By February 28, 20180 CommentsReport

Tamil Leader Prabaharan lived a simple life and was scrupulously honest!

Blooming Errors In Sampanthan’s Eelam-Bud Thesis – A Rejoinder

  • LTTE has been defeated, but the ideals LTTE stood still remain intact.  
  • The Tamils have given up Eelam in lieu of maximum devolution/sharing of power between the centre and the peripheral.
  • Demand for Tamil Eelam may also be justified in international law. 
  • Sampanthan talking of Lotus buds blooming Eelam flowers is not laughable. 
  • Sampanthan is the last moderate leader the Sinhalese leaders can negotiate for an amicable settlement of the decades’ old ethnic problem. 

By Veluppillai Thangavelu –

Veluppillai Thangavelu

In politics, Malinda Seneviratne is the junior sibling of Dayan Jayatilleka. They have many things in common. They both suffer from the majoritarian mindset and supremacist ideology. They see no merit in devolution/sharing of power. Both are allergic to the word ‘federal’ or ‘federalism’ because both think rather ingeniously that it will lead to separation.

Despite his faults, LTTE leader remains popular among the Tamils even now. He passionately believed in an independent Eelam and sacrificed his life and that of his family. He lived a simple life and was scrupulously honest, unlike the corrupt Sinhalese politicians. His life and death have no parallel in the long history of Tamils. Tamils are convinced LTTE leader opted for armed struggle in self-defence as a last resort because of state-sponsored terrorism by the SLFP and the UNP governments. Both treated the Tamils shabbily and suppressed their natural rights to peaceful life and dignity.

The victory against LTTE by the Sinhala army is a pyrrhic victory because the causes that led to the war remain unaddressed to this day.

Malinda and Dayan think that the natural rights of the Tamils depend on the magnanimity of the Sinhalese majority. But that is not democracy; democracy is rule by consent, not rule by a tyrannical majority. Though both Malinda and Dayan will rush to deny that the Tamils lived for centuries in a Kingdom of their own that co-existed with the Kotte and Kandyan Kingdoms which is a historical fact. Occasionally, the Kandyan Kingdom had even matrimonial relationship with the Jaffna Kingdom. 

A Chief Justice in the British Government, Sir Alexander Johnston wrote on 01.07.1827 to the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland as follow “…I think it may safely be concluded both from them and all the different histories which I have in my possession, that the race of people who inhabited the whole of the Northern and Eastern Provinces of the Island of Ceylon, during the period of their greatest agricultural prosperity spoke the same language, used the same written character, and had the same origin, religion, castes, laws and manners, as the race of people who at the same period inhabited the southern peninsula of India….”

The demography of the Eastern province has been drastically altered by large scale Sinhala colonization from the days of D.S.Senanayake. In 1920 only 4 percent of the population of the Eastern Province was Sinhalese. The Sinhalese settlements in the east were small and scattered, even though most of the east came under the umbrella of the Kandyan Kingdom after the fall of the Jaffna Kingdom. It is only in the past fifty years that there has been a substantial influx of Sinhalese settlements through state intervention.

The island of Sri Lanka, then known as Ceylon, was ceded to the British Crown in 1802 by the Treaty of Amiens of that year. The map of Ceylon attached to the Treaty of Amiens call the Arrow Smith Map of Ceylon depicts the Island of Ceylon as two (if not three) different countries – a Tamil country composed of the Northeast and a Sinhala country composed of the South West and central parts.

Sir Hugh Cleghorn wrote in June 1799 to the UK Government: “Two different nations from a very ancient period have divided between them the possession of the Island. First the Singhalese, inhabiting the interior of the country in its Southern and Western parts, and secondly the Malabars who possess the Northern and Eastern Districts. These two nations differ entirely in their religion, language and manners.” (Malabar meaning Tamil).

