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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Conference Aims & Programme
Message from Velupillai Pirabaharan
Tamil National Struggle and Indo Sri Lanka Accord -  Lawrence Thilagar,  Political Committee of the LTTE

Inaugural Address - Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer

The Tamil National Struggle, LTTE & the Indo Sri Lanka Accord - Nadesan Satyendra, Conference Organising Committee
The Right of the Tamil Nation to Self-Determination - Justice Satchi Ponnambalam
India & the Struggle for Tamil Eelam - A.P.Venkateshwaran, Former Indian Foreign Secretary

Sri Lanka  in a Civil War Situation - Karen Parker, Human Rights Attorney, USA

The Tamil National Struggle - James K.Karan
Expatriates & the Eelam Tamil Liberation Struggle -  Ana Pararajasingham
Sinhala Buddhist Chauvinism & the Buddhist Clergy - Brian Senewiratne
The Tamil Struggle - A Brief Historical Survey - David Feith

India's Influence as a Major Regional Power and The Reasons for The Indo-Sri Lanka Accord - A. Jeyaratnam Wilson
Professor of Political Science, University of New Brunswick

Prabhakaran Thought of Suicide before the Signing of the Accord - Vaiko
Disarming LTTE is Harmful to Our Interests - Aladi Aruna
The Sri Lanka Accord - Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer
 Time to Leave - Akbar Krishna
Conference Resolutions
Conference Conclusion - Press Release
International Tamil Conference Reports to  Public Meeting in London, 2 May 1988
Conference Report - Tamil Voice International, 15 May 1988
Conference Report - India Abroad, 6 May 1988
*Seevaratnam, N. Ed., The Tamil National Question and the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord,  Konark Publishers Pvt.Ltd., Delhi, India, 1989

"The fate of the Tamils
 in Sri Lanka remains
 a matter of
 international concern...": ICJ
 "The Tamil demand for a separate state is predicated on the conviction that as an identifiable people with a defined territory, they are entitled to self determination under international law... Articles 1 of both the Civil and Political Covenant and the Economic, Social and Cultural Covenant provide that 'All peoples have the right to self determination. By virtue of the right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development;'... The Tamils could be considered to be a 'people'. They have a distinct language, culture, a separate religious identity from the majority population, and to an extent, a defined territory... The application of the principle of self determination in concrete cases is difficult. It seems, nevertheless, that a credible argument can be made that the Tamil community in Sri Lanka is entitled to self determination. But ultimately, it will not be the legal principle of self determination which will solve the problem of Sinhalese-Tamil relations in Sri Lanka but rather a willingness on the part of both groups to work out a political settlement. Self determination does not necessarily mean `separation', as pointed out in the Principles of Friendly Relations. It may be exercised while remaining in association or integration with an existing state...What is essential is that the political status of the 'people' should be freely determined by the 'people' themselves... The fate of the Tamils in Sri Lanka remains a matter of international concern."
- Professor Virginia Leary, Report of a Mission to Sri Lanka in July-August 1981 on behalf of the International Commission of Jurists.


Tamil National Struggle
&  Indo Sri Lanka Peace Accord

An International Conference organised by the World  Federation of Tamils at the Middlesex Polytechnic, London, 30 April & 1 May 1988

World Federation of Tamils Conference, London 1988

top to bottom - l to r: Krishna Iyer, Aladi Aruna, Pala Nedumaran, Vaiko, J.Wilson, S. Seevanyagam, James Karan,C.J.T.Thamotheram,  J.M.Rajaratnam,  Rev.Wooton, K.Vaikunthavasan, S.Siriskandaraja, Ana Pararajasingham, Karen Parker at the Conference

Conference Aims & Programme

The Conference is intended to explore the central issues of the Tamil national struggle and examine the extent to which the Indo Sri Lankan Peace Accord of July 1987 satisfies the aspirations of the Tamils of Sri Lanka, and in particular their claim to the right of self determination.

The Conference is being convened at a time when there are around 125,000 Tamil refugees in India, more than 50,000 in Europe, and more than two hundred thousand in their own homeland in Sri Lanka. Hundreds of Tamils have been victims of extra judicial killings and hundreds more have been subjected to torture. And this assault on the Tamils in the island of  Sri Lanka continues even today.

The focus of the Conference will lie in the area of the interface between politics and human rights. Politics which is unconcerned with human rights becomes a cynical pursuit of power for its own sake. And human rights separated from politics often becomes the platitudinous expression of utopian ideals.

