Sri Lanka : The National Question and the Tamil Liberation Struggle – 7
Statistical and Documentary Appendices
Bandaranaike’s 1955 Statement on Tamil Language Recognition
Tamil may also be used in the Senate and in the House of Representatives, and all laws will be promulgated in that language as well
Sinhalese will be the language of administration in all courts, government offices rt and local bodies, provided that in the Northern and Eastern Provinces. the language will be Tamil.
The Medium of Instruction shall be Sinhala, provided that in the Northern and Eastern Provinces it shall be Tamil.
Every pupil should be encouraged 9but not compelled) t learn the other language as a second language and if the parents of one third of the pupils in any school desire to do so, the school shall be compelled to provide the necessary facilities.
If in any school in the Northern and Eastern Provinces the parents of two thirds of the pupils desire that the medium of instruction shall be Sinhalese or in the case ‘ of a school in any of the other seven Provinces that the medium of instruction should be Tamil, this shall be allowed. But in such a school Tamil or Sinhalese, as the case may be, shall be taught compulsorily as a second language to all the puph f in that school.
NB. A parent for this purpose shall be a registered voter tot Parliamentary Elections.
All citizens shall have the right to transact official business in Sinhalese or Tamil in any past of the island.
There should be an immediate declaration of the official language. But in the transition period, until the above policy can be implemented, English may continue to be used. A Commission shall be appointed forthwith to draw up a timetable setting out the dates for the change over and to what extent, if any, English may continue to be utilised and also indicating, where necessary, the steps to be taken to give effect to this timetable.
Bandaranaike’s 1957 Proposals for “Reasonable Use of Tamil”
The following statement was made by Bandaranaike in the House:
The House and the Country know that it has always been the policy of the Government Party that although the circumstances of the situation were such that that Sinhalese language had to be declared the official language of this country, there was no intention in fact to cause any undue hardship or injustice to those whose language is other than Sinhalese in the implementation of that Act.
I wish also to point out that the Government Party prior to the elections in their manifesto gave the assurance that while it was their intention to make Sinhalese the official language of the country, reasonable use of Tamil too will be given. We had to till we saw what were the precise forms in which this recognition of the Tamil language could be given effect to.
I am in a position, on behalf of the Government, to make a statement, in general terms of course. The details will have to be worked out and discussed and Members of the House and others will be given the opportunity of expressing their views in due course. There are certain matters that are already being done, for instance taking effective steps to see that this reasonable use is given its proper place. Administratively all ready certain things are being done. For instance, in the realm of education, it was always the position of the Government that they did not ban education in the medium of the Tamil language, naturally, they will have the right to go up to the very summit of education in that medium.
The House and public will also remember that in a discussion we had with the university authorities, it was decided that the Tamil medium should also be used in examinations, that is, so far as those facilities are concerned where Swabasha is used, that the Tamil medium should also be adopted. It is the policy of the Government that position should be preserved.
Following from that position, there is the question of the Public Service. For the present, the practice the Government is following is that those educated in a medium other than Sinhalese should be permitted to sit for examinations in the medium in which they have been taught with only the proviso that once they are appointed as probationers they will naturally be required to obtain that knowledge of the official language which may be considered necessary for carrying out duties before the probationary period eventuates in permanent employment.
It may be that after some years the better course for those who sit for these examinations would be to take some easy paper showing some knowledge of the official language rather than wait till they are appointed as probationers to acquire that knowledge. That IS a matter that will receive the consideration of the Government.
The other question is that of correspondence and transaction of business. That also flows from the position that the Tamil language is recognised as the medium of instruction. Those who are educated in that language will have the opportunity of addressing letters, getting replies and so on in the same language. I am not going into details. I am merely expressing certain general lines on which the government will work out a scheme.
The fourth question is in regard to local authorities, Regional Councils and so on. The work of these bodies falls into two categories, namely proceedings at their meetings and the transaction of general business. Proceedings at meetings will be governed by the Standing Orders and Regulations in the same way as proceedings in this House are governed by our Standing Orders. With regard to the work of the local authority vis a vis the Central Government, we feel that at least in certain areas in the Northern and F astern Provinees the local authority should have the option of doing the official part of their work in Tamil if they so wish.
These are the four main heads, and of course there are subsidiary matters that will arise it is the view of the Government that a scheme in that way should be worked out.
