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Sri Lankan Tamils


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Crash course on the origins of the civil war in Sri Lanka.

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Sri Lankan Tamils

  1. 1. Sri Lanka: One Island, Two Nations Presentation for: Tamil Americans and Friends (TAaF)
  2. 2. Srilanka-Ilankai (in Tamil) / Lanka (in Sinhala) <ul><li>An island located in the Indian ocean, off the southeast tip of India </li></ul><ul><li>Three times as larger than the state of New Jersey - 25,000 sq miles in area </li></ul><ul><li>Shared History Dates Back to 500BC. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Sinhala-speaking people - 77%, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tamil-speaking people - 23% </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><li>When Portuguese took possession of the island in 1505 there were 3 Kingdoms </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Tamil Kingdom in the North-East - Tamil Homeland - (yellow) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sinhalese Kingdoms in the South-West (grey). </li></ul></ul>History
  4. 4. History Two different nations from a very ancient period have divided between them the possession of the Island. First the Sinhalese, inhabiting the interior of the country in its Southern and Western parts, and secondly the Malabars (Tamils) who possess the Northern and Eastern Districts. These two nations differ entirely in their religion, language and manners . The Cleghorn Minute In 1799 June, Sir Hugh Cleghorn, the first British Colonial Secretary wrote to the British Government… “ ”
  5. 5. <ul><li>1505 -1658: Portuguese held the island </li></ul><ul><li>1658 – 1796: Dutch usurped control </li></ul><ul><li>1796: the British took over </li></ul><ul><li>Portuguese and Dutch ruled the Tamil and Sinhala Kingdoms separately, but, the British artificially joined them for their administrative convenience only in 1833. </li></ul><ul><li>On Feb. 4, 1948 - British left the Island leaving it as one country , CEYLON, leaving political power in the hands of the ‘majority’ Sinhalese. </li></ul>History
  6. 7. THE PROBLEM Three Fundamental Elements
  7. 8. THE PROBLEM: First Element <ul><li>Two Historically Feuding Ethnic Groups </li></ul><ul><li>Tamils in the North-East (Yellow) </li></ul><ul><li>Sinhalese in the Central and South-West (Gray) </li></ul>
  8. 9. <ul><li>Two Historically Feuding Ethnic Groups. </li></ul><ul><li>Centralized Unitary Government. Citizens are not treated equally… …Rights of the Tamils are violated </li></ul><ul><li> ‘ Mistreatment’ of Tamils – 60 years! </li></ul>THE PROBLEM: Second Element
  9. 10. <ul><li>Two Historically Feuding Ethnic Groups. </li></ul><ul><li>Centralized Unitary Government. </li></ul><ul><li>Constitutionally entrenched Sinhala Rule. SINHALESE COMMAND </li></ul><ul><li>ABSOLUTE POWER …and, it is PERMANENT! </li></ul>THE PROBLEM: Third Element
  10. 11. <ul><li>1948 – 1 million Tamils declared as non-citizens </li></ul><ul><li>1949 – Sinhalese colonization in traditional Tamil homeland </li></ul><ul><li>1956 – Sinhala made sole official language of the country </li></ul><ul><li>1970 – “ethnic standardization” slashes university admission to Tamils </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>same entrance exam, but Tamils need to score 30% more </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>1972 – New constitution without Tamils participation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Unilateral name change from Ceylon to Sri Lanka </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Declaration of Srilanka as a republic </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Buddhism made state religion </li></ul></ul><ul><li>1977 - Prevention of Terrorism Act </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>State-sponsored anti-Tamil violence in 1956, 1958, 1961, 1974 </li></ul></ul></ul>THE PROBLEM: ‘Mistreatment’ of Tamils
  11. 12. TAMIL POLITICAL ACTION NON-VIOLENCE (1948 – 1976) Tamils Response to State Discrimination:
  12. 13. TAMIL POLITICAL ACTION Tamil Political Leaders protested against the “Sinhala only Act”, in front of the parliament (5 June 1956) Sinhalese assaulted the picketers and the attack spread the whole island. NON-VIOLENCE
  13. 14. School Girls Marching against ethnic based standardization (1972) TAMIL POLITICAL ACTION NON-VIOLENCE
  14. 15. GOVERNMENT RESPONSE: VIOLENCE (Since 1956) <ul><li>State Organized Sinhala Thugs: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Repeated Anti-Tamil Pogroms: Ethnic cleansing </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Government Security Forces: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>killing Tamils with impunity99% of the Armed Forces are Sinhalese </li></ul></ul>TAMIL POLITICAL ACTION: NON-VIOLENCE
  15. 16. Systematic Genocide of Tamils 1956.. 1958.. 1961.. 1974.. 1977.. 1979.. 1981.. 1983.. .. 2008 Anti-Tamil Pogrom 1983 Government sponsored Sinhala Thugs tortured a Tamil Man, then poured gasoline on him and burnt him alive (July 1983)
  17. 18. TURNING POINT - 1976 <ul><li>Resolution for Independence: Vaddukoddai Resolution </li></ul><ul><ul><li>30 year struggle for equality denied. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>multiple pacts for regional autonomy not honored. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>non-violent agitations by Tamils met by State violence </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The Elected Tamil Political Leaders convened and resolved to restore Tamil Sovereignty by declaring an Independent Tamil state in the North-East of Sri Lanka. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>1977 Election: Tamils ratify the call for independence by 82% popular vote </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Tamil Legislators thrown out of parliament by the government. </li></ul><ul><li>Tamil Armed Rebellion takes hold Lead by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) </li></ul><ul><li>1983 – State Sponsored Anti-Tamil Pogrom </li></ul>
  18. 19. Thimpu Talks Declaration – July 13 th 1985 Mediated by Indian government failed <ul><li>Statement by the Tamil Delegation (Elected and Rebel) </li></ul><ul><li>Any meaningful solution to the Tamil national question must be based on the following four cardinal principles: </li></ul><ul><li>Recognition of Tamils as a Distinct Nation . </li></ul><ul><li>Recognition of the Tamil Homeland and its Territorial Integrity. </li></ul><ul><li>Recognition of the right of Tamil National Self-Determination . </li></ul><ul><li>Recognition of the Right to Citizenship of all Tamils . </li></ul>“ ”
  19. 20. <ul><ul><li>Entire Tamil Nation rallied behind LTTE and carry out armed struggle for independence. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>75,000 civilians died: 97% of them were Tamils, killed by the Sri Lankan armed forces. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tamils sacrifice 18,000 youths to achieve parity of status with Sri Lanka. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>LTTE becomes a formidable Tamil military force and the sole-representatives of the Tamil people, gains control of significant areas of the North- East, and establishes civil administration services. </li></ul></ul>1983 - 2002
  20. 21. TAMIL NATIONAL MILITARY (LTTE) Today, a Conventional Tamil Armed Force. (Ground Forces, Naval Force, Air Force, Police, Intelligence Service)
  21. 22. MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING 2002 Ceasefire Monitored by Scandinavian Countries (Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission - SLMM) Direct Dialogue Facilitated By the Royal Norwegian Government
  22. 23. CEASEFIRE AGREEMENT Signed by the SL Government and the LTTE on 22 February 2002 <ul><li>… forward defence localities (borders) have been established, the Sri Lankan armed forces and the Liberation Tigers’ fighting formations shall hold their ground positions… </li></ul><ul><li>… Neither Party shall engage in any offensive military operation nor shall move munitions, explosives or military equipment into the area controlled by the other Party. </li></ul>“ ” LTTE Northern Com. Col. Theepan & SL Northern Com. Maj. Gen. Fonseka [at the northern FDL February 2002]
  23. 24. THE OSLO DECLARATION: Signed by the SLG and the LTTE on 25 November 2002 <ul><li>… the parties have agreed to explore a political solution founded on the principle of internal self-determination in areas of historical habitation of the Tamil-speaking people, based on a federal structure within a united Sri Lanka. </li></ul>In the presence of US Deputy Sec. of State Mr. Richard Armitage , Norwegian Foreign Minister Mr. Jan Petersen, UK Sec. of State Ms. Claire short, Japan Special Envoy Mr.Yasusi Akashi “ ” LTTE’s Dr. Anton Balasingham, SLG’s Prof. G.L.eiris, at the Oslo Conference, 25 November
  24. 25. BROKEN AGREEMENTS <ul><li>Within 3 years… 2002-2005 </li></ul><ul><li>Dissolving High Security Zones – Withdrawing military from Houses, School, Worshiping places (February 2002) </li></ul><ul><li>Sub-Committee for Immediate Humanitarian and Rehabilitation Needs in the North and East (SIHRN) (February 2002) </li></ul><ul><li>North East Reconstruction Fund (NERF) (November 2002) </li></ul><ul><li>Interim Self Governing Authority (ISGA) (31 October 2003) </li></ul><ul><li>Post Tsunami Operational Management Structure (PTOMS) (June 2005) </li></ul>
  25. 26. November 2005 Election of President Rajapakse <ul><li>Campaign promises: </li></ul><ul><li>No recognition of Tamil Homeland or right to Self-Rule. </li></ul><ul><li>No to Federal Solution </li></ul><ul><li>No to International Mediation </li></ul>Rajapaksa was elected as President by the Majority of Sinhala people .
  26. 27. Supported by Extremist Buddhist Monks Party (JHU), view Srilanka as a Sinhala-Buddhist nation, Burning Norway Flag Associated Press Photo November 2005 November 2005 Election of President Rajapakse
  27. 28. After the Election of President Rajapakse ESCALATION OF VIOLENCE by the SL Armed Forces and Government sponsored Paramilitary. <ul><li>47 humanitarian workers were kidnapped and killed. </li></ul><ul><li>5 Tamil Parliamentarians were assassinated. </li></ul><ul><li>Many leading Tamil Journalists were murdered. </li></ul><ul><li>Hundreds of Tamils were abducted for ransom & killed. </li></ul><ul><li>17 Humanitarian Workers of a French NGO (AFC) Murdered by SL Army in an execution style on 5 August 2006 </li></ul>Chief of the Ceasefire Monitoring mission Maj. Gen. Ulf Henricsson told: &quot;I have experienced this in the Balkans before. When you're not let in, it's a sign that there's something they want to hide&quot;. [ Reuters; 12 Aug 2006]
  28. 29. Violence after Election of President Rajapakse Targeted Killing of Tamil Civilians Mother raped and killed. Children brutalized and Hanged. Father forced to see all these, and shot dead. ( Venkalai, 9 June 2006)
  29. 30. <ul><li>Violence after Election of President Rajapakse </li></ul><ul><li>Targeted Killing of Tamil Civilians </li></ul>A Government minister acknowledged it, and argued, “There is nothing wrong in killing future child soldiers”. <ul><li>Sri Lankan jets bombed a children's home in Mullaithivu </li></ul><ul><li>67 schoolgirls and 7 teachers were killed </li></ul><ul><li>129 were wounded when </li></ul><ul><li>(14 August 2006) </li></ul>
  30. 31. <ul><li>SL government de-merged the Tamil Homeland. (North-East) </li></ul><ul><li>Sri Lanka government officially unilaterally abrogated Ceasefire Agreement from January 16, 2008 </li></ul><ul><li>Sri Lanka government is intensifying a full scale war on the Tamil Homeland to impose Military Solution & calling it as “War on Terror” </li></ul><ul><li>No credible political solution is under discussion by SL government. </li></ul><ul><li>Tamil civilians being targeted: Disappearances, Daily aerial bombings, Road-side bombs, Shelling, Extra-judicial killing. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Over 5000 Tamils have been killed since election . </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Average of 7 Tamils killed daily </li></ul></ul>After Election of President Rajapakse: Current Situation
  31. 32. US Foreign Policy & Role Toward Sri Lanka and Tamils
  32. 33. US Policy & Role <ul><li>In 1996 Sri Lanka influenced US to designate LTTE as FTO. </li></ul><ul><li>In the post 9/11 scenario US sort partners for War on Terror. </li></ul><ul><li>SL depicted the Tamil armed struggle as acts of Terrorism. </li></ul><ul><li>SL declared its human rights violations as inevitable occurrences in the War on Terror. </li></ul><ul><li>US promotes democracy and freedom, and acknowledges Tamils’ legitimate aspirations for freedom. </li></ul><ul><li>In 2004 elections, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) accepted the LTTE as the National Leadership of the Tamils, and won 97% of Tamils’ votes. </li></ul><ul><li>However, since LTTE is in its FTO list, US is in a paradox that it is unable to treat both parties equally and help Tamils achieve their legitimate aspirations for freedom. </li></ul>
  33. 34. The USA had placed LTTE on the FTO list R. Nicholas Burns, Under Secretary for Political Affairs, (Colombo, Sri Lanka - January 23, 2006) We brand LTTE as terrorist organization for using violence as a ‘political weapon’. But the Tamil population has legitimate grievances, and they must be respected by the majority population, and there has to be a way for the Tamils to be able to articulate those grievances. I must say that this long conflict is only going to come to an end when the LTTE and the government sit down and find a way forward to end this conflict. “ ”
  34. 35. US ROLE <ul><li>Military Assistance to SL Army </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Stop It </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Financial Aid to SL Government </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Monitor it </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Public Statements </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Be fair to both nation </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>‘ Diplomacy’ </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Treat both parties Equally </li></ul></ul></ul>
  35. 36. US CONGRESS <ul><li>Rep. Frank Pallone – On Autonomy of Tamils: </li></ul><ul><li>“ I echo this sentiment and support a solution that grants a level of autonomy to ethnic minorities like the Tamils. We have seen very similar successful situations throughout the world. Places like Quebec in Canada, Wales and Scotland in Great Britain are all part of their Federal Nations but have significant autonomy. “ (September 2006) </li></ul><ul><li>Rep. Rush Holt – On Human Rights Violations Against Tamils </li></ul><ul><li>“ I urge US Secretary of State Dr. Rice to appoint a special envoy to emphasize US's commitment to peace in Sri Lanka and to include in the envoy's mandate efforts to increase monitoring of human rights violations,&quot; (September 2006) </li></ul>
  36. 37. US GOVERNMENT Mr. Richard Boucher Assistant US Secretary of State [Colombo; 26 June 2006] Though we reject the methods that the Tamil Tigers have used, there are legitimate issues raised by the Tamil community and they have a very legitimate desire, as anybody would, to control their own lives, to rule their own destinies, and to govern themselves in their homeland, in the areas they’ve traditionally inhabited. - “ ”
  37. 38. <ul><li>Richard L. Armitage </li></ul><ul><li>Deputy Secretary of State </li></ul><ul><li>[December, 2002 </li></ul><ul><li>… the United States is greatly encouraged that the LTTE has made a commitment to the political solution and has agreed to settle this conflict through peaceful means... </li></ul><ul><li>… the United States government is also encouraged by the vision of the LTTE as a genuine political entity . If the LTTE can make a convincing case that it is committed to a political solution, the United States will certainly consider removing the LTTE from the list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations, as well as any other terrorism-related... </li></ul><ul><li>… A US – LTTE direct contact is worth Trying. </li></ul>US GOVERNMENT “ ”
  38. 39. <ul><li>Maj. Gen. Ulf Henricsson </li></ul><ul><li>Chief of the Ceasefire Monitoring Mission. </li></ul><ul><li>[ Reuters; 12 Aug 2006] </li></ul><ul><li>EU can't say they didn't know or at least have any signal about what could happen, I think the EU thought that the government of Sri Lanka was a responsible government, who could take the appropriate decision and work for peace instead of war... </li></ul><ul><li>… I would say, EU’s decision to ban the LTTE is a mistake, it was a wrong decision , because the LTTE and the government have signed the ceasefire agreement as equal partners.” </li></ul>EU followed US and placed LTTE on the FTO list “ ”
  39. 40. <ul><li>Teresita C. Schaffer </li></ul><ul><li>Former US Ambassador to Sri Lanka </li></ul><ul><li>(June 2005) </li></ul><ul><li>The United States’ designation of the LTTE a ‘Foreign Terrorist Organization’ has affected U.S. diplomacy in Sri Lanka… </li></ul><ul><li>… The effect of U.S. terrorism law and of the terrorist organization list has been a problem for U.S. diplomacy, and one that has not always been wisely handled.” </li></ul>US DIPLOMAT “ ”
  40. 41. <ul><li>Rep. Brad Sherman </li></ul><ul><li>March 15, 2006 </li></ul><ul><li>I’ve urged the State Department to design a road map for the Tamil Tigers, so that they would know what steps they would need to take to get off the terrorist list… </li></ul><ul><li>… What is the difference between terrorism on the one hand, and waging a legitimate guerrilla struggle on the other?.. </li></ul><ul><li>Seeking some degree of autonomy for North-East Sri Lanka is not a terrible objective. </li></ul>US CONGRESS “ ”
  41. 42. <ul><li>Jeffrey Lunstead </li></ul><ul><li>Former US Ambassador to Sri Lanka </li></ul><ul><li>[May 2007] </li></ul><ul><li>… Direct US-LTTE links would have helped in convincing the LTTE to move away from terrorism… </li></ul><ul><li>… direct communication with the LTTE would have had concrete benefits including the ability to deliver a clear U.S. message about possible delisting of the LTTE as an FTO (Foreign Terrorist Organization) </li></ul>US DIPLOMAT “ ”
  42. 43. 60 Years... The result: <ul><li>More than 100,000 Tamils Killed and Disappeared </li></ul><ul><li>More than 20,000 Tamil orphaned children </li></ul><ul><li>More than 35,000 Tamil widows </li></ul><ul><li>Hundreds of Thousands of schools, houses, hospitals, churches, temples, villages and livelihood destroyed. </li></ul><ul><li>More than 600,000 Tamils Internal Refugees </li></ul><ul><li>Nearly 1 Million Tamils made to flee the country </li></ul>Fighting for Survival is NOT Terrorism… If this is not ETHNIC CLEANSING, then what is?
  43. 44. A Struggle for Freedom – NOT Terrorism <ul><li>Two Ethnic Nations, separated by </li></ul><ul><ul><li>History, Language, Culture, Economic Life, Territorial Homeland. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>A Tamil Conventional Military fighting the Sri Lankan Military. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Defense against genocide of Tamils </li></ul></ul><ul><li>A large enough Tamil Territory </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Defensible and sustainable for self governance </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Roughly the same size as Israel or Kuwait or Slovenia. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bigger in area (19,509 sq. km.) than at least 41 countries in the UN (including Singapore) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>A De facto Tamil Government </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Police, Judicial, Finance, Economic-Developments,etc, …in existence. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bigger in population (3.6 million – in 1979 - ) than at least 59 countries in the UN </li></ul></ul>A Struggle for Freedom – NOT Terrorism
  44. 45. The Future… <ul><li>If the Sri Lanka government does not accept Tamil Homeland, Tamil Nationhood and Tamil self-rule , the basic and cardinal principles, that have been guiding the Tamils in their struggle to find a peacefully-negotiated political arrangement…and… </li></ul><ul><li>If the Sri Lankan government not willing to share power with the Tamils under a Con-Federal system or some form of a two-state solution… </li></ul><ul><li>Tamils will be forced to continue their struggle for their National Self-Determination and a Separate State . </li></ul>
  45. 46. Kosovo & Tamil Eelam What is good for Kosovo is good for Tamil Eelam
  46. 47. What the Tamil Americans expect from the Government of the United States: <ul><li>Play a leadership role to find a political solution to the legitimate aspirations of the Tamil People. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Remove the LTTE from the Foreign Terrorist Organizations list, and Treat both parties equally . </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Recognize the Tamil National Self Determination. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Permit Tamil people to choose their destiny in internationally supervised plebiscite. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Facilitate the birth of the Tamil Nation, Tamil Eelam </li></ul></ul>
  47. 48. Thank You! Voice of Tamils from the Land of Liberty