Tamils - a Trans State Nation..

"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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Home International Tamil Conferences on Tamil Eelam Freedom Struggle > > Second World Tamil Eelam Convention, 1984 > Tamils of Sri Lanka - An International Issue

David Selbourne (1984),
Proceedings of the Second World Tamil Convention
Nanuet, New York, U.S.A

The Tamils of Sri Lanka - an International Issue

David Selbourne
Ruskin College, Oxford

David SelbourneThe crimes being committed by the Sri Lankan State against the Tamil minority - against its physical security, citizenship rights, and political representation - are of growing gravity for the international community. Other countries across the world, which have had to shelter the thousands of Tamil refugees who have fled and are still fleeing the island, must increasingly bear the cost of the denial of the fundamental political rights of the Tamils of Sri Lanka.

Moreover, the moral outrage done to the civilised norms of political conduct by the continuous history of massacre of a defenceless minority in their own country, is now compounded by the growing involvement of other countries - India and the United States chief among them - which are being drawn into Sri Lankan affairs as a consequence of mis-rule in the Island.

The demands of the Tamils for a sufficient measure of self-government in defence of their fundamental rights - which cannot be guaranteed by their own government in Colombo - are unanswerable in law and morality. Yet even the minimally civilised means of devolving a sufficient authority to them in their own homelands have been consistently denied them.

Instead under growing pressure, persecuted, harassed, vilified, driven from their homes and employment, looted and pillaged in continuous and increasingly murderous waves of aggression committed by the majority (supported by the authorities) against them, the' have been gradually impelled by the refusal of reasonable concessions to their demands, step by step further along the path to chaos and internecine violence.

The Tamils are now among the world's most vulnerable scapegoats; fulfilling the shocking role - as the Jews and others have filled it -of being sacrificed to racialism and bloodlust in their own country, for insisting, correctly and justly, on their separate identity, on their right to respect and safety at the hands of their fellow citizens, and on a sufficient measure of self-determination to enable them to live in peace and dignity on an island whose Tamil culture is deep-rooted, ancient and of the greatest human achievement.

Report after report by impartial bodies - by Amnesty International, by the international Commission of Jurists, by parliamentary delegates from the West, by journalists and scholars - have set out clearly the scale of the growing degeneration of the political and physical well-being of the Tamil minority in Sri Lanka. Instead of a reasonable accommodation of once negotiable demands, state terrorism and desperate Tamil counter-terrorism are destroying Sri Lanka, inviting an increasing scale of foreign intervention East and West, and leading to the commission of heinous crimes against the minority; as well as subverting the rule of law in a once democratic nation which prided itself on the respect paid to civil liberties, political justice and the common welfare of the people.

This period has now ended. Today, there is no future for either the majority or the minority in Sri Lanka without a genuine political settlement of Tamil grievances, without international guarantees and protections of Tamil rights, and without a reversal of the catastrophic external arming of the Sri Lankan State for further politically suicidal measures of coercion against the Tamil community.

For human and political disaster is in the making in the Indian Ocean, whose ultimate consequences no one can foretell. But what is clear is that these consequences will benefit neither the Sri Lankans, nor those who seek to interfere in their affairs. Tamil demands have hitherto been modest; they are now more substantial, and also irreversible. But it is still not too late for a genuine political settlement, difficult as it may be to achieve it The alternative path of violence will be genocidal for the Tamils, destroy even further the economy of Sri Lanka, and imperil peace and security throughout the Indian Ocean.

Therefore, everyone who possesses an elementary sense of justice has no moral choice but to aquaint himself fully with the plight of the Tamil people. It is an international issue of growing importance. Their cause represents the very essence of the cause of human rights and justice; and to deny it, debases and reduces us all.



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