|Proceedings of International Conference On Tamil Nationhood
& Search for Peace in Sri Lanka, Ottawa, Canada 1999
Freedom is Our Right and Peace is our Objective
Ethical Responsibility of the International Community
to help resolve the Ethnic Conflict in Sri Lanka
Dr. S .J.
Emmanuel, Key Note Address,
We wish that this Conference be held with Hope on the ultimate Triumph of
The long journey of death and destruction of the Tamils has reached a new
The foundations of our aspirations for Freedom are Truth and Justice...
Freedom is our Right and Peace is our objective...
What do we expect of the International Community?
We appeal to the International Community not to support further violence and
We plead for a more active international contribution for
conflict-resolution, peace- making and mediation...
We appeal to the international community to examine the Sri Lankan
credentials for freedom and democracy....
We appeal to the international media for a better Service to Truth...
We appeal to Human Rights Organisations to question more effectively the
collective violations of human rights...
We appeal to the Religions to go beyond mere humanitarian services...
Helping us achieve Peace and Freedom is your Responsibility ...
We wish that this Conference be held with Hope on the ultimate Triumph of
involvement of the international community, in relation to the ethnic
conflict in Sri Lanka, has varied from country to country, depending on the
interest they have in common with Sri Lanka, as well as on their degree of
understanding of the conflict. There are some, who continue to help the victims
of this prolonged war by their humanitarian services. They do it with the hope
that the war will sooner than later come to a peaceful end. Our appreciation and
gratitude go to them for their services under very trying conditions.
There are others, who condemn
counter-violence on the part of the oppressed as terrorism. They preach
human rights to the victims, yet are unable to go beyond the etiquette of
international relationship to condemn the violence and war of the State. They
justify their action, by the excuse that they are undertaken by the elected
Government of the land as "security measures against terrorism".
There are still others, a third
group, who continue to disappoint, and even scandalise us, by their inconsistent
policies, double standards and questionable principles in their relation to Sri
Lanka. They are wishing peace but in fact aiding war. They give unfortunately
greater financial and militaristic support for the war, but do very little,
if not nothing, towards a peaceful solution. We are deeply sorry about the type
of their involvement.
Although the conflict, and the
related violence and war, with its
genocidal consequences have gone on for such a long time, they have evoked
in the international community neither due sympathy for the victims, nor
sufficient interest in them for active peace making. This is due to a number of
reasons. First of all these horror events are happening within an island far
away in the Indian Ocean, without immediate neighbours, and without attractive
natural resources for the power centres of the first world.
Secondly it is a war now conducted
media blockade, prohibiting
diplomats and journalists from the conflict zones, and allowing only few guided
tours of army occupied areas. Thirdly, and quite tragically, the Sri Lankan
embassies abroad, are concerned more with soliciting financial aid and weapons
to continue the war, than in enlisting any international support by way of
mediation or facilitation for peace-initiatives.
Notwithstanding all these different
discouraging factors, but still believing in the collective good-will and
ethical responsibility of the international community, and hoping in the
ultimate triumph of Truth and Justice, we want to make a passionate human appeal
for international help, towards a just and peaceful solution of the ethnic
crisis for the good of all in the country.
We propose to do this in just three
simple steps. We will first state the main steps and change of direction, we
have gone through during the last 50 years of our struggle, in arriving at the
present turning point. Secondly, we place in terms of Truth and Justice, the
Tamil aspirations for Peace and Freedom. Finally, on the basis of our past
experience and present convictions, we will try question and spell out our
appeal, to three different sections of the international community � namely, the
governments, the non-governmental organisations and the religions.
The long journey of death and destruction
of the Tamils has reached a new turning point.
The last fifty years, have seen us Tamils struggling with untold suffering,
death and destruction, to live with dignity and honour in the land of our birth.
Unfortunately the politics of the Sinhala majority, inspired by a Buddhist and
Sinhala ethno-nationalism has bull-dozed its way, with its own reforms, without
due consideration and respect for the other ethnic and religious communities.
