By Shenali Waduge
Tamils in India want a Tamil homeland, Tamils in Malaysia are also voicing similar sentiments, the LTTE Diaspora and TNA in Sri Lanka want a Tamil homeland and probably with time Tamils in Canada and Tamils in the UK may also start joining in the chorus. If this be the case with 72m Tamils already living together in one single State, where the language of Tamil is officially the majority language in a state whose name Tamil Nadu translated means Land of the Tamils, a state that originated the call for a Tamil Homeland should ideally be the place to declare that Tamil homeland.
It is up to India since India’s Central Government is consistently harping on “dignity and respect” of the Tamil people to facilitate this and put to rest the time being wasted in exploring different places to flag the Tamil Homeland. That homeland is in Tamil Nadu (Tamilakum – by virtue of being the only land that Tamil is spoken by the majority). This delay is causing undue problems because the bottom line is that one ethnic group cannot demand several mono-ethnic-homelands in different continents and countries – this is likely to create an ugly precedence globally, the UN and the West must not ignore this fact.
Bringing a dream to reality
For starters we need to accept that Tamils the world over are angry that they remain the single significant ethnic group without a homeland to call their own. Let us accept this as the problem. In order to solve this problem we need to trace the origins of Tamil ancestry. This leads us to India where in the state of Tamil Nadu 72m of the world’s 77m Tamils already live in a state where the majority is over 95% Tamil and is the only Tamil speaking state covering 130,058sq.km ample area for all the Tamils of the world to congregate to enhance their cultural heritage and ancestry.
Has Tamils in Tamil Nadu or Tamils the world over not realized they already have a place called “homeland” – they have and there is enough evidence to depict that Tamil leaders since early 1920s have been voicing their desire to live separate of Brahmin-controlled India – a concept promoted by the Justice Party (South Indian Liberal Federation) in 1921. The Tamils accused the Brahmins of destroying Dravidian civilization using the Ramayana made worse by the prominence given to Hindi and Hindustani. This led to the Justice Party bringing a resolution stressing Tamil people’s right to a separate sovereign state under the direct control of the Secretary of State for India in London and led to the demand for a separate Dravida Nadu state (encompassing Tamil speaking states of Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Karnatak and Tamil Nadu). The British delegation (Cripps Mission) that came in 1942 refused the request for a separate Tamil state upon Indian independence. A month before India gained Independence, Tamil leaders celebrated “Dravida Nadu Secession Day” which Mahatma Gandhi and Jinnah opposed leading to India gaining independence on 15 August 1947 without giving Tamils their separate state. In 1949 the DMK – Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam was formed continuing calls for a Dravida Nadu and that same year under Chelvanayagam the Federal Party was formed in Sri Lanka whose English name was meant to camouflage its meaning of a separate Tamil state.
The argument Tamil Nadu separatist leaders used was that India was cobbled together by the British empire. They are technically correct and historically there is enough evidence that when India was being decolonized the application of the “self-determination” concept should have been given to the Tamils to form their rightfully argued Tamil Homeland.
Note how things are falling into place and where the dissent has been originating from. In India the Dravid Nadu supporters used the slogan Brahmin discrimination while in Sri Lanka the slogan was Sinhala discrimination whereas Tamils pre and post-independence were enjoying the best of education and state employment.
In 1950s the Tamils dropped calls for Dravida Nadu (since it included other states) and from “Dravida Nadu for Dravidians” the slogan became “Tamil Nadu for Tamils”. When India weakened the separatist movement through the States Reorganization Act (along linguistic lines) in 1956, the same year Sri Lanka introduced the Sinhala Only Act which gave the perfect excuse to build the momentum. The people of Tamil Nadu realized that the “Tamil homeland” calls was nothing but a tool being used to emotionally attach Tamils together by politicians to win votes that realization has yet to dawn upon Sri Lankan Tamil voters. DMK dropped the separatist demand in 1963 but India’s Central Government craftily used the Tamil factor to start militant groups covertly in Sri Lanka so that India’s Tamil Nadu would be safe from separation and India could keep Sri Lanka’s development and political leaders under Indian noose.
