Sri Lanka The National Question and the Tamil Liberation Part 7 and 8

Sri Lanka The National Question and the Tamil Liberation

7. The Tamil Liberation Struggle

Although the parliament elected at the May 1970 election was to last for five years, the Republican constitution adopted in May 1972 extended its life by two years. Article 42(5) provided that the parliament “shall continue for a period of five years commencing from the date of the adoption of the constitution by the Constituent Assembly”. Accordingly, this parliament continued until 18 May 1977, when it was dissolved and a general election was fixed for 21 July 1977.

Earlier, in September 1975, the LSSP, one of the partners in the UF coalition, had been dismissed from the government by Mrs Bandaranaike, and in early 1977 the CP, the other UF partner, had defected from the government ranks.

On account of the seven-year “long parliament” and its expectation that it could avoid a general election, the ruling SLFP found itself in complete disarray when parliament was dissolved. During the last few years of the parliament, Mrs Bandaranaike’s government had come to revolve around an inner coterie comprising two cabinet ministers connected to the prime minister by family ties. A few other family members, though outside parliament seemed more important even than the senior cabinet ministers.

Because of the nature of the policies adopted by the UF coalition government, the economy began steadily to slip back, resulting in a deepening economic crisis. In 1973 the UF finance minister, Dr N.M. Perera cut the subsidy on rice, on which the poor depended, and stated:

“Clearly, we cannot do without either internal security or development effort. What we can do is to call upon the people to shoulder a greater responsibility by relying less on welfare measures.”

The price of rationed rice was increased several times, as a result of which the open market price shot up so much that people could not afford to buy It There was a great food shortage. Starvation, particularly of the urban poor and the Indian Tamil estate families, became the order of the day in the mid-1970s. In fact eating rice, the staple food of the people became a luxury. Hence Mrs Bandaranaike launched what she called “the food production war”

Unemployment reached crisis proportions. Prices soared to dizzy heights. Capitalist policies, and incentives such as tax holidays, multiple exchange rates and convertible rupee accounts granted to businessmen, brought about the greatest disparity in income and wealth the country had ever seen. From 1965, the country embarked on a series of foreign loans; when these mature in the 1970s, the repayments siphoned away 25-30% of export earnings. Hence more was borrowed, which created a debt economy and deepened the vicious circle. It was the ordinary people who had to suffer the consequences of the failure of these policies.

7.1 The 1977 Election

The five-year state of emergency and its attendant repression brought into the 1977 election campaign a set of new issues the need for guarantees of personal liberties, freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention, control of police excesses, support for the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary the repeal of the ex post facto penal laws. For the Sinhalese themselves, Sri Lanka under Mrs Bandaranaike had become a vast prison, and the first priority was to revert to an open and democratic process of government. The mercurial J.R. Jayewardene, the veteran campaigner of so many elections, who had, on Dudley’s death, taken over the leadership of the UNP realized the public’s mood. He quickly pledged that he would usher in what he called a government that was dharmista (just and righteous in terms of Buddhist doctrine) if voted to power.

Because of the Tamils’ demand for separation, the need to find a solution to the problem became important in Sinhalese politics and in the 1977 election campaign. Each political party took up a position on the Tamil national question. The UNP election manifesto, entitled “A Programme of Action to Create a Just and Free Society”, stated:

The United National Party accepts the position that there are numerous problems confronting the Tamil speaking people. The lack of a solution to their problems has made the Tamil speaking people support even a movement for the creation of a separate state. In the interest of national integration and unity so necessary for the economic development of the whole country, the party feels such problems should be solved without loss of time. The party, when it comes to power, will take all possible steps to remedy the grievances in such fields as (1) Education, (2) Colonization, (3) Use of Tamil language, (4) Employment in the Public and Semi Public Corporations. We will summon an all Party Conference as stated earlier and implement its decision.

The SLFP manifesto, under the heading of “National Unity and National Problems”, stated:

A State Advisory Council would be set up representing all nationalities to advise the government to discuss essential factors and to take steps including institutional reforms on cultural, social, economic, national and all language problems of the people of all minorities.

The United Left Front, formed between the LSSP and the CP, declared in its election manifesto, under the heading of “National Minorities”:

While retaining the unitary character of the state, the principle of regional autonomy will be applied within the general national framework of District Councils. While protecting and implementing to the full, language rights already provided for, our Government will facilitate the use of Tamil as the language of administration in the Tamil speaking areas. The Republican Constitution will be amended to include the rights already administratively granted to the Tamil language. Tamil will be declared a national language, in terms of the Constitution, without prejudice to the status of Sinhala as the official language of the country. Discrimination in education or employment on the basis of race, religion, or caste will be prohibited. Incitement of racial or religious hatred will be declared a penal offence.

These were the pre election posturings of the Sinhalese political parties after 90 years of “Sinhala only”. To the UNP, the Tamil problem needed attention only “in the interests of national integration and unity so necessary for the economic development of the whole country”. “Economic development” was more important than the Tamil national question.

In this context, it is apposite to quote what Lenin wrote of Russia in the early 1920s:

Our five years’ experience in settling the national question, in a country that contains a tremendous number of nationalities such as could hardly be found in any other country, gives us the full conviction that . . . the only correct attitude to the interests of nations is to meet those interests in full and provide conditions that exclude any possibility of conflicts on that score. Our experience has left us with the firm conviction that only exclusive attention to the interests of various nations can remove grounds for conflicts, can remove mutual mistrust, can remove any fear of any intrigues and create that confidence, especially on the part of workers and peasants . . . without which there absolutely cannot be peaceful relations between peoples or anything like a successful development of everything that is of value in present day civilization.l

When the UNP came to power on winning the 1977 election, without seeking to solve any of the problems which its manifesto had conceded were facing the Tamils, Jayewardene confronted the Tamil people’s movement for Separation by sending the military forces with a mandate to “wipe out” those spearheading the demand for a separate Tamil state.

The TULF election manifesto to the Tamil people stated:

. . . What is the alternative now left to the nation that has lost its right to its language, rights to its citizenship, rights to its religions and continues day by day to lose its traditional homeland to Sinhalese colonisation? What is the alternative now left to a nation that has lost its opportunities to higher education through “standardisation” and equality in opportunities in the sphere of employment? What is the alternative to a nation that lies helpless as it is being assaulted, looted and killed by hooligans instigated by the ruling race and by the secur forces of the state? Where else is an alternative to the Tamil nation that gropes in the dark for its identity and finds itself driven to the brink of devastation?

There is only one alternative and that is to proclaim with the stamp of finality and fortitude that we alone shall rule over our land our forefathers ruled. Sinhalese imperialism shall quit our Homeland. The Tamil United Liberation Front regards the general election of 1977 as a means of proclaiming to the Sinhalese Government this resolve of the Tamil nation …. Hence the TULF seeks in the General Election the mandate of the Tamil nation to establish an independent, sovereign secular, socialist State of Tamil Eelam that includes all the geographically contiguous areas that have been the traditional homeland of the Tamil speaking people in the country.

The manifesto, an elaborate document, went on to describe the structure of the Eelam state, its citizenship, its of fiscal language, the abolition of the caste system, its economic policy, and advocated non-alignment in foreign affairs and support for anti-imperialist forces and democratic liberation movements. As to how liberation would be achieved, the manifesto stated:

The Tamil nation must take the decision to establish its sovereignty in its homeland on the basis of its right to self-determination. The o way to announce this decision to the Sinhalese government and to t world is to vote for the Tamil United Liberation Front. The Tamil speaking representatives who get elected through these votes, while being members of the National State Assembly of Ceylon, will also form themselves into the National Assembly of Tamil Eelam which draft a constitution for the state of Tamil Eelam and establish the independence of Tamil Eelam by bringing that constitution into action either by peaceful means or by direct action or struggle.

In this manner, the TULF firmly and unequivocally committed itself to take steps to establish the Tamil state of Eelam immediately after the election. The Tamil people were enthusiastic. They believed the TULF and were willing to struggle in the cause of liberation. They voted in their thousands and returned 17 TULF candidates throughout the Tamil northeast. They voted for them primarily as their representatives to the promised proposed National Assembly of Tamil Eelam, which would draft a Constitution and “establish the independence of the Tamil Eelam”. As to what happened after the election, we shall return to this shortly.

In the 1977 election, the SLFP for the first time stood alone and isolated. It was attacked by the UNP on the one side and the ULF (LSSP CP alliance) an the other. The SLFP was criticized for the arbitrary exercise of power police brutalities, the high cost of living, the growing unemployment, abuse Of power, family patronage, the creation of a new mudalali capitalist class The UNP manifesto pledged to put all this right and to pursue “democratic socialism”.

What the people wanted was simply to be freed from seven years of SLFP tyranny. Jayewardene’s promise of a dharmista government seemed to offer just this. The Tamil people outside the north and east were hopeful of solutions to their problems because of the UNP’s pledges in its manifesto. The UNP’s victory was both a reaction against political excesses and arbitrary exercise of power and an expression of hope that the UNP would save the people from the deepening socio-economic crisis.

Sri Lanka’s eighth general election resulted in a massive landslide for the UNP. The SLFP and its former coalition partners (LSSP and CP), who had been voted into power in 1970 by a three-quarters majority, were now defeated by an enormous five-sixths majority for the UNP. The UNP won 139 seats, or 83% of the seats in parliament. The SLFP won only eight and the LSSP and CP failed to win one. The election narrowed the representation in parliament to just three parties�the UNP, the SLFP and the TULF The turn out had been a record 86.7% the highest in any democratic ejection in the world. The 1977 election results were as follows:


Party Total Seats Contested Seats Won % of Votes Polled
United National Party (UNP) 154 139 50.92
Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) 147 8 29.72
Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) 24 18 6.75
Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) 82 3.61
Communist Party (CP) 25 1.98
Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC) 2 1 1.00
Mahajana Eksath Permanua (MEP) 27 .36
Independents 295 1 5.65

For the first time in the parliamentary history of Sri Lanka, the former governing party was so decimated that it failed to become the largest opposition party. Apart from Mrs Bandaranaike and one minister, all the SLFP ministers were defeated. The ex Marxist LSSP and CP ceased to be a parliamentary force. The opposition came to be led by A. Amirthalingam, who became the leader of the TULF on the death of Chelvanayakam This at one turned the parliamentary confrontation between government and opposition into one between a Sinhalese government and a Tamil opposition

This was a disaster for Tamil politics. Any position taken up by the opposition was interpreted as coming from a party that stood for the division of the country. In his naivety, however, Amirthalingam seemed to be delighted with his new role as leader of the opposition. This was in a partialment where the opposition was totally ineffectual and the government party commanded a five sixths majority. J.R. Jayewardene became the prime minister and formed a cabinet giving important portfolios to raw, inexperienced figures. K W. Devanayagam, a Tamil UNP MP from the eastern province, was made minister of justice. S. Thondaman, elected as an MP from the multi member Nuwara Eliya constituency, joined the government a party and was later appointed a minister.

7.2 The 1977 Anti Tamil Riots

In late 1975 Walter Schwarz wrote:

“Sri Lanka appears very likely to be on the brink of a fresh deterioration in its community relations. What form it will take is an open question.”

But such warnings went unheeded. Within a month of the UNP government taking office, the anti Tamil riots of August 1977 engulfed the country.

For two weeks from 16 August, Sinhalese thugs and hooligans, instigate by the chauvinists, went on the rampage. They attacked the Tamils wherever they found them, killed hundreds of Tamil men, women and children, burn Tamil houses and shops and looted Tamil houses in broad daylight and late set them ablaze.

Fr Tissa Balasuriya wrote of these events:

During the last two weeks of August 1977 many in Sri Lanka lived agonizing days and nights of looting, arson and lawlessness. Gangs h beaten, inflicted horrifying injuries and even resorted to manslaughter All this is apparently due to racial animosities …. According to official sources over 100 have lost their lives. About 50,000 have left their homes and moved mainly to the north . . . houses, shops and residential lines have first been looted, then set ablaze. The lines of division have once again gone into the hearts of people . . . innocent children have lost a mother or father …. Bewildered children will for all time remember the refugee camps the only place of solace for their mothers and fathers for days and nights …. Tens of thousands) of innocent plantation workers were worst affected by the communal disturbances of August 1977 2

Fr Balasuriya refers to the events as “communal disturbances” and studiedly refrains from describing them as Sinhalese rioting and the murder innocent Tamils The government declared a state of emergency and curfew but in the 1977 holocaust the police and army were on the side of the Sinhalese thugs, looters, arsonists and murderers, for it was their wish that the Tamils be taught a lesson for demanding a separate state.

A new dimension with important consequences that emerged in the 1977 riots and which was to be repeated in 1981 and 1982, was that the Indian Tamils in the plantations were as seriously affected as the Sri Lankan Tamils. Bernade  Silva confirms this when she writes:

A new feature has emerged in the communal disturbances of August 1977. Though it lasted only two weeks, it seems to have created more bitterness both among the Tamils and the Sinhalese. This time, many more indigenous Tamils do not wish to return to their old places of work in the Central, Western and Southern Provinces. Some of those of Indian origin who have received Ceylon Citizenship want it revoked to return to India, while others want to be re settled in the Northern and Eastern Provinces, the traditional areas where they feel safe.3

It must be remembered that S. Thondaman, although a party to the TULF, was not for separation. He probably felt that, since the plantations were located outside the north and east, the interests of the Indian plantation Tamils were best served by a united Sri Lanka. But the 1977 and 1981 anti-Tamil rioting drove many plantation Tamils to the Vavuniya areas in the north, for reasons of security.

These Tamil refugees were resettled in farming schemes established in the Vavuniya area by humanitarian groups, with aid from certain overseas volunteer organisations. Over the years, they have grown into Tamil villages and there are now about 40 of them in the Vavuniya area. From being tea pluckers and rubber pruners and line room dwellers living and working under wrechched conditions, these resettled Indian Tamils have become a new political force uniting with the Sri Lankan Tamils. When they were in the plantations they were attacked in their line rooms and driven away by Sinhalese thugs and villagers. Once they were resettled in the north, the cattle to be harassed and beaten up by the army in their search for “Tiger” suspects. David Selbourne writes graphically of their present plight and their determination to resist:

The police and the army as many as a thousand at a time have invaded) some landing in helicopters, others driving their armoured cars (“it was like ploughing”) across the new crops harass the settlements, searching for Tigers and beating up suspects …. The former plantation coolie . . . was tied, struck in the face with fists, and hung upside down from the roof beams, face bleeding, for hours. He crosses his thin arms on his chest to show how they tied him . . . the harassment has made the settlers even more determined: “We will stay here and die here”, they say . . .

Because of their insecurity, these plantation Tamils have resolved to fight for Tamil liberation and Tamil Eelam. Selbourne writes:

“We have started moving towards liberation,” said a squatter village headman, 20 miles from Vavuniya, formerly a tea plantation worker, “Here everybody is for Eelam.” On the up country estates, they ask: “What good will Eelam do us? Will it find jobs for one million plantation workers?” But, here, they say, “We are fighting for the new generation.” Free of the suffocation of the line rooms and the shackles of their serfdom, this is a new political language and a new defiance. Vavuniya, not Jaffna, is the front line of the Tamil struggle; and on battlefield, they are not likely to be defeated.4

7.3 UNP’s Betrayal of Election Pledge

The UNP had in its election manifesto accepted that there were numerous problems confronting the Tamil people, in particular, education, colonization, the use of the Tamil language and employment, and had pledged to solve problems when it came to office. Once in power, however, it assumed a position no different to Mrs Bandaranaike’s. The Tamils outside the north and east had believed the UNP and voted for it. yet it failed to summon the all-party conference it had promised in the manifesto, although there were just three parties in parliament and the UNP had a four-fifths majority. It could even be argued that it had received this majority specifically to solve. the Tamil problem which had bedevilled the country from 1956. Soon aft the formation of the government, the Maha Nayake of the Asgiriya�the high priest of the most influential Buddhist sect in the country in August 1977 reminded Prime Minister J.R. Jayewardene:

1. You are Prime Minister not only of the Buddhists, but of all countrymen
2. You must hold the scales evenly among the Buddhists, Hindus, Christians and Muslims,
3. Religion and language should be treated equally,
4. You should do everything to correct the situation that has hither prevailed

This reminder was not heeded by Junius Richard Jayewardene. In his rhetoric, however, he was sublime. He told the World Peace through Last Centre Conference in August 1977:

My Government is dedicated to the elimination of all forms of discrimination. In this task, the redress of the grievances of all ethnic, religious and caste groups will receive my Government’s urgent attention. To this end an all party conference will shortly be summoned to consider the problems of non Sinhala speaking people and its decisions will be incorporated in the proposed constitution.6

Without calling the promised all party conference or taking any steps to redress Tamil grievances, Jayewardene proceeded to declare war by sending in the army with instructions to “wipe out the terrorists”, i e. the young Tamils fighting for liberation from Sinhalese enslavement who were shut out from the university because of government’s discrimination against them.

7.3 The 1978 Constitution

The 1972 UF constitution was the first constitution in the world to provide for its own repeal and replacement. This was contrary to known constitutional principles, according to which a constitution if legally enacted, is a document of permanent validity unless legal continuity of the state is broken by a coup d’etat or a successful revolution. What was even more astonishing was that the 1972 constitution made the process of making a new constitution a legislative function by a two-thirds majority of the parliament of Sri Lanka the same majority required for a constitutional amendment.

Although the 1972 constitution was illegal, as contended earlier, since the UNP possessed the required two thirds majority, it proceeded to repeal the 1972 constitution and replace it with a new one in August 1978, declaring Sri Lanka a Democratic Socialist Republic.

The central feature of the 1978 constitution was its provision for an executive presidential government with a cabinet of ministers, collectively responsible to parliament. Under this constitution, Jayewardene was “deemed for all purposes to have been elected as the President of the Republic” and would hold that of five “for a period of six years from 4 February 1978”.

The President was “the Head of the State, Head of the Executive and the government and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces”, with power to appoint and dismiss the cabinet of ministers and to dissolve parliament. The 1978 constitution reiterated that Sri Lanka was a unitary state and described the territory of the Republic of Sri Lanka as consisting of the 24 adminstrative districts. This constitution for the first time described the national flag (the lion flag), the national anthem and the national day

As to the place of Buddhism, it went much further than the 1972 constitution and in Article 9 stated: “The Republic of Sri Lanka shall give to Buddhism the foremost place and accordingly it shall be the duty of the state to protect  and foster the Buddha Sasana.” The Buddha Sasana includes the doctrine as taught by Buddha as well as the Buddhist church.

In regard to the official language. Article 18 stated: “The Official Language of Sri Lanka shall be Sinhala.” The change from the 1972 provision is striking. According to the 1972 constitution, “the official language shall be Sinhala as provided by the Official Language Act”, but the new constitution did not define it in terms of an ultra vires act, but constitutionally provided for Sinhala as the official language. In this way, both Buddhism and Sinhala were further exalted by the 1978 constitution.

In Article 22 the constitution stated that “the official language shall be the language of administration throughout Sri Lanka”. To this, a proviso was added that the “Tamil language shall also be used as the language of administration for the maintenance of public records and the transaction of all business by public institutions in the Northern and Eastern Provinces” Article 19 stated that “the National Languages of Sri Lanka shall be Sinhala and Tamil”. This, of course, is absolutely redundant, merely stating an existing fact.

Article 24 declared that “the Official Language shall be the language of the courts throughout Sri Lanka and accordingly their records and proceedings shall be in the Official Language”. To this again a proviso was added that “the language of the courts exercising original jurisdiction in the Northern and Eastern Provinces shall also be Tamil and their records and proceedings shall be in the Tamil language” (emphasis added).

