Feature Article

Pongku Thamizh in Geneva reinvigorates call for Eezham Tamil Independence

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 20 September 2011, 14:11 GMT]
More than 5,000 Eezham Tamil activists across Europe confluenced Monday in what the organizers of the event described as successful Pongku Thamizh rally in front of the United Nations Office in Geneva in Switzerland where 18th session of the Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is taking place. “We demand the Human Rights world to denounce Tamil Genocide in the island of Sri Lanka in both word and deed,” an exiled Tamil activist with a personal experience of the genocidal war, who met the representatives of the UNHRC at its 18th Session, told TamilNet. Professor John P. Neelson, an experienced scholar on the international dimensions of the conflict in the island and Stéphane Gatignon, a mayor from France, who asserted that he had come to the rally reflecting the interests of 30,000 Tamils in his constituency, met the representatives of the Human Rights Council with the Tamil representatives.

Pongku Thamizh

Pongku Thamizh, Geneva, 2011
Professor John P Neelson
Pongku Thamizh, Geneva, 2011
Stéphane Gatignon, mayor of Sevran, a city in Department 83, where majority of Tamils in Paris reside.
Pongku Thamizh, Geneva, 2011
Mr. Viraj Mendis from International Human Rights Association, Bremen, Germany
Pongku Thamizh, the handbill in English
Detailing the meeting they had with the UN representatives inside the UN office, Professor Neelson, said the UN Human Rights Council representatives showed a keen interest in talking to persons with a personal history as victims of genocide.

“This is no longer an isolated and internal issue of the Human Rights of Tamils in the island of Sri Lanka. It is about the Human Rights of Tamils living in all the countries when a mayor from France articulates the issue as a priority of a Europe and France based community,” Viraj Mendis, International Human Rights Association, Germany, who participated in the event told TamilNet.

Mr. Viraj Mendis, a Sinhalese and a veteran rights activist longly associated with the Tamil struggle said the Pongku Thamizh event on Monday was a significant one.

“First and foremost, the event has brought back the original spirit of the struggle in articulating the aspiration of the Tamil people in the absence of the LTTE which represented the aspiration throughout the past 3 decades. Pongku Thamizh was a form of political articulation of the masses during the LTTE-led struggle. Even though the LTTE was destroyed the aspiration is not,” Mr. Mendis told TamilNet describing the significance of the rally.

Professor Neelson, in his address at the rally said the Tamil organisations in the West should be careful with attaching importance to the same forces in the West that abetted the genocidal state of Sri Lanka during the war, banned the LTTE and destroyed the peace process. Stating that he was aware that there were different ideas inside the diaspora and that he doesn't normally wish to intervene into the internal issues that should be resolved internally among the Tamils, the Sociology professor said the Diaspora organisations such as the TGTE and GTF are increasingly placing their trust in the same Western establishments that worked against them in the past by giving faith that they would now resolve the Tamil question.

Even though the establishments in the West often talk about the human rights of the Tamils, in reality the Human Rights of the Tamil people is long down in their list of priorities, Prof. Neelson said.

Blaine Robin, Kursaal Ward Councilor (Conservatives) from the UK gave an emotional speech supporting the demand for Tamil sovereignty. Exiled TNA parliamentarian S. Jeyananthamoorthy and journalist Kanaka Ravi, both from the UK also addressed the participants in Tamil.

“While some ‘silent diplomacy’ groups in the West are again experimenting with promoting elitism within the evolving Diaspora bodies in promoting a collaborationist approach to make them nodding to a non-realist political solution within the united Sri Lanka, the grassroot of the Eezham Tamil diaspora in Europe has sent a unified and open message at the powerful rally at Pongku Thamizh” an activist of the Tamil Coordinating Committee in Berlin told TamilNet Tuesday.

Pongku Thamizh event was organized by the Tamil Coordinating Committees (TCC) of countries across Europe. The TCC has been politically associated with the LTTE in the past.

The participants carried Tamil Eelam flags and the photographs of LTTE leader Velupillai Pirapaharan.

[Story continues after photos]
Pongku Thamizh, Geneva, 2011
Participants at Pongku Thamizh rally in Geneva carry the photograph of Chenkodi who sacrificed her life by self-immolating herself recently in Kaancheepuram, Tamil Nadu.
Pongku Thamizh, Geneva, 2011

Full text of the Pongku Thamizh declaration released at the event follows:

Declaration of the Eelam Tamil Diaspora

We, the Eelam Tamil Diaspora, originating from the North and East part of the island of Ceylon, are assembled in front of the United Nations Organization to make an unequivocal declaration about our cherished national aspirations to the international community.

