Tamils - a Trans State Nation..

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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 > Tamils - a Trans State Nation > Struggle for Tamil Eelam > Indictment against Sri Lanka: Introduction & Index > Indictment against Sri Lanka - the Record Speaks

The Charge is Ethnic Cleansing


"All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law." - Article 7, Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Text of Official Language Act, 33 of 1956
Debate in Sri Lanka House of Representatives on Sinhala Only Act, June 1956
Senator S.Nadesan Q.C., on Sinhala Only - Sri Lanka Senate Hansard 26 June 1957
Text of Tamil Language (Special Provisions) Act, 1958
Text of Tamil Language (Special Provisions) Regulations 1966
Virginia Leary on the Official Language Act: Report of a Mission to Sri Lanka on behalf of the International Commission of Jurists, July/August 1981
50 years later - Tamil an official language "only in name" - PK Balachandran, Hindustan Times, 12 February 2006
Tamil language provisions, provincial councils and 16th Amendment - C. V. Vivekananthan, (Attorney at-Law) on S.J.V.Chelvanaygam's 110th Birth Anniversary, 30 March 2008
The Genesis of Sinhala Only & Tamil Also - Mr.J.R.Jayawardene on "Sinhala Only and Tamil Also" in the Ceylon State Council, 24th May 1944

Debate in Sri Lanka House of Representatives on Sinhala Only Act, June 1956

" We are completing by this (Sinhala Only) Bill an important phase in our national struggle. The restoration of the Sinhala language to the position it occupied before the occupation of this country by foreign powers, marks an important stage in the history of the development of this island" - Phillip Gunawardene, Sri Lankan Cabinet Minister, Hansard, 14 June 1956

"I pointed out that the result of forcing Sinhalese as the sole state language for official purposes on an unwilling minority brought with it great dangers.... If a minority feels deeply that an injustice and a great injustice has been done it is likely to embark upon forms of resistance and protests. The possibility of communal riots is not the only danger I am referring to. There is the graver danger of the division of the country. we must remember that the Northern and Eastern Provinces of Ceylon are inhabited principally by Tamil speaking people and if those people feel that a grave and irreparable injustice is done to them, there is a possibility of their deciding even to break away from the rest of the country." - Leslie Gunawardene, Sinhala Opposition Member of Parliament, Hansard, 8 June 1956 (but 16 years later, Leslie Gunawardene as a Minister in the Sri Lanka Cabinet voted for the entrenchment of the Sinhala only law in Sri Lanka's new 1972 Constitution which at the same repealed the safeguards in the Soulbury Constitution against discrimination)

"Do we want a single state or do we want two? Do we want one Ceylon or do we want two?.. These are the issues that in fact we have been discussing under the form and appearance of the language issue... if you mistreat them (Tamils), if you ill treat them.... if you oppress and harass them, in the process you may cause to emerge in Ceylon, from that particular racial stock with its own language and tradition, a new nationality to which we will have to concede more claims than it puts forward now... If we come to the stage where instead of parity, we through needless insularity, get into the position of suppressing the Tamil ... federal demand... there may emerge separatism." - Dr Colvin R. De Silva, Sinhala Opposition Member of Parliament, Hansard, June 1956 (but 16 years later, Colvin R. De Silva, as a Minister for Constitutional Affairs in the Sri Lanka Cabinet secured the entrenchment of the Sinhala only law in Sri Lanka's new 1972 Constitution which at the same time repealed the safeguards in the Soulbury Constitution against discrimination)

Senator S.Nadesan Q.C., Sri Lanka Senate Hansard 26 June 1957

"Almost the first act (of the newly elected Bandaranaike Government) has been the passing of the 'Sinhala Only' Bill against the unanimous opposition of the entire Tamil people who wanted a place of honour for their own language. Thereby this Government has struck a grievous blow at the unity of this country, which stands divided today.

