Sri Lanka: One Island, Two Nations

November 3, 2017 Asia , Opinion , OPINION/NEWS

Vikalpa photo



Kumarathasan Rasingam



Sri Lanka’s Unfulfilled Pacts, Accord, Undertakings, Pledges, Promises and Tamils’ Endless Sufferings



“Two different nations, from a very ancient period, have divided between them the possession of the Island: the Sinhalese inhabiting the interior in its Southern and Western parts from the river Wallouwe to Chilaw, and the Malabars (Tamils) who possess the Northern and Eastern Districts. These two nations differ entirely in their religion, language and manners.” – Sir Hugh Cleghorn, British Colonial Secretary, June 1879.


Pogroms against the Tamils one after the other, planned and executed, aided and abetted by the successive Governments in power, since independence in 1948, first following the peaceful protest against the Sinhala Only Bill in 1956 and subsequently in 1958, 1971, 1977, 1981 and 1983. The orchestrated attacks against the Tamils became increasingly ferocious as time went on until it was taken over by state terrorism, escalating into full scale war from 2004–2009 and repression directed against the Tamil people in their own homeland.

The independent Judiciary was not spared also. Tamil people lost confidence in the Judiciary for three reasons. Firstly, it could not provide redress against state sponsored discrimination by allowing for its own politicising.

Secondly its arm, the police force losing its national character by becoming Sinhala only and becoming the arm of Sinhala Chauvinist state to be deployed to impose an oppressive rule.

Thirdly, through its materialisation, it came to serve the military rule that is now imposed on the North East. [Tamils traditional and historical homeland which is taken over by state terrorism, escalating into full scale war from 2004 – 2009 and repression directed against the Tamil people in their own homeland].

The war without witness forced out all NGO, INGOS, Human rights Organizations, even the United Nations Officials [who are supposed to protect the civilians during a conflict].

As time goes on evidence of heinous crimes against humanity by the Sri Lankan Security forces emerged through Channel 4 documentaries and other sources.




Sri Lanka’s Unfulfilled Pacts, Accord, Undertakings, Pledges and Promises



The Bandaranaike–Chelvanayakam Pact 1957

This was an agreement signed between the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike and the leader of the main Tamil political party in Sri Lanka S. J. V. Chelvanayakam on July 26, 1957. It advocated the creation of a series of Regional Councils in Sri Lanka as a means to giving a certain level of autonomy to the Tamil people of the country, and was intended to solve the communal disagreements that were occurring in the country at the time.

The Abrogation of a Pact

At 4.15 p.m. the B-C Pact was torn into pathetic shreds by its principal author who now claimed that its implementation had been rendered impossible by the activities of the Buddhist Monks. But the monks insisted on getting this promise in writing. The Prime Minister went into the house brought the written pledge out to the monks. 


Dudley Senanayake Chelvanayakam Pact 1965

On 24 March 1965, another Sinhala Prime Minister Dudley Senanayake signed a pact with the Tamil leader S J V Chelvanayakam, promising to redress Tamil grievances, in return for Tamil support for the PM’s party to form the government.

Most provisions in the pact were not implemented, and four years later, on 9 April 1969, the Tamil leadership withdrew their support for the government.


Indo Sri Lanka Agreement, 1987

The Indo-Sri Lankan Peace Agreement was signed on the 29th of July 1987 by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and President J.R. Jayawardene. It was an agreement that was entered into behind the backs of the Tamil resistance movement. Even the Tamil United Liberation Front which had severed its links with the LTTE and which had lost popular support was constrained to write to Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on 28 July 1987.


Chandrika’s ‘Devolution Proposals’ 1995

Text of Sri Lanka Proposal for Devolution released by President Chandrika Kumaratunga on 3 August 1995: This proposal provides reasonable powers to the Tamils in the North & East with powers over land and Police. The proposal was torn down in Parliament by the present Prime Minister of Sri Lanka Rt. Hon. Ranil Wickremesinghe. Had this proposal been accepted all the losses of lives and billions of dollars on war and destruction could have been avoided.



4.1 Land will be a devolved subject and State land within a region will be vested in the Regional Councils. State land within a region required for the purposes of the center in respect of a reserved subject may be utilized by the center in consultation with the relevant Regional Council in accordance with such procedures as may be established by law.

4.2 Priority in future land settlement schemes will be given to persons first of the district and then of the Region.


3.1 There will be a regional police service headed by a Regional Police Commissioner appointed by the Chief Minister, in consultation with the Governor of the Region. The Regional Police Commissioner will be responsible to, and function under the control of, the relevant Chief Minister. The Regional police service will investigate all offenses against persons and property.


Sri Lanka – LTTE Ceasefire Agreement 22 February 2002

Article 1: Modalities of a ceasefire

The Parties have agreed to implement a ceasefire between their armed forces as follows:

1.1 A jointly agreed ceasefire between the GOSL and the LTTE shall enter into force on such date as is notified by the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs in accordance with Article 4.2, hereinafter referred to as D-day.



Prime Minister/Presidents Commissions

Thirteen Commissions were appointed beginning with the Sansoni Commission in 1977 and ending recently with the Paranagama Commission to investigate disappearances during the period from 2011–2015 which presented its report in 2016. Added to this is the recent Consulting Task Force [CTF] consisting of eleven prominent citizens appointed in February 2016 to report on reconciliation which held its sittings all over the island, heard oral statements including about 7,300 written submissions from all walks of life. The CTF submitted its report in January 2017 which dealt comprehensively with all the issues affecting the process of accountability, justice and reconciliation.


Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission

Most of the Commissions’ important recommendations remain unfulfilled;


The Centre For Policy Alternatives on 3 January, 2012: 


Release of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) Report:  


“We call on the GOSL to implement the LLRC recommendations without delay and with sincerity and commitment to the cherished goal of a truly plural and united Sri Lanka. We note that the LLLRC report is the initiation of a process of reconciliation; not the end of it. Furthermore, the LLRC clearly states that it is the GOSL that has to take the lead in the process and in particular, in arriving at a political and constitutional settlement based on devolution of “the ethnic problem as well as other serious problems that threaten democratic institutions”.

It is to be noted that Sri Lanka excels in breaching and non-compliance of Pacts and Promises coupled with its culture of impunity which is deeply interwoven with the political process and judicial system. It would be next to impossible to eliminate this repugnant and internationally scorned disease unless and until International community initiates practical and forceful measures without delay instead of making occasional statements.

This lethargic and frozen state of affairs only emboldens and encourages the Sri Lankan Government to continue its policy of defiance in implementing the UNHRC Recommendations.

It is high time for the United Nations, UNHRC to take action in regard to the damning Reports by United Nations Special Rapporteurs who visited Sri Lanka recently mentioning the unimplemented UNHRC Resolution 30/1, delay in the operation of the Office of Missing Persons [OMP] and continuation of the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act [PTA].





Kumarathasan Rasingam

Kumarathasan Rasingam

Kumarathasan Rasingam, a Human Rights activist and former President of the Tamil Canadian Elders for Human Rights Organization, migrated to Canada from Sri Lanka in April 2011.

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