 

Hugh Cleghorn (1798 – 1800) functioned as the Chief Secretary to the First Governor, Frederic North (later Earl of Guilford). He organised the administration and the famous Cleghorn Minute is a classic of its kind. Before coming to Ceylon he was Professor of Civil and Natural History at the University of St. Andrews. He was the agent by whose instrumentality the Island of Ceylon was annexed to the British Empire.

The Cleghorn Minute of 1799 and the Arrow Smith Map of 1802 are official proof that the Island of Ceylon consisted of two separate countries.

But Sinhala-Buddhist extremists dismiss historical evidence with a wave of the hand. Today the Sinhalese population has multiplied many times due to state-sponsored colonization. The 4% Sinhalese in the eastern province in 1920 now stands at 23.15% almost six-fold increase.

When the Portuguese and Dutch invaded and occupied Ceylon, they continue to rule the Northeast as a separate entity due to territorial, language, religion and cultural differences. It is the British that for administrative convenience amalgamated the Northeast with the rest of the country in 1833 on the recommendation of the Governor Colebrook – Cameron commission.

Rightly speaking the Tamil people instead of asking for 50:50 should have asked for the restoration and reconstitution of the Jaffna Kingdom ruled by their ancestors. This they failed to do because of the deception of DS Senanayake who promised the Tamils and other minorities that no harm will befall the Tamils at the hands of the majority in an independent Ceylon!

On October 1945, D.S.Senanayake, the first Prime Minister of independent Ceylon, GAVE THE FOLLOWING SOLEMN PROMISE TO THE TAMILS and other minority communities `NO HARM NEED YOU (NON-SINHALESE) FEAR  AT OUR HANDS (SINHALESE) IN A FREE LANKA.

He was speaking in the State Council in October 1945 when all the Tamil members had unanimously voted for the acceptance of the Soulbury constitution in a White Paper.

‘Do you want to be governed from London or do you want, as Ceylon, to help govern Ceylon?  On behalf of the Ceylon National Congress (founded by Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam in 1919) and on my behalf, I give the minority communities the sincere assurance that no harm need you fear at our hands in a free Lanka’ he rhetorically asked.

Again addressing the State Council on November 8, 1945, D.S. Senanayake went on to reiterate “We devised a scheme which gave heavy weight age to the minorities; we deliberately protected them against discriminatory legislation; we vested important powers in the Governor-General because we thought that the minorities would regard him as impartial; we decided upon an independent Public Service Commission so as to give an assurance that there should be no communalism in the Public Service. All these have been accepted by the Soulbury Commission and quoted by them as devices to protect the minorities.”

Once again in his tongue in cheek speech to the State Council on November 23, 1944, DS Senanayake one again dismissed the minority fears, proclaiming, “When I suggested the procedure we adopted first, namely, that we deal with the Secretary of State and then the Council, I can honestly tell you that in my own mind I had no desire for Sinhalese domination, or Tamil domination, or European domination, my whole desire was for Ceylonese domination, and the freedom I wanted was for the people of Ceylon.”  

The State Council endorsed the Motion in an unprecedented manner, 51 Members voted in favour while only three voted against it. Those who voted against were two Indian Tamils and one Sinhalese W. Dahanayake. D.S. Senanayake triumphantly cabled Lord Soulbury that he obtained 95% of the vote in favour of the proposals.

Before the ink on the Independence Act could dry, DS Senanayake enacted the Ceylon Citizenship Act No. 18 of 1948 that deprived a million Tamils of Indian stateless. And on the following year by a simple amendment to the Ceylon Parliamentary Elections (Amendment) No. 48/1949   they were deprived of their franchise as well.

Sampanthan told Mahinda Rajapaksa not to indulge in fear-mongering to mislead the Sinhalese people to win Sinhala-Buddhists votes by claiming Tamil Eelam could bloom after the election if the people choose poorly. He also told Rajapaksa that he is lying when he claims that the Steering Committee’s Interim Report will divide the country into several independent states. Here is an extract of Sampanthan’s speech in parliament.

