1 December, 2022

Blog

Statelessness & The Vanishing Of Habeas Corpus

By Rajan Hoole

Dr. Rajan Hoole

Audrey Rebera Memorial LectureOrganised by the Jaffna People’s Forum for Co-existence, 14th March 2022, St. John’s Parish Hall, Main Street, Jaffna

An overview by Rajan Hoole of the forthcoming book Democracy Stillborn: Lanka’s Rejection of Equal Rights at Independence?

This meeting has been called in remembrance of Audrey, whom many of you will recall as an ever-present and ever-willing friend regardless of the cost to her. Before I get on to the subject of the book Democracy Stillborn: Lanka’s Rejection of Equal Rights at Independence?; which I coauthored with Kirupaimalar Hoole, I will say a few words about Audrey.

Audrey Rebera

We got to know Audrey Rebera when she came to spend time with Rajani Thiranagama at her parents’ home in Nallur in 1988 when the train services resumed after the Indian Army’s takeover. That was shortly after Rajani, Dr. Sritharan, Daya Somasundaram and I had completed the writing of the Broken Palmyra. Since then our relationship with Audrey had been very close as it had been for many others.

Audrey gave up her well-paid job at the Central Bank to take over one nominally paid, as Secretary of the SCM in the early 1970s. That was just after I had ceased to be a member of the University SCM of which Rajani became an active member during that decade when the country and the world faced a lurch to radicalism with which Audrey was in active sympathy.

Audrey has been known under various labels, a Christian, a feminist, a left radical, to name a few, but most of all she represented the best of humanity. One instance related by Rajani’s husband Dayapala Thiranagama says it best. Though belonging to a left group hunted by the JVP Dayapala was also on the Government’s wanted list, going from refuge to refuge. Then famished and a stranger to Audrey, he knocked on her door in the dangerous year of 1988. Audrey did not ask who he was, but asked if he had eaten and invited him in. That portrays in miniature the singularly compassionate and courageous nature of Audrey.

Audrey’s politics came from her having been a devoted Christian. The first thing that confronted a visitor to her home was her prayer desk before which she knelt, a Bible and monthly bible-reading notes. She was voluntarily poor, but immensely rich in important ways. Her life reminds us of the story of Christ feeding the five-thousand. That was how she helped many people in need. You told her a difficult problem and to one’s surprise she found an answer. She knew whom to tap. She had helped many in need and had immense credibility.

Those of us born on or near that fatal year 1948, of independence and the Citizenship Act, could not help being pursued by an uneasy feeling. The Labour so punished with deprivation was until the mid-1960s earning 65 percent of our foreign exchange. They were the mainstay of the free education and free health we enjoyed. Their shameful state raised the question if we were living in the real world. The book records the deliberate, statutory neglect of the Plantation Tamil community. Worst of all was the humiliating, and heart-rending deportations to India of a people who satisfied every token of citizenship based on a crude Pact between the Governments of Ceylon and India, prompted by the Sino-Indian War of late 1962 and General Ne Win’s forced deportations of Indians in Burma in 1963.

These events are not bygones that affect us no more. They were an intimate influence on our politico-legal culture, the end of the habeas corpus right that was our anchor of freedom, the permissibility of arbitrary arrest and torture under the PTA and the bizarre law to suppress free-expression, mis-called the ICCPR Act. It was all to do with labour.

The Arunachalam Era

Arunachalam’s entry into Ceylon’s political life in 1913 fired a generation of youth to a measure of radicalism inspired by the socialist movements of Europe and his own Tamil classicism, drawn from Thiruvalluvar. He symbolised breaking barriers of custom and ushering in a vision of universal brotherhood. His aim for Ceylon was a welfare state after the models of Switzerland and Denmark with universal franchise, free education and unionised labour. He was welcomed because the country’s political life was paralysed by the Sinhalese-Muslim riots of 1915 and he alone had the stature to provide the leadership and hope for forward movement. But his crowning moment in December 1919, when the Ceylon National Congress (CNC.) was formed, also activated a compact of the colonial power and the local elite who found his vision objectionable and manoeuvred his political demise. As part of his lasting legacy, we may list universal franchise and free education. Communal politics has its roots in the undermining of his vision.

As leader of the CNC, Arunachalam tried to steer the country’s politics in a social-democratic direction. At the foundation meeting of the Ceylon Workers’ Federation on 9th February 1920 presided over by Arunachalam, he called for unionised labour to protect the interests of workers, a call he had already made to Plantation labour in 1913. D.B. Jayatileka signalled the emerging divisions by striking a patronising note saying that unlike in Europe, there was no ‘antagonism between labour and capital in Ceylon’ and strikes were unnecessary.

The First World War from 1914 – 1918 led to difficulty in food imports from India and steep rise in prices. The Low Country Products Association (LCPA) formed by local capitalists saw profit in intensifying rice production using local and imported Indian labour and acquired a large extent of land along the Kirindi River basin to this end. Several LCPA members too comprised the country’s political elite who dominated the Legislative Council. They included James Pieris, Marcus Fernando, Henry de Mel and D.S. Senanayake. The heavy demand for Indian labour in the plantations enjoying a boom after the war also resulted in pro-labour activism to demand improvements in working conditions for emigrant labour. The contemplated Indian Emigration Act, passed under Viceroy Lord Chelmsford in 1922, proposed such improvements and protections.

To understand the politics of this period, there was rising support for the Labour Party in Britain and internal battles were reflected in colonial decisions at the highest levels. For example Drummond Shiels of Scottish Labour who was on the Donoughmore Commission, had contact with local labour interests through A.E. Goonesinha. Goonesinha had been in turn a protégé of Arunachalam with Natesa Iyer and had founded the local Labour Party. Shiels played an important role in bringing us universal franchise from 1927 on.

William Manning who became our Governor in September 1918 was unsympathetic to political reform and soon acquired a reputation as a champion of the Planter Raj. Manning’s attitude helped him to form a compact with planter oligarchs who comprised the emerging Sinhalese leadership. These persons had felt threatened after the Government cracked down on the 1915 Sinhalese-Muslim riots and for a time found shelter under Arunachalam’s leadership. Manning soon formed a common interest with them in ousting Arunachalam from the leadership of the Ceylon National Congress (CNC). His radicalism went too far for both. In a makeshift arrangement, the conservative Anglican James Pieris was made leader of the CNC by late 1920 in Arunachalam’s stead.

Arunachalam had been persistent in his demand that security officials responsible for excesses in putting down the Sinhalese-Muslim riots should be identified by an inquiry and made answerable to the law. The emerging Sinhalese leadership that was drawing close to Manning would not have it. At one of the last committee meetings over which Arunachalam presided, on 30th September 1920, a resolution tabled by the Secretary said that the political reforms proposed by Manning are ‘an affront to the people of Ceylon’ and as not providing ‘any check on excesses such as disgraced the British Administration in 1915.’ James Pieris and Jayatileke ensured that it was dropped.

The reasons were same as you find advanced in polite circles today: that as for state brutality, ‘we cultured gentlemen do not discuss divisive topics.’ Arunachalam’s exit was on the cards. The formal reason attributed for Arunachalam withdrawing from the CNC from August 1921 was the failure of its leaders to honour the pledge made in late 1918 of a special Tamil seat in the Western Province in return for the Jaffna Association joining the CNC. Arunachalam felt that the CNC’s failure to honour the pledge given to A. Sabapathy for which he stood guarantor had stripped him of his credibility. The CNC too faced a crisis of fall in numbers. A CNC memorandum sent to Governor Manning two years later in 1923 accused him of urging Tamils to boycott the Sinhalese. This we argue has absolutely no credit, and was repudiated by Jayatileka himself shortly after Arunachalam’s death in 1924, aged nearly 71.

The damage done by gossipy speculation about Arunachalam’s exit was to contort the image of the great man to a lukewarm, lacklustre and vindictive personality common in the Sri Lankan political landscape. More important was the burial of his vision for Lanka as a social democracy like Switzerland with quality education for all, widespread welfare measures and protection for the minorities. It captures what we have become today.

The Politics of Plantation Capitalism

At the 1919 inaugural meeting of the CNC presided over by Arunachalam, the CNC at the urging of Natesa Iyer and T.B. Jayah accepted a policy of treating Indian immigrants on equal terms. It further agreed to territorial representation – the system of electorates as obtains today – with adequate safeguards for the minorities. One way of doing this, as Arunachalam pointed out, was temporarily to assign a higher number of seats for a unit of population in areas where the minorities predominate, as in Ireland which was then part of Britain. This was to continue only until the minorities acquired confidence to become part of a uniform electorate.

Economically, the LCPA’s plans to grow rice with the aid of Indian labour in the Kirindi Oya basin was dropped because of the reduction of prices of food imports from India after the First World War, but the demand for Indian labour was at a premium in the early 1920s because of the expanding estate sector. Governor Manning worked closely with the local planter capitalists, among whom D.S. Senanayake and W.A. de Silva were emerging leaders.

