Wednesday, July 26, 2006



Greetings and welcome.  Now is the for a united voice and combined actions by all the Tamils who are migrated to Australia from India, Singapore, Malaysia, South Africa, Fiji and many other countries to address the plight of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka.  This appeal is presented to you in the hope that through you, conscience of all Tamils living in Australia will be awakened to the present predicaments of the Tamils in Sri Lanka, who are being systematically subjected to a denial of very basic political and human rights, open and close racial discriminations, and the victims of intentionally engineered process of genocides.

The Tamils of Sri Lanka constitute a separate nation divided from the Sinhalese nation by territory, language, religion and culture. At the beginning of European conquest, there were THREE SEPARATE KINGDOMS in then Ceylon: A Tamil kingdom in the North and two Sinhalese kingdoms in the South. The Tamil kingdom fell to the Portuguese in 1619. The Dutch replaced the Portuguese in 1659, who in turn capitulated to the British in 1796. The British also took over the Kandyan Sinhalese kingdom in 1815, thus gaining mastery over the three kingdoms covering the entire island. These territories which were isolated from each other and administered as separate areas were brought together into one administrative unit by the British in 1833. This was done for reasons of administrative convenience without consent of the peoples of the island. In fact the Kandyan Sinhalese protested against this unification.

The British thus imposed a common administrative system on the whole island with English as the Language of the government. In this way they brought together two peoples who had lived separately through the ages. When it became clear that the British were ready to share some of their authority with the local leaders, the conflict between the Tamils and the Sinhalese came to the surface. In 1945 when the time came for the transfer of power to the peoples of this country, the Board of ministers submitted their own proposals for a new constitution. The Tamils almost in one voice rejected their proposals in-as-much as they were calculated to place the minorities of Ceylon in a position of subordination to and dependence on the racial majority.

A Royal Commission under the Chairmanship of Lord Soulbury was sent to Ceylon in order to examine and discuss any proposal for constitutional reform in the island. Recognizing the general state of apprehension and suspicion in the minds of minority communities when power was to be transferred from neutral British hands to the people of a country, the commission became alert to the need for minority safeguards.

The Commissioners therefore accepted the assurance of the Board of Ministers in the belief that the latter were fully aware that the contentment of the minorities is essential, not only to their well-being but to the well being of the Island as a whole.

Moreover the British Government issued a White Paper on the basis of the Commissions report and made it clear to the Board of Ministers of Ceylon, that any legislative action by the British would be conditional on the acceptance of their proposal by the minorities. This acceptance was secured by many promises and assurances by the Sinhalese leaders, the hollowness of which have been manifest by the actions of successive Governments. It is significant that Lord Soulbury himself was later disillusioned by the disregard of these assurances by the Sinhalese leaders. Lord Soulbury has in his forward to the book, Ceylon a Divided Nation by Professor B. H. Farmer said:

The Tamils however hoped that the administrative unity established by the British Government could be preserved and towards that end made three significant suggestions.

(a) Balanced Representation:
Our earliest request was for balanced representation in the legislature as advocated by the Duke of Devonshire, who was Secretary of State for Colonies. It was based on a balanced scheme of representation that would avoid the danger of concentration of power in one community but would ensure its equitable distribution among all communities and the people as a whole. But the Soulbury Commissioners did not grant this.

(b) The demand for a Federal Constitution:
Secondly, within a year of independence, when the position of the Tamils was fast deteriorating, the demand for a federal form of government was put forward. It was felt that this was the only way of keeping together two distinct nations in one state. It may be remembered here that Mr. S. W. R. D. Bandaranayke strongly advocated federalism as far back as May 1926 or even earlier, but would not concede when he came to power. The following excerpts are taken from his speech of his in the Ceylon Morning Leader July 17th.

"If they considered past history then they would see that the three communities, the Tamils, the Low-country Sinhalese and the Kandyan Sinhalese had lived for over a thousand years in Ceylon and had not shown any tendency to merge... A central form of Government assumed a homogenous whole..."

But when the objections were dissipated he was convinced that some form of FEDERAL GOVERNMENT would be the ONLY SOLUTION."

