24 May, 2019

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Vaddukoddai Resolution: More Relevant Now Than Ever Before

By Usha S Sri-Skanda-Rajah

Usha S Sri-Skanda-Rajah

Usha S Sri-Skanda-Rajah

As the 40th anniversary of the passage of the Vaddukoddai Resolution[1], articulating a free and independent Tamil Eelam, that which won an overwhelming democratic mandate in the 1977 general elections, draws near on May 14, 2016, no one can refute how absolutely profound, and vitally relevant this declaration STILL IS for Eelam Tamils and how now at this critical time, it is undeniably even more profound and relevant than ever before!

Vow To Uphold

Wherever we may be, beholden to truth and justice, and never wavering for small favours, never accepting small scraps thrown at us, never persuaded by those nations that colonised us, lumped us together and created the inequality; never listening to yet others who fought for their own freedom, but begrudge ours; Eelam Tamils must not yield or capitulate but vow without reservation, to uphold the fundamental precepts enunciated in the Vaddukoddai Resolution – a declaration that affirms and avows, “the restoration and reconstitution of a Free, Sovereign, Secular, Socialist State of TAMIL EELAM,” that which must be considered equal to, and as sacrosanct as the 1776 American Declaration of Independence [2] is to all Americans; as the 1215 Magna Carta [3] is to the English; and, as the 1948 United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights [4] and other United Nations conventions are, to all freedom loving people of the world!

Trial-at-Bar for Sedition

Trial-at-Bar for Sedition

Now is the time for Eelam Tamils to join hands with the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE), the International Tamil Youth Organisation and the International Council of Eelam Tamils who are (individually and collectively) calling for, in their words, all Tamil organisations and movements to commit to the Vaddukoddai Resolution: “…to work on projects which shall bolster the Vaddukoddai Resolution in this 40th anniversary year, and take it forward in all its dimensions with vigour towards our political goals.”

The Revalidation in 2010

We must not forget the Vaddukoddai Resolution obtained revalidation in January of 2010, by way of a Tamil Diaspora wide referendum, [5] taking place in the immediate aftermath of the final genocidal onslaught against Tamils in May 2009, in a war without witness, where between 40,000 [6] – 70,000 [7] – 146,679 [8] Tamils were allegedly massacred or disappeared by the Sri Lankan military under the supervision and leadership of the Rajapaksa regime. [9]

Some of the Factors That Led to Tamil Separatism

The Vaddukoddai Resolution was the outcome of decades of (Sri Lankan/Ceylon) Sinhala Buddhist hegemony over Tamils; its bigotry [10] and betrayal,[11] leading to, amongst other, the disenfranchisement of a million Tamils, affecting their representation, resulting in a Sinhala majoritarian stranglehold in parliament – ensuing in the passage of adverse legislation and policies in language, employment opportunities, cultural pursuits and education – in blatant discrimination against Tamils; in democratic, peaceful and Satyagraha inspired non-violent Gandhian protests being violently crushed; in the declaration of emergency; [12] in the occupation of the Tamil homeland by the Sinhala army since 1958; in Sinhala state aided colonisation programmes intended to blur the demography; in the deliberate “snipping   of cultural links with Tamilnadu by banning the import of Indian films, Indian books and magazines, and making Tamil pilgrim travel to India virtually impossible” (See: Witness to History by S Sivanayagam); in the advent of the 1972 illegal Republican Constitution giving Sinhala and Buddhism pride of place, changing the secular nature of the state, the passage of which took place outside parliament, that broke the unwritten covenant, that caused the Tamil parties to walk out from the ‘constituent assembly’, in disgust, resulting in the removal of the only supposedly entrenched safeguard, incorporated in the Soulbury constitution, article 29/2. [13] Not to mention the outright rejection of the 6 point demand made by the Tamil parties, to amend the new constitution.

See also Factors that Led to Tamil Separatism. [14]

1972 Saw a More Potent Form of Tamil Nationalism Driven by Tamil Youth, To Counter a Virulent Form of Sinhalese Nationalism that Finally Led to the Vaddukoddai Resolution

