2ND LEAD (Adds details)
Bruce Fein: U.S. Declaration of Independence validates Tamil Statehood
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 29 January 2008, 13:52 GMT]
"Applying the 'self-evident' truths celebrated in the Declaration of Independence, the United States should recognize the right of Sri Lanka's long oppressed Tamil people to independent statehood from the racial supremacist Sinhalese," says Bruce Fein, the associate deputy attorney general under President Ronald Reagan, and a lawyer for Tamils For Justice, a U.S. group of Tamil activists, in an opinion piece appearing Tuesday in Washington's conservative news paper, The Washington Times.
Fein argues, the history of the persecution of the Tamil people "easily justifies Tamil statehood, with boundaries to be negotiated," and points out, "The Declaration of Independence proclaims: "[W]hen a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a design to reduce [a people] under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."
Fein details the reasons for his stand by drawing on the principles articulated in the U.S Declaration of Independence drafted by Thomas Jefferson in June 1776.
Fein states: "In the last two years, four Tamil parliamentarians under the ostensible protection of the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) have been assassinated. Sri Lanka's signature became predation, repression, and state sponsored race riots against Tamils, the first organized on May 27, 1958.
"The 1958 Sinhalese Only Act was a landmark in the history of Tamil oppression. It generally excluded or handicapped Tamils in public or private employment, education, housing or welfare. Roads, schools, hospitals and public utilities were shortchanged in Tamil areas, which reflected a Sinhalese policy of "separate and unequal" that has persisted for 50 years," he adds.
"In 1961, Tamils began a nonviolent, Gandhi-like protest in favor of regional autonomy. The Sinhalese government answered with assaults on the demonstrators, mass arrests, detentions of Tamil members of Parliament, torture and shootings.
"In 1983, the Sinhalese government originated race riots that culminated in the slaughter of 4,000 Tamils. No prosecutions were brought against the Sinhalese culprits.
"There is no parallel to the United States Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education (1954). In 1970, for example, the GOSL inaugurated a system of standardization, which required Tamil students seeking college admission to score substantially higher marks than Sinhalese applicants," Fein says illustrating the history of State-sponsored violence and discrimination against Tamils.
Fein chronicles in the article a Tamil family's struggle against State-sponsored harassment and intimidation.
Fein also points to the Canadian Supreme Court, which "In re Secession of Quebec (1998)" elaborated that a right to secession may arise whenever a government flouts its obligation to represent "the whole people belonging to the territory without distinction of any kind." Tamils have been treated as third-class citizens for a half-century, Fein asserts.
Faulting the recent statement of Sri Lankan ambassador to the United States, Bernard Goonetilleke, who Fein claims falsely likened "the persecuted Tamils to the Confederate States of America," Fein questions, "Is it any wonder that an ambassador has been defined as an honest man sent abroad to lie for his country?"
Washington Times has a history of speaking on behalf of the Sri Lanka Embassy, as evident from the Sri Lanka Embassy internet archives.
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