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 

Home Whats New  Trans State Nation  One World Unfolding Consciousness Comments Search
Home > Tamils - a Trans State Nation >  Self Determination: International Law & Practice > Right to Self Determination: Tamil Eelam > Struggle for Tamil Eelam



Address by  Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam to the Ceylon Tamil League -  1922
A Federal Government for Ceylon - S.W.R. D. Bandaranaike, July 1926
 Kandyan Sinhalese Call for Three Federal states in 1928 and 1948 - Lakshman Kiriella
Ceylon Communist Party's Resolutions & Memoranda on Federalism and Self-Determination, 1944
Kathiravelupillai's Eelam Statement, 1973
Tamil United Front Memorandum, September 1974
S.J.V.Chelvanayakam Q.C., Statement - February 1975
Vaddukodai Resolution - May 1976
Letter to Sri Lanka Prime Minister  from  Tamil United Liberation Front, May 1976
Tamil United Liberation Front Election Manifesto - July 1977
Tamils' right to self determination and secession - Anton S. Balasingham, 1983
Tamil Rights : Is it an Internal Problem?  - Reversion of Sovereignty
- R. Balasubramaniam
, Attorney at Law in
Saturday Review, Jaffna 19 February 1983
The Origins of the Unitary State of Sri Lanka - A.Jeyaratnam Wilson, 1988
Self Determination is not a dirty word - Sathasivam Krishnakumar, 1993
A Struggle for Justice - Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, March 1997 
Election Manifesto of Tamil National Alliance, December 2001
Election Manifesto of Tamil National Alliance, October 2004

Nadesan Satyendra

We, too, are a people at Thimpu Talks, August 1985 
Thanmaanam, 1988
Boundaries of Tamil Eelam, 1993
Select Committee Farce, 1993
'Multi Ethnic Plural Society' - 1993
Needles, Haystacks & the Sinhala Left, 1997
LTTE & Fanaticism
Why Division?, 1998
A Simple Question, 1998
The Charge is Genocide... the Struggle is for Freedom, 1998

Other Articles

Books and Articles on Tamil 'separatism' at Questia
Sinhala Buddhist Oppression of the Tamil People - S. C. Chandrahasan, 1979
The Material Basis for Separatism: The Tamil Eelam Movement in Sri Lanka - Amita Shastri, 1990
Tamil Eelam right to self-determination - Visuvanathan Rudrakumaran, 1991
Tamils' right to self-determination - Justice Satchi Ponnamblam, 1991
Struggle for Fundamental Social Change - Dr.Ramani Chelliah, May 1991
Human Rights, Humanitarian Law and the Tamil National Struggle: Evolving the Law of Self Determination, Karen Parker, J.D, 1991
Anti-Federalism: An Exercise in Political Bankruptcy - S Sathananthan, 1992
Tamil Eelam: Reversion of Sovereignty - IFT Working Group 1992
Right to Self Determination - Tamil Information Centre Briefing to UN Commission on Human Rights, 1994
Human Rights & the Tamils Right to Self Determination - Justice Marcus Einfield, 1996
The Tamils' Right to Self Determination - Visvanathan Rudrakumaran, 1996
SEP and the fight for the
Socialist United States of Sri Lanka and Eelam,
December 1998
Tamil Eelam: The Legitimacy of a New State -   A. J. V. Chandrakanthan, April 1998 
Ilankai Tamils Self Determination - Vikramabahu Karunaratne, 21 May 1999
External Self Determination, Internal De-Colonisation - Dr.S.Sathananthan, 1999
Eelam & the Right to Secession - Professor M.Sornarajah, June 2000
Tamil Eelam - a Nation State in the Making - Professor P.Ramasamy, July 2000
Concept of power sharing and legitimacy of the state - V.T.Tamilmaran, October 2002
The Tamil Secessionist Movement in Sri Lanka (Ceylon): A  Case of Secession by Default? - M.R.R.Hoole
Self Determination and Conflict Regulation  in Sri Lanka, Northern Ireland and beyond  - Brendan O'Duffy, May 2003 "Those who assume the LTTE's concession on negotiating within the framework of a united Sri Lanka are.... pretending that the self-determination genie remains in the doctrinal box of a statist world..."
Tamil Struggle: The Need for self-determination - G.Amirthalingam, 2006
The right to self-determination of the Tamils in Sri Lanka - Victor Rajakulendran, June 2006
Tamil Eelam demand in International Law - Tamil Writers Guild, 4 January 2007
The Tamil people's right to self-determination Deirdre McConnell, Cambridge Review of International, Volume 21 Issue 1 2008
 Abstract - This article provides an overview of the crisis in Sri Lanka and states why an armed conflict has developed in the northern and eastern parts (north-east) of the country. The Tamils' accusations�of discrimination, denial of the right to self-determination, abrogated agreements and violations of international human rights and humanitarian law amounting to genocide by successive Sri Lankan governments�are supported by specific evidence given by international human rights and legal experts, international human rights non-governmental organizations and other relevant entities. The democratic parliamentary efforts and the non-violent resistance struggle of the Tamil people prior to the outbreak of war are traced over several decades. The article includes an outline of social and law and order achievements in the north-east under the de facto administration of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and concludes with some current international dimensions of the situation.
Karen Parker on Tamil Self Determination at Tamil Mirror, Canada - Video Presentation... 12 May 2008