This early task in which Manning and the local capitalists got together was to dilute the effects of the 1922 Indian Emigration Act on the rights of Indian immigrant labour, to which effect they lobbied in London and India. The Indian Legislature, policy makers and the Viceroy Lord Chelmsford strongly backed the resolution of the Indian National Congress in 1909 in response to events in South Africa that the emigration of Indian Labour would be permitted only to countries where they would enjoy equality with the local inhabitants. This promise of equality, Ceylon made in inter-state diplomatic correspondence, but the legislature was not obliged to adopt it into law. This was because dominions such as Canada and Australia were allowed to adopt laws that discriminated against sections of their inhabitants. This was a critical weakness in the pledges made to Indian labour.

Equality for immigrants remained a government to government pledge, as confirmed by Governor Caldecott in his letter to the Council in 1941; but because it was not adopted into local law, Senanayake and Bandaranaike were able to deny in the 1940s that any undertakings of equality for immigrants were ever given. But as decided by the Permanent Court of International Justice in 1933 upholding, against Norway, Denmark’s claim to Eastern Greenland; agreements in writing made by accredited representatives of states, remain the position accepted in International law.

A classic instance in Lanka was the case of the illiterate Singarasa sentenced first to 50 years of imprisonment under the PTA. Under the Optional Protocol to the ICCPR which our Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar had acceded to in 1997 on behalf of Sri Lanka, an appeal was made to the UN Human Rights Committee. The Committee concluded that justice in the case of the torture victim was miscarried and recommended either the dropping of charges or re-trial under proper standards. Contrarily, the Sri Lankan Supreme Court’s decision delivered by Chief Justice Sarath Silva in 2006 was that rights under the ICCPR “are not rights under the law of Sri Lanka.”

It was a position similar to the denial of rights to equality of Plantation Tamils. A state could maintain at a price the position that rights embedded in a treaty between governments are not rights unless adopted by the legislature. Such casual disowning of international legal obligations renders a state a pariah state, inviting the consequences of being one. This was why one of our leading jurists H. Sri Nissanka opposed the Citizenship Act in Parliament for its rejection of jus soli – citizenship acquired by birth in a country. He said, “As somebody who is supposed to know the law, I feel that I am not in a position to vote upon a measure that ignores the first principle of the law, as I understand it.”

Jus soli is an ancient law that was reaffirmed by courts in the Empire and was part of Roman-Dutch law, our common law. Sri Nissanka, a leading Buddhist layman, realised that passing laws that put us out of step with the world, indeed with India, Pakistan and the Commonwealth, carried a severe price, not least the slow annulment of our own protective laws and the rule of law.

In March 1923, the Legislative Council passed the Indian Labour Amendment Bill, mainly dealing with basic welfare for the Indian labour and the stationing of an Indian Agent. It slowly, but surely brought improvements to the lives of the labour, bringing their health indicators close to those of the Kandyan peasantry they lived among. But independence led to reversal.

Ceylon’s Freedom Struggle that was not about Freedom

Things in Ceylon were not going well. With the world economy expanding the 1920s and increasing militancy on the part of labour unions, the Planter Oligarchy was unable to ensure the smooth running of government under communal representation and minuscule franchise conditioned on property and literacy. Until this time there was little objection to the import of Indian labour as immigrants – who after five years were legally part of the permanent population. Requests by planters for additional Indian labour were routinely approved, first by the Legislative and after 1931 by the State Council – by Ceylonese. Coffee and, particularly, tea, to be viable as crops required a resident labour force. The deadlock over representative government was broken in 1928 by the Donoughmore Commission’s recommendation of universal franchise.

Power was going to be an issue of numbers. Sinhalese leaders began to baulk at the threat to their power that had so far been guaranteed by imperial patronage. The immediate alarm was over the Indian immigrants, a modest 11 percent or so of the population, whose votes might be mobilised as a radical bloc, rather than in the old patriarchal fashion. For a start labour leader A.E. Goonesinha and the pro-labour and liberal elements among the Sinhalese welcomed the change.

Strong rear-guard action was led by D.S. Senanayake and A.F. Molamure. When the Donoughmore proposals were discussed in the Legislative Council, they tried to push through a motion limiting the immigrant vote to those who passed a literacy test in one of the three languages, despite it being pointed out that a programme of literacy would make everyone literate in a short time. They agreed to a compromise motion by Tambimuttu, where everyone had to pass a literacy test for the vote.

The Colonial Secretary responded, “I should not be willing to accept any amendments in principle, which would destroy the balance of the scheme [particularly universal franchise].” After a round of negotiations the Council accepted a compromise where the principle of universal franchise was preserved. Indian Immigrants would have the vote under the condition of domicile proposed by Governor Herbert Stanley, which practically involved proving five years of residence – for a start, registering officers accepted estate records as adequate proof. Elections to the State Council were held in 1931, but the truce was all too transient. Although Indian labour was essential to the economy, a racist campaign against them was aided by the depression of the 1930s. As the depression eased by 1934, more labour was needed and kept coming in smaller numbers. By this time this labour had become a settled population and hardly anyone went back to India.

The Sinhalese leaders remained unhappy with Stanley’s settlement that would consolidate the immigrant vote as registration took its course. They received fresh opportunity, when in support of Gandhi’s call for Swaraj, Sarojini Naidu in 1931 led the Salt March in place of Gandhi who had been imprisoned. Britain had been given notice. In 1931 Senanayake as Minister for Agriculture announced his Land Development Ordinance (LDO) which cut off Indian immigrants from land allocations, contrary to the undertakings on equality, by confining recipients of land to Ceylonese, whom he defined as persons having Ceylon domicile of origin – in practical terms only to those who could produce their father’s Ceylon birth-certificate. We may infer that if not alarmed by the independence struggle in India, the colonial power would not have assented to the discriminatory LDO. During Gandhi’s Ceylon visit in 1927, the Plantation labour rallied to him with wild enthusiasm. Though not seen immediately, domicile of origin coming into political parlance gave Sinhalese leaders the weapon to set the immigrant population at nought.

There was in Ceylon no preparation for independence, as the fundamental rights in the 1928 Motilal Nehru draft, which signalled how different peoples in India might live in amity. During the 20 years of the Donoughmore reforms, which held promise of better things for all, Sinhalese leaders spent their energies on anti-Indian-labour propaganda, while making horse deals with Britain to secure electoral cleansing of this labour while zealously retaining its services. With the onset of war in 1939, the British did the Sinhalese leaders a massive favour by cancelling State Council elections due in 1941 and extending the incumbency of the existing State Council, led effectively by Senanayake, after placing left leaders N.M. Perera and Philip Gunawardena under arrest. A bill proposed by Bandaranaike and passed after the outbreak of war had drastically interfered with immigrant voter registration.

Being marked up as the leader enjoying British patronage, while Bandaranaike was deemed unreliable, Senanayake enjoyed immense authority to get Sinhalese opportunists and waverers in the Council behind him. This was reflected in the Immigration and Registration Bills, which smacked of National Socialism, passed by the Council on 26th and 27th of March 1941. They followed the definition of Ceylonese smuggled into the Land Development Ordinance in 1935 as persons with Ceylon domicile of origin. The Registration Bill required non-Ceylonese to come forward and register themselves or face penalties. Jayah was provoked to make his last great speech before his surrender to Senanayake. The Bill recalled to him the similar 1907 Registration Bill in Transvaal, which spurred Gandhi into non-violent protest.

The maverick A.H. Freeman, former GA and member for Anuradhapura, said, “Sir, this is a hospitable country, but it strikes me that this is a very inhospitable Bill because it adds a great number of people to the category of ‘aliens’ and … proposes to arrest everybody committing some paltry offence … It looks as though the prosecuting habit will get considerable encouragement under this Bill.”

The Registration Bill passed 36 for and 13 against with one abstention. For the Sinhalese nationalists the only fly in the ointment was the prospective revival of the Left after the war, but alas, the Left divided during the war, which sealed its and the country’s fate.

The British were unhappy with these Bills, which antagonised Indian opinion in a time of war when Britain was relying crucially on India for men, materials and food. But Senanayake too had set his priority on ridding the challenge from the Indian labour vote, which might merge with an incipient Left; for the time silenced for opposing Ceylon’s support for the imperial war effort. The Colonial administration had made one last ditch attempt to avert the Bills passed. Governor Caldecott in February 1941 tabled documents and wrote to members of the State Council, reminding them of the undertakings given to India, which the Sinhalese leaders ridiculed. Legal Secretary Drayton confronted the Council with evidence that over 80 percent of the immigrant population by 1941, had either been born in Ceylon or were resident more than ten years; meaning nearly all of them were domiciled, entitled to the vote and qualified for citizenship.

The uncertainties of war also caused the Sinhalese leaders to rethink. The country was desperately short of food. In mid-1942, the Council sent D.B. Jayatileka to several parts of India to purchase food. The mission aided by the Government of India was a success. For a time the Sinhalese leaders caught in the uncertainties of war felt deep gratitude for India. The Indian Press quoted Senanayake as contemplating federation of Ceylon with India, a prospect repeated by J.R. Jayewardene when discussing the Free Lanka Bill in February 1945.

