The Dream Of Tamil Eelam – OpEd


By Usha S Sri-Skanda-Rajah

The Dream of Tamil Eelam is real.

Tamil Eelam is no myth, that one day Tamil Eelam will be reconstituted and restored is no pipe dream; it is real. And the Sinhalese must try digging deep with in their hearts and consider this reality for true peace and reconciliation.

When Sanjeewa Ranaweera in his article ‘Eelam Dream’ And Tamil Elitism, theorized that the ‘Eelam Dream’ was just a Tamil Elitist Dream, I had this to say: “The ‘Eelam Dream’ is neither a ‘Tamil Elitist Dream’ nor a pipe dream, it is real, the day the rest of you come to terms with it the better,” I said. “Eelam bashing may be one of your pet peeves, but why don’t you try digging deep within your heart and consider the real possibility of Eelam, not as a “notion” or an “invention” or in our imagination but as a nation deserving of recognition, the proclamation of which is actually the restoration and reconstitution of a nation that was “separate and sovereign, existing side by side with the Sinhalese nation from the dawn of history dividing between them the possession of the island of Ceylon.” This I did with indignation. Definitely Sanjeewa’s thesis disclosed his typical racist mentality, packaged as an outwardly pragmatic view point.

The Basis for Tamil Eelam

Area that is claimed for Tamil Eelam
Area that is claimed for Tamil Eelam

The historical, political, cultural and legal basis for the premise that Tamil Eelam is a nation state, separate from the Sinhala nation, deserving of recognition is contained in the Vaddukoddai Resolution of 1976.

If ever there was a document that clearly makes the case for Tamil Eelam, and that which was put to the test and won an overwhelming mandate from the Tamils at the 1977 polls it is the Vaddukoddai Resolution. It must be read word to word to get a full and complete overview of the legitimacy of Tamil Eelam from sovereignty to territorial integrity and more. (

The fundamental core principles enshrined in the Vaddukoddai Resolution can be found in two paragraphs: The other sections being equally important, documenting the contributing factors that led up to this profound statement.

“The first National Convention of the Tamil United Liberation Front 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 religions, their separate culture and heritage, their history of independent existence as a separate state over a distinct territory for 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, are a nation distinct and apart from Sinhalese and this Convention announces to the world that the Republican Constitution of 1972 has made the Tamils a slave nation ruled by the new 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.”

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

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Going back to Sanjeewa Ranaweera, It is sad that there are many like him who can’t easily accept the concept of Tamil Eelam, only they are worse and more radical; from Sinhala academics to Sinhala anthropologists; from Sinhala historians to Sinhala writers; from Sinhala politicians to the Sinhala elite; from ‘Sinhala Supremacists’ to ‘Fundamentalist’ Buddhist monks; from Sinhala thugs to Sinhala racist elements, there are those who come up with all sorts of spurious arguments that Eelam is a fallacy, concocted by the Tamils and that it is an unrealizable goal.

There are still Sinhalese, and a growing number, mostly humanitarians, human rights advocates and ordinary people who believe otherwise; who feel strongly that Tamils deserve a satisfactory political solution, speaking out often times and putting their life on the line.

Taking a leaf from Herzl and the Birth of Israel

At these times what come to mind are the prophetic words of Herzl, the founding father of the Zionist movement and his unflinching faith in the birth of the State of Israel. The Jewish people aspired for a Jewish state without even a piece of land at first to call their own. (

The first Zionist Congress in Basle Switzerland in Aug. 1897 and the profound words of Theodor Herzl is significant. Never giving up, Herzl’s vision and conviction is inexorable and his foresight admirable and so evident from an entry in his diary: “Were I to sum up the Basle Congress in a word – which I shall guard against pronouncing publicly. It would be this: At Basle I founded the Jewish State. If I said this loud today, I would be answered by universal laughter. If not in 5 years, certainly in 50, everyone will know it.”