Deprival of the
voting rights of many thousands of Tamils of Indian origin by the stroke of a
pen in 1949, making
Sinhalese as the only official language of Ceylon in 1956, planned
state-aided colonisation of Tamil areas with Sinhalese from 1949,
open discrimination of Tamil students in admissions to Universities and
employment from 1972 onwards - all these kept pushing the Tamils from pillar to
The Tamil leaders, who resorted
only to non-violent and democratic protests,
were beaten up by mobs, imprisoned by the government and even thrown out of
an anti-Tamil constitutional amendment. This type of state-violence went
even as far as Jaffna, where the
State forces baton charged innocent Satyagrahis within the very precincts of
the residence of the then Government Agent in 1961 and
20 years later burnt the cherished Public Library of the Tamils an act of
cultural vandalism against a people, without any provocation or reason, except,
perhaps, an attempt to kill the soul of a people.
Thus decades before any
Tamil youth rebelled, the State had rebelled against the peaceful and
a series of failures to rectify serious discriminations, after failing to
agree, leave alone implement, even a reasonable use of Tamil, after two prime
ministers tearing away even
the pacts agreed with the Tamil leaders, the Constitution was drafted and
redrafted by a Sinhala majority government(1972, 1978), taking away even the
one Article 29 $2, left by the British for protecting the minorities. With these
changes, Ceylon became Sri Lanka,
Sinhala Buddhist State without even the minimum protection for the
Thus many decades of democratic
protests demanding a federal solution, within a unitary government to
peacefully solve the Tamil problem was only responded by state-sponsored
terrorism, resulting in death, destruction and displacement of peoples, and
political deceptions paving the way for a Constitution of the Sinhala
Therefore it became absolutely
necessary for the Tamils, to defend themselves and their land against
State-terrorism. It is in this situation,
that the Tamils opted for a separate Tamil state, as the only way for their
survival as a people and for protection of their homeland.
This change after 25 years from a
federal demand to a
demand for a separate Tamil state, won the approval of more than 70% of the
Tamils at the parliamentary election of 1977
-the very last parliamentary election freely participated by all the Tamils
living in the North and East of the country..
1983 Holocaust against the Tamils in which thousands of Tamils were killed
or burnt alive, marked another turning point in our struggle. Thousands of
Tamils, especially the youth, fled the country, seeking survival and a future,
while others stayed on, risking their lives to protect their people and their
land from the enemy.
It is the faithfulness to this
demand for a separate state, as well as the enormous sacrifice thousands of
youth of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) make, in resisting and
repulsing State-terror, that make them
the de facto leaders of
the Tamil people.
The well known approach by the
Sinhala majority government since the Independence of 1948, has been "to buy
over some Tamil politicians" to carry on their genocidal policies under the
guise of a democratically elected government. Unfortunately there has been
throughout these 50 years such "cheap Tamil politicians" also available.
Under the guise of being democratic and broad-minded, they served, not the
cause of the Tamils for liberation, but their own hunger for power and
Even today, after all these
massacres, holocausts and mass-graves of Tamils, I am sad to say,
such collaborators are available. Having gone away from the
overall Tamil mandate of 1977 and their undersigning of the
Thimpu principles in 1985, they not only support the government to stay in
power and continue its
anti-Tamil genocidal efforts, but also help in giving a wrong picture of the
Tamil situation to the international community, and also postpone, if not
prevent, a true and just solution of the problem.
during the last 15 years of a spiralling violence and war, the government under
the pretext of fighting "Tamil terrorism" and supported by "hired and paid Tamil
politicians", continue its inhuman ways of fighting, namely,
not only indiscriminate aerial bombing of civilians, but also imposing
an economic blockade against the Tamils and using even denial of food as a
weapon of war.
Today it has become crystal clear,
that the successive Sri Lankan governments of the Sinhala majority, and their
self-centred politicians have not only
failed to find a solution for the Tamil problem but also are leading the
whole country on a suicidal path which spells disaster for all on that island.
There are no signs of hope from the government towards a future solution.
The Sinhala political parties
seem to have a basic consensus, yes, not towards any political solution that
responds to the Tamil consensus as expressed at Thimpu Talks in 1985,but
towards further subjugating the Tamils, either within a new but still
unitary constitution (UNP) or within the minimum devolution of power to the
courageous voices for truth, justice and peace, still raised by a few among
the majority Sinhalese, are unfortunately getting drowned and weakened in recent
years by the extremist-cries for war against the Tamils, and for the
establishment of a Sinhala Buddhist State.
It is in this situation of "enough
is enough", with only faint hopes of a peaceful solution, that we turn to the
International community for help. Those who want to rule us, have no consensus
towards Peace-Talks. But we Tamils do have at least some basic agreements,
undersigned by all the Tamil political parties in
Thimpu in 1985.