Following the fall of Malaya and Burma to the Japanese, Britain found Ceylon crucial as a base and, following its declaration of full responsible government for Ceylon in May 1943, asked the ministers to draw up a Constitution for the Dominion of Ceylon. Britain chose to cave in to the demands of Sinhalese leaders. Senanayake sought the aid of Ivor Jennings to draw up a Constitution for Independent Ceylon.

Jennings’ Constitution

It was recognised in discussions that the crucial task of the Constitution was the protection of minorities. To address this Jennings borrowed from the 1920 Constitution for Ireland: that neither the Parliament of Southern nor Northern Ireland ‘shall make a law so as either directly or indirectly to … give a preference, privilege, or advantage, or impose any disability or disadvantage, on account of religious belief or religious or ecclesiastical status…’

This was adapted into the 1946 Ceylon Constitution Order in Council that was to become our Constitution; but with a fatal difference. Article 29 (2) of the Soulbury Constitution said that no community (social or religious) would by law be conferred privileges or be subject to disadvantages different from others. The difference was the missing ‘directly or indirectly.’

Surprisingly, the Ceylon Constitution did not define a citizen in contrast to the Indian Constitution, which more or less defined a citizen as an ordinary resident or by jus soli. After several years of negotiation the 1955 Malayan Constitution which too involved Jennings, accepted jus soli as a basis for citizenship. The leaders of Lanka evidently had up their sleeve a novel definition of citizenship unknown to the world. The electors were defined in a separate Elections Order in Council in 1946. It followed the Donoughmore Constitution which defined an elector as one domiciled in Ceylon, which, if properly implemented, amounts to residence. The catch was that an amendment to the Constitution Order in Council required two thirds majority of the total House; however, changing the election law and disenfranchising any segment of the population could be done by a simple majority, provided it did not violate other protections in Article 29: that is to say, if it did not discriminate between communities.

The Act passed by a simple majority in August 1948 defined Citizenship in a strange way totally ignoring birth and residence. Essentially citizenship required one to produce one’s father’s Ceylon birth certificate. This was an impossible demand, as registration of births was adequately regularised only about 1898. Given the median age of first fatherhood as 25 years, it is persons born after 1923 who could have their father’s birth certificate. They would reach the voting age of 21 only in 1944, four years before the Citizenship Act. This meant that in 1948 persons 25 years and above would not have had their fathers’ birth certificate. On a rough calculation about 88 percent of the voting population was barred from citizenship.

The unworkable act is a piece of unparalleled ingenuity that had passed through expert hands and, apart from several who knew the law; a Tamil professor of Mathematics, cabinet member, and later, pioneer separatist, was among those who voted for it.

After the Citizenship Act there followed in 1949 the Franchise Act which simply said that one had to be a citizen to be a voter, once more calling for the father’s birth certificate. This was not only depriving people of a basic right retroactively, but was in direct violation of Article 91 of the Constitution which protected rights acquired under the 1931 Donoughmore Constitution.

When challenged in 1951, the Act was rightly declared unconstitutional by Judge Sivagnanasundaram of the Kegalle District Court, which concluded on the basis of the 1949 Australian case, Commonwealth v. Bank of New South Wales, that the Franchise Act was a direct, and not indirect, violation of the Constitution.

The Government appealed in the Supreme Court. This is where the missing directly or indirectly from the Irish proto-type played a crucial role. We discern that the Government figured that once it smuggled the Citizenship Act on to the statute book, it could use it as means to deprive the Plantation Tamils of the franchise they long enjoyed; which would be indirect, a secondary effect and therefore not a violation of the Constitution. Moreover, the removal of non-citizens from the voting register was an administrative task and Attorney General Rose told the Court that in Ceylon like in England administrative discrimination, which is not a direct effect of the law, even if done cursorily, is not a violation of the Constitution. Chief Justice Jayatileka held that both the Citizenship and Franchise Acts are in order. He said confirming the indirect deprivation, ‘it does not matter what effects [economically or socially] the [Acts] produce in their actual operation.’

The Appellant Nair appealed to the Privy Council, where Lord Oaksey observed in 1953 that legislation, though “framed so as not to offend directly against a constitutional limitation of power of the legislature, may indirectly achieve the same result, and that, in such circumstances, the legislation would be ultra vires.”

In other words the Privy Council tentatively rejected the Supreme Court’s ruling on the basis of the judicial maxim “What cannot be done directly cannot be done indirectly.” The maxim, or grandmother’s wisdom, contains the intuition accepted by judges that what you are prevented from doing directly, you can still accomplish by a labyrinth of indirect actions. There is no logical proof.

The Privy Council then moved to pull the Government’s chestnuts out of the fire by testing whether the Ceylon Parliament has attained indirectly something it could in fact have attained directly in the light of Parliament’s allegedly supreme legislative power. The Privy Council exonerated the Government on the basis of its subsequent legislation, The Indian Residents’ Citizenship Act, which as the court appeals record, benefitted only a privileged class with money and education. The Privy Council argued that the Citizenship Act did not, as the Act implied, cut off from citizenship in one fell blow, the unborn descendants of those refused citizenship. To this end it quoted a passage from the 1945 Soulbury Report suggesting that the Plantation Tamils, as the Sinhalese leaders held, were birds of passage who came and went according to temporary job opportunities. And such people had no claim on citizenship. But the Councillors omitted the crucial paragraph 221 from the same report which concurred with what Legal Secretary Drayton told the State Council in 1941:

“It is probably safe to say that at least 80 per cent, of the Indians whose names appeared in the Preliminary Lists for electoral districts other than Colombo were either born in Ceylon or had resided in Ceylon for at least ten years, and it is not unreasonable to anticipate that in a comparatively short time most of them will, if they take the trouble to appear for oral examination, be regarded as having an abiding interest in the country, as permanently settled in the Island and as qualified for the franchise.”

One infers that the Privy Council was motivated by protecting British economic and military interests in Ceylon in the aftermath of World War II. What is more surprising is that these tawdry Acts, which dangerously polluted our judicial, legal and intellectual culture, have long been before us. They should have been intellectually ripped to pieces in a self-respecting nation. In fact the case was rendered unduly complicated. Judge O.L. de Kretser used a much simpler test in declaring the Sinhala Only Act unconstitutional in 1964: That is, were the consequences of the Act, which placed the community of persons not conversant in Sinhalese at a disadvantage, permissible under the law? The Supreme Court dodged the challenge.

Academic Apologetics: the Debit and Credit sides

One important justification for these Acts, implicit in the 1935 Land Development Ordinance, and popularised by Prof. S.U. Kodikara, is that there were hardly any third generation Plantation Tamils in this country. He cites for the years 1921, 1949 and 1963, the unemployed dependents per head of the working population as respectively 0.28, 0.59 and 0.94. That is to say in the crucial first half of the twentieth century, there were very few elderly from the Plantation Tamil population left in Ceylon. The inference drawn is that when they ceased to work they went back to India. The truth is as stark as it was well-hidden.

An important piece of work done by Langford C.M. and Storey P. in Australia in 1992 on the 1918 Influenza epidemic concludes that the life expectancy for Plantation Tamils from 1900 to 1920 was 24 years, while for Sinhalese, Muslims and Tamils, it was over 30. That immediately answers Kodikara: There were very few elderly Plantation Tamils left in the early part of the twentieth century, not because of return to India, but owing to miserable health conditions. They in fact left the world quite early.

We note another important study done by Godfrey Gunatilleke for the WHO in 1984: “The crude death rates of the estate population … ranged between 26.7 per 1000 in 1935 and 17.1 in 1945 compared with the national average between 36.6 and 21.9 for the same period. The corresponding rates of infant mortality were 198 and 126 for the Indian population and 263 and 140 for the whole of Sri Lanka.”

Gunatilleke adds, “This exclusion was reflected in the widening gap in the mortality rates after 1950. In 1955 the death rate and the infant mortality rate for the Indian population were 13.3 and 115 while the national averages had declined rapidly to 11 and 71.” As calculated in the book Palmyra Fallen, the national average natural increase for the decade 1971 to 1981 was 1.66 percent, while for Plantation Tamils it was negative, at minus 0.5 percent. A case of slow genocide?

These again reinforce the points made above and that the machinery to monitor welfare of immigrants set up under the Indian Emigration Act of 1922 resulted in a marked improvement in the health conditions of immigrants. These declined disastrously after independence.

We may add that a great deal more should have been done in this country to place in clear focus the enormous injustice inflicted on the Plantation Tamil community, whose neglect and discrimination continues to shame national life. To begin with an account of the Kegalle District Court hearing of the Citizenship Act, which was closely argued by S. Nadesan with case references from other parts of the world, and the judgment by Judge Sivagnanasundaram, are hardly accessible today. It points to scholarly and civic indifference in this country. We tried to reconstruct some of this from references given in the Supreme Court judgment and an extract from the District Court judgment given in the book by Babu Lal Gupta published in India in 1963.

