Feature Article

European United Left upholds Tamil right to self-determination including secession

[TamilNet, Thursday, 02 June 2011, 12:52 GMT]
A conference organised by the European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) at the EU Parliament in Brussels on Wednesday, resolved that it supported “the right to self determination of the Tamil-speaking people, up to and including separation, if that is what they wish, while safeguarding the rights of all minorities” and demanded the SL state to shut down the military bases of the “army of occupation” in North and East and sought a political solution addressing the “national and democratic aspirations” of the Tamil people. Heidi Hautala, Green MEP and Chair of EU Parliament's Human Rights Sub Committee, a key speaker at the event, called for a GUE/NGL fact finding mission to the island of Sri Lanka. Vaiko, the leader of the MDMK in Tamil Nadu and Sinhala and Tamil political activists from the island and the diaspora took part in the event.

Front row [L-R]: TU Senan of TSC, Paul Murphy MEP, Professor John P.Neelsen and Mr. Vaiko

EU ban that affected the balance of power in the peace talks, the impact of geopolitics, human rights and Tamil genocide were discussed in the hearings.

The GUE/NGL has MEPs from 13 states, including seven with more than one MEP (in dark red) and six with one MEP each (in red) [Image and caption courtesy: Wikipedia]
Resolutions passed by the GUE/NGL
Resolutions passed by the GUE/NGL
Paul Murphy MEP, Tanja Niemeier, a staff member of GUE/NGL and Sarah Sachs-Eldridge of Tamil Solidarity Campaign chaired three sessions of the conference: “Origins of the conflict in Sri Lanka and the importance of the UN panel report”, “The war and its immediate aftermath” and “What prospects for lasting peace?”

The resolutions passed by the 12 MEPs who were present at the conference, demanded the Sri Lankan government to publish the names and details including the charges against those who are still held in ‘detention'.

GUE/NGL has 34 seats from 13 member states in the EU. The resolutions opposed the sale of arms and military equipments, and the provision of training to SL’s armed forces, as well as commercial and financial support to the current government.

The resolutions also opposed the so-called free trade zones, which according to the GUE/NGL, would be a tool for “super exploitation”, also expressed support for the campaign for trade unions in the North and East.

Vaiko gave a lengthy and elaborative speech on the political fundamentals, core principles and the democratic mandate of the Eezham struggle.

Professor John P.Neelsen of the Sociology Department, Tuebingen University in Germany, an experienced scholar on the international dimensions of the conflict in the island, addressed the session on “what prospects for lasting peace”.

Both, Vaiko and Neelsen, in their address emphasized the democratic aspiration expressed and mandated by the 1976 Vaddukkoaddai Resolution, which has again been democratically re-mandated by the Tamil diaspora after the 2009 end of Vanni war.

Mr. Vaiko urged the EU MEPs to consider the following measures:

  1. The armed forces of Government of Srilanka should be withdrawn from Tamil areas.
  2. Immediate measures needed to prevent further torture and harassment, rape and killings.
  3. The internally displaced persons who are still kept in captivity in Government run camps should be sent to their native places and homes in an rehabilitated environment.
  4. International aid agencies, NGOs, International Committee of Red Cross should be given free access to go into the affected Tamil areas and provide solace.
  5. Settlement of Sinhalese in the traditional Tamil areas, i.e. the state aided colonisation should be stopped forthwith.
  6. The Tamil youths who are detained in prison camps should be released.
  7. The President of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapakse and all others responsible for the genocide of Tamils should be tried in a War Crimes Tribunal, which has to be set up by the UNO.
  8. A referendum for a separate nation of Eelam Tamils in Sri Lanka should be conducted under the supervision of International observers allowing the Tamil Diaspora also to participate.

The MEP Soren Sondergaard from Denmark  acknowledged that the EU was also indirectly responsible for the injustice, citing the EU ban on the LTTE and that the EU remained silent on the sale of arms to the Sri Lankan government by some EU member states.