For the majority Sinhalese, it is a
question of how much rights they can afford "to give" to the Tamils, to win
their hearts, minds and their ego, so that the Sinhalese can still monopolise
the reigns of power at the centre.
For us Tamils, it is not a question
of giving or taking away the rights of others or ruling over others. It is a
question of surviving in our land of birth, as respectable human beings,
enjoying the same human rights as any other people in this world.
Let the world come to know the
whole Truth and decide in good conscience, what is a Just Peace for all of us in
The foundations of our aspirations for Freedom are Truth and Justice
The strength for persevering in
this journey for freedom lies, not in our military might to face the forces that
attempt to kill and destroy us but in our firm conviction that our aspirations
for freedom are well founded on Truth and Justice. We will not succumb to
falsehood and injustice, even on a political platform.
Truth will liberate all of us.
We believe that true and lasting
Peace can never be achieved on the foundations of half truths twisted for
selfish reasons and made to appear attractive. We abhor the danger of trying to
create "new truths" by malicious repetition of lies.
Peace cannot be built on old myths,
by a twisting of history or by rewriting text-books on histories to suit
political interests, nor by labelling all opposition to state-terrorism and
racism as Tamil-terrorism. Peace cannot be achieved by going on a witch-hunt for
the Tamils, easily suspected as terrorists by any Sinhalese or as scapegoats for
all violence in the South. It can only be built on the ability of the
conflicting parties to face the Truth, however bloody and challenging it may be.
Both sides of the conflict are called to face the truth - the truth of
history concerning the land and the peoples, the truth of political events which
have driven us to this war, the truths about death and destruction mostly faced
by the Tamils, the truths of sub-human situations into which the Tamils have
been forced into, both within and without Sri Lanka.
We stand by these truths. We are
calling the world to be our judge, because we stand by the truth. We are calling
for mediation of a third party, because we want, not us, but the truth to
triumph. We are neither hiding
behind media blockade, nor preventing journalists from getting into war
zones, nor fighting shy of any international organisation getting into the war
In this respect we like to ask, how
can the Sri Lankan government, which stands already accused by the majority of
the Sinhalese for not telling the whole truth about the war for purposes of
their electoral victory, be expected to tell the whole truth about the Tamil
problem to the world? Why is the Sri Lankan government fighting shy of truth,
fighting shy of a third party mediation, and spending large sums of money for
media-agencies to block the truth and twist the truth? Why are they converting
their embassies into anti-Tamil propaganda agencies? Are these not clear
pointers to the stark reality, that the Sri Lankan Government and its Forces
have a heap of skeletons hidden, not only in the
mass graves of Tamil victims in the North and East, created by the state
forces, but also in the cupboards of the Sri Lankan government
for the last five decades?
Besides presenting the Tamil
problem merely as a "terrorist problem" only needing a military response and
without having the courage to meet a single Tamil organisation, Sri Lanka�s
foreign minister with a Tamil name, is going about accusing all the
organisations of the expatriate Tamils, as belonging to front organisations
and fund-raisers for terrorism. Instead of doing the home-work of finding a
solution for the problem and making it possible for the Tamils to return
with dignity to their homeland, the minister is going on a witch-hunt of
those fleeing from his government�s genocidal policies.
In this sad context, of Truth
becoming the most tortured victim in the hands of the Sri Lankan government, we
feel, the Tamil expatriates must step up their campaign of exposing the whole
truth about the Sri Lankan situation as an indispensable service to Peace in Sri
Lanka. We are only sorry to note that the expatriate Tamils are not doing
enough, to effectively campaign for Truth. We would like the educated and the
enlightened among the expatriate Tamils to do much more and in a better
co-ordinated manner, to expose the truth of the Sri Lankan Tragedy to their
host-governments and human-rights organisations.
With truth on our side, why should
we be frightened by the propaganda of hired ministers and their loyal servants?
Justice is the only way to durable Peace and Freedom
We want justice. What is due to
other peoples and nations of the world is also our right. This sacred right has
been denied too long and we have been unjustly subjugated, discriminated and
deceived, in our own land of birth, by the government. We want only justice
meted out to us, nothing more nothing less.