Although reluctantly and circuitously arrived at, this was dictated by practical necessity, as a minimum concession to the Tamil language in Tamil areas. Although repugnant to “Sinhala only” zealots, it was now conceded and written into the constitution. It went further and provided for the use of the Tamil language in court proceedings throughout Sri Lanka if any pa or applicant or lawyer required it.

The constitution also abolished the long-obsolete distinction between “citizen by descent” and “citizen by registration”, and provided for one citizenship.

Following the 1972 constitution, it vested the judicial power of the state in the parliament and thereby subjected the judiciary to political control. However, it nominally enhanced the independence of the judiciary by reintroducing the independent Judicial Service Commission, consisting of Supreme Court judges.

But by providing in Article 163 that “all judges of the Supreme Court the High Courts . . . holding office on the day immediately before the commencement of the constitution shall, on the commencement of the constitution, cease to hold office”, the government excluded two functioning judges and thereby secured a politically acceptable judiciary. By requiring the judges, on the threat of compulsion, to take an oath to uphold and defend the constitution, the UNP government placed the question of the constitution’s legality outside judicial review.

In this and numerous other ways, the citizen’s freedoms were curtailed by the government and its constitution, although Article 3 stated that “In the Republic of Sri Lanka sovereignty is in the people and is inalienable”. In article 81 the constitution provided for expulsion and imposition of civic disability on MPs if a special commission of inquiry so recommended. Availing itself of this provision, the UNP government appointed a Special Presidential Commission to investigate Mrs Bandaranaike. On its recommendation it expelled her from parliament and imposed civic disability on her so that Jayewardene’s principal political adversary was kept out of the political arena for seven years.

According to the preamble of the constitution, “the people of Sri Lanka having by their Mandate freely expressed and granted . . . entrusted to and empowered their Representatives elected . . . to draft, adopt and operate a Republican Constitution . . . we the freely elected representatives of the people of Sri Lanka, in pursuance of such Mandate . . . do hereby adopt and enact this constitution . . .”

As stated earlier, the people who vote at elections do not give a mandate for the framing of a constitution; they simply elect a legislature for a fixed term to make laws, not to make constitutions which outlive their makers.

The constitution is the supreme law and its formulation must be according to the law. The mandate to create a constitution does not arise out of some process of internal combustion at every election. Since the legitimacy of the 1978 constitution was not derived from the illegal 1972 constitution, but from a so-called “mandate”, it must be asked where this mandate came from. For 49.08% of the voters had voted against the UNP, and 6.75% of the Tamils voted for a separate Tamil state and for the proposed National Assembly of Tamil Eelam to draft a constitution and “establish the independence of Tamil Eelam”. Where, then, was the mandate?

The truth is that, even with the Sinhalese people, the Sinhalese ruling class and its governments were in perpetual rebellion. And true to bourgeois tradition, they survived by mystification of those who enabled them to subjugate others. They played on the credulity of the people and the cooperation of the intellectuals and their conspiracy of silence. The 1978 Constitution like its predecessor, was illegal and the entire presidential system and the power that was usurped and wielded under it, had no constitutional legal basis and therefore no legal effect.

7.4 The Proscribing of the “Tigers” of Tamil Eelam

In the euphoria of victory, the Jayewardene UNP government adopted a confrontational posture towards the TULF, the leading opposition party in parliament, and towards the Tamil activist groups which had vowed for liberation if a negotiated solution to their problems was not forthcoming. The Sinhalese chauvinists in the governing UNP expected the FP to join them once more in the parliamentary merry go round. But the TULF realised that the Tamil people had come to the end of their tether and there was no room for manoeuvres and betrayal. To forestall the TULF’s militant stances Jayewardene called for a “national” government without any regard to the Tamil people’s problems. The TULF knew that this would be suicidal.

When the government put forward its conventional policy statement in August 1977, Amirthalingam, the leader of the opposition, proposed an amendment to it:

It [the policy statement] studiedly refrains from referring to the mandate given by the people of Tamil Eelam to the TULF for the restoration and reconstitution of a free, sovereign, socialist, secular state of Tamil Eelam . . . Government policy has failed to take note of the fact that the Tamils are a separate nation by all internationally accepted standards . . . and are therefore entitled to exercise their inalienable right of self determination

Such a forthright position, from a hitherto docile and pliant TULF, infuriated the UNP Sinhalese chauvinists. The UNP was determined to tame the new militant stance of the TULF. In this task, which was well planned and orchestrated, Cyril Mathew, the minister of industries, was allowed to emerge as the most extreme anti-Tamil Sinhalese chauvinist, the Sri Lankan counterpart of Enoch Powell.

Using the privilege of the house, Mathew attacked Amirthalingam (and even his wife) in a series of vulgar diatribes of a type unknown in the country’s parliamentary history, solely aimed at denouncing him as the enemy of the; Sinhalese. These were given great publicity in the press and on the state radio, and it became clear that new battle lines were becoming drawn up between the Sinhalese and Tamil politicians.

The former was aware that the TULF leader, as the leader of the opposition, had an exalted status in the conventional world with which to bolster the Tamil claim for separation. In the heated atmosphere, some UNP Sinhalese backbenchers even threatened to cross over and join the SLFP, so as to take over the position of the leader of the opposition for the Sinhalese. The UNP and its leadership felt their task was to face down the demand for Tamil separation and to curb the young Tamils who were known to be pressing the reluctant TULF leadership with their vocal clamour for separation.

When large numbers of young Tamils were arrested and detained, all of them were tortured to give a foretaste of what was in store for them, and then released without charge. This was how the government proposed to muzzle the growing militancy of the young Tamils. Once in detention, the had to prove their innocence to unrelenting police torturers. They became familiar with police methods and who their perpetrators were. On April 19. they cleverly snared and ambushed the notorious Inspector Bastiampillais and two others, and shot and killed them. Their success in finishing off this notorious police torturer emboldened them to go on the offensive and declare themselves as the “Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam”. The Jayewardene government quickly enacted the Proscribing of the Liberation Tigers of  Tamil Eelam Law (No. 16 of 1978).

Even then the government did not feel impelled to get to the root of the Tamil problem. What it wanted was the gradual destruction of the Tamils’ identity as a national community and their assimilation with the Sinhalese. It felt that if it was unrelenting, this objective would be achieved.

It was clearly unaware that as a result of indiscriminate police arrests and torture,  the young Tamils’ political objective had become one of the struggle for national liberation. In this, the initiative was with the young Tamils and not with the bourgeois politicians. The escalating dialectic of oppression and resistance was leading to a level of national oppression which could only be met by armed revolutionary struggle. This escalation gave the young Tamils a unique opportunity to adapt the revolutionary practice to suit their peculiar conditions, in which an integral dimension of the national liberation struggle was emancipation from “racial” oppression and from internal colonialism

7.5 The 1979 Prevention of Terrorism Act

In July 1979 the Jayewardene government repealed the Proscribing of the Liberation Tigers Law and replaced it with the Prevention of Terrorism Act No. 48 of 1979, the most draconian law ever to enter the country’s statute book. This again was a result of misreading the situation. A nation’s urge for freedom cannot be contained by repression at the hands of another nation bent on subjugation. Such repression will further unify the oppressed nation and generate patriotic resistance, on the basis of national unity against the oppressors. This is what has been happening since 1979 in Sri Lanka. Tamils abroad are also becoming united by the urge for freedom.

Before we go on to see the obnoxious provisions of this 1979 Act, it must be noted that it was a law made by the Sinhalese to be applied only against the Tamils. In its sweep, this law is of the same import as the notorious 1967 Terrorism Act of South Africa. Since Section 30 states that it repeals the Proscribing of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam Law, it is openly directed against the Tamil people only. This is also clear from the preamble:

Public order continues to be endangered by elements or groups of persons or associations that advocate the use of force or the commission of crime as a means of, or as an aid in, accomplishing governmental change in Sri Lanka.”

The act declares that “grievances should be redressed by constitutional methods’

It was the government, through the police and the army, that had used force against the Tamils and in particular, had tyrannized the young Tamils. The government assumed that it had carte blanche to use the Sinhalese armed forces against the peaceful Tamil youths and the people. The Tamils were not seeking any “governmental change”; they were seeking their national freedom which had been denied to them by the Sinhalese governments.

The patriotic young Tamils who had chosen to call themselves the “Eelam Liberation Tigers ‘, were, for the first time in the history of Tamil politics, correctly defining the objective reality facing the Tamil nation and advance the national liberation by positioning themselves at the vanguard of the freedom struggle. In partisan politics, a fighter is a “patriot” to the oppressed and a “terrorist” to the oppressors. Arthur Griffith of Ireland, Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya and U Aung San of Burma were labelled “terrorists” by imperial governments but were patriotic liberators to the oppressed people.

It was oppression that produced the “Eelam Tigers”, and their courage was also born of the dynamics of oppression.

By the 1979 law, the Jayewardene government abdicated the civil government of the Tamil people and substituted police and military rule over a historic law-abiding and peaceful people. It abrogated all legal and constitutional safeguards with regard to arrest, detention, protection against self-incrimination and retrospective criminality. This law is unique in the whole legal corpus as an attempt to resolve or contain political, social or ethnic conflict.

Section 28 of the law stated that it was to operate “notwithstanding anything contained in any other written law”, and its provisions were to prevail “in the event of any conflict or inconsistency” between it and any other written law. Thus the Prevention of Terrorism Law became the supreme law of the land. This mirrors the state structure of Sri Lanka today. Although this law purports to prevent “terrorism”, it nowhere defines it but includes ordinary penal code offences such as criminal intimidation, mischief, robbery and even erasing or defacing a board or fixture in a street.

According to the Prevention of Terrorism Act, where the minister of defence “has reason to believe or suspects that any person is connected with or concerned in any unlawful activity”, he could order that person to be detained incommunicado and without trial for 18 months. It further provides that such an order “shall be final and shall not be called in question in any court or tribunal by way of writ or otherwise”. There was no remedy against torture during this long period of incarceration or even against death in detention.

Why such long detention without trial and the exclusion of the power the courts to review the executive act? The Jayewardene government had respect for human rights or powers of judicial review and was in rebellion not only against the Tamil people but even against its own institutions. It had faith only in military solutions. Were not these provisions designed drive terror into the Tamil people and make them submit to Sinhalese rule and abandon their demand for freedom? Had not the government declared war on the Tamil people?

The act contained special provisions that made admissible in court confessions, even oral confession, extorted from suspects and fellow suspects while in detention. The police and the army, now invested with police powers were given absolute powers to enter and search any premises, an to search or arrest anyone. The term “unlawful activity” was defined as action taken or act committed by any means whatsoever whether within or outside Sri Lanka whether such action was taken or act was committed on or after the date of coming into operation of the Act”. Do not these provisions negate every safeguard of human liberty?

7.6 Jayaewardene’s Mandate for Tamil Genocide

No sooner was this act enacted than Jayewardene declared a state of emergency in the Tamil areas, from 11 July 1979, and dispatched the Sinhalese military under a brigadier with orders to “wipe out” the “terrorists” spearheading the demand for a separate Tamil state. Jayewardene wanted this to be done before 31 December 1979. With these instructions, the army went on the rampage. On the first day it arrested and killed a number of innocent young Tamils and threw the mutilated bodies of two of them Inpam and Selvaratnam onto the Pannai Causeway.

Four other Tamil youths S. Parameswaran, S. Rajeswaran, Rajakili and R. Balendran “disappeared” after police arrest on 14 July and according to Amnesty International’s 1982 report, their bodies have not been found. Another Tamil youth, Indrarajah, also arrested on 14 July, was admitted to Jaffna hospital the next day with many injuries and died the following day. The Jaffna magistrate, after an inquest, returned a verdict of homicide and stated: “There is evidence of assault by the police.”

There was a reign of army terror in the Jaffna peninsula. The Amnesty International (1980) report states:

In the period immediately after the emergency declaration a pattern of arbitrary arrest and detention existed and torture was used systematically …. Six young men, reported arrested in the days after the emergency declaration, died in the custody of the police after having been tortured and the bodies of three of them have still not been found. When the Emergency was declared, the President had instructed the Commander of the Security Forces in the Jaffna District to carry out his mandate before 31 December 1979 …. in a subsequent letter to the President, Amnesty International . . . said it had recently received testimonies which indicated that serious violations of the right of freedom from torture and from arbitrary arrest, detention and punishment rights also guaranteed in the Sri Lanka constitution had Occurred in the months after the emergency declaration.

Articles 3 and 5 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights state that  “everyone has the right to life, liberty and security”, and “no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment”. A memorandum from Amnesty International to President Jayewardene states:

Various methods of torture have been used by both the police and the Sinhala army in the period immediately after the emergency declaration, including suspending people upside down by the toes while placing their head in a bag with suffocating fumes of burning chillies, prolonged and severe beatings, insertion of pins in the finger tips and the application of broken chillies and biting ants to sensitive parts of the body and threats of execution. After these and other methods of  torture had been applied, statements were extracted and recorded.7

The Sinhalese army, as we have seen, was mandated to “wipe out” in other words, to kill Tamils. Is this not publicly proclaimed genocide? The UN Convention on the Prevention of the Crime of Genocide (General Assembly resolution 2670 of 1948) defines genocide as “the killing or causing serious bodily or mental harm of a national, ethnical, racial or religious group committed with intent to destroy such a group in whole or in part”. Article IV of the convention states: “Persons committing genocide shall be punished, whether they are constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials or private individuals.”

The Amnesty International memorandum requested the repeal of the 1979 law and independent investigation of complaints of army and police brutality and torture.

A memorandum of the Ceylon Institute for National and Tamil Affairs (Cinta), dated 1 September 1982, addressed to President Jayewardene, stated inter alia:

Already serious allegations of torture have been made before our courts . . . in cases of a number of persons detained under this Act.

… The recent case of the University student Wimalarajah underlines the fact that the Prevention of Terrorism Act is counter productive and also shows how the Act is being implemented among the Tamils. does not appear to be applied to members of any other ethnic group Sri Lanka. Student Wimalarajah was arrested and kept in detention more than a year without being brought to trial or any charge made against him. The student world in the North finally moved into action with a series of protest meetings …. The government responded wit the release of Wimalarajah and several other persons similarly detained. All this and the bitterness that it engendered could have been avoided if the normal human rights and the Rule of Law standards had been observed, instead of resorting to repressive legislation like this Act.

. . But the real damage that this Act causes is that its operation is no confined to the persons who are arrested or detained. The very continuance in force and the working of this Act plays havoc with an entire community, namely the Tamil speaking people, particularly of the North. It subjects them to deep seated fears and growing sense of insecurity which has lasted from the first post independence Race Riot of 1956 and has been sharpened by repeated racial assaults on the minorities since the tragedy of 1977. An alarming feature of the whole law and order situation in the North is the manner in which the armed forces seem to be operating. Almost daily [mid 1982] there are incidents in which members of the public are suddenly subjected to search at some junction or other place. At the end of the search and rough handling some of the people searched are thrashed indiscriminately and then sent off.8

The Prevention of Terrorism Act and the subsequent repression made the Tamils shed their conservatism and radicalized them. The Liberation Titters came to be the vanguard of the revolutionary struggle for Eelam liberation In July 1981 the Liberation Tigers attacked the Anaicottai police station and killed two policemen and escaped with firearms. Subsequently, they attacked the Chavakacheri police station and again got away with the firearms They killed a UNP organizer in Jaffna.

State terrorism gave birth to heroic resistance in the cause of national liberation The result was clear. No people can be held down by the force of military might, particularly of another oppressive ethnic community. The situation escalated into a “race” war between the Sinhalese and the Tamils.

The report of the International Commission of Jurists on Ethnic Conflict and Violence in Sri Lanka, under the heading of “Effectiveness of Terrorism Act”, states:

The provisions of the Sri Lankan Terrorism Act are not only objectionable from the human rights point of view but it is doubtful that the Act is effective in controlling terrorism. The limitations on human rights, therefore, do not seem acceptable as a necessary means of maintaining public security. Since 1979, when the Act was adopted terrorism had not declined but rather increased in the Northern Tamil area. Increased police and army surveillance of the population have not curtailed violence but seemingly stimulated it. This experience is similar to that of some other countries which have attempted to control terrorism by armed force rather than dealing with the fundamental factors contributing to the recourse to violence.9

The Cinta memorandum similarly stated:

. . . Since 1977 there has been a reign of terror in the North unleashed by the armed forces. Instead of curbing violence, it has, on the contrary, escalated the incidence of violence, as was seen from the increasing number of killings of armed personnel. We need hardly state that the terrorism of the armed forces has been counter productive. The conclusion is all too obvious that terrorism cannot be combated by counter terrorism or by state terrorism but only by a political solution. The reason is that the grievances of the people are far too deep seated to be smothered by batons and bullets.

7.7 Police and Army Rampage in Jaffna

From 1979, because of the Sinhalese military occupation of Jaffna and the state terrorism let loose on the people. hostility began to grow and became deeply embedded in the Tamil people. A group of highly organized young Tamil militants, at first calling themselves the Eelam “Tigers”, and then reorganised as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, became active in the northern Tamil areas. They began to kill Sinhalese policemen, attacked police stations and took away weapons. Consequently, the mainstream TULF politicians were forced to become more militant, both inside and outside parliament, in their demand for separation.

Jayewardene produced the artful antidote of an all-island system of District Development Councils (DDCs) toothless bodies without specified powers but with councillors to be elected by the people in order to divert the growing militancy of the youth and the TULF. In fact, for quite some time, this tactic paid off handsomely for Jayewardene.

The UNP’s strategy for the DDC elections was to win at least one of the six DDCs in the Tamil areas and at least one councillor in Jaffna, to show the TULF and the Sinhalese that the TULF was not in total control of the Tamil areas, and hence that the separatist demand was a spurious one. The UNP attempted to achieve this by hook or by crook.

By 1981 the Eelam Tamil Liberation Tigers had killed about 20 policemen. Innocent young Tamils who were detained, tortured and released without out charges were driven to swell the Liberation Tiger movement.

In the run-up to the DDC elections in Jaffna, Thiagarajah, the former M of the TC, who went over to Mrs Bandaranaike in 1971 and was appointed the powerful Jaffna District Political Authority, and was now the UNP’s leading candidate, was shot and killed. The TULF was seriously drawn into the DDC elections because the UNP had put up some Tamil candidates. Jayewardene was anxious to rally the people around the DDCs, to divert Tamil separatist nationalism, which was becoming increasingly unmanageable. He regarded the DDCs as the last peaceful means to counter Tamil separation. In this context, the UNP was determined to win at least one seat in Jaffna, even if it involved rigging the election, hijacking ballot boxes or beating the Tamil people into voting for the UNP.

On the eve of the election, fixed for 4 June 1981, a contingent of 300 specially selected Sinhalese policemen were sent to Jaffna to supervise t operations. The 150 officials mandated by the commissioner of elections presiding and counting officers were at the last minute replaced by Sinhala loyalists hand-picked by the UNP high command and sent to Jaffna. To augment them and offer political counsel on the spot, Minister of Industry Cyril Mathew, the bete noire of the Tamils, Minister of Lands and Mahaveli Development Gamini Dissanayake, the secretary and additional secretary the Ministry of Defence and the secretary to the cabinet, had all arrived Jaffna by 30 May. For the first time, the government was planning to subvert the elections in the very year in which it was celebrating 50 years of universal suffrage.

