Sinhalese have right of return to North, says lawyer from South rejecting Tamil rights

[TamilNet, Monday, 30 December 2019, 22:03 GMT]
The North is “just as much the historical habitation of the Sinhalese as it is of the Tamils”. And, the Tamils “do not have a right to sovereignty and self-determination adverse to the rights of the Sinhalese and other groups in the island,” writes Attorney-at-Law Dharshan Weerasekara, a Sinhalese, in an article ‘clarifying’ a judgement delivered by the SL Supreme Court in 2014. The denial of Tamil homeland and Tamils right of self-determination comes as the cabinet led by SL Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa also refused to allow the Tamil version of the SL ‘national anthem’ at the forthcoming ‘independence day’ celebrations on 04 February 2020. “Sinhalese have moral and historical rights in the North and East of the country, and this would include the right of return,” the Sinhala lawyer claimed in his response.

Dharshan Weerasekara, the Sinhala Attorney-at-Law, who represented Hikkadu Koralalage Don Chandrasoma, the petitioner in the case from 2014 was responding to a speech delivered by TNA Parliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran at the 70th anniversary of the ITAK held on 18 December 2019 at the Young Artistes Forum Jaffna. Mr Sumanthiran was referring to the verdict of the case in his speech.

The SL Supreme Court ruling had stated that “[t]he ITAK is advocating for a federalist form of government by devolving more powers to the provinces within the framework of a unitary state. Advocating for a federal form of government within the existing state could not be considered as advocating separatism.” (Chandrasoma vs Senathirajah, SC SPL 03/2014).

Weerasekara was responding to Sumanthiran’s speech, which was transcribed by N. Lohathayalan and published in the Daily Mirror on 27 December.

“The undeniable reality is that the Tamils have no such right. The Tamils are an ethnic/linguistic group, one among others including the majority Sinhalese who call this island home,” Weerasekara said in his ‘clarification’.

Further excerpts from Mr Weerasekara's response, published by the Daily Mirror on Monday, follow:

“The Tamils do not have special rights to any particular region of this country, to the exclusion of the others.

“For instance, the North and East, especially the North, is just as much the historical habitation of the Sinhalese as it is of the Tamils.

“My learned friend and those of his ilk might benefit from consulting the work of persons such as Dr Senarat Parnavithana, an unimpeachable authority, on the history of the Jaffna Peninsula.

“Here, for instance, is Dr Paranavithana commenting on Vadamaracci, an area in Jaffna that in recent years has become famous as a bastion of Tamil militancy but in ancient times appears to have been a thriving Sinhalese settlement.”


“In these circumstances, no one can deny that the Sinhalese have moral and historical rights in the North and East of the country, and this would include the right of return.

“Accordingly, the Tamils do not have a right to self-determination in those areas adverse to that of the Sinhalese. No self-respecting expert on international law will grant that the Tamils have such rights either.

“To grant them is to concede that an ethnic minority in any country, simply on the grounds that they happened to predominate in a particular area at a given point in time, can invoke a right to ‘sovereignty and self-determination,’ hoist a flag, and declare independence.”

“If that were possible, then Tamils in England, Canada, Australia and such could sue for ‘Eelam’ in those countries, and the international community would have to endorse the said claims as well.

“Closer to home, the Tamils in Tamil Nadu would be able to invoke a right to sovereignty and self-determination and demand a separate State. My learned friend knows better than I what would happen if they dared do such a thing in India.

“The point is that the Tamils of Sri Lanka do not have a right to sovereignty and self-determination adverse to the rights of the Sinhalese and other groups in the country.”

External Links:
Daily Mirror: Right of Reply to Sumanthiran’s observations on Chandrasoma v Senathirajah case
Daily Mirror: Legal challenges faced by the Federal Party in its 70-year history


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