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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Home > Tamil Eelam Struggle for Freedom  > International Frame of  Struggle for Tamil Eelam  > Commonwealth > Appeal to Commonwealth Heads of Government by International Secretariat of LTTE, 1993

Commonwealth & the Tamil Struggle

Appeal to Commonwealth Heads of Government
by International Secretariat of LTTE

20 October 1993

On 20 October 1993, the International Secretariat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam sought the support of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Cyprus for recognition of the Tamils right to self determination. The letter was sent through the Secretary General of the Commonwealth Office in London.

Text of Letter

Your Excellencies,

Recognition of Tamils Right to Self Determination

We seek the support of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting for the call made by 15 non governmental human rights organisations, in February this year, for international recognition of the right of the Tamil people to self determination.

The gross consistent and continuing violations of the rights of the Tamil people, by the Sri Lankan government and its agencies, have been well documented by innumerable reports of human rights organisations and independent observers of the Sri Lankan scene. The record shows:

that the attack on the human rights of the Tamil people commenced more than forty years ago;

that the attack was initially resisted by the Tamil people by non violent means together with a parliamentary campaign for a federal constitution;

that this non violent resistance was met with planned Sinhala violence directed to subjugate the Tamil people to the will of a permanent Sinhala majority within the confines of an unitary state;

that the armed resistance of the Tamil people arose as a defence against decades of oppressive alien Sinhalarule;

that international law recognises that the armed resistance of the Tamil people is lawful and just;

that Sri Lanka has committed systematic violations of the humanitarian law of armed conflict in its effort to quell the armed resistance of the Tamil people;

that Sri Lanka's sustained attack on the Tamil people amounts to genocide;

that international law recognises the combatant status of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam who today lead the struggle of the Tamil people for national self determination ;

that the territorial integrity of the Tamil homeland continues to be defended by the Tamil people against the planned and determined attacks of the Sinhala dominated Sri Lanka government; and

that Sri Lanka's continued refusal to recognise the claim of the Tamil people to the right to self determination constitutes a continuing breach by Sri Lanka of a peremptory norm of international law.

However the Sri Lankan President, D.B.Wijetunga continues to assert repeatedly: ``There is no ethnic problem in the island: there is only a terrorist problem.'' President Wijetunga's bland assertion that there is no `ethnic problem' is belied by the United National Party's own manifesto on which he himself campaigned at the 1977 elections in the island of Sri Lanka:

``The United National Party accepts that there are numerous problems confronting the Tamil speaking people. The lack of a solution to their problems has made the Tamil speaking people support even a movement for the creation of a separate state.... The party when it comes to power will take all possible steps to remedy their grievances in such fields as (1) education (2) colonisation (3) Use of Tamil Language (4) Employment in Public and Semi Public Corporations.''

The International Secretariat of the Liberation Tigers believes that the peaceful and constructive resolution of the conflict in the island will not be furthered by Sri Lanka's continued denial of the underlying causes of the conflict. Neither will it be furthered by Sri Lanka categorising the lawful armed resistance of the Tamil people, which arose from decades of oppressive rule by a Sinhala dominated government, as `terrorist' activity.

The reality on the ground is that the lawful armed struggle of the Tamil people is taking place under conditions of unbelievable hardship. On the one hand the Sri Lanka Army seeks to occupy the Tamil homeland by launching offensive operations and planned massacres of civilians, which has assumed genocidal proportions. The Air Force continues with its indiscriminate bombardment. On the other hand, an economic blockade has been imposed to secure military ends. Again, emergency regulations which prohibit the transport of `soya based food, sweets and confectionery' to LTTE controlled areas on the ground that such items are `capable of being used in a manner harmful to national security' have been stringently enforced in an effort to starve out the Tamil people in the North and bend them to Sri Lanka's will.