Indifference of Ceylon Tamils

The Ceylon Tamil attitude to the Plantation Tamils was one of indifference and perhaps contempt and they have paid a heavy price. Once the British in 1943 made clear that D.S. Senanayake was their chosen successor and, with Jennings’ Constitution, eased his way to power; most critics fell silent. Soon after independence, Tamil Congress leader G.G. Ponnambalam gave a written pledge to stand to the hilt by the rights of Plantation Tamils. However his parliamentary speeches after independence made clear that he awaited an opportunity to take his party into the Government.

In advance of the debate on the Citizenship Bill Chelvanayakam signalled his independence of the Congress party line by joining Plantation Tamil leaders in Parliament to demand the reform of estate schools and curricula. The Congress’ behaviour during the citizenship debate was a shameful betrayal of its pledge. Chelvanayakam broke ranks with the Party and went into the chamber to oppose the Bill on 19th August 1948. Faced with division in the Party, Ponnambalam silently accompanied Chelva and voted with him. The other five MPs played truant and hid themselves in the Parliamentary Complex. Within a fortnight, Ponnambalam was declared government minister.

One infers that Chelvanayakam, whose position seemed confused in his support for the earlier Trade Unions Bill, which aimed at fragmented unionism, was fortified in opposition to the Citizenship Bill by the stout backing of Senators E.M.V. Naganathan and S. Nadesan. On the other hand Ponnambalam as a politician realised that he would get little support from leading lights of Tamil society for opposing Senanayake on citizenship. A.J. Wilson names leading Tamils who wanted the Tamil Congress to support Senanayake. They included two senior most members of the reputedly radical Jaffna Youth Congress (JYC). For them protecting government jobs for their sons was the priority. Seeing their lack of experience, Jawaharlal Nehru had cautioned the JYC when he met them in 1931 to pay greater heed to labour and plantation labour issues. One who paid heed was S. Nadesan, who should perhaps rank next to Arunachalam among our greats.

The Judiciary and Legal culture

Britain’s strong support for Senanayake and handing him the reins of state from 1941 to the eve of independence in 1947, gave him opportunity to shape the future administration and, to a critical extent, the judiciary, to suit his needs. We saw how Jennings’ omission of directly or indirectly from the Irish proto-type in Ceylon’s Article 29 facilitated the annulment of Plantation Tamil franchise. It brought Ceylon into line with slave states like colonial Virginia; but not with democracy.

Jennings himself valued freedom and would not have tolerated anything like this in England. Coming from a non-conformist working class background he has documented the role of London juries of workers and artisans in resisting the oppression of kings. Thus he gave cardinal importance to the value of habeas corpus and was insistent that any executive declaration of emergency is open to challenge in the courts. Any executive action under emergency is justiciable in courts once the emergency lapses. Note that Justice Mansfield’s 1781 judgment, using the habeas corpus right of any person on English soil, to free Somerset, the slave from Virginia, set a precedent that leveraged the abolition of slavery throughout the Empire.

Jennings obliged Senanayake and knew what was coming. At the time of his arrival in 1941, he would have seen how the Sinhalese polity had been moulded so that nearly all Sinhalese members voted in favour of the Registration Bill, the proto-type of the Citizenship and Franchise Bills. Knowing this, to place the voting rights of the Plantation Tamils in the 1946 Parliamentary Elections Order in Council, which was open to abolition by a simple majority, was cynical of the British rulers. On the part of the Tamil elite, it was blindness amounting to wanton stupidity.

Jennings gave us what he thought we wanted and deserved. In the 1937 Bracegirdle case, Sidney Abrahams, perhaps our most independent Chief Justice, affirmed the Magna Carta right of habeas corpus as part of our legal inheritance. The Public Security Ordinance (PSO) of 1947 ditched it by rendering non-justiciable executive actions under emergency, even murder ‘in good faith’. It was the last British Governor who assented to this Ordinance, in order to spare our leaders the embarrassment of ownership. What we were left with is a caricature of British law.

What all this led to is the violent smash-up of trade unionism in 1980 using the PSO. It was built on the complicity of the Judiciary in the Citizenship and Franchise Acts, making Plantation workers an easy target. Trade unions paid for abandoning their plantation compatriots once they were rendered powerless. The Judiciary forgot that its first loyalty must be to justice and fair play and not to acts of Parliament. In Britain and South Africa judges have fought back by inventive means.

Confronted by certain dictatorial laws of James I, Chief Justice Coke shot back that ‘the king’s laws included the laws not only of the reigning monarch but also of his predecessors … who in and through their councils and their parliaments and their courts had, over the centuries, created a legal system that … carried with it meanings remembered from the past.’

The law is timeless as is the Roman-Dutch law we have received. That was why Sri Nissanka took alarm at jus soli being abolished thoughtlessly by the Citizenship Act. We close with the prescient words of Chief Justice Holt in 1701: “[I]f Parliament violated the limitations implied by natural law, it would be dissolved, and individuals living under it would be returned to the state of nature.” Perhaps that is where we find ourselves today, in a state of nature, of lawless anarchy.

The book mentioned is presently with the publisher Perera-Hussein, who in the normal course hope to release it about the middle of this year – 2022.

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Latest comments

  • 17
    0

    Dr Hoole, thanks for the article.
    I will read the article later, but just wanted to add a short comment first while travelling. In recent times – judiciary of motherland has not been independent.

    In today s context, not at all. Even to expect to be, is a joker knowing the nature of the MEDAMULANA animals. So in a country, people basic rights are not safeguarded, what cant go wrong. By 2015, almost a larger majority of the country named them as the most corrupted leaders, but the very nation being misled by main stream media (TV channels and biased propaganda), the very same people were betrayed being thrown to the same devil. Meaning, this nation knew well, that Rajapakshes would not do magic in terms of bringing new laws respecting world standards.
    :
    I think not just politicians, but also people of this country and their total ignorance and indifference nature caused them to fall from frying pan to the fire.
    .

  • 6
    31

    “The book records the deliberate, statutory neglect of the Plantation Tamil community. “
    —-
    Blame those who brought millions of Dravidians as indentured labor, left them in Sinhale and ran away. Indigenous Sinhalayo are not responsible for what British did.

    • 21
      3

      “Blame those who brought millions of Dravidians as indentured labor, left them in Sinhale and ran away. Indigenous Sinhalayo are not responsible for what British did.”
      They are happy to enjoy the profits of the TEA Industry to date as one of the 2 best export revenue (income) of foreign exchange to feed the millions with imports of essentials by Sri Lanka.
      If, you are not responsible for past actions of British rulers, which you took over, then who is responsible for BORROWINGS made by the people governing under the pretext “to fight the war”, the cause of which emanates from the misrule of the SL government since independence??
      The government in 1948 took over the assets and liabilities of the colonial masters!!!
      Grow up the Mind with the Body at the same time!!!!
      Silly thought

      • 2
        18

        Mahila,
        “The government in 1948 took over the assets and liabilities of the colonial masters!!!”
        —-
        More liabilities than assets.

        • 8
          1

          EE,
          Well, that only proves the point that even then (70 years ago at independence given on a platter) they did not have the intelligence or foresight to study what they are getting?
          Dumbos!!!
          No wonder, we are now unable to understand whether we need to have 3 meals, 2 meals, 1 meal a day or none at all for a healthy outcome!!!
          Don’t blame the present or past governments and the presidents!!!
          It is in the genes!!!!

          • 4
            0

            “The Indian Press quoted Senanayake as contemplating federation of Ceylon with India, a prospect repeated by J.R. Jayewardene when discussing the Free Lanka Bill in February 1945.”
            If that had gone through, we wouldn’t have been sitting in the dark waiting for gas today.
            It isn’t just Nandasena that’s incompetent. The whole lot of leaders were opportunistic . Not a statesman among them.

    • 21
      3

      Eagle Eye,
      .
      You must be happy, nasty racist, with having got a number of your comments in!
      .
      I agree that life would have been more comfortable for us if we had a homogeneous society; one religion that everybody practiced perfectly, one language, etc. What did Gota Promise? “One country, one Law”.
      .
      But it is just not possible! The Real World is not like that.
      .
      Other arguments can be adduced, but for a start, how about this? We have to die without medicine; our children cannot have their year-end test because the country has no money to buy paper.
      .
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5N-av9O-YM
      .
      But the children of your cronies cannot do without 1,000 c.c bikes.
      .
      Explain!
      .
      Panini Edirisinhe

      • 2
        8

        Sinhala_Man,
        “You must be happy, nasty racist, with having got a number of your comments in!”

        You seems to be happy when biased moderators block my comments while allowing any sh*t from Tamils and guys like Leelagemalli with personal attacks using the term ‘Bellige Putha’.

