SELF DETERMINATION

RIGHT TO SELF DETERMINATION: TAMIL EELAM

“.. Self determination is not a de stabilising concept. Self determination and democracy go hand in hand. If democracy means the rule of the people, by the people, for the people, then the principle of self determination secures that no one people may rule another – and herein lies its enduring appeal…” Nadesan Satyendra in Why Division, 1998

“Throughout the ages, the Sinhalese and Tamils in the country lived as distinct sovereign people till they were brought under foreign domination. …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.” – S.J.V.Chelvanayakam Q.C. Leader of Tamil United Front, 1975

“…In all regions of the world conflicts turn violent over the desire for full control by state governments, on the one hand, and claims to self-determination (in a broad sense) by peoples, minorities or other communities, on the other. Where governments recognise and respect the right to self-determination, a people can effectuate it in a peaceful manner. Where governments choose to use force to crush or prevent the movement, or where they attempt to impose assimilationist policies against the wishes of a people, this polarises demands and generally results in armed conflict. The Tamils, for example, were not seeking independence and were not using violence in the 1970s. The government response to further deny the Tamil people equal expression of their distinct identity led to armed confrontation and a war of secession…” Implementation of the Right to Self Determination, as a Contribution to Conflict Prevention , UNESCO International Conference of Experts, Barcelona 1998

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This section brings together documents relating to the right of self determination  of the people of Tamil Eelam – including:

1. The 1973 Statement by S.Kathiravetpillai, M.P. for Kopay from ‘Coexistence not Confrontation’ – A Statement on Eelam,

“Pancha Seela or Coexistence is the only solution to the problem of the two nations in Ceylon. It recognises not merely facts of two thousand five hundred years of Sinhala and Tamil history but also the fundamental right of the Tamil people to self determination; of Tamil Eelam to separate statehood. It unshackles the two nations and sets them free” 

2. The historic statement by S.J.V.Chelvanayakam Q.C. M.P., (affectionately known to the Tamil people as Thanthai Chelva) at his election victory in January 1975, when he won a mandate for Tamil Eelam,

3. Text of the Vaddukodai Resolution at the First National Convention of the Tamil United Liberation Front, May 1976,

4. Tamil United Liberation Front – Tamil Eelam Manifesto which was endorsed by the Tamil people at the General Elections in July 1977,

5. Statement of the Political Committee of the Liberation Tigers written by Anton Balasingham, 1983

5. Statement by Nadesan Satyendra at the Thimpu Talks, 1985

“…The Tamil delegation here at Thimpu asserts a proposition founded on common sense and justice – and in the ultimate analysis all sound law is common sense and justice. It is a very uncomplicated business, this question of international law. It is simple. And the simple proposition is this: ‘A people who are subjugated by an alien people have the inherent right to free themselves from such alien subjugation’. And it is this right which is the right of self determination – a right which has today, become a peremptory norm of general international law…”

6. Justice Satchi Ponnambalam, on the Tamil Eelam demand in international law, July 1991

“…(The) perceived solution of self-determination has evolved and taken shape by the compulsions of more than three decades of political struggles of the Tamil people and their political leaders which ended in the ignominious failure to arrive at any just solution by the process of negotiation between the two parties. There lay in ruins the scrap-heap of broken pacts and dishonoured agreements as to proposals for Regional Councils, District Councils, Provincial Councils, Provincial/Regional Councils, District/Provincial Councils – all tentative concepts and toothless bodies with no genuine devolved powers of decentralization…”

7. Visuvanathan Rudrakumaran on the Tamil Eelam demand in international law, 1991

“…a social group characterized by distinct objective elements such as a common language and a common struggle, acquire subjective elements such as a sense of solidarity, of sameness or oneness and has a relationship to a defined territory,” such a group clearly constitutes a “people” and-is entitled to self-determination… the Tamils of Sri Lanka, who are united on the basis of such objective factors as a distinct language etc., and by such subjective factors as a passionate yearning for freedom, and who have a long-established relationship to the Northern and Eastern provinces constitute a people, and are therefore entitled to self-determination in the form of secession, in the face of denial of effective representation in Sri Lanka’s existing constitutional and political situation….”