In other words, the policy that the Government intends to follow is that while accepting Sinhalese as the official language, citizens who do not know Sinhalese should not suffer inconvenience, embarrassment or any trouble as a result of that.
Some of my Hon. Friends opposite who hold an extreme point of view will think differently There are extremists on both sides. We cannot decide these issues on grounds of extremisms whether it be on this side of the House or on that side. We have to take a rational, reasonable attitude in these matters. Of course, Sinhalese has been declared the official language of the Country. The Government now proposed to take these steps and everybody will have an opportunity to make suggestions.
I have only given the broad outline of what we intend doing.
The “Bandaranaike Chelvanayakam Pact”, 26 July 1957
Statement on the general principles of the Agreement:
Representatives of the Federal Party have had a series of discussions with the Prime Minister in an effort to resolve the differences of opinion that had been growing and creating tension.
At an early stage of these conversations it became evident that it was not possible for
the Prime Minister to accede to some of the demands of the Federal Party. is
The Prime Minister stated that from the view of the Government he was not in a position to discuss the setting up of a federal constitution or regional autonomy or any steps which would abrogate the Official Language Act. The question then arose whether 0′ it was possible to explore the possibility of an adjustment without the Federal Party abandoning or surrendering any of its fundamental principles and objectives.
At this stage the Prime Minister suggested an examination of the Governments draft Regional Councils Bill to see whether provisions could be made under it to meet reasonably some of the matters in this regard which the Federal Party had in view.
The agreements so reached are embodied in a separate document. Regarding the language issue the Federal Party reiterated its stand for parity, but in view of the position of the Prime Minister in this matter they came to an agreement by way of an adjustment. They pointed out that it was important for them that there should be a recognition of Tamil as a national language and that the administrative work in the Northern and Eastern Provinces should be done in Tamil.
The Prime Minister stated that as mentioned by him earlier it was not possible for him to take any step which would abrogate the of ficial Language Act.
Use of Tamil After discussions it was agreed that the proposed legislation should contain recognition of Tamil as the language of a national minority of Ceylon, and that four points mentioned by the Prime Minister should include provision that, without infringing on the position of the official Language Act, the language of administration in the Northern and Eastern Provinces should be Tamil and that any necessary provision be made for the non Tamil speaking minorities in the Northern and Eastern Provinces.
Regarding the question of Ceylon citizenship for people of Indian descent and revision of the Citizenship Act, the representatives of the Federal Party put forward their, views to the Prime Minister and pressed for an early settlement.
The Prime Minister indicated that this problem would receive early consideration.
In view of these conclusions the Federal Party stated that they were withdrawing their proposed satyagraha.
Joint Statement by the Prime Minister and Representatives of the Federal Party on Regional Councils:
(A) Regional areas to be defined in the Bill itself by embodying them in a schedule thereto .
(B) That the Northern Province is to form one Regional area whilst the Eastern Province is to be divided into two or more Regional areas.
(C) Provision is to be made in the Bill to enable two or more regions to amalgamate even beyond provincial limits and for one Region to divide itself subject to ratification by Parliament. Further provision is to be made in the Bill for two or more Regions to collaborate for specific purposes of common interest.
(D) Provision is to be made for direct election of Regional Councillors. Provision is to be made for a Delimitation Commission or Commissions for carving out electorates. The question of M.P.s representing Districts falling within Regional areas to be eligible to function as chairman is to be considered. The question of the Government Agents being Regional Commissioners is to be considered. The question of supervisory functions over larger towns, strategic towns and municipalities is to be looked into.
(E) Parliament is to delegate powers and to specify them in the Act. It was agreed that Regional Councils should have powers over specified subjects including agriculture cooperatives, lands and land development, colonisation, education, health, industries and fisheries, housing and social services, electricity, water schemes and roads. Requisite definition of powers will be made in the Bill.
(F) it was agreed that in the matter of Colonisation Schemes, the powers of the Regional Councils shall include the powers to select allottees to whom lands within the area of authority shall be alienated and also power to select personnel to be employed for work on such schemes. The position regarding the area at present administered by the Gal Oya Board in this matter requires consideration.