"...In all regions of the world conflicts turn violent over the desire for full control by state governments, on the one hand, and claims to self-determination (in a broad sense) by peoples, minorities or other communities, on the other. Where governments recognise and respect the right to self-determination, a people can effectuate it in a peaceful manner. Where governments choose to use force to crush or prevent the movement, or where they attempt to impose assimilationist policies against the wishes of a people, this polarises demands and generally results in armed conflict. The Tamils, for example, were not seeking independence and were not using violence in the 1970s. The government response to further deny the Tamil people equal expression of their distinct identity led to armed confrontation and a war of secession..." Implementation of the Right to Self Determination, as a Contribution to Conflict Prevention , UNESCO International Conference of Experts, Barcelona 1998

".. Self determination is not a de stabilising concept. Self determination and democracy go hand in hand. If democracy means the rule of the people, by the people, for the people, then the principle of self determination secures that no one people may rule another - and herein lies its enduring appeal..." Nadesan Satyendra in Why Division, 1998

This section brings together documents relating to the right of self determination  of the people of Tamil Eelam - including

1. The 1973 Statement by S.Kathiravetpillai, M.P. for Kopay from 'Coexistence not Confrontation' - A Statement on Eelam,

"Pancha Seela or Coexistence is the only solution to the problem of the two nations in Ceylon. It recognises not merely facts of two thousand five hundred years of Sinhala and Tamil history but also the fundamental right of the Tamil people to self determination; of Tamil Eelam to separate statehood. It unshackles the two nations and sets them free" -

2. The historic statement by S.J.V.Chelvanayakam Q.C. M.P., (affectionately known to the Tamil people as Thanthai Chelva) at his election victory in January 1975, when he won a mandate for Tamil Eelam,

"Throughout the ages the Sinhalese and Tamils in the country lived as distinct sovereign people till they were brought under foreign domination...It is a regrettable fact that successive Sinhalese governments have used the power that flows from independence to deny us our fundamental rights and reduce us to the position of a subject people. These governments have been able to do so only by using against the Tamils the sovereignty common to the Sinhalese and the Tamils. I wish to announce to my people and to the country that I consider the verdict at this election as a mandate that the Tamil Eelam nation should exercise the sovereignty already vested in the Tamil people and become free."

3. Text of the Vaddukodai Resolution at the First National Convention of the Tamil United Liberation Front, May 1976,

"..The first National Convention of the Tamil United Liberation Front meeting at Pannakam (Vaddukoddai Constituency) on the 14th day of May, 1976 hereby declares that the Tamils of Ceylon by virtue of their great language, their religions, their separate culture and heritage, their history of independent existence as a separate state over a distinct territory for several centuries till they were conquered by the armed might of the European invaders and above all by their will to exist as a separate entity ruling themselves in their own territory, are a nation distinct and apart from Sinhalese.."

