|-||Total|| १९,५०९ km²
७,५३२.४६७ sq mi
|-||2001 census||2.577.188 (2001)|
|1||Area calculated from statoids.com, including all districts of North Eastern Province and Puttalam District in North Western Province.|
Tamil Eelam (तमिळ: தமிழீழம், tamiḻ īḻam, generally rendered outside Tamil-speaking areas as தமிழ் ஈழம ) is the name given by certain Tamil groups in Sri Lanka & the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora to the state which they aspire to create in the north and east of श्रीलंका. Tamil Eelam has no official status or recognition by any other state or authority. The name is derived from the ancient Tamil name for Sri Lanka, Eelam.
Central issue and historic development[संपादन]
Great Britain gained control of the whole island of Sri Lanka, in 1815 and administratively unified the island with a legislative council in 1833 with three Europeans and one each for Sinhalese, Sri Lankan Tamils and Burghers. British Governor William Manning, who arrived in Ceylon in 1919, created a reformed legislative council in 1921 and actively encouraged communal thinking in the legislative council. As a result, the Tamils started to develop communal consciousness and began to think of themselves as needing to be represented by Tamil leadership. It was this development that made way for the development of the Tamil political organization called the All Ceylon Tamil Congress headed by G. G. Ponnambalam.
Sri Lanka achieved independence from the British in 1948 and in the same year the government of Sri Lanka, with the acceptance vote from G.G. Ponnambalam, passed a new act called the Ceylon Citizenship Act which disenfranchised the Indian Tamil plantation workers Though Ponnambalam did not vote for all the bills pertaining to the Ceylon citizenship act (including the offending bill), his silence in parliament made the Tamil public believe that he was not interested in Indian Tamil rights. . In 1949 a new Tamil political party, named the Federal Party, was formed and was led by S. J. V. Chelvanayakam who earlier broke away from All Ceylon Tamil Congress because of the latter's decision to tie up with the UNP.
In 1956 the government enacted another act called the Official Language Act (better known as the Sinhala Only Act) which made the Sinhala as the sole official language of Sri Lanka. The Ceylon Citizen Act and the Sinhala Only Act were seen as discriminatory policies towards the minorities and led to increased ethnic and political tensions between the two communities. The Federal Party (FP) opposed both the Ceylon Citizenship Act and the Sinhala Only Act and as a result became popular amongst the Tamil population . As a result of their popularity the Federal party became the most dominant party in the Tamil districts after the 1956 elections.
The Federal Party (Sri Lanka) (FP) became the most dominant Tamil political party in 1956 and lobbied for a unitary state which gave Tamil and Sinhalese equal rights, including recognition of two official languages (Tamil and Sinhala) and considerable autonomy for the Tamil areas. It was against this backdrop that the Federal party decided to sign the Bandaranaike-Chelvanayakam Pact in July 1957. However, soon afterwards the agreement was abandoned by the Sinhala party. In 1965, another pact, the Senanayake-Chelvanayakam pact was signed but also not implemented. The failure of the Sinhalese dominated government to implement devolutionary agreements through the 1950s and 1960s, abrogation of power-sharing promises, worsening economic conditions, and lack of territorial autonomy caused further disillusionment and isolation among northern Tamils.
In the 1970 election the United Front (UF) led by Sirimavo Bandaranaike came into power. The new government adopted two new policies that were considered discriminatory by the Tamil people. First, the government introduced a discriminatory system regulating university admissions, specifically targeted at reducing the intake of overachieving Tamils and other minorities in the Sri Lankan educational system. The scheme allotted up to 40% of the university placement to rural youth (primarily from Sinhala areas). The government claimed that this was an affirmative action scheme to assist geographically disadvantaged students to gain tertiary education. According to K.M. de Silva, a historian, the system of standardisation of marks required the Tamil students to achieve higher marks than the Sinhalese students to get into university. A similar policy was adapted for employment in the public sector, leaving less than 10 percent of civil service jobs available to Tamil speakers. The Federal Party opposed these policies and Chelvanayakam resigned his parliamentary seat on October 1972. The new constitution in 1972 further exacerbated long standing grievances and sense of discrimination for the Sri Lankan Tamil people. This had emboldened younger Tamils to seek ways to form a Tamil homeland (nation) where the rights and freedoms of the Tamil people could be protected and nurtured.