The New Constitution of 1972 and the six-point formula.
Thirdly, these suggestions were finally rejected and a new constitution was unilaterally imposed in 1972. This Constitution took away even the meagre safeguards provided in the Soulbury Constitution and in addition imposed further disabilities on the non-Sinhalese, non-Buddhist population. This brought the Tamils together under the banner of the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF). Comprising all Tamil political parties, major trade unions and prominent non-party Tamils. The Tamil National Alliance, the then TULF, is today recognized as the voice of the Tamil people.

The TULF rejected the Constitution and put forward a six-point formula as the minimum prerequisite for keeping the two nations together, while preserving the territorial, linguistic, religious and cultural integrity of the Tamils. The Tamil United Liberation Front demands that the Constitution should be amended so as to secure the aspirations of the Tamil people in respect of the following:

  • The Tamil Language should be given the same status in the Constitution as the Sinhala Language.
  • There should be constitutional guarantee of full citizenship rights to all Tamil-speaking people who have made this country their home. There should be no different categories of citizens and no discrimination between them, and also no power to the state to deprive citizen of his citizenship.
  • The state shall be secular, while equal protection is afforded to all religions.
  • The Constitution should provide for valid fundamental rights guaranteeing the equality of all persons on ethnocultural grounds.
  • The Constitution shall provide for the abolition of caste and untouchability.

In a democratic and socialist society, a decentralized structure of government alone will make it possible for a participatory democracy where power will be people�s power rather than state power.

The reasonableness of the demand put forward by the TULF is amply demonstrated by the fact that every single political party with the Sinhalese leadership had accepted the demands in some form or other both before and after independence, but the Sinhalese Governments in power had not even cared to consider the plight of the Tamils  This political cheating is still continuing even by the present Sinhalese Government under the pretext of All Party Conference (APC).

The international community is realising the �political duplicity� by the Sri Lankan government.  In July 2006, the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has expressed serious concern at the lack of progress on the peace front in Sri Lanka and called for the legitimate grievances of the Tamil people to be addressed urgently, the Sunday Leader (Sri Lanka) reported.


The Indian Prime Minister who met with the leader of Sri Lanka�s main opposition United National Party (UNP), Ranil Wickremesinghe, in New Delhi last Thursday had also said war was not an option to solve the ethnic conflict.

Further, the British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Mr. Dominic John Chilcott, said in an interview with the Sunday Virakesari (Sri Lanka) in July 2006, Britain�s trust in the safeguards built into the constitution of Ceylon at independence was misplaced and their weakness is to blame for the island�s present problems.  Mr. Silcott said that LTTE and the Sri Lanka government must now negotiate an end to the conflict. The UK and the United States were in agreement on their policies on Sri Lanka, he also said, adding that India also wants a negotiated solution to the conflict.

The UK High Commissioner further said. ��When the British came to Ceylon in 1796 there were three distinct kingdoms. The British made it one country for purposes of administrative convenience.� Mr. Chilcott further explained, �If one were to truly examine Britain�s role one important aspect deserves special mention. That is the constitutional arrangement that Britain left behind. It left behind the Soulbury Constitution. Britain considered the Soulbury Constitution as having the necessary arrangements to provide for safeguards for minorities.�  He continued, �Britain thought that the rights of the Tamils in particular would be safeguarded by these arrangements. However history has proved otherwise that these safeguards were inadequate and not robust enough. I regret that Britain�s policies have to such an extent been the cause for the problems.�

On 2 June 2006, Mr. Richard Boucher,  US Assistant  Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs,  for the first time, used the term 'Tamil homeland' addressing the legitimate demands and aspirations of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka. The top US official said "there are legitimate issues that are raised by the Tamil community and they have a very legitimate desire, as anybody would, to be able to control their own lives, to rule their own destinies and to govern themselves in their homeland; in the areas they've traditionally inhabited �"

Accordingly, the Tamils have legitimate rights to their self-determination and homeland.  They have traversed a long road and are now at the end of their tether. When two nations cannot get on together they come to the parting of ways. Has the parting come? That is the problem of the Tamils of Ceylon.

Certainly, the recognition of homeland and self-determination by the Sri Lankan government is the only way out to find a lasting peace between Sinhalese and Tamils.  Tamils want peace with dignity, equity and justice.  This will be the real peace and lasting solution.


Management Committee, 2006/2007
Tamil Association Queensland Inc


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