The members of this Government on the other hand have charged the Federal Party with endeavouring to divide the country... A federal solution within proper limits, and subject to proper safeguards, far from dividing a country which is already divided, is one of the best known methods of bringing about unity in a divided country.

If democracy means anything, if human rights mean anything, no national minority proud of its language and culture can ever subscribe to the proposition that it should in respect of matters affecting its vital interest accept the dictates of a majority nationality merely because it is a majority.

If this were so, it would amount to the tyranny of an impersonal majority... since this question affects the Tamil nationality vitally - I do not say the Tamil-speaking nationality - the Government cannot seek to impose anything, which is the result of a unilateral decision by the representatives of the Sinhalese people, on the Tamil people without doing violence to the elementary principles of democracy.

Even our British rulers listened to what we had to say before they framed proposals for constitutional reforms. They might have thought some years ago that some of our demands were extravagant but they did not say, "The condition under which you come here is that you shall not talk of independence."

How much more important it is for the head of a democratic government to listen to the representatives of the Tamil nationality, particularly when the Sinhalese have expressed no intention to rule over the Tamils. The primary duty of the elected representatives of both sides is to arrive at a negotiated settlement......it is only after the Sinhalese leadership has rejected the minimum rights consistent with the dignity and self respect of the Tamil people that the people as a whole will be justified in adopting other methods of resistance.

In such an event, it will not be struggle organised by the Federal Party but a national struggle of the entire Tamil people. Such a struggle is bound to bring a lot of suffering to our people but that would not deter us if we are satisfied after long and patient negotiation, that the Sinhalese leadership is not prepared to acknowledge even the barest human rights to which we are entitled. If there is such a denial then it will be necessary for the preservation of the soul of the people that they should struggle against tyranny, irrespective of consequences rather than submit or surrender."

Virginia Leary: Ethnic Conflict and Violence in Sri Lanka - Report of a Mission to Sri Lanka on behalf of the International Commission of Jurists, July/August 1981

"The first Constitution of Ceylon was drafted by an Englishman, Lord Soulbury and adopted by an Order in Council rather than by a constituent assembly. It remained in force until 1972.

Section 29 of the Soulbury Constitution protected the rights of minorities. It read 'No... law shall... make persons of any community or religion liable to disabilities or restrictions to which any persons of other communities or religions are not made liable; or... confer on persons or any community or religion any privilege or advantage which is not conferred on persons of other communities or religions.' Despite this constitutional provision the Official Language Act was adopted in 1956 providing that 'Sinhala Only' shall be the official language...

In the eyes of the Tamils, they were discriminatory provisions adopted by the majority population which placed their language in an inferior position, (and) required them to learn the majority language... It also became more difficult for Tamils enter government service...

Policies concerning the use of Sinhala, inter alia, have seriously lessened the opportunities of Tamils for government employment. The government should adopt a system for recruitment for government service which provides equal opportunities for all persons regardless of ethnic origin."

50 years later - Tamil an official language "only in name"
PK Balachandran, Hindustan Times, 12 February 2006

"....The Tamil-speaking population in Sri Lanka comprises Sri Lankan Tamils, Indian Origin Tamils and Muslims. Together they are 26 per cent of the island's population. But in the 9,00,000-strong public service, Tamil-speakers are just 8.3 per cent. The rest are Sinhala-speakers.Out of the 36,031 employees in the Police Department, 231 are Tamils and 246 are Muslims. Since Sri Lankan Muslims are also Tamil speaking, the total number of Tamil speakers in this vital department is just 477.

Wellawatte, a suburb of Colombo, is an overwhelmingly Tamil area, with 21,417 of its residents out of a total population of 29,302, being Tamil speaking. But in the Wellawatte police station, out of the 156 personnel, only 6 are Tamil speaking. The Sri Lankan armed forces are also almost completely Sinhala or Sinhala speaking. The few Tamil-speaking personnel there are Muslims, rather than Tamils as such..... There are only 166 official translators in Sri Lanka. And out of these, only 58 are Tamil-speaking. But translators are required in large numbers because of the existence of a massive linguistic barrier in the country.