Pongku Thamizh, Geneva, 2011
Blaine Robin, Kursaal Ward Councilor (Conservatives), UK.
Pongku Thamizh
Pongku Thamizh
Pongku Thamizh
Pongku Thamizh, Geneva, 2011
Pongku Thamizh, Geneva, 2011
Pongku Thamizh, Geneva, 2011
Anne van Verzijl from Holland, representing the International Committee Against Disappearances (ICAD) addressing the Pongku Thamizh rally
  1. We trace our origins to the North and East part of the island of Ceylon, where our ancestors have independently ruled themselves for over 2500 years.
  2. We represent the Eelam Nation, with all the rights accorded to a nation based on the criteria defined by the United Nations Organization and in international law.
  3. As a distinct nation, we retain our sovereignty, and have the right to determine our own future based on international law.
  4. Believing in the concept of homeland, nationhood, and our right to self-determination, we totally reject the claims made by the Government of Sri Lanka to represent us, and resolve to free ourselves from the hegemony of the Sinhala Nation through political means.
  5. From the time the British Empire left the island 63 years ago, the Sinhala nation has systematically invaded our land and used its numerical superiority to subjugate and rule over us.
  6. Using their majority power, the Sinhala Nation has eroded the parity of status enjoyed by us under the British rule by taking away our language rights and the right to equal opportunity in education and employment. Aided and abetted by the state, our economy has been systematically destroyed over the decades by repeated pogroms against Eelam Tamils. These actions spanning over three decades, drove the Eelam Tamil leadership to make the Vaddukoddai Declaration on May 14, 1976, requesting a mandate to declare the state of Tamil Eelam. They won a resounding victory in favour of this mandate in the 1977 General Election.
  7. However, our democratic expression to free ourselves from the hegemony of the Sinhala Nation met with draconian laws granting unbridled powers to the Sinhala forces and police to arrest, torture, and disappear many thousands of our Tamil youth. As a consequence, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was formed, under the leadership of Mr. Veluppillai Pirabhakaran, which succeeded in gaining military parity of status and established a de jour State of Tamil Eelam in our traditional homeland.
  8. The military parity of status resulted in an internationally mediated peace accord that was signed between the LTTE, representing the Eelam Tamils, and the Government of Sri Lanka on February 22, 2002.
  9. The Eelam Tamils placed their faith in the international community to deliver a just and peaceful solution to their suffering. However, the Sinhala Nation unilaterally abrogated the peace accord in 2008 and unleashed a genocidal war against the Eelam Tamils.
  10. The Sinhala Nation continued to commit genocide by destroying the de jour State and killing over one hundred and fifty thousand men, women, and children and maiming hundreds of thousands more by aerial bombardment with chemical weapons in Mullivaikkaal.
  11. The genocide continues to this day by subjecting the Eelam Tamils to military rule where the people are essentially living in open prisons. Under the guise of high-security zones, the Government of Sri Lanka has forcibly taken over 25% of the productive land and colonized the land with Sinhalese to alter the demography of our traditional homeland. This has destroyed the lives, and livelihood of the Eelam Tamils who have been displaced multiple times due to the genocidal war unleashed upon them.
  12. We urgently request the international community to immediately stop the genocide committed by the Government of Sri Lanka, which has resulted in the killing of over two hundred and fifty thousand Eelam Tamils over the past six decades, and the forced migration of over a million Eelam Tamils who have fled their home and native land. We strongly urge the international community to bring the Government of Sri Lanka and the armed forces to the International Criminal Court for the crimes against humanity they are continuing to commit with impunity.
  13. Since the war ended in May 2009, the Government of Sri Lanka has embarked on systematic Sinhalisation of our traditional homeland by barring our people from returning to their lands and instead settling Sinhalese people from the South. While schools, hospitals, and places of worship remain destroyed by the war in our home land, the Government of Sri Lanka is building Buddhist temples in the occupied lands to destroy any evidence of Tamil existence. These actions by the Sinhala Nation reinforce our resolve to secede as a means for survival in the long run.
  14. The on-going genocide in our homeland demands that the only way to stop this process is for the UN and the international community to recognize our inalienable right to self-determination and help us establish our own state in our traditional home land.
  15. Through the formation of the independent Tamil Eelam state, we resolve to enact democratic governance, respect individual rights and freedoms, and embrace free-market economy. The proposed State of Tamil Eelam will maintain cordial relations with its neighbours and ensure peace and stability in the Indian Ocean region.

“Eelam Tamils' aspiration is their Tamil Eelam homeland”

Pongku Thamizh


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