As a response to a virulent form of Sinhalese nationalism, in ‘Witness To History,’ journalist, S Sivanayagam, writes about the birth of Tamil Nationalism and Tamil militancy that grew more potent in 1972 – leading to the creation of the Tamil Tiger Movement, called the ‘Tamil New Tigers by Veluppillai Pirabaharan barely 18 years old and the formation of the Tamil United Front (TUF) made up of the Federal Party, the Tamil Congress, the Ceylon Workers Congress, the Eelath Tamilar Otrumai Munnani and the All Ceylon Tamil Conference. Sivanayagam writes that was the year Mr. S Thondaman representing upcountry Tamils denounced the new constitution and decided that all Tamils must come together under one leadership pointing to Mr. S J V Chelvanayakam. It was in the same year that Mr. Chelvanayakam resigned his Kanakesanturai seat, (to run on a mandate seeking freedom), reflecting the mood of Tamil Youth,” writes Sivanayagam:

In the Federal Party Silver Jubilee volume in 1974 Mr. Chelvanayakam having resigned his seat and awaiting a by-election wrote about the need for the, “Tamil people to be a free people”:   “In view of the events that have taken place, the Tamil people of Ceylon should have the right to determine their future – whether they are to be a subject race in Ceylon or they are to be a free people,” he wrote.

An Attack On The Tamil International Conference The Last Straw

Matters took a turn for the worse from then onwards; the violent assault on the people attending the International Tamil Conference at Veerasingam Hall, Jaffna by the Sinhalese dominated Police under Mayor Durayappa, was the last straw that broke the camel’s back – resolving that enough was enough, Tamils needed to break out of the covenant that the Sinhalese had already broken:

Sivanayagam writes:

“The Conference attended by Tamil scholars from many parts of the world was held in Veerasingam Hall from 3rd to 10th January 1974…The entire Jaffna town wore a festive air during that week. In a country where the Tamil language was denied any official recognition and where the Tamil people were themselves groaning under state oppression, what was undoubtedly the greatest international conference held in Jaffna was marred by tragedy on the final day. If the government in Colombo was antagonistic, the authorities in Jaffna were no less. Jaffna had a mayor in Alfred Durayappa, a Tamil himself but who was the henchman of the government, whose initial reluctance to permit the use of the open air theatre angered the people. Jaffna also had a Sinhalese dominated police force that already earned the hatred of the people. What should have been a grand finale to the conference ended in scenes of bedlam and tragedy. It was an unprecedented crowd estimated over 50,000, never before seen in Jaffna which had gathered at the esplanade opposite the hall. It was a sea of heads as one could see, reaching up to the moat of the Dutch fort in the background and loudspeakers were fixed to electric posts in the vicinity. By the time the proceedings began it was 8 pm. Prof. D. S Vidyananthan of the university, chairing the meeting invited Dr Naina Mohamed, a distinguished Tamil scholar from India to speak. It was while the latter was on his feet that a tragic sequence of events began…….Just then a jeep and a truck with policeman armed and in steel helmets endeavoured to make their way through the crowd, the truck proceeded forward slowly until owing to the density of the crowd it could go no further. The policemen got off the vehicles and proceeded to hit everyone who stood in their path. And then fanning out they made a sustained and relentless attack on the people… tear gas and gunshots added to the terror…several were overpowered by the fumes and Drs Vidyananthan and James Rutnam were rendered unconscious… and seven others were electrocuted as result of the police firing at the overhead wires.”

“Events were beginning to move rapidly thereafter,” Sivanayagam writes. The death of Sivakumaran a militant youth leader by swallowing cyanide when surrounded by police had a devastating effect. – The first such death by cyanide. Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike’s visit to open the Jaffna University arranged by Mayor Durayppa was met by youth protests: “a new wave of violence greeted her visit and bombs were thrown at a police jeep…”

It would be remiss not to mention the editor of ‘Suthanthiran’, Kovai Mahesan [15] whose writings had a great impact on the young. Satchi Sri Kantha in his article: ‘Remembering Kovai Mahesan’ wrote how he, “forfeited monetary and material comforts for following the path of (his boss) S J V Chelvanayakam and inspired and fertilised the minds of the younger generation of Tamils by his writings and activism.”

The Idea of Liberation

Slowly the idea of “liberation” started to gel in the minds of Eelam Tamils. On the 5th of May 1976, nine days before the passage of the Vaddukoddai Resolution the ‘Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam’ (LTTE) was formed, from the old ‘Tamil New Tigers’ and the TUF also changed its name to the ‘Tamil United Liberation Front’ (TULF), adding the word “Liberation”.

Examining Some Paragraphs of the Vaddukoddai Resolution

The Vaddukoddai Resolution is a very comprehensive document that enshrines succinctly, with clarity, important truths in addition to recalling incidents in the history of Eelam Tamils and their homeland along with the many legitimate grievances they had including their inherent right to Self-determination; that which was, “unanimously adopted at the 1st National Convention of the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) held at Pannakam, Vaddukoddai on May 14, 1976 – presided over by Mr. S J V Chelvanayakam QC MP – that which received the overwhelming mandate of the Tamil people in the general election of 1977, where the TULF won 18 of the 19 seats it contested.

