EUROPEAN UNION & THE TAMIL STRUGGLE
...the struggle for an independent Tamil state
is a national question -
and therefore, it is an inter-national question...
UK Tamil Association
to the European Union Outline Reply
dated 15 November 1995
Whilst we welcome the statement of the Council of the European
Union that it continues to back a negotiated settlement with the Tamil
independence movement, in the island of Sri Lanka, we regret to note the further
contents of the Outline Reply of the Council of the European Union to Question
No.H-0780/95 put to the Council by Ms.Christine Oddy (PSE - UK) for Question
Time on 15 November 1995.
The Council Reply states that:
"The efforts of President Kumaratunga (to reach a
negotiated settlement) have been jeopardised by the unilateral decision of the
LTTE to resume fighting and by the ensuing military response of the Government
following terrorist attacks by the LTTE."
This statement contains several factual errors.
Firstly: The cessation of hostilities between the two
parties to the armed conflict in the island, was ended on 19 April (after 5
weeks notice) by attacks by the LTTE on clear military targets.
These attacks were not 'terrorist attacks' and to categorise them as such,
whilst at the same time categorising the response of the Sri Lanka
government as a 'military response' is factually wrong and intellectually
Secondly: To categorise the response of the Sri Lanka
government as a 'military response' and ignore
Lanka's aerial bombardment and incessant shelling of Tamil civilian
population centres in the Jaffna peninsula, under cover of a press
censorship, is to fly in the face of the facts as set out in several
independent reports (including those by the Red Cross,
Medicines.Sans.Frontiers and the British Refugee Council). It also to ignore
President Kumaratunga's own statement of genocidal intent reported in an
Indian Journal on 30 April 1990:
"Q. Where do you go from here?
A. ...To defeat the LTTE you have to launch an all out
attack (which would mean a lot of Tamil civilian casualties) and the place
(Jaffna) will be wiped out.
Q. Is that possible? Can the Sri Lankan forces do it?
A. Ofcourse it is possible. That is what the IPKF tried to
The bombing of the
Nagarkoil School speak for themselves and we regret the failure of the
Council to deplore and condemn these terrorist actions of the Sri Lanka
armed forces - a failure which will raise, not only in Tamil minds but also
in the minds of all neutral and fair observers, serious questions as to the
balance and impartiality of the approach adopted by the Council.
Thirdly: It is wholly wrong to state that the negotiating
process was jeopardised by the LTTE's decision to resume hostilities. For
one thing, in August 1994, though the LTTE had called for a ceasefire, the
Sri Lanka Government preferred to engage in talks without either a
ceasefire, or a cessation of hostilities. For four months, Sri Lanka did not
see the continuance of hostilities as jeopardising the negotiating process.
Again, even when Sri Lanka eventually agreed to a cessation
of hostilities in January 1995, it refused to agree to a ceasefire. One
result was that a leading member of the LTTE was killed in the East during
the so called 'cessation of hostilities' and beheaded. The fact is that Sri
Lanka used the negotiating process as a tactical episode in her military
strategy to corner and defeat Tamil resistance to Sinhala rule. President
Kumaratunga herself has admitted as much in an interview on 20 August 1995:
"I have studied and acquired considerable knowledge on
guerrilla warfare when I was a student in Paris, and we knew how they would
behave. We conducted talks on the basis that the LTTE would not agree to any
peaceful settlement.. "
The Council states:
"On several occasions, the EU has publicly condemned the
LTTE's attitude and continues to advocate a return to the negotiating table,
where the Government's proposals for decentralisation should be examined by all
parties in a constructive manner."
And the Joint Motion for a Resolution of the European
Parliament goes on to welcome -
"the peace proposals announced by President Kumaratunga on
3 August 1995, which contain wide ranging constitutional reforms, including more
extensive devolution to the provinces and a merger of the restructured Northern
and Eastern Provinces and which are currently before a select committee of the
Sri Lankan Parliament."
