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Conference Resolution
Sri Lanka denying medicine is a crime against humanity - Robert Hughes M. P
"The Tamil struggle evokes world-wide admiration", Sigfrido Reyes, Executive Secretary, Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, El-Salvador


The tamil struggle for self determination

An International Conference
organised by the International Federation of Tamils at
Ealing Town Hall, London

26 - 27 September 1996

International Federation of Tamils Conference, 1996

From Hot Spring, October 1996

The International Conference organised by the International federation of Tamils, was held in London at Ealing town Hall on the theme, " The Tamil Struggle for Self Determination".

It was held mainly to call upon all Sri Lankan expatriates and the International Community to:

a) support the just and legitimate struggle of the Tamil people living within historically defined territory in Sri Lanka,

b) recognise the right of self-determination of the Tamil people,

c) impress upon the Sri Lankan Government to de-escalate its military aggression by withdrawing its troops from occupied Tamil territories and by lifting the embargo on food, medicine and media in order to create conducive conditions to initiate meaningful talks between the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam to find a peaceful and lasting settlement to the armed conflict and

d) engage in meaningful talks towards recognising the just rights of the Tamil people.

The conference was addressed by delegates from the UK, El-Salvador, Sri Lanka, South India and South Africa.

The speakers included

Hon. Derek Fatchett MP (Shadow foreign Secretary),
Hon. Robert Hughes MP (Conservative,
Hon. P. Khabra MP (Labour),
Hon. Christine Oddy MEP (Labour),
Mr. Barry Gardiner (Labour Party candidate for Brent North),
Mrs. Lata Patel (Mayor of London Borough of Brent),
Dr. Surya Subedi (Snr. Lecturer, University of Hull),
Mr. Vasantha Raja (Former Chairman, Sri Lanka National TV - Rupavahini and Former Presenter of BBC Sinhala Service ),
Miss. R. Madhura (HURT- Human Rights for Tamils),
Mr. Adrian Wijemanne (Author - 'War and Peace in Post-Colonial Ceylon);
Dr. S. Ramadas (Founder, Pattali Makkal Kadchi - India)
Prof. Theeran, MLA (Leader, Pattali Makkal Kadchi - India)
Mr. Sigfrido Reyes (Executive Secretary, Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, EI-Salvador);
Mr. Gopal Veerabadhran (PASLO-South Africa); and
Dr. Vickramabahu Karunaratna (Nava Sama Samaja Party Leader - Sri Lanka).

The conference was well attended by people from all walks of life. The views expressed by the delegates were centred on the plight of the Eelam Tamils and the condemnation of the Sri Lanka government's ongoing military operations under the cover of press censorship and emergency rule.

We quote excerpts from the speeches made by some of the delegates.

Derek Fatchett M.P.Hon. Derek Fatchett MP (Shadow Foreign Minister)

"....there has to be a just political solution. The only people who can resolve a conflict are the parties to the conflict themselves. I can see that there has to be recognition of the legitimate wishes of the Tamil people and the wish for autonomy on the part of the Tamil people....

" We would see it as our obligation as well as our right to further human rights for all and therefore to criticise any actions that are a violation of any human rights.

" ... we recognise alongside the military conflict that exists, literally hundreds of thousands of people are in need of humanitarian support. I'm already in opposition, been asking the British Government to put whatever pressure it can on the Sri Lankan Government to ensure that legitimate aid gets through to those who need legitimate aid...."

Barry GardinerMr. Barry Gardiner, Labour Candidate for Brent North:

" The war in Sri Lanka must be publicised, I commend the organisers of this conference and pledge that I will do all in my power to keep international attention focused on what the Tamil people are suffering.

"The question of International Humanitarian relief and the Sri Lankan Government's aid blockade must be constantly highlighted. Economic pressure I believe should be brought there to resolve this issue.

"The question of the supply of military hardware to resume such as Sri Lanka must be stopped and Britain's role as a potential third party mediator with the historical and moral responsibility must be promoted."