Tamil demands, which are open for
international scrutiny and recognition, are
not based on myths and theories about the origin of the Tamils. Nor
do we claim any fictitious superiority over the others. We do not claim
privileges. We do not wish anything more or special for us Tamils. We wish the
Sinhalese to grow to be a great nation and their Buddhism to glow with all its
glory. But, do we not have the right to wish the same for ourselves?
Is it not possible for different
ethnic groups to live together, within the borders of a single country, as
friends and neighbours without any wish to subjugate the other? Unfortunately,
these last 50 years have proved beyond doubt that the Sinhala dominated
government, following the colonial administrative unity of the country, will
never accept us as equal people with dignity and honour.
burnt and killed a great part of our people, destroyed our properties
bull-dozed the graves of those respected by the people as heroes of the land,
even the vegetation and the historic monuments of the cities, and also
dispersed a great part of the population. What have they spared in their
Even the remaining few thousands
are struggling for survival against
mass-graves in the land of their birth. Let the International
community and their organisations hasten to mete out justice due to us as a
Freedom is our Right and Peace is our objective to live as Human Beings with
Dignity on our own Land and as we ourselves determine (Self-determination)
The colonial powers
took away our freedom for over four centuries. And the British left us in
the hands of a Sinhala majority. The latter have asserted themselves in the
manner of a neo-colonialist as the one Sinhala nation with the one religion of
the country. They have written and re-written Constitutions over our heads and
to force the Tamils to their knees by inhuman methods, to further subjugate
them within the cover of a unitary state.
Though our rights have been
denied, our dignity trampled, our land occupied and we are being forced to
subjugation, we will hold on to values and principles, which can never be
taken away from us nor suppressed for long.
It is on the basis of
Truth and Justice, we demand our Freedom and build up our Peace. Freedom is
recognising our humanity and the human rights flowing from it. Once that is
done, then Peace is built on the people seeking Justice in Truth. If we hide the
Truth or go by myths and partial truths, then true justice cannot be meted out
and consequently no durable Peace can be achieved.
Hence our reasonable quest for
freedom should not provoke anger and opposition from civilised people or their
elected governments, not in the least any mob-terror and state-terrorism against
us. Nor should a democratic and respectable government deny freedom and go for
temporary peace-arrangements, which will only lead to further ruin.
Our hope now lies in the respect
the international community gives to these same values of Truth, Justice,
Freedom and Peace.
What do we expect of the International Community?
We do not plead for any military
intervention, not even on our own behalf.
We are the victims already of two
direct military interventions one by the Sri Lankan forces, with
the aid given directly and indirectly by major powers, and the other by the
Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF). We are not for another military
The Indian Peace Keeping Force,
that came to protect us from the aerial bombings and economic blockades of the
Sri Lankan government soon turned out to be a failure, with unnecessary loss of
lives both of Tamils and of Indian soldiers. We soon realised, that their
intervention was neither a humanitarian exercise, nor a selfless concern for the
rights of an oppressed people but part of a political strategy in their own
Recent events in the Balkan have
also brought to light many aspects of international military intervention
and the hidden motives therein. On one side we see the similarities between
the ethnic atrocities done by the Serbian forces recently in Kosovo and by the
Sri Lankan forces, for many decades in the Northeast of Sri Lanka. On the other
side we see the dissimilarities of international concern and intervention. The
inconsistencies and duplicity of foreign policies and the criteria by which they
select their areas of intervention point to some hidden agenda of the major
Their less concern or no-concern
for some conflict areas, while fuelling the other has only aggravated situations
towards greater humanitarian catastrophe where the "operation may be successful
but the patient is dying". Those possessing military might have a tendency to
use their hammer even on a mosquito.
Having had a direct experience of
two military interventions, and now seeing clearly how some major powers can
have their own agenda and selective arguments for military interventions, we
will never wish for a military intervention in Sri Lanka.
We do not believe in a "war for
peace", as proclaimed by the Sri Lankan government, nor do we believe in solving
any problem by military might.
The Tamil youth were forced into military action, to protect the people and
their land in the face of a prolonged and mounting military operation for over
25 years. Now the initiative to end this spiral of violence and war must come
from those who started the oppression and terror, namely, the government. The
earlier this lesson is learnt and the earlier we get out of this military path,
the better are the chances for us all to survive, prosper and build up the
We appeal to the International Community
not to support further violence and war...