On 31 May, at an election meeting in Jaffna, an unidentified gunman fired some shots and, at this, the Sinhalese police and army instigated a state-sponsored orgy of murder, mayhem, looting, arson and terror in the city until 8 June 1981. A statement issued by the opposition parties declared:

More than 100 shops have been broken, burnt, looted market squares in Jaffna and Chunnakam look as if they have been bombed in wartime: several houses have been looted and badly damaged, the house of the MP for Jaffna has been reduced to ruins (the MP himself was lucky to escape being murdered); several deaths have occurred at the hands of the state armed personnel; the Headquarters of the TULF in the heart of Jaffna has been destroyed; the public library in Jaffna the second largest library in the island with over 90,000 volumes has been reduced to ashes. Even more reprehensible are the facts that these outrages should have taken place when cabinet ministers and several leaders of the security services were personally present in Jaffna directing affairs, and that a section of the security services, which had been sent there to maintain law and order, had been directly involved. 10

Speaking in parliament on the rampage in Jaffna, Minister Gamini Dissanayake stated:

We do not wish to minimise in any way the gravity of what has been done, the untold damage that has been done . . . I saw it and I was shocked . . . these police officers have run berserk . . . I am sorry for the violence that was perpetrated in the Jaffna peninsula. I think we are all responsible. 11

An emergency was declared in the Jaffna peninsula. Yet President Jayewardene was determined to go ahead with the elections to the DDC in  Jaffna as scheduled for 4 June 1981 Minister Gamini Dissanayake, who was in Jaffna, stated in parliament:

And His Excellency the President decided to carry on with the poll. . . . I have been in Jaffna, having observed what took place in Jaffna, there was no atmosphere there for free polls. The atmosphere was one of terror; the police were not easily confined to the barracks, and I think many of us who were there were concerned with the situation. The deputy Minister of Defence was there, and we were concerned. And if we made any errors according to you in what we have done we are prepared to face the consequences and take full responsibility for our actions.

Despite the orgy of violence and bloodletting, the DDC elections were held on 4 June and the ballot boxes were taken to Colombo. The results were announced on 16 June. Of the 315,999 votes polled, the TULF receive 263,369 and retained all the seats and also the council. The UNP polled 23,302 votes and the TC 21,682. The TULF won all six DDCs in the Tamil areas. This was not what Jayewardene had wanted. In that setting, if any real power were given to the DDCs, the TULF would have become powerful and consolidated its hold on the Tamil people. Hence, even today, the powers of the DDCs have not been defined and they are merely empty shells.

Jayewardene had expected Sinhalese resettlement of the Tamil areas to result in victory for the Sinhalese and the UNP in Trincomalee. His disappointment was manifest:

President Jayewardene addressing the Executive Committee of the A11 Ceylon UNP Women’s Union, at Ramakrishna Hall, Wellawatte, said that in Trincomalee the TULF polled 2,304 votes more than the UNP at the DDC election. In 1977, the SLFP polled in the Trincom district 20,841 votes. If one fourth of these votes had been given to UNP in 1981, the Chairman would have been one “who did not advocate the division of the country”. 12

He would never refer to why the Tamil people wanted to divide the country. After accepting in the 1977 election manifesto that “there are numerous problems confronting the Tamil speaking people”, and that the “lack of a solution to their problems had made the Tamil speaking people support e a movement for the creation of a separate state”, and after pledging that the UNP “feels that such problems should be solved without loss of time”, he was now hoping to have a Sinhalese as the Chairman of the Trincomalee DDC. One can see why he wanted the rapid resettlement of these districts, particularly in the Trincomalee area, to claim them as Sinhalese areas.

The TULF MPs took their battle into parliament. They moved a vote of no confidence in the government, on the grounds that the May June 1981 violence in Jaffna had been state-sponsored and carried out by Sinhalese ministers and high ranking government of finials present on the spot. The government responded by going on the offensive. What followed was the most racially poisonous verbal vendetta in Sri Lanka’s parliamentary hiss In the debate that ensued, one Sinhalese MP called for the return of the traditional death penalty which “tears the offender’s body limb from limb

7.8 No Confidence Motion on the Leader of the Opposition

Unwilling and unable to understand Tamil separatist nationalism, the Sin politicians regarded Amirthalingam, the TULF boss and leader of the opposition, as the principal villain in the demand for separation. He was accused of acting against the interests of the country during his foreign trips when had advocated separation. They sought to remove him as leader of the opposition. To general amazement, they brought in a motion of no confidence in on the grounds that he did not “enjoy the confidence of the Government”.

In the House, Amirthalingam was refused permission to make a personal explanation and at this, the TULF MPs walked out. The speaker overruled a point of order by the SLFP, that the motion was not within the powers of the House, and at this, the SLFP walked out. The CP member (elected in 1979 at a by-election in Ratnapura) contended that the motion, even if passed, would lead to nothing and also walked out.

Amidst the empty opposition benches, the UNP government Sinhalese MPs vilified Amirthalingam in the most despicable terms and suggested that he be tied to the nearest post and whipped. They also wanted all the Eelam separatists to be skinned and their bodiestorn up. All this was dutifully carried as headline news by the press and repeated several times over the state radio it was argued that Sri Lanka belonged to the Sinhalese and that the Tamils and Muslims were aliens; the Tamils had no right to a separate state. The Tamils had been brought to Sri Lanka as slaves by high caste Aryan Sinhalese; the Tamils would be sent back to India; the Sinhalese would be ready for war if the Eelam demand was not abandoned.

The no-confidence motion was passed on 24 July 1981 by 121 votes to nil with two abstentions S. Thondaman and Shelton Ranarajah deputy minister of justice. When they found that even with such overwhelming majority they could not remove Amirthalingam as leader of the opposition, the Sinhalese MPs even sought to convert the parliament into a court to punish Amirthalingam, on the grounds that, according to the 1978 constitution “the judicial power of the people may be directly exercised by parliament” in regard to “privileges, immunities and powers of parliament”. Perhaps Erskine May brought some sanity to them at last, for this course was abandoned. But these events were to have immediate repercussions in the country.

7.9 The 1981 Anti Tamil Pogrom

Following the state-sponsored violence in Jaffna, for three months there was Countrywide anti-Tamil fanaticism and rioting organized by influential figures in the UNP government. A statement issued by the Movement for Inter-Racial Justice and Equality (MIRJE), comprising some of the Opposition parties and a number of individuals, stated:

It is clear that the violence has been the work of organized gangs of thugs who have been used for sinister political purposes to stage these incidents There is good reason to suspect that persons in powerful positions have been behind the instigation, organization and planning of this campaign of violence. We have therefore legitimate grounds for fear that these events may provide a cover for new repressive moves and attacks on the democratic rights of all sections of the people, regardless of race, language or religion.

That this was true was confirmed by British journalist Brian Eads, who was in Sri Lanka and wrote in The Observer (London) of 20 September 1981, as follows:

It is clear that subsequent violence in July and August, which was directed against Sri Lanka Tamils in the east and south of the country and Indian Tamil tea estate workers in the central region, was not random. It was stimulated, and in some cases organized, by members the ruling UNP, among them intimates of the President. In all 25 people died, scores of women were raped, and thousands were made homeless, losing all their meagre belongings. But the summer madness which served the dual purpose of quietening Tamil calls for Eelam, that is a separate state, and taking the minds of the Sinhalese electorate o a deepening economic crisis is only one of the blemishes on the face o the island. Since Jayewardene came to power four years ago, a system of what his critics call “State Terrorism” has brought an Ulster style situation in the Tamil majority areas of the north and the east …. Hundreds have been detained without charge or trial. This year at least 156 Tamil youths have been detained and tortured, then release Thirty five are still held at Colombo’s Panagoda Army Camp. Human rights workers, Sinhalese as well as Tamil, told me that the most favoured tortures are hanging prisoners upside down on heaps of burning chillies, and inserting needles under their finger nails. .

With the outbreak of state-sponsored violence in Jaffna, the Sinhalese trouble makers resorted to violence against the Tamil peasants in the Batticaloa Arnparai border areas. Forty-three houses belonging to the Tamils were burnt down with the active connivance of the Sinhalese security forces. Large numbers of shops were burnt down in the eastern province, and over 500 Tamils took refuge in refugee camps. A Hindu temple in Amparai was on fire and its priest attacked. Anti-Tamil violence then broke out against Indian Tamil plantation workers, at first in Ratnapura, instigated by the local MP, who was also a deputy minister. He was later sacked by President Jayewardene. Anti-Tamil rioting then spread throughout the plantation are and workers in 43 estates were beaten and driven off. About 15,000 took refuge in temples and schools and later moved to the northern province for resettlement.

S. Thondaman, the leader of the plantation workers and a minister in Jayewardene’s cabinet, met the president and voiced his protest:

We reiterated our position that the mob rule which seems to be the order of the day in many parts of the country should be brought to end…. In spite of the assurance given by the government, the law and order situation had deteriorated as mob rule seems to persist and the people are in a state of perpetual terror…. The very fact that even plantation workers, innocent of any political crimes, have been singled out for murder and mayhem, has created a feeling among the people that the thousands of hooligans covertly enjoy the patronage of powerful personalities.

A Tamil Hindu pilgrim and a DMK politician from Tamil Nadu, who was on his way to the Kathirkamam shrine in south Sri Lanka, was stabbed and killed by the Sinhalese mob. This led to protest by the Indian government and the Tamil Nadu government called an official one-day Hartal (strike) to condemn the Sri Lanka government’s state terrorism and the Sinhalese violence against the Tamils. These led to Jayewardene’s rhetorical outburst: “What sort of animals are these?” Speaking at the executive meeting of the UNP on 4 September, he said:

I speak more in sorrow than in anger. Recent events throughout the island, North, Center and South show that the religion we profess does not seem to influence for the good some of our people. I regret that some members of my party made speeches in parliament and outside that encourage violence and murders, rapes and arson that have been committed…. l must have reasons to be proud of the party of which I am the leader. If I cannot, it is better for me to retire from the leadership of this party and let those who believe that the harming of innocent people and property that has happened recently is the way to solve the problems that face this multi racial, multi religious and multi caste society, take over the leadership of the party.

Jayewardene continued to preside over the UNP and over a government in which Cyril Mathew, the most extreme chauvinist anti – Tamil, was the important and influential minister of industries. In 1981, Mathew wrote a 352-page book in Sinhala entitled Sinhala People Awake, Arise and Safeguard Buddhism. He declared that there had been Buddhist shrines in Jaffna in the earliest times and that therefore Sinhalese Buddhists should be settled In Jaffna district, the only Tamil area that Sinhalese colonization had not reached. The book contained anti-Tamil speeches by Jayewardene and others dating from the 1950s, and the author called for a jihad in the cause of Buddhism.

7.10 The Aftermath

Following the cruel summer of murder, arson, pillage and plunder, Jayewardene prepared a peace strategy since the Queen was due to visit the island in October for the government’s celebrations of 50 years of universal franchise.

He invited the TULF to face to face talks. The TULF welcomed the idea and at the talks put forward six demands: (1) the appointment of an international commission of inquiry into the May June police army rampage in Jaffna; (2) home guards should be set up to prevent further violence and disturbances; (3) 75% of the police personnel in the north and east should be Tamils; (4) power should be given to the DDCs as effective decentralized units of administration; (5) the “standardisation” system for university admissions should be reviewed; and (6) policemen responsible for the rampage in Jaffna should be prosecuted.

After protracted negotiations, Jayewardene accepted every demand except an international commission of inquiry. The TULF accepted and agreed to place a moratorium on the demand for a separate state, call off the boycott of parliament and take part in monthly meetings with the president to keep matters affecting interracial relations under continuous review

This was the nadir of FP and TULF policies over the past 30 years. The TULF surrendered the goal to which the Tamil people had been driven by Sinhalese chauvinism and bourgeois Tamil policies. It was driven into this cul de sac because Amirthalingam was rattled by the no-confidence motion. Amirthalingam and the TULF MPs always felt that it was in the Colombo parliament that they must fight their battles, and not alongside the Tamil people. They never learnt anything about the nature of Sinhalese politic or their opponents’ strategies, and they never won a single victory.

During the week-long royal tour of Sri Lanka, the Queen was taken to see the oldest tree in the world (the bo tree at Anuradhapura), the casket supposed to contain the Buddha’s tooth, the carnival of Sri Lanka’s elephants and the Victoria Dam built with massive British aid. She was steered clear of the Tamil areas, Sri Lanka’s Ulster, which was ruled by emergency law with the army on the streets and detention and tortured without trial. She was also kept away from the stateless and voteless plantation Tamils, who had experienced 33 years of disfranchisement and half of whom were awaiting repatriation to a country they had never seen.

Embarrassed by bad publicity in the world media over the police army atrocities, the Sri Lanka government signed an agreement in late 1981 with London public relations firm to undertake propaganda work in Britain, the US and Western Europe costing 94,000. Among the firm’s previous clients were the late Shah of Iran and the government of South Africa. Shortly afterwards Prime Minister Premadasa visited London to open week-long celebrations of Sri Lanka’s 50 years of universal franchise. He was promptly confronted by militant demonstrators calling for a separate Tamil Eelam state. Equally promptly, Premadasa summoned a meeting of Sinhalese UNP supporters in London and lambasted them for not organising a counterdemonstration.

7.11 The Eelam Liberation Struggle Matures

The UNP and the TULF moved closer together and engaged in monthly meetings to review “interracial relations”. Jayewardene felt satisfied that he had delivered the coup de grace to the TULF and that with it Tamil separatism would collapse.

The reality, however, was that the TULF politicians were a cypher in the Tamil people’s struggle for liberation. Hence, with the TULF in accord with the government, the Tamil liberation struggle gathered its own momentum. There was an escalating dialectic of repression and Tamil radicalisation. The Liberation Tigers eventually regrouped as a revolutionary political movement advancing to the armed liberation struggle.

The Amnesty International report (1982) stated:

In April and May 1981 some 30 members of the Tamil minority were arrested without warrant and held incommunicado following a bank raid in Neerveli in which two policemen were killed…. On 30 April and 11 June Amnesty International expressed its concern to President Jayewardene about these reports and urged him to allow all detainees immediate access to lawyers and relatives…. The government replied to worldwide Amnesty International appeals . . . by stating that acts of violence had occurred. It described the detainees as “terrorists whose names were known to the police and who had been avoiding arrest”. . . . At the end of 1981, 22 were still held without charge or trial in Panagoda Army Camp; five in solitary confinement…. Amnesty subsequently received allegations that all the detainees had been tortured. Habeas corpus petitions of four detainees resulted in their first court appearance…. In its judgment on these petitions the Appeal Court ruled that torture and ill treatment had occurred in two cases . . . and added that “the use of violence of whatever degree on a prisoner is illegal”.

The people were beginning to question the futility of peaceful satyagraha (non-violent) opposition. One writer, in the Tamil Times (December 1982), asked: “Should the peace-loving Jaffna Tamils forever remain peace-loving until their identity as a nation is liquidated?” It was not only a question of identity but the liquidation of their young people, the leaders of tomorrow. As to why the Tigers resorted to the armed liberation struggle, David Selbourne wrote:

The term “Tiger” is a misnomer. They are not running wild in the jungle, but moving about in Jaffna and its district, hiding among the people, clean cut young men, with mustaches as close clipped as Bngadier Ranatunge’s, the army commander in the Northern Province. They do not need to camouflage themselves to pass undetected among the ordinary passers by of the City No wonder the Tamils refer to them as “our boys”. That is precisely what they are. Talking to them, in and around Jaffna, makes everything clear. The turning point for most was the 1977 anti Tamil riots; the discovery, as one “Tiger” put it to me, that ahimsa was not sufficient.l3

This clearly shows the integration between the Tigers and the ordinary Tamil people. The Tigers are ordinary, but trained, young people who are Coordinating and directing the people’s struggle. The oppressed Tamils are participating in the liberation process with critical awareness of their role as liberators and transformers.

Being ignorant of the historic causes of Tamil separatist nationalism, Amirthalingam sought to stifle it by inventing a rationale to support his new position of accord with the UNP government. He condemned the Liberation Tigers’ violent attacks on the army and the police. In March 1982 he declared that:

there are two types of people resorting to violence in Jaffna. One is the politically motivated group and the other hard core criminals who cash in on the situation prevalent in the north. The political group believed in achieving their objectives by violence; they have no connection with the TULF; the TULF believes in achieving its ends by peaceful means. 14

On the new accord between the UNP government and the TULF, a commentator wrote in the Ceylon Daily News of 20 February 1982:

Political observers are surprised . . . at the quick and severe condemnation by the TULF of the shooting of the soldier in Kayts. This condemnation gives the UNP TULF talks further depths as some are sceptical of the TULF attitude in these talks. But some political observers feel that the continuing monthly dialogue of these two parties is al indication that they mean business. They [TULF] now seek sufficient finances from the centre to make the DDCs work. These observers predict that once these funds are given, the TULF will be much closer to the UNP than it ever wasp. 15

This commentator was unaware that it was Cyril Mathew, in the no-confidence motion against the leader of the opposition, who had attacked Amirthalingam and the TULF politicians for not condemning violence again the police in the north. Amirthalingam and TULF were now doing what Mathew had earlier demanded. In fact, Mathew himself was so pleased that Amirthalingam and TULF were complying with his demands that one news report stated: “The TULF criticism of terrorist activity is encouraging, the Minister of Industries and Scientific Affairs, Cyril Mathew declared”.l6

The commentator was wrong on other matters too. The TULF did not determine or control the Tamil liberation struggle and the separatist nationalism of the Tamils. The former was the servant of the latter. Such, commentators never understood the reality of the Tamil people’s demands: they did not need a bourgeois political formation like the TULF to tell them what was important. Their only goal was liberation and the establishment of an independent separate state of Eelam.

The commentator could not see that, by the nature of Jayewardene’s politics, he was not going to give real power to the DDCs, for that would mean making the TULF strong in the Tamil areas. In fact, the objectives agreed with the TULF were never meant to be implemented. The TULF MPs were, as usual, living in a fool’s paradise. Hence, in February 1982:

Mr Amirthalingam deplored the fact although seven months had elapsed after the inauguration of the DDCs, sufficient funds and authority were not yet granted to these Councils. This was indeed a disappointment…. Mr Amirthalingam referred to planned attempts being made to transform overnight ancient Hindu shrines and places of worship into places of another religious group [He does not even have the courage to say Buddhist] …. He also referred to the fact that of the 8,000 policemen serving in the Tamil areas, only 800 had been Tamil speaking . . . and on representations being made the government was taking steps to implement the decision for the Home Cuards.l7

Armirthalingam and the TULF MPs never had the courage to tell the Sinhalese politicians that those who were resorting to armed struggle against the police were not “terrorists”, as the government called them, but patriotic liberation fighters seeking to free the Tamil nation from Sinhalese tyranny.

It is appropriate to quote Dr Walter Rodney, a martyr of international proletarian struggle:

Few individuals want to willingly invite their own death. Yet many will be found who are prepared to fight fearlessly for their rights even if their lives are threatened. The human spirit has a remarkable capacity to rise above oppression; and only the fools who now misrule . . . imagine that our people lack such capacity.l8

The Tigers came from among the students shut out from university by discriminatory anti-Tamil quotas. They were the victims of detention and torture. Yet Amirthalingam, who masqueraded as the leader of the Tamils sought to disown them as if he had solutions to their 25-year-old problems. Objectively speaking, it was for the good of the Tamil liberation struggle that the TULF adopted its policy of accord with the government so that there were no ignorant politicians left to confuse the issue.

The TULF’s position was in accord with its bourgeois character. They were so alienated from the people that Amirthalingam stated in May 1982:

A few armed youths or those conducting politics with “foreign aid” cannot stop our movement…. Years ago Tamil youths had connections with foreign countries; their aim had been to form a leftist government. 19

The stance adopted by Amirthalingam was described by the militants, even within the TULF, as “betrayal of the mandate given by the Tamil people in the 1977 election”. Hence they broke away and formed the Tamil Eelam Liberation Front (TELF) in May 1982. The TELF appeared to support the Eelam Liberation Tigers. But they could not do so for long, because they would be forced to disavow armed struggle and withdraw their support from the Tigers.