        • 10
          0

          Eagle Eye,
          .
          I’ve got a few computer problems delaying “proper length” comments.
          .
          For your information I asked Dr Rajan Hoole to bear with the delay since you seem to be having a field day. He told me, nonchalantly, that your comments had inflicted no harm.
          .
          This article deals with a certain subject. His forthcoming book will deal with how the “Estate Tamils” were treated by the British, the Sinhalese Politicians, and certain sections of “Jaffna Tamils” from c. 1905 to c. 1955. Please stick to that. Also, I’m authoritatively told that “Estate Tamils” are also “Homo Sapiens” like me. How do you type into CT? Are you more than an eye? Actually a whole Eagle? Please post us a video of you actually typing!
          .
          Since you find the moderators at C.T biased, why not haunt some other website? Another problem! I don’t know two terms that you’ve used. I tried my Dictionaries. Drew a blank. Please explain, “sh*t” and “Ballige Putha”. Have you seen those terms used by me?
          .
          More important: stick to the subject!
          .
          Panini Edirisinhe of Bandarawela

      • 8
        1

        Sinhala_Man

        Please listen to a person who was born and educated in Thamil Nadu who was the global CEO of Pepsi, listening to her should open our eyes to many things and broaden our world view.
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NATEcj5BAws
        Express e.Adda LIVE With Indra Nooyi, Former Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo

        • 8
          1

          Sinhala_Man

          Please ignore nay saying Maoists.

    • 5
      1

      EE,
      “Blame those who brought millions of Dravidians as indentured labor, left them in Sinhale and ran away”
      No body just abandoned them and ran away??!!
      They were left behind to tend on the plantations, which were primary produce of export from then Ceylon to ensure continued export earnings, without which there was no way to feed the 14 million people.
      The locals were unable to attend Muster in the cold climes, especially at 5 am to attend on their designated work.
      They were more experienced in “cloistered warmth of their near and dear” and did not want to change their way of life.
      Nothing new!!! from the turn of 20th century to date no one takes responsibility!!! They know only to enjoy!!!
      ONE COUNTRY ONE LAW!!! Joke of the century!!! How come some have 1000 cc Motorbikes and others are not allowed even 500 cc????????
      That’s why until today the progeny of indentured labour is depended on; without them another foreign exchange earner would “come a cropper”!!!
      No problem.
      Find countries in Africa, Oceania and west Indies to beg for Loans/Swaps!!!
      International community exclusively for begging purposes; and Rob!!!
      Otherwise, are untouchable, uncouth, Imperialists, Colonists and Western Reactionaries?

    • 8
      1

      Eagle Blind Eye

      I am surprised to see you too have supporters in this forum. At least three of them have ticked thumbs up to your racist rant.

      Keep up the good work you will meet them in hell (Sri Lanka).

  • 4
    31

    Tea introduced to Sinhale by British is a curse to this country. It brought two disasters; environmental and social. Indigenous Sinhalayo have to suffer because of these two disasters.

    • 19
      3

      EE, I think the worst the British introduced to SL is not tea but English language. Utterly useless idiot people like you learnt it and using it to spread the caveman mentality everywhere they get a hand is utterly despicable!!

      • 1
        5

        Jit,
        “Utterly useless idiot people like you learnt it…”

        Didn’t racist Tamils use English to carry out anti-Sri Lanka, anti-Sinhala Buddhist campaign telling blatant lies?

    • 18
      2

      Dumbo Eagle Eye

      “Tea introduced to Sinhale by British is a curse to this country.”

      How about arrack which was introduced by Dutch?
      You have no qualm about the Tavern owners who became filthy rich, generated lot of Tax Revenue for the state and lot of intoxicated drunken thugs, ….. many sold their land to pay for their drinking habit, …..

      • 1
        6

        Native Vedda,
        Arrack is also a curse but it is a lesser curse than tea because arrack did not flood Sinhale with Dravidians changing the demographic composition of the country. Some people may have sold land to buy arrack but with tea, British grabbed land belong to Sinhala peasants without paying compensation using Ceylon Waste Lands Ordinance.
        —-
        “How about arrack which was introduced by Dutch?”

  • 5
    26

    “He was welcomed because the country’s political life was paralysed by the Sinhalese-Muslim riots of 1915.”
    —-
    It was not a Sinhalese-Muslim riot but a deliberate attack on Sinhala Buddhists started by Muslims who were accommodated by Sinhala Buddhists after saving them from Portuguese persecution. More than hundred Sinhala Buddhists lost their lives because of this treacherous act.

    • 8
      1

      Eagle Eye,
      .
      Here you possibly have a point,
      vitiated by your trying to stretch it into Portuguese times. I studied this carefully about six months ago; the unrest started with little incidents in the Kandy District:
      .
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1915_Sinhalese-Muslim_riots
      .
      It spread to Colombo, and became tragic:
      .
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Pedris

    • 6
      1

      The execution of this outstanding young man is something that I had heard about as a school-boy, and so would Dr Rajan Hoole. Warden Stone of S. Thomas’ College, then at Mutwal, closed the school on the day of execution as a sign of protest. Maha Mudliyar Bandaranaike appears to have been the villain of the piece.
      .
      The fact that the First World War was raging in Europe would have contributed to the precipitate British action; ironically, the fact that the then Governor was not a psychopath like “butcher” Brownrigg during the Uva-Wellassa rebellion of 1818, may also have had a bearing.
      .
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Chalmers,_1st_Baron_Chalmers
      .
      That Chalmers was “almost a Buddhist” may well have made him, as an administrator, take a tougher line than he ought to have. This has to be looked into in detail.
      .
      Dr Hoole has been focussing on the treatment meted out to “Estate Workers”; as such it may well be that he will not delve into these riots. If we Sinhalese really want to analyse this in detail, somebody will have to study this objectively.
      .
      It can’t be done by you, Eagle Eye, judging by the virulent racism that you display.

  • 20
    3

    Thank you Rajan Hoole
    It is a wealth of important information presented very neatly, that one has to search far and wide to gather with no promise of success.
    I have some differences of view, which I will not go into here for that will hurt the sense of appreciation that I wish to express.

  • 4
    27

    “The Ceylon Tamil attitude to the Plantation Tamils…”
    —–
    There was no such ethnic group called ‘Ceylon Tamils’ in Sinhale before 1911. The Dravidians who lived in Yapanaya were called ‘Malabars’ by colonial rulers because they came from Malabar region in Hindusthan. They became Tamils after 1911 when a Malabar person named Ponnambalam Arunachalam who worked in the Census Department changed the term ‘Malabars’ to ‘Ceylon Tamils’ to refer to Malabars in Yapanaya and gave the term ‘Indian Tamils’ to refer to Dravidians in tea plantations although all Tamils who live in Sinhale are of Indian origin.

    • 18
      1

      Eagle,
      “gave the term ‘Indian Tamils’ to refer to Dravidians in tea plantations although all Tamils who live in Sinhale are of Indian origin.”
      OK, if you insist, we could designate all those Sinhalayo with names like Fonseka, Fernando, Silva, Tissakuttiarachchi, etc as “Indian Sinhalese”

    • 16
      1

      Eagle Dumbo Eye

      Do you still think Sri Lanka is the miracle of Asia?
      Modi is coming to this island to ensure Hindia’s right to rule, develop, help to turn Sri Lanka into a Saffron Hindutva state.

      If Modi does not feed you now, how are you going to survive another 2500 years as Mahawansa predicted?

      Why don’t you invite HLD M to help feed his Sinhala/Buddhists people?
      Go beg, from Hindia, Bangladesh, Nigeria, …… Yemen, … Somalia, ….

  • 3
    22

    “Perhaps that is where we find ourselves today, in a state of nature, of lawless anarchy.”
    —-
    BS!

    • 12
      1

      Eagle Dumbo Eye

      “BS!”

      You are right it is all your present ruler’s job.
      I envy them.

      • 1
        0

        Nv/
        .
        BS.
        .
        Should be the main food of EAGLE eye
        .
        Else he would nt see the things that way/ he may be standing on his little head/ poor man. Hatreds would nt allow him see things the they really are. .

        Get well EE🐃🐕🐃🐕🐃🐕🐃🐕

  • 20
    2

    For a long time it was believed that DS.Senanaike with the collaboration of some then Sri Lankan Tamils had betrayed Indian plantation Tamils by enacting Ceylon Citizenship Act of 1948 whereby almost all Tamils of Indian origin became stateless and DS was the architect of these series of citizenship acts of 1948 and 1949.
    .
    However Dr Rajan Hoole had provided enough evidence that the issue of citizenship of plantation tamils was a controversial and unsettled issue since early 20th century and that the British were responsible for the sorry plight of plantation tamils.

    They treated them worse than cattle.

    Thanks Dr Ranjan Hoole for an insightful scholarship.

  • 17
    1

    Yes Sir Ponnampalam Arunachalam and Senator S.Nadesan were great leaders indeed!

    Mr Nadesan as founder of Civil rights Movement had courageously fought against human rights violations during JR regime.

  • 2
    18

    Who made them ‘stateless’ at the time , Sri Lanka or India?
    That it was India was acknowledged by Shastri.
    The obvious thing to do was India to offer dual citizenship to these uprooted people by the British so that they can live again as equal citizens among their own kith and kin in an environment of their own language, religion and culture and Sri Lanka to accept those who wished to remain in Sinhala Buddhist majority Sri Lanka.
    .
    Considering the pathetic state of these people it is not late even today.
    India should offer dual citizenship and Sri Lanka should grant each family a block of land in Jaffna. With a firm footing elsewhere these people can work as migratory labour in tea estates or any other industry/ service as they wish. This will enable them to demand true value of their labour and will not be anybody’s slaves any more.