The Conference will consider the need to give the thick edge of action to the comments made by Professor Leo Kruper in 1984 in the Minority Rights Group Report on International Action Against Genocide - comments which have today assumed an urgency and an immediacy in view of the conduct of the Indian Peace Keeping Force in the Tamil homelands in Sri Lanka:

"Genocide continues to be an odious scourge on mankind..,there are also at the present time many immediate issues related to genocide which call for the most urgent action...(such as) the communal massacres in Sri Lanka, in a context of societal conflict which threatens genocide... Some of these genocidal massacres arise out of struggles for greater autonomy, and might be regulated by recognition of the right of self determination...there is a great need for delegations of member States (of the United Nations) with a strong commitment to human rights, and for non governmental organisations with consultative status, to continue their efforts to recall the United Nations to its responsibilities for international protection against genocide and other gross and consistent violations of human rights. These efforts should include...attempts to develop norms...for the exercise of the right of self determination in a decolonised world..."

The Conference will examine in depth the process of discrimination and differentiation which led to the emergence of Tamil nationalism in Sri Lanka, the justification for the armed struggle of the Tamil people, the significance of the 1985 Thimpu Declaration by all the Tamil Liberation Organisations, calling for a political settlement on the basis of the recognition of the right of self determination of the Tamils in the island of Sri Lanka, the international frame of the Tamil struggle and India's role as a regional power, and the reasons for the continued failure of the Indo Sri Lankan Peace Accord to secure peace and the consequences of such failure.

The Conference will also consider the need to give practical effect to the Reports of Amnesty International, the International Commission of Jurists, the Lawasia Human Rights Standing Committee, the United Kingdom Parliamentary Human Rights Group, International Alert, the World Council of Churches, Australian Parliamentary Group of Amnesty International, the Emergency Committee on Sri Lanka, the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, and several other non governmental agencies and independent observers on the gross and consistent violations of human rights in Sri Lanka. In this context, the Conference will consider the need to call upon the international community to address itself to the root cause of these violations -namely, the failure to develop norms for the exercise of the right of self determination by the Tamils of Sri Lanka.

The Conference will consider the need to persuade member States of the United Nations and non governmental organisations with consultative status, that a reluctance on their part to espouse the division of the sovereign state of Sri Lanka, should not lead them to deny the political reality that that there are in Sri Lanka today two nations -the Tamil nation and the Sinhala nation and that a political settlement of the conflict in Sri Lanka can be achieved only on the basis of recognising this political reality. And in this context the Conference will consider the significance of the words of Professor Seton-Watson:

"The belief that every state is a nation, or that all sovereign states are national states, has done much to obfuscate human understanding of political realities. A state is a legal and political organisation, with the power to require obedience and loyalty from its citizens. A nation is a community of people, whose members are bound together by a sense of solidarity, a common culture, a national consciousness"

The central theme of the Conference will be that the Tamil nation and the Sinhala nation may agree to live together by force of reason - but they cannot be compelled to live together by force of arms - and that it is the rejection of reason by successive Sri Lankan governments that has led to, and provides the justification for, the armed struggle of the Tamil people.

The Conference will consider the need to re affirm the reasoned framework of the Thimpu Declaration which called for the recognition of the Tamils of Sri Lanka as a nation. The Conference will focus on the need to secure the right of self determination of the Tamils of Sri Lanka in practical terms, and in this context the Conference will consider the need to secure international recognition of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam as the true leaders of the Tamil national struggle today.



The Tamil national struggle: a brief historical survey - the aspirations of the Tamil people, the process of differentiation and opposition leading to the emergence of Tamil nationalism and the Vaddukodai resolution; the emergence of Sinhala chauvinism, the role of the Buddhist clergy, the vedamathya, the vernacular school teacher and the coming of the Sinhala peasant into the Sri Lankan body politic and the growth of the majority minority complex; the role of the Muslims and plantation Tamils in relation to the struggle.


The Dialectics of the Struggle - the contradictions and the emerging consensus: the role of the armed struggle and the role of the militant groups, the role of negotiations and that of the negotiators; the Thimpu negotiations and the failure to reach a political settlement and the reasons for such failure.


The International Frame of the Struggle - geo political and socio economic: India�s influence as the major regional power and the underlying reasons for the Indo Sri Lankan Peace Accord; the influence of the super powers and the last colonising power in tine Indian region; other international participants and pressure groups and their possible areas of influence and intervention.


The Present and the Future: the failure of the Indo- Sri Lankan Peace Accord and the reasons for such failure as well as the consequences of such failure; the possible future direction of the struggle; the part that the Tamils of Sri Lanka can play, the part that the Tamils of Tamil Nadu can play, the role of the expatriate Tamil community and their area of influence, and the co-ordination of these efforts with those in the forefront of the struggle

Conference Report - Tamil Voice International, 15 May 1988

The first International Tamil Conference was held in London on 30th April and 1st May, 1988. This two-day Conference on "The Tamil National Struggle and the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord" was convened by the World Federation of Tamils and was sponsored by the Tamil Voice International.