Although the Liberation Tigers were in the vanguard of the struggle for liberation and were at one with the people, precious little was known about them among outsiders. This was not surprising because of the degree of repression and “Tiger hunting” and because of the path of the struggle they advanced in this context. David Selbourne, the first outsider to establish contact with them, wrote:

The Tigers are armed, the DIG of Jaffna, W.B. Rajaguru, told me, with Sterling sub machine guns, self loading rifles and 303s. Some of the weaponry had been seized in raids, but other items, he says darkly, “are not standard issues”. Funds for them, he alleges, have been collected by Tamil expatriates in Singapore, Brunei and Malaysia. He calls the Tigers “pure terrorists of the urban guerrilla type . . .” The Army Chief of Staff in Colombo, Major General Tissa Weeratunga, one of the many relatives of President Jayewardene in high places, was honest about the situation. “We are not on top,” he told me. In Jaffna, they say, a whole truck load of troops goes out to buy a tube of toothpaste or a box of matches. “The initiative is with the terrorists”, he continued. “They choose the time and place. We can only be reactive.” He also claims, as paranoia deepens, that the political training of the Tigers is being “coordinated from Britain”, and that there is a “West Asian connection”. Nine out of the 16 police stations in the Jaffna district have already been closed. The Mayor of Jaffna complains that the police are no longer carrying out their ordinary civic functions.

The Sinhalese government and the army see only what they want to see. There is a feeling of resentment when the unexpected happens. Everyone is blamed Tamil expatriates, outside powers, Middle Eastern states. It was believed that if the Tamil freedom fighters were labelled “terrorists” then, with the army of occupation, the subjugation of the Tamils could be accomplished relatively easily. But this did not happen. To quote Selbourne again:

The Tigers seem better disciplined and less frightened than their police and military opponents. The trouble is that the police and the army are up against an enemy which is being shielded by the community…. Bishop Wickremasinghe [a Sinhalese] angrily accuses those who help them of “fiddling with terrorism”…. Yet the Tiger numbers are growing, and the bitterness of the police and military is of men who are not winning. Ranatunge says he wants to “finish off this terrorism”. But he cannot. In the meantime, new para military forces are being trained, and new levels of foreign assistance being sought by both sides. The Tigers, for their part, seem confident. They tell you that their membership is increasing daily and that detentions and brutality “are making us strong, increasing our momentum”. “We think very deeply into the question of violence,” a Tiger told me. “Our targets for assassination are the armed agents of the state, and we select them only after a careful study and full inquiry.” Even DIG Rajaguru . . . admits that the Tigers are “hard to pin down and are getting more skillful”. . . . The Tigers say, eyes laughing, that the police and the army are inefficient. The immediate prospect for both sides is a dire one with neither a political nor a military solution in the offing.

It is important to remember that the real parties to the conflict are the Tamil people and the Sri Lanka Sinhalese government, using the army as its proxy. It is evident that, except as an engine of repression, the army is superfluous. There is no battle raging, nor are the people up in arms. The army cannot fight the Tamil people, who have, as a last resort, resolved to secede and establish a separate state for themselves in their own homelands. The Sinhalese army is in Tamil country as an occupying force. The situation is exactly the same as it was in Bangladesh before independence. The Sinhalese army has no army to fight. It exists in a vacuum and is there without a cause. The Tigers are not a mobilized force located in one place. Whereas the army is an easy target because it is easily identifiable, the Tigers, being ordinary people, are not.

Despite the Prevention of Terrorism Act and the use of the military with the mandate from Jayewardene to “wipe out” the libertarian separatists in July 1979, the army did not catch sight of a single Tiger (or “terrorist”). For fear of getting shot, the army confined itself to barracks or moved in convoy “to buy a tube of toothpaste or a box of matches”. Their role was to find a military solution to the political problem created by the Sinhalese politicians or else to stay and get shot by the Tigers. The army was called to intervene in a matter in which it had no locus stands The situation could not be more ridiculous. Brigadier Ranatunga’s bold claim that he wanted to finish off this terrorism” was only words. He was doing exactly what General Sikka Khan had done in Bangladesh, before his army’s ignominious defeat and surrender to Mukti Bahini and the Indian forces in 1971. It is a pity that the government is willing to sacrifice the lives of its conscripted soldiers vain and for a cause which is doomed to failure.

The army even mutinied in 1981. This is what Minister Gamini Dissanayake said in parliament in June 1981:

. . . there was a very serious situation in Jaffna because the Police Force was on the verge of a virtual mutiny. On the 2nd and 3rd, virtually 200 policemen had deserted their posts, and since they were responsible for some very serious events which needed an answer . . .

Each time a soldier or a policeman was shot down by the Tigers, there was consternation; but nobody asked why the soldier or policeman was there m the first place.

The relationship of ruler and ruled made mutual understanding difficult. When the whole regime was based on racial oppression, inequality, injustice, discrimination in education and employment, economic stagnation, social subjugation and humiliation for the Tamil people and their children, did the government of Sri Lanka and its international allies expect the Tamil people to submit to the Sinhalese army of occupation and sit down with folded arms?

On the political front, having deprived Mrs Bandaranaike of her civic rights and domesticated the TULF, Jayewardene went for reselection as president, two years early, and won it in October 1982. The militant liberation groups, including the newly formed TELF, urged the Tamils to boycott the presidential election. This was a misguided decision which helped Jayewardene to get more than 50% of the vote on the first count. They should have put forward an acceptable Tamil candidate who genuinely stood for liberation and Eelam, in order to reduce the percentage the first contestant would get. But the TULF was non-committal and wished Jayewardene to be supported. Of the 24 districts in the island, Jayewardene got the lowest number of votes in Jaffna district.

The Liberation Tigers took their struggle to Tamil Nadu and established ,~ bases there. In June 1982 there was a shoot out in Pondy Bazaar, Madras City, between two hitherto secret liberation factions, one led by Uma Maheswaran and the other by Prabaharan. They were arrested by the Madras police and taken to court. The Sri Lanka government declared that they were wanted for murder and pressed the Indian government to extradite them to V face charges in Sri Lanka.

The TULF was caught in a quandary and remained silent. The TELF publicly proclaimed its support for them and urged the Indian government not to extradite them. M.G. Ramachandran, chief minister of the Tamil Nadu state government, and M. Karunanidhi, the leader of the opposition, met Prime Minister Indira Gandhi at two separate meetings and told her of the policies of the Sri Lanka government, the atrocities committed against the Tamils in Sri Lanka, the nature of the Tamil liberation struggle and the role of the arrested youths. They demanded that under no circumstances should they be extradited or handed over to the government of Sri Lanka.

The Indian government accordingly rejected the Sri Lanka government’s request and they were allowed to operate in Tamil Nadu. The two groups were released from custody and were reunited. According to a news report in Weekend, it was revealed that they had considerable financial backing a well-organized network of bases and safe houses from which to operate. Both groups had extensive contacts with certain Tamil Nadu politicians and had bases in Salem and Pondicherry.20

From July 1982 the Liberation Tigers came into their own in the Tamil areas of the north. On 2 July they ambushed a convoy of policemen from Point Pedro police station at Nelliaddy Junction, gunning down four of them and leaving the others seriously wounded. According to a news report, the liberation fighters wore battle dress and had automatic weapons.21

Following this incident, the army resorted to harassment of the ordinary people of Nelliaddy and detained 20 youths for the slaying of the policemen. The incident frightened the army and police. “Security precautions adopted after the slaying of four policemen at Nelliaddy have hampered police inquiring into conventional crime in the North, while shutters remain upon the several police stations that were closed up. The police officers in the remaining 16 do not venture out without adequate security cover.”22

In October 1982 it was reported that six militant liberation organisations had formed a revolutionary council advocating violent armed struggle to establish the state of Eelam. From that time, violence became a cult of its own and acquired legitimacy in advancing the struggle for liberation. Tamil liberation acquired a new momentum.

There is, of course, pain and turmoil for the Tamil people. But, as Jawaharlal Nehru wrote: “. . . disruption is inevitable during the transition period . . . it is only through the pain and suffering that accompanies such disruption that a people grow and learn the lessons of life and adapt themselves anew to changing conditions”.23 Nearly every Tamil became convinced that the TULF had let down the Tamil cause, and nothing had come out of its accord with the UNP government.

In June Amirthalingam was confronted by a group of angry youths:

The Opposition and TULF leader A. Amirthalingam was mobbed by hundreds of demonstrating students who surrounded the vehicle in which he and his wife were travelling in Jaffna; some of the students shouting slogans and denouncing the TULF and Amirthalingam were turning boisterous when several other students intervened to prevent any untoward incidents.24

The need to create a separate state of Tamil Eelam had ceased to be a matter for the politicians. The idea of Eelam as the only solution to their enslaved position had sunk too deep in the political consciousness of the Youth and the people. In July 1982 the first World Eelam Tamil Conference Was held in New York, attended by the Liberation Tigers, the TULF and the ELF. The Eelam liberation struggle became internationalised. In October a 12 member liberation group attacked the Chavakacheri police station killing three policemen and getting away with firearms and ammunition. The government offered  “Rupees 250,000 reward payable in any part of the world for information regarding the assailants”.

In November, Jayewardene extended the life of the parliament for six years, without holding an election. Thus the parliament in which the UNP held a five-sixths majority, elected in July 1977 would continue until 1989. Jayewardene had publicly stated during the campaign for his presidential election: “I would not extend the term of the life of Parliament . . . I have always loved elections because the elections give us the opportunity to visit our towns and villages, to meet the people, sense their feelings and find out their ideas and their needs”.

He well knew that the UNP would be decimated in a parliamentary election. The tradition of Sri Lanka voters from 1956 had been to defeat the ruling party. Despite his reselection, if the UNP were defeated in the parliamentary election he knew he would have to go. He also knew that his iron grip, for the benefit of the ultra-rich capitalists and the giant Western multinationals, could not be continued without a five sixths majority in parliament whose powers he had castrated without compunction

The perennially sick economy had been kept afloat since 1977 by massive IMF standby loans and Western “development” aid. From 1978 to 1982, Sri Lanka was held up as an “IMF success”, but today Sri Lanka’s economic disaster, as Jayewardene himself admits, is because of the IMF. As a result of IMF and World Bank policies, Sri Lanka’s net foreign debt rose from Rs.4.9 billion in 1976 to 29.1 billion in 1981,33.2 billion in November 1982 and around 40 billion in 1983 on account of the latest 16% devaluation, which the IMF demanded and got. The present debt service ratio is over 28Mo.

Jayewardene was candid enough to confess to David Selbourne that he did not know what to do with the economy. Selbourne writes: “‘ We have been able to survive,’ he told me frankly, ‘because of the aid the World Bank is giving us. I really don’t know what to do about the economy’.” He comforted himself, however, by adding: “Nobody knows.”

The country is totally bankrupt as the Rs.29 billion record deficit in the 1983 budget shows. The country’s reserves today cover only four weeks of imports. The government seeks to close this unbridgeable gap by further 5 large scale foreign borrowing and massive price increases of essential goods and by increasing customs duties. The economy is in the grip of the deepest crisis ever. After five years of “open economy” when the upper class and the capitalists became multi-millionaires and the country was bled white and the burdens were passed onto the poor, Jayewardene stated candidly:

the recent spate of price increases and the revision of the Rupee against the Dollar in Sri Lanka were the result of the requests by the IMF . . . the increased price of essential commodities including rice and bread as well as transport fares were necessary to obtain an Extended Fund Facility from the IMF to tide over the precarious balance of payments situation.

As the liberation struggle intensified, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam distributed a letter to the Sinhalese soldiers telling them how they were being used by the racist Sinhala ruling class to divide the people so that the rulers might prosper:

To the Sinhala Soldier,

From a Liberation Tiger . . .

You probably know that today, on the soil of Tamil Eelam, a desire for national liberation has been set aflame. It is an inevitable historic necessity that we win the freedom of our homeland. You have been an mstrument of the racist state of Sri Lanka, in practising terrorism against the people of Tamil Eelam. You have also been an instrument in the manhunt, ordered by the state, on the liberation fighters of our nation.

We see you riding down the streets of Tamil Eelam, khaki clad and armed. The care of an old mother or father, or a sister, maybe, compels you to carry arms. While those in the seats of power in Sri Lanka flourish, you fall down as the victims. Very soon, you will stand turned against your own people, your own class, ordered by this very same class in power. Those in power will use you to crush the revolt of your people.

We, motivated by an unceasing yearning for national liberation, are forced to oppose you, a puppet of the state. When we meet at the battle front you become the sacrificial lamb. As we walk the path of national liberation, our death will acquire dignity and meaning. But yours will become insignificant.

Even though a pawn in the hands of state terrorism, the atrocities and murders that you committed in Tamil Eelam have left permanent scars m the hearts of the Tamil people and will never be healed. Do not die labouring for the foul campaigns of the ruling class. Do not lose you your integrity and your humanity, so that those who rule us may prosper. It is only when you take up arms on the side of the oppressed Jmhala workers and peasants, against the state of Sri Lanka, that we could speak the language of friendship. When and if you do that, you Will understand the pulse of our own struggle.

Propaganda Unit, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

The national oppression of the Tamils reached a grave and critical stage in November – December 1982, when the arm of repression was extended against intellectuals and the Catholic clergy.

Nirmala Nithiyanandan and her husband P. Nithiyanandan, both university lecturers, Dr Jayakularajah, Fr A. Singarayar, Fr P. Sinnarasa and T T. Jayatillakaraja were detained under the draconian Prevention of  Terrorism Act, allegedly for withholding information about Tamil “terrorists”. Nirmala a sociologist and a political scientist is a well known feminist and a popular progressive writer, who has translated into Tamil a number of books on the national and socialist struggles of the Latin American and African people. All the priests detained are activists of MIRJE, a human rights organization. Fr Singarayar, in a letter to Rt Rev Dr Frank Marcus Fernando, President of the Bishops’ Conference of Sri Lanka, written from Welikade Jail on 8 May 1983, stated:

The CID officers . . . started torturing me. They went to the extent of making me naked and assaulted me. They extracted statements from me against my freedom…. I have become a “separatist” by accident. Our cause of separation is only part of a process of human liberation.  I have to be with my Tamil people who decided in 1977 for separation when they became frustrated. The pacts and dialogues were not honoured by the majority …. Now the Tamil people are POOR people of this country, deprived of many of their rights. As a Christian, I have to be with the poor, for Christ came to the poor …. Who IS, are the poor? Very Rev Fr Superior General in his Christmas letter 1982 replies: “The youth who have taken up drugs, the youth who have taken up arms.” (Saturday Review, Jaffna, 28 May 1983) ]

As the situation escalated, the TULF demanded that the government repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act and release the detained intellectuals and clergy. Finding that army repression was not producing results, in December 1982 Jayewardene called for the setting up of a “national government” of all parties. Predictably, the TULF welcomed this step, and Amirthalingam referred to it “as providing an opportunity for negotiations to seek a ‘permanent solution’ to the fundamental problems of the Tamil people”. This was simply one of the many red herrings used to divert the momentum of the liberation struggle.

In March 1983 the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam documented their political position as one based on revolutionary socialist ideology and aimed at national emancipation and socialist reconstruction of Tamil society, and submitted it as a memorandum to the seventh summit meeting of the non -aligned nations, held at New Delhi from 7 15 March. The document was entitled Tamils Fight for National Freedom. Under the heading “Armed Resistance and the Tiger Movement”, it declared:

The struggle for national freedom, having failed in its democratic popular agitations, having exhausted its moral power to mobilize the masses for peaceful campaigns, gave rise to the emergence of armed resistance movement in the Tamil Eelam in the early Seventies. Arm 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 terrors The armed struggle, therefore, is the historical product of intolerably 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, 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 the 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. [This memorandum appears as an Appendix.]

7.12 July 1983: The Slaughter Escalates

In April, the police arrested and detained S.A. David and Dr Rajasunderam the president and secretary respectively, of Gandhiyam, a registered society for community and social services. After the 1977 anti-Tamil riots, Gandhiyam was established by Tamil activists to resettle the Tamil refugees, mainly the plantation Tamils who fled the estates. With financial and material support from NOVIB (Holland), OXFAM (UK), Bread for the World (Germany) World Council of Churches, Christian Aid and many organizations of Tamil expatriates, Gandhiyam undertook the prodigious task of rehabilitating 40,000 and resettled 4,750, Tamil refugee families in Vavuniya, Trincomalee and Batticaloa districts.

The government was not happy with Gandhiyam schemes to help the Tamil refugees being resettled, even in the Tamil homelands. While in detention, David and Rajasunderam were tortured at the Panagoda army headquarters and confessions were forcibly extracted of their Complicity with the ‘Tigers’. The army then destroyed the Gandhiyam offices and several villages, burnt down farm buildings, set fire to crops, harassed and tortured the resettled Tamils, and burnt three tractors and a truck given to Gandhiyam by NOVIB. David and Rajasunderam were still in detention Wltl10ut charge, even four months after.

On 18 May, the Tamil city of Jaffna went up in flames for the second time in two years. Marauding gangs of army personnel went on the rampage setting ablaze houses, shops, petrol stations, vehicles, etc., and assaulting innocent people, under cover of emergency. This was the sequel to an open shoot out between the army and the Liberation Tiger youths at an election meeting;  this resulted in the death of an army corporal, and one soldier and two police constables injured. Later the same day, army helicopters landed with about600 soldiers at Kantharmadam, within Jaffna city; they burnt down hundreds of houses, several shops and vehicles, looted the women’s jewellery and terrorized the people in the area. In the local government elections of that day, the Liberation Tigers called for a boycott in the northern districts, to which the people responded by a 95% boycott. This constituted the first important victory for the Tiger movement and the worst defeat for the TULF

Then, in early June, as the reprisal for the killing of two air force men, the army set fire to the Vavuniya town. This led to a chain of brutal atrocities by Sinhalese gangs, instigated and assisted by the army in Trincomalee and all over the south. In Trincomalee, the Sinhalese gangs went on the rampage killing 19 Tamils and burning more than 200 houses, 24 shops, hotel and eight Hindu temples. The aim was to drive the Tamils out from Trincomalee, for the government was anxious to get a Sinhalese majority population in Trincomalee.

As violent killings of several Tamil youths by the army became public, by disclosures of post mortem reports in judicial inquests (as with K. Navaratnarajah, who died in custody with five external injuries, and upon whom the Jaffna magistrate, on 31 May, returned a verdict of homicide) from 3 June, the government put Emergency Regulations into effect under which the army was empowered to shoot, kill and bury without post mortem and judicial inquest. The reason given for this further measure by the Minister of State, Anandatissa de Alwis, was that “the morale of the services and police personnel in the north was low”!

With this, the lives of the Tamil people were placed entirely in the hands of the Sinhalese army. Empowered in this manner, the army shot, killed and refused to hand over the bodies of./0g several innocent Tamil youths in Jaffna. One Sabaratnam Palanivel, who wast dragged into Valvettiturai army camp was shot dead and an army truck was if; run over his body, smashing the skull and flattening the body. Arson and looting of Tamil homes and brutal killings of several Tamil people by Sin Of halese gangs, with the active connivance of the security forces, occurred all over Sri Lanka throughout June.

Yet President Jayewardene spelt out the government’s complicity in this f programme of Tamil genocide unabashedly to Ian Ward, a British journalist in these words:

“I am not worried about the opinion of the Jaffna people …. Now I can’t think of them. Not about their lives or of their opinion about us”. (Daily Telegraph, London, 11 July 1983.) &

The government then banned publication of the Tamil press, the Saturday t Review, an English weekly, and Suthanthiran, a Tamil bi-weekly, both published in Jaffna Both of these had published information about army atrocities in the Tamil areas, and the former had been the medium through which news and views about Tamil politics and society have been transmitted to the Sinhalese people; it also had the largest circulation outside country of any Sri Lanka journal.