“I want to make a few comments Mr Speaker if you permit me in regard to the nature of the propaganda that was carried on at this election. I do not want to do something controversial. But, I must refer to the fact that I was quite alarmed when, quite early in the campaign, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, in the course of an election rally, said that sometimes this election would result in Tamil Eelam blooming after the election is over. The reason he gave was that there was a new Constitution being framed which might result in that happening. Sir, ever since the Thirteenth Amendment was enacted in 1987 – 1988, there had been continued efforts on the part of different Presidents and different Governments to improve the Thirteenth Amendment in such a manner as to bring about a political resolution acceptable to all the citizens in this country. During President Premadasa’s time, there were the Mangala Moonesinghe Parliamentary Select Committee Proposals which made recommendations which went far beyond the Thirteenth Amendment. During President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga’s time, there were the 2,000 Constitutional Proposals brought to Parliament by no less a person than Prof. G. L. Peiris which went far beyond the 13th Amendment and contained various new features. That proposed Constitution had been brought as a Bill to Parliament.”

Yet, Malinda has the temerity to describe the speech of Sampanthan as eyewash. He wrote “Against this background and the considerable Eelamists posturing by Tamil Nationalists, Sampanthan included, talking of Lotus buds blooming Eelam flowers is laughable. It makes one conclude that tossing out words such as ‘indivisible,’ ‘undivided’ and ‘single country’ is nothing but eyewash.”

This is not eyewash, Sampanthan is sincere when he said in parliament “They (Sinhalese) people were told, “This is a referendum for an Eelam. If you vote for the Government or if you vote for the UNP, it will result in an Eelam being created. So, do not vote for them. Vote for the ‘Lotus Bud’ “. I am told, Sir, that particularly this propaganda was very virulently carried out in all the temples, in all the villages in the Sinhala South. This, I think, is unfortunate, Sir. I want to put on record that my Party at this Election, in our manifesto, talked of a political solution within the framework of an undivided, indivisible, single country.

There was no campaign carried on, anywhere, in the North and East which talked of a division of the country. We only talked about a solution that is acceptable to our people that is reasonable, with substantial power-sharing within the framework of a united, undivided, indivisible single country. That was the propaganda we carried out in all our areas and when we did that, how dare President Rajapaksa says that Eelam could bloom after the election. This is not merely a deception of the people in the South, innocent Sinhala people in the South, but it is the deception of everyone including himself.”

Sampanthan told Rajapaksa “I would like to put this on record because I want everybody in this country to know that it was a malicious, vicious, fallacious, false propaganda on the part of President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna and if you proceed with this agenda, I want to tell you, Eelam will bloom, not on account of us, but on account of your “Lotus Bud”. Your “Lotus Bud” will bloom into an Eelam. That is what will happen. Therefore, please resist your temptation to achieve cheap political gain by carrying on such false propaganda.”

 The Tamils have given up Eelam in lieu of maximum devolution/sharing of power between the centre and the peripheral. He was not even asking for special powers like what Kashmir has as a state within the Indian Union. If Mahinda Rajapaksa scuttles the minimum demands of the Tamils, then the demand for Eelam will rise again.

LTTE has been defeated, but the ideals LTTE stood still remain intact. This will be seen by the way the Tamils voted in elections held both to Parliament in 2010 and 2015 and Provincial Councils in 2012 and in 2013. Around 70% people voted for the TNA on a platform of self-rule in the form of a federal structure for the Tamils in the Northeast applying the principle of internal self-determination. This is what the LTTE and the Government agreed in principle at the Oslo conference held in December 2002.

The recent manifesto of the TNA re-integrates that “An argument like half the Tamils live outside the Northeast is preposterous. It is not the numbers that count, what counts is the territory.

During the last phase of the war, Rajapaksa claimed that there is no military operation against the LTTE, but only humanitarian operations to free the Tamils from the clutches of the LTTE. But there were no flowers or garlands for the liberating army. The Tamils showed their disgust and anger at the Gobles propaganda by Rajapaksa by voting massively against him who ended in his ignominious defeat, Today, he is in the political wilderness and he will remain so as long as the people see him as a third grade and power-hungry politician and not a statesman.