Several Tamil Organisations in the U.K. including the London Tamil Forum and the Tamil Eelam Movement helped in organising and conducting the Conference. The Conference was followed by a public meeting on 2nd May in London, which was attended by a large gathering of Tamils.

About 250 delegates and invitees from more than 100 Tamil Associations from Australia, Africa, Brunei, Canada, Europe, Fiji, India, Malaysia, Middle East, Papua New Guinea, Phillipines, Sri Lanka, UK and USA participated. The speakers at the Conference included Mr. Justice Krishna Iyer, former Judge of the Supreme Court of India, Mr. A.P. Venkateswaran, former Foreign Secretary to the Government of India, Ms. Karen Parker, UN Representative for Disabled People's International and Human Rights Advocates, Mr. P. Nedumaran, President of Kamraj Congress, Mr. V. Gopalsamy, M.P. from the DMK, Mr. Aladi Aruna, M.P. from the AIADMK, and Professor A.J. Wilson, Political Scientist and Mr. Thilahan of the LTTE.

The Conference was held in four sessions: First session was presided over by N. Seevaratnam, Chairman of the Conference Committee, the Second session by Mrs. N. Murugiah, former chairperson of Tamil Information Centre, Third session by C.J.T. Thamotheram until recently of the Tamil Times and the last session by N. Satyendra, Conference Organising Committee and  a delegate to Thimpu. N. Sivanathan was the Conference Secretary.


The theme of the Conference was the Tamil National Struggle and the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord. Mr Justice Krishna Iyer expressed his grave concern at the failure of the Accord to secure peace and justice for the Tamils in Sri Lanka. Mr. Venkateswaran said that the Accord was doomed to fail as it did not resolve the central issues of the Tamil struggle before calling upon the combatants to surrender arms.

The Conference expressed its sense of outrage at the genocidal situation that had developed in Sri Lanka

which had led to around 125,000 Eelam Tamils seeking refuge in India, more than 50,000 in Europe, and more than two hundred thousand in their own homelands in Sri Lanka - a genocidal situation which is itself a culmination of the continuing oppression of the Tamil people by successive Sri Lankan governments over several decades - an oppression which included the disenfranchisement of the plantation Tamils, state-aided colonisation of Tamil homelands, the downgrading of the Tamil language and the enactment of the Sinhala Only Act, discriminatory employment policies, the inexcusable allocation of resources to Tamil areas, the exclusion of the students from Universities, the refusal to share power in a federal constitution, and state-sponsored violence against the Tamil people as a way of intimidating them into submission.


Mr. Thilahar of the Political Committee of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam who was a notable LTTE representative at the Conference stated that whilst that LTTE recognised India's regional security concerns, Indo-Sri Lanka Accord had failed to
address itself to the wishes and national aspirations of the Tamil people. He appealed to all Tamil

Associations around the world to implement a programme of action, viz.

1) To publicize the human rights violations and other atrocities committed by the Indian troops in Tamil Eelam;

2) To expose the undemocratic and totalitarian methods adopted by the Indian government to terrorise the Tamil civilian masses and to impose upon them, against their will, a political formula that is totally unacceptable to them;

3) To campaign for immediate cessation of hostilities and commence negotiations with the LTTE without preconditions;

4) To campaign for the establishment of an Interim Government as pledged by India;

5) To campaign for a political settlement based on the cardinal principles enunciated at Thimpu giving primacy to our struggle for national self-determination, and to support the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and to implement the programme it placed before the Conference.

The Conference resolved that the Tamil people as an oppressed people had the inalienable and inherent right to engage in armed struggle against that oppression and recognised their right to self-determination.

The key note of the Conference proceedings was the unanimous resolution recognising Velupillai Prabaharan and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam as the true leader and only organisation respectively of the Tamil National Struggle and in this sense this International Tamil Conference performed an historic role. The Conference resolved that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam are combatants in International Law, and have been recognised as such in the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord by both the Indian Government and the Sri Lankan Government.


The Conference called upon the Indian and Sri Lankan Governments, other member states of the United Nations, and non-governmental agencies with consultative status, to recognise the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam as the true leaders of the Tamil national struggle.

The Conference called upon the Government of India and the Government of Sri Lanka to agree to an immediate cessation of hostilities in Sri Lanka and to accede to the request of the LTTE for a cease-fire and commence unconditional negotiations with a view to reaching a political settlement on the basis of the recognition that in Sri Lanka today there are two nations - the Tamil nation and the Sinhalese nation - and that two nations may live together by force of reason but cannot be compelled to live together by force of arms. The Conference appealed to the Government of India to take every step to secure the physical safety of Velupillai Prabaharan who has today become the living symbol of Tamil Nationalism. It also urged the member states of the United Nations to refrain from returning Tamil refugees to Sri Lanka against their will.