4. Tamil United Liberation Front - Tamil Eelam Manifesto which was endorsed by the Tamil people at the General Elections in July 1977,

"..What is the alternative now left to the Nation that has lost its rights to its language, rights to its citizenship, rights to its religions and continues day by day to lose its traditional homeland to Sinhalese colonisation ? What is the alternative now left to a Nation that has lost its opportunities to higher education through standardisation and its equality in opportunities in the sphere of employment ? What is the alternative to a Nation that lies helpless as it is being assaulted, looted and killed by hooligans instigated by the ruling race and by the security forces of the State? Where else is an alternative to the Tamil Nation that gropes in the dark for its identity and finds itself driven to the brink of devastation?

There is only one alternative and that is to proclaim with the stamp of finality and fortitude that "we alone shall rule over our land that our fore fathers ruled. Sinhalese imperialism shall quit our Homeland". The Tamil United Liberation Front regards the general election of 1977 as a means of proclaiming to the Sinhalese Government this resolve of the Tamil Nation. And every vote that you cast for the Front would go to show that the Tamil Nation is determined to liberate itself from Sinhalese domination."

5. Statement of the Political Committee of the Liberation Tigers written by Anton Balasingham, 1983

"...The concept of self-determination needs a precise and clear definition. Such a clarification is vital to our national question, since some of the so-called Leninists in Sri Lanka are confused on this basic concept. The most ridiculous misrepresentation and misconceptualisation of this concept arises from a position in which the right of the Tamil nation to self-determination is given recognition while opposing secession..."

5. Statement by Nadesan Satyendra at the Thimpu Talks, 1985

"...The Tamil delegation here at Thimpu asserts a proposition founded on common sense and justice - and in the ultimate analysis all sound law is common sense and justice. It is a very uncomplicated business, this question of international law. It is simple. And the simple proposition is this: 'A people who are subjugated by an alien people have the inherent right to free themselves from such alien subjugation'. And it is this right which is the right of self determination - a right which has today, become a peremptory norm of general international law..."

6. Justice Satchi Ponnambalam, on the Tamil Eelam demand in international law, July 1991

"...(The) perceived solution of self-determination has evolved and taken shape by the compulsions of more than three decades of political struggles of the Tamil people and their political leaders which ended in the ignominious failure to arrive at any just solution by the process of negotiation between the two parties. There lay in ruins the scrap-heap of broken pacts and dishonoured agreements as to proposals for Regional Councils, District Councils, Provincial Councils, Provincial/Regional Councils, District/Provincial Councils - all tentative concepts and toothless bodies with no genuine devolved powers of decentralization..."

7. Visuvanathan Rudrakumaran on the Tamil Eelam demand in international law, 1991

"...a social group characterized by distinct objective elements such as a common language and a common struggle, acquire subjective elements such as a sense of solidarity, of sameness or oneness and has a relationship to a defined territory," such a group clearly constitutes a "people" and-is entitled to self-determination... the Tamils of Sri Lanka, who are united on the basis of such objective factors as a distinct language etc., and by such subjective factors as a passionate yearning for freedom, and who have a long-established relationship to the Northern and Eastern provinces constitute a people, and are therefore entitled to self-determination in the form of secession, in the face of denial of effective representation in Sri Lanka's existing constitutional and political situation...."

8. Statement by the Political Committee of the Liberation Tigers,  in March 1991

"The birth and growth of the armed resistance movement should be analysed within the historical development of the Tamil struggle for self-determination. The Tamil struggle for self-determination has an evolutionary history of nearly a half of century. It is a history characterised by state repression and resistance by the Tamils."