Not wishing a foreign military
intervention does not mean allowing the war to continue. Nor does it mean that
the international community do nothing to help resolve the ethnic conflict in
Sri Lanka. No. The international community in general and the foreign powers
having closer contact with Sri Lanka in particular, can undertake a lot of
morally justifiable and praiseworthy steps to help resolve this conflict. Surely
this demands a certain abnegation of self-interests, political profit etc. and a
courage of statesmanship to stick to moral and ethical values of truth, justice,
Hastily, and somewhat irresponsibly
calling the Tamil struggle for
as Tamil terrorism, and conveniently overlooking or ignoring the
democratically voted consensus of the Tamil people for autonomy, some major
powers are fuelling the war machines of the Sri Lankan government with their
weapons, funds and even personnel.
The NATO intervention if at all it
has done anything good, it has drawn the attention of the world to the genocide
that was going on within Yugoslavia as understand the anger of the NATO
countries in overstepping the Yugoslavian claim of sovereignty.
It is in this context we pose a
question of conscience to the world in general, and to some major powers in
particular, what does the world expect of the Tamils, when they are faced with
long decades of anti-Tamil discrimination, death and destruction carried out by
the Sri Lankan state as part of imposing Sinhala nationalism on the Tamils?
Under the false pretext of fighting
Tamil-terrorism, the Sri Lankan government is escalating its war to impose
Sinhala nationalism on the Tamils. The armed forces have increased tenfold and
thirty percent of the annual budget of a begging economy is spent on this war.
This is possible, only with the donor countries drawn into believing government
propaganda, about the need to fight the "war against terrorism".
The NATO claim that the military
intervention is taking the Balkan towards a peaceful solution has already raised
many serious questions about the sincerity of the major powers. It is even more
questionable, and much more criminal for any powers to militarily aid an
oppressive government that hides the truth, pretends to fight terrorism and
rejects offers for peace-talks. Fighting a known devil is not so bad as helping
an unknown devil.
If the major powers cannot
contribute anything to peace building in Sri Lanka, we will wish that they do
nothing to worsen the conflict which is fast degenerating into a national
We plead for a more active international contribution for
conflict-resolution, peace- making and mediation
While the Tamils keep repeating
their readiness for talks, under conducive atmosphere and with the help of
international mediation. The opposition party as well as some enlightened
sections in the South are encouraging such peace-talks. But a government that
carries this war on a begging economy, is bluntly refusing peace-talks and third
party mediation, on the grounds that it is an internal conflict and that they
can resolve it. The government is almost saying "give us money, weapons and
personnel to fight the war, but keep out of the war zone, ask no questions about
the people in the war zone and keep to yourself your expertise or facilitation
At least this arrogant attitude
must open the eyes of those who aid the war in some way.
We will like the donor countries to insist on peace-talks as a condition for
We will like the United Nations and
other organisations for conflict resolutions to spend more resources to study
the situation closely and go into the hidden reasons of the government for
refusing all mediation offers.
We appeal to the international community to examine the Sri Lankan
credentials for freedom and democracy
International community as a whole
and individual countries, tend to justify their assistance to Sri Lanka by
considering Sri Lanka as a free and democratic state where the values of
freedom, justice and human rights are upheld.
But in reality the situation is quite the contrary.
Where are the guardians of
democracy and freedom when Sri Lanka tramples under foot the basic human rights
of a people for such a long time? When non-violent and democratic protests are
met with baton charge, torture and killing? When
even prisoners are massacred in their cells under the eyes of its guardians?
parliamentary elections are fought with the might of the military?
Where are the guardians of
democracy when an elected government is bombing and shelling a whole
population and starving them to bend their political will and force them to
their knees, to make them accept only what they decree?
On the one hand we appreciate the
good will and assistance of many western powers having good relationship with
Sri Lanka, and helping it in its socio-economic growth. But on the other hand,
we are deeply saddened, if not scandalised, by the duplicity of approach and the
immorality with which some countries aid and abet a prolonged oppression, if not
extermination, of a people within the county.
How can foreign powers , who do not
have access to the whole truth, whose diplomats are prevented from going into
war-zones or contacting those engaged in the war, knowing that this small island
ranks second in the world, second only to Iraq, in the number of unaccounted
disappearances, justify their aid to war?
Surely the question must be posed
by the foreign powers, why Sri Lanka continues to impose a media blockade, why
it prevents foreign missions from visiting war zones or talking to the LTTE, why
it drags its feet on questions of mass-disappearances and mass-graves, why
foreign finance and weapons are needed but not foreign assistance for
Attack is the best form of defence,
and the Sri Lanka government, conscious of the many skeletons of democracy and
human rights in its cupboard, takes up to eloquence in international assemblies,
about establishing democracy and fighting world terrorism.