8. Statement by the Political Committee of the Liberation Tigers,  in March 1991

9. Written Statement by International Educational Development submitted to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in April  1998,

10. Report by Professor  A. J. V. Chandrakanthan on the Conference on “Articulating a Vision for the Tamil Nation” held at  Queen Elizabeth House, Oxford in April 1998,

11. Nadesan Satyendra on  Why Division, in 1998

“It is sometimes said that to accord international recognition to these separate national formations will lead to instability in the world order. The argument is not dissimilar to that which was urged a hundred years ago against granting universal franchise. It was said that to empower every citizen with a vote was to threaten the stability of existing state structures and the ruling establishment. But the truth was that it was the refusal to grant universal franchise which threatened stability … Self determination is not a de stabilising concept. Self determination and democracy go hand in hand. If democracy means the rule of the people, by the people, for the people, then the principle of self determination secures that no one people may rule another – and herein lies its enduring appeal.” 

11. External Self Determination, Internal De-Colonisation by Dr.S.Sathananthan in 1999,

12. Eelam & the Right to Secession by Professor M.Sornarajah, June 2000

13. Statements at the United Nations Commission of Human Rights recognising the right of the people of Tamil Eelam to self determination,

and other related documents.


At the United Nations
During the past several years, the Tamils’ right to self determination has received recognition by more than 65 non governmental organisations at sessions of the UN Commission on Human Rights (and its Sub Commission) in Geneva. These NGO Statements included the following:
International Educational Development, August 1990
Liberation, 1991
International Educational Development, 1992
Joint Statement by 15 NGOs, 1993
Joint Statement by 17 NGOs, February 1994
International Educational Development, 1998
Humanitarian Law Project, 1998
Joint Written Statement by 54 NGOs, 1998
International League for the Rights and Liberation of Peoples, 1999
Liberation, 1999
International Educational Development, 1999
International League for the Rights and Liberation of Peoples, 2001
International Educational Development, 2001
International Educational Development, 2006

“Legal scholars and non-governmental organizations have been very vocal in their support for the right of the Tamil people to self-determination. In this regard, there have been hundreds of conferences, symposia, oral and written statements at the Commission as well as in many countries. IED has participated in perhaps 30 such sessions, joined by many NGO, political figures, and other legal experts.

Even the few experts unwilling to reach to the pre-colonial period to support self-determination due to “passage of time” and other practical and tactical concerns, urge that the failure, since 1949, of the Sinhala-dominated governments to afford the Tamil people basic rights in spite of negotiations with various Tamil leaders, ripens the right to self-determination as the only practical remedy for repression. The right may even ripen if, given the relative numbers of majority versus minority groups, the minority cannot effectively ever win in issues of importance to them. This, then, becomes a violation of governance rights. In Sri Lanka, in addition to the clear oppression of the Tamil minority, the Tamil people and their leadership are unable to effectively address anything of importance to the Tamil people: fishing rights, environmental concerns, or even post-Tsunami relief efforts.”


Non Government Organisations who have recognised the Tamils’ Right to Self Determination in Statements made at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights

1.Action des Christians Pour L’Abolition de la Torture
2. African Commission of Health and Human Rights Promotion
3. Agence des Cites Unies pour la
4. American Association of Jurists
5. Arab Lawyers Union
6. Arab Organisation for Human Rights
7. Asian Women`s Human Rights Council
8. Association for World Education
9.Association paur la Liberte Religiose
10. Association de Defense de Droits de l`Homme
11. Canadian Council of Churches
12. Centre Europe Ties Monde
13. Change
14.Codehuca
15. Comision de Deeches Homonas de El Salavador
16. Commission for the Defense of Human Rights in Latin America
17.Consejo Indico de Sud America
18. Federation Internationale des Journalistes Libres
19. Fedefam
20. Felix Varelar Centre
21. FIMARC
22. Franciscans International
23. General Arab Women Foundation
24. Human Rights Internet
25. International Association Against Torture
26. International Association of Democratic Lawyers
27.International Association of Educators for World Peace
28. International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development
29. International Commission of Jurists
30.International Council of Women
31. International Education Development
32. International Federation of Human Rights Leagues
33. International Federation of Journalists
34. International Human Rights
35.Association of American Minorities
36. International Human Rights Law Group
37. International Indian Treaty Council
38. International League for the Rights and Liberation of Peoples
39. International League for Human Rights
40.International Movement for Fraternal Union among Races and Peoples.
41.International Movement against all Forms of Discrimination and Racism
42. International Organisation of Indigenous Resource – Development Category
43. International Organisation for the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination
44. International Peace Bureau
45. International Right to Life
46. International Work Group For Indigenous Affairs
47. Liberation
48. Movement contre le Racisme et pour Amitie des Peuples
49. Movimento Cubano per la Paz
50. New Humanity
51. North-South XXI
52. Parliamentarians for Global Action
53.Pax Christie International,
54. Pax Romana
55. REDHRIC
56. Society For Threatened People
57. The Saami Council
58.World Alliance of Reformed Churches
59. World Christian Community,
60. World Confederation of Labour
61.World Council of Churches
62. World Federation of Democratic Youth
63. World Federation of Trade Unions
64. World Movement of Mothers
65. World Muslim Congress
66. World Organisation Against Torture
67. World Society of Victimology
68. Worldview International Foundation