Once again these statements contain several factual errors:
Firstly: It is wholly wrong to state that the Kumaratunga
proposals are currently before a select committee of the Sri Lanka
Parliament. The presentation of the draft legislation embodying the
proposals to the Select Committee has been deferred. In addition the main
Sinhala opposition party, the United National Party, has withheld expressing
its views until the Government presents its draft legislation. Further, two
days before the official unveiling of the 'proposals' on 3 August 1995,
President Kumaratunga met with the Buddhist High Priests in Kandy and
promised that the proposals will not be finalised until the war against the
LTTE is won.
The true nature of the so called 'wide ranging constitutional reforms
including more extensive devolution to the provinces'
was revealed by President Kumaratunga herself in an interview on 20 August
"The President said that since Policy Planning was a
subject for the centre, the central government had a hold in every subject a
region handled... the President said, even if a Regional Council opposes,
the centre has the power to go ahead and allocate land for its purposes."
Thirdly: It is wholly wrong to state that the proposals
include a 'merger of the restructured Northern and Eastern Provinces'.
President Kumaratunga herself made this abundantly clear in an interview
on 20 August 1995:
"The President also moved to allay fears of a North-East
merger saying that the government did not have any idea of merging the North
with the East."
ex Chief Justice of India, V.R.Krishna Aiyer commented on 6 September 1995
on the failure of the Chandrika proposals to recognise the existence of the
" It is beyond argument that the North-East is the homeland
of the Tamils and an unconditional acceptance of their integrated existence
as a provincial unit is basic. To treat the Tamil region just like any other
region is to miss the categorical imperative that the North and East is an
entity with a higher autonomy and foundational features, as distinguished
from the other provinces. ... The Chandrika vision of Sri Lanka with all
communities living in safety and security, human dignity and equality,
together with a string of platitudes regarding human rights and fundamental
freedoms does not take note of the core of the controversy..
The sharing of power of all regions cannot be alike since
that obliterates the relevance of the Tamil struggle which entitles them to
a far larger protection regarding human rights, coexisting, as they are,
with a snarling Sinhala majority.. The contiguous Tamil territory, with its
integrity restored as before the disintegrative process during the last
decade began, is important. Even the powers, administrative, legislative,
and judicial have to be wider, deep-rooted and beyond manipulation by a
majority in Parliament. The grievous error in the "Chandrika package" is its
failure to install the North-East as a special category."
We believe that it would not have escaped the attention of the
European Union that though Sri Lanka President Chandrika Kumaratunga has sought
to justify the attack on the Tamil homeland as a war to 'liberate' the Tamil
people from the Liberation Tigers, the undeniable fact is that the Tamil people
have fled in their thousands from their would be 'liberators', leaving behind
them their homes and hard earned belongings.
The Tamil people are well aware of President Kumaratunga's own
views about the 'political package' which she seeks to impose on the Tamil
after the 'war is won'. It is this 'political package' which President
Kumaratunga has touted to the international community as a 'radical' departure
from the past and as a panacea for the island's ills.
We fear that the expression of views such as those set out in
the Outline Reply of the Council and the Joint Motion will lead to the European
Union losing credibility not only as a neutral observer but also as a body
committed to securing justice - and justice is surely the way to lasting peace
in the island of Sri Lanka.
We are mindful that real politick may have influenced the
responses of the European Union. However, we urge that the interests of the
European Union will not be furthered by supporting the genocidal actions of
President Chandrika Kumaratunga's government - because, apart from everything
else, oppression is not the path to stability, and without stability there will
be no climate for economic development. Events in the old Soviet Union and in
Eastern Europe have shown that national identities rooted in language, culture
and history have proved to be long enduring and the attempt to suppress such
national formations serves only to consolidate resistance to alien rule.
We express our deep and grave concern that some of the
European Union's publicly stated positions on the war in Sri Lanka may serve to
encourage Sri Lanka to continue her genocidal attack on the Tamil people and may
also undermine the ability of the European Union to facilitate an end to a
conflict which has taken such a heavy toll in human lives and human suffering.