Yet the economic interests and capitalist system of the West, which lives cad prospers on the dependency and poverty of the Third World, have prompted no concern for these brutal violations of the human rights of the Tamil people of Sri Lanka. The West’s concern, as we know, is not with human rights or democracy but with economic exchanges favourable to them and guaranteed by dictatorial regimes, the world over. They are aware that any move in these countries towards real freedom and democracy would question the economic and political relations of dependency and exploitation.

The Tamil liberation struggle has, however, come to maturity as the revolutionary struggle of an oppressed nation. The government’s branding of the freedom fighters as “terrorists”, its adoption of repression as the answer to the democratic demand for justice, its glorification of chauvinism, its constitution of a racist state structure, etc., have all come home to roost. The die is cast and the oppressed people’s struggle is now seeking to resolve the national question. Manipulation, irrational sectarian and racist postures, majority-minority” mythicization to enslave, and repression to maintain the status quo cannot stand up against the people’s struggle for national freedom. A connection has been established between Tamil national freedom and socialist reconstruction. Out of the womb of the historical process of national liberation, the freedom of the Tamil people will be born in the state of Eelam.

With the rulers proclaiming repression as the only solution, the army began to act as an occupying force, as if it were operating in an enemy country. The government imposed strict censorship on all news relating to the Tamil people and operations of the army. On 22 July, the army in Jaffna abducted three Tamil girls, took them to their camps, and news spread that they had been raped and one of the girls had committed suicide. The following day the Tamil militant youths retaliated by throwing bombs into an army truck killing 13 soldiers. The army went on the rampage, shooting people at random. In Manipay, the army shot and killed nine people, including six school children In all, over 30 persons were shot and killed in Jaffna that day

News of the killing of soldiers reached Colombo, and from 24 July, the Worst ever anti-Tamil rioting started. Hundreds of Tamils were killed, hundreds of Tamil homes and shops were looted and burnt. Despite the declaration of an all day and night curfew, looting and burning continued for Several days following in the city, quite often in the presence of security forces. The area worst affected was Wellawatte, where Tamils lived in large numbers The Tamil people fled from their homes to various refugee camps Some of which came under attack by the Sinhalese mobs. At the time of writing, there are over 75,000 Tamil refugees in several camps in Colombo. On 97 July, 37 Tamil political detainees, some held from 1981, were murdered in Colombo gaol by the Sinhalese prisoners.

The following day yet another 17 were massacred. Violence spread to Kandy, Gampola, and the upcountry areas and large numbers of plantation Tamils have fled their line rooms as refugees. Death and destruction have become the only things not denied to the Tamils. The guilty political conscience of the ruling class has led to complete blackout of all news to the outside world. In the search for scapegoats, Jayewardene has stumbled upon some leftist parties who allegedly want to overthrow his government with the help of an outside power. Many tired and overworked cliches have been harnessed. Almost all Tamils are abandoning the south and fleeing as refugees to the north and east. A total de facto separation of the people, as existed before the colonial period, is coming about. The political order built and maintained for the wealthy few with the support of their ethnic and caste allies, is in the process of disintegration. The prevention of political change taking place through constitutionalist and political channels, and the use of repressive force, not law, are the cause of the disintegration.


1. Lenin, Collected Works, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1966, Vol. 33, p. 386.

2. Fr Tissa Balasuriya, “Our Crisis of National Unity”, in Race Relations it Sri Lanka, supra, p. 115.

3. Ibid, p. 178. Fr Balasuriya also states: “As a result of all this, a fair number of those waiting for Sri Lanka citizenship and from among those who have already become citizens, want to leave for India. The first group is eager to have their repatriation expedited and the latter top renounce and seek Indian citizenship. Discussions with the Indian High i Commissioner regarding the second, resulted in a ‘No’ from India.” Ibid, p. 114.

4. David Selbourne, “Sinhalese Lions and Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka”, in The Illustrated Weekly of India, Bombay, 17 October 1982.

5. Quoted in Race Relations in Sri Lanka, supra, p. 47.

6. Ibid, p. 52.

7. Amnesty International Report 1980, p. 234.

8. In Tribune, Colombo, 25 September 1982.

9. Ethnic Conflict and Violence in Sri Lanka, International Commission o Jurists, Geneva.

10. Quoted in Tamil Times, Vol. 0 No. 1, September 1981, London.

11. Ibid .

12. Tribune, Colombo, 20 June 1981.

13. David Selbourne, supra.

14. Sun, 2 March 1982.

15. Ceylon Daily News, 20 February 1982.

16. Island, 18 February 1982.

17. Island, 18 February 1982.

18. Quoted in Caribbean Contact, Barbados, February, 1983

19. Island, 4 May 1982.

20. Weekend, 30 May 1982.

21. Sun, 3 July 1982.

22.Sun, 29 July 1982.

23. Jawaharlal Nehru, The discovery of India, Calcutta, 1946, p. 247.

24. Sun, 18 May 1982

8. Conclusion

If we bring together the main strands of this survey, we arrive at the conclusion that, while the Sinhalese leadership groups the political elite, the “aristocratic” and landlord classes which usually sided with the colonial rulers, became the sole inheritors of national freedom at independence, the Tamils. who were at the forefront of the nationalist movement and were the first to demand independence and self-rule, who resorted to non-co-operation and boycott, displayed proletarian class solidarity and mass action to hasten the transfer of power, were soon deprived of citizenship, franchise, language rights, employment and educational opportunities, and the soul of their nation was enslaved.

This descent from freedom to subjugation created a permanent scar on the collective consciousness of the Tamil nation. As the wound beneath the scar remained sensitive, every pressure set it throbbing. When, finally, they were attacked in hearth and home, they struggled to defend it and to turn subjugation into freedom. The national mood became one of resistance, pride, defiance and clandestine revolutionary activism.

The Eelam Tigers came to conceive the expression of their political aspirations in socialist terms. The Tamil nation, which for a quarter-century had been in a state of self-doubt and disillusionment, found something to give It strength and comfort. The Tigers saw their task as one of resistance; no more subjection, resignation and self-pity. The minority psychosis of the past was effectively cast off when the struggle was one of defence of their homelands The Eelam separate state became the overriding goal. All the propaganda of the Eelam Tigers has the frontispiece legend in Tamil: “The Thirst of the Tigers is the Tamil Eelam State”.

But before we proceed to our conclusion, it is necessary to make an abrupt movement backwards in time, to correct the historical falsehoods and mystifications on which the Sinhalese bourgeoisie has erected its chauvinist edifice .

8.1 Falsehoods and Mystifications

Professor James Jupp was right in stating:

The modern exposition of historv in Sinhalese school texts has thus become a major element socializing the majority population into the belief that it is at once the inheritor of a more ancient culture than an of its invaders and, at the same time, is continually threatened. The whole tenor of Buddhist teaching for over a thousand years has been i this tradition. Both through formal education and transmitted legends the Sinhalese Buddhist believes himself to be the guardian of a Social system which might have been the most advanced in the world had it not been for foreign intervention. What has been stressed less readily i recent years, is that there is no aspect of local culture which is not profoundly affected from elsewhere. This is true of Buddhism, which totally permeated with Hindu practices and beliefs, including animal reincarnation, the intercession of many gods and the caste basis of the major Buddhist sects. It is true of the racial composition of the Sinhalese, who have been subjected to centuries of Tamil interbreeding such that the very term “race” . . . has verv little meaning.  l

The truth is that there is no aspect of Sinhalese Buddhist culture ethnicity, religion and practices, language and script, customs and traditions which is not foreign or borrowed. S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike’s alleged “national costume” was invented by two Ceylonese educated in England.2 And, the Buddhist flag is of American provenance, for it was invented by Colonel Olcott.3

We have seen that the Vijaya legend is nothing but a flight of fancy by the bhikkhu author of Mahavamsa. Yet, it must be noted that every book on Sri Lanka history, including the school textbooks, reiterate that Viyaja was the first occupant of the island and that the Sinhalese, the descendants of the founding father Vijaya and his 700 men, are “Aryans”. Although the Aryan myth in regard to Indian culture, propagated by Western scholars of IndoAryan linguistics, had been exploded and exorcized, nevertheless, according to B.H. Farmer, the author of Ceylon A Divided Nation Sri Lanka continues to be the last bastion of the Aryan myth.

The early Sinhalese kingdoms were internally fragmented and covered on portions of the country known as Rajarata, Mayarata, Malayarata, or Pihiti, Ruhunu, Malaya. Hence the Sinhalese never possessed an all island view and gave no Sinhala name to the island as a whole. Several Sinhalese dynasties and kingdoms rose and fell. Anuradhapura was founded by the Tamil kings and was then known as Anuradhapura. Even after this kingdom passed into the hands of the Sinhalese kings, many Tamil kings reigned from Anuradhapura Tamil kings such as Ellalan treated Buddhism and Hinduism equally and build many viharas for the bhikkhus. Even the so-called Anuradhapura civilization which Mahavamsa seeks to date from 457 BC to AD 769, did not extend over the whole of Sri Lanka or cover Ruhunu and Malaya. This idea was merely to attempt to suggest that Anuradhapura was then the capital.

Following Mahavamsa’s effort to eulogize the Sinhalese Buddhist kings, the Tamils came to be presented as invaders, vandals, marauders and destroyers of Sinhalese civilization. From Mahavamsa itself one can see that of the Sinhalese kings of the so-called Great Dynasty (543 BC-AD 275) all but a few were weak and inept. Of the 54 kings of this dynasty, 15 ruled less than a year, 30 less than four years, 11 were dethroned, six were assassinated, 13 were killed in battle and 22 were murdered by their successors. The dark dismal record of the early Sinhalese kings was one of an incessant struggle for the throne, fratricidal and parricidal slayings, conspiracies and internal strife.

To maintain themselves on the throne, the Sinhalese kings did not depend on the chiefs, who had no troops, or on the people, who had no military training, but sought the help and support of the south Indian Tamil rulers of the Pandya,4 Chola 5 and Chera 6 kingdoms and raised Tamil armies there. They invited these Tamil armies to secure them on the throne usually after they had usurped it. Dr G.C. Mendis states that Abhaya Naga (AD 291-300), “the younger brother of Vera Tissa (269 -291), who was forced to flee to south India on account of a crime he had committed . . . was the first Sinhalese king who seized the throne with the help of the Tamil army”.7

Historians, following the author of Mahavamsa, have treated the island’s early history as 1,000 years of constant Tamil invasions and Sinhalese Tamil wars. The historical fact, however, is that south Indian Tamil military help was always sought by the feuding Sinhalese kings and usurping aspirants to the throne.

It is also wrong to suggest that there was a “great and glorious Sinhalese-Buddhist Civilisation at Anuradhapura”. How could a great civilization develop amidst the anarchy that prevailed? The building of a few tanks (artificial lakes or reservoirs), with canals to take water to the fields, and a few Dagabas (Buddhist stupas) and viharas (Buddhist monasteries) does not make a civilisation. These were the basic essentials of the economic and religious life of any settled community.

A civilization is judged in terms of social development. In regard to the Anuradhapura period of the Sinhalese kings, Dr Mendis states:

So far no traces have been discovered of buildings of this time used by laymen. The people probably lived in caves or dwellings made of destructible material. The only non religious structure mentioned in the Mahavamsa apart from the king’s palace which stood within the citadel, is the citadel wall built by Kutakanna Tissa (AD 16 28)8.

Mantai, near Mannar and close to southern India, was the port of the early Tamil kingdom Around it was built the earliest tanks and canals, Akattimarippu and Giant’s tank; and at Vanni, the Pathavikulam (now named PadaViyaa in Sinhala), Basavakulam (Abhayaweva in Sinhala), Tissavapi ( Tisssaweva in Sinhala), etc. Tank fed irrigated cultivation of rice was started by the Tamils, as these early tanks with their Tamil names show. The tanks and dagobas were built under the Sinhalese kings by rajakarEya (forced labour). The popular Sinhalese version of Sri Lankan history makes out that these huge tanks were dug out of the bowels of the arid land, and hence were a monumental feat of the ancients; whereas the simple fact is that they were constructed by throwing earth bunds across shallow valleys to hold back the seasonal streams.

Many foreigners have been carried away by this falsified history. The assistant editor of the National Geographic magazine wrote in a flight of fancy:

The [Sinhalese] king’s engineering feats survive as well. With his capital sited in an arid region, he dug huge tanks to store water, and canals for irrigation. The Mahaweli Project will tie into the old tanks and canals. In Sri Lanka, antiquity is always relative. A much older water system is still in use in the lowlands northwest of Polonnaruwa. It series the people who live around the most ancient, greatest buried city of all: Anuradhapura, the island’s first capital. Approaching, I could make out colossal shrines�dagobas�from miles away . . . Anuradhapura lived from about the 5th century BC to the 11th Century AD. At the peak of its glory it had an area greater than modern day Chicago.9

Anuradhapura city, as shown by the Archaeological Survey Map, is a small area, comprising the present old town, which was declared a “sacred city”. The idea of a “buried” city is yet another canard which foreign writers easily swallow. The building of tanks and canals became vitally necessary because the northeast monsoon rains were insufficient for food to be grown to sustain both the people and a large number of bhikkhus, who, as prescribed the rules of the Vinaya, cannot participate in production but have to depend on alms. Because the earlier tanks and canals built by the Tamils fell into disuse owing to internal strife, four severe famines occurred during the Anuradhapura period.10

In the succeeding period, the Culavamsa refers to four further famines, which were due to continuous usurpations of the throne and internal strife and civil war between the Moriya and Lambakarna Sinhalese royal clans. As a result, the tanks and canals fell into disrepair and led to the eventual abandonment of Anuradhapura. The Buddhist dagobas and viharas, which represent the ancient Buddhist past of Sri Lanka, are much less splendid than the Stupas at Sanchi in India, or the temples and shrines such as the magnificent Borobudur in Central Java, still standing after more than 1,000 years, or the impressive Buddhist ruins of Angkor, which today stand as a memorial to the greatness of the Khmer people in Kampuchea. Since there were no buildings except the king’s palace, there was no architecture or sculpture. Arts and crafts were altogether non-existent. Hence the Sinhalese-Buddhist Anuradhapura “civilisation” is merely an exaggerated vision. It is modern-day propaganda, bolstering the claim for Sinhalese Buddhist hegemonism in the island.

During the early medieval period (363 – 1017), the Polonnaruwa period (1017 – 1235) and the period preceding the arrival of the Portuguese, the history of the Sinhalese kingdoms followed the same course as in the ancient period. The internecine struggle between the two clans led to further anarchy under the next 60 kings of the early medieval period.

Kasyapa I rebelled against his father, put him to death, left Anuradhapura in fear and occupied the Sigiriya rock. The rightful heir, Mugalan I, went to India. returned with Tamil troops and defeated the usurper. Then, according to Dr Mendis,

the change of dynasty was followed by a civil war which lasted some years and caused great suffering. The combatants at times plundered vihares and dagabas, and the people not only lost their foodstuffs but also found it difficult to cultivate their fields. During this war . . . a Senapati called Sirinaga went to South India, returned with Tamil troops and raised a rebellion. Agbo III, Dathopa Tissa I (676 -641 ) Dathopa Tissa II (650 658) and Manavamma (676 -711) also went to South India and brought Tamil forces to secure the throne. 11

Such was the general pattern of the usurpers’ struggle for the throne and their dependence on Tamil military involvement to secure it. Because of the chaos, “Rajaraja the Great (984 -1014), who was extending the Tamil Chola empire in every direction, did not fail to take advantage of the confusion that prevailed.”l2 His troops invaded Sri Lanka, made Rajarata a part of the Chola empire and founded Polonnaruwa. With it, Sri Lanka for the first time came under south Indian Tamil rule.

Rajaraja’s son Rajendra 1(1014�1044) further extended the Chola empire, so that in the 11th Century the Cholas ruled over Sri Lanka, Malaya Kampuchea and large parts of Indonesia. This was a time when south India held command of the eastern seas and Tamil was the lingua franca of eastern commerce.

Chola power in south India itself began to decline and in 1070 Viyayabahu successfully put an end to it and ascended the throne at Polonnaruwa. However, he had to face three internal rebellions by his brothers and fled to Vakirigala. The next king of any importance was Parakramabahu I (1153� 1186), whose grandfather was a Hindu Tamil Pandya prince. He was a strong ruler who knit the island together and waged wars in south India and Burma. He is the hero of the Culavamsa, just as Dutugemunu is the hero of the Mahavamsa. Parakramabahu built temples for the Hindu priests and even prohibited the carving of bulls, sacred to the Hindus.

Since he had no son, on his death his sister’s son, a prince from the Kalinga kingdom in central India, succeeded him as Vijayabahu 11. This accession of a foreign prince led to political intrigues and another period of instability. In the next 25 years 15 kings, mostly from the Kalinga royal dynasty, ascended the throne. Because of further chaos and anarchy, Polonnaruwa was abandoned. The last of the Kalinga rulers was Magha, who ascended the throne in 1214. We shall see how Rajavaliya, a 17th Century Sinhalese chronicle in the tradition of the Mahavamsa and the Culavamsa. treats Magha’s early 13th Century accession with exaggerated hostility.

Subsequently the centres of Sinhalese rule shifted further to the southwest to Dambadeniya, Kurunegala, Gampola, Raiyigama, and Kotte (near Colombo), the last centre of Sinhalese rule at the time of the arrival of the Portuguese in 1505.

Thus the account of 1000 years of Tamil invasions and Sinhalese Tamil wars. as presented by the chronicles and the modern historians is false. Nor was there a glorious Sinhalese-Buddhist civilization of Anuradhapura -Polonnaruwa -Sigiriya.

We have already looked at the “civilization” of the Anuradhapura period. We have also seen how Kasyapa the parricide, fled Anuradhapura and sought refuge in the inaccessible Sigiriya rock. Sigiriya is a solitary pillar of granite rising to a height of 1,144 feet. On the summit of this rock, there are six acres of ground in which Kasyapa built his abode. The map of Sigiriya from the Ceylon Journal of Science shows three caves and an audience hall. There are 21 oppressively sensuous half-figure portraits of celestial females, advancing singly and in pairs. One cannot conceive of any civilization in this rock and its maidens,

The Polonnaruwa period and its aftermath are one of internal strife, chaos and anarchy. There is nothing in the Culavamsa to show how the people organized their lives. The ruins of Polonnaruwa, around the beautiful Lake Topaweva, show combined Buddhist Hindu artistic activity during the Chola occupation and under Parakramabahu I. The sculptural work is in the Pallava and Chola styles as in the Hindu Siva temples, the rock-cut figure of the Hindu sage Agasthiyar near Potgul vihara and the Nalanda temple built for use of the Tamil troops midway between Dambulla and Matale. One of the greatest Nataraja metal images (preserved at the Colombo Museum) and the splendid female statue of goddess Pattini Devi (British Museum) were found among the Hindu temples in ruin.

No castles were built by Sinhalese kings in order to protect themselves as kings and nobles did in Europe …. in times of special danger they sometimes took refuge in rock fortresses, which gave them greater , protection . . in the period of the drift to the south west, “they could no longer live in open plains like their predecessors and protect their subjects, but had to reside in places which gave protection to themselves.

We have seen that both the ruling and the usurping Sinhalese kings depended on Tamil armies to secure the throne, and this continued until the beginning of the 16th Century. Generally, therefore, Sinhalese kingly rule prevailed only in name. The chroniclers and the modern Sinhalese historian have distorted the situation by depicting Tamil invaders and Sinhalese resisters. There is no evidence to show any ethnic conflict or attempt at ethnic conquest by the Tamils in the historic past.