In 1973, Tamil parties' call for regional autonomy was replaced with the demand for a separate state called Tamil Eelam. Two years later, in 1975, all Tamil political parties merged together and became known as the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF). On 1976, the first national convention of the Tamil United Liberation Front was held at Vaddukodai, where the party adopted a unanimous resolution called the Vaddukodai Resolution. This resolution charged that the Sinhalese government, with the use of the constitution of 1972, had used its power 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." The resolution further called for the "Free, Sovereign, Secular Socialist State of TAMIL EELAM".
As a result of the Vaddukodai resolution, the Tamil United Liberation Front became the first Tamil political party to run its campaign on a separatist platform. It swept the parliamentary elections in the Tamil-dominated districts of the North and East in 1977, winning 18 seats and became the largest opposition in Parliament. The reason for the success of the TULF was seen as the result of growing Tamil agitation for self-determination.
During the time of the Vaddukodai declaration, there were several Tamil militant organizations who believed that armed struggle was the only way to protect the sovereignty of the Tamil areas. TULF, however, believed in peaceful parliamentary ways towards achieving a solution. Though the TULF had adapted a separatist platform, they were still open to peaceful negotiations and decided to work towards a political agreement with President J.R Jayewardene. The outcome was the District Development Councils scheme (DDC) passed in 1980. The District Development Councils scheme was based, to some extent, on decentralization of the government within a united Sri Lanka. DDCs were soon abandoned because the two sides were not able to agree to the number of District Ministers in the Tamil districts. In 1983 the Sixth Amendment was passed and required Tamil members of parliament and Tamils in public office to take the oath of allegiance to the unitary state of Sri Lanka. The Sixth Amendment forbade advocating a separate state even by peaceful means. Consequently, the TULF was expelled from the parliament for refusing to take the oath.
At first, the concept of Tamil Eelam conceived by the Federal party was a state within a united Sri Lanka, but in time the concept developed into complete self-determination. The concept of Tamil Eelam always implied the notion of freedom and self-government for the Tamil people The demand for a separate statehood of Tamil Eelam is believed to have grown as a result of job opportunities and university admissions being severely curtailed for Tamils because of discriminatory government quotas; and continuing decline of economic opportunities As a result the people began to believe that a separate state would win back their opportunities and the concept of Tamil Eelam was welcomed enthusiastically throughout Tamil areas In addition to the economical and social basis for separate state there is also a more fundamental basis for support for a separate statehood - safety In 1977, after the parliamentary election campaign by the TULF which was on a platform of separate state, a riot engulfed the island in which about 300 Tamil civilians were killed Likewise in 1983, another anti-Tamil riot engulfed the island as a result of an IED attack on group of Sri Lankan Soldiers by LTTE rebels. The riot, known as Black July, killed between 1,000 and 3,000 The call for Tamil Eelam increased as a result of this violence against the Tamil minority perpetrated by the Sinhalese majority Furthermore, allegations of state terrorism and genocide committed by the Sri Lankan government have led to solidification of demand for a separate state for minority Tamils To add to the Tamil people's separatist sentiments, acts of mass violence, rape, extrajudicial executions, whole scale round ups, forced detention, torture and other forms of inhuman treatment by members of Sinhalese dominated Sri Lankan security forces within the North and East provinces have further created communal tensions among the Tamil people The mistrust in the Sinhala dominated armed forces and the perceived discrimination faced by the Tamil population lead the Tamil people to believe that only Eelam could provide long term safety and came to believe that their very survival was possible only through formation of a separate Tamil state on the island
The parts of northern and eastern Sri Lanka which were formerly under the control of the LTTE were run as a de facto state with its own government in these areas. The Tamil Tigers also established a military wing with land combat force, naval force (the Sea Tigers), air wing which they called "Tamil Eelam Air Force", In addition, the LTTE had run a judicial system complete with local, supreme and high courts. The US state department alleged that the judges had very little standards or training and acted as agents to LTTE; it also accused the LTTE of forcing Tamils under their control to accept their judicial system. Furthermore, within areas controlled by the LTTE the Tigers performed state functions including the operation of a civil Police Force, Human Rights organizations, offices for the coordination of humanitarian assistance board, health boards and education boards. It also ran a Bank (Bank of Tamil Eelam), a radio station (Voice of Tigers) and a Television station (National Television of Tamil Eelam)
Following the capture of Kilinochchi which had been the administrative capital of Tamil Eelam  on January 2, 2009, the LTTE's civil administration system was suspended as the "state" of Tamil Eelam was gradually crushed by the resurgent Sri Lankan Army. The last pocket of territory controlled by the LTTE and vis-a-vis the remaining part of Tamil Eelam was captured by the Sri Lankan Army on 18 May 2009. During this operation almost the entire civil and military leadership of the LTTE/Tamil Eelam were liquidated.