Taxation and Borrowing
(G) The powers in regard to the Regional Councils vested in the Minister of Local Government in the draft Bill to be revised with a view to vesting control in Parliament where necessary. (H) The Central Government will provide block grants to the Regional Councils. The principles on which the grants will be computed will be gone into. The Regional Councils shall have powers of taxation and borrowing.
Source: House of Representatives, Parliamentary Debates (Hansard) Vol. 30 col. 1309 1311.
The “Senanayake Chelvanayakam Pact”, March 1965
AGREEMENT Mr Dudley Senanayake and Mr S.J.V. Chelvanayakam met on the 24th day of March 1965 and discussed matters relating to some problems over which the Tamil speaking people were concerned, and Mr Senanayake agreed that action on the following lines would be taken by him to ensure a stable government.
1. Action will be taken early under the Tamil Language Special Provisions Act to make provision for the Tamil language to be the language of administration and of record in the Northern and Eastern Provinces. Mr Senanayake also explained that it was the policy of the Party that a Tamil speaking person should be entitled to transact business in Tamil throughout the island.
2 Mr Senanayake stated that it was the policy of his Party to amend the Language of the Courts Act to provide for legal proceedings in the Northern and Eastern Provinces to be conducted and recorded in Tamil.
3. Action will be taken to establish District Councils in Ceylon vested with powers over subjects to be mutually agreed upon between the two leaders. It was agreed however that the Government should have power under the law to give directions to such Ounces in the national interest
4. The Land Development Ordinance will be amended to provide that Citizens of Ceylon be entitled to the allotment of land under the Ordinance. Mr Senanayake further agreed that in the granting of land under Colonisation Schemes the following priorities to be observed in the Northern and Eastern Provinces:
(a) Land in the Northern and Eastern Provinces should in the first instance be granted to landless persons in the District; (b) Secondly, to Tamil speaking persons resident in the Northern and Eastern Provinces, and (c) Thirdly, to other citizens of Ceylon, preference being given to Tamil residents in the rest of the island.
(Signed) Dudley Senanayake, 24.3 .1965
The 1966 Tamil Language Regulation, published in Government Gazette 14653 of 2.3.1966.
1. Without prejudice to the operation of the Official Language Act 33 of 1956, which declared the Sinhala Language to be the one official language of Ceylon, the Tam Language shall be used:
2. (a) in the Northern and Eastern Provinces for the transaction of all Government and i public business and the maintenance of public records whether such business is conducted in or by a department or institution of the Government, a public Corporation or a Statutory Institution, and
(b) for all correspondence between persons other than officials in their official capacity, educated through the medium of the Tamil Language, and any official in his official capacity or between any local authority in the Northern and Eastern Provinces which conducts its business in the Tamil Language, and any of ficial in his of ficial capacity.
3. To give effect to the principles and provisions of the Tamil Language (Special Provisions) Act, and those Regulations, all Ordinances, and Acts, all Orders, Proclamations, Rules, By laws, Regulations, Notifications, made or issued under any written law, the Government Gazette and all other official publications and circulars, and forms issued by Government, Corporations, Statutory Institutions shall be published in Tamil.
Tamils Fight for National Freedom
(A Memorandum submitted by the Liberation Tigers to the Seventh Summit Meeting of Non Aligned Nations held in New Delhi, India March 7 15 1983)
The Honourable Chairman,
Respected Leaders of the Third World,
We wish to submit for your kind attention and urgent consideration a very grave and :,~ potentially explosive situation in Sri Lanka. It is the plight of the Tamil nation of four X million people and their legitimate struggle for political independence based on the ;~ democratic principle of national self determination. The Tamil nation was forced into this political path as a consequence of nearly thirty five years of violent and brutal oppression practised by successive Sri Lankan Governments aimed at the annihilation of the national entity of the Tamils. Decades of peaceful non violent, democratic political struggles to gain the very basic human rights were met with vicious forms of military suppression The intensified military occupation of Tamil lands, the intolerable terrorism of the armed forces, the implementation of racist and repressive legislations. the mass arrest and detention of political activists all these draconian methods were employed to stifle and subjugate the will of our people to live free, and stamp out their legitimate struggle for justice. This ever unfolding thrust of national oppression made unitary existence intolerable and finally led to the demand for secession by the oppressed Tamil people.
