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INDICTMENT AGAINST SRI LANKA

THE PLEA THAT WENT UNHEEDED
- K.V.NADARAJAH, AUGUST 1984

K.V.Nadarajah, a former Tamil Member of Parliament for Badulla in Ceylon's legislature, wrote this letter to the British Prime Minister in August 1984. A visitor from Washington, USA to this website sent us the letter with the following comment, on 31 October 2000: 

"...I came to know of K.V.Nadarajah's demise recently. I had the opportunity of spending some evenings with KVN during the Eighties, when he was here in Washington... This letter was mailed by me to the addressee at that time. What impact it had on the recipient is hard for me gauge. But personally I had great admiration of the depth of understanding and care that KVN had for the Tamils.... After reading KVN's obituary, I felt compelled to pass these on to you, because I thought that the many things he said 15 years ago, are very relevant even in today's context..."


"... I have for over fifty years lived in South Lanka with the majority Sinhalese community there, until July 27, 1983 when my house and all belongings were looted and burnt by Sinhalese mobs with the police and army looking on and even participating directly. I am now without a house or a country to call my own - like thousands of Tamils whose houses and properties were destroyed in July 1983 and April/August 1984.... The blood and tears of the Tamils of Sri Lanka ... and their case for the restoration of their homeland in North and East Lanka, to enable them to live in peace and amity as free men, calls for immediate and sympathetic consideration by you Madam, as the Prime Minister of the British Government that trusted the Sinhalese Government to respect Tamil rights... "


August 21, 1984 

Mrs. Margaret Thatcher 
Prime Minister 
United Kingdom 
10 Downing Street 
London United Kingdom

Madam:

I am a middle-class citizen of Ceylon (now known officially as the "Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka) - belonging to the Tamil community, the second largest in the island. 

I have for over fifty years lived in South Lanka with the majority Sinhalese community there until July 27, 1983 when my house and all belongings were looted and burnt by Sinhalese mobs with the police and army looking on and even participating directly, I am now without a house or a country to call my own - like thousands of Tamils whose houses and properties were destroyed in July 1983 and April/August 1984. Even worse was the killing and in many cases burning alive of innocent Tamils, several hundreds according to the Government even, but several thousands according to disinterested and more authentic sources.

I must for reasons you will understand remain anonymous, but I beg of you not to discard this appeal of mine as worthless for that reason. 

The unfortunate plight of the Tamils in Sri Lanka after 1948 when Pax Britannica was replaced by Vis Major of the Sinhalese and the sufferings and indignities they underwent after 1948 in the anti-Tamil pogroms started in 1956 with the introduction of the Sinhala only law

"..Communal riots in which Tamils are killed, maimed, robbed and rendered homeless are no longer isolated episodes; they are beginning to become a pernicious habit..." - Paul Sieghart:Report of a Mission to Sri Lanka on behalf of the International Commission of Jurists and its British Section, Justice, March1984
It became a frequent epidemic in Sri Lanka ending perhaps for the time being with the most serious of all, the holocausts of July 1983 and April /August 1984. These pogroms have been given some publicity by the foreign press, other independent media and the Amnesty International and the International Committee of Jurists (ICJ), all institutions whose fairness and objective approach cannot be challenged by anyone.

The Army, the Navy and the Police, the mobs and even the Sailors inside the jails were free to fire and destroy the Tamils with impunity. Arms were wade readily available to these criminals with and without uniforms and not one was punished. 

Even prosecutions, rarely launched, failed before a communal-minded jury. On two successive days in July 1983, fifty two Tamil prisoners and detainees held under the Emergency Laws, remanded in the Capital's utmost security prison of the Sinhalese Government, were mercilessly attacked and killed by fellow-prisoners according to Government. 

But not one of the culprits was identified by the numerous jailors and prison staff who must be seeing and dealing with them daily, obviously due to some strange temporary blindness these officials suffered. 

On 11th August, 1984 the Government troops evacuated the officers from the Chunnakam Police Station, leaving behind in a cell several Tamil youths (taken into custody by police for questioning) bound and gagged, set two booby trap bombs which left 19 persons dead and several other Tamils seriously injured when the bombs blast and blew up the station building. 

