of autonomy was to be devolved to the Northern and Eastern Provinces.
Through a systematic state-aided Sinhalese colonisation of the traditional homeland of the Thamils, the demographic profile of the Thamils has been drastically altered. In the Eastern Province, the once majority Thamil community ( 52.3 % in 1946; 41.9 in 1981) has been reduced to a minority whereas the percentage of Sinhalese rose from 8.4. % in 1946 to a staggering 32.2% in 1981.
REJECTION OF CONSTITUTIONS
The Thamil people and their leaders have rejected both the Sri Lankan Republican constitutions of 1972 and 1978. With Sri Lanka becoming a Republic, sovereignty reverted to both the Sinhalese and the Thamils. The Sinhalese are able to exercise their sovereignty through the state of Sri Lanka but the Thamils are denied their right to exercise their sovereignty through a de jure state of Thamil Eelam.
MANDATE FOR THAMIL EELAM
The Thamil people in all the parliamentary elections held since 1956 had consistently voted for the Federal Party which stood for a Thamil State within a federal structure. In 1977, the Thamil United Liberation Front sought and obtained an overwhelming mandate for the restoration of the State of Thamil Eelam-status quo ante. LTTE’s revolutionary armed struggle is to implement this mandate given by the Thamil people. For well over a quarter of a century, the Thamils pleaded for autonomy for their Homeland within a united Sri Lanka, but such non-violent struggles were crushed through the use of brute military force. When all peaceful means failed the Thamils had no alternative but take up arms in defence of their birth rights. The armed struggle as a mode of resistance was not a choice but a compulsion dictated by an oppressive state that was hell-bent on imposing Sinhalese hegemonic rule over the Thamil people.
SRI LANKA'S MILITARY
The budget allocation for defence in 1999 totalled Rs.54.20 billion, roughly Rs.10 billion more than 1998. This is 21 percent of the country's total revenue or 12.5 percent of the total expenditure for 1999. This expenditure is more than the total defence expenditure for the first seven years of the war since 1983.
"Sri Lanka is maintaining the largest army in the world on a per capita basis. Sri Lanka's population of 18 million has a standing army of 110,000. Ninety-five percent of the army consists of the majority community. This means that there is a soldier in the army for every 124
persons in the population. India has an army of 1.1 million and a population of 836 million which means a ration of one soldier to 836 people. On the Sri Lankan ratio India has to have a standing army of 5.5 million......"
In April 1998, the Paris Aid Consortium countries, including Canada, gave Sri Lanka US$ 780 (1997 US$850) million as aid. Such massive foreign aid by the western countries is oiling the military machine of the Sri Lankan government to prosecute the genocidal war against the Thamil people.
HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS
There have been widespread human rights violations by the Sri Lankan security forces in recent times both in the North and the East. Arbitrary arrests, detentions, torture, extra-judicial killings, disappearances, bombing and artillery shelling continue be the order of the day. In the
capital city of Colombo and its suburbs (Gampaha, Wattala) thousands of Tamils were rounded-up and herded to Police stations like cattle after cordon-and-search operations during unholy hours merely on the basis of their ethnicity. The government is also dragging its feet over the excavation of the mass graves at Chemmani.
The UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances says twelve-thousand Sri Lankans have disappeared, which is second only to Iraq's estimated sixteen-thousand cases.
BAN ON FOREGN AND DOMESTIC MEDIA
The ban on both domestic and foreign news media from visiting the war-zone or reporting on military affairs is still continuing. Army organized conducted tours are occasionally arranged to see only what the army wants them to see and write only what the army wish. The world at large is kept in the dark about conditions in the Northeast, especially Vanni, in regard to the enormous human suffering endured by the Thamil people due to lack of adequate food, medicine and other basic necessities of life.
"Those who live
in fear seek security, and those in poverty seek
prosperity. Those who lack freedom wish it, and those who live in turmoil seek order and peace."-Richard Mansbach