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Tamilnation > Tamilnation Library> Eelam Section > Tamils in Independent Ceylon - Suppiramaniam Makenthiran


MakenthiranS. Makenthiran is a graduate of the University of Ceylon, Colombo and a Fellow of the Chartered Association of Certified Accountants of UK. He has served in Sri Lanka and different countries in Africa including Zambia, Malawi and Botswana. He was a World Bank Project Finance Officer, before immigrating to Canada.

Book Review  From the Preface  Table of Contents  Full Text in PDF

Maaveeran Pandara Vanniyan
Last Tamil King of Vanni
(1777 � 1811)

Book Review by  Paraskthi Sundharalingam - History in a Nutshell

I read with interest, the book about the sad history of the Tamils in Sri Lanka by Mr. S. Makenthiran of Canada. This book of 187 pages titled �Tamils in Independent Ceylon� narrates our history from the time Ceylon was granted independence to the suspension of peace talks. The author has also briefly referred to the people, who inhabited Ceylon from prehistoric times. He has condensed modern Ceylon Tamil history in a clear and concise manner covering many aspects.

When volumes are written these days by academics, documenting the struggle of Sri Lankan Tamils to live with self respect in their homeland, this little book stands out. There is brevity in the writing, the language is simple, and the style lucid. He begins the story with nostalgia thus:

�My memory comes back to me as I sit here as a retired accountant in Canada, living in the past when Ceylon was quiet and peaceful�.

As an experienced man. and a keen historian and journalist, the author has an eye for detail and presents facts well. There is fact and no fiction in his writing.

The book presents a true picture of the history of Ceylon, that has been distorted, and many facts suppressed by interested parties. He recollects the peaceful co-existence that existed among the different communities before the racial venom began to poison the minds of the majority Sinhalese after independence. As one who lived through the events, he has given a clear picture of the massive colonisation of the traditional Tamil homeland by the Sinhalese , and the imposition of the �Sinhala Only Act�, followed by the anti-Tamil racial violence. We hear the anguished cry of the veteran journalist Tarzi Vitachi in his writing �Have the Sinhalese and Tamils reached the parting of the ways�. The events that unfolded later gives credence to his views.

The author has devoted chapters to each of the three great Tamil leaders in independent Ceylon � S.J.V. Chelvanayagam, Sauvyamoorthy Thondaiman, and Velupillai Prabaharan. In particular, the contributions of S.J.V. (Thanthai Chelva) and Prabaharan, the Hero of Tamil Liberation, in uniting the Eelam Tamils under one banner deserves praise. �United we stand; divided we fall�

The author details the futile agitation by the Tamil leaders through peaceful means for nearly 30 years to regain their lost rights. The treachery of D.S. Senanayake, the cunningness of J.R. Jayawardene, the highhandedness of the Bandaranayakes and the deceit of Premadasa led to the present state of things. It is only after the failure of peaceful agitation, the Tamil youth took to arms to defend their beleaguered people as a last resort. The book describes the forced mass exodus of the Tamils, first from the highlands and then from the Northeast. It highlights the unprecedented and racially motivated depriving of the upcountry Tamils of their civic rights by the majority Sinhalese in the very year of independence.

The writer rejects the description of S.J.V. by a Sinhalese leader �as a lean and hungry looking man who cannot be trusted�. When the great Tamil leader, handsome as a young man, became frail due to failing health, the writer aptly states �May be the responsibility of leading a persecuted people against heavy odds, weighed heavily on him�.

LTTE GuerrillaWhen Tamil leadership passed on to the Tamil militants, he justifies it appropriately. �The Tamils suffering under Sinhalese terrorism and helpless against state oppression needed a leader, and that leader came in the person of Velupillai Prabaharan�. The legendary exploits of the Tamil Tigers against the Sri Lankan armed forces are described here as a sacred fight for the freedom of their homeland. The author�s continuous reference to the freedom struggle with the epithet �sacred�, explains the rationale behind this struggle, and the author�s feelings for Tamils denied their rights.

The historian in him, compares the landing at Kudarappu to the Normandy landings in World War 2, and the capture of Elephant Pass to General Giap�s spectacular victory against the French in Vietnam. While describing the Katunayake debacle, he quotes military analysts, who describe it as the most devastating attack in aviation history. There is awe and admiration for the Tamil Tiger martyrs. To him, Prabaharan is Zhukov in Stalingrad and Ho Chi Minh in Dien Bien Phu, when the tide of Eelam war was turned, by destroying the mighty Sri Lankan military machine with meagre resources.