    Soma

    • 2
      20

      I must hasten to add that nobody can help this Tamil inferiority complex of assuming Sinhala Buddhist society as superior to their own. Even in the context of persistent demand for ‘self determination’ nothing makes a Tamil completely lose his/her temper and !ivid with anger and hatred than this proposal of relocating the Tamils presently in Sinhala majority provinces into a Tamil only Homeland.
      .
      Even if India grants them dual citizenship today will they go is the million dollar question.

      Soma

      • 18
        1

        Soma,
        “India should offer dual citizenship and Sri Lanka should grant each family a block of land in Jaffna.”
        You are wayyy out of date. India does offer permanent residency to all who can prove their descent. ( Not many in fact) Even the Portuguese PM is a recipient.
        Also, tea workers in Tamilnadu get paid about 1500 LKR daily, which is a good deal considering that a cup of milk tea is still only Rs. 10, and a Maruti 450,000.
        https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/coimbatore/cpm-wants-tamil-nadu-govt-to-hike-tea-estate-wages-to-match-with-those-in-kerala/articleshow/78716787.cms

        • 14
          0

          Soma,
          You must stop flogging dead horses.

          • 1
            3

            Me or the author Hoole?

            Soma

      • 17
        1

        soman

        I admire you for your self destructive stupidity and racism, even at this 11th hour, on the brink of disaster, possible deaths from starvation, you haven’t learned anything at all.

        At present the entire country’s survival is in the hands of two Hindian Tamil Nadu (your toilet Nadu ) Tamils, Hindian Foreign Minister S Jayshankar (Tiruchirappalli) and Hindian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

        At least for the time being you should shut all your orifices and maintain silence especially stop all your flatulence, until Hindians stabilize this island’s political and economic instabilities. Make sure your mate the self hating Tamil in this forum also does the same.

        Once corrective courses take effect then of course you free to go back to your usual mundane life style.

        “Even if India grants them dual citizenship today will they go is the million dollar question.”

    • 17
      1

      soman

      “India should offer dual citizenship and Sri Lanka should grant each family a block of land in Jaffna.”

      Hindia will eventually grant Hindian citizenship to all of you, of course in the fullness of time. Don’t worry about North East which will form part of Tamil Nadu state and rest of the country will be know as Sinhala state of Hindia.

      Patience soman patience.
      “Patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.”

      • 1
        7

        NV
        “Don’t worry about North East which will form part of Tamil Nadu state and rest of the country will be know as Sinhala state of Hindia.”
        .
        You must be the happiest man on earth at this moment.
        .
        Tamil Nadu should start agitation for separation from the Union. With the most resourceful part of the paradise, particularly the human resources, they won’t need to be the coolies of the Union anymore.

        Soma

        • 5
          0

          soman Aiya

          “…… they won’t need to be the coolies of the Union anymore.”

          Please refer to
          List of Tamil people (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Tamil_people)
          which includes

          3 Nobel Laureate from Tamil Nadu
          C. V. Raman, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1930
          Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1983
          Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 2009

          2 Oscar awards to
          A. R. Rahman in 2009
          Cottalango Leon in 2016

          The current cabinet includes
          Foreign Minister S Jayshankar (Tiruchirappalli) and
          Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman (Madurai)
          who ensured your survival/existence on this world.
          Being benevolent both must have decided to save you from your own self destruction. Now that you have received 2 $billion, as your high culture demands you stick two fingers up at them.

          Therefore At least for the time being you should shut all your orifices and maintain silence especially stopping all your flatulence.

  • 1
    22

    I must hasten to add that nobody can help this Tamil inferiority complex of assuming Sinhala Buddhist society as superior to their own. Even in the context of persistent demand for ‘self determination’ nothing makes a Tamil completely lose his/her temper and !ivid with anger and hatred than this proposal of relocating the Tamils presently in Sinhala majority provinces into a Tamil only Homeland.
    .
    Even if India grants them dual citizenship today will they go is the million dollar question.

    Soma

    • 16
      1

      soman

      Hindian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is from Madurai probably she is a distant cousin of yours. A lot of the mercenaries who came with Cholas and Pandyas and escorted South Indian Mercantile Community never returned. You may find their spears, swords, and other weapons in your back garden. Archaeologist Raj may help you to find all your ancestral possession.

      Are you keeping your orifices on silent mode?
      If you do you will enjoy the nature, listening to birds, babies, animals, ..

      • 1
        9

        Native , old codger
        You guys have not an iota of sympathy towards plantation Tamils.
        The author himself describes this attitude of Ceylon Tamils from the beginning.
        Or you have never visited the plantations?
        Why are you so oposed to any proposal to elevate their present slavish, destitute status?
        Aren’t they humans like you and me?
        Any caste issue?

        Soma

        • 7
          0

          soman Aiya

          “You guys have not an iota of sympathy towards plantation Tamils.”

          Watch this clip, how Tamils curse your leaders for involuntary, forced disappearance of their immediate male/female relatives.
          I have seen similar atmosphere and anger in the south. The women whose kith and kin are missing still mourn.

          It takes human to empathize with them irrespective of their race, religion, region, ….gender.

          • 6
            0

            soman Aiya

            Watch this clip, how Tamils curse your leaders for involuntary, forced disappearance of their immediate male/female relatives.

            https://www.facebook.com/watch/?extid=WA-UNK-UNK-UNK-AN_GK0T-GK1C&v=657087115516584

            • 0
              5

              NV
              Take a printout and hang on your wall
              ATTACK YEAR DEATH TOLL
              Kent and Dollar Farm massacres 1984 62
              Kokilai massacre 1984 11
              Anuradhapura massacre 1985 146
              Air Lanka Flight 512 1986 21
              Habarana bus massacre 1987 127
              Central Bus Station Bombing 1987 13
              Aranthalawa Massacre 1987 35
              Massacre of Police officers 1990 600
              Kattankudy mosque massacre 1990 147
              Assassination of Ranjan Wijeratne 1991 19
              Assassination of Rajiv Gandhi 1991 15
              Palliyagodella massacre 1991 109
              Assassination of R. Premadasa 1993 11
              Assasination of Gamini Disanayake 1994 52
              Kallarawa massacre 1995 42
              Eastern Sri Lanka massacre 1995 120
              Central Bank Bombing 1995 91
              Dehiwala Train Bombing 1996 64
              Lion Air Flight 602 1998 55
              Temple of the Tooth Attack 1998 17
              Gonagala massacre 1999 54
              Assassination of C.V.Gunaratne 2000 22
              Kebithigollewa massacre 2006 66
              Digampathana bombing 2006 103
              Gomarankadawala massacre 2006 6
              Air Raid on Colombo 2009 2
              .
              Not to mention more than 26,000 state soldiers.

              Soma

              • 3
                0

                NV

                “Not to mention more than 26,000 state soldiers.”

                Very stupid boys.
                In return what did they get for their family and country, a glorious family of brutal Sinhala/Buddhist robber barons.
                By the way those who join the armed forces are trained to kill and expected to be killed.
                They knowingly committed mass suicide.

                Just because LTTE which was sustained along with your brethren VP by Premadasa, Mahinda and the state killed so many people 13 or more years ago warrant brutalizing innocent people for demanding to know what happened to their kith and kin after they surrendered to your racist armed forces.

                You are an irredeemable bigot.
                Go get blessing from Anuradhapura Gnana Akka.
                Sumanadasa Abeygunawardena is now unemployed and relatively free, who could read your chart, palm, and your head.

  • 14
    0

    Rajan Hoole,

    Nice history.

    “One who paid heed was S. Nadesan, who should perhaps rank next to Arunachalam among our greats.”

    Where are their descendants now?

    Nadesan’s son Satyendra, if he is still in the UK, would be happy to hear this from you, though his TamilNation.org was antagonistic to your HR work during the time the LTTE was active.

    And I think Manel Fonseka, active in these comment pages, worked closely with Nadesan in his later years, so she can provide some anecdotal information as well.

  • 11
    0

    Excellent. Lot of information. Thanks Dr.Rajan Hoole

  • 26
    1

    When we roundup the Rajapaksa bastards and their henchmen, please don’t forget to catch EE, Soma and Champa, too.
    When we light up the Rajapaksa family pyre we should not forget to drop these 3 characters as a contribution from CT.
    Yes I would do this as a favour to these 3 brain dead characters. Their life on earth is a waste of food and oxygen. Their brains have got calcified, the gray matter has turned black.
    It is time to leave this monotonous life of idiocy.
    Good riddance to a bunch of racist, inhuman, fascist bigots who are rotten apples in the apple cart.
    Bye-bye EE, Soma and Champa.🔥
    Readers, please add any others who belong in this bandwagon to the list, let us start working on arranging their date with the pyre.

    • 0
      16

      Monkey Touch
      The millenium old tradition of ‘sati puja’ which the British banned was revived by your Talaivar in his hay days.
      Looks like I have been enjoying a false sense of security on the assumption that Prabakaran is dead. His coolies are well and alive , it seems.
      You must be missing the enjoyment of carrying shit buckets of his terror team.
      .
      By the way I remember you called me “dumb fuck”. That was your mother’s opinion. Ask your sister for a second opinion – sure she will give me a thumb-up.

