UN Must Recognise Tamils’ Right To Self-Determination

April 2, 2019 Asia , HUMAN RIGHTS , Opinion , OPINION/NEWS

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Kumarathasan Rasingam



Tamils demand the Right to Self-Determination as Tamils in Sri Lanka qualify as a People and Nation.



When the United Nations was created after World War II, one of its main purposes was spelt out in Article 1 [2] of the Charter, which states ‘To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principles of equal rights and self-determination of people.”


It is sad that the United Nations, UNHRC and International Community have ignored the claims, sacrifices and sufferings of the Tamils in Tamil Eelam at the hands of the Sinhala/Buddhist hegemony since 1948. The British, who amalgamated the Sinhala Nation and Tamil Nation in 1833 for their easy administration and while leaving the country, passed the baton of power to the hands of the Buddhist Sinhalese and weakened the Tamil Nation that existed before.


The United Nations adopted the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 1966, Article 1 of both these International Covenants stating “All peoples have the right to self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.”


Tamils have experienced discrimination, denial of the rights to self-determination, abrogated agreements and violations of international human rights and humanitarian law amounting to Genocide by successive Sri Lankan Governments.


As Tamils, we share the common racial and ethnic identity and belong to one race though we may be spread out in different geographical locations. We also have a very strong cultural homogeneity, Pongal remains our most revered and respected cultural festival, our ways of dressing and food habits making us special people. Tamil, our mother tongue, is a binding factor irrespective of our differences based on religion or region.


It has to be noted that in 2011, the Office of the United Nations Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order was established by the Human Rights Council Resolution 18/6. On September 10, 2014, A/HRC/27/51.[99] to the Council and on October 27, 2014, the Independent Expert presented his third report to the General Assembly on the right to self-determination [A/69/272]. In the press release issued the following day he stated: “The realization on the right of self-determination is essential to maintaining local, regional and international peace and must be seen as an important conflict-prevention strategy.”


The systematic violations of human rights by the Sri Lankan Government over a period of seven decades are well documented and are clearly no accidental happenings [Pogroms against the Tamils in 1956, 1958, 1971, 1977, 1981, 1983 and genocidal war from 2006-2009].


The burning of the Tamils Library in Jaffna in May 1981 [one of the best libraries in the east – with thousands of volumes of rare books and palm leaf manuscripts, original copies of regionally important historical documents, political, history of Sri Lanka, etc.] constitutes evidence of the resolute and determined efforts of alien Sinhala Governments to subjugate and assimilate the people of Tamil Eelam within the framework of a unitary Sinhala Buddhist Sri Lankan State. The people of Tamil Eelam have suffered long enough for their human rights. Today, they are a people who can no longer be denied their right to self-determination.


If the United Nations and United Nations Human Rights Council recognize and respect Human Rights to preserve world order, the Right to Self-Determination of the Tamils must be recognized and the crime of Genocide committed by the Sri Lankan state, where 145,679 Tamils are still unaccounted for, must be punished without any further delay as Justice Delayed is Justice Denied.


In addition the United Nations, UNHRC, UN Security Council, International Criminal Court, the co-sponsors of the UNHRC Resolution 40/1 of March 2019 must force Sri Lanka to initiate time bound steps with clear benchmarks to fully implement what was promised in 2015 [UNHRC Resolution 30/1]. Having obtained two more years the Government must not be allowed to squander this opportunity by making false excuses to address accountability.


It should also be noted that the Permanent People’s Tribunal on Sri Lanka from 7–10 December 2013, Bremen, Germany was conducted by an eminent Panel of Experts on human rights and human values. They are:


1 – His Excellency Daniel Feierstein, Director of the Center for Genocide Studies at the Universidad Nacional de Tres de Febrero, Professor in the Faculty at Genocide at the University of Buenos Aires;


2 – His Excellency Halliday Denis: Former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations and 8 other Experts.


In conclusion the Tribunal found that “The genocide against the Eelam Tamil group is a continuing process, one that has not yet accomplished the total destruction of their identity. The genocidal coordinated plan of actions reached a climax on May 2009, but it is clear that the Sri Lanka Government project to erase the Eelam Tamil identity, corroborated by the above mentioned conduct, shows that the genocide process is ongoing. The genocidal strategy has changed, the killings are transformed into other forms of conduct, but the intention to destroy the group and its identity remains and continues, through causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the Eelam Tamil group.


On the strength of the evidence presented, the Tribunal reached the consensus ruling that the state of Sri Lanka is guilty of the crime of Genocide against Eelam Tamils and that the consequences of the Genocide continue to the present day with ongoing acts of genocide against Eelam Tamils.”
[Page 27 para 2 & 3]



Black July for Tamils [July 1983]


On July 25th and 27th Tamil prisoners who were held in custody under the infamous Prevention of Terrorism Act were killed within the wall of the high security Welikada prison. They were killed whilst they were in the custody of the Government of Sri Lanka. [Source:- Book – Black July ’83 : Indictment – Page 208].


A few excerpts from the book ‘Black July 83’: Indictment Back Cover:


Late President J. R. Jayawardene on 11th July 1983, two weeks before the holocaust of July and August in an interview with Ian Ward of the Daily Telegraph, announced to the world : “I am not worried about the opinion of the Tamil people.. Now, we cannot think of them, not about their lives or their opinion… The more you put pressure in the north, the happier the Sinhala people will be, here. Really, if I starve the Tamils out, the Sinhala people will be happy.”


Dr. W. Dahanayake, MP for Galle, and one time Prime Minister advised in the Parliament as reported in December 1985. “The government should offer the Tamils a solution they could accept with dignity. They should also offer them a degree of autonomy within the framework of united Sri Lanka. Why can’t the Tamils of Sri Lanka have a government like that of Tamil Nadu, in the North and East of Sri Lanka?”


Dr. Nihal Jayawickrema, Permanent Secretary in the 1970-1977 United Front Government: In his article on Post Independence Politics in Sri Lanka, wrote in February 1985 “the tragedy of the situation lies in the fact that while successive Sinhala governments were willing and able to be receptive to Sinhala aspirations, they consistently failed to respond to the equally legitimate aspirations of the Tamil speaking people, particularly in the Northern Eastern Provinces.”


The Economist’s report of August 6th 1983: “A tourist told yesterday how she watched in horror as a Sinhala mob deliberately burned alive a bus load of Tamils….There was no mercy. Women, children and old people were slaughtered. Police and soldiers did nothing to stop the genocide.”



The frustration of the Tamil people is palpable. Faced with continued military occupation of land and the daily overwhelming presence of soldiers across the North-East, including perpetrators who remain unpunished for mass atrocities, the Tamil people have been unequivocal in expressing their exasperation at the lack of progress. Only an internationalised mechanism, free from Sri Lankan interference will provide Tamils justice.





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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