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Tamil parties contesting SL General Elections face acid test on national cause

[TamilNet, Friday, 24 July 2015, 13:09 GMT]
The Tamil political parties or alliances who fail to confront in their election manifestos the Article 157A of the Constitution of Sri Lanka, which was brought through the Sixth Amendment in 1983, are doomed to fail the Eezham Tamils in their future struggle, commented Eezham Tamil activists for alternative politics in the island in the wake of UNP releasing its 5­ points manifesto for the ‘United National Front for Good Governance’ in South at the presence of Sinhala Buddhist Maha Sangha on Thursday. As the Southern polity is preparing for the fourth conjuncture of ‘state formation’ in the island through bringing a new Constitution to ‘Sri Lanka’, it is critical for the Tamils to articulate their refusal to accede their sovereignty once again. This time, it is more important than ever to make it perfectly clear to all the stakeholders in the affairs of the island, the activists said.

Tamils have a history of losing sovereignty to Portuguese colonial conquest, followed by the Dutch and the British and not regaining it by the end of European colonialism.

It was the British who fundamentally violated the territorial integrity of the Tamil homeland by merging the three units of rule in the island in 1833 (Colebrooke­ Cameron Commission).

The nation of Eezham Tamils, which had lost its sovereignty to external colonialists were made a ‘minority’ in the unitary construct of Ceylon and later ‘Sri Lanka’.

The constitutional reforms brought forward in the British Ceylon and the succeeding unitary Constitutions of Sri Lanka brought by Sinhala parties without the consent of Tamils paved the way for the protracted genocide against Eezham Tamils in the island.

There were three conjunctures of state formation in 1948, 1972 and 1978. And in all three, the nation of Eezham Tamils in the North-East were refused of access to their sovereignty, on the grounds that the Sinhala nation was only intent on establishing a unitary system of government that would concentrate power over the affairs and wealth of the island solely in its hands.

Again in 2015, the UNF's 5-points manifesto is talking about “introducing a new Constitution” with “maximum use of the devolution of power with everyone’s consent under a singular state”. The UNP calls it a “5-points programme to create a new country in 60 months”.

A section of the TNA has already succumbed to this ‘non-descript’ agenda as evidenced in the ‘10-point Singapore principles’ of 2013. These ‘principles’ also uphold the flawed Article 9 of the Sri Lankan Constitution giving ‘foremost place’ to Buddhism, a clause that also has a direct implication in the structural genocide committed against Eezham Tamils in their homeland as evidenced after 2009.

Eezham Tamils should also note that the international backers of the UNF regime have been advocating a ‘non-descript’ solution. They have also been steering the affairs in Geneva, particularly avoiding international investigations on genocide and passing the blame on both the parties and by allowing time and space to the Sri Lankan State to complete the structural genocide against Eezham Tamils.

At this juncture, it is up-to the creativity and the political wisdom of the grassroots centric sections of Tamil National Alliance (TNA), the Tamil National Peoples Front (TNPF) or any individual candidate within or outside these alliances to demonstrate the position of Eezham Tamils as the late leader of the S.J.V Chelvanayakam did it by rejecting the SL Constitution of 1972 and making the point in the by-election for KKS in 1975.

The choices Eezham Tamils make in the upcoming SL elections, whether to participate or reject the election, or on the choices they are going to make with regards to the candidates contesting the elections, should be based on rational thought on the principle of Tamil sovereignty rather than being oriented on emotional factors, the activists of alternative politics said.

The outside forces intervening in the affairs need to be told that they are not going to gain anything until they subject the so-called ‘territorial integrity of the Sri Lankan State’ a matter of condition based on the recognition of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the nation of Eezham Tamils in the North-East.

The Tamil Civil Society Forum (TCSF) and the Chief Minister of NPC Justice C.V. Wigneswaran have been talking about the ‘minimalistic’ Thimphu principle of 1985.

It will not be adequate to talk about Thimphu principles without demanding the equal status to Eezham Tamils in any constitutional framework. The prime hurdle in this regards is the Sixth Amendment, which violates the territorial integrity of the nation of Eezham Tamils, the activists for alternative politics said.

The ‘acid test’ being faced by the TNA, TNPF and other actors claiming to represent Tamil interests will not be based on how they repeat the terms ‘Right to Self­ Determination’, ‘Nation’ and ‘Homeland’ in their election manifesto, but how they defend the Tamil sovereignty and how they oppose the Article 157 of the Sri Lankan Constitution.