In the Sri Lankan school system, Sinhalas learn through the Sinhala medium, and Tamils through the Tamil medium. This is so even in the universities. Very little English is taught, if at all, at any stage. This is the reason for the massive linguistic barrier between the two major communities in Sri Lanka, a barrier which has added to the distance between them since independence in 1948.

Speaking to Hindustan Times on the state of affairs, the Chairman of the Official Languages Commission, Raja Collure, said: "Successive governments have failed to implement the constitutional provision in regard to the use of Tamil as the second official language." This is regrettable especially in view of the fact that Tamil had been made the second official language of the country, through the 13th amendment, 18 years ago, following the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord of July 1987.

At that time, it was presumed that the acceptance of Tamil as an official language would automatically lead to the recruitment of more Tamils and that there would be no glaring ethnic imbalances.But Tamil has been an official language "only in name" as The Sunday Times put it. Recruitment of Tamil-speakers, especially ethnic Tamils, has been abysmally low.

If at all the state wanted to remedy the situation, it was only in respect of the use of the Tamil language in official work. The accent was not on the recruitment of more Tamils or Tamil-speakers.

In the latter part of the 1990s, President Chandrika Kumaratunga tried to introduce an 'Equal Opportunities Bill' to redress the linguistic and ethnic minorities' grievances in regard to employment. The statistics brought out by it were telling. Notwithstanding the powerful case made out for such a bill, it raised a storm of protest among the Sinhala majority, which considered ethnic, linguistic and religious reservations as undermining the unity of Sri Lanka and its destiny as a Sinhala-Buddhist country..."

Tamil language provisions, provincial councils and 16th Amendment
C. V. Vivekananthan, (Attorney at-Law)
on S.J.V.Chelvanaygam's 110th Birth Anniversary, 30 March 2008

[see also One Hundred Tamils of the 20th Century - S.J.V.Chelvanayagam

S. J. V. Chelvanayagam was born in Malaysia on March 31st, 1898. He received his secondary education at the Union College, Tellippalai, Jaffna and later studied at St. Thomas College, Colombo. At the age of nineteen, he was awarded a degree in Science. Soon after his graduation, he became a teacher at St. Thomas College. Later he moved to Wesley College, and pursued his studies at the Law College. He became an advocate in 1923.

FP and language

Chelvanayagam inaugurated the Federal Party, on December 18th, 1949. One of the demands of the FP was parity of status for Tamil with Sinhala. This concept of 'parity of status', sought by the FP, was misunderstood by the Sinhalese. They thought that, it implied bilingualism in administration, and in government. They meant that, if a hundred Sinhala clerks were recruited to the public service, a hundred Tamil clerks should also be recruited. The 'parity of status' in language rights, is a legal concept, whereby both languages would become equal, before the law, as official languages. 'Parity' does not mean that, both languages should be used, in every part of Sri Lanka.

Chelvanayagam contended that, 'the right of the Tamil speaking people to transact their business with the government, in their own language, was the most elementary right. He said that, if the people are not governed in their own language, but in some other language, then those people are not free people, and therefore, 'in Ceylon, Tamil language should be limited Tamil speaking people and Sinhala to Sinhala speaking people'.

Sinhala only

In 1956, a profound change had taken place in the political history of Sri Lanka. The forces of 'Sinhala Only' movement were spreading rapidly in the South. The General Elections of 1956, were fought on the language issue. The MEP led by Bandaranaike, swept to power on 'Sinhala only'. The 'Sinhala only' cry was loud in the South burgeoned FP, to victory in the Northern and Eastern Provinces.