In examining the Vaddukoddai Resolution, it would be helpful to look at the last few paragraphs which clearly mark the steps the TULF was prepared to take including launching, “a non-violent direct action against the Government in order to win the freedom and the rights of the Tamils on the basis of the right to self-determination.” The resolution explains how, “this last attempt by the TULF to win constitutional recognition of the rights of the Tamil Nation without jeopardising the unity of the country was callously ignored by the Prime Minister and the Government,” how, ” the opportunity provided by the TULF leader Mr. S J V Chelvanayakam Q.C. to vindicate the Government’s contention that their constitution had the backing of the Tamil people, by resigning his membership of the National State Assembly and creating a by-election, was deliberately put off for over two years in utter disregard of the democratic right of the Tamil voters of Kankesanturai,” how, “in the by-election held on 6th February 1975, the voters of Kankesanturai by a preponderant majority not only rejected the Republican Constitution imposed on them by the Sinhalese Government, but also gave the mandate to Mr. Chelvanayakam and through him to the TULF for the restoration and reconstitution of the Free, Secular, Socialist State of Tamil Eelam.”

The Declaration States:

“The first National Convention of the TULF meeting at Pannakam (Vaddukoddai Constituency) on the 14th day of May, 1976, hereby declares that the Tamils of Ceylon by virtue of their great language, their religion, their separate culture and heritage, their history of independent existence as a separate state over a distinct territory over several centuries till they were conquered by the armed might of the European invaders and above all by their will to exist as a separate entity ruling themselves in their own territory, as a nation distinct and apart from the Sinhalese and this Convention announces to the world that the republican Constitution of 1972 has made the Tamils a slave nation ruled by the colonial masters, the Sinhalese, who are using the power they have wrongly usurped to deprive the Tamil Nation of its territory, language, citizenship, economic life, opportunities of employment and education, thereby destroying all the attributes of nationhood of the Tamil people,” and how, “taking note of the reservations in relation to its commitment to the setting up of a separate state of TAMIL EELAM expressed by the Ceylon Worker congress as a Trade Union for the Plantation workers, the majority of who live and work outside the Northern and Easter areas,

This convention resolves that the restoration and reconstitution of the Free, Sovereign, Secular, Socialist State of TAMIL EELAM, based on the right to self determination inherent to every nation, has become inevitable in order to safeguard the very existence of the Tamil Nation in this country.”

A Call To The Youth

And the final paragraph in the Vaddukoddai Resolution is an important one – it calls for the, “Tamil Youth in particular to come forward to throw themselves fully into the sacred fight for freedom”:

“And this convention calls upon the Tamil nation in general and the Tamil youth in particular to come forward to throw themselves fully into the sacred fight for freedom and to flinch not till the goal of a sovereign state of TAMIL EELAM is reached.”

Last Opportunity For Tamils of Eelam To Express Their True Aspirations

The Vaddukoddai Resolution was not only an endorsement of the Tamil right to Self-determination, [16] “it was the last time Tamils of Eelam were able to freely express their wish in a democratically conducted poll,” reflecting their aspiration for a separate and independent state of Tamil Eelam. The Sirimavo government’s response to arrest the momentum gained by the Vaddukoddai Resolution was to haul Mr. Appapillai Amirthalingam, Mr. M. Sivasithamparam, Mr. K P Ratnam and Mr. K Thurairatnam to court on charges of sedition, “arraigning them at a trial at bar on June 18, 1976 [17] and later withdrawing the charge. The charge was that they were, “distributing the text of the resolution which called for a separate state.” The legal counsel for the defence were composed of Mr. M Tiruchelvam, Mr. G G Ponnambalam and Mr. S J V Chelvanayakam (among other), three giants in the island’s legal and political field.

The Twin Articles of the 1976 Vaddukoddai Resolution & The 2013 Tamil Eelam Freedom Charter

Furthermore, complimentary to the Vaddukoddai Resolution, and, “enshrining the freedom demands of Eelam Tamils,” is the 2013 Tamil Eelam Freedom Charter, [18] considered similar to that of the 1955 Freedom Charter of the African National Congress (ANC) [19] and the 1964/68 Palestinian National Charter [20]– this in accordance with the intentions of the promulgators, TGTE led by Prime Minister Visuvanathan Rudrakmaran – essentially created to move the Vaddukoddai Resolution forward. One which was drafted after wide consultations, the Tamil Eelam Freedom Charter codifies fundamental international and domestic human rights and humanitarian law.