The Government and its propagandists want the civilized world to believe that these cowardly attacks on the prisoners and detainees were not planned and organized by the guardians of the law from the highest level to the lowest. 

Even the President of Sri Lanka who is in sole charge of Security and Defence under the Constitution and his stooges did nothing to prevent violence against the Tamils in spite of his being forewarned from 1977, in spite of appeals by the Tamils from all shades of political opinion, in spite of his assurance to protect every citizen at Sri Lanka including the thousands of Tamils, and though he claims "to have the support of the majority of the Tamils."

The Tamils in South Lanka, which is occupied mainly by the Sinhalese, including Colombo the capital and all other provincial towns are claimed by the President to be his supporters and this is correct factually because in the South the choice was between the President s party and the more anti-Tamil Sri Lanka Freedom Party which ushered in communal and anti-Tamil policies into the public life from 1956 onwards and were in power practically till 1976/77. 

The irony of it is that we, the Tamils in South Sri Lanka, the admitted and proclaimed supporters of the President, have been killed, robbed, disgraced, burnt and rendered homeless in South Sri Lanka, where we lived, without the President raising a finger to save us in July l983 and after. 

He even told the foreign press that he was not bothered by the problems and safety of the Tamils but had to respect the "upsurge of the national feelings of the Sinhalese." These were the killers and looters and vandals who burnt Tamils and houses and properties of Tamils.

The propaganda by the Government and by the Sinhalese organizations in foreign countries and in Sri Lanka falsely pin points the killing of the 13 soldiers in July 83 and 6 soldiers in August 1984 by the Tamil "Terrorist" youths called "Tigers" as the provocation. 

The Tamil youth had however retaliated in the same way from 1975/76 against the "Tamil Traitors and Collaborators" and the Security men in uniforms, the symbols of the Sinhalese army of invasion of the northern Tamil Homeland. 

Though the Tamil leaders Chelvanayagam, Ponnambalam, Tiruchelvam, Nadesan and Naganathan, all Queen's Counsel and responsible persons, decried violence, it was perhaps too much to expect young men to put up with the cruel behavior of the Sinhalese Police and army of occupation and not to hit back in some measure at least

Eventually, true as the Government and pro-Government propaganda is, the contra version is that a few yards from where the 13 soldiers were killed on 23rd July 1983, three Tamil girls in a boarding school were raped and disgraced by the gallant soldiers in Jaffna and that the "Tigers" retaliated. 

The "Tigers" or the Terrorists were not heard of till 1975/76 when the World Tamil Conference, attended by several Tamil scholars (American and European too), was broken up by the Police who drove into the crowd and caused a stampede - "maliciously and unwarrantedly" as held by the Justice Kretser Commission. Hooliganism is not the monopoly of the Sinhalese Police/Army only.

In the counter attacks by the Tamil youths, starting only from 1975/76, about 80 were killed in the Tamil areas, of whom the majority were Tamil "collaborators" and Tamil security men. The 13 Sinhalese soldiers killed are included in the total of 80 killed by the "Tigers". 

As against these figures, hundreds of Tamils were killed in the anti-Tamil pogroms of the earlier Sri Lanka Freedom Party era in 1956, 1958 and 1961 even before the 'Tigers' came into being and thousands were killed similarly in the anti-Tamil pogroms of 1981 and of  l977 a few months after the present Government under Mr. Jayawardene came to power. 

The killing of 13 soldiers in July 1983 was therefore long after the violence and torture was adopted by the Sinhalese Government starting from 1956. 

It should be noted that in the counter attacks by the "Tigers" hardly a single Sinhalese civilian was killed by them. 

Further the President of Sri Lanka and his Sinhalese supporters have killed and rendered homeless Tamils living hundreds of miles away from the "Tigers" among the Sinhalese for years and planned that they should be vicariously punished, killed and destroyed every few years because the armed military and Police posted in many thousands in north Sri Lanka cannot vanquish the admittedly "two or three hundred 'Tigers of the north." The days are no more of hostages being taken except perhaps among the tribals.