You are certainly aware that in the contemporary conjuncture national liberation struggles have assumed world historical significance. The right of nations to self determination is the cardinal principle upon which many struggles for national emancipation are being fought today. It is the principle that upholds the sacred right of a nation to decide its own political destiny, a universal socialist principle that guarantees the right of a nation to political independence. The Tamil national independence struggle is fought on the very basis of our nation’s right to political independence.
To the community of world nations Sri Lanka attempts to portray itself as a paradise island, cherishing the Buddhist ideals of peace and dharma, adhering to a noble political doctrine of socialist democracy and pursuing a neutral path of non alignment. Paradoxically behind this political facade lies the factual reality, the reality of racial repression, of the blatant violation of basic human rights, of police and military brutality, of attempted genocide. Master minding a totalitarian political system with the collusion of U.S. imperialism, the Sri Lankan ruling elite since ‘independence’ wielded their political power by invoking the ideology of national chauvinism and religious fanaticism and by actually practising a vicious and calculated policy of racial repression against the Tamil People. It is a tragic paradox that dictatorial regimes like Sri Lanka who stands indicted by world humanist movements for crimes against humanity could parade on a world forum with the mantle of democracy and dharma. Our objective is to expose this hypocrisy and place before you the authentic story, the story of the immense sufferings as well as the heroic struggles of our people who have no choice but to fight for dignity and freedom rather than reduced to slavery and slow death.
Historical background The Tamils of the island of Ceylon (now called Sri Lanka) constitute themselves as a nation of people. forming into a coherent social entity with their own history, tradition, culture, language and economic life. The nation is popularly called Tamil Eelam. Tamils have been living in the island from pre historic times before the arrival of the Sinhalese from northern India in the 6th century B.C. The Sinhalese people who constitute the majority nation of ten million have a distinct language, culture and history of their own. Historical chronicles document that the island was ruled by both Tamil and Sinhalese kings. From the 13th century onwards, until the penetration of foreign colonialism Tamil Eelam lived as a stable national entity with a state structure and was ruled by its Oven kings. The Portuguese annexed the territory in 1619 yet ruled it as a separate national entity, as the traditional homelands of the Tamils. Dutch colonialism, which tallowed did not violate the national and territorial autonomy, until British imperialism in 1833 brought about a unified state structure amalgamating the Tamil and Sinhala kingdoms laying the foundation for the present national conflict. Another significant extent in the British imperialist rule was the creation of an exploitative plantation economy for which a million Tamils from South India were brought as workers and settled in the island. Constituting a crucial part of the Tamil Eelam national totality, this huge mass of Tamil labourers who produce the wealth of the island yet subjected to most sinister form of racial repression.
Dimensions of National Oppression
The Sinhala chauvinistic oppression against the Tamil nation began to unfold its ugly soon after national ‘independence’ in 1948 when the British handed over state power to the Sinhalese ruling elite. This oppression was not simply an expression of racial prejudice, but a well calculated genocidal plan aimed at the gradual and systematic destruction of the essential foundations of national community. The oppression, there fore assumed a multi dimensional thrust, attacking simultaneously on the different structural levels of the national foundation, the levels of the conditions of existence of a nation, its language, education, culture, economy and territory. As part of this genocidal programme formed the state inspired communal riots, which led to the mass destruction of life and property of the Tamils.
Half a Million Workers Disenfranchised
The first major onslaught of this genocidal oppression was directed against the Tamil plantation workers, who as the only organised proletariat wielded immense political power which the Sinhalese ruling class wanted to castigate. By enacting notorious citizenship laws (Citizenship Acts of 1948 and 1949) the Sri Lankan Government disenfranchised more than half a million Tamil plantation workers. This repressive measure reduced these people to a condition of statelessness and dehumanised them without any basic human or civil rights.
Planned Annexation of Tamil Lands
The most vicious form of oppression calculated to destroy the national identity of the Tamils was the state aided aggressive colonisation which began soon after ‘independence’ and now swallowed nearly three thousand square miles of Tamil Eelam. This planned occupation of Tamil lands by hundreds of thousands of Sinhala people aided and abetted by the state was aimed to annihilate the geographical entity of the Tamil nation.