Insurgencies are Born out of Long Held Grievances

Once when the Harvard Kennedy School was discussing “The Way Forward” after the war in Sri Lanka I shared my comment that “insurgencies are born out of grievances not being addressed for decades: it stems from persecution and discrimination, marginalization and violence perpetrated against a community that produces a need to fight back when all peaceful means are exhausted. The seeds are planted when ‘military might’ is used to quell freedom of expression and assembly; it grows when one community imposes its will over the other, where one community has a stranglehold on power and dominance over the other; where inequality prevails, where one community enjoys self-determination and the other doesn’t; where the need for self preservation of a nation’s identity and the defense of its homeland becomes the overwhelming priority of a community and survival becomes its foremost pre-occupation.

We Can’t Have More of the Same

We can’t have more of the same. We can’t have a military more than hundred thousand strong occupying the areas which Tamils call their traditional homeland, interfering with every aspect of their lives.

We can’t have a concerted and well organized move by the government to forcibly expropriate land belonging to Tamils to build army cantonments and establish Sinhala settlements with the sole motive of not only exerting military muscle over Tamil civilians but of blurring the demography of historical Tamil habitats.

Lord Buddha’s Gem

Take the case of the news that Gotabaya Rajapaksa has opened a Buddhist Vihare in Kilinochchi. The Sri Lankan government’s social and political agenda is to ensure that Sinhala Buddhist hegemony prevails in Tamil country. The Secretary of Defence at the opening ceremony in Kilinochchi not only “praised the armed forces for their support in constructing a Buddhist Vihare,” he also “thanked the Maha Sanga for safeguarding Buddhism and Buddhists and the immense support given by the Maha Sangha to the tri forces personnel and government leaders.”

A very telling dialogue between Lord Buddha and some monks in John Drew, a British poet’s book ‘The Buddha at Kamakura’ serves as a message to these so called Buddhists:

“All is Harmony, the monks reported. Religious Strife has been eliminated.

How? Asked the Buddha.

Non-Buddhists have been converted they said.

How? Asked the Buddha.

Those who refused were locked away in camps. Others fled or were exiled.

The Buddha said: Some Non-Buddhists Remain.

Impossible, said the monks. Who are they?

Those who did all this, said the Buddha.”

We can’t have a government that continues on this path of no return: We can’t have a government that refuses to own up to or account for its crimes, allegedly committed by its senior political and military leaders, crimes that entail serious breaches of human rights under international law that constitute ‘Mass Atrocities’ – War Crimes, Crimes against Humanity, Ethnic Cleansing and Genocide.

We can’t have a government that ‘window dresses’ its atrocious human rights record to make it look good for the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review. The government’s actions, for example to virtually abandon ‘Internally Displaced People’ (IDPs), amounts to dereliction of its obligations under international humanitarian law including the whole gambit of related international customary law. Common article 3 of the four Geneva Conventions guarantees protection for IDPs who have a right to “humane treatment without discrimination.”

We can’t have the Sri Lankan government calling all those who ask for a “credible” international independent investigation into war crimes and all who hold the dream of Tamil Eelam “terrorists”.

Giving Way to Sinhala Statesmen

For permanent peace and reconciliation in Sri Lanka there has to be a realization and an appreciation of the truths stated here. Sinhala politicians must come forward with courage, transcend the Sinhala Buddhist Supremacist ideology to address the issues head on with genuine interest and be magnanimous enough to accommodate the aspirations of the Tamil people for self-determination.

Putting Back the Lustre in the ‘Pearl’ of the Indian Ocean

The kind of closed and chauvinistic mindset and racially motivated intolerance must change. There has to be statesmen born of the ilk that we haven’t seen before, except perhaps for Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan. Why can’t there be two nations existing side by side in complete harmony? It will not spell doom and gloom for the Sinhala people, on the contrary it will herald a new chapter of peace and co-existence that this island has not enjoyed in a long time, leading to a new era of prosperity that this island has never experienced before. Then we can truly say the ‘Pearl’ of the Indian Ocean has indeed regained its lustre and beauty, radiant and appreciated in its full glory.

The views expressed are the author’s own.