Yet following the ahistorical presentation of the chronicles, many writers, local and foreign, who attempt to interpret present-day Sinhalese Buddhist chauvinism have been led into pitfalls by unquestioningly relying on this falsified history. Even Professor Gananath Obeyesekere, a discerning social anthropologist falls into this trap when he writes:

I have just discussed the traditional Sinhalese identity in the early period of Sinhalese civilisation. Let me now discuss it in relation to the decline of Sinhalese civilisation, which roughly consists of two periods, one of systematic South Indian invasions which resulted in the abandonment of the old centres of civilisation and the later period of colonial rule which brought about a radical change in the Sinhalese ethnic identity. The wars between the Sinhalese and the Tamils continued until the 16th Century. In the I 0th Century the old capital of Anuradhapura had to be abandoned because of Tamil invasions, and the capital was moved eastward to Polonnaruwa. Sinhalese fortunes reached a low point in the late 10th century, with systematic invasions from South India which were unlike the sporadic incursions of the earlier periods. Sri Lanka was the principality of the Tamil Chola kings until 1070, when the Sinhalese chieftain, Kirti, raised a standard of revolt successfully and assumed the crown as Vijayabahu I (1059 l l 14). Later under Parakramabahu, Sinhalese civilisation reached new heights, and Polonnaruwa, the new capital, became a great city. But the respite was temporary. In 1214 Magha of Kalinga landed in Sri Lanka with a large army of South Indian mercenaries. The Pali and Sinhalese Chronicles mention the devastation of the kingdom by Magha and the sorry plight of the Sinhalese. Rajavaliya, a 1 7th Century Sinhalese chronicle, writes of the event:

“As moral duties were not practised by the people of Lanka, and the guardian deities of Lanka regarded them not, their sins were visited upon them and unjust deeds became prevalent. The king of Kalinga landed on the island of Lanka with an army of 20,000 men, fortified himself, took the city of Polonnaruwa, seized king Parakrama Pandi plucked out his eyes, destroyed the religion and the people, and broke into Ruwanvali and other dagabas He caused the Tamils to take and destroy the shrines which represented the embodied fame of many faithful kings, the pinnacles that were like their crowns He wrought confusion in castes by reducing to servitude people of high birth in Lanka, raising people of low birth and holding them in high esteem. He reduced to poverty people of rank, caused the people of Lanka to embrace a false faith …. turned Lanka into a house on fire, settled Tamils in every village and reigned 19 years in the commission of deeds of violence.”‘4 (Emphasis added.)

On the basis of this view of Sinhalese history, Obeyesekere attempts to interpret and vindicate the chauvinist fanaticism of Dharmapala on the grounds that “the identity crisis of an individual has significance for the identity problems of a larger ethnic group”. This seemingly attractive conceptualisation may be a useful anthropological academic device to interpret Luther and his Protestantism. or Gandhi and Indian nationalism. But in the case of Dharmapala’s bigoted chauvinism, it fails because Dharmapala’s exhortations are ahistorical and Sinhalese identity if it is to be ethnic, has to be Sinhalese and not Sinhalese Buddhist. Today’s Sinhalese identity embrace all the Sinhalese, be they Buddhists or Christians.

Dharmapala’s missionary zeal was based on total falsification of history and on the denial of the cardinal Buddhist “perfections” of compassion, tolerance and equality. Doctrinal Buddhism regards all men as equal because they are all subject to the same destiny of misery. It seeks to explain what causes misery and provides the means of liberation from it. Buddha promotes a solidarity that renders one happy by the happiness of others. It is in the practice of these that one sees the real Buddhism, for it is truly an ethical philosophy and not a religion.

The first of the Five Buddhist Precepts (Pansi[), binding on all who call themselves Buddhist, is not to take life. The bhikkhu author of Mahavamsa departed from this fundamental tenet of Buddhism when in his eulogy of the Dutugemunu Ellalan battle he explicitly justified war and killing. According to the chronicle, the former marched into battle with 500 ascetic monks. We have seen the ahistorical, “sons of the soil” exhortations of Dharmapala. Departing from doctrinal Buddhism, he was seeking to make it spiritually akin to modern bourgeois society.

In the colonial period, the Sinhalese and the Tamils began to convert to Christianity because of the obvious advantages in converting to the religion the ruling power. The Catholic and Christian Sinhalese and Tamils, who allied with imperial and Western interests, became the local intermediaries and the ruling elite. Dharmapala, born of a Buddhist merchant family, being the representative of the emerging comprador bourgeoisie, demanded the renunciation of this worldly asceticism, ordained by pristine Buddhism, in order to secure Sinhalese Buddhist bourgeois ascendance as the ruling class. He was employing religious rhetoric for political purposes. He speaks of the humiliation of Buddhists and the degradation of the Sinhalese, not because the Buddhists did not seek salvation, but because, compared to the Christians they were politically powerless in the country.

What Dharmapala was clearly seeking was the political kingdom for the Sinhalese Buddhists and he came to be followed later by the bhikkhus, who generated religious pressure for political hegemonism. Because of his rhetoric, many writers have been led to represent his efforts as being aimed at “Buddhist revival”. Held up to the mirror of history, there was nothing “revivalist” about Dharmapala’s pursuits. While eminent Buddhist statesmen like U Nu and U Ba Swe of Burma and Buddhist leader of India Laksmi Alarasu et al, maintained that Buddha was anti-capitalist and that socialism was the corollary of the social and ethical principles of the Buddha, Dharmapala’s Buddhist Theosophical Society year after year underlined it was the business of the Sinhalese Buddhists to consider ways of accumulating capital.

Dharmapala’s chauvinism and racialism presaged not only Sinhalese Buddhist rule but also the defeat of socialism and the perpetuation (of dependent capitalism to benefit the class to which Dharmapala belonged and for which he was spokesman What of the “identity problems of the larger ethnic group”? As stated earlier. there is no aspect of the Sinhalese Buddhist culture that is not foreign or borrowed. Hence the “identity problem” of the Sinhalese was really the absence of identity. Therefore, what was being sought was a new identity. In the context of the presence of the ancient, primaeval and indigenous identity of the Tamil people and their culture, the new identity of the Sinhalese Buddhists came to be one of domination and suppression.

The only convergence between any “identity crisis” of Dharmapala and the “identity problems” of the Sinhalese was in the falsification of history and the search tor a new dominant identity, vis a vis the Tamils, on the basis of an “ancient Civilisation”, “past glories”, the “triumphant record of victories” and so on. Obeyesekere’s thesis infers that the age-old rivalries of the Sinhalese and Tamils are now seeking to work themselves out to effect redress. This is totally untenable.

At the level of the ordinary Sinhalese and Tamils, there was then and is today, no conflict. The conflict, such as it was, was between the Tamil and the Karava Sinhalese petit bourgeoisie, at the instigation of the latter. The Sinhalese Tamil conflict is a result of the ambitions of the latter and their accommodation by the upper-class rulers as a concession to the other Sinhalese classes and castes willing to allow them to retain power. These conflicts cannot, at any level, be traced back to historical memories and fears. however much bourgeois scholarship seeks to rely on such premises, they fail to carry conviction. This is clearly exemplified by the constant Sinhalese Muslim conflicts, and Dr Michael Roberts is right when he states: “No such [memories] and fears influence the attitudes of Sinhalese to the Moors. Yet enmities are sharp.”

8.2 Buddhism, Bhikkhus and the Sangha

Buddha received enlightenment (spiritual understanding) and preached an ethical philosophy. In his first sermon preached to the monks, he said that a mall who followed his eightfold path of moral and spiritual self-development could become free of the “wheel of life”, and enter Nibbana Nirvana in Sanskrit), a state of union with the supreme spirit. Then he no longer had to be reborn to a life of suffering. “Where nothing is, where nothing is grasped, this is the isle of No Beyond. Nibbana I call it the utter extinction of ageing and dying.”

The eightfold path consisted of: (1) right view, (2) right motive, (3) right speech (4) right action, (5) right pursuits, (6) right livelihood, (7) right mindfulness (8) right contemplation. Nibbana, therefore, is a state attainable this life by living according to the noble eightfold path and is the supreme goal of Buddhist endeavour. There are ten precepts in Buddhism, which bind Buddhists not to: (1) take life. (2) steal. (3) indulge in sensuality, (4) lie, (5) become intoxicated by drink or drugs, (6) eat at unreasonable times, (7) attend worldly amusements. (8) use perfumes or ornaments, (9) sleep on luxurious bed or (10) possess gold or silver.

The first five (Pansil) were originally binding on all who become bhikkhus; later the other five were added, the ten being binding on all bhikkhus. Later it became the custom for the pious Buddhist laity to take the five precepts, which are now considered the minimum moral code to be followed by all who call themselves Buddhists. The public recital of the “three refuges”  ” I take refuge in the Buddha, I take refuge in the Dhamma, I take refuge in the Sangha” and the “five precepts” is the outward form of becoming a Buddhist in Sri Lanka, as it is in Burma, Thailand and Kampuchea. The precepts are not commandments; they are aspirations or vows (to oneself).

The Buddha did not believe in gods, worshipping of gods or ceremonies in the Hindu temples performed by Brahmin priests. To follow Buddha, it was necessary to retire from the world completely. Buddha preached to the ascetic monks and not to the ordinary people. Buddhism changed after Buddha’s death. Missionaries carried his teachings to Tibet, Burma, Sri Lanka, China, Mongolia, Korea, Japan and south-east Asia. The original teachings were changed a little in each of these countries to fit in with the existing religions or cultures. The Chinese mixed Buddhism with Confucianism, the Japanese mixed it with Shintoism, the Tibetans with Lamaism and the Sri Lankans with Hinduism. No one was content with only a “path of life”. In these places, there were temples with gods and goddesses and divinities as objects of worship. So, by 100 BC, Buddhists started to carve images of Buddha, which came to be worshipped, and in Sri Lanka, they were worshipped along with the Hindu gods and goddesses.

There was never a Buddhist age in India, but, under Emperor Asoka’s patronage, Buddhism spread and was a contender for the spiritual leadership of India. The Hindu India of old was ruled by Rajas, of the warrior caste. The Raja’s court included ministers and advisers, who were Brahmin priests and pundits, who attended to the state ritual. The brahmin priestly influence was considerable in the king’s court. The Raja was not absolute but was limited by the Rajadharma, which was designed to preserve society and promote the welfare Of his subjects; its failure meant the subjects were under no duty of obedience.

In Sri Lanka during the period of the Sinhalese kings, there were no comparable relationships between the king and his subjects or between the king and the Buddhist Sangha. Although the Tamil Hindu and the Sinhalese Buddhist kings gave patronage to Buddhism and built viharas and dagabas, the Sangha was not closely associated with kingship. Buddhism was confined to the monasteries and, in accordance with the injunctions of the Buddha, the bhikkhus lived a life of asceticism in monastic seclusion. Buddhism was not social or even a religious force at any time in the historic past. Dr Mendis states: “The Brahmin priests were maintained by the kings . . . and their duties lay in carrying out for the people the domestic rites and sacraments which the bhikkhus did not consider it within their province to perform.”16

A new development began in 1739. with the accession of the Tamil Nayakkar kings of Madurai to the throne of the Sinhalese Kandyan kingdom. The bhikkhus from the ranks of the Kandyan “aristocratic” (Radala) families sought to become important in the king’s court because of the alien origin of the dynasty. The leading bhikkhu litterateur, Velivita Saranankara sponsored the Tamil Nayakkar royal accession, while the aristocratic faction opposed it. Then Saranankara and the tiny aristocratic faction, which was constantly divided, attempted to dominate the affairs of the king’s court. In 1760, in the reign of the second Tamil Nayakkar king Kirti Sri, there was a conspiracy by Saranankara and Tibbotuwawe, the chief prelate of the Malwatte temple, together with the aristocratic faction led by the second Adigar (minister) Samanakkodi, to replace king Kirti Sri with a prince from Siam(Thailand). The conspiracy was uncovered in time, Saranankara and others confessed, Samanakkodi was executed and the two bhikkhus were deported to remote villages.

In 1815, because the last Nayakkar king Sri Wickrema would not accord the aristocratic faction and the bhikkhus the privileged position they sought tor themselves, they joined together, conspired against and deposed him and sealed the kingdom to the British. Thus, between the Nayakkar Tamil kings and the Kandyan Sinhalese aristocratic faction, there was historic conflict and hostility. A Kandyan Sinhalese friend of mine has suggested to me that this was the root cause of Mrs Bandaranaike’s hostility towards the Tamils from 1960. It is a point well worth further examination since relations between the ordinary Tamil people and the Kandyan Sinhalese peasants and lower-middle classes have been good.

During the colonial period, the Sangha and the Buddhist propagandists did nothing to assert political liberation in the sense of national independence Buddhism had no ideology apart from strictly monastic this-worldly asceticism. The propagandists’ attack on Christianity, with a call to return to a falsified and romanticised Buddhist past, failed to carry any conviction along with the Western-oriented Buddhist elite. The English educated Buddhist elite were no respecters of the Sinhala and Pali educated bhikkhus.. This reached its height when Sir John Kotelawala was prime minister. Thus there was a conflict between the Sinhalese ruling upper class and the bhikkhus mainly of the low country Sinhalese Ramayana sect, the majority of whom were of the Karava caste. Consequently, when the Karava lower-middle-class agitators started the “Sinhala only” cry, they came to be supported by the Ramyanya sect,  Karava caste bhikkhus. We have seen the role that they played in the 1956 election and thereafter. The conservative and wealthy Siam Nikaya confined to the highest Sinhalese Goyigama caste bhikkhus, played no part in the “Sinhala only” agitation and became involved in politics only when their own interests were threatened.

Although ostensibly, “Sinhala only” was made out to be an attack on privilege, in reality, it was the route to secure privileges for the Sinhalese Buddhists and to win bhikkhu dominance in affairs of state. The excessive demands of the bhikkhus could not be conceded and hence Bandaranaike was murdered. Then, with Mrs Bandaranaike, they secured their ascendancy, with Buddhism becoming the de facto state religion and Sinhalese Buddhist culture being held out as the only national culture. Sinhalese and Buddhism, Tamils and Hinduism�each were placed at opposite and contrary poles. Religious, political and social pressures were exerted to produce a state structure beneficial only to the Sinhalese Buddhists. Buddhism was really a cloak for the material advancement of the Sinhalese Buddhists, at the expense of everyone else.

Yet the chauvinist Sinhalese politicians expected the Tamil people to owe loyalty to a “racist” theocratic state run solely for their own benefit. They were so myopic as not to realize that the political realm in a multi nation-state must be secular and must be the sphere of the people and not of the clergy. They harnessed the divisive loyalties of religion, not the integrative powers of democracy.

What is the relevance of Buddhism in politics? Does it have an ideology in the secular realm? Does it cater to a constituency other than its religious constituency? For the bhikkhus to dominate the state and for the Sinhalese Buddhists to advance materially and reap the benefits, the Tamils have to be subjugated, oppressed and kept down by torture, genocide and state terrorism. The Tamils were even told that they must accept the new status quo of subjugation and oppression.

Before we conclude this discussion, it may be instructive to see how in Turkey Kemal Ataturk proceeded to build a modern secular nation-state by not only abandoning Islam but actively suppressing it. In 1924 he abolished the Caliphate, the supreme spiritual authority in Islam vested for centuries in the Sultan of Turkey. The following year, he forcibly dissolved the Muslim religious courts and the religious sects and orders and closed their meeting places. In 1937 the constitution was amended to include “laicism” (secularism) as one of the six cardinal principles of the state. In 1938 a law prohibited political parties from using religion for political propaganda. A 1949 law prescribed punishment for propaganda against the secular state.

Ataturk’s revolutionary goal of a secular state inspired the Indian nationalists like Jawaharlal Nehru, who became passionately committed to the building up of the secular nation-state of India.

8.3 Language, Culture, Nation

Because of capitalism and the economic prosperity which imperialist exploitation of colonies brought to the Western state system, today it is forgotten that the language culture matrix and nationalism have been the most important factors in the organic development of each of the Western nation-states. During the Middle Ages, Western civilization was regarded as being determined by religion Christian or Muslim and the respective language culture was Latin (or Greek) or Arabic (or Persian). The Renaissance continued this trend, for the ancient Greek and Roman civilisations and their languages were treated as the universal norm.

From the end of the 18th Century, civilisation came to be considered to be determined by nationality The classical languages were abandoned and the language of each nationality became pre-eminent in education and public life. Cultural nationalism led to the development of nation-states which determined the territorial extent of the state and the political loyalties of the people according to ethnographic principles. The recognised principle was that each nationality should form its state and that each state should include ad members of its nationality. John Stuart Mill wrote: “It is in general a necessary condition of free institutions that the boundaries of government should coincide in the main with those of the nationalities.” It was implied that all who possessed a common nationality shared a common loyalty to the state .

In England and France, where state-building preceded nation formation, a common nationalism developed out of different linguistic and cultural groups loyalty was to the British monarch or to la France.

Nationalism was not determined in racial terms, but was secular, libertarian and humanitarian, and founded upon the ancient principle of jus Cheque (to each his own right). States became secular and centralized, to promote, protect, and safeguard the interests of those who comprised them. The nation-state represented the public interest and from this jurists and political theorists developed the concept of popular sovereignty.

The old states so formed encapsulated and represented the language and culture of their people and evoked a singular loyalty to the state. In the USA, the product of great movements of mankind, the challenge was how to convert the different states and the different ethnic groups into a cohesive society, the American nation-state. From independence, the task was seen 35 uniting the states and securing the loyalty of the people. This was done by the federation, the constitution, the Bill of Rights and the Supreme Court. The Declaration of Independence stated: “. . . all men are created equal . . .”. “Epluribus Unum” (out of many, one) is the legend in the official seal of the USA. “Equal justice under the law” is the inscription over the portico of the US Supreme Court. The solitary star of the Supreme Court symbolized the granting of judicial power to one Supreme Court. It is the duty of the Supreme Court to protect the federation and the rights of the US citizen. The federation, the constitution, the Bill of Rights and the Supreme Court created unity out of diversity and engaged the loyalty of the American people to the state.

In Canada, the task was even more formidable. Canada began as a collection of ten fragments and the objective, in Dicey’s phrase, was “union but not unity”. A country of truly heterogeneous people and cultures English speaking Christians wanting to remain under the British monarchy, and French-speaking Catholics of Quebec regarding themselves as a part of metropolitan France and nourishing French culture came together in a confederation in 1867.

The constitution, similar in principle to that of the UK, vested a large range of functions in the Dominion parliament, with cultural autonomy in the provinces and enshrined bilingualism and biculturalism. The French-speaking Canadians form one nation, have a common heritage, speak the same language, have their own political and social institutions, live in Quebec a reserve area for them and above all possess un vouloir vivre Collectif (a will to live as distinct people). From the time of the confederation to date, the French-speaking Canadians consistent demand has been: Notre langue, nos institutions et nos Lois (our language, our institutions and our laws). When the confederation was established, Lord Durham, its architect, optimistically believed that the French speaking Canadians would gradually become bilingual and eventually adopt English, the language of North America. Today, three out of four French-speaking people of Quebec cannot read or write English.

In the 1960s, the French-speaking Canadians accused the federal government of using the immense economic powers granted to it by the constitution for the benefit of the English speaking Canadians. They asserted that, socially, they were treated as second class citizens, living in what Quebec separatists called “ghetto contederatif”‘. They contended that, while French had ceased to be an official language outside Quebec, they were expected to be bilingual.

All these grievances exploded into French Canadian separatist nationalism, which threatened the edifice of the confederation. In 1963 young French Canadians kidnapped the British Trade Commissioner and Quebec’s “collaborationist” labour minister, who was subsequently murdered. Lester Pearson’s federal government appointed a royal commission to recommend “the steps to be taken to develop the Canadian confederation on the basis of equal partnership between the two founding races” The commission, in its preliminary report of 1965, stated that “Canada without being fully conscious of the fact is passing through the greatest crisis in its history. . . We believe that there is a crisis in the sense that Canada has come to a time when decisions must be taken and developments must occur which must lead to its break up or set new conditions for its existence. The signs of danger are many and serious.”