It was in importing India’s ailment to Sri Lanka that makes India continue to think India can interfere into the affairs of citizens of another nation even if by ancestry they are from India. Does India have any right to issue statements on behalf of Tamils living in other nations who are citizens of those countries? Since these Tamils are no more citizens of India realistically India or Tamil Nadu has no locus standi to comment.
Such was the case in Malaysia where Muslims constitute 64% of the population with 8% Indians. Sri Lanka’s Sinhalese make up 74% of the population with Tamils making up less than 10% but both Sinhala and Tamil are official languages. Malaysia’s ID differentiates by ethnicity while there is no such differentiation in Sri Lanka. Malaysia’s constitution establishes Islam as the religion of Malaysia (Article 3) and its Government funds construction of mosques in Malaysia – following the defeat of the LTTE, the Sri Lankan military renovated numerous kovils in the North and even built several new ones.
But the Malaysian Tamils are voicing their discontent that they are unhappy over the preferential support for the Bhumiputras (sons of the soil) and are angry that Hindu temples and Hindu idols are being demolished and angry that the Malaysia Government is denying the historic influence of Hindu religion and culture and projecting Islam as existing before Hinduism in Malaysia. This culminated in a 2007 demonstration before the British High Commission requesting it to move a resolution in the UN condemning the “ethnic cleansing” in Malaysia as well as to take Malaysia before the World Court and the International Criminal Court of Justice. Let us also note that the Indian Tamil population in Malaysia was brought in as labor by the British just as was the case in Sri Lanka.
Not surprising Tamil Nadu’s M Karunanidhi came to the “rescue” of the Malaysian Tamils. However, the Malaysian Government has been able to clearly indicate to India’s Government and to the Tamil Nadu state that India should keep away from internal matters in Malaysia – so why has Sri Lanka not done the same.
A member of a Malaysian trade delegation to India firmly told ethnic Indians that the Tamils in Malaysia considered themselves Malaysians FIRST and Tamils later and that they were not interested in ethnic origins – so said Mr. R. Karunakaran, himself a Tamil.
The same delegation pointed out that the richest Malaysian was a Tamil – Ananda Krishnan. The Indian Tamils do not have a fantastic record in Malaysia – according to the Aliran journal Indians commit 40% of crimes in Malaysia, Indians were the highest detained under emergency regulations, 14% of squatters in its capital were Indian and had the highest suicide rates, 41% of beggars were Indian Tamils, 20% of child abusers and juvenile delinquents were also Indian Tamil.
Sri Lanka will no longer carry India’s burden – Tamil Eelaam is in Tamil Nadu and nowhere else
The subject of decolonization came up because the world was made up of colonies ruled by colonial powers. The concept of self-determination arose to enable the “people” of these colonies or territories to decide the future status of their homeland. Thus self-determination applies only to people of colonies being decolonized. Here is where the Tamil Eelam propagandists have been misusing UN declarations.
Tamil Eelaam propagandists use the following international laws to cite their case:
- UN International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination ( G A Resolution 2106 of 1966) – we would like the Government of Sri Lanka to clearly demand examples of where the GOSL has legally and constitutionally discriminated Tamils.
- UN Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples (G A Resolution 1514 of 1960) stating that “process of liberation is irresistible and irreversible and all people have an inalienable right to complete freedom, the exercise of their sovereignty” – this is where the ball returns to India. It was prior to India’s gaining independence that Tamils of India put forward a case that India was joined together by the British for their administrative needs and that the Tamils wanted a Dravida Nadu or at least a Tamil Nadu. This was denied by the British. Therefore the self-determination was applicable to India at the time of independence when India was being decolonized where Tamil Nadu should have been granted self-determination. It is not too late. This factor needs to be clearly put across by Sri Lanka’s politicians whenever “SOLUTION” demands are made by the UN, the West and even India.
- UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (G A Resolution 2200 of 1966) Article 1 : (a) “All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development”. They (b) also quote Article 3: states: “States Parties to the present Covenant.. shall promote the realization of the right of self-determination and shall respect that right”.
- (c) UN Declaration on the International Status of “peoples” and their Right of Self-Determination (G A Resolution 2625 of 1970) – “The establishment of a sovereign independent state, the free association or integration with an independent state or the emergence into any other political status freely determined by the people constitute modes of implementing the right of self-determination by that people”.
It is just as well the Tamil Eelaam lobbyists are forwarding these arguments because they all lead back to India and not Sri Lanka. It was India that failed or neglected to hear the voice of Tamils for their own homeland and self-determination at the time of decolonization. That homeland for Tamils based on self-determination is what India has denied Tamils and not Sri Lanka. So let us set the story straight. Sri Lanka’s eelam quest was started by India importing and outsourcing the struggle to Sri Lanka to avoid Tamil Nadu breaking away from India.
Sri Lankan Tamils are better off ….
When Tamils in Sri Lanka were not eating together, allowing others to educate themselves because of Tamil caste, it was the Social Disabilities Prevention Act 21 in 1957 that enabled low caste Tamils to gain education – this was opposed by all elite Tamils who even wrote to the British Government against this. Sinhala and Tamil are official languages in Sri Lanka and both are declared languages of administration (16th amendment – to communicate, publications, translations, records), Sinhala and Tamil are the language of the Courts throughout Sri Lanka. In addition, Sri Lanka’s national flag depicts both Tamils and Muslims through the colors orange and green. All public documents – marriage certificate, death certificate, immigration forms etc are all in Sinhalese and Tamil, so too is currency and notes. All public events are presented in all 3 languages, Tamils have no restrictions on owning property, starting business ventures, obtaining state loans, owning land – whereas Sinhalese and Non-Vellalas are denied from obtaining land in North (thesavalami a law), Tamils have access to all state services and public utilities – hospitals, schools, healthcare services, public transport (at no stage did Tamils suffer as the blacks did in the US and in South Africa), Tamils have access to all forms of sports with Tamils even representing national teams, all road signs, buses etc are all in both languages. While Tamils will not allow low caste Tamils to enter hotels or restaurants of high castes, there is no hotel, restaurant, shop that says “Tamils are not welcome”. Those that accept false propaganda and lies may like to visit Sri Lanka to realize that Tamils in Sri Lanka are better off than Tamils in any other part of the world. Can we then please know where Tamils are being discriminated against in Sri Lanka?
As for Tamil Nadu – close to 20% of its population are Dalits and 80% of this number live in villages where illiteracy is over 60%. 62% of these Dalits suffer from some type of abuse ranging from physical assault, sexual harassment, verbal abuse to even rape. This is how Tamils appear to be treating their own in India where the Indian Government is telling Sri Lanka to treat Tamils with “dignity and respect”.
If Tamils cannot integrate – Tamil Nadu is the best option
We have warned India out of good faith that the balkanization of India with maximum foreign involvement will start with Tamil Nadu in view of its strategic location and nuclear capacity unless India wakes up to the seriousness of allowing Tamil Nadu to dictate terms to the Indian Central Government. India has been able to delay that Eelaam by showering Sri Lanka with 30 years of terrorism and not a word of gratitude except to stab Sri Lanka at every opportunity.
Sri Lanka’s politicians may be friends of India – but the Indian Government is not a friend of the people of Sri Lanka. We are no longer prepared to hide from the world the truth that Eelaam for Tamils is nowhere else but in Tamil Nadu and India is morally compelled to facilitate this without continuing the charade that Eelam should be in Sri Lanka.
The people of Sri Lanka are now determined to demand that its Government discontinue being party to this charade starting with revoking of the 13th amendment to restore the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka as rightfully suggested by the Defense Secretary Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
The views expressed are the author’s own.