18 May, 2024


Acts Of Betrayal That Broke The Letter & Spirit Of Independence

By Usha S Sri-Skanda-Rajah

Usha S Sri-Skanda-Rajah

Usha S Sri-Skanda-Rajah

The Sinister Acts of Betrayal Against Tamils That Broke The Letter, Spirit And Essence Of Ceylon Independence

The main thrust of this article is to recollect and hone as independence day is here, just some of the many sinister acts of betrayal inflicted on the Tamil people during, in this context, the post independence era; the two salient points for discussion are:

First Salient Point:

The abolition of the safeguard for Tamil people – an essential clause, aimed to protect them, “against the tyranny of the majority” which was written in to the Soulbury constitution, a constitution that the British helped draft to make way for the granting of Ceylon independence, the incorporation of which was the sole reason that the “Tamils acquiesced” to independence from Britain – which has broken the letter and spirit of the very essence of Ceylon independence.

Second Salient Point:

The advent of the 1972 illegal constitution and the “sinister stratagem” by which it was created and the failure on the part of the Federal Party – Illankai Tamil Arasu Katchchi) (ITAK), as the late Tamil legal luminary Mr. Wakeley Paul analyses, to mount a vehement legal challenge and the failure of Mr. C Suntheralingam to carry through his writ of prohibition against the abolition of Section 29 until the end – he surmises made the, “new constitution legal by default!”

A Day Of Pomp And Pageantry & Vulgar Exhibition of Military Might

As the new Sirisena/Wickremesinghe/CBK/JHU/Muslim coalition government together with their people prepare to observe, honour and celebrate independence day with pomp and pageantry, and with no doubt a vulgar exhibition of military might and triumphalism, it’s imperative to remember that for the Tamils it’s a painful reminder, a time for poignant reflection on the horrific events gone by – of the mass atrocity crimes of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing perpetrated on the Tamil people by the Sri Lankan military and political leaders for which no one has been tried yet; and the subject for examination here in this essay – the sinister acts of betrayal those of which they have suffered in the hands of successive Sinhala Buddhist chauvinistic governments and politicians.

Lest We Forget4th February Did Not Usher Freedom For Tamils

The 4th of February 1948 – observed as Ceylon Independence day did not usher in freedom for the Tamil people of the island. On the contrary it turned out to be the day that Tamils signed their death-knell, precipitating a dark chapter in their history and signalling the beginning of their worst nightmare, that saw the reversal of their fortunes, moving from one colonial master who appreciated, and relied on them to another who systematically marginalised, oppressed and subjugated them, through disenfranchisement and deportation of their kinsmen, the Indian Tamil plantation workers who the British brought over in 1827, through calculated and deliberated colonisation that can be described as “demographic engineering”, through imposition of two illegal constitutions, through discriminative legislative enactments and policies, through perpetration of violence,[1] through the destruction of property, through ethnic cleansing, wars and genocide.

Tamils A Proud Race – Their Origins And Achievements

Looking back at the time of independence, I can’t help but indulge in the self promotion of my race – the proud, intelligent and heroic Tamil race of Ceylon whose ancestors may be traced back to India, for which a date cannot be assigned with certainty, and to the ancient Tamil civilisation that has gone under water, known as Kumari Kandam (Lamoria)mentioned in Tholkappiam an ancient work of grammatical and literary merit, the proof of which is in Graham Handcock’s [2] video that tells the hidden history of the lost terrain now found through the discovery of man-made structures, 70 feet under the sea, the remains of what was a contiguous land mass where Tamil civilisation existed 11,000 even 16,400 years ago. A civilisation that was believed to be swallowed up by the sea due to rising sea levels caused by the end of the last ice age.

This finding is in keeping with Dr. Seran Deraniyagala’s research paper titled Pre-and Proto-historic settlements in Sri Lanka [3] : that conclude that it is impossible to view Sri Lankan prehistory in isolation from India:

During the last one million years, when humans are known to have existed in various parts of India (V. Mishra 1995), Sri Lanka was connected to the sub-continent on numerous occasions. The rise and fall of sea level (due to cold/warm fluctuations in the global climate) determined the periodicities of these connections, the last separation having occurred at ca. 7000 BP (Deraniyagala 1992: 167). Hence it is impossible to view Sri Lankan prehistory in isolation from India. “

Two Different Nations

The indigenous Tamils of Ceylon, known also as the Malabar speaking people were distinctly different from the Sinhalese in many ways which now the famous Cleghorn Minute has established without a doubt.