Apart from the right to self-determination, the demand for an autonomous Tamil State may also be justified in international law under the concept of the reversion of sovereignty.

On August 04, 2017 the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka delivered a landmark judgement has determined that the advocacy of federalism is not tantamount to the advocacy of secession. In doing so, it has for the first time recognised the Tamil minority as a ‘people’ entitled to the right to internal self-determination. 

 Sri Lanka’s principal minority Tamils are a ‘people’ for the purposes of the international law of self-determination including common article 1 of the two 1966 International Human Rights Covenants; the emergent distinction that the principle of self-determination has an internal and external aspect; that federalism is one constitutional form through which internal self-determination might be realised; and that for this purpose, sovereignty might be shared among peoples within the country.

The Supreme Court has cited the judgment of the Canadian Supreme Court in the Reference re Secession of Quebec (1998), the International Court of Justice in its Advisory Opinion on Kosovo (2010), and academic authorities of federalism such as the late Professor Ronald L. Watts.

The Supreme Court agreed with the Federal Party’s contentions in holding that ‘…it is clear that the right to self-determination has an internal dimension, in that it could be exercised within the country to the benefit of a ‘people’ inside the country. Thus, the invocation of self-determination does not amount to a demand for a separate State, as the right is sometimes to be used internally within the territory of an existing State’.

The fact that the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka has determined that the principle minority Tamils are a ‘people’ has far-reaching consequences in international law.

The International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Relations, state that, “All peoples have the right of self-determination and by virtue of that right, they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic social and cultural development.”  

Apart from the right to self-determination, the demand for Tamil Eelam may also be justified in international law under the concept of the reversion of sovereignty.

The island of Sri Lanka, then known as Ceylon, was ceded to the British Crown in 1802 by the Treaty of Amiens of that year. The map of Ceylon attached to the Treaty of Amiens call the Arrow Smith Map of Ceylon depicts the Island of Ceylon as two (if not three) different countries – a Tamil country composed of the Northeast and a Sinhala country composed of the South West and central parts.

In an oft-quoted minute, Sir Hugh Cleghorn wrote in June 1799 to the UK Government: “Two different nations from a very ancient period have divided between them the possession of the Island. First, the Singhalese, inhabiting the interior of the country in its Southern and Western parts, and secondly the Malabars who possess the Northern and Eastern Districts. These two nations differ entirely in their religion, language and manners.” (Malabar meaning Tamil).

The Cleghorn Minute of 1799 and the Arrow Smith Map of 1802 are official proof that the Island of Ceylon consisted of two or three separate Kingdoms. 

Ultra Sinhala-Buddhist zealots should read and digest the judgment of the Sri Lanka Supreme Court before dismissing the demand for autonomy as total rubbish.

Sampanthan talking of Lotus buds blooming Eelam flowers is not laughable. It is based on the premise that if the reasonable demand for power-sharing in an undivided and indivisible country is dismissed as nothing but eyewash, and then there are consequences as Sampanthan has pointed out. Thus Eelam bud exists and to pretend otherwise is unwise.

Therefore, it is the Sinhalese people, not the Tamil people who should decide whether they are prepared to share power with the Tamils within and undivided and indivisible country or force the Tamil people to invoke the principle to the right to self-determination, if the current constitutional process fails.

The TNA is asking for a solution to the ethnic crisis based on the Oslo Declaration where the government and the LTTE leadership agreed to explore a solution founded on the principle of internal self-determination in areas of historical habitation of the Tamil-speaking peoples, based on a federal structure within a united Sri Lanka. The parties acknowledged that the solution has to be acceptable to all communities. That is there shall  be no losers, only winners.

R. Sampanthan is the last moderate leader the Sinhalese leaders can negotiate for an amicable settlement of the decades’ old ethnic problem.


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