On 7th July 1956, the Official Language Act No. 33 of 1956 was passed, making the Sinhala Language, 'the official language of Ceylon'. The reaction of the Tamils to the Sinhala only Act, was one of despair and desperation. The FP staged a protest by way of non-violent civil disobedience, at the Galle Face Green, in the true Gandhian style. That was the first Satyagraha campaign.

B.C. Pact

Due to the series of Satyagraha campaigns organised by the Federal Party, Bandaranaike was impelled to sign on July 26th 1956, a Pact with Chelvanayagam, known as 'the Bandaranaike Chelvanayagam Pact'. This Pact recognised among other things that, Tamil shall be the language, of a national minority of Ceylon, and the language of administration in the Northern and Eastern Provinces, subject to certain reservations. Thereupon the UNP alleged that the July 26th Pact, was a sell-out to the Tamils, and J. R. Jayewardene organised Kandy March against the Pact, stating that Bandaranike sold North and East of Ceylon to the Tamils. Bandaranaike abrogated the Pact.

Dudley Chelva Pact

In 1965, Chelvanayagam helped Dudley Senanayake and his UNP to form a 'National Government'. Consequently Dudley Senanayake - Chelvanayagam Pact was signed and the District Councils Bill was gazetted in 1968. It provided inter-alia that steps would be taken under the Tamil Language Special Provisions Act to make (i) Tamil as the language of administration and of record in the Northern and Eastern Provinces, (ii) to make it possible for a Tamil speaking person to transact business in Tamil throughout Sri Lanka and (iii) to amend the Language of the Courts Act, to provide for legal proceedings in the Northern and Eastern Provinces, to be conducted and recorded in Tamil. This Bill was opposed by the SLFP, LSSP and CP, who organised the Joint Protest March. The Bill was later abandoned.

All successive governments hastened to implement the Sinhala Only Act, in all its rigour, but neglected to implement the laws, enacted by Parliament, with regard to the use of the Tamil Language.

1978 Constitution

In 1977, J. R. Jayewardene purported to proclaim that, 'there were numerous problems confronting Tamil speaking people, and the lack of solution to their problems, made Tamil speaking people to support a movement, for creation of a separate state'. In the Manifesto of 1977 General Elections, UNP also declared that 'the party would take all possible steps to remedy the grievances of the Tamils, in such fields as, (1) education, (2) colonisation, (3) use of Tamil Language and (4) employment in the public and semi-public corporations.

In the 1978 Constitution, JR made Sinhala, (i) the Official Language of Sri Lanka (Article 18), (ii) the Language of Administration throughout Sri Lanka (Article 22), (iii) to prevail in the event of any inconsistency between Sinhala and Tamil Texts (Article 23) and (iv) the Language of the Courts throughout Sri Lanka (Article 24). He also made certain provisions, under Chapter IV of the 1978 Constitution, for the exercise and operation of the use of the Tamil Language, under the aforesaid Articles. It is regrettable that, not even a modicum of attention was given, to the implementation of the constitutional provisions, with regard to the use of the Tamil Language.

The Chapter IV of the 1978 Constitution, prior to the 13th and 16th Amendments, provided for the use of the National Languages, Sinhala and Tamil, (ii) Sinhala, as the Official Language of Sri Lanka (Article 18), (iii) Language of Administration throughout Sri Lanka, with a proviso that the Tamil Language shall also be used, as the Language of Administration in the Northern and Eastern Provinces (Article 22), (iv) the Language of Legislation, in the event of any inconsistency between Sinhala and Tamil texts (Article 23) and (v) the Language of the Courts throughout Sri Lanka, with a proviso that, Tamil shall also be used in the courts, exercising original jurisdiction in the Northern and Eastern Provinces (Article 24). Article mandated the State, to provide adequate facilities to implement the constitutional provisions, with regard to the use of the Languages. Significantly, no enabling legislation was required to be enacted by Parliament, for such implementation.