Damilvany at GUE/NGL
Damilvany from UK, who served in Vanni, sharing her first hand experience from Vanni
Selvaraja Kajendren, former TNA MP from Jaffna and S. Varatharajan, a popular Economics teacher, both from the Tamil National Peoples Front (TNPF), Mahapatabendege Srinath Perera, the secretary of the Samasthalanka Free Trade union and Kanagasabai Sanmugarathnam Rathnavele, a member of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka had come from the island to take part in the event.

“As long as conflict resolution is viewed through a simplistic statist paradigm there can be no prospects for success,” said Mr. Kajendren in his address.

“Two years since the LTTE was militarily defeated, the Tamil homeland has been militarised more than even during the war,” he further said.

Explaining the programme of the TNPF, he said: "We wish to advocate an incremental bottom-up approach to conflict resolution. In other words, the constituent nations of the island, the Sinhala Nation and the Tamil Nation, have to be recognised as an essential first step along with each of their rights to self-determination. This will result in the political recognition of two power centres on the island.

"The conflict resolution process that is envisaged is one where these two power centres are, once recognised, asked to agree on arrangements that make each associate with one another for the mutual benefit of both. So the conflict resolution process that is advocated is not one of State transformation, but one of State formation, if you like, where the Tamil nation and Sinhala nation work out structures, within which each nation may remain free secure and prosper, but at the same time pool sovereignty in certain agreed areas.

“In other words, the coming together of two distinct and sovereign nations, by a process of pooling of agreed aspects of each of their sovereignties to form a State. This is what we mean by our party’s slogan: ‘Two Nations; One Country”.

Front row [L-R]: TU Senan of TSC, Paul Murphy MEP, Professor John P.Neelsen and Mr. Vaiko
Dr. Sri Ranjan, a professor in the Department of Biosystems Engineering at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada, representing the Global Tamil Forum (GTF), gave a presentation on the historical background of Eezham Tamils in the island.

Jan Jananayagam of Tamils Against Genocide (TAG) addressed the hearing on Tamil Genocide detailing the story of genocide since 1948.

T. Thiruchothy, the president of democratically elected country council of Eezham Tamils in France, Maison du Tamils and British Tamils Forum (BTF) representative, T. Vakesan, a Chemical Engineer by profession and a leading lobbyist in the United Kingdom, delivered the speech on behalf of their country councils.

Mr. Thiruchothy compared the attack on Sarajevo and the massacre of Serbinica to what happened in Vanni. “Vanni was Tamils Sarajevo and the killings of thousands of youth and those who were taken away from camps similar were Tamils Serbenica,” he said. Thiruchothy criticised the double standards comparing the ICC referral of UN Security Council on Libya and the silence or indirect abetment by UN officials in the genocide against Tamils.

A cross section of the Tamil diaspora was present and several elected members of the country councils and TGTE Democrats across the Europe, Canada and Australia and a Swiss representative of the SCET, TYO activists and activists such as Chivanthan in UK, who walked across Europe mobillising Tamils attended the event. A representative of the North East Secretariat of Human Rights (NESoHR) was also present among the audience.

“At a time when the perpetrators of the crimes were conducting a military conference in Colombo, marketing their model of genocide as counter insurgency and sending an all-Sinhala government delegation including the perpetrators themselves to the ongoing UN Human Rights Council's 17th session in Geneva, the GUE/NGL has come forward to provide an opportunity to the side of the victims to air their views,” said a key BTF organiser, when contacted by TamilNet said on the significance of the conference.

The BTF organisor also commended the London based left leaning advocacy group, Tamil Solidarity Campaign (TSC), for its efforts in facilitating the representation of affected witnesses such as Damilvany Gnanakumar, 27, a British Tamil biomedical scientist who witnessed the war in Vanni.

TU Senan of the TSC, who has brought the representatives from a broader spectrum to the event, also addressed the audience stressing the need for a stronger civil society in the North and East.

Damilvany's address and Jan Janayayagam's speech were well received, GUE/NGL circles told TamilNet on Thursday.

GUE/NGL meeting on SL conflict



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