CONTENTS OF THIS SECTION last updated 19/10/2007

Address by  Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam to the Ceylon Tamil League –  1922
Resolution of  Ceylon Communist Party – October 1944
Kathiravelupillai’s Eelam Statement, 1973
Tamil United Front Memorandum, September 1974
S.J.V.Chelvanayakam Q.C., Statement – February 1975
Vaddukodai Resolution – May 1976
Letter to Sri Lanka Prime Minister  from  Tamil United Liberation Front, May 1976
Tamil United Liberation Front Election Manifesto – July 1977
Tamils’ right to self determination and secession – Anton S. Balasingham, 1983
Self Determination is not a dirty word – Sathasivam Krishnakumar, 1993
A Struggle for Justice – Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, March 1997 
Election Manifesto of Tamil National Alliance, December 2001
Election Manifesto of Tamil National Alliance, October 2004
Kathiravelupillai’s Eelam Statement Revisited on the 57th Anniversary of Sri Lankan Independence4 February 2005

Nadesan Satyendra

We, too, are a people at Thimpu Talks, August 1985 
Thanmaanam, 1988
Boundaries of Tamil Eelam, 1993
Select Committee Farce, 1993
‘Multi Ethnic Plural Society’ – 1993
Needles, Haystacks & the Sinhala Left, 1997
LTTE & Fanaticism
Why Division?, 1998
A Simple Question, 1998
The Charge is Genocide… the Struggle is for Freedom, 1998

Other Articles

Books and Articles on Tamil ‘separatism’ at Questia
Sinhala Buddhist Oppression of the Tamil People – S. C. Chandrahasan, 1979
The Material Basis for Separatism: The Tamil Eelam Movement in Sri Lanka – Amita Shastri, 1990
Tamil Eelam right to self-determination – Visuvanathan Rudrakumaran, 1991
Tamils’ right to self-determination – Justice Satchi Ponnamblam, 1991
Struggle for Fundamental Social Change – Dr.Ramani Chelliah, May 1991
Human Rights, Humanitarian Law and the Tamil National Struggle: Evolving the Law of Self Determination, Karen Parker, J.D, 1991
Anti-Federalism: An Exercise in Political Bankruptcy – S Sathananthan, 1992
Tamil Eelam: Reversion of Sovereignty – IFT Working Group 1992
Right to Self Determination – Tamil Information Centre Briefing to UN Commission on Human Rights, 1994
Human Rights & the Tamils Right to Self Determination – Justice Marcus Einfield, 1996
The Tamils’ Right to Self Determination – Visvanathan Rudrakumaran, 1996
SEP and the fight for the
Socialist United States of Sri Lanka and Eelam,
 December 1998
Tamil Eelam: The Legitimacy of a New State –   A. J. V. Chandrakanthan, April 1998 
Ilankai Tamils Self Determination – Vikramabahu Karunaratne, 21 May 1999
External Self Determination, Internal De-Colonisation  Dr.S.Sathananthan, 1999
Eelam & the Right to Secession – Professor M.Sornarajah, June 2000
Tamil Eelam – a Nation State in the Making – Professor P.Ramasamy, July 2000
Concept of power sharing and legitimacy of the state – V.T.Tamilmaran, October 2002
The Tamil Secessionist Movement in Sri Lanka (Ceylon): A  Case of Secession by Default? – M.R.R.Hoole
Self Determination and Conflict Regulation  in Sri Lanka, Northern Ireland and beyond  – Brendan O’Duffy, May 2003 “Those who assume the LTTE’s concession on negotiating within the framework of a united Sri Lanka are…. pretending that the self-determination genie remains in the doctrinal box of a statist world…”
Tamil Struggle: The Need for self-determination – G.Amirthalingam, 2006
The right to self-determination of the Tamils in Sri Lanka – Victor Rajakulendran, June 2006
Tamil Eelam demand in International Law – Tamil Writers Guild, 4 January 2007

………………………………..
Source: TamilNation.org

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