“Two different nations, from a very ancient period, have divided between them the possession of the Island: the Sinhalese inhabiting the interior in its Southern and Western parts from the river Wallouwe to Chilaw, and the Malabars (Tamils) who possess the Northern and Eastern Districts. These two nations differ entirely in their religion, language and manners.” Sir Hugh Cleghorn, British Colonial Secretary, June 1879.

And stated clearly earlier by Sir Brownrigg, the Governor of Ceylon in 1813. [4]

“As to the qualification required in the knowledge of the native languages, the Portuguese and Sinhalese only being mentioned excludes one which is fully necessary in the Northern Districts as the Sinhalese in the South. I mean the Tamil language, commonly called the Malabar language, which with a 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 Tamil on an equal footing of encouragement with the Sinhalese” – Sir Robert Brownrigg, Governor of Ceylon, 1813 Dispatch to the British Colonial Secretary of State, Reported in the Tribune, 12 January 1956) – Courtesy www.tamilnation.com

The Rich Heritage of Tamils – Pioneers In Several Fields

The Thevaaram – Koneswara Pathikham, consisting of a set of ten verses, sung in praise of Koneshwarar, the deity in the Thiru Koneswarar Temple situated in Trincomalee, composed by Thiru Gnana Sambanthar one of four famous Tamil saints of the 7th century, is historic evidence that, “Tamils were a densely populated people in Trincomalee.

There were five famous Hindu Temples of repute, situated in all corners of the island, “long before the arrival of Vijaya.” This according to historian Dr. Paul E Peiris who announced this in 1917 to the Royal Asiatic Society (Ceylon Branch). These five temples were known as the “Pancha Eswaram” and were Thiuketheeshwaram Muneshwaram Thondeshwaram Koneshwaram and Naguleshwaram. [5]

Long before Ceylon independence, Tamils were pioneers in education, in entrepreneurship, in agriculture farming, fishing and cottage industry; in the legal, engineering and medical professions, in the accounting, clerical and civil service – many were land owners, financially well off and belonged to the upper echelons of the Ceylonese society; a substantial number formed what is now known as the home-owning middle class. Tamils were hard working, conscientious and industrious, highly cultured, religious and proud of their language, honest, trustworthy, thrifty and dependable, studious and ambitious taking to educating their children as their life’s priority.

They were well respected for their innate abilities by colonial regimes. Some Tamils made avail of opportunities in British colonies around the world in India, in far off Malaysia (Singapore), Burma, Fiji, South Africa, the Caribbean, Mauritius and other places where they established roots.

Self Sufficiency in Food

Tamils were mostly self-sufficient in food. Agriculture, fishing and farming were the main stay of the rural folk – who were in involved in the cultivation of rice and other grains, tobacco, fruits (even grapes) and vegetables; they were known for using innovative methods when it came to planting. ploughing, irrigating and harvesting. Every home had its own vegetable plot. They utilised every part of the palm tree to support their lifestyle – for food and for making furniture and for the construction of their dwellings, considering not all of the NorthEast had power the people still thrived.

Some Of The Best Schools Were In The NorthEast

The North had the best system of education and good hospitals thanks in part to the American missionaries who “set up schools and health institutions with in the Jaffna Peninsula.” [6]

Also deserving of praise were the Catholic missionaries for their contribution and stalwarts like Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan who helped to further both Buddhism, Hinduism and education through the establishment of prestigious schools namely Ramanathan College for girls in 1913 and Parameswara College for boys in 1919 which is now the University of Jaffna.

Tamil Leaders – Their Resilience And Regrets For Another Discussion

Some Tamils entered politics and led from the front and became known for their brilliant minds and debating and oratorical skills both in the pre and post independence era, leaving their indelible mark in the annals of Ceylon’s political history. Some of them laid the foundation to and spearheaded Ceylon’s independence movement during the very early days, and were later known to have expressed regret at the way things were going for the Tamils.

Some Tamils emerged as champions and defenders of Tamil rights and freedoms, some following the non-violent and democratic path and yet others resisting violence with violence took to armed militancy that saw the emergence of the LTTE and Velupillai Pirapaharan.