      Soma

      • 16
        0

        soman

        “You must be missing the enjoyment of carrying shit buckets of his terror team.”

        Whatever shit buckets he carried that were personally presented by Oxford educated Athulath Shit Bomb Mudali who delivered them by bell Helicopters.

        “Ask your sister for a second opinion – sure she will give me a thumb-up.”

        You misunderstood the sign, probably she mimicked the size of your wil…..

      • 17
        0

        Soma
        .
        Your words betray you. All that crap about being a good Buddhist makes me laugh.
        .
        Then again, for a person to have your kind of mindset speaks volumes about your upbringing and your state of mental health.
        .
        You have been falsely made to believe you were better than others, because your parents couldn’t afford to give you the basics.
        .
        You knew this was was a form of deception in your subconscious mind, but had to play along as there was no other option.
        .
        You grew up with bitterness and helplessness in your soul. I feel sorry for your types.
        .
        On top of that, I am sure you are an underachiever and you regret your life, you therefore use fascism as a relief. Sorry for you, you worthless piece of shit.
        .
        I will send you to the stake very soon along with the rest of your types like I have mentioned earlier.
        .
        That is if you don’t kick the bucket 🪣 sooner.
        .
        I will systematically make you implode. It is easy to drive people like you over the edge, you have a very fragile twisted sense of self.
        .
        I think I will be doing the world a favour, helping to get rid of a worthless miserable scumbag like you.🖕

        • 0
          15

          Monkey Touch
          Here is your “human” nature, Your devilish nature in full display.
          “When we roundup the Rajapaksa bastards and their henchmen, please don’t forget to catch EE, Soma and Champa, too.
          When we light up the Rajapaksa family pyre we should not forget to drop these 3 characters as a contribution from CT.
          Yes I would do this as a favour to these 3 brain dead characters. Their life on earth is a waste of food and oxygen. Their brains have got calcified, the gray matter has turned black.
          It is time to leave this monotonous life of idiocy.
          Good riddance to a bunch of racist, inhuman, fascist bigots who are rotten apples in the apple cart.
          Bye-bye EE, Soma and Champa.🔥
          Readers, please add any others who belong in this bandwagon to the list, let us start working on arranging their date with the pyre.”

          Soma

          • 3
            0

            soman

            Don’t you worry.
            I will not allow others physically hurt you.
            Your fellow racists and you will be confined to a small area known to the human kind being a small area of Sinhala/Buddhist Ghetto.

          • 0
            0

            Shit buckets in our are awaits clearing while you waste time talking burning people alive. Hurry up man.

            Soma

        • 0
          14

          Monkey Touch
          Boiling hatred of a shit bucket carrier is understandable.
          Your impulsive desire to commit suicide has to be kept in check
          Dial a help line.

          Soma

          • 12
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            Soma
            .
            You don’t have to quote my entire message to make a point.
            .
            And please if you want to make an impact please come up with something original.
            Otherwise you sound like a broken record.
            .
            I can promise you one thing, when we put you to the stake will ask them to be gentle when they insert the stake up your ass, you are a CT reader, you deserve that concession.
            .
            Like I said you are more valuable dead than being this shit-talking/ass licking good for nothing lunatic.

            • 0
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              Monkey Touch
              ” if you want to make an impact please come up with something original.”
              Why would I bother to exercise my brain when your own words clearly prove my point that you are none other than devil incarnation hallucinating burning people alive.
              If I didn’t quote in full I would be doing a disservice to you – even devil must be given his due.

              Soma

              • 2
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                Soma
                .
                You are calling me all sorts for the words I said against you.
                You and the Rajapaksas are known sociopaths, yet you feel bad right?
                Now think about your fascist and condescending attitude towards minorities in Sri Lanka.
                You chose to maintain such crude and crass views about people based on their ethnicity or religion, and you justify your inhumanity using Buddhism. See the irony!
                Soma, you can keep worshipping the greatest villains in the history of Sri Lanka, but remember their end is near, so is yours.
                Good riddance to bad rubbish.
                Shooo Kaaka, Shooooo.

                • 0
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                  Monkey Touch
                  “Shooo Kaaka, Shooooo.”
                  That rings a bell in my mind.
                  I remember your father chasing away the crows perching on the buckt.
                  ,-
                  Soma

            • 5
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              Human Touch

              Take it easy.
              Eagle Dumbo Eye, soman and Champass are museum pieces.
              We need them alive, to be fed well, kept in glass houses, …… I prefer to call such place the Sinhala/Buddhist Ghetto, so that people will learn there is no difference between racists and normal people, they look like Appuhamy, Appuchamy, or Abdulla.

              • 1
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                NV
                .
                Brother, there must be a limit to which people can be thick-skulled and insolent.
                Not these three, maybe they have no brain inside their heads at all or they crawled out of sewers, one can only wonder.
                .
                They only respect nasty comments against them.
                It is a pity that we have such mindless psychopaths amongst us.
                .
                I just want to help them out of their misery, a bit of red hot burning coal, a nice strong sharp-pointed iron rod, and the rest is easy.
                .
                We get them to sit on top of the iron rod, like in the time of the kings, once they are comfortable, just put them across the nice and hot coal while we chant pirith, 15 mins max, they are done.
                .
                Trust me, with Mara and co gone along with their stooges plus these 3 scumbags gone from CT, you will thank me.

              • 0
                1

                Native
                Can you tell me why your friend Monkey Touch wants to burn me alive?
                .
                Bit excesive for saying Plantation Tamils at the time should been given the CHOICE between India and Sri Lanka.
                .
                You are the Pied Piper of Colombo Telegraph leading all the donkeys and be careful of the little devil who has joined your following recently. He is hallucinating burning people alive and that is out of your character. He wants to snatch the pipe away from you and lead all from behind.
                You are running the risk of losing your title.
                (Didn’t someone say God save me from my friends, I can take care of my enemies?)

                Soma

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    Dear Rajan

    I have finally managed to read your compelling introduction to the shocking treatment of the Plantation Labour (tho, it ws very late at night & I didnt totally understand the habeas corpus bit). I am embarrassed to confess that I don’t really know what the present situation is about this citizenship.

    How shameful our lawmakers have been… particular shame, too, on a close friend’s grandfather (I am losing names & words — it’s frightening), the Maths professor…..ah yes, Sunderalingam….how cynical, caste-ridden, he was. I met him once or twice.

    I cant immediately think of something relevant to post here in response & anyway I’d decided to steer clear of CT for some time as I cdn’t shake off the Ukraine disaster & as a result missed several writing deadlines.

    Thank you for emailing me yr talk so I cd read it without the distraction of what others had to say. I look forward to the book as I am very keen to inform myself properly about this awful episode in our history.

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      1 of 2….Manel, since that shameless and cruel Ceylon Citizenship Act No. 18 of 1948, there had been many steps to implement the clauses as well as to address the status of Tamils of Indian Origin (aka Estate Tamils). Those steps also focused on the people who were eligible but did not want to return to India too.
      Major step was Sirima-Shastri Pact of 1964 (also known as the Indo-Ceylon Agreement) under which India agreed to the repatriation of 525,000 Indian Tamils while another 300,000 would be offered Ceylon citizenship. However, fate of about 150,000 estate workers remained unresolved.
      Then again, in 1974 Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi and Sirima Bandaranaike signed the Sirimavo-Gandhi Pact whereas Sri Lanka agreed to grant citizenship to the remaining 150,000 Indian Tamils. However, in 1982 India repealed both Sirima-Shastri Pact and Sirimavo-Gandhi Pact resulting a limbo for 87,000 Indian Tamils who had been granted Indian citizenship and another 86,000 who were in the process of applying for Indian citizenship. Suddenly they became nobody’s babies!

    • 5
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      2 of 2…. However, under Premadasa government in 1988 Parliament passed the Grant of Citizenship to Stateless Persons Act (1988) that allowed citizenship to all Indian Tamils who hadn’t applied for Indian citizenship under previous agreements. Further, in October 2003, Parliament unanimously passed the Grant of Citizenship to Persons of Indian Origin Act No.35 of 2003 which granted Sri Lankan citizenship to all Indian Tamils who had been residing in Sri Lanka since October 1964 and their descendants giving ALL remaining 168,141 Tamils which included even those who had been granted Indian citizenship earlier but did not want to return to India. All in all, it took 55 years to resolve this most inhuman and despicable act that our so-called inhuman law makers did in 1948!! Most disappointing thing was, while it was the Sinhalese who created the 1948 Act, the so-called Jaffna Tamils, mainly elites did not resist or oppose this legislation because they always thought estate Tamils were from another planet and always looked down on them for caste and other stigmatic reasons!