Since confederation in 1867, the people of Quebec have possessed a perennial desire for their own state, as in a sense they had from 1791 to 1841. In the 1960s, the demand was for Quebec separation. The provincial government of Quebec even established quasi diplomatic relations with France. President de Gaulle visited Quebec in 1967 and encouraged Quebec separatism In a speech in Montreal de Gaulle repeated the slogan of the separatists, “Vive We Quebec Libre”

Though by the Act of Union of 1800 the Irish nation relinquished its nationhood and became an integral part of the UK, opposition to the union was there from the start and guerrilla war against the British military, to achieve independence and separation, was the main current of Irish history from the 19th Century until 1922, when it was finally achieved. Again, differences in language and religion were the basis of the assertion of Irish self-determination.  The Irish Republican Brotherhood and Sinn Fein (“Ourselves Alone”), both secret organisations, fought the Irish war of national liberation. In Eire, 95% are Roman Catholics. The Gaelic language was replaced by English during the period of the union. On separation in 1922, Gaelic was made the first official language and its teaching was introduced in all Irish schools. “An arsenal of words was built with a stunning revival of the ancient tongue so that Irishmen could draw strength, hope and pride from their past” 17

Irish resistance was organised from the beginning by young Irishmen who escaped to the US or France. They formed the Fenian Brotherhood as a secret organisation in the US in 1858. It soon extended to Great Britain and Ireland, while its central direction remained in America. At the end of the First World War, President Woodrow Wilson in his Fourteen Points advocated the right to self-determination of nations. The Irish Americans pressed Wilson, who in turn pressed Lloyd George, reluctantly to concede Irish separation. Karl Marx, from the 1860s, advocated the separation of Ireland Lenin states:

It was from the standpoint of the revolutionary struggle of the English workers that Marx, in 1869, demanded the separation of Ireland from England . . . Only by putting forward this demand was Marx really educating the English workers in the spirit of internationalism. Only in this way could he counterpose the opportunists and bourgeois reformism which even to this day, half a century later, has not carried out the Irish “reform”�with a revolutionary solution of the given historical task …. Only in this way could Marx, in opposition to the merely verbal, and often hypocritical, recognition of the equality and self determination of nations, advocate the revolutionary action of the masses in the settlement of the national question as well. 18 (Emphasis in the original.)

In the colonial countries, many nations with multiple ties and loyalties to their own language, culture, ethnicity and nation existed. They were often brought together by the colonial rulers and a state structure was erected with new territorial boundaries. Political loyalty to the new nation-state as the ultimate social group was demanded and became possible under the common masters who was strong and impartial. There was, however, no nation-building, no free alliance of the different people to live under one central government, nor even a unified nation-state whose citizens shared common patriotic values. The loyalties and boundaries of each nation continued to be !defined by ascriptive ethnic, linguistic and cultural bonds.

In India, the British brought about political unification and the nationalists

timed at freedom on the basis of that unification. Gandhi made the struggle or India’s freedom and sovereignty a struggle for national liberation. The Indian bourgeoisie rallied around him to gain control of the economic future. There was mass action, but it was not revolutionary. The free India that was struggling to be born contained a great diversity of people; in the words of Jawaharlal Nehru, “India is a geographical and economic entity. a cultural unity amidst diversity, a bundle of contradictions held together by strong but invisible threads” 19 To the leaders of the Indian National Congress. freedom must come to India as a united nation: everything else was secondary. But M.A. Jinnah, the Muslim leader propounded a new theory that India consisted of two nations Hindu and Muslim. He argued:

The Hindus and Muslims belong to two different religious philosophies, social customs, literatures. They neither intermarry nor interdine together and, indeed they belong to two different civilisations…. To yoke together two such nations under a single state, one as a numerical minority and the other as a majority, must lead to growing discontent and final destruction of any fabric that may be so built up for the government of such a state.20

This was manifestly wrong, for Muslims in British India were not a nation but only the followers of a religion. India consisted of many other nations, but not Hindu and Muslim nations. What Jinnah was asserting was Muslim nationality on the basis of Muslim religious unity. Such a religious nationality did not exist, as the secession of Bangladesh in 1971 showed. Muslim religious unity could easily be preserved in a united India, as happened with the millions of Muslims who stayed in India. What was necessary to preserve religious unity and identity was a secular state, which India became.

Nationality cannot be founded on religious distinction and separation; nor even on religio – cultural unity. There must be a separate linguistic culture, separate territory as the exclusive homeland of the nation and political consciousness of separate nationhood, if a people is to be recognised as possessing the right to self-determination. The Muslims, then and now, are spread throughout India, speak every Indian language and everywhere live near or among the Hindus. This is because the majority of the Muslims were converts from Hinduism during the period of the Moghul empire. The two way mass transfer of Hindus and Muslims on partition attests to this fact. The Muslims had no separate homeland of their own; hence partition was not really the separation of a distinct part but a painful excision from an integral whole. Even after partition and the creation of Pakistan, India remained a country with the second largest Muslim population in the world.

It was not even clear which areas were to constitute Pakistan. From the 1940 Lahore Resolution of the Muslim League, when the idea of “Muslim majority areas” was first ambiguously enunciated, to the eventual establishment of Pakistan, the principle of Muslim nationality, the basis on which partition was demanded, was never properly formulated. Rather, it was carefully avoided, and it became the root cause of the eventual disintegration of Pakistan. The Lahore resolution stated: “. . . the areas in which the Muslims are numerically in a majority, as in the North-Western and Eastern Zones of India. should be grouped to constitute ‘independent states’ in which the constituent units shall be autonomous and sovereign”

In 1941 this resolution was amended to read: “. . . the North-Western and Eastern Zones of India shall be grouped together to constitute the Independent States as Muslinl Free National Homelands in which the constituent units shall be autonomous and sovereign”. At the Delhi convention in 1946, the Muslim League resolution demanded a sovereign state of Pakistan comprising the northwestern areas and also Bengal. As originally conceived, “Pakistan” did not include Bengal. P stood for Punjab, A for Afghan province, K for Kashmir. S for Sind, and Tan for Baluchistan. On 14 August 1947 Pakistan came into existence, divided into two parts, as the expression of the religious nationality of the Muslims of India. A quarter-century later, the common faith on which it had been erected was found inadequate to sustain the nation state.

The “one nation” unity in Islam, the theory on which Pakistan was erected, began to flounder from the beginning for lack of common ethnolinguistic culture and national solidarity between the west and east Pakistan. There were profound differences between the two in regard to language culture, social structure and political legacies and traditions (somewhat resembling those between the Sinhalese and Tamils in Sri Lanka). The West Pakistani Muslims had their Urdu language culture and a dominant feudal landowning upper class. The West Pakistanis were heirs to the old aristocratic Islamic traditions and later to a strong authoritarian government under the British Viceroy. Their society, in no way cohesive, comprised exploited peasants with martial fervour. The East Pakistan Muslims had a Bengali language culture and had inherited a number of middle class constitutional politicians from the former Province of Bengal under British India. Their society consisted mainly of peasants, traders and professional men. The Bengali Muslims were the descendants of Hindu converts to Islam, and shared their Bengali language culture with the Bengali Hindus, as well as a shared Bengali nationalism and identity. Jawaharlal Nehru wrote in 1946:

A Bengali Muslim is far nearer to a Bengali Hindu than he is to a Punjabi Muslim …. If a number of Hindu and Muslim Bengalis happen to meet anywhere, in India or elsewhere, they will immediately congregate together and feel at home with each other. Punjabis, whether Muslim or Hindu or Sikh, will do likewise.21

At independence, power was transferred to the Pakistan constituent assembly, which for years made a fruitless attempt to submerge or reconcile these differences in the cause of common loyalty to Islam. The West Pakistani politicians were bent on domination of the new state, and the protracted wrangling over power-sharing in the constituent assembly led to the somewhat muted assertion of Bengali national identity in East Pakistan. The West Pakistani politicians asserted that Urdu should be the official language of Pakistan, which led to the 1952 language riots in East Pakistan. In 1954 the Past Pakistan Prime Minister went to Calcutta and called for the unity of the Bengalis. This led to the dismissal of his cabinet and the imposition of Governor’s rule. The seeds of the break up of the nation had been sowed

This sparked off a major constitutional crisis and the constituent assembly which since 1947 had failed to produce a constitution. was dismissed. The hastily prepared the 1956 constitution, which theoretically accorded parity between the two sides, was doomed to failure because of the West Pakistani politicians’ desire for domination. No elections were held for fear of an East Pakistan majority. This constitution was abrogated in 1958. and General Ayub Khan took over the country and ruled by martial law. Ayub’s 1962 constitution proclaimed that sovereignty belonged to Allah. East Pakistan, in effect, came under the rule of the president in West Pakistan. Ayub Khan stated that his objective was: “a blending of democracy with discipline, the true prerequisite to running a free society with stable government and sound administration”�the usual rhetorical recipe of army rulers.

Ayub Khan’s “stable government”, in which the people were a cipher, evoked great confidence among the Western capitalist countries22 and massive foreign aid flowed in. West Pakistan “prospered” in the 1960s and the Western world-rated Pakistan as the model for developing countries.23

These developments led to feelings of internal colonialism in East Pakistan. West Pakistan, in fact, became the metropolis, supplying industrial and consumer goods to the East and processing the East’s raw materials of jute and tea for export. By the end of the 1960s, East Pakistan had truly become a colony of West Pakistan, ruled from Islamabad.

Yet constitutionalism and bourgeois politicking were the creeds of the middle-class politicians of East Pakistan. Pakistan, West and East, lived from one constitutional crisis to the next. In the l 970 elections, the first-ever held by universal franchise, Sheikh Mujib Rahman’s Awami League won 167 of the 313 seats in the Pakistan National Assembly all of them in East Pakistan.24 Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party won 85 seats, all in West Pakistan, mostly in Punjab and Sind. The Awami League’s victory was to the popular expression of Bengali nationalism, which, when threatened with military repression, exploded as Bangladeshi separatism. West Pakistan units of the army were increased to 40,000 in Bangladesh. Sheikh Mujib Rahman and the Awami League politicians faltered at every stage towards of Bangladesh’s national liberation. They were bent on using their landslide electoral majority to secure a favourable constitutional arrangement. But, to the people, the only acceptable constitutional formula was secession. On 23 March 1971 the day celebrated since 1947 as Pakistan Day, the people hoisted Bangladesh flags everywhere in Dacca and Chittagong and proclaimed their independence.

Independent India was launched with a constitution framed by the Indian constituent assembly with a federation, with guaranteed individual and group fundamental rights, under a Nehru government committed to social justice. The real national problems arose only after independence. The constitution aimed at creating a strong centralized government with Hindi as the official language of the centre, English as the “link” language for an interim period, and 14 recognized state languages.

But pride in their historical linguistics and cultural achievements led the Dravidians in the south to demand linguistic states defied on the basis of language culture and regional consciousness. Nehru who hated disunity hesitated The first militant movement for linguistic states arose among the Telegu people. Potti Sriramulu, an ascetic leader, fasted to death for an Andhra (Telugu speaking) state. Nehru in his pragmatism, realized that nation building had yet to begin. He conceded the demand, and in 1953 Andhra Pradesh came into being as the state of the Telugu people of the south.  Fourteen other linguistic states were soon created, and Indian unity on the basis of national diversity was established. Thereafter, political integration proceeded, making India a multi cultural mosaic and not a monolithic ethnocentric state

In Burma, for centuries a multi ethnic and multi lingual Buddhist country Aung San, the Burmese leader, realized that domination by the ethnically predominant Burmese over the smaller nations�the Karens, Kachins, Shans and Kaya would be contrary to the Buddhist ethic of equality. Aung San recognised that statehood was not a gift but had to be built with courage and vision. In view of his goal of establishing a united Burmese nation-state on a basis of equality for the different nations, Aung San, the revolutionary socialist leader, declared to his people on the eve of independence from the British in 1946:

A nation is a collective term applied to a people, irrespective of their ethnic origin, living in close contact with one another, having common interests and joys and sorrows together, for such historic periods, as have acquired a sense of oneness. Though race, religion and language are important factors, it is only traditional desire and the will to live in unity through weal and woe that binds a people together, that makes them a nation and their spirit of patriotism.25

Under the federal Union of Burma, the Kachins, Karens, Shans and Kaya people have four autonomous states, and the Chins another ethnic people, halve special status. In this way, the loyalty of all Burmese people to the new nation-state was secured and national unity was preserved.

In Sri Lanka, as we have seen, the Sinhalese, both low country and Kandyan and the Tamils were brought together in a unified state by the British in 1833 for convenience of administration. Despite unification and a centralised administration. the separate ethnic and cultural loyalties of the people predominated. The nation-state, in terms of political organization, was different from the two separate nations, in terms of loyalties and collective  identities.

The first assertion of this came with the events leading to the break up of the Ceylon National Congress in 1920. within a year of its formation. There was no free alliance of the Sinhalese and Tamil people to live under one nor did they share common patriotic values. As noted earlier, they were held together by a common master who was strong and impartial.  There was no Sri Lankan nationalism born of the common secular interests of the island’s different ethnic and linguistic communities.

Even before independence, it was domination, and hence nation breaking that the Sinhalese Buddhist chauvinists wanted. We have seen that caste differences predominated at the beginning and that, in the competitive politics of acquiring wealth, power and domination, the emerging Sinhalese comprador bourgeoisie drew the battle lines on the basis of caste. Before the advent of electoral politics, some Sinhalese politicians displayed an inter-ethnic perspective. They acknowledged the Tamil people’s share in the national patrimony and accepted their equal participation in the political process. But from 1920, the Sinhalese politicians defined themselves, first and foremost, as Sinhalese. In turn, their Tamil counterparts defined themselves in similar terms, These bourgeois politicians wanted the representative self-government, in which they would be the principal actors and beneficiaries, but were opposed to an extended franchise which would have involved the participation of the people.

When the Kandyan Sinhalese elite sounded a discordant note of separate nationality and demanded federalism, Sinhalese unity became the objective. It was not asked: unity for what? The eventual objective was domination and subjugation of the Tamil people. To establish that unity, and appease the dissident Kandyans, marriage alliances were made, their economic and educational backwardness was quickly alleviated and many avenues for their upward mobility were devised. In 1939, Bandaranaike stated:

My Hon. Friends who represent the Kandyan Province will bear witness to what I say, that the differences that existed between the two sections of the Sinhalese the low country Sinhalese and the upcountry Sinhalese is now fast disappearing. Is it not a desirable thing that is being achieved? The other day it was my privilege to go to Rambukkana to attend . . a large meeting that was attended by thousands of people . . . those who were present at that meeting would have seen there was a new hope of Sinhalese unity.26

It was not a bid for national unity or nation-building, but a bid for Sinhalese unity to establish Sinhalese domination over the Tamil people. Then, when the nascent Marxist movement and the early class struggle showed its boundless energy and threatened the interests of the upper class, the Sinhalese politicians let the national ethnic forces burst forth to divide the oppressed and the exploited.

We have seen that independence itself was hastened to save this collaborating upper class from political annihilation. Independence for whom? For the people of Sri Lanka? The Sinhalese politicians converted it into independence for the Sinhalese and subjugation for the Tamils. Let us clearly understand that the new position is one of internal colonialism, no different from external colonialism; in fact, far more pernicious and vicious than the latter.

Sinhalese chauvinism set its eyes on conquest and assimilation. not on nation-building, There was no attempt, as in other countries, to evolve a culturally neutral secular nation-state to launch the new nation on the foundations of freedom, equal rights and social justice. embracing the various ethnic linguistic and religious communities. It was believed that the ability to control and dominate the legislature was what was important.

Hence a plan is as devised to reduce the electoral power and representational strength of the Tamils. This plan involved disfranchisement and electoral gerrymandering. A million Tamils of Indian origin were denied citizenship and deprived of the franchise. At a stroke, two objectives were achieved. The political strength of the Tamils was decimated, and working-class power was castrated. No redrawing of the electoral constituencies was undertaken, and hence eight additional Sinhalese MPs were returned from these electorates, which had earlier elected Tamil MPs.

Having thus bolstered their representational strength, the Sinhalese politicians reneged on the State Council resolution that Sinhala and Tamil should both be the official languages. It was this two languages resolution that had been the bedrock of the constitutional settlement between the Sinhalese and Tamils prior to independence.

This breach of faith occurred not merely to deny the Tamils their language rights, but also to prevent their access to jobs, business opportunities and all other avenues of acquiring wealth and influence in the country. What the Sinhalese could not achieve by open competition was sought through a system closed to the Tamils. Having thus excluded the Tamils, the Sinhalese sought to formalize the new closed stratification and allocate national resources solely for the benefit of the Sinhalese people. The Tamil areas were on the one hand colonized, and on the other, by a policy of “benign neglect”, turned into a backyard bantustan. Since nation-states are established to promote and safeguard their citizens’ interests, the exclusion of the Tamils from the state, and their denial of citizenship, franchise, language and other basic rights, meant that there was no longer any raison d ‘etre for the Tamils to remain in the Sri Lankan state.

We have seen that, at the level of propaganda, false positions were taken. Sinhalese and Sinhala were said to be in danger of “inevitable shrinkage” and ”inexorable extinction”, and Buddhism was said to be in peril. Sinhalese myths, legends and folklore were retailed as history. The simple myth of the Vijaya legend was developed into a form of Sinhalese national faith, and the 2nd Century BC Ellalan Dutugemunu war was claimed as being “the beginning of Sinhalese nationalism”. Buddhism was bourgeoisie: salvation through Nibbana was jettisoned; instead, acquisition of wealth became the new tenet and this aggressive Buddhism was held out as the new gospel of the rising Sinhalese bourgeoisie.

Eventually, the contorted claim came to be that Sri Lanka was the country of the Sinhalese and the 2,500-year-old home of the Buddha, the dhamma and the Sangha. In the politics of manipulation, Buddha gods and priests were pressed into service. The ordinary Sinhalese were given an overdose of chauvinist fanaticism which intoxicated their minds and anaesthetized their spirits.

The Tamils were murdered, butchered and beaten up; Tamil women were raped; Hindu Brahmin priests were even burnt alive; Tamil houses and shops were looted and set on fire. The Tamils assembled as refugees, not once but several times, and were driven to the north and east. All these disorders were planned and carried out by the Sinhalese politicians who in the words of Professor Howard Wriggins, “found issues of language. religion, job, etc. the best ways of arousing popular followings in brief as strategies to assist their own rise in influence”.

The Tamils were required to submit to Sinhalese rule. The aim was the destruction of the ethnic identity of the Sri Lanka Tamils, the repatriation of the Tamils of Indian origin, the emigration of the Burghers and the Sinhalization of the Muslims so that Sri Lanka should become the country of the Sinhalese. Racialism, therefore, was the acknowledged creed and was intensified by the fact that the Sinhalese “majority” had secured both political and economic power, Sri Lankan society has become one in which inequality, injustice, repression, violence, torture and genocide are pivotal instruments of the basic ideology of Tamilsubjugation. These are what the Sri Lanka state and government offers the Tamil people.

The Tamil people are without a state and government to promote, protect and safeguard their interests of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. The situation is as Gramsci stated: “The old is dying, and the new is struggling to be born; in this interregnum there arises a great diversity of morbid symptoms.” The old state must, therefore, be ended, and the new state of Tamil Eelam must be created so that the Tamil people can safeguard their interests of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.


1. James Jupp, supra, p.27.

2. Sir Ivor Jennings, The  British Commonwealth of Nations, 1963, p.209.

3. Gananath Obeyesekere, supra, p. 305.

4. The ancient Pandya included Madurai and Tinnavelly, and its early eapital was Kolkai on the river Tamaraparani, and later Madurai.