Eelam Tamils must see these twin articles as safeguarding the Tamil homeland, reaffirming the Tamil people as a nation of people entitled to the right to self determination and as a means of re-establishing, reinforcing and facilitating law and order, fairness, justice and good governance in Tamil Eelam.

The Tamil Diaspora “Will Remain a Critical Factor in Any Conflict Resolution”

It may also be useful to refer to a scholarly article: ”Empowering Diasporas: The Dynamics of Post-war Transnational Tamil Politics“ [21], released by the Berghof Peace Support Foundation in 2010 – where authors, Lukshi Vimalarajah and R. Cheran, suggest in page 8, that, “any political settlement of the ethno-political conflict in Sri Lanka will only be sustainable if the Tamil Diaspora is included as an essential stakeholder in conflict resolution efforts and their concerns are given due consideration”. Read also On Responsible Distance: An Interview with R. Cheran by Aparna Halpé that provides further insight into Diaspora Tamils.[22]

The authors, Vimalarajah and Cheran, who are academics of repute, question some of the conclusions reached by the International Crisis Group (ICG) in their 2010 report entitled: The Sri Lanka Tamil Diaspora After the LTTE [23] – the ICG opining that, “the Transnational Government is being, “kept at arm’s length by Western governments, given its resemblance to a government-in-exile, even if the group does not claim this status,” it adds. The ICG also suggesting, “A pro- separatist agenda” as not being conducive to “a just and sustainable peace”. Vimalarajah and R. Cheran however in page 18 suggest otherwise:

I Quote:

“The recommendation of the ICG report to the host governments to support moderate, non-separatist voices within the diaspora raises questions concerning its effectiveness. The moderates have seldom been the driving force behind radical and fundamental changes in conflict contexts – although the peace building community still places all its hopes in the power of moderate civil society for social and political change. However, those who are traditionally classified as ’extremists’ are also those who are firmly rooted in their constituencies, are at the driving seat of decision-making processes, have a wide network, enjoy the trust of the community and are influential. They have the potential to bring sustainable peace. In the case of the Tamil Diaspora, the overwhelming majority of the Tamil Diaspora that endorsed the quest for a separate state in the recently held referenda are also classified as ’extremists’ since they endorsed a separate state vision. It would be politically imprudent to isolate this powerful section and disengage and ignore this socio-political reality. An increased communication and dialogue with all the sections and different shades of the diaspora will help to improve policy-makers’ understanding of the complex social and political web woven around transnational diaspora politics.”

End Quote.

Furthermore it is our hope, that all the groups mentioned in pages, 19, 20, 21, forming the Tamil Diaspora whom the authors refer to as one entity, the all, “important transnational political actor,” will undoubted converge to celebrate this landmark 40th year of the Vaddukoddai Resolution – the authors listing the “five major Tamil diaspora initiatives after May 2009” that have emerged as being the TGTE, the Global Tamil Forum (GTF), the Vaddukoddai Referendum group, the Tamil National Councils and ‘Tamil Diaspora second generation youth’.

TGTE not a ‘Government in Exile’

There’s no question that ICG’s argument that the TGTE is a ‘government-in-exile is flawed – because TGTE is a prime example of transnational politics and operates in all the major cities of the world, with elected and appointed members representing the countries they live and work in. TGTE has a functioning parliament – an upper chamber and a lower chamber in addition to a cabinet.

A Well Crafted Joint Statement Setting Out Future Strategic Action

The TGTE preparing to mark the 40th anniversary of the Vaddukoddai Resolution, released a joint statement [24] for Thai Thirunaal, together with the International Tamil Youth Organisation and the International Council of Eelam Tamils, calling on, “all Tamil organisations and movements founded on the principles of the Vaddukoddai Resolution to come forward and work together on this momentous occasion.”

Despite The Draconian Sixth Amendment The Push for Self Rule Will Continue

This joint statement mentions, in disgust, the final nail on the coffin, when in 1983 the J R Jayawardene government, “introduced the draconian Sixth Amendment to the Constitution which denied people their freedom of expression and criminalised the advocacy of a separate state of TAMIL EELAM, removing today the political space for Tamils to express their true political aspirations.”