      • 1
        1

        Dear Jit
        “…the so-called Jaffna Tamils, mainly elites did not resist or oppose this legislation because they always thought estate Tamils were from another planet and always looked down on them for caste and other stigmatic reasons!”
        .
        The attitude of Tamils has not changed one bit even after 70 years.
        .
        May I request you to read my comment above dated March 19, 2022 where I say that the Plantation Tamils should have been given the option to choose between India and Sri Lanka.
        Notice the ferocious resistance to that comment , one guy even proposing to burn me alive. Again the support to this call for incinineration is unthinkable.
        .
        What is wrong with my accompanying proposal I am at a loss to understand:
        “Considering the pathetic state of these people it is not late even today.
        India should offer dual citizenship and Sri Lanka should grant each family a block of land in Jaffna. With a firm footing elsewhere these people can work as migratory labour in tea estates or any other industry/ service as they wish. This will enable them to demand true value of their labour and will not be anybody’s slaves any more.”
        .
        May I solicit your kind response though I am a small fry.

        Soma

      • 1
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        Thank you, Jit, for going to the trouble of laying this out for me so clearly. It makes me cringe when I think of the confused collection of references I posted later here.

        It’s no excuse, of course, but from 1961 till early 1975 I was back in England & very much immersed in a job, university & international affairs rather than SL. And the first few years of settling down here were fraught with considerable personal difficulties that it was only by 79/80 that I really switched on to the local scene.

        I see that in Jan 1986 CRM issued a statement welcoming “the decision to pass legislation to enable estate Tamils to seek SL citizenship” & hoped the legislation wd be “implemented speedily & fairly.” I have to delve into a hard to get at chest to fish out all my CRM files to find everything we produced in connection with this. Sadly, Nadesan was no longer with us by this time. He died on 21 Dec 1986.

  • 2
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    Once again the poorer people (this time “home-grown” one might say) of this country are carrying the burdens of the rest of us by giving their services to other nations — & often in unhappy circumstances. I will never forget Rizana Nafeek as long as I live. RIZANA NAFEEK who endured 6 years imprisonment for a crime she did not commit. And who, when she was taken out for execution was under the impression she was going home. I have saved somewhere the online site of that place of execution. I was traumatised for days afterwards. Shreen Saroor was closely involved with Rizana’s family during those terrible years.

    Actually, there may be something I can bring to this forum since you draw attention to Nadesan, Rajan. I will try to cobble together some data that others here might find interesting even if it is not new to you.

    You say the “Kegalle District Court hearing of the Citizenship Act…closely argued by S. Nadesan … and the judgment by Judge Sivagnanasundaram” is “hardly accessible today.”

    I wonder if this site provides sufficient material for anyone wishing to know more about this before your book comes out:
    https://www.lawnet.gov.lk/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/007-NLR-NLR-V-53-MUDANAYAKE-et-al.-Petitioners-and-SIVAGNANASUNDERAM-et-al.-Respondents.pdf

    I suddenly recall one or 2 more things I shd like to post in this connection if CT stays open?

  • 2
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    Oh dear, I posted a couple of comments here several hours ago but no sign of them yet. And I cant for the life of me reproduce them.

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    There should have been earlier comments by me, addressing Rajan directly, but they seem to have been lost or censored!

    Anyway, here’s something of S. Nadesan’s concern for the plantation Tamils & also for ethnic harmony.
    He was elected to the Senate in 1947. In his first speech (I am an Independent Senator, 27/11/47, about a quarter was addressed to the plight of the Plantation Tamils. See Senate Hansard Vol. 1 or TamilNation: https://tamilnation.org/nadesan/senate_speeches/471127firstspeech.htm
    So from the very beginning of his political career he fought for the cause of the Plantation Tamils. He was never one of the indifferent members of his community.

    His Senate speech of 15/9/48 during the debate on the Ceylon Citizenship Bill in Hansard Session: 1948-49: Senate Hansard Pages 1096-1127 or at: https://tamilnation.org/nadesan/senate_speeches/480915citizenship.htm
    The Act passed into law 15/11/48.
    …2…

  • 2
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    …2…
    He registered dissent on the proposed design of the National Flag, both in the Select Committee on the Flag & also the Senate:
    On 19/1/48 he stated: “That this House is of opinion that the National Flag of Sir Lanka should be designed so as to be acceptable to all sections of the people, & to be in keeping with the ideals of the present age”.
    And subsequently:
    “In my view, this design if adopted far from being a symbol of national unity will be symbol of our disunity.”
    Senator Nadesan, Dissent, Parliamentary Select Committee Report, 1951
    See also https://tamilnation.org/nadesan/senate_speeches/480119nationalflag.htm & https://tamilnation.org/indictment/indict002.htm#Nadesan

    I cdn’t find details online of what Rajan introduced with: “After the Citizenship Act there followed in 1949 the Franchise Act.” But I came up with Ceylon (Parliamentary Elections) Amendment Act, No. 48 o f 1949, & Mudanayake v Sivagnanasunderam at:
    https://www.lawnet.gov.lk/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/007-NLR-NLR-V-53-MUDANAYAKE-et-al.-Petitioners-and-SIVAGNANASUNDERAM-et-al.-Respondents.pdf
    Nadesan fought for the petitioner here. The Act finally deprived the Indian Tamils of their franchise.

    …3…

  • 3
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    …3…
    In 1971 Nadesan was one of nearly 50 founder members of the Civil Rights Movement of Ceylon (CRM), on 18 Nov 1971. The full list, which spanned academics, Buddhist & Christian clergy, trade unionists, doctors of medicine, film makers, lawyers, trade unionists, artists, etc., is given in “The People’s Rights: Documents of the Civil Rights Movement of Sri Lanka 1971-78”, 1979, p. 148. He was one of its most prominent & active members, undertaking cases pro bono, including for some charged in connection with the 1971 insurgency. He was assisted by other pro bono lawyers from the CRM. His speech in the Senate on 14 & 15 May 1971, on the insurgency is published by the Nadesan Centre, 1988.

    In 1978, at the request of CRM, he wrote a series on articles in the Sunday Observer on Parliamentary Privilege, & proceedings were instituted against him for breach of privilege. This came to court in 1980, which is how & when I joined CRM as I attended the hearings. https://tamilnation.org/nadesan/cases/breach_of_privilege.htm summarises the case in which Nadesan was discharged. CRM set up the Nadesan Centre of Human Rights Through Law in his memory.

  • 3
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    …4…
    For more info about him, see Wikipedia, and tributes in Tamil Times, Jan 1987 VI (3)
    Tributes to S. Nadesan QC;
    “Of Nadesan and Judges”, by Suriya Wickremasinghe, 2003;
    https://tamilnation.org/nadesan/index.htm
    Suriya’s many years of close collaboration with Nadesan are worthy of a sizeable book.

    I’ve a vague memory that I edited his article on Regional Autonomy (July 1957) for republication by CRM on his 80th birthday on 11 February 1984. https://tamilnation.org/nadesan/writings/57autonomy.htm Tamil Times has also reproduced my own tribute to him.

    CRM’s documents alone testify to the enormous contribution to civil & political rights by Nadesan. And a number of CRM’s own statements also address these citizenship questions. Apart from “The People’s Rights”, CRM has also published “21 Years of CRM: an annotated list of documents of CRM …1971-1992”. The subsequent period is being digitalized.

    One of my own memories of a shared experience with very dear Mr Nadesan was on 22/12/82 Referendum Day, when we were threatened by the gun-toting govt MP for Colombo West. Nadesan managed to whisk me away to safety as the gunman wanted me to hand over my camera. (I may have recorded the incident in the 117-paged report I subsequently produced, under, as was necessary in those long-forgotten days, a pseudonym — “Priya Samarakoon”. Quite a story behind that name, too.

  • 0
    0

    Dear Manel,
    Thanks for your painstaking response and fairly exhaustive references to Nadesan; I was not aware of all of them. From the point of the forthcoming book under reference, I don’t think anything very relevant was missed out. The book concerned itself chiefly with his work regarding citizenship. It also refers to the Paul Nallanayagam case, perhaps the last fought by Nadesan, where the relevant CRM documents were shown to me by Suriya, for an earlier book of mine.
    Your link refers to the Supreme Court judgment on the citizenship case, which responds to the American cases presented by Nadesan and Canagarayar in the District Court, to whose judgment we gained no direct access. Also, A.J. Wilson records in his biography of Chelvanayakam that D.S. Senanayake wrote to Jennings asking for his aid in arguing against the District Court finding. Wilson says that Jennings obliged, which underlines its importance.
    When writing a book of some length, one is prompted either by the editors or by random reflections to recheck or rewrite something one might not have got quite right or even wrong. That process stops; one calls it a day, and prepares to face what comes. The judgment of it lies elsewhere.
    Nadesan, to my knowledge, first comes in to public ken – as a rebel – in Seelan Kadirgamar’s book on the Jaffna Youth Congress. Behind its slogans of Poorna Swaraj and National unity, Nehru, and no doubt Nadesan, saw that the neglect of workers was leading towards appeasement of Sinhalese leaders dead set on reducing the Plantation Tamils to naught.
    A work by a Sinhalese dissident which is of immense value is the doctoral thesis of Nihal Jayawickrema. It gives a good account of the 1964 de Kretser judgment on Sinhala Only – another important district court judgment.

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