Pro Tamil groups advocating independence for Tamil areas of Sri Lanka continue to run websites and radio telecasts. This information is reaching the Tamil diaspora in Britain, Australia and Canada.. Since May 19, 2009 it can be said that Tamil Eelam has ceased to exist as a physical entity and is now only a political aspiration among some sections of the global Tamil community.
Pongu Tamil (or Tamil Uprising) is an event that is held in support of "Tamils Right to Self-Determination" and "Tamil Traditional homeland". Pongu Tamil was first organized in Jaffna on January 2001 by students of the Jaffna University. The event was organized in response to alleged disappearances, mass graves and abuses under the government's military rule and was designed as peaceful protest. The event attracted between 4000-5000 students amid the event being banned in Jaffna, an area controlled by the Sri Lankan Army, and allegations of intimidation and death threats by the police. In 2003, the event was held again and attracted over 150,000 people and has become an annual event in the LTTE held areas of Sri Lanka. In the recent years some members of Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora have also picked up on the notion and it has become an annual event in the countries they reside. In 2008, the event was held in न्यू झीलँड, Norway, Denmark, Italy, South Africa, फ्रांस, ऑस्ट्रेलिया, इंग्लंड and Canada. According to TamilNet, a pro-rebel website, the event attracted thousands of people in these countries including over 7,000 in France, 30,000 in England  and over 75,000 in Canada. Australia is said to have attracted about 2000 people displayed the Australian flag, Tiger symbol and picture of Velupillai Prabhakaran.
Tamil National Alliance's Manifesto and policies[संपादन]
The Tamil National Alliance stands on a platform for Tamil aspirations of self determination and equality, having won at elections held in the north and east. The alliance is the largest Tamil Political Party in Sri Lanka, has come up with two manifestos since 2001. In general the policies are based on the what is known as the Thimpu principles amongst Tamil nationalists. They are
- Recognition of the Tamils of Sri Lanka as a distinct nationality.
- Recognition of an identified Tamil homeland and guarantee of its territorial integrity.
Based on the above, recognition of the inalienable right of self-determination of the Tamil nation.
- Recognition of the right to full citizenship and other fundamental democratic rights of all Tamils who look upon the island as their country.'
Further the alliance stands for:
- The immediate lifting of the economic embargo currently in force in parts of the northeast province
- The withdrawal of the residential and travel restrictions foisted on the Tamil nationality
- The immediate cessation of the war being currently waged in the northeast
Three of its sitting Members of the Parliament K. Sivanesan, Joseph Pararajasingham and Nadarajah Raviraj have been assassinated since 2006, which the TNA party blames on the Sri Lankan Government's army and paramilitary forces.