Let the international community,
its structures and assemblies, come to terms with lies repeated and sustained by
Sri Lanka and demand more order and transparency in its own house. Their silence
is already sinful and their connivance makes it criminal.
We expect the international
community to rise above such sins and connivance. We expect them not to betray
the confidence and trust, the poorer and weaker and the not-yet-internationally
recognised nations of the world, have on them as defenders of freedom and
advocates of justice.
We appeal to the international media for a better Service to Truth
The importance of the Media for our
noble cause of freedom and peace cannot be exaggerated. The ethnic problem
degenerating into violence and war and failing to reach any understanding or
solution is also due to the low, if not false, principles and priorities guiding
The difficulties faced by the media
in conflict situation, in getting the truth and serving the truth cannot be
exaggerated. The local media divided into three language streams, Sinhala, Tamil
and English have already played a divisive role in the past, contributing hardly
anything for building up unity and understanding. They find themselves in the
sad situation of being further conditioned by their ethnicity as well as by the
government restriction on their travel to the war zone to ascertain the truth.
The international media prevented
from taking a journey into the war zones of the North and East of Sri Lanka,
depend to a very great extent, on the few limited sources in Colombo. While
giving into the restrictions on the sources in Colombo, they tend to speculating
on half-truths and lies, least realising the fatal consequences for the victims
of an unjust war. Influenced by the government propaganda that that there is
only a terrorist problem, they tend to dismiss all Tamil sources as
We appeal to the international
media for an honest service to Truth, especially to the true aspirations of a
people struggling to liberate themselves from an aggressive state.
Our goal is peace with justice. And
true justice is meted out only on the basis of the whole Truth. Hence if the
media loses its freedom by the insidious restrictions placed on them by the
government, or if they tend to serve only the commercial interests of those who
own it, or if they are emotional participants of extremist policies, then Truth
is twisted. It cannot any more serve Justice nor bring about durable Peace.
We appeal to Human Rights Organisations
to question more effectively the collective violations of human rights
We are thankful to the humanitarian
services rendered by the international Non-Governmental-Organisations in spite
of many difficulties in their work. In channelling the humanitarian assistance
of the international community to the victims of war and violence, they suffer
very often undue restrictions placed on them by the Sri Lankan government, and
which are contrary to the spirit of their own conventions. They are even
unjustly suspected and accused as helping the terrorists. We wish that these
NGOs continue assisting our people.
While their humanitarian services
to war victims are made known in the donor counties, the aid given to the war
machine by these same countries is not known.
Since they are allowed to work with
the victims of war without questioning the conflict that produces them. We can
only appeal to them, to reflect the whole truth about the depth of human
suffering faced by the people and their own difficulties in channelling aid to
The NGOs concerned with Human
Rights are often concerned too much with the end result of the conflict ,
namely, the violations of human rights in and during the exchange of fire, or
with regard to arrests and detention. They list the violations and appeal to the
parties in conflict, to respect the Human Right Declarations. We believe that
they can go beyond the listing of individual violations, to collective
violations of the rights of peoples.
It is in this spirit we ask: Why
are the guardians of human rights, not effectively questioning the Sri Lankan
government about the many mass graves of military victims discovered in Jaffna ?
For more than an year, we are expecting some sincere effort of the government to
get international experts to examine these graves. In the meantime many other
mass-graves attributed to military violence are coming to light. We are
painfully aware that the Sri Lankan government is capable of setting up Human
Rights Commissions and even staging pseudo judicial procedures to deceive the
world of its record of human rights.
Hence we appeal to the Human rights
organisations to monitor closely the events connected with mass graves.
We appeal to the Religions to go beyond mere humanitarian services...
In the context of the Sri Lankan
crisis is relevant to examine the role of the four major religions Buddhism,
Hinduism, Islam and Christianity in building unity peace and understanding among
people. We have seen during the past racial riots, especially that of 1983, how
ethnic emotions and false nationalism overtake religious and even human values.
It was one of the clearest signs for the failure of religions with regard to
peace and nation building.
The world Parliament of Religions,
in its Assembly in Chicago from the 28th.August to 4th.Sept.