No Madam - The Dharmistic President of Sri Lanka, perhaps the cleverest diplomat of this century who claims to follow Lord Buddha, the embodiment of Truth, Compassion and Non-Violence, and who was eloquent in Delhi over Gandhi even recently and who claims to be a more representative leader of Sri Lankan Tamils of South Lanka, was fiddling when the South Lankan Tamils were mercilessly butchered, destroyed and robbed in 1977 and in 1981 and worst in July 1983 and April and August 1984

The Rt. Reverend Wickremasinghe in his swan song and appeal to his Sinhalese compatriots published in the Lankan paper, 'Sun" of October 28, 1983 refers to the "armed forces as inactive spectators or active supporters of the mobs who attacked the lives and properties of the Tamils in July 1983".  It is people like Rev. Wickremasinghe who can redeem the Sinhalese and even Sri Lanka. 

It is strange that only the Christian church has condemned the events of July 1983 and April/August 1984 and sympathised with the Tamil victims. By burning and killing the Tamils not only in Sinhalese South Lanka but also in the traditional Tamil homeland in the Northern and Eastern Provinces, the Sinhalese have established that they and the Tamils cannot co-exist as equals in Lanka.

Tamil leaders even before 1948 sensed this danger that power politics of the Sinhalese majority would spell the complete doom of the Tamil minority even in their respected and historically proved Tamil homeland in the North and East of Lanka. 

That is why Ponnambalam, a Queen's counsel and leader of the Tamil Congress, demanded 50/50 representation for all the minorities of Lanka but failed as the claim was held by many to be undemocratic. 

That is why Chelvanayagam another Queen's counsel and leader of the Federal Party demanded a Federal constitution for Lanka, which is in vogue in so many civilized major democracies, to enable the Tamils to co-exist with the Sinhalese. He too failed because the Sinhalese were hell-bent on reducing the Tamils to semi-slavery status in North and East Lanka, after driving them out of South Lanka. 

When it became clear to the Tamil leaders, as a result of the recurring anti-Tamil pogroms and other laws depriving the Tamils of their right to exists as equal citizens in Lanka the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) was formed under the leadership of Chelvanayagam, Ponnambalam and Thondaman and blessed by practically every great Tamil Leader in 1976, demanding independence for the old Tamil Kingdom and homeland of the Tamils in North and East Lanka composed of the Northern and Eastern Provinces. 

Then the Sinhalese like all imperialists objected to division of Lanka. They have become suddenly fond of the North and East and more so because the vital port of Trincomalee was in the Tamil Territory. 

Today Trincomalee is being dangled as a carrot by the Sinhalese to the great powers like America even although it is part of the ancient Tamil Kingdom of Kula-Kottam by the Maharaja who erected and endowed the most ancient Koneswaram Temple of the Hindus there. 

In that temple even now carved in stone remains the prophetic inscription that at a later period the temple erected by Kuls-Kottam would be conquered by the cat's eye, then the brown eye and then the blue eye before it becomes the running sore or the Vaduga's. The word Vaduga is not clear and damaged. As prophesied the Portuguese, then the Dutch and then the British have ruled over Trincomalee and the last part of the verse cannot refer to the Sinhalese who claim to be pure Indo-Aryans like Hitler and not Vadugas who are Dravidians of South India clearly and un-equivocally.

For two thousand years or more the Sinhalese and Tamils have lived in Lanka, invaded each others territories and ruled over same, only as invaders and invaded, without racial and ethnic animosities. 

In ancient times, wars of conquerors were a hobby with the kings - so it was in Lanka. 

It is also an admitted fact of history that when the Portuguese appeared on the Ceylon horizon in 1505 there were three separate kingdoms, Kotte in coastal Lanka, the Kandyan Kingdom in the Hill country of South Lanka, and the Tamil Kingdom including the Tamil Wanni of the north and eastern coastal Lanka. In 1505 Kotte surrendered to the Portuguese. In 1619 the Tamil Kingdom of the north was conquered by the Portuguese. In