Repression on Language, Employment and Education
Sinhala chauvinism struck deeply into the spheres of language, education and employment of the Tamils. Championing the ideology of ultra nationalism, Mr Bandaranayake came to political power in 1956 with the pledge to install Sinhala language and Buddhist religion as the only official language and state religion of the island. His first Act in Parliament, the Sinhala Only Act, put an end to the equality of status enjoyed by the Tamil language and made Sinhala the only state language. This infamous legislation had disastrous consequences. It forced the Tamil public servants to learn Sinhala language or leave employment. In the decades that followed all employment opportunities in the public service were practically closed to the Tamils. They were gradually rooted out from positions of power in the public sector as well as in the armed services.
Education was the crucial area in which the onslaught of racism deprived a vast population of Tamil youth from access to higher education. A notorious discriminatory selective device called “Standardisation” was introduced in 1970 which demanded higher merits of marks from Tamil students for university admissions whereas the Sinhalese students were admitted with lower grades. The present regime introduced a new scheme which turned out to be far more discriminatory than the earlier one denying thousands of deserving Tamil students the right to higher education, and created a huge army of unemployed youth.
Economic Deprivation The thrust of national oppression that penetrated into the spheres of language, education and employment had far reaching consequences on the economic life of the Tamil speaking people as a whole. For more than three decades all successive Sri Lankan Governments pursued a deliberate policy of totally isolating Tamil areas from all the national development projects. While the state poured all the economic aid into the South, while the Sinhala nation flourished with massive development programmes, the nation of Tamil Eelam was isolated as an unwanted colony and left to suffer the worst form of economic deprivation.
Racial Riots and Massacre of Tamils
The racial riots that constantly plague the island should not be viewed as spontaneous outbursts of inter communal hatred between the two communities. All major racial conflagrations that erupted violently against the Tamil speaking people were inspired and master minded by the Sinhala ruling regimes as a part of the grand genocidal programme.
Violent anti Tamil racial riots exploded in the island in 1956,1958, 1961 1974, 1977, 1979 and in 1981. In these racial holocausts thousands of Tamils, including ns omen and children were mercilessly massacred, millions worth of Tamil property destroyed and hundreds of thousands made refugees. The state and the armed forces colluded with hooligans in their barbaric acts of arson, rape and murder. Instead of containing the violence, the Sinhala Government leaders made inflammatory statements adding fuel to the fire. The violent riots of 1981 showed the genocidal character of this horrifying phenomenon. It was during these riots the Sinhala police went on a wild rampage burning down the Tamil City of Jaffna, destroying completely the public library with all its treasures of historical learning, set fire to a national newspaper office and burnt to ashes hundreds of shops. The alarming aspect of this state terrorism was that it aimed at the destruction of the cultural foundations of the Tamil nation.
The cumulative effect of this multi dimensional oppression threatened the very survival of the Tamils. It aggravated the national conflict and the struggle for secession became the only and the inevitable choice.
Peaceful Campaigns for Federal Autonomy
Following the implementation of the Sinhala Only Act in 1956, the Tamil Parliamentary leadership organised mass agitational campaigns demanding a federal form of autonomy for the Tamil nation. The satyagraha (peaceful picketing) campaigns of 1961 was a great event in the history of the Tamil freedom struggle. This civil disobedience campaign unfolded into a massive national uprising, participated by hundreds of thousands of Tamil people, symbolising the collective resentment of the whole nation against the oppressive policies of the Sinhala rulers. Within a few months this successful satyagraha campaign paralysed the whole government administrative machinery in Tamil Eelam. Alarmed by the success of the Civil Disobedience Campaign the state oppressive machinery reacted swiftly. Under the guise of Emergency and Curfew, military terrorism was let loose on the peaceful satyagrahies. Hundreds of these non violent agitators sustained serious injuries, and their leaders arrested. Thus, state violence finally succeeded in silencing the non violent campaign of the oppressed; the armed terror ultimately crushed the ahimsa of the Tamils. The success of this violent repression encouraged the Sri Lankian state to utilise military terror against all forms of democratic political campaigns of the Tamils. Large contingents of armed forces were poured into Tamil areas and the Tamil nation was finally brought under military siege.