Indo-Sri Lanka Pact

In the years that followed, there was continuous and sustained agitation not only with regard to language rights, but also for devolution of power, leading to the Indo-Sri Lanka Pact. The Indo - Sri Lanka Pact was signed on July 29th, 1987 by Rajiv Gandhi, then Prime Minister of India and J. R. Jayewardene, then President of the Republic of Sri Lanka. Consequently, a Bill for the amendment of the 1978 Constitution, known as the 13th Amendment to the Constitution was gazetted. It had two parts: one part was with regard to the Official Language, and the other part, to provide decentralisation of powers, through the Provincial Council system.

13th Amendment and legislation

The Bill contained an amendment to Article 18, of Chapter IV, of the Constitution to read as: Article 18 (1) - 'The Official Language of Sri Lanka shall be Sinhala', Article 18 (2) ¬'Tamil shall also be an official language;, Article 18 (3) - 'English shall be the link language', Article 18 (4) - 'Parliament shall by law provide for the implementation of provisions of this Chapter'.

The way the Article 18 (2) was worded, gave the impression that, Parliament would enact legislation to implement, the use of Tamil Language, as the Language of Administration (Article 22), Language of Legislation (Article 23) and Language of the Courts (Article 24).

What was requisite were constitutional amendments of Articles 22, 23 and 24 of the Constitution, but provided as above to the effect that Parliament shall enact legislation, it appeared that, JR had discreetly made a ploy to relegate the constitutional status of the Tamil Language, to be governed by legislation? Thus, the constitutional status of the Tamil Language stood truncated.

It is necessary and pertinent, to strike a personal note, at this point. With regard to the truncated position of the Tamil Language, I sent an Article for publication in the Virakesari, a Tamil daily newspaper. The Article was not published. It was revealed on inquiry that it was not published on the advice of Dr. Neelan Thiruchelvam. I telephoned the ever affable gentleman, Neelan. He asserted that, JR had agreed to give constitutional status, to the use of Tamil Language, and accordingly agreed, to amend all necessary Articles of Chapter IV of the Constitution. I discovered that he did not see the Bill. I wanted him to peruse the Bill and gave him many telephone calls on the subject. Upon examination of the Bill, Neelan said that, the error has crept in, and he would speak to the President, and it would be corrected at the Third Reading of the Bill, in Parliament.

The 13th Amendment to the Constitution was certified on 14th November 1987, without any further amendments to Chapter IV of the Constitution. I telephoned Neelan and he said briefly, that the President refused to allow any further amendments to Chapter IV of the Constitution, as he wanted to regulate the implementation of the Tamil Language, by legislation. He said further that, the TULF leadership has sent its protest to the Prime Minister of India.

16th Amendment - no legislation required

India brought necessary pressure on JR, and consequently the Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution, was brought in, on December 17th, 1988 by which, the anomalies with regard to the constitutional status of the Tamil Language, so created by the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, were rectified. The implementation by law enacted by Parliament of Article 18 (2) as amended by the 13th Amendment, and of Articles 22, 23 and 24 as amended by the 16th Amendment, became otiose...

Now, it appears that, steps are being mooted to dilute and dismantle the spirit and effect of the 16th Amendment, by attempting to enact legislation to implement the same. It is sad to note that, the Tamil Language has always been relegated to the margins of the majoritan political scheme and deceit, which have been consistently practiced, with a sleight of hand.

APRC Proposal

On 24th January 24th, 2008 the APRC presented a set of proposals to the President, with the recommendation that 'the Government should endeavour to implement the 13th Amendment to the Constitution'. Clause 4:1 of the aforesaid Proposals states that, the Government should take immediate steps, to ensure that Parliament enacts laws, to provide for the full implementation of Chapter IV of the Constitution'.

It clearly shows that, even the APRC does not desire to implement the constitutional provisions, with regard to the use of the Tamil Language, directly from the Constitution, but is attempting to implement them, by legislation. It brings out succinctly that, the APRC too wants to relegate the constitutional provision, of the use of Tamil Language, by legislation, even after the 16th Amendment. It is a political deceit.