Conference Report - India Abroad, 6 May 1988

Conferees Assail Lanka Accord
Tamils' London Meeting Insists Colombo Backtracked

About 200 people from around the world, 100 of whom were expatriate Tamils, were joined by Indian politicians, human right activists, political scientists and legal luminaries in a conference to thrash out issues facing Tamils in Sri Lanka in the wake of the Indian-Sri Lankan peace accord of last July' The conference was organised last week by the World Federation of Tamils'

The accord was vigorously condemned

The delegates felt that the Sri Lankan government had backtracked on earlier commitments to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and that the Indian government had done little to pressure Sri Lanka to honour those commitments' Some of the speakers asserted that contrary to the agreement, Sri Lanka had failed to set up an interim administration in the north and east, where Sri Lankan Tamils lay claim to a traditional homeland in which the LTTE would have a majority, that Colombo had failed to withdraw the Israeli secret services, Mossad, and Western mercenaries operating on Sri Lankan soil and that it had continued to `colonise' Tamil areas with Sinhala settlers.

Indian Betrayal Charges

The Indian government. once described as the 'friend of Tamil people' providing the militants with moral and material support in the form of arms and safe sanctuary for refugees had 'betrayed the Tamils some sneakers said' Amongst the guest speakers were A.P.Venkateswaran, former foreign secretary in the Indian government; N.Satyendra, a Tamil participant in t he 1985 Thimpu talks involving India and Sri Lanka: V.Gopalasamy. MP of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam: P.Nedumaran, president of the Tamil Nadu Kamraj congress: Thilakar, memher of the political committee of the LTTE: Karen Parker, ITN representative of the Disabled People's International and Human Rights Advocates'US: Krishna Iyer, former Supreme Court Justice: and Prof.A. J.Wilson, political scientist from Canada and Aladi Aruni

Topics of Discussion

Issues discussed in the two-day conference included the historical dimension of the Tamil struggle, the justification for the armed struggle. the significance of the 1985 Thimpu declaration - which called for a political settlement to the crisis on the basis of the recognition of Tamils' right to self-determination - the international framework of the struggle, and India's role as a regional power, the reasons for the accord and the consequences of its alleged failure for the Tamils'

The organisers said the conference was convened at a time when many political commentators had noted that the accord, which was hailed as a significant diplomatic achievement, had failed to bring 'peace and normalcy' to the island because it failed to satisfy the Tamils' hopes for an independent sovereign state'

Doomed From the Start

Venkateswaran said the accord was doomed from the start and that it had been entered into by 'two political leaders without the consultation of the Tamil people' He warned that the consequences of the accord, particularly charges that atrocities had been committed by the Indian peace keeping force, would have grave implications for Indian-Sri Lankan relations in the years ahead.

Similarly, Iyer declared that the accord had betrayed the collective rights of the Tamils, that it had been relegated to the 'dustbin' by both governments and that it had 'no legality to begin with' He said it was a national humiliation that over 100,000 Indian troops should be sent to Sri Lanka to seek out one man - Velupillai Prabaharan, the leader of the LTTE.

Delegates and speakers expressed anguish over the alleged atrocities of the Indian troops'

Western Nations Accused

Parker alleged that certain Western powers had an interest in keeping India embroiled in the problems of Sri Lanka. There is a conspiracy among certain nations to tarnish India's reputation as a non-aligned power in the world, she said' She also declared that the prospects of peace in Sri Lanka had been sabotaged both internally and externally. She said, various groups in Sri Lanka had been rearmed by foreign powers after they had agreed to lay down their weapons as part of the agreement. The purpose. she said, was to undermine and weaken the strength of the LTTE. Aruna suggested vet another purpose - that Sri Lankan President Junius R. .Jayewardene had 'convinced' Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi that if he supported the Tigers in their fight for a homeland, he might one day be confronted with the possibility of Tamil Nadu wanting to secede from the Indian union on similar grounds'

No Evidence, He Admits

Although he noted that there was no evidence to support allegations against Jayewardene, Aruna also added that he was for the unity and integrity' of India' However, he said that continued interference by New Delhi could lead to such a situation'

Venkateswaran said that the time had come for the international Tamil community to raise the consciousness of their brothers in Tamil Nadu. "This is the right time", he said, "for Tamils to carry the message to Tamil Nadu, to tell their brethren that they are being told a pack of lies'"

1985 Framework

Both governments of India and Sri Lanka were urged to agree to accede to the request of the LTTE for an immediate cease-fire, thus leading to all three parties agreeing on an `independent, impartial and acceptable cease-fire monitoring committee' leading to a political settlement within the framework of the 1985 Thimpu declaration.

Delegates also urged the price on the head of Prabaharan be lifted, and no country should send back refugees to Sri Lanka against their will.

The conference also resolved to set up an international secretariat to promote the political stand of the LTTE and to compile a dossier on human rights violations'



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