Canadian Memorial Stamp issued for late Navaratnam

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 30 January 2007, 16:17 GMT]
A set of Canadian Memorial Stamps and First Day Cover were issued at a memorial function in Toronto Saturday, honoring the contribution by late V. Navaratnam, a doyen of Ilankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi (ITAK), the Federal Party, and who called upon the Tamil youth to fight for the establishment of a separate self-governing Tamils State in 1969. Mr Navaratnam urged the youth to fight, when he left the Federal Party and founded Thamil Suyadchi Kalaham, the Organisation for Tamil Self-Governance, after witnessing failed negotiations for power-sharing with Sri Lankan leaders for almost three decades.

Navaratnam memorial stamp issued in Canada on 27 January 2007
Mr. Navaratnam's son, Jegan Mohan, recalling past conversations with his father, toldthe audiance a conversation, which took place between Felix R. Dias Bandaranaike and Navaratnam, 39 years ago in the Ceylon Parliament Cafeteria, after his father called for a Separate State for the Tamils.

Felix R. Dias Bandaranayake had approached Mr. Navaratnam and commented that the Tamils were always demanding for something, which they cannot obtain, and cited G. G. Ponnambalam's cry for fifty-fifty and Chelvanayakam's demand for Federal State. All of them were rejected by the Sinhalese.

"Now Navam, you are asking for a separate state. Do you really believe that you can attain it?," asked Mr. Bandaranaike. Navaratnam had responded: "Felix, I don't know whether you and I may be alive, but a day will come, when Sinhalese would come forward to offer the Tamils a Federal State, and the Tamil leadership will consider the offer too little too late."

Thamil Arasu stamp issued in 1961
Navaratnam had issued the first postage "Thamil arasu" (Tamil State) in 1961 as part of the disobedience campaign, with an aim to challenge the state of the Government of Ceylon, contravening a Post Office Ordinance and its monopoly to raise tax, similar to Gandhi's Salt March Campaign.

Navaratnam was quoted as having had the idea of breaking the Post Office Law and running a parallel postal service as a part of a mass civil disobedience campaign, following the Trincomalee Resolution in 1956, long before the Satyagraha in 1961, and had drawn the sketch of the stamp, reflecting the concept of a Tamil State. He designed it to incorporate the symbolic features of the Tamil State's economy, agriculture, industry, shipping and trawling.

It was finally released in 1961 after the B. C. Pact was nullified by the Sinhala leaders.

The image of the Thamil Arasu stamp is also printed on the First Day Cover. Mr Navaratnam's last advice to the Tamil diaspora, was to mobilize with a unified message to the International Community, and that the gross human rights violations of the Sri Lankan government, be documented and exposed. He also urged the Tamil Canadians to persuade the Canadian government to initiate a demand that Sri Lanka must be expelled from the Commonwealth of Nations for the human rights violations, an act Canada initiated in the Commonwealth against South Africa for its racist policies, Jegan Mohan said.

The meeting was organized by Soma Satchithananthan and Praba Ponnambalam and was attended by family members, relatives, friends and Tamil Canadian diaspora members of Kayts constituency in Jaffna attended the event.



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