Robert Hughes MPHon. Robert Hughes MP:

" there is a tendency through ignorance to assume that the Tamil Tigers are simply a terrorist organisation "

"... rather than being terrorists in my view, they are fighters trying to protect their homes, wives and their children ..."

"Let's get the television cameras in there. Let's see what's going on. Let's see whose word is right and wrong. Let's see whether you can believe what the Sri Lankan Government authorities are telling us."

"...let's have the evidence in front of the television cameras and by unbiased journalists. And let's see what's the effect is of the denial of the medicines."

Dr. Ramdas and Prof. Theeran emphasised the point that the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Kalaignar Karunanithy has already spoken to the Central Government about the plight of the Eelam Tamils and the Tamil Refugees. They said that they would talk again to Kalaignar put pressure on the Foreign Minister, Mr. Gujral to intervene in this matter to find a just and lasting solution to the Tamil problem which will meet the demands and aspirations of the Eelam Tamils.

Mr. Sigfrido Reyes in his speech said, " ... peace may be lasting and firm only if it is based upon justice. And justice in this situation means that the Sri Lanka Government finally recognises the right of Tamil people to choose what kind of state they want to live in, even if their decision favours an independent state. Peace must be based upon the right to each people to practice their own values, culture, language and traditions, with a limit not more than that accepted by the international community."

Dr.Vickramabahu KarunaratneDr.S.Ramadas
Dr.Vickramabahu Karunaratne and Dr.S.Ramadas

International Federation of Tamils Conference, 1996
(left to right): Prof Theeran, Dr.Arjuna Sittampalam and Mayor of Brent Mrs.Lata Patel who opened the second day session

International Federation of Tamils Conference, 1996
(left to right): Miss.Madhura Rasaratnam, Mr.Robert Hughes MP, Mr.C.Sithamparapillai and Ms. Christine Oddy MEP

Conference Resolution

The Conference Resolves:

1 From ancient times the two Peoples, the Sinhalese people and the Tamil people have inhabited the island of Ceylon (Sri Lanka), having distinct languages, religions, culture, customs of their own and clearly demarcated geographic territories. The Sinhalese people and the Tamil people are by any and every test two distinct nations.

2 Since 1948, all attempts by the Tamil people to live with the Sinhalese people on the basis of the right of self determination and equality was thwarted brutally by the successive Sinhalese governments. Having exhausted all avenues for peaceful coexistence, the Tamil people exercising their free will, gave their overwhelming democratic mandate, to establish sovereignty in the Tamil territories in the general elections of 1977, which took the character of a referendum.

3 The military occupation of Tamil territories and oppression of the Tamil people who seek to exercise their right of self determination and to live as equals, is violation of Internationally accepted norms, democratic principles and humanitarian Laws. The armed struggle arose to defend the Tamil people against intolerable national oppression and a savage form of state terrorism, and is therefore just and lawful.

4 The Tamil national conflict in Sri Lanka requires a political and not a military solution. The military aggression on Tamil people under the slogan of "war for peace" by the Sri Lankan government is immoral, inhumane and unacceptable. This war has resulted in immense human tragedy, gross violation of democratic and human rights and economic decline of Sri Lanka as a whole.

5 This conference wishes to highlight the plight of the Tamil people in the Jaffna peninsula, the Vanni and the Eastern districts. By denying the Tamil people of Vanni area the very essential food and medical supplies needed for minimum existence, the government of Sri Lanka is using the embargo on food and medical supplies as a weapon of war. The People living in areas under the army control are treated like prisoners in an open camp. This conference appeals for free media access into the affected north-eastern war torn areas and for the urgent and independent relief and rehabilitation work by Governmental and non Governmental Humanitarian Organisations.

6 This conference strongly believes that a lasting solution to the Tamil national conflict can only be reached on a voluntary basis and all the efforts by the government to impose its own solution by force or aggression will only aggravate the situation. Therefore in order for Peace initiatives to succeed, conducive condition should be created. This conference is firmly of the view that the Sri Lankan army must withdraw from Tamil areas occupied for the purpose of aggression in order to create conditions of normalcy, that will pave the way for the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam to enter into negotiations without preconditions, with the help of a mutually acceptable third party.



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