LTTE's Interim Self Governing Authority[संपादन]
On 31 October 2003 during the peace talks, with the ceasefire still holding, the LTTE issued their proposals for an ISGA. The ISGA would have broad powers such the right to impose the rule of law, collect taxes, run the administration and oversee the rehabilitation process in the north and east, and it would be controlled by the LTTE until elections were held. Crucially however, the LTTE had dropped their demand for an independent Tamil Eelam in favour of regional autonomy. The key points of the LTTE's proposals are:
- An ISGA will established for the eight districts in the and Northern and Eastern provinces until a final negotiated settlement is reached and implemented.
- Initially the members of the ISGA will be appointed by the parties to this agreement with the LTTE appointing an absolute majority, but
- Democratic elections will be held if no final negotiated settlement is reached and implemented within five years.
- The ISGA shall have plenary power for the governance of the north-east including powers in relation to resettlement, rehabilitation, reconstruction, development, raising revenue including imposition of taxes, revenue, levies and duties, law and order, and over land.
- The GOSL agrees that any and all of its expenditures in or for the north-east shall be subject to the control of the ISGA.
- The ISGA shall have powers to borrow internally and externally, provide guarantees and indemnities, receive aid directly, and engage in or regulate internal and external trade.
- The ISGA shall have direction and control over any and all administrative structures and personnel in the north-east.
- The ISGA shall have the power to alienate and determine the appropriate use of all land in the north-east that is not privately owned.
- Land occupied by the armed forces of the GOSL must be immediately vacated and restored to the possession of the previous owners. The GOSL must also compensate the owners for the past dispossession of their land.
- The ISGA shall be responsible for the resettlement and rehabilitation of displaced civilians and refugees in such lands.
- The ISGA shall have control over the marine and offshore resources of the adjacent seas and the power to regulate access thereto.
- The ISGA will have control over the natural resources in the north-east region. The GOSL shall ensure that all monies due under existing agreements are paid to the ISGA.
- All future agreements concerning matters under the jurisdiction of the ISGA shall be made with the ISGA.
International reaction to the LTTE's proposals was generally positive. US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage gave a cautious welcome, saying that the proposal is "the first time I have seen such a comprehensive delineation of the aspirations of the LTTE...it is significant". The European Union's Head of Mission in Colombo welcomed the proposals as an "important step forward in the peace process".
Sri Lankan reaction was mixed. The GOSL reacted by stating that the proposal "differs in fundamental respects from the proposals submitted by the GOSL. The GOSL is convinced that the way forward lies through direct discussion of the issues arising from both sets of proposals". The Tamil National Alliance (TNA), the main political party representing Sri Lankan Tamils, welcomed the proposals positively. R. Sampanthan, leader of the TNA, said "The ISGA proposal..bears historical importance in the political history of Tamils in the island. The ISGA provides a base to find a permanent political solution to the Tamil national question"
Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam / Transnational Constituent Assembly of Tamil Eelam[संपादन]
Democratic Norwegian Council of Eelam Tamils[संपादन]
The Norwegian Council of Eelam Tamils (NCET) attracted enough number of participants in the poll that took place Sunday in 16 centres of the different regions of Norway, in which 2767 voters turned out to elect 5 members under a national list and 10 under regional lists. Noticeable of the results was Mr. Bjønar Moxnes topping the national list polling 1864 votes.
28-year-old Bjørnar Moxnes who won under national list, is a postgraduate student of Sociology and is a group leader of the democratically functioning Rødt Party of left politics in Norway.Mr. Vijayshankar from Tamil Nadu is elected to the Council topping the list of Western Region. Considering the electoral history of Eezham Tamils, who have hitherto been imposed with constitutions and were voting in elections conducted by others, this is their first ever country-wide elections, conducted on their own, to form a political body of their own, based on their own constitution. The eight-member Election Commission performed the task with professional perfection, observers said.
Support for Tamil Eelam[संपादन]
The main pledge made by the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) in its manifesto for the 1977 parliamentary election was "to establish an independent sovereign, secular, socialist State of Tamil Eelam...". The TULF won all 14 seats in the Northern Province after receiving more than 278,000 votes (68%). In the Eastern Province the TULF won 4 of 10 seats after receiving nearly 140,000 votes (32%). Sri Lankan Tamils constituted 92% and 43% of the population in each of the provinces respectively.