The Demand for Secession
In 1972, a new republican constitution was adopted which removed the fundamental rights and privileges accorded to national minorities. This infamous constitution created the conditions for the political alienation of the Tamils and cut a deep wedge between the two nations. Confronted with steadily mounting national oppression, frustrated with the failures of democratic political struggles demanding basic human rights, the Tamil nationalist parties converged into a single movement (The Tamil United Liberation Front) and resolved to fight for political independence on the basis of the nation’s right to self determination. At the general elections of 1977, the Front demanded a clear mandate from the people to launch a national struggle to establish sovereignty in the Tamil homeland. These elections took the character of a referendum and the Tamil speaking people voted overwhelmingly in favour of secession. Thus a new historical era m Tamil politics began, ushering a revolutionary struggle for a national independence.
Armed Resistance and the Tiger Movement
The struggle for national freedom having failed in its democratic popular agitations, having exhausted its moral power to mobilise the masses for peaceful campaigns, gave rise to the emergence of armed resistance movement in Tamil Eelam in the early seventies. Armed resistance as a mode of popular struggle arose when our people were presented with no alternative other than to resort to revolutionary resistance to defend themselves against a savage form of state terrorism. The armed struggle, therefore is the historical product of intolerable national oppression; it is an extension, continuation and advancement of the political struggle of our oppressed people. Our liberation movement which spearheads the revolutionary armed struggle in Tamil Eelam is the armed vanguard of the national struggle. The strategy of revolutionary armed struggle was formulated by us after a careful and cautious appraisal of the specific concrete conditions of our struggle, with the fullest comprehension of the historical situation in which masses of our people have no choice other than to fight decisively to advance the cause of national freedom. Our total strategy integrates both national struggle and class struggle, interlinks the progressive patriotic feeling of the masses with proletarian class consciousness to accelerate the process of socialist revolution and national liberation.
The armed struggle of our liberation movement is sustained and supported by wider sections of the Tamil masses, since our revolutionary political project expresses the profound aspirations of our people to gain political independence from the autocratic domination and repression of the Sri Lankan state. T<o achieve the revolutionary tasks of national emancipation and socialist revolution, our project aims at the extension and transformation of our protracted guerilla warfare into a people’s popular war of national liberation.
World’s Conscience Condemns Sri Lanka
The development of Tamil liberation struggle into a dimension of armed resistance of the people alarmed the Sri Lankan repressive state. The Government responded with extreme repressive measures against our people, using all means in its power to crush the freedom struggle. Draconian laws were rushed through Parliament to proscribe our movement, and the state controlled media is utilized to slander the freedom fighters and all the political activists as “terrorists”. Mass arrests of innocent people, trials without jury, inhuman torture, death sentences have become the order of the day.
The most notorious law is the Prevention of Terrorism Act which denies trial by jurys enables the detention of people for a period of eighteen months and allows confessions extracted under torture as admissable in evidence. Hundreds of youths are being held behind bars and subjected to torture under this draconian law. In a recent wave of repression, the Sri Lankan armed forces have arrested several members of the Catholic and Methodist clergy and prominent Tamil educationists and charged them under the Terrorism Act. This oppressive measure has caused massive outcry in Tamil Eelam, Tamil Nadu, and all over the world.
The Prevention of Terrorism Act has been universally condemned by the world human rights movements, particularly by the INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION OF JURISTS and by AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL as violating fundamental human liberties. Amnesty International in an appeal to the Government of Sri Lanka has expressed grave concern about those who were arrested under this law and held incommunicado. The International Co,mmission of Jurists, in a report, has condemned the state terrorism of the Sinhala armed forces unleashed against the Tamils and has denounced the Prevention of Terrorism Act as a piece of legislation that violates Sri Lanka’s obligation under the international convenant on civil and political rights.
An appeal to the World Leaders
Our liberation struggle, as an oppressed nation fighting against the oppressor, constitutes an integral part of the international struggle, the struggle of the revolutionary forces against the forces of reaction, the forces of imperialism, neo colonialism, Zionism and racism. Though each liberation struggle has its own historical specifity and its unique conditions, in their essence they articulate a universal historical tendency of the human aspiration for freedom from all systems of oppression and exploitation in this context, Tamil Eelam national struggle is similar in content to that of the Palestinian struggle or Namibian struggle or any national struggle of the oppressed people based on their right to national self determination.