9. Written Statement by International Educational Development submitted to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in April  1998

 "..In the words of President John F. Kennedy, "those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." It is also interesting to note the observation made by Antonio Cassese that states normally characterize the use of force by liberation movements as an act of terrorism. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (the "LTTE) is a national liberation movement, which is presently involved in armed conflict with the government of Sri Lanka in order to realize the right of the Tamils of Sri Lanka for self-determination on the island of Sri Lanka. The formation of the Tamil armed resistance movement was in response to the repression and violence of the Sinhala-dominated Sri Lankan government."

10. Nadesan Satyendra on  Why Division, in 1998

"It is sometimes said that to accord international recognition to these separate national formations will lead to instability in the world order. The argument is not dissimilar to that which was urged a hundred years ago against granting universal franchise. It was said that to empower every citizen with a vote was to threaten the stability of existing state structures and the ruling establishment. But the truth was that it was the refusal to grant universal franchise which threatened stability ... Self determination is not a de stabilising concept. Self determination and democracy go hand in hand. If democracy means the rule of the people, by the people, for the people, then the principle of self determination secures that no one people may rule another - and herein lies its enduring appeal." 

11. External Self Determination, Internal De-Colonisation by Dr.S.Sathananthan in 1999

"The experience of the national liberation movement in Tamil Eelam demonstrates the relevance of the right to external self-determination. The Tamil people are victims of ethnocide, of the denial of linguistic and cultural rights; they are subject to demographic manipulation and military aggression of genocidal proportions at the hands of the Sri Lankan State, controlled by the dominant Sinhalese people.It would be ill conceived, for example, to offer the Tamil people effective implementation of internal self-determination by the Sinhalese-controlled State. It is in effect a promise to reform the oppressor. History does not vindicate such a utopian scenario."

12. Eelam & the Right to Secession by Professor M.Sornarajah, June 2000

"When the British gave independence to Ceylon in pursuance of the right of colonial self-determination, they should have ensured at the least, there was adequate protection of the rights of the Tamils if not a restoration of the status quo which existed before their conquest of Ceylon. At the time of their conquest, the Tamil homeland was administered separately and prior to European colonisation, there was a separate kingdom in the Tamil homelands. Self-determination imposed a duty to restore the status quo."

13. Statements at the United Nations Commission of Human Rights recognising the right of the people of Tamil Eelam to self determination

and other related documents.

At the United Nations
During the past several years, the Tamils' right to self determination has received recognition by more than 65 non governmental organisations at sessions of the UN Commission on Human Rights (and its Sub Commission) in Geneva. These NGO Statements included the following:
International Educational Development, August 1990

"Can the international community impose on a people a forced marriage they no longer want and in which they can clearly demonstrate they have been abused? We conclude that in order for the human rights of the Tamil people and others in a similar situation to be realised, the international community must invoke the principle of self determination as it arises from persistent non fulfilment of the rights of minorities who have been subsumed into larger states."

Liberation, 1991

"..The systematic violations of human rights by the Sri Lanka government over a period of four decades are well documented and are, clearly, no accidental happenings. They constitute evidence of the resolute and determined effort of an alien Sinhala majority to subjugate and assimilate the people of Tamil Eelam within the framework of a unitary Sinhala Buddhist Sri Lankan state.The people of Tamil Eelam have suffered enough and have waited long enough for their human rights. Today, they are a people who can no longer be denied their right to self determination. "

International Educational Development, 1992

"The Tamil population of the Northern and Eastern parts of the Island of Ceylon clearly meet the definition of "peoples" set out under international standards. ... The Tamils have their own language, a religious and cultural basis distinct from the Sinhala majority, ...the intensity and urgency of their demand for their full self-determination has only increased under the Sri Lankan government's actions that threaten their very physical survival."

Joint Statement by 15 NGOs, 1993

"..A social group, which shares objective elements such as a common language and which has acquired a subjective consciousness of togetherness, by its life within a relatively well defined territory, and its struggle against alien domination, clearly constitutes a 'people' with the right to self determination. Today, there is an urgent need for the international community to recognise that the Tamil population in the North and East of the island of Sri Lanka are such a 'people' with the right to freely choose their political status."

