Colombo Telegraph

Sri Lanka Is ‘Sitting’ On Our Land: Tamil Eelam Occupied, Pillaged And Violated

By Usha S Sri-Skanda- Rajah

Usha S Sri-Skanda-Rajah

Not so fast Kusal Perera I would say. I can see Kusal wants to end the debate with Diaspora Eelam Tamils and run away giving some clever excuse. I didn’t think he was a coward. He did not take up my challenge on a ‘Federal’ constitution either. I went beyond my official capacity in TGTE which is calling for an ‘international protection mechanism’ for the NorthEast people against systematic and structural genocide; which stands for the restoration of an Independent and Sovereign State of Tamil Eelam (me included) and is engaged in collecting the ‘freedom demands’ of the Tamil people living all over the globe and is set to promulgate the Tamil Eelam Freedom Charter on May 18, 2013.

Is that why Kusal doesn’t want to admit that the Sri Lanka is ‘sitting’ on our land? Our land Tamil Eelam that continues to be occupied, pillaged and violated even as we speak.

Yes it is an intrusion; Sri Lanka is trespassing on our home land. And naturally the Diaspora Eelam Tamils, especially the outspoken lot can’t’ go home and live there and assert their rights against a genocidal government; Despite the risks some still go visit their home land, paying a visa fee if they overstay their welcome beyond one month. They dare not utter a word and are forced to toe the government line; if they don’t they would have to encounter harsh punishments such as disappearance, torture and death  by a terror squad allegedly headed by the President’s brother Gotabaya operating the notorious ‘white van’ phenomenon or be transported to the 4th floor never to see their families again.

It’s not funny that Kusal should say he doesn’t want to listen to the views of Diaspora Tamils: “Sorry madam that counts absolutely nothing for me. I would instead listen to anything a Tamil person in the Vanni has to say. Or to anything a Tamil person still called a SL “refugee” in the Chengalpattu camp would have to say on the issue of separation and their fate,” Kusal says but has the audacity to impose his views on Tamil Nadu and the Indian people in an op-ed in the Hindu. But in that article Kusal was careful to tone down his rhetoric against Tamil Nadu students and was cautious not to call them “riffraff and fringe groups,” otherwise he wouldn’t have been able to get it past print, he is a shrewd operator.

No one, not even the likes of Kusal can disenfranchise the Diaspora Eelam Tamils like what Sinhala leaders did to disenfranchise Indian Ceylonese plantation workers in 1949, “before the ink could dry,” on the 1947 Soulbury constitution that came into effect from independence in 1948. Nearly a million of them were repatriated in order to deliberately and surreptitiously reduce the voting strength of Tamils in Ceylon parliament, aimed at facilitating the passage of legislation inimical to the interests of the Tamils.

These workers were part of a generation who toiled for Ceylon so that even now Sri Lanka can sell its tea and make money on cheap labor; its their blood sweat and tears that have helped to establish Sri Lankan tea as the “best tea” in the world, whilst these “modern day slaves” are still paid puny wages and have to live under the worst inhumane living conditions including poor housing and sanitary facilities (I lived in Norwood as a child and saw it all when my father was EE,  Norwood.)  Although their leaders are sleeping with the government of the day; they have achieved nothing for their people. Although flirting with successive Sinhala governments, these leaders got ministerial posts but got scraps for their people that haven’t helped to improve their lot one bit.

It’s not funny that the Diaspora Eelam Tamils are anathema to Kusal and the likes of him; that he would rather talk to the ‘enslaved of people’ of Vanni held captive in a highly militarized zone with a soldier to civilian ratio of 1:5; (Vavunyia 1:3) who are ruled by a former Sinhala military governor and no civilian administration; a people crying out for a voice but don’t have one. With the 6th amendment in force he wants to hear their views on separation; as though they would tell him and risk the dire consequences.

It’s not funny that Kusal would want to talk to the people of Vanni when the Sri Lankan military are interfering with their every day life and are continuing to violate the human, civil, political, and democratic rights of the NorthEast people. That they do not have the right to basic freedoms such as freedom of speech and assembly and have to live in fear that they or their youth could be arrested and taken under the dreaded PTA at any time.