In the East, whole villages have been emptied and driven out by the army from their homes and occupations and turned into refugees. At the same time Sri Lanka has increased the pace of settling armed Sinhala people in former Tamil areas. Sinhala and Muslim `Home Guards' have been trained and armed by the Government and function as a para military force. The attacks by the LTTE on these para military forces and armed settlers are then sometimes falsely described as attacks on `civilians'. Some Tamil groups are actively engaged along with the Government forces and have been sent to infiltrate the areas within LTTE control and gather intelligence and it has become necessary to apprehend such spies.

In sum, the Sri Lanka government is engaged in a war for land in the Tamil homeland. It is clear that the Government's objective is to conquer the north and make the Tamils in the east a minority in their own homeland. Recent statements of the Sri Lanka Government that `ground conditions in the East indicate that a referendum could be held' early next year to determine the `will of the people whether the Eastern Province should be continued to be joined to the Northern Province' serves only to confirm that objective.

However, despite these conditions of hardship, in several areas in the Tamil homeland, the LTTE has succeeded in establishing a stable civil administration and securing the rule of law . In 1988, the LTTE pledged to abide by the Geneva Conventions relating to armed conflict, and its Additional Protocols and the LTTE is mindful of its obligations as a combatant in an armed conflict which has won recognition in international law and has taken care to instruct its cadres accordingly and breaches in this regard are inquired into and suitable punishment meted out.

The Sri Lanka Government often states to the international community that it `` continues to hope that the LTTE too would see the merits of a negotiated settlement''. But the fact is that it is the Sri Lanka government which has for the past two years and more used the Parliamentary Select Committee mechanism as a way of avoiding direct talks with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

The Select Committee has deliberated for more than two years and the government is content to allow this farce to continue, in the full knowledge that a Select Committee consisting of Sinhala political parties who are at each others throats and who are intent on positioning themselves to capture power at the next elections will do nothing to resolve the conflict. The Select Committee mechanism provides the Sri Lanka government with a useful cover of `reasonableness' for international consumption, whilst it continues its genocidal military operations against the Tamil people.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam have, for more than three years, consistently declared their willingness to enter into talks with the Sri Lanka Government. However, the Sri Lankan government has not seriously responded to the many proposals for cease-fire and peace talks, even when presented by other concerned governments.

It rejected the Canadian Human Rights Mission, composed of members of Parliament, religious leaders, a lawyer and a journalist as a mediating body, and that this was followed by a failure to respond to an offer by the government of Australia to mediate. More recently, it rejected out of hand a peace proposal submitted by four Nobel Prize Winners.

The leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, Velupillai Pirabaharan, has declared that the LTTE was prepared to consider a federal structure with the NorthEast forming the Tamil homeland. But the Government of Sri Lanka is bent on dividing the Tamil homeland in the NorthEast. The Liberation Tigers have repeatedly made their position clear - if the Government of Sri Lanka persists in its determination to subjugate the Tamil people, the Tamils will have no alternative but to continue to fight to restore their own sovereign state.

In February 1993, at the 49th Sessions of the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva, 15 non governmental organisations (NGOs) including Pax Christie International, the International League for the Rights and Liberation of Peoples, Centre Europe Tiers Monde, International Educational Development, the International Organisation for the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination and the World Confederation of Labour, expressed their deep and grave concern at the continuing armed conflict in the island and declared that

*"any meaningful attempt to resolve the conflict should address its underlying causes and recognise that the armed struggle of the Tamil people for self determination, arose as a response to decades of an ever widening and deepening oppression by a permanent Sinhala majority, within the confines of an unitary Sri Lankan state"; and further that

*"there is an urgent need for the international community to recognise that the Tamil population in the North - East of the island of Sri Lanka are a `people' with the right to freely choose their political status."

The International Secretariat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam requests your open support for the call made by these NGOs for recognition of the right of the Tamil people to self determination. We believe that such recognition will pave the way for the resolution of a conflict which has taken an increasingly heavy toll in human lives and suffering during the past ten years and more.

Yours faithfully,

International Secretariat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam



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