Joint Statement by 17 NGOs, February 1994

"..Before the advent of the British in 1833, separate kingdoms existed for the Tamil areas and for the Sinhala areas in the island. The Tamil people and the Sinhala people were brought within the confines of one state for the first time by the British in 1833. After the departure of the British in 1948, an alien Sinhala people speaking a language different to that of the Tamils and claiming a separate and distinct heritage has persistently denied the rights and fundamental freedoms of the Tamil people..."

International Educational Development, 1998

"..Sri Lanka has consistently denied the right to self-determination of the Tamils and refused to recognize the Tamils as a people. By constitutional amendment Sri Lanka has prohibited even peaceful promotion of the Tamil demand for self-determination as unlawful. Furthermore, it has unleashed a full-fledged war against the Tamils to suppress their struggle for political independence. The Sri Lankan government's action is clearly in violation of the 1970 Declaration on Friendly Relations and is illegal. And any power that gives military or economic assistance to perpetuate this war which is being conducted to deny the Tamils right to self-determination is also in complicity with this illegal war. The armed struggle of the Tamils is for the right to self-determination and is thus a legitimate political struggle for independence under international law..."

Joint Written Statement by 54 NGOs, 1998

"To contribute to resolution of the Sri Lanka-Tamil Eelam War and to provide meaningful international support to secure the aspirations of the Tamil people we urge the Commission to adopt a resolution that calls on the government of Sri Lanka to withdraw all its armed forces from the Tamil homeland and calls on both the government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam to secure a political solution that allows the Tamil people to realise its right to self-determination and that establishes full human rights to all the people of Sri Lanka.."

International League for the Rights and Liberation of Peoples, 1999

"..The struggle of the Tamils of Sri Lanka for instance, provides a strong argument for determining when a people should have the right to declare itself an independent and sovereign state. The current conflict in Sri Lanka began following independence in 1948 with a series of government policies that progressively and systematically deprived the Tamil population of its fundamental rights, and institutionalised violent persecutions and human rights abuses. Following 1983 the Tamil’s struggle for their rights which had hitherto been non violent, transformed into a military campaign led the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, whose objective remains the removal of Sinhalese control of the north-eastern region of the island, the historical homeland of the Tamils..."

Liberation, 1999

"..the Tamils in Sri Lanka have an ancient heritage, a vibrant culture, a living language tracing, its origins to 5000 years and a political consciousness developed over their long history. For all intent and purposes the Tamils constitute a people who can call upon article 1 of ICCPR for the right to self-determination. However the Sri Lankan government has failed to acknowledge this right and has refused to enter into any reasonable dialogue to address the concerns of the Tamils let alone settle the dispute. The Sri Lankan government further has obstructed any peaceful opportunities for the Tamil people to campaign for greater self-determination..."

International Educational Development, 1999

"...in Sri Lanka the basic fundamental freedoms and human rights of the Tamil people have been violated with impunity for half a century by the Sinhalese-dominated Sri Lankan Government on an ideology of racial supremacy and exclusive possession and control of the island. All their attempts through peaceful and democratic means to co-exist as equals was met with armed repression. Having left with no alternative the Tamil people exercised their democratic right in 1977 for independence on the basis of the right to self-determination. The national liberation movement of the Tamil people arose as resistance to state oppression and to liberate the Tamil people towards freedom and independence..."

International League for the Rights and Liberation of Peoples, 2001

".. let us leave aside any further historical reference to facts all too well known by now and just recall the 1977 elections when over 75% of Tamils voted for independence, a true plebiscite that instead of being considered as a conclusive proof of the Tamils' wish to govern themselves triggered instead an escalation of repression by the government. Considering the history of these past years and the government's refusal to even entertain the possibility of a dialogue the Tamils are well justified in believing today that their aspirations can only be fulfilled through the creation of an independent Tamil state."