The resilience and regrets of everyone of these “Tamil Greats now dead” : from Ponnambalam Ramanathan, Ponnambalam Arunachalam, G G Ponambalam, SJV Chelvanayagam, A. Amithalingam, Dr, EMV Naganathan, C Vanniasingam, V Navaratnam, S. Kathiravetpillai and M. Thiruchelvam and the unparalleled contribution they have made, is a subject for another essay.

Tamils Not Minorities But A Nation

The rich heritage of the Tamils and proof of their origins had to be said to make it absolutely clear they were not minorities but were a Nation. This was espoused by Mr. M Thiruchelvam at the Trial Bar Sessions in 1976.

That having said, it would be now be right and proper to proceed to discuss the finer points of the subject of this article.

Ceylon Independence Saw A Virulent Form Of Sinhala Buddhist Bigotry That Led To Sinister Acts of Betrayal

The advent of Ceylon independence saw the worst kind of Sinhala Buddhist bigotry and hegemony over Tamils, the passage of the Ceylon Citizenship Act and the ditching of the Soulbury Constitution of 1947 and the blatant and stealthy removal of section 29/2 a clause, [7] by means of an unlawful new 1972 republican

constitution outside of parliament, totally ignoring the 6 point demand of the Tamil ITAK representatives that resulted in them walking out, leading to the abolition of Section 29/2 an inbuilt, supposedly entrenched safeguard for the minorities, drafted by Ivor Jennings later Master of Trinity Hall and Vice -Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, is a sinister, shameful and unconscionable act of betrayal by the Sinhalese who were a majority as a whole against the wider island per se, the Tamil people were the majority in their own native provinces of the North and East.Wakeley Paul’s Analysis: Section 29/2 of The Soulbury Constitution Could not Be Abolished Not Even a Constituent Assembly Could Exercise Powers Vested in ParliamentIllegality Of The Constitution Explained

I have in my article “You are sitting on an illegal constitution” [8] quoted Wakeley Paul a B.A. from Cambridge, a LLM from Stanford, a Barrister from Middle Temple London and an a US attorney who with insightful precision explains the sinister means by which the 1972 republican constitution replacing the Soulbury constitution came to be passed:

Here is Mr. Wakeley Paul’s letter to the Editor of the Sunday Leader on the illegality of the 1972 constitution:

Mr Sarath de Alwis’s assertion that the 1972 Constitution was legal because the coalition which was elected to create a Constituent Assembly won by a 2/3 majority is without foundation. The fact that the Federal party (Tamil) partook in the debate involving its creation without protest, does not make it legal either.  The proper procedure would have been for the 2/3 majority to have abolished the Soulbury Constitution and replaced it with a new one in Parliament, Why then one asks did they not do so? Why this use of a Constituent Assembly, whose right to exist, leave alone pass laws or replace the existing Constitution with a new one  was not recognized by the only existing legal Constitution at the time, which was the Soulbury Constitution. The answer is simple. They could not abolish Section 29[2]which protected minorities from  the tyranny of the majority.  This according to Privy Council in  Bribery Commissioner v Ranasinghe [1966] 2 All England Reports 785  was deemed to be such an integral condition of the grant of Independence, that this provision  alone could not be abolished or amended even by a 2/3 majority, as it was an entrenched and unalterable provision of the Constitution. It was the coalitions desire to illegally eliminate the protections of Section 29[2] that motivated them to adopt the illegal procedure of using a Constituent Assembly to legitimize the 72 Constitution.

As to the treachery of Sri Lankans who participated in this scheming charade whose hands are tainted, it is but one incident in the long history of deception and betrayals by the Sinhalese which typifies the length they would go, driven by their innate Sinhala chauvinism turned hegemony to take over the country as theirs which has brought us Tamils to the paltry position of having to ask them for what is rightfully ours!

A Profound Reading of the Law : It was on the basis of Section 29/2 safeguard that the Tamils acquiesced in the granting of independence in 1948. Britain Has A Duty To Put thing Right

This profound reading of the law, coming from an eminent lawyer is indeed invaluable, not only to be studied by legal analysts, taught to our children and their children and treasured for posterity but more importantly to show that justice is indeed on our side; that we Tamils have to go back and retrace our steps even to pre-Soulbury times; that the Soulbury Constitution itself was thrust on us by a colonial regime who has the moral and legal duty to put things right!