“However”, the statement reiterates that “through exercising the inherent right of all Nations to self-determination according to universal law, Eelam Tamils continue to claim their right to self-rule,” and that, “despite the efforts of Sri Lanka and its apparatus of state terrorism through the genocidal war unleashed in Mullivaaikaal to suppress the Tamil people’s thirst for freedom, Tamils the world over continue to breathe the thoughts and dreams of a free Tamil Eelam.”

“What’s in it for Tamils in the Proposed New Constitution?

At the time of writing, considering the Sri Lankan government has not moved an inch towards devolving power and all we hear is that the country will remain unitary and that the army won’t budge from Tamil Eelam, we can’t risk doing nothing – and lose it all. If the country will remain unitary, what’s in it for Tamils is a fair and reasonable question to ask – A question so paramount at this time for Eelam Tamils as moves are a foot for a ‘Constitutional Assembly’ to be convened on 5th April to begin the drafting of a new constitution that’s expected in 2017. With the Sinhalese Governor encouraging mixed marriages and calling for integration in the North; with the Northern Provincial Council showing its concern by passing a resolution asking the President to stop Tamil lands being colonised by military families,” [25] it’s obvious nothing has changed except for some cosmetic props that have been put in place to impress the outside world.

Tamils Need To Go Forward – United and Strong towards a Referendum

A convergence of views towards one goal – that of carrying forward the Vaddukoddai Resolution and what it stands for is now more critical! One loud united voice is stronger, better, more forceful, than a number of diluted voices lurking to no avail – actually putting pressure to bear, to convince the international community through diplomacy and engagement that a UN supervised referendum is the only satisfactory way to sustainable peace in the island. We ask that you travel with the TGTE on this sacred journey!

We need that one strong, loud, forceful united Tamil voice – now!


[1] http://www.sangam.org/FB_HIST_DOCS/vaddukod.htm

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Declaration_of_Independence

[3] http://www.bl.uk/magna-carta/articles/magna-carta-english-translation

[4] http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/

[5] https://www.tamilnet.com/img/publish/2012/10/VKR_report.pdf

[6] http://www.un.org/News/dh/infocus/Sri_Lanka/POE_Report_Full.pdf

[7] http://www.tamilcanadian.com/article/6279

[8]http://www.colombogazzete.com/2013/05/31/rudra-tells-thai-pm-to-raise-concerns/

[9] http://www.srilankaguardian.org/2011/06/channel-4-documentary-sri-lankas.html

[10] https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/sinhala-buddhist-bigotry-root-cause-of-strife-in-sri-lanka/

[11] https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/acts-of-betrayal-that-broke-the-letter-spirit-of-independence/

[12] https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/thileepan-the-reckoning-that-non-violence-didnt-stand-a-chance/

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

[14] http://www.srilankaguardian.org/2012/09/factors-that-led-to-tamil-separatism.html

[15] http://sangam.org/2012/07/Kovai_Mahesan.php?uid=4784

[16] http://www.srilankaguardian.org/2012/09/why-tamils-of-tamil-eelam-deserve-self.html

[17] http://www.nation.lk/2008/02/10/special7.htm

[18] https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/tgte-launched-tamil-eelam-freedom-charter/

[19] http://www.anc.org.za/show.php?id=72

[20] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palestinian_National_Covenant

[21] http://www.berghof-foundation.org/fileadmin/redaktion/Publications/Papers/Occasional_Papers/boc31eBPS.pdf

[22] http://www.utpjournals.press/doi/abs/10.3138/utq.84.4.07

[23] http://www.crisisgroup.org/en/regions/asia/south-asia/sri-lanka/186-the-sri-lankan-tamil-diaspora-after-the-ltte.aspx

[24] http://tamildiplomat.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Press-Release.pdf

[25] http://www.jdslanka.org/index.php/news-features/politics-a-current-affairs/593-sri-lanka-northern-province-oppose-moves-to-colonise-tamil-lands

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    Intresting discussion I know we know it is utter wastage of thinking talking about the past such as saying we are all a group of nearenandathals not wise humans or homosapiens. Living in the moment talking of the future need proper planning creative thinking intelligent thought with proper wisdom with island of SriLanka seems to be tethering in its belly handing over land to china as natives seems to be incompetent to organize and create an economy for support it’s self borrowing and polluting the country donating the cars to politicians punctuality honesty lacking. No serious research or development by any of the educational institutions once out of the country many don’t return back so incompetency rises. Unless all are helping supporting each other what race religion you belong no one will progress it is said help to family parents grandparents make younger lazy drug alcohol exposure riding in motor cycle with lack of ambitions do says the chief minister how it is possible unless hard work more effort success never reach you as we all die sooner than later

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