Feature Article

New Delhi following British imperialism does no justice to Eezham Tamils

[TamilNet, Friday, 18 October 2013, 05:59 GMT]
200 years of imperialist outlook, knowing very well that there are two historically evolved nations in the island but engineering unification for imperialistic purposes, has always gone against the nation of Eezham Tamils and contributed only to its genocide in every respect, including in its territory and demography, writes an academic in Jaffna. The academic was commenting on New Delhi’s External Affairs Minister visiting Jaffna harping on making Sri Lanka ‘tri-lingual and united’. The academic compared it to early English Governor Sir Robert Brownrigg’s policy outlook in 1813, recognizing parity between Sinhala and Tamil languages, but that policy foundation not leading to parity in territory and power.

On 10 July 1813, the third English Governor in Colombo, Sir Robert Brownrigg, who was vested with the task of the conquest of Kandy (1815) and colonial unification of the island, wrote to the then Colonial Secretary in London on the importance of recognising Sinhala and Tamil with parity, since a territory from Puththa’lam to Batticaloa northwards was Tamil-speaking.

Brownrigg, referring to certain Ceylon Civil Service regulations drawn by his predecessor Maitland, “as to the qualification required in the knowledge of the native languages,” wrote the following:

“The Portuguese and Sinhalese only being mentioned excludes one which is fully as necessary in the Northern Districts as the Sinhalese in the South. I mean the Tamil language commonly called the Malabar language, which with the mixture of Portuguese in use through all the provinces, is the proper native tongue of the inhabitants from Puttalam to Batticaloa northward inclusive of both these districts. Your Lordship will, therefore, I hope, have no objection to my putting the Tamil on an equal footing of encouragement with the Sinhalese.”

A Special Investigator of the Tribune, who was delving into the Ceylon Government Archives in Nuwara Eliya in 1956, traced the copy of the despatch from Brownrigg to the British Colonial Secretary Right Hon. Earl of Bathurst.

A feature on the despatch appeared in the then prestigious Colombo journal, Tribune, on 12 January 1956, to cite at the policy foundation under which the British imperialist administrative unification of the territories of the distinct linguistic nations in the island was made, and to denounce the ‘Sinhala Only’ law that was in the making at that time.

But the world knows what happened thereafter.

Even the language parity the British imperialism conceived to sustain a unitary State in the island was so easily abrogated once the British left, proving that in the historical context of the nations in the island, language parity in law or constitution alone is meaningless without internationally guaranteed parity in territory and power.

* * *

One also has to carefully note a significant reference Brownrigg was making 200 years ago on the territory of Tamils in the island.

In his despatch, he draws a horizontal line from Puththa’lam (Northwestern Province) to Batticaloa (Eastern Province), including those districts (There was no Ampaa’rai district at that time. It was just Batticaloa), and says that north of it was Tamil-speaking (the parts of North Central Province falling within that line was also largely Tamil-speaking at that time).

The language parity policy initiated by the British for the unification of the territories of the two linguistic nations for the creation of a unitary State could not save the territory of Eezham Tamils either in the British times or thereafter.

British imperialism also effected demographic changes in the conquered territory of the Sinhala nation in Kandy, by bringing in plantation labour force from Tamil Nadu. But, for various reasons this didn’t affect the territorial claim and power of the Sinhala nation, compared to the plight of Eezham Tamils who were always at the receiving end in territory and power, in the ‘experiment’ of keeping the island as one by all the imperialists of the last 200 years.

* * *

The colonial trading empires of the Portuguese and the Dutch maintained the separate territories in the island. It was the classical colonialism of the British that wanted to administratively unite the island into a unitary State and the Colebrooke–Cameron Commission of 1833 drafted the blueprint.

Despite proven failure of the State, adamantly continuing and after culminating the imperialist experiment of 200 years into genocide of Eezham Tamils in 2009, the imperialists of today have come out with another ‘Commission’ in the name of Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC).

The LLRC recommendations stemming from the neo-imperialist policy outlook of today that doesn’t shun genocide, speak with bold atrocity that no district belong to any ethnicity in the island, which in a State with a dominant nation practically means that Tamils will have no territory at all. Against that backdrop, the recommendations speaking of making the island ‘Trilingual’ also means that the use of Tamil in practice will be nominal as in Malaysia or Singapore.

The LLRC recommendations have been given with international validity as basis for solution, by the imperialists in Washington and New Delhi.

Like New Delhi imperialism ingeniously engineering Eezham Tamil masses with a will in the island to inevitably vote for certain elements that would help it to interpret the will to the contrary, Washington imperialism has managed to find elements in the diaspora to speak on the ‘virtues’ of LLRC-based resolution.

New Delhi Establishment’s External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid talking of ‘trilingual unity’ without any reference to the territorial integrity of the nation of Eezham Tamils and without any measures to counter the everyday land-grab and Sinhala colonisation of the territory of Eezham Tamils, has to be understood in the background of the 200 years ‘experiment’ of imperialism in the island that always wronged the Tamil nation.

Earlier, New Delhi sent the Thirukku’ra’l expert former President Abdul Kalam to inaugurate the ‘Trilingual’ hoodwink.

* * *

Because the Eezham Tamils did not challenge the Colebrooke-Cameron unification, or because it was too late when they started challenging it, thanks to pro-imperialist and Colombo-minded leaders among them like Ramanathan, the Sinhala nation today thinks that the unity of the island is its fundamental right. If the LLRC–13A–Trilingual design of today’s imperialism is not challenged, within few years the imperialism would tell that the ‘ground reality’ is that Tamils don’t have a nation of territory in the island.

Peoples in India inherit a heritage that has waged the most unique anti-imperialist struggle of humanity. They have a heritage of grasping all the nuances with which imperialism operates. They have to understand why Eezham Tamils are put in a position of opposing an imperialism that has put itself in the shoes of the British imperialism in continuing or even worsening the injustice to their nation.

Peoples in India, including our brethren in Tamil Nadu, have to be extremely cautious about the orchestration of their so-called ‘national’ media and intelligence-operated ‘research’ foundations cum academics that eulogise an imperialist ‘experiment’ that furthers the genocide of a small nation in their backyard.

As an immediate power in the region and as a country of one sixth of humanity, India’s Establishment in New Delhi is primarily responsible for not only allowing an African scenario of genocide to take place for the first time in South Asia, but also for shielding it and furthering it.

Salman Khurshid [middle] in Jaffna
Salman Khurshid [middle] in Jaffna

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