The author�s love for his people, his agony and helplessness in watching �Paradise Lost� is visible in this honest narration. He demolishes casually, the absurd notion of some Sinhalese people, that they are the original Aryan inhabitants of Ceylon and that the Dravidian Tamils came much later. Effortlessly, he explains that it is nothing but common sense that when India and Ceylon was one mass of land geographically and later separated by the eroding sea, the people living on the land thus cut off would have been Tamils! When Vijaya and his friends arrived later without any women, they would have obviously married local women who were Tamils. Are we to believe that Indian Tamil fishermen who lived just across the Palk Strait did not see Ceylon till Vijaya came and �discovered� it in the 6th century B.C.

Makenthiran�s writing is balanced, which comes from his long experience and knowledge of history. He understands the present, and foresees the future from his experience of the past. Above all, he is a good human who yearns for peace. This book is a must for everyone interested in the sacred fight for self-respect, and to the younger generation in particular.


Living in retirement, I thought that it would be a good idea to record my impression of our people�s history during my lifetime. Though I am an accountant by profession, history has been my passion. I believe Tamils, particularly the younger generation, will be interested in their roots and our kith and kin, whom we have left behind in mother Eelam.

This book is a revised version of the series of articles I wrote for Ceylon Times. I am narrating the history of Tamils in independent Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), including the Upcountry Tamils who arrived in the 19th century, and are ethnically the same. I am also including the Tamil-speaking Muslims, as they speak the same language and are therefore, strongly bound to the Tamils, but are culturally different and follow a different religion. As far as the Tamil Christians (Catholics and Protestants) are concerned, they are no different from Hindu Tamils, except that they follow the Christian religion.

The history of Lanka has been distorted and many facts suppressed by interested parties. I have written using my knowledge and experience, and the information from the meagre sources available to me. I have briefly touched on the history of Ceylon Tamils from the time Lanka was connected to India by land, and the Great Tamil Hindu King Ravanan, who ruled over all Lanka thousands of years ago. I have covered the struggle of the Tamils after independence up to the cease-fire and peace talks.

S. Makenthiran, October 2004,

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Ceylon Independence

The dawn of Independence
Paradise gained and lost
Ceylon Tamils, the original inhabitants
Immigrants to Ceylon

Chapter 2: Ceylon on the eve of colonialism

Childhood recollections
My recollections of early politics
Second World War recollections
Teenage recollections
Recollections as an undergraduate

Chapter 3: Political developments up to independence

Ceylon as a British colony
Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan
G.G. Ponnambalam
Sinhala Muslim riot of 1915
Sinhaleses prior to independence
Muslims in Ceylon
The Upcountry Tamils
The Ceylon Tamils

Chapter 4: Political developments after independence

The Sinhalese dominated UNP comes to power
The great betrayal of Upcountry Tamils
Tamil agitation
Sinhala colonisation of Tamil homeland
Sinhala Only act
Sinhala violence against the Tamils in 1956
The Bandaranayake-Chelvanayagam Pact dishonoured
Sinhalese massacre Tamils in 1958

Chapter 5: Events leading to Tamil Eelam demand

Srimavo continues the anti-Tamil policies
Attempted coup
Srimavo-Shastri Pact
Senanayake-Chelvanayagam Past dishonored
Ceylon renamed Sri Lanka
Tamil students discriminated
The JVP insurrection of 1971
The War of Bangladesh Liberation
Police violence against the Tamils
The formation of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam
The Vaddukkoddai Resolution for Tamil Eelam
Anti-Tamil racial riot of 1977
Tamil youth answer the call of Thanthai Chelva

Chapter 6: The Father of the Tamil Nation

Early years
S.J.V.�s family
Entry into politics
Federal Party
Peaceful protests under Thanthai Chelva
Tamil United Liberation Front
Demise of the great leader

Chapter 7: Vaddukoddai Resolution

Chapter 8 Tamil youth react to Sinhala terror

Tamil militancy
Another constitution introduced
Burning of the Jaffna library by the police
Anti-Tamil hostility
Sporadic attacks by Tamil youth intensified
Arbitrary arrests of Tamils

Chapter 9: The 1983 genocide of Tamils by Sinhalese

The ambush at Tinnevely
The Sinhalese massacre Tamils

Chapter 10: Aftermath of the holocaust

Sixth Amendment to the Constitution
Unitary and federal constitution
Jayawardena government further alienates Tamils
Tamil militancy gathers strength
Sinhala �Veerayas�
Plan to separate Northern and Eastern Provinces
The Tamil exodus