1993, was unanimous in saying, that there cannot be better world order without a
basic consensus among religions on ethical values. Religions are meant to serve
the values of Truth, Justice and Peace among humanity. Nations and States are
built on virtues and values which are already sown, fostered by religions. Hence
a fundamental consensus among religions is a prerequisite to Peace among people.
But for religions to feed and
foster those values of Truth and justice, they themselves must be liberated from
their weaknesses. It is with this conviction, we underline the importance of
religions for peace-building in Sri Lanka. It is unfortunate that political
chauvinism and religious fundamentalism, have often overtaken the very religious
values preached by the religions, with respect to human life and human rights.
It is a grave responsibility of the
majority Buddhists of Sri Lanka followers of a world renowned religion of Peace
to give up their demonstrations in support of a war that only kills and destroys
to give up their opposition to peace-talks and to give up their opposition to
offers of mediation and facilitation for peace-talks.
In the name of the Enlightened One,
may I appeal to my Sri Lankan Buddhist brothers and sisters to liberate
themselves from their
"mahavamsa mind-set", and its inherent desire for possession of the whole
country and support a united and peaceful country of two nations.
The Buddhists of the international
community have a role to encourage the Sri Lankan Buddhists to practice the
teachings of the Great One.
As a Christian and a churchman, it
is my duty too to make an appeal to the world churches whatever confession they
may belong to and irrespective of whether the have a constituency in Sri Lanka
We all know that the churches in
Sri Lanka and their social and charitable organisations, helped by their sister
churches all over the world, are involved in helping the victims of war. They
are doing a valuable service and we wish that they continue them. But as long as
we take care of the dead and wounded of the war in our hospitals and cemeteries,
the war is not going to stop. As Christians we are called to go beyond these
acts of mercy and take up the cause of Truth and Justice as taught by the
The churches have witnessed two
world wars, as if it were from the sides of the battlefield. Their silence and
inaction have cost millions of lives. They have had time for the last 50 years
to consider their role in the midst of an armed conflict. They cannot make the
same mistake of silence, neutrality, diplomacy and allow any genocide to
But given the minority situation of
the churches in Sri Lanka vis a vis the majority, and the false belief among the
leadership that they have to survive on the mercies of those in power, the
Christians are not able to give that specific witness to Truth and Justice as
taught by their churches.
Hence it is incumbent on the world
churches, to take a close and unbiased look at the Sri Lankan situation, inform
the international community the true situation and do all that they can to
encourage the local churches to stand up for truth and justice and in their own
way at the international level demand Justice for Sri Lanka.
Helping us achieve Peace and Freedom
is your Responsibility ...
We Tamils are at a turning point in
the history of our struggle for Justice and Freedom.
We are deeply sorry that we cannot
take in any more suffering from the hands of an anti-Tamil Sinhala government
and its extremist supporters. We appeal to all our brothers and sisters in Sri
Lanka as well as to the international community for help.
We say first to those of good will
in the South of Sri Lanka: Let us wait no longer, let us resolve this suicidal
conflict in all truth and justice, to redeem all that is left of the country and
Instead of allowing the extremists
to go ahead with their military efforts of exterminating and conquering a people
and a land, of imposing a majority-dominated unity to be kept by force, or a
pseudo devolution that still subjugates and denies rights, let sanity
prevail in uniting the forces for good. Without clinging on to a unitary system
of government that does not solve but only aggravate ethnic tensions and
problems, without covering up the deep wounds of discrimination with an
apparently magnanimous devolution, we should go for the triumph of truth and
justice, to build up a united country, whereby the aspirations of all the
communities are acknowledged, respected and durable provisions made for.
We are distinct peoples living on
that island for so many centuries with our rich distinct linguistic, cultural
and religious heritage. Let us assure each other a peaceful and co-operative
coexistence as good neighbours and friends within one country, without any fear
of domination or hatred for one another. Let us wish ourselves nothing more than
what we wish for others.
We appeal to the international
community: You have witnessed the events in our country at
least for the last few decades. You have helped in some way the victims of
war. But we are saddened by the assistance given by some of you to the Sri
Lankan government for escalating the war against us. You have not believed the
cries of the oppressed and the dying. You have stood by the mighty,
given financial aid and weapons to fuel the war but done very little to
acknowledge the truth of our claims. Now help us positively in resolving our
Let all the peoples of Sri Lanka go
before the conscience of the world and accept its verdict for a Just Peace in