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Home > Struggle for Tamil Eelam > Conflict Resolution: Tamil Eelam - Sri Lanka > All Party Conference, 1983/84 > Sri Lanka Proposals at All Party Conference, 14 December 1984 > Statement by TULF after collapse of All Party Conference, 21 December 1984 > An Assessment by Patricia Hyndman - Report to Law Asia Human Rights Standing Committee, June 1985
All Party Conference, 1983/84
21 December 1984
"In response to an invitation from President Jayawardene dated 28th December 1983, the T.U.L.F. agreed to attend the All Party Conference summoned for the 10th of January 1984, on the basis of certain proposals “to enable them to arrive at an acceptable solution to the present problems facing the Tamil community in Sri Lanka.’
When those proposals were abandoned, the T.U.L.F. would normally have withdrawn from the Conference. But, we continued to participate and pursue the search for an acceptable viable alternative to our demand for an independent State of Tamil Eelam. Mrs. Indira Gandhi, the late Prime Minister of India, who “offered her good offices to enable a final solution to be reached” and her Special Envoy Mr. G. Parthasarathy played a very big part in persuading the T.U.L.F. to continue the negotiatory process. In view of certain aspersions cast by some people on India’s role in this matter, it behoves me to place this fact on record. India has been the biggest factor working for a peaceful political solution.
In the very first statement we made at the Conference, we indicated that though we were elected on a Mandate to work for a separate State, if an acceptable and viable alternative is offered, we were willing to recommend it to our people. Even In the face of a total absence of positive response on the part of leading Government Members— even when the major Sinhala Opposition party avoided the responsibility by walking out — we continued to participate because of our Party’s commitment to non-violence an integral part of which is the path of negotiation. We indicated that a solution based on a Tamil linguistic region, consisting of the Northern and Eastern Provinces, granting regional autonomy to the Tamil nation as contained in the proposals placed before this Conference by the Ceylon Workers’ Congress may be one we could recommend to the Tamil people. We also said that the regional body should be,
A careful study of the provisions of the draft bills placed before the Conference will convince anyone that they fall far short of the regional autonomy indicated above. When we accepted the scheme of District Development Councils in 1980, it was clearly understood that it was not meant to be an alternative to our demand for a separate State. It was hoped that it may help to solve some of the pressing problems, like colonization, and ease tensions thereby creating the climate for a solution to the larger political question. The total failure of the Government to work that scheme in the proper spirit has largely contributed to the present situation. The repetition of the provisions of the same law in the present draft is totally unacceptable to the Tamil people. The bills do not embody a proper scheme ofdevolution or autonomy. Devolution to the larger unit should be done by the Constitution and that unit may delegate any functions to the smallest unit. I am surprised that even these meagre and inadequate provisions are being opposed by some responsible persons.
We have endeavoured both in the All Party Conference and in informal discussions outside to work out a peaceful solution. Time is running out. The Tamil areas are under virtual siege. Normal life has come to a stand-still. Death, arson, rape and looting, stalk our areas. Starvation is staring the poor people in the face. This is the grim reality of the situation in the Northern and Eastern Provinces. We are constrained to state that the two Bills before this Conference do not embody any scheme of autonomy which could be accepted by the Tamil people, or their accredited representatives the Tamil United Liberation Front."