Chapter 11: The Eelam War I

Beginning of the Eelam Wars
Guerrilla attacks
Sinhala atrocities
Cease-fire and Thimpu Talks
Sinhala state terrorism continues
Women in LTTE
Lieut. Colonel Ponnamman and Yogaratnam Yogi
Vijaya Kumaratunga
Appapillai Amirthalingam
The Black Tigers

Chapter 12: The Patriarch of Upcountry Tamils

Early life
Entry into politics
Upcountry Tamils deprived of citizenship and franchise
Jaffna Tamils fail Upcountry brethren
Agitation against Sinhala racism
Renaming to Ceylon Workers Congress
Srimao-Shastri Pact
The champion of orphaned people
Eviction of estate Tamils
Common suffering of Northeast and Upcountry Tamils
Triumvirate of TULF leaders
Re-entry into Parliament
Thondaman extracts concessions
Northeast rebellion helps Upcountry Tamils
State funeral

Chapter 13: The IPKF War

Operation Liberation
Air drop and talks
Indo-Sri Lankan Accord
The Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution
Death fast by Dileepan
Death of twelve LTTE commanders
Operation Pawan
Northeast Provincial Council
LTTE fights back
The second JVP revolt
President Ranasinghe, cease-fire and talks

Deparure of the IPKF

Chapter 14: Eelam War 2
President Premadasa requests IPKF withdrawal
Cease-fire and talks
Talks fail
Hostilities break out
Tamils massacred by army and Muslims in the East
Battle for Jaffna Fort
Assassination of Rajiv Gandhi
The Battle for Elephant Pass
Assassination of Premadasa
Mathaya (Mahendraraja)
War continues
Chandrika Kumaratunga takes over

Chapter 15: Eelam War 3 begins

Chandrika assumes power
Peace talks
Gamini Dissanayake assassinated
Eelam War 3 breaks out
Operation Leap Forward
Proposal for devolution
Bomb attacks in Colombo
Operation Riviresa (Sun Rays)
Unceasing Waves 1
Operation Jayasikuru (Victory Assured)
Unceasing Waves 2 and 3

Chapter 16: The liberation of Mullaitivu

Tamil ancestral district of Mullaitivu
The rape of Mullaitivu
Operation Unceasing waves
Mullaitivu liberated
The prize of war
Inexorable LTTE advance

Chapter 17: The liberation of Vanni and Elephant Pass

Prabaharan prepares for the counter offensive
Unceasing Waves 2
Unceasing Waves 3
The liberation of Vanni
The capture of Elephant Pass
Tigers advance on Jaffna Town
Anton Balasingam�s illness
Massacre of Tamil children by Sinhalese mobs
Killing of Tamil journalist Nimalarajan
Prabaharan declares cease-fire

Chapter 18: The Hero of Tamil Liberation

The son of the people
The legendary hero
Early years
Marriage and family
Consolidation by Prabararan
The Indian factor
Retreat to Vanni and counter attack
Road to victory
Battle hardened veteran
Prabaharan offers peace

Chapter 19: The Agni Keela and Katunayaka debacles

Debacles in 2001
Agni Keela
Surprise offensive
Tamil women repulse Sinhalese army
Katunayaka debacle
Anniversary of 1983 Black July
The attack
Colossal damage
Sinhalese propaganda

Chapter 20: Leaders of Tamil speaking people

Tamil leadership developments
Muslim leadership
�Mamanithar� Kumar Ponnamblam
Murugesu Sivasithambaram
Rajavarothayam Sambandan
Anton Balasingam

Chapter 21: Cease-fire

Peace talks
Suspension of Talks
Reactions to suspension
Efforts to resume talks
SL Government�s proposals for NE Interim Administration
LTTE Paris meeting
LTTE proposals for Interim Self-Governing Authority

Chapter 22 Interim Self-Governing Authority

Chapter 23 Coup by President Chandrika

Reactions to the LTTE proposals
President Chandrika seizes ministries
Chandrika checkmated
Reactions to Chandrila�s power grab.
Political stalemate
Budhist violence against Christians and Muslims
United Peoples Freedom alliance
Tamil reaction to new alliance

Chapter 24: Betrayal of the LTTE by Col. Karuna

The rise of Karuna
The revolt
The fall of Karuna
The causes of Karuna�s debacle

Chapter 25: The future of Ceylon Tamils

President Chandrika appeals to the Norwegians
Changes in the Indian political scenario
Tamil hopes for the future



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