In March of 2010 the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), the largest political group representing the Sri Lankan Tamils, dropped its demands for an independent Tamil Eelam but continues to demand greater autonomy through federalism. The TNA's change of policy is believed to be a pragmatic one based on the reality of the political situation in Sri Lanka: the Tamil Tigers have been defeated, the Sri Lankan government/military have the support of the regional super powers (China, India and Pakistan), there is no international support for independence and it is illegal in Sri Lanka to support separatism. However, the TNA's watered down demands are still a lot more than what the Sri Lankan government is prepared to give.
Support for regional autonomy[संपादन]
Nearly a year after the LTTE's loss in the Sri Lankan Civil war the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), in its manifesto for the April 8 general election, has renounced its demand for Tamil Eelam instead campaigning for greater regional autonomy. The TNA said it would settle for a "federal structure" in the northern and eastern provinces with power over land, finance, and law and order, and "if the Sri Lankan state continues its present style of governance without due regard to the rights of the Tamil-speaking people" it will launch a Gandhi-style civil disobedience campaign.  In the manifesto the TNA has also demanded for the re-merger of northern and eastern provinces, which was separated in 2006, and has also made a pledge to lobby the international community, including India and has called for power sharing arrangements between both parties.
British Tamils Forum, a conglomeration of British Tamil diaspora organizations states as its aim to "highlight the humanitarian crises and human rights violations perpetrated by the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL), and to advance the Tamil national cause through democratic means." The forum has garnered recognition and appraisal from several prominent figures in public life during its tenure. Annual political rallys are organised by the BTF and in June, July, September and October 2008, the forum organised and participated in several public demonstrations in London. It worked in union with the NSSP, the TYO (Tamil Youth Organisation), S4P (Solidarity for Peace), the UK Socialist Party, International Socialist Group and South Asia Solidarity Group in supporting the right to self determination of the Tamil people in Tamil Eelam. All Party debates in UK Parliament have highlighted gatherings organised by the BTF and the issues the forum has raised.
The Norwegian Tamil Forum and related groups have organised similar protests in Norway with MP support for Tamil self-determination, as has the Canadian Tamil Congress in Canada.
Tamil referenda on the formation of Tamil Eelam[संपादन]
During 2009-2010 a number of referenda were held in Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora communities to ascertain support for an independent Tamil Eelam, despite attempts by the Sri Lankan government and its supporters to prevent them. The referenda, although organised by Tamil groups, have been conducted by independent organisations with independent observers. Voters have been asked their opinion on the following statement:
"I aspire for the formation of the independent and sovereign state of Tamil Eelam in the north and east territory of the island of Sri Lanka on the basis that the Tamils in the island of Sri Lanka make a distinct nation, have a traditional homeland and have the right to self-determination."
To date referenda have been held in ten countries (Norway, फ्रांस, Canada, Switzerland, जर्मनी, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Denmark, Italy and ऑस्ट्रेलिया). Referenda are expected be held in other countries with significant Tamil diaspora population. More than 99% of Tamils who voted supported an independent Eelam.
Notable supporters of independence include politicians Vaiko and Thirumavalavan. Directors Bharathiraaja, Seeman and Ameer Sultan are strong advocates of the independence of Tamil Eelam. Muthukumar(Self-immolation of Muthukumar), a DTP operator for a Tamil magazine 'Penne Nee' doused himself with kerosene at the Regional Passport Office, Chennai,Tamilnadu, India and set himself on fire to highlight the Tamil plight.