Mr. Wakeley Paul further reiterates that Sec 29/2 prevented parliament from conferring benefits on the majority community and imposing disabilities on the minorities. The Privy Council in Bribery Commissioner vs Ranasinghe had ruled that Article 29(2) cannot be amended even with a two-thirds majority. It was on the basis of this safeguard that the Tamils acquiesced in the granting of independence in 1948. [9]An Expose: Successive Sinhala Government Have Violated Section 29Conspiracy To Use New Constitution To Legislate Against Tamils In Pursuance of a Sinhala Supremacist Agenda To Deny Equal TreatmentHe also drew attention to the fact that successive governments violated section 29/2 of the constitution like, ” the Citizenship laws of 1948 and 49 and the Official Language Act of 1956 among many other Acts which were in express violation of the Constitution of Ceylon.”

This is an expose on the Sri Lankan government’s ulterior motive to conveniently remove the troublesome clause, an obstacle to their genocidal intentions, showing they have been involved in a conspiracy to abolish the provisions of 29/2 to deny the Tamils of their rights and legislate against Tamil Interests in pursuance of a Sinhala Supremacist agenda, which Section 29/2 was there to prevent against.

Failure Of Supreme Court To Rule On The Constitutional Issue

Privy Council Decision Never Carried Out Due To Abolition of Privy Council

Wakeley Paul raises the issue of the Supreme Court of Ceylon’s failure to consider the constitutional issue involved in the 1962 Kodeswaran case where he sued the government on the grounds that the Official Language Act of 1956 violated Section 29 of the constitution and how the case finally never came back to the Supreme Court – although the case went up to the Privy Council which directed the Supreme Court to rule on the constitutional issue – the Supreme Court failed to do so because by that time Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike had abolished all appeals to the Privy Council.

In a two part article: Sinister Stratagems and odd Entanglement part 1[10] and 2, [11] Wakeley Paul dismisses the notion, “of the idea that a Constituent Assembly enables parliament to do what it cannot legally do otherwise. This is a myth and a fallacy which needs to be banished with fables and superstitions of a bygone era.”

Wakeley Paul Express Disappointment For ATAK’s Failure To Challenge The Abolition of Section 29/2 And D S Senanayake’s Ringing Assurance that Gone Forever

Wakeley Paul having some harsh words for the Federal Party condemning the ITAK , “for participating in this illegal Sinhala adventure designed to deny Tamils, Muslims and others of their rights to be treated as equals for good. The battle to establish Sinhala Buddhist Supremacy against all corners was on, sharing his disappointment at seeing D S Senanayake’s “ringing assurance to the Tamils at independence gone forever.”;

“Do you want to be governed by London, or do you want as Ceylonese, to help govern Ceylon….I give the minority communities the sincere assurance that no harm need you fear at our hands in a free Lanka.”

Also Wakeley Paul expresses Disappointment at, Mr C Sunderalingam, a former Minister in the first Senanayake cabinet and now a Member of Parliament for Vavuniya who filed a writ of prohibition in the Supreme Court, requesting the Court to prohibit the Constituent Assembly from passing a new Constitution for later not carrying through his challenge until the very end, “the legal argument was both simple and straight forward.”

I quote:

“The Constituent Assembly Has No Power To Abolish Existing Constitution” Wakeley Paul

“The sole institution that was vested with power to make laws under the Soulbury Constitution was Parliament. The Constituent Assembly was not recognized by that Constitution as a body that had any legislative powers whatsoever. Therefore, not only did they have no power to make simple laws; they had no power to abolish the existing Constitution; and they certainly had no power to draft and substitute a new one in its place”

The “Sinhala Dominated Supreme Court Side Steps The Issue” : Wakeley Paul

“The Sinhalese-dominated court neatly side stepped the issue by asserting that they had no power to stop MPs from gathering together under any name they wished to, adding that the Supreme Court could not act till they did something illegal, which they had not yet done. They brushed the issue away, but not for good.”

“New Constitution Given Religious Sanctity Rather than Legal Validity” : Wakeley Paul

“After the Constituent Assembly had accomplished its goal and came up with a new Constitution, not by repealing the Soulbury Constitution, but by Article 12 Schedule I, effectively abrogating it, Mrs Bandaranaike took it to the Dalada Maligawa to give this new Constitution Religious sanctity in place of legal validation, which it could not and did not ever receive.”