It’s not funny that Kusal would want to speak to them when Vanni women protesting the disappearance of their children were not allowed to board a bus let alone participate in a rally in Colombo; that Tamil women are being subject to rape, forced prostitution and forced recruitment; that the people of Vanni want justice and want the Sri Lankan government to end its impunity for still unaccountable number of people after the war, that the Bishop of Mannar suggested, based on authentic numbers, there were as many as 146,679 persons missing. Actually Kusal should talk to His Worship, on Tamil Nationhood. But no one in Tamil Eelam could express their true aspirations for a free Tamil Eelam as long as they are occupied by an alien military and the 6th amendment is in force.

It’s not funny that Kusal would want to talk to the people of Vanni when triumphalism rules, when Vanni’s ‘Killing Fields’ have become a tourist site, built over the remains of tens of thousands of innocent Vanni people complete with a Sinhala war memorial whilst the people cannot grieve their dead and Tamil war memorials have been desecrated to build army cantonments.

It’s not funny that arable and residential private and state land are being used for building more cantonments; that the army is into agriculture having taken over 180 hectares of arable land just in one location alone and is engaged in corporatism; that Sinhala settlements are growing and Sinhalese are involved in commercial, fishing and farming activities depriving the Vanni people of their livelihood aimed at changing the demography of the traditional Tamil homeland. That all development are military centered and not environmentally friendly, promoting sustainable development and Tamil Eelam’s resources and land are sold off to foreign governments and entities to line the pockets of the Rajapaksas and keep them in power.

It’s not funny that Kusal would want to talk to the people of Vanni when the IDPs are still not re-housed, are forced away from coming back to their places of origin and live in transit camps or with relatives.

It’s not funny that Kusal would want to talk to the People of Vanni where the Military governor speaks for the people of the Northern Province approving the Divineguma Bill satisfying a Supreme Court ruling that provincial councils had to first agree and give their approval to cede their financial power over to the President’s brother, Basil the Minister of Economic Development; that for that ruling the Chief Justice was impeached.

It’s not funny Kusal would want to talk to the people of Vanni when a “people’s meeting” convened by Tamil legislators of the TNA in Kilinochchi was stoned and disrupted by “state terrorists” ending in injuries to 14 persons: that it is already happening when a provincial council election is expected according to UNHRC 22 resolution in September 2013.

It’s not funny that Kusal would want to speak to: “Tamil person(s)” still called SL “refugee(s)” in the Chengalpattu camp. If Kusal would only ask them, most would say they want Eelam; because they actually protested along with TN students and there are many u tube videos where they express their wish for Eelam.

So asSri Lankais sitting on the land of the Tamils, while it is occupied, pillaged and violated, Tamils feel that with the advent of the illegal 1972 constitution “that removed the safeguards provided by the Soulbury Constitution (29/2) against the “tyranny of the majority”, Tamils have become “free” again to choose their destiny. If Kusal but reads the comments made among other by Mr. Kumar he would understand more about the shenanigans behind the adoption of the ’72 constitution.

It would be most appropriate to conclude by quoting from the Tamil Nation website which explains the “resuscitation of Tamil sovereignty” after the advent of the ’72 constitution that was, “never ceded to any conqueror”:

The proponents of Tamil Eelam argue that the Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka coincide with the historic boundaries of the kingdom of Jaffna and argue a case that seeks to establish that sovereignty over these territories was never ceded to any conqueror and that, even if such concession had been made at any time in the past, the unilateral renunciation of links with the United Kingdom which took place at the assumption of office by the government of Mrs. Srimavo Bandaranaike in 1972 resuscitated the Tamil sovereignty which had merely laid dormant until then… In the abstract theory of international law, it would appear that the Tamils have at the very least, an arguable case, and possibly a sustainable one.” – Timothy J. Moore, M.P. of the Australian Section of the ICJ in his  Report on ‘Ethnic Violence, the Independence of the Judiciary, Protection of Fundamental Rights and the Rule of Law in Sri Lanka – Fragile Freedoms?’, July 1983 – Tam

*Usha S Sri-Skanda- Rajah, Chair, TGTE Senate 

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