International Educational Development, 2001

"IED is convinced that the Tamil people on the island of Ceylon clearly meet the test of peoples with the right to self-determination under the classic international law model: they were an independent country prior to the colonial period but forcibly amalgamated with another country under the colonial administrative policy of "unitary rule"; they have an identifiable territory, distinct language, culture, religion and ethnicity; and they have made their choice of separate sovereignty clearly and with strong leadership. They have the capacity and will for self-governance. We understand that certain countries, for covert and overt political reasons related to their foreign policy and economic objectives in the region, try to deny that such a right exists. Yet even these countries cannot deny the application of the right to self-determination from a racist regime."

International Educational Development, 2006 

"Legal scholars and non-governmental organizations have been very vocal in their support for the right of the Tamil people to self-determination. In this regard, there have been hundreds of conferences, symposia, oral and written statements at the Commission as well as in many countries. .. Even the few experts unwilling to reach to the pre-colonial period to support self-determination due to �passage of time� and other practical and tactical concerns, urge that the failure, since 1949, of the Sinhala-dominated governments to afford the Tamil people basic rights in spite of negotiations with various Tamil leaders, ripens the right to self-determination as the only practical remedy for repression. The right may even ripen if, given the relative numbers of majority versus minority groups, the minority cannot effectively ever win in issues of importance to them. This, then, becomes a violation of governance rights. In Sri Lanka, in addition to the clear oppression of the Tamil minority, the Tamil people and their leadership are unable to effectively address anything of importance to the Tamil people: fishing rights, environmental concerns, or even post-Tsunami relief efforts."

Non Government Organisations who have recognised the Tamils' Right to Self Determination in Statements made at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights

1.Action des Christians Pour L'Abolition de la Torture
2. African Commission of Health and Human Rights Promotion 
3. Agence des Cites Unies pour la 
4. American Association of Jurists 
5. Arab Lawyers Union  
6. Arab Organisation for Human Rights
7. Asian Women`s Human Rights Council 
8. Association for World Education
9.Association paur la Liberte Religiose
10. Association de Defense de Droits de l`Homme 
11. Canadian Council of Churches 
12. Centre Europe Ties Monde
13. Change 
15. Comision de Deeches Homonas de El Salavador
16. Commission for the Defense of Human Rights in Latin America 
17.Consejo Indico de Sud America 
18. Federation Internationale des Journalistes Libres 
19. Fedefam
20. Felix Varelar Centre
22. Franciscans International 
23. General Arab Women Foundation 
24. Human Rights Internet 
25. International Association Against Torture 
26. International Association of Democratic Lawyers 
27.International Association of Educators for World Peace
28. International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development 
29. International Commission of Jurists
30.International Council of Women
31. International Education Development 
32. International Federation of Human Rights Leagues 
33. International Federation of Journalists 
34. International Human Rights
35.Association of American Minorities
36. International Human Rights Law Group 
37. International Indian Treaty Council
38. International League for the Rights and Liberation of Peoples 
39. International League for Human Rights 
40.International Movement for Fraternal Union among Races and Peoples.
41.International Movement against all Forms of Discrimination and Racism
42. International Organisation of Indigenous Resource – Development Category 
43. International Organisation for the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination 
44. International Peace Bureau 
45. International Right to Life 
46. International Work Group For Indigenous Affairs  
47. Liberation 
48. Movement contre le Racisme et pour Amitie des Peuples
49. Movimento Cubano per la Paz  
50. New Humanity 
51. North-South XXI
52. Parliamentarians for Global Action 
53.Pax Christie International,
54. Pax Romana 
56. Society For Threatened People  
57. The Saami Council 
58.World Alliance of Reformed Churches 
59. World Christian Community,
60. World Confederation of Labour 
61.World Council of Churches
62. World Federation of Democratic Youth 
63. World Federation of Trade Unions
64. World Movement of Mothers 
65. World Muslim Congress 
66. World Organisation Against Torture 
67. World Society of Victimology 
68. Worldview International Foundation 


Mail Us Copyright 1998/2009 All Rights Reserved Home