WE THEREFORE APPEAL TO THE GOVERNMENT OF INDIA, WHO HOSTS THIS GREAT FORUM, AND TO THE LEADERS OF THE THIRD WORLD TO SYMPATHISE AND SUPPORT THE FREEDOM STRUGGLE OF THE EELAM TAMILS. IN THE NAME OF HUMANITY, LIBERTY AND JUSTICE, WE CALL UPON YOU TO CONDEMN THE GENOCIDAL OPPRESSIVE POLICIES OF THE SRI LANKAN GOVERNMENT AND TO RECOGNISE OUR PEOPLE’S RIGHT TO NATIONAL SELF DETERMINATION.
We, the Liberation Tigers, wish to express our support and solidarity to all the revolutionary liberation struggle of the oppressed masses of the world.
LIBERATION TIGERS OF TAMIL EELAM
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam 20.7.1979
A LETTER OF PROTEST TO MR R. PREMADASA, THE PRIME MINISTER OF SRI LANKA FROM THE LIBERATION TIGERS OF TAMIL EELAM
A very grave and explosive situation has arisen in Tamil Eelam as a consequence of your Government’s determination to stifle and stamp out, by violent means, the legitimate struggle of the oppressed Tamil nation for political independence. The intensified military occupation of Tamil lands, the increased terrorism of the State police against the innocent Tamil masses, the implementation of new repressive legislations that annuls the very freedom of political agitations all such devious methods of totalitarian tyranny signify that your Government has mounted a massive scale oppression to strangle the will of a nation of people and silence their political aspirations. In view of the fact that your Government has embarked on a policy of eliminating, by brute force, a legitimate political struggle based on a democratic principle of national self determination and that your Government has been using the name of our revolutionary movement as a pretext to invoke such repressive measures and to inflame the fires of Sinhala chauvinism, the Liberation Tigers are compelled to counter such vicious allegations and insinuations.
The most important factor that we wish to state clearly and emphatically is that we are not a group of amateur armed adventurists roaming in the jungles with romantic political illusions, nor are we a band of terrorists or vandals who kill and destroy at random for anarchic reasons. We are neither murderers nor criminals or violent fanatics as your Government often attempts to portray us. On the contrary, we are revolutionaries committed to revolutionary political practice. We represent the most powerful extra parliamentary liberation movement in the Tamil nation. We represent the militant expression of the collective will of our people who are determined to fight for freedom, dignity and justice. We are the armed vanguard of the struggling masses, the freedom fighters of the oppressed. We are not in any way isolated and alienated from the popular masses but immersed and integrated with the popular will, with the collective soul of our nation. Our revolutionary organisation is built through revolutionary struggles based on a revolutionary theory. We hold a firm conviction that armed resistance to the Sinhala military occupation and repression is the only viable and effective means to achieve the national liberation of Tamil Eelam. Against the reactionary violence and terrorism perpetrated against our people by your Government we have the right of armed defence and decisive masses of people are behind our revolutionary struggle.
Why we are committed to Armed Struggle The Tamil political history of recent times will certainly indicate to you that our people have exhausted all forms of peaceful struggles, all forms of parliamentary agitations, all forms of negotiations and pacts. For nearly a quarter of a century the Tamil nationalist movement fought decisively encompassing a variety of forms of struggles from peaceful picketings to mass hartals, from mass demonstrations to general strikes all aspects of peaceful political practice have been expressed and exhausted. The more the Tamil masses sought non violent methods to redress their grievances, the more the Sinhala ruling classes sought violent methods of military oppression and subjugation; the more they called for national emancipation the more the military invasion, occupation and repression. It is because of the heightened condition of this savage oppression, of the exhaustion and frustration of peaceful agitations that prompted our movement to engage in revolutionary armed resistance which we hold is a continuation of the political struggle of our oppressed people. The guerrilla warfare, the form of the popular struggle we are committed to is not borne out of blind militancy or adventurism but arose out of the historical necessity, out of the concrete conditions of intolerable national oppression. Our actions and operations, as your Government attempts to paint, are not indiscriminate bursts of irrational violence or terrorism, they are acts of revolutionary violence of the oppressed against the reactionary violence of the oppressor. We are waging a heroic struggle against the oppressive instruments of the state, against those who try to hunt us down, against those who plot to wipe us out, against those who betray us and against those traitors and opportunists who betray the noble cause of our national liberation struggle.