It is a sad state of political governance, of the majority Sinhalese leaders that, they refused to come to terms, on language issues with Chelvanayagam, who espoused non-violence and demonstrated willingness, to settle problems of the Tamils, for something, far short of his original demands.

The Sinhalese leadership does not change its mind set. In the past, it refused to accommodate any language rights to the Tamils, and at present, it is reluctant to implement, what was given, making the island to bleed. In 1975, Chelvanayagam invoked God, to save the Tamils. Today, each and every citizen has to invoke God, to save Sri Lanka.

Mr.J.R.Jayawardene on 'Sinhala Only and Tamil Also' in the Ceylon State Council,
24th May 1944

Sir, the motion standing in my name reads as follows:-

(a) That Sinhalese should be made the medium of instruction in all schools;

(b) That Sinhalese should be made a compulsory subject in all public examinations;

(c) That Legislation should be introduced to permit the business of the State Council to be conducted in Sinhalese also;

(d) That a Commission should be appointed to choose for translation and to translate important books of other languages, into Sinhalese;

(e) That a Commission should be appointed to report on all steps that need be taken to effect the transition from English into Sinhalese.

My motion seeks to displace English from the position which it has held for over 125 years as the official language of this country. Though English has been the official language for so many years, only to per cent of a population of over 6 million speak and know that language.

The tragedy that is enacted everyday in our Courts, in our Public Departments and in the very lives of our people is very vividly described in that famous book, which I would advice Hon. Members of this Council to read, called The Village in the Jungle.

There, Sir, a villager from a hamlet in the. Hambantota District is brought up for trial in the Courts before an English Magistrate, and after a number of days of trial, during which lie did not understand a single word of what passed between the Judge, counsel and the other officials, he is sentenced to a long term of imprisonment:, and even at that stage does not know what had happened. That tragedy is occurring even today.

It is argued by those who know only English, who have been educated only in English, that if we displace English and make Sinhalese and Tamil the official languages, we will be shutting out a large world of literature and culture from our people. They little understand that that world of literature is already a closed book to go per cent of our people. We can today after so many years of English as the official language, measure its achievements in this country. It is true that we have produced a number of famous lawyers, doctors and judges and possibly legislators, but in the field of literature, of science, of culture, we have been entirely barren of achievement.

It was not so when the native language was the language of the Government. I think history records that wise men both from the East and the West came to the shores of Lanka to read the books that were preserved in the sanctuaries of the Buddhist Sangha. If one reads the travels of Hsuen Tsang, Marco Polo and Fa Hien and the lives of great Western philosophers such as Dr. Dhalke and Rhys Davids and others, we would find the contribution that this country made to world literature when we had our own language as the official language.

It is said that many of the mysteries of Indian history were unravelled by the translation of the Mahavansa into English, but today our youths, after so many years of British rule, are more interested in the love affairs of Henry VIII than in the historical events pictured in the Mahavansa; they are more aware of the materialism preached by western pundits, than in the truths which are embodied in the Abhidhamma. It is with a view to changing" this situation, a situation which can only be changed by substituting the national languages as the official languages, that I have thought it wise to introduce this motion.

If we look again at our educational structure, which will come up for examination on the motion to be moved by the Minister of

Education, we will find that we are spending over Rs 2o million a year for maintaining a system of education which creates two classes. Over 8o per cent of our schools educate our children in Sinhalese and Tamil, while only about 6 or 7 per cent of the children are given an English education. But the official language is English, and that is why this country is always in danger of being governed by a small coterie who go through those English schools whereas the vast majority who go through the Sinhalese and Tamil schools

must always be in the position of hewers of wood and drawers of water.