It is worth remembering that the late S.P. Thamilchelvan, who led the LTTE-delegation in the last rounds of talks held in Geneva in October 2006, had challenged the Sri Lankan delegation to repeal the Sixth Amendment to the SL constitution at least as a token measure if Colombo was serious in its commitment to real democracy and pluralism in the island.

* * *


The principle of Tamil Sovereignty as expressed in the Tamil Sovereignty Cognition of 2011:
Historical Sovereignty: The Eelam Tamils are a nation in the island since the times of the earliest known documentary evidences, culminating into having their historically and geographically defined homeland, distinct language, culture and collective consciousness. They have a history of losing sovereignty to Portuguese colonial conquest, followed by the Dutch and the British and not regaining it by the end of European colonialism. They have a continued history of democratically struggling to share sovereignty with the Sinhala nation for 30 years since the independence of Ceylon, the failure of which culminated into the historic declaration of independence in 1976, endorsed by mandate of the people of the North and East in the 1977 elections.

Earned Sovereignty: At the failure of democratic means, another 30 years of militant struggle impelled by state oppression, culminated into Eelam Tamils earning sovereignty in a de facto state that was tacitly recognized in an international-backed peace process in 2002. The Tamil political body identified by the de facto state winning the elections in 2004 shows the endorsement of Eelam Tamils to the de facto state that came into being by Earned Sovereignty.

Remedial Sovereignty: The tilt of balance against the de facto state ending in genocide is now indirectly acknowledged by the UN panel report and Norway’s evaluation report of the peace process, even though the word genocide is not used. An explicit, intense, intended and accelerated process of structural genocide in the North and East is now marked by occupation and rule of the Tamil homeland by ethnically Sinhala military of the Sri Lankan state; by military-backed Sinhala colonization for demographic changes and deliberate gerrymandering of Tamil constituencies and by total socio-economic-cultural subjugation of the Tamil homeland caried out by various state agencies. This impels evoking the Right to Protect the Eelam Tamil nation from annihilation. The principle of Remedial Sovereignty is therefore applicable to the Eelam Tamils claiming independence to protect them from genocide and structural genocide.


* * *


Thimpu Declaration - 13 July 1985:

Joint statement made by the Tamil Delegation on the concluding day of Phase I of the Thimpu talks on the 13th of July 1985:

It is our considered view that any meaningful solution to the Tamil national question must be based on the following four cardinal principles:

  • recognition of the Tamils of Ceylon as a nation

  • recognition of the existence of an identified homeland for the Tamils in Ceylon
  • recognition of the right of self determination of the Tamil nation
  • recognition of the right to citizenship and the fundamental rights of all Tamils in Ceylon


Different countries have fashioned different systems of governments to ensure these principles. We have demanded and struggled for an independent Tamil state as the answer to this problem arising out of the denial of these basic rights of our people. The proposals put forward by the Sri Lankan government delegation as their solution to this problem is totally unacceptable. Therefore we have rejected them as stated by us in our statement of the 12th of July 1985. However, in view of our earnest desire for peace, we are prepared to give consideration to any set of proposals, in keeping with the above mentioned principles, that the Sri Lankan Government may place before us.


* * *


Article 157A of the Constitution of Sri Lanka:

Prohibition against violation of territorial integrity of Sri Lanka.
  1. No person shall, directly or indirectly, in or outside Sri Lanka, support, espouse, promote, finance, encourage or advocate the establishment of a separate State within the territory of Sri Lanka.

  2. No political party or other association or organization shall have as one of its aims or objects the establishment of a separate State within the territory of Sri Lanka.

  3. Any person who acts in contravention of the provisions of paragraph (1) shall, on conviction by the Court of Appeal, after trial on indictment and according to such procedure as may be prescribed by law, - be subject to civic disability for such period not exceeding seven years as may be determined by such Court ; forfeit his movable and immovable property other than such property as is determined by an order of such Court as being necessary for the sustenance of such person and his family ; not be entitled to civic rights for such period not exceeding seven years as may be determined by such Court ; and if he is a Member of Parliament or a person in such service or holding such office as is referred to in paragraph (1) of Article 165, cease to be such Member or to be in such service or to hold such office.

