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Home > Tamils - a Trans State Nation > Struggle for Tamil Eelam > Right to Self Determination - Tamil Eelam > Joint Statement by 17 NGOs - 1994
Joint Statement by 17 Non Governmental Organisations
at United Nations Commission on Human Rights
"...The Tamil population in the North and East of the island, who have lived from ancient times within relatively well defined geographical boundaries in the north and east of the island, share an ancient heritage, a vibrant culture, and a living language which traces its origins to more than 2500 years ago.
The 1879 minute of Sir Hugh Cleghorn, the British Colonial Secretary makes it abundantly clear that:
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.
It was an alien Sinhala domination which found expression in the disenfranchisement of plantation Tamils, the enactment of the Sinhala Only law, discriminatory employment policies, inequitable allocation of resources to Tamil areas, exclusion of eligible Tamil students from Universities and higher education and in genocidal pogroms in 1958, 1977 and again in 1983.
At the sametime systematic state aided Sinhala colonisation attempted to render the Tamil people a subject minority in parts of their own homeland. In 1946, there were 23,400 Sinhalese in the Eastern Province constituting 8.4% of the population. By 1981 this number had increased tenfold to 234,000 and constituted 25% of the population of the Eastern Province.
A social group, which shares objective elements such as a common language and which has acquired a subjective political consciousness of oneness, by its life within a relatively well defined territory, and by its struggle against alien domination, clearly constitutes a 'people' with the right to self determination and in our view, the Tamil population of the north-east of the island are such a 'people'.
It is also our view that the Secretary General should consider invoking his good offices with the aim of contributing to the establishment of peace in the island of Sri Lanka through respect for the existence of the Tamil homeland in the NorthEast of the island of Sri Lanka and recognition for the right of the Tamil people to freely determine their political status."