We have not only defects in our own system of education as an example and an argument for accepting this motion; we have also the example of other countries which have been for many centuries under foreign domination, and once they have become free or almost free they have dropped the foreign language and adopted their own language. I will take an example, first, the Irish Free State. After centuries of Anglicization, the native language of the people of Ireland, Gaelic, was forgotten; hardly 10 per cent spoke the language of the people. Thanks to the efforts of Dr.Hyde, who later became President of the Irish Free State, the Gaelic League was started, and Gaelic was again made popular among the people. When Mr. De Valera began his great fight for freedom, and succeeded, he insisted that the native language of the people of Ireland, though it was spoken only by to percent, unlike in Ceylon where only to percent speak English, should be made the official language. He set aside all objections-he is a man who does not care for objections-and he made that language the official language of Ireland.

We also have the example of India where the Indian National Congress had insisted that English should be supplanted from its position as the official language, that linguistic provinces should be created, and that Hindi should be the official language. We see that in Hyderabad and in the other Native States of India the -official language is the language of the people. No difficulty, I think, can be visualized once the spirit of the motion is accepted and the methods which I have outlined are put into effect.

If only the Board of Ministers elected in 1931 and the Minister of Education who was elected in 1931 had taken the necessary steps with a vision that should have been theirs, to put into effect a proposal such as this, it may be that today we would be able to speak in the languages of the people in this Council and in our other legislative assemblies. It is not too late even at this stage to make a start to see that Sinhalese and Tamil are made the official languages of this country.

It becomes all the more important that we should adopt this motion at this stage, because the Minister of Education is introducing very far-reaching proposals next week in this Council, one of which is to make English education free. Before you create an educational system in which you teach English as a free and compulsory language, you must have clear before your eyes what is going to be the official languages of this country. Are you going to educate the people of this country, 80 per cent of whom do not at present get an education, in English, while the official languages of the country are to be Sinhalese and Tamil ? Or are we in the future going to have English as the official language ? I think that that is the most important decision which should he taken by the educational authorities before they decide whether the medium of instruction should be the mother tongue or English. The educational structure should be suited to the official languages.. One might as well teach Dutch and not English if English is not going to be the official language.

Therefore, I would place this motion before the House; and I wish to speak a word of explanation with regard to my desire to include Tamil also. I had always the intention that Tamil be spoken in Tamil speaking provinces, and that Tamil should be the official language in the Tamil speaking provinces. But as two-thirds of the people of this country speak Sinhalese, I had the intention of proposing that only Sinhalese should be the official language of the Island; but it seems to me that the Tamil community, who speak Tamil, wish that Tamil also should be included on equal terms with Sinhalese. The great fear I had was that Sinhalese being a language spoken by only 3 million people in the whole world would suffer, or may be entirely lost in time to come, if Tamil is also placed on an equal footing with it this country. The influence of Tamil literature, a literature used in India by over 40 million and the influence of Tamil films and Tamil culture in this country, I thought might be detrimental to the future of the Sinhalese language; but if it is the desire of the Tamils, that Tamil also should be given an equal status with Sinhalese, I do not think we should bar it from attaining that position.

I do not think there will be any difficulty in this House, which is composed of representatives chosen on a universal franchise, in securing the end we have in view. It is the universal franchise that has brought the English-educated and she masses together, and it is the impulse created by the use of the universal franchise, by the ideals realized by the grant of universal franchise which enable the people to choose their rulers, which Neill ultimately make Sinhalese and Tamil the official languages of this country. I would therefore suggest to this House that we anticipate that event, and give it the sanction of our vote and decision.Language, Sir, is one of the most important characteristics of nationality. Without language, a nation stands a chance of being absorbed or of losing its identity. With language, it has a chance of living for centuries. It is because of our language that the Sinhalese race has existed for 2,400 years, and I think that, composed as we are in this House, on the eve of freedom as a free country we should prepare for a national official language. This House, I am sure, will vote with me that English should be deposed from its position as the official language of the country and Sinhalese and Tamil, the ancient languages of our people, spoken by over 8o to go per cent of our people, should be made the official languages of Lanka.

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