Lee Kuan Yew said of the movement
|“||One-man one-vote led to the domination of the Sinhalese majority over the minority Tamils who were the active and intelligent fellows who worked hard and got themselves penalized. And English was out. They were educated in English...The country [Ceylon] will never be put together again. Somebody should have told them - change the system, loosen up, or break off. And looking back, I think the Tunku was wise. (The reference is to Tunku Abdul Rahman the Malaysian Prime Minister under whose rule Singapore separated from Malaysia). I offered a loosening up of the system. He said: "Clean cut, go your way". Had we stayed in, and I look at Colombo and Ceylon, I mean changing names, sometimes maybe you deceive the gods, but I don't think you are deceiving the people who live in them. It makes no great difference to the tragedy that is being enacted. They failed because they had weak or wrong leaders."||”|
Virginia Judge, who visited the North East area noted that in a three year period Tamils had developed a virtual state within a state. She has stated she supports a genuine federal Tamil Eelam that guarantees the right of the Tamil minority to autonomy so their culture is protected and they enjoy full economic and political rights. She has voiced support to a federal structure with equity and self determination for the Tamil people. The MP John Murphy stated that the targeting of Tamil civilians by the Sri Lankan Government's forces in airstrikes "clearly demonstrates that it does not regard the Tamil people to be part of its population." It strengthened his support for the Tamil people's case for self determination. In 2008, he handed a petition of 4000 signatories to the Australian House of Representatives accusing the Government of Sri Lanka of being guilty of the crime of genocide, supporting the Tamil right to self-determination.
A 1981 resolution adopted by the US Massachusetts House of Representatives called for the restoration and reconstitution of the separate sovereign state of Tamil Eelam, supporting the right to self-determination of the Tamils of Eelam.
The ANC of the Government of South Africa, noting in January 2009 that the continued conflict on the island has been cited on international monitoring mechanisms as reaching genocidal proportions described the conflict as a liberation war between the Tamil Tigers for self determination and the Sri Lankan Government that had led to the deaths of thousands of lives, and called for an end to hostilities and a political solution. Willis Mchunu of the state legislature of KwaZulu-Natal condemned the genocide of Tamils and expressed support to the Tamil struggle for freedom. Mtandeni Dlungwana, leader of the province's branch of the African National Congress Youth League stated they were fully backing the Tamil Eelam struggle.
Scholar and activist Noam Chomsky, in a February 2009 interview, said of the Tamil Eelam struggle: "Parts of Europe, for example, are moving towards more federal arrangements. In Spain, for example, Catalonia by now has a high degree of autonomy within the Spanish state. The Basque Country also has a high degree of autonomy. In England, Wales and Scotland in the United Kingdom are moving towards a form of autonomy and self-determination and I think there are similar developments throughout Europe. Though they're mixed with a lot of pros and cons, but by and large I think it is a generally healthy development. I mean, the people have different interests, different cultural backgrounds, different concerns, and there should be special arrangements to allow them to pursue their special interests and concerns in harmony with others."
In a September 2009 submitted Sri Lankan Crisis Statement, Chomsky was one of several signatories calling for full access to internment camps holding Tamils, the respect of international law concerning prisoners of war and media freedom, the condemnation of discrimination against Tamils by the state since independence from Britain, and to urge the international community to support and facilitate a political solution that addresses the self-determination aspirations of Tamils and protection of the human rights of all Sri Lankans. A major offensive against the Tamils in the Vanni region of their homeland in 2009 resulted in the deaths of at least 20,000 Tamil civilians in 5 months, amid widespread concerns war crimes were committed against the Tamil population. At a United Nations forum on R2P, the Responsibility to Protect doctrine established by the UN in 2005, Chomsky said:
..."What happened in Sri Lanka was a major Rwanda-like atrocity, in a different scale, where the West didn't care. There was plenty of early warning. This [conflict] has been going on for years and decades. Plenty of things could have been done [to prevent it]. But there was not enough interest."
- 2009 Tamil protests Protesting Support for Tamil Eelam and Protesting against Sri Lankan Government
- Policy of standardization
- North Eastern Province, Sri Lanka
- Stand: Census Sri Lanka 2001; all claimed districts of North Eastern Province and Puttalam District in North Western Province independant of actual administration.
- Wiktionary - தமிழ் ஈழம்
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