Indian PM urged to recognize NE Tamils’ rights

[TamilNet, Friday, 12 December 2003, 01:36 GMT]
In a letter to the Indian Prime Minister, Mr. A.B. Vajpayee, sent Wednesday and signed by Prof. A. Sanmugathas, head of the Federation for Advancement of Tamils’ Education (FATE), and the Federation’s secretary, Mr. P. Kamalanathan, the FATE said that “until our people’s legitimate rights are secured, India should recognize our right to internal self-determination and help to restore normal life, with peace and dignity.”

The FATE letter argued that the NorthEast of Sri Lanka is the traditional homeland of the Tamil people and India had recognized this truth in the Indo-Lanka Accord of 1987. It said that the current power struggle between the two major Sinhala parties in power “has shown to all the prescience of our liberation struggle.”

Excerpts from the letter follow:

“The NorthEast of Sri Lanka is the traditional homeland of the Tamil people. This is a historical fact. The rights of the people of the NE were systematically denied. Whenever non-violent struggles were conducted to secure our rights, the Sinhala chauvinists in Sri Lanka unleashed atrocious violence against us. It was to get free from such violent oppression that our people were forced to engage in an armed struggle. Such a struggle has been going on for nearly 30 years.

“In order to secure our legitimate rights and to restore normal life and peace to our people, our struggle will continue. The successive Sinhala governments in power, whichever party they belonged to, have continued the oppression of the Tamil people and deceived them. The situation where Sinhala parties in power profit by instigating violence against innocent Tamil civilians continues.

“India, our neighbor, is not unaware of the suffering and loss inflicted on the Tamil people by these Sinhalese governments. While the international community has come to realize the rationale, the necessity and the justness of our struggle and the Interim Self-Governing Authority (ISGA) proposals, India has already accepted the principle that the North East is the traditional homeland of the Tamils through the Indo-Lanka Accord signed in 1987. We would like to remind you that India sent the Indian Peace Keeping Force to Sri Lanka on the basis of this acceptance.

“When the IPKF was staying in our lands, the loss of life and property to our people was a tragic experience that none can deny and we can never forget. Since then, whenever the Sinhala chauvinists unleashed unspeakable atrocities on our people, India has not raised its voice and has remained silent.

“In the last 30 years of our struggle, genocide was an almost daily experience of our people, and the people’s economic assets were destroyed. The Sri Lanka Army is occupying the lands that belong to our people and in which our forbears have lived for centuries.

“In this context, the current political power struggle in the South is detrimental to taking forward the peace process. This power struggle among the ruling Sinhala elite--the inability of the Sinhala polity to come to an agreement to provide our rights--has shown to all the prescience of our liberation struggle.

“Given this background, the comments of the Indian Defense Minister and some officials of his Ministry that disparage our struggle and damage the peace process, can only hurt our people’s feelings and embolden the Sinhala communalists who continue to deprive the rights of our people.

“Our people are saddened by all statements that tarnish our struggle for freedom. The people, who want peace with dignity, will not accept India’s stance based on reports of some Indian diplomats who cannot stomach the recognition of our people’s right to self-determination and who want to alienate our people from India.

“The people want India to take a stance that would help solve the ethnic conflict and restore peace with dignity and normal life. Tamils are saddened by India’s acquiescence to genocide by Sinhala chauvinists and the atrocities unleashed under the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act. The Tamil people and the Educational community do not want this state of affairs to continue.

“Until our people’s legitimate rights are secured, India should recognize the right to internal self-determination of our people and help to restore normal life, with peace and dignity.”

 

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