“The Federal Party can never be forgiven for this omission.” Wakeley Paul

“Why neither Mr Sunderalingam nor the Federal Party with its heavy bevy of lawyers did not pursue the legal challenge will remain an unanswered mystery for the future to guess at for all time. The Supreme Court had merely found a temporary expedient for avoiding the Constitutional issue. Now they had no excuse to run away from it, as the Constituent Assembly, whose legal authority was being challenged, had now acted. The failure to challenge this blatant disregard of the law and the existing Constitution, resulted in the Constitution becoming recognized by default. The illegality got an illegal blessing as a result of inexcusable inaction by the representatives of the Tamils. The Federal Party can never be forgiven for this omission.”

End quote.

The above incisive analysis by the late Wakeley Paul juxtaposes the two issues, one of a sinister, shameful and unconscionable act of betrayal by the Sinhalese that proceeded to abolish an entrenched and unalterable clause put there in the constitution to protect the Tamils against the tyranny of the majority Sinhalese that in reality broke the letter and spirit of independence granted by Britain and the other of the Tamil party’s failure to challenge the validity of their actions resulting in an illegality getting an illegal blessing.

The ruling of the Privy Council, the highest Court in Britain in Bribery Commission vs Ranasinghe that [Section 29(2)] represent the solemn balance of rights between the citizens of Ceylon, the fundamental condition on which inter se they accepted the constitution (granting independence) and these are therefore unalterable… should be foremost in our minds as Tamils, and must equally serve as a reminder to the Sinhalese that they have run afoul of moral and legal principles and have a lot also to repent and make amends on this independence day.

[1] http://tamilsforum.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/unspeakable_truth.pdf

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PhGeIxdXorg

[3] http://www.lankalibrary.com/geo/dera1.html

[4] https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/tamil-perspective-dangerous-and-genocidal-dayange-chinthanaya/[4]

[5] http://tamilnation.co/heritage/fiveishwarams.htm

[6] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Ceylon_Mission

[7] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Ceylon_Mission

[8] https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/you-are-sitting-on-an-illegal-constitution-you-have-no-standing-to-lecture-us/

[9] http://www.lankanewspapers.com/news/2008/5/27594_space.html

[10] http://www.sangam.org/articles/view/?id=301

[11] http://www.sangam.org/articles/view/?id=302

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Latest comments

  • 2


    Is that the reason why Parliament was shifted to Battaramulla so that MPP.can dig for Gold?

  • 3

    what a load of codswallop…..forget all that shit and learn to live in the present. Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims, Burghers at the bottom of the pile are having a shitty time especially out up-country tamil famil.

  • 2

    Isn’t this racism in its crudest form!
    Filling a load of historic crap in an article, collecting experts without its full context to push a point which is NOT on behalf of Tamil people who are suffering in northeast and also up country BUT for the Tamils who benefited by the war, who lives happily in Colombo and various other countries claiming false war asylum and the Tamils who wants this country separated.

  • 1

    Senator you are living in the past. Next time please quote from Ramayana.
    These lot live far away, far from reality, far from the Tamil people, for them this a hobby and past time and a good vehicle to be socially visible.

  • 2

    Truth hurts!
    Sinhala racist cannot handle the truth.

  • 2

    LOL, Kumari Kandam. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, since We Thamizh seem to think Thamizh Eezham is also a real place :D

  • 1

    Hon’ble Madam, I appreciate your article. I followed the Sri Lankan Independence Day celebrations. I thought that the President in his speech would say some truths about what we Tamils are still going through. I am not surprised. The Sinhala people will never change. The reason being they are in the depths of the lowest self-esteem. You cannot expect them to come out of it. The fan fare and show are a perfect cover up of how they really are.

    What can we Tamils do? The secret is in our psyche. Will we work on it or willy- nilly we too get lost? Hopefully not!

  • 1

    Congrats Usha,never give up!
    As Long as you stay with truth and seek justice, struggle on for freedom and dignity. Tamils do not struggle or fight just for a victory over some one or to punish someone, but do it for a noble cause of dignity and freedom of the human Person.Hence Tamils will not give up hope in the ultimate Triumph of a noble cause!

    • 0

      Two years late to the party but a cool story is a cool story, bro :D

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