4 thoughts on “The Dream Of Tamil Eelam – OpEd

  • October 5, 2012 at 3:06 am

    The Sinhalese intellectuals are revising history by promoting the myth that the Sinhalese ruled the entire island from King Vijaya. But a critical reading of the island history reveals that the Sinhalese never ruled the entire country. Because of this there is no word in Sinhala to refer to the whole island. Lanka is a Sanskrit word. In fact the kings who ruled from Anuradhapura up to the 9th century were not Sinhalese but Nagas and Thamils. The legendary king Vijaya was a Hindu, not Buddhist. The Sinhalese language evolved from Pali, Sanskrit, Thamil and Elu. Elu is the language spoken by Nagas and Yakkhas the indigenous people of Ceylon. So the Sinhalese should thank not their stars but British imperialists who amalgamated the Kingdom of Jaffna with the rest of Ceylon in 1833. If not for the advent of the colonial powers the Thamils would be having their own Kingdom which the lost to the Portuguese in 1619 on the battle field. So the ethnic problem to be solved, Thamils sovereignty, usurped by the Sinhalese in 1948 should be restored to the Thamil people.

    • October 5, 2012 at 12:07 pm

      History we must know and learn from it, but we cannot live in the past but in the future. The future is that Sri Lanka continues as a single nation, all historical discussions and resolutions notwithstanding. The people who inhabit this land are different from those who did a hundred years ago, even 50 years ago. So, let’s set aside the tales of history and join hands to live a new life fashioned out of our collective thinking for the benefit of every citizen. Every inch of Sri Lanka is for all peoples who live here, and that must be clearly understood. Maybe we have to wait until the the pitiful old historians die off, for the new generation to flourish in the new Sri Lanka.

  • October 6, 2012 at 10:55 pm

    Those who claim a Tamil Elam in Sri Lanka have no knowledge of history. If they had a hint of historical knowledge they would know that Sri Lanka won all the wars waged against Tamil separatists leaving no room for a separate Tamil nation within the island. It is important to apprehend this fact fully so that no one will cause mischief to Sinhalan historical places of worship hoping naively that it will change history or cause a Tamil-only nation to take root in the island. Ryming words cannot replace well documented historical accounts.

    When Tamils were concocting there so called history they went around calling Jaffna and the North the bastion of Tamil civilisation and pointed out all the Hindu structures as “proof”. Then when archaeological activity discovered the ruins of Buddhist temples as well the foundations of certain Hindu temples being built upon Buddhist temple structures (that had been destroyed and converted) they quickly spun the “Tamil Buddhist” stories.

    The reality is of course Tamils have no history within Sri Lanka pre-dating Sinhala Buddhist history. The only “permanent” Tamil presence is from the 12th and 13th centuries revolving around the Chola invasions. These were repulsed and what was left of that (including the invaders/colonists) were concentrated in the peninsular submitting themselves to the Sinhala King, having to pay tribute, respect of authority and such.

    When the topic of history and “Tamil history” begins, they are quick to attack and insult Sinhala history, culture and people. Yet Sinhalese never do this in return –either out of Sinhala kindness and soft attitudes or knowing they (Tamils) have no history anyway and do not want to “upset” them. As of late i have seen the argument pedalled that questioning Tamils (their lies and sob stories) is not good because it will “upset race relations” and is now “not good for reconciliation”.

    So called Tamil history is based on attacking Sinhala history and trying to discredit it. Of course they struggle because all archaeological evidence supports what is contained within Mahavamsa (they try to silence Sinhalese from referring to or defending the Mahavamsa by blackening this great document as “racist”). Thus questioning them about anything including their bogus tales of “discrimination” and fraudulent “grievances” is “racism”. Intriguingly the moment the history debate turns sour for Tamils (upon citing the lack of archaeological evidence) they and their white backers are quick to state “history is not important, it is about the today and the now”.

    When you dig up so called Tamil history in the North and East you find the ruins of Sinhala civilisation beneath.

    Even the world “eelam” is the corrupted Tamil/South Indian word for “Sinhale”/”Sinhala”. As that is the name given to this land for its inhabitants by its inhabitants. It is only in 2007 they realised this “mistake” and changed it to Eezham or something like that. For all this time they had been demanding a “Tamil eelam” they were calling for a “Tamil land of the Sinhalese”. Their whole “homeland” project was nothing more than theft and deceit engraved in the name itself. That said Tamil culture is built on theft and deceit and they have no problem with doing so if it means self-advancement.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *