Tamil Parliamentary Struggle

Posted on 06/01/2012


When the Tamil people sought to resist these oppressive legislative and administrative acts by resort to Parliamentary agitation and non violent protests, they were attacked physically, some of them burnt alive, and their homes destroyed and looted. The attacks in 195619581961 are illustrative of these Sinhala attempts to terrorise and intimidate the Tamil people into submission at a time when Tamil protest was confined to entirely non violent forms of agitation.

Again, successive Sinhala dominated Sri Lanka governments dishonoured agreements solemnly entered into with Tamil parliamentary parties including the Bandaranaike -Chelvanayagam Pact of 1957 and the Dudley Senanayake-Chelvanayagam Agreement of 1965.

“One of the essential elements that must be kept in mind in understanding the Sri Lankan ethnic conflict is that, since 1958 at least, every time Tamil politicians negotiated some sort of power-sharing deal with a Sinhalese government – regardless of which party was in power – the opposition Sinhalese party always claimed that the party in power had negotiated away too much. In almost every case – sometimes within days – the party in power backed down on the agreement.” – (Professor Marshall Singer, at US Congress Committee on International Relations Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific Hearing on Sri Lanka November 14,1995)

In 1972, a new Constitution was proclaimed by the Sinhala majority who constituted themselves a Constituent Assembly, sat in premises outside Parliament to reinforce the constitutional break with the past, gave themselves an auththochnous Constitution, which changed the name of the island from Ceylon to the Sinhala, Sri Lanka, proclaimed Buddhism as the state religion and removed even the meagre safeguards against discrimination contained in the earlier Constitution. The plea of the Tamil parliamentary parties for a federal constitution was rejected and the leader of the Tamil parliamentary group resigned his seat in Parliament and sought a mandate from the Tamil people for a separate state. On winning the bye election, he declared:

“We have for the last 25 years made every effort to secure our political rights on the basis of equality with the Sinhalese in a united Ceylon. It is a regrettable fact that successive Sinhalese governments have used the power that flows from independence to deny us our fundamental rights and reduce us to the position of a subject people… I wish to announce to my people and to the country that I consider the verdict at this election as a mandate that the Tamil Eelam nation should exercise the sovereignty already vested in the Tamil people and become free. – Statement by S.J.V. Chelvanayagam Q.C. M.P., leader of the Tamil United Liberation Front, February 1975

It was a mandate which was later crystallised in the Vaddukoddai Resolution of 1976, and in the 1977 Election Manifesto of the Tamil parliamentary parties and was overwhelmingly endorsed by the Tamil people at the General Election in July 1977. The response of the Sinhala people to this parliamentary struggle was yet another physical attack on Tamils to intimidate them into submission.

Source:  TamilNation.org

Posted in: Tamil