  4. Where any political party or other association or organization has as one of its aims or objects the establishment of a separate State within the territory of Sri Lanka, any person may make an application to the Supreme Court for a declaration that such political party or other association or organization has as one of its aims or objects the establishment of a separate State within the territory of Sri Lanka. The Secretary or other officer of such political party or other officer of such political party or other association or organization shall be made a respondent to such application.

  5. Where the Supreme Court makes a declaration under paragraph (4) in relation to any political party or other association or organization, in pursuance of an application made to it under that paragraph - that political party or other association or Organisation shall be deemed, for all purposes to be proscribed and any member of such political party or other association or organization, who is a Member of Parliament shall be deemed to have vacated his seat in Parliament with effect from the date of such declaration, and any nomination paper submitted by such political party or other association or organization shall be deemed for all purposes to be invalid ; any person who holds office or is a member of that political party or other association or organization, shall be guilty of an offence and shall, on conviction, by the Court of Appeal after trial on indictment and according to such procedure as may be prescribed by law – be subject to civic disability for such period not exceeding seven years as may be determined by such Court ; forfeit his movable and immovable property other than such property as is determined by an order of such Court as being necessary for the sustenance of such person and his family; not be entitled to civic rights for such period not exceeding seven years as may be determined by such Court ; if he is a Member of Parliament or a person in such service or holds such office as is referred to in paragraph (1) of Article 165, cease to be such Member or to be in such service or hold such office.

  6. The execution of any punishment imposed under paragraph (3) or sub-paragraph (b) of paragraph (5) shall not be stayed or suspended pending the determination of any appeal against such punishment or the conviction in consequence of which such punishment was imposed.

  7. Every officer or person who was or is required by, Article 32 or Article 53, Article 61 or Article 107 or Article 165 or Article 169 (12), to take and subscribe or to make and subscribe an oath or affirmation, every member of, or person in the service, of a local authority, Development Council Pradeshiya Mandalaya, Gramodaya Mandalaya or public corporation and every attorney-at-law shall -

    1. if such officer or person is holding office on the date of coming into force of this Article, make and, subscribe, or take and subscribe, an oath or affirmation in the form set out in the Seventh Schedule, before such person or body if any, as is referred to in that Article, within one month of the date on which this Article comes into force ;

    2. if such person or officer is appointed to such office after the coming into force of this Article, make and subscribe or take and subscribe an oath or affirmation, in the form set out in the Seventh Schedule, before such person or body, if any, as is referred to in that Article, within one month of his appointment to such office.


    The provisions of Article 165 and Article 169 (12) shall mutatis mutandis, apply to, and in relation to, any person or officer who fails to take and subscribe, or make and subscribe an oath or affirmation as required by this paragraph.

    1. Every person who is a Member of Parliament on the coming into force of this Article shall not be entitled to sit and vote in Parliament unless he takes and subscribes or makes and subscribes an oath or affirmation in the form set out in the Seventh Schedule.
    2. Every person who is elected or nominated as a Member of Parliament on or after the coming into force of this Article shall not be entitled to sit and vote in Parliament unless he takes and subscribes or makes and subscribes an oath or affirmation in the form set out in the Seventh Schedule.


  8. No person who has taken and subscribed or made and subscribed an oath or affirmation in the form set out in the Seventh Schedule shall, notwithstanding any provision to the contrary in the Constitution, be required to take and subscribe or make and subscribe any other oath or affirmation required to be taken and subscribed or made and subscribed under the Constitution.

  9. Parliament may, by resolution, determine such other categories of persons or officers to whom the provisions of paragraph (7) shall apply and thereupon, the provisions of such paragraph shall, mutatis mutandis, apply to, and in relation to, officers or persons of that category.

  10. The jurisdiction of the Court of Appeal in respect of its powers under this Article shall be exercised in the manner provided in sub-paragraph (iv) of the proviso to paragraph (2) of Article 146 -

  11. In this Article, "civic rights" means -
    1. the right to obtain a passport ;
    2. the right to sit for any public examination ;
    3. the right to own any immovable property ;
    4. the right to engage in any trade or profession which requires a licence, registration or other authorization, by or under any written law.


* * *


Article 9 of Sri Lankan Constitution:

Buddhism
  1. The Republic of Sri Lanka shall give to Buddhism the foremost place and accordingly it shall be the duty of the State to protect and foster the Buddha Sasana, while assuring to all religions the rights granted by Articles 10 and 14(1)(e).


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