Who are the Terrorists? The first piece of draconian legislation enacted by your Government was to proscribe the Tiger movement alleging that we are dangerous terrorists threatening the very foundation of the so called national unity and territorial integrity. Such a legislation was, in actual fact, aimed not only to suppress the revolutionary armed struggle of the Tamils but also to consolidate an unpopular bourgeois dictatorship against the possible uprising of the oppressed Sinhala masses. The new Emergency Regulations aim to combat terrorism, but in reality it is primarily motivated to crush and destroy the Tamil national movement along with ad forms of popular class struggle against the State. Such totalitarian legislations negate the very freedom of political expression and contravene the basic principles of human right and liberty.
In the deluded eyes of your Government our movement appears to be a spectre of terrorism and anarchy. In reality, who are these terrorists? We assert, and we hold that we are right in our assertion, that it is the State police and the armed forces and those who poison the minds of the innocent Sinhala masses with racial fanaticism and chauvinism are the real terrorists. There has been innumerable incidents of such acts of terrorism perpetrated against our people, incidents of mass murder, looting and arson by racist terrorists aided and abetted by the armed forces, incidents of shooting and killing of innocent Tamil people, incidents of sadistic murders and barbaric torture by the police. These violent acts certainly fad within the category of terrorism and these terrorists are none other than the instruments of State oppression and the reactionary forces of racism. It is upon these terrorist forces that your Government has bestowed extra ordinary powers to ensure the peace and security of our people. Therefore, it is beyond reasonable doubt that your Government’s objective is not to wipe out a nonexistent terrorism but to unleash actual terrorism and violence to create panic among the Tamil masses. By such a high handed act, the Sinhala ruling class aims to destroy the determined will of our nation to fight for political independence. But the Government has failed to comprehend the historical truth that the more a nation of people are oppressed the more they become determined to fight back the oppression. By intensifying oppression your Government will never be able to achieve its aims of enslaving our people but will certainly open the prospective of prolonged popular armed struggle, a strategic objective to which we are already committed to.
Civil Administration Partially Paralysed
Your Government has closed several banks and the airport in the North placing the blame on our liberation movement. A state of emergency has been declared claiming that criminal acts are on the increase in Tamil areas. The Government’s motive behind such strategy is well known to our people. It is the calculated aim of your Government to place more hardship and inconvenience on our people hoping that the Tamil masses might feel the pinch and gradually turn critical of us and finally betray us. Such a devious strategy, we are certain, win never work. It simply exposes the impotency of your Government’s civil administration which has been partially paralysed. The declaration of the State of Emergency bares ample testimony that your Government is totaUy incapable of exercising any form of civil authority in the Tamil nation other than by military occupation and repression.
Acts of violence emanating from the most oppressed and deprived sections of the masses are not typical symptoms in the North alone. They are more pervasive in Sri Lanka signifying the socio economic crisis your Government is confronted with. This fact is amply illustrated by a statement made in Parliament recently by the Minister of Justice that between January and April of 1978 there have been 474 homicides and 214 incidents of robberies and burglaries throughout the island. Your Government has been using the Tamil revolutionary youth as scape goats for civil unrest that is boiling throughout Tamil Eelam and Sri Lanka. The truth is that your capitalist regime is faced with a major crisis and the down trodden classes are becoming impatient and disgruntled. The increasing criminal violence is an external manifestation of the internal frustrations of the masses. Unable to resolve the national economic crisis and the mounting social problems, your Government is adopting the reactionary strategy of intensifying the national oppression of the Tamils and invoking the Tiger phobia. The Sinhala national bourgeoisie always descends to such dirty politics of racism and chauvinism as a desperate means to turn the tide of Sinhala mass resentment against the State, towards the Tamils. Such a strategy, we are certain, will not work in the long run since the revolutionary proletariat in Sri Lanka is becoming ideologically conscious of the dangers of chauvinism that divide and immobilise the Sinhala working class.
We are fighting for a noble cause, a right cause, the cause of national freedom of the oppressed nation Tamil Eelam. The revolutionary process towards which we work to achieve national liberation and socialism will be long and arduous. Yet, we are certain that no force on earth, however repressive it may be, can stop us from the revolutionary struggle we are committed to.
LONG LIVE TAMIL EELAM
The World Tamil Diaspora (1979)