5. The Chola kingdom extended along the east coast from Penner river to Cauvery river, and as far as Coorg in the west. its early capital was Uraiyur (old Tirichinopoly) and later Kaveripattinam.

6. The Chera kingdom consisted of Travancore, Cochin and Malabar. Its early capital was Vanchi (now Thirukarur on the Periyar river) and later Thiruvanchikalam.

7. G.C. Mendis, supra, p.31.

8. Ibid, p.49.

9. Robert Paul Jordan, “Time of Testing for an Ancient Land Sri Lanka”. in National Geographic, Vol. 155. No.1 January 1979.

l 0 G.C. Mendis, supra, p.39.

11. Ibid, p.61.

12. Ibid, p.64.

 13. An interesting Tamil inscription of 1088 refers to a “Corporation of the Fifteen Hundred”. Jawaharlal Nehru refers to this and states: “This was apparently a union of traders who were described in it as “brave men, horn to wander over many countries ever since the beginning of the Krita age, penetrating the regions of the six continents by land and water routes, and dealing in various articles such as horses, elephants, precious stones, perfumes, and drugs, either wholesale or in retail.” Discovery of India, p.203.

14 Gananath Obeyesekere,supra, p.291.

15 Michael Roberts, supra, p.79.

16. Supra, p.7 5.

17. Jill and Leon Uris, Ireland A Terrible Beauty, New York,1978, p.67.

18.Lenin, Selected Works, Moscow,1975, p.162.

19. Discovery of India, 1946, p.562.

20. Quoted in William T. de Barry (ed.), Sources of Indian Tradition, New York, p.285.

21. Supra, p.334.

22.Samuel Huntington, the US analyst of military regimes, wrote of Ayub Khan’s military rule: “more than any other political leader in a modernising country after World War II, Ayub Khan came close to filling the role of a Solon or Lycurgus or ‘Great Legislator’ on the Platonic or Rousseauian model”.

23. Pakistan’s Second Five Year Plan (1960 65), produced by the Planning Commission with Gustav F. Papanek, a Harvard University adviser, stated that the government should allow “some initial growth in income in equalities to reach high levels of savings and investment”. As a result of this policy, 22 families, including Bhutto’s, came to control 66% of the industrial assets, 70% of insurance and 80% of banking.

24. It was expected that elections would give an inconclusive result. But the effects of East Pakistan flood and cyclone disasters and the last minute withdrawal from the election of Maulana Bashani’s National Awami Party the principal rival party brought about the Awami League’s unexpected landslide victory.

25.  Burmese Way to Socialism, Rangoon.

26. From a 1939 speech reproduced in S.W.R.D Bandaranaike, Towards a A New Era, Colombo, 1961,pp.50 51.

Statistical and Documentary Appendices

Appendix 1

Appendix 2

Appendix 3

Bandaranaike’s 1955 Statement on Tamil Language Recognition

1. Legislature

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

2. Administration

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.

3. Education

The Medium of Instruction shall be Sinhala, provided that in the Northern and Eastern Provinces it shall be Tamil.

Proviso 1

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.

Proviso 2

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 youths in that school.

NB. A parent for this purpose shall be a registered voter tot Parliamentary Elections.

4. General

All citizens shall have the right to transact official business in Sinhalese or Tamil in any past of the island.

Transitory Provisions

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.

Appendix 4

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 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 Provinces 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 a broad outline of what we intend doing.

Appendix 5

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.

Direct Elections

(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.

Special Powers

(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.

Colonisation Schemes

(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 to 1311.

Appendix 6

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

(Signed) S.J.V. Chelvanayakam 24.3 1965

Appendix 7

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 in 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 official in his official 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, Bylaws, 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.

Appendix 8

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,

Distinguished Delegates

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. Masterminding 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 prehistoric 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 a 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 the national community. The oppression, therefore 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 the 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 masterminded 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 satyagraha. 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 Lankan 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 national independence.

Armed Resistance and the Tiger Movement

The struggle for national freedom has failed in its democratic popular agitations, having exhausted its moral power to mobilise the masses for peaceful campaigns, gave rise to the emergence of the 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 a 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 jury enables the detention of people for a period of eighteen months and allows confessions extracted under torture as admissible 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 a 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 Commission 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 covenant 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 specificity 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, the Liberation Tigers, wish to express our support and solidarity to all the revolutionary liberation struggle of the oppressed masses of the world.


Appendix 9

Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam 20.7.1979


Dear Sir,

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 legislation 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 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 being 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 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 have 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 extraordinary powers to ensure the peace and security of our people. Therefore, it is beyond a reasonable doubt that your Government’s objective is not to wipe out 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 prospect 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 bears ample testimony that your Government is totally 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 scapegoats 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 downtrodden 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.


Central Committee
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam

Appendix 10.

The World Tamil Diaspora (1979)

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Sonia Cole, Races of Man, London, 1965.

E.S Corwin, The Constitution and What it Means Today, London.

D V. Cowen, The Foundation of Freedom, 1961.

John Davy, An Account of the Interior of Ceylon, London, 1821.

William T. de Barry, The Sources of Indian Tradition, New York.

E .B Denham, Ceylon at the 1911 Census, Colombo, 1912.

Colvin R. de Silva, Ceylon under the British Occupation, Colombo, 1941.

K.M. de Silva (ed.), History of Ceylon, Colombo,1973. Sri Lanka A Survey, London, 1977.

S.A. de Smith, New Commonwealth and its Constitutions, London, 1964.

Karl W. Deutsch, Nationalism and Social Communication: An Inquiry into the Foundations of Nationality, Mass., 1953.

Karl W. Deutsch and W.J. Folz (eds.), Nation Building, New York, 1963.

L.S Dewaraja, Kandyan Kingdom 1707 1760, Colombo, 1972.

A.V Dicey, Law of the Constitution, London. B.H Farmer, Ceylon A Divided Nation, Oxford, 1963.

J.S. Furnival, Colonial Policy and Practice, New York, 1960.

W. Geiger (trans.), Culavamsa, London, 1927.

Mahavamsa, London,1912. IS A R Gibb,lbn Battuta, London, 1920.

Richard Gombrich, Precept and Practice Traditional Buddhism in the Rural Highlands of Ceylon, London, 1971.

K Gough and H. Sharma (ed ), Imperialism and Revolution in South Asia, New York, 1973.

Pierre Gourou, The Tropical World, London, 1953

B. Gunasekera, The Rajavaliya, Colombo, 1960.

Ananda Guruge (ed.), Return to Righteousness, Colombo, 1965.

International Commission of Jurists, The Rule of Law and Human Rights: Principles and Definitions, 1966.

Robert Jackson, South Asian Crisis, London, 1975.

Sir Charles Jeffries, Ceylon The Path to Independence, London, 1962. Transfer of Power, London, 1960.

Sir Ivor Jennings, Approach to Self Government, Cambridge, 1952. The British Commonwealth of Nations, London, 1961.

Janice Jiggins, Caste and Family in the Politics of the Sinhalese 1947 1976, Cambridge, 1976.

James Jupp, Sri Lanka Third WoHd Democracy, London, 1978.

Silan Kadirgamar (ed.), Handy Perinpanayagam A Memorial Volume, Chunnakam, 1980.

Robert Kearney, Communalism and Language in the Politics of Ceylon, Durham, 1967.

K.A.R. Kennedy and G.C. Possehl (ed.), Ecological Backgrounds to South Asian Preh Story, New Orleans.

Elie Kedourie (ed.), Nationalism in Asia and Africa, London,1970.

Shelton Kodikara, Indo Ceylon Relations Since Independence, Colombo.

Hans Kohn, The Idea of Nationalism, New York, 1967.

Sir John Kotelawala, An Asian Prime Minister’s Story, London, 1956.

V.l. Lenin, Collected Works, Moscow, 1966. Selected Works, Moscow, 1975.

E.R. Leach, Political Systems of Highland Burma, London, 1954.

E.F.C. Ludowyck, The Modern History of Ceylon, London, 1966.

G.P. Malalasekera, Pali Literature of Ceylon, Colombo, 1928.

Geoffrey Marshall, Constitutional Theory, Oxford, 1971.

Henry Marshall, Ceylon: A General DescHption of the Island and Its Inhabitants, London, 1846.

P. Mason, India and Ceylon Unity and Diversity, London, 1967.

Alexander Meicklejohn, Political Freedom. The Constitutional Powers of the People, 1965.

G.C. Mendis, Ceylon Today and Yesterday, Colombo, 1963. The Early History of Ceylon, Calcutta, 1943. The Problems of Ceylon History, Colombo, 1966.

Kenneth R. Minogue, Nationalism, London, 1969.

Gunnar Myrdal, Asian Drama An Inquiry into the PoPerty of Nations, New York, 1968.

Jawaharlal Nehru, Discovery of India, Calcutta, 1946.

W. Nicholas and S. Paranavitana, A Concise History of Ceylon, 1961.

S.A. Pakeman, Ceylon, London, 1964.

H . Parker, A ncient Ceylon, London, 1909.

Denzil Pieris, 1956 and After, Colombo, 1958.

Ralph Pieris, Some Aspects of Traditional Sinhalese Culture, Peradeniya, 1956.

Satchi Ponnambalam, Dependent Capitalism in Crisis: Sri Lankan Economy 19481980, London, 1981.

C. Rasanayakam,Ancient Jaffna, Madras, 1926.

M.D. Raghavan, TheKarwasofCeylon, Colombo, 1961.

Walpola Rahula, History of Buddhism in Ceylon The Anuradhapura Period, Colombo, 1956.

Peter Richards and Wilbert Gooneratne, Basic Needs, Poverty and Government Policies in SriLanka, ILO, Geneva, 1980.

Michael Roberts (ed.), Collective Identities, Nationalisms and Protest in Modern Sri Lanka, Colombo 1979.

Saul Rose, Politics in Southern Asia, London 1963.

Benjamin Rowland, Art and Architecture of India, London, 1954.

Bryce Ryan, Caste in Modern Ceylon, New Brunswick, 1953.

N.K. Sarkar, The Demography of Ceylon, Colombo, 1967.

Marshall R. Singer, The Emerging Elite A Study of Political Leadership in Ceylon, Mass, 1964.

D.E. Smith, South Asian Politics and Religion, Princeton, 1942.

J .V. Stalin, Marxism and the National Question, New York, 1942.

A.J. Tresidder, Ceylon, Princeton,1960.

Jill and Leon Uris, Ireland A Terrible Beauty, New York, 1978.

Tarzie Vittachi, Emergency ’58: The Story of Ceylon Race Riots, London, 1958.

L.G. Weeramantry, Assassination of a Prime Minister, Geneva, 1969.

I.D.S. Weearwardena, Government and Politics in Ceylon, 1931 1946, Colombo, 1951. Ceylon General Election 1956, Colombo, 1960. Ceylon and Her Citizens, Madras, 1956.

K .C. Wheare, Constitutional Structure of the Commonwealth, Oxford, 1960. Modern Constitutions, London, 1956.

N.D. Wijesekera, The People of Ceylon, Colombo, 1965.

D.C. Wijewardene, Revolt in the Temple, Colombo, 1953.

Harry Williams, Ceylon The PeaH of the East, London.

A.J . Wilson, Electoral Politics in an Emergent State, London,1975.

Howard Wriggins, Ceylon, Ddemmas of a New Nation, Princeton, 1960.

Arnold Wright (comp.), Twentieth Century Impressions of Ceylon, London, 1907.

Zelanicus (pseud.), Ceylon Between Orientand Occident, London, 1970.

Pamphlets, Leaflets and Articles

C.F. Amerasinghe, ‘Legal Limitations on Constitutional Reform’ in Ceylon Journal of Historical and Social Studies, Jan June 1966. ‘Legal Sovereignty of the Ceylon Parliament’, in Public Law, Spring 1966.

Amnesty International, Report of a Mission to Sri Lanka 19 75, London, 1976.

Sarath Amunugama, ‘Ideology and Class Interest in One of Piyadasa Sirisena’s Novels:

The New Image of the Sinhala Buddhist Nationalist’, in Michael Roberts (ed.) Collective identities . . .

S. Arasaratnam, ‘Nationalism in Sri Lanka and the Tamils’, in Michael Roberts (ed.), Collective id entities . . . ‘Ceylon Insurrection of April 1971 ‘, Pacif c Affairs, Fall 1972.

N. Balakrishnan, ‘Sri Lanka in 1974 Battle for Economic Survival’,Asian Survey, 2 February 1975.

Tissa Balasuriya, Sri Lanka ‘s Crisis of National Unity, Colombo, 1979.

Edith M. Bond, State of Tea, War on Want, London, 1974.

Stuart M. Bond, ‘Civil Disobedience’, in Journal of Philosophy, 1961.

Catholic Union of Ceylon, Companion to the Buddhist Commission Report, Colombo, 1957.

John Christian, What is Catholic Action?, Colombo, 1964.

C.E. Corea, Communal Rights, Dehiwela, 1917.

A. Cox, ‘Direct Action, Civil Disobedience and the Constitution’, in Cox, Howe and Wiggins, CiPil Rights, the Constitution and the Courts, 1967.

Harindra Corea, Freedom What Then? Colombo, 1960.

C.R. de Silva, ‘The Impact of Nationalism on Education: The Schools Takeover (1961) and the University Admissions Crisis 1970 1975’, in Michael Roberts (ed.), Collective Identities . . .

Colvin R . de Silva, The Failure of Communalist Politics, Colombo, 1958

Sri Lanka and the Tamil Liberation Struggle

K.M de Silva, ‘Nationalism and Its Impact’, in Sri Lanka Since Independence, Colombo,1977.

S.A. de Smith, ‘Constitutional Guarantees’, in McGill Law Journal, 1966b7.

K N O. Dharmadasa, ‘Language and Sinhalese Nationalism: The Career of Munidasa Cumaratunga’, in Mod ens Ceylon Studies, July 1972. ‘Sinhalese Buddhist Identity and the Nayakkar Dynasty in the Politics of the Kandyan Kingdom 1739 1815’, in Michael Roberts (ed.), Collective Identities. . .

B.H. Farmer, ‘The Social Basis of Nationalism in Ceylon’, in The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. XXIV: 3, May 1965.

T. Fernando, ‘The Elite Politics in the New States: The Case of Post lndependence Sri Lanka’, in Pacific Affairs, FIU 1973.

Federal Party, Ceylon Faces Crisis, Colombo, 1957.

Clifford Geertz, ‘The Integrative Revolution: Primordial Sentiment and Civil Politics in the New States’, in Geertz (ed.), old Societies and New States, New York.

Leslie Goonewardene, A Shorty History of the LSSP, Colombo, 1960.

John Halangoda, The Present Politics and the Rights of the Kandyans, Kandy, 1920. Rights and Claims of the Kandyan People, Kandy.

Fred Halliday, ‘The Ceylonese Insurrection’, in New Left Review, Sept Oct.1971.

C.R. Hensman, ‘The Role of the Western Educated Elite’, in Community, Colombo, 1962.

International Commission of Jurists, Ethnic Conflict and Violence in Sri Lanka, Geneva.

Kumari Jayawardena, ‘The Origins of the Left Movement in Sri Lanka’, Modern Ceylon Studies, July 1971.

Robert Paul Jordan, ‘Time for Testing for an Ancient Land Sri Lanka’, in National Geographic, Vol. 155, No. 1, January 1979.

Sir Ivor Jennings, ‘Nationalism and Political Developments in Ceylon: The Background to Self Government’, in Ceylon Historical Journal, Vol.III, 1953 54.

Robert Kearney, ‘The New Political Crisis of Ceylon’, Asian Survey, June 1962. �’New Directions in the Politics of Ceylon’, in Asian Survey, February 1967. ‘Political Stress and Cohesion Ceylon’, inAsian Survey, February 1968. �’The Marxists and Coalition Government in Ceylon’, in Asian Survey, February 1965 ‘Educational Expansion and Volatality in Sri Lanka: The 1971 Insurrection’, in Asian Survey, September 1975.

S.U. Kodikara, ‘Communalism and Political Modernisation in Ceylon’, in Modern Ceylon Studies, January 1970.

N.S G. Kuruppu, ‘A History of the Working Class Movement in Ceylon’, in Young Socialist, 1961 62.

V.l. Lenin, ‘Critical Remarks on the National Question’, in Collected Works, Vol. 20. ‘Right of Nations to Self Determination’, Collected Works, Vol. 20. ‘The Socialist Revolution and the Right of Nations to Self Determination’, in Selected Works, pp. 157 167. ‘Resolution on the National Question’, Collected Works, Vol. 24.

LSSP, The State Language Question, Colombo, 1955. With the Masses into Action, Colombo, 1953.

Sean MacBride, ‘Oppression as a Cause of International Violence’, Minority Rights Group, London, 1975.

L J. Macfarlane, ‘Justifying Civil Disobedience’, in 79 Ethics 24,1968. �’Disobedience and the Bomb’, in Political Quarterly, 1966.

John H. Martyn, Notes on Jaffna, Tellipalai, 1923.

Badiuddin Mahmud, Muslim Dignity Restored, Colombo, 1968.

Gananath Obeyesekere, ‘Religious SYmbolism and Political Change in Ceylon’, in Modern Ceylon Studies, January 1971. ‘The Vicissitudes of the Sinhala Buddhist Identity through Time and Change’, in Michael Roberts (ed.), Collective Identities. . .

Kenneth Robinson, ‘Constitutional Autochthony in Ghana’, in Journal of Commonwealth Political Studies, 1961.

Michael Roberts, ‘The Rise of the Kauravas’, Ceylon Studies Seminar, 1968b9 Series, No.5.

Edmund Samarakkody, Ceylon Youth in Armed Uprising, Colombo, 1971.

Vijaya Samaraweera, ‘The Muslim Revivalist Movement 1880 1915’, in Michael Roberts (ed.), Collective Identities . . .

W alter Schwarz, The Tamils of Sri Lanka, Minority Rights Group, London 1975

David Solbourne, ‘Sinhalese Lions and Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka’, in the frustrated Weekly of India, Bombay, 17 and 24 October 1982.

Anthony D. Smith, ‘Ethnocentrism, Nationalism and Social Change’, in International Journal of Comparative Sociology, March 1972.

Donald E. Smith, ‘The Dialectic of Religion and Politics in Sri Lanka’, in Sri Lanka Sincelndependence, Colombo,1975.

M.D. Silva, ‘Sri Lanka: The End of Welfare Politics’, in South Asian Review, January

S.J. Tambiah, ‘Buddhism and This Worldly Activity’, in Modern Asian Studies, January

W.A Wiswa Warnapala, ‘Triumph of Competition in the Civil Service’, in The Ceylon Journal of Historical and Social Studies, Vol. 1.,1971.

L.A. Wickremaratne, ‘Kandyans and Nationalism: Some Reflections’, in The Ceylon Journal of Historical and Soeial Studies, Vol. 5,1 & 2, 1975.

A. Jeyaratnam Wilson, ‘Sinhalese Tamil Relationships and the Problems of National Integration’, Ceylon Studies Seminar Papers, No. 1 1968. ‘The Tamil Federal Party in Ceylon Politics’, in Journal of Commonwealth Political Studies, July 1966. ‘The Contribution of Some Leading Ceylon Tamils to the Constitutional and Political Developments of Ceylon during the l9th and 20th Centuries’, in Proceedings of the First International Conference of Tamil Studies, Vol. 1, Kuala Lumpur. ‘Race, Religion, Language and Caste in the Subnationalisms of Sri Lanka’, in Michael Roberts (ed.), Collective Identities. . .

W. Howard Wriggins, ‘Impediments to Unity in the New States the Case of Ceylon’ American Political Science Review, June 1961.


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Writer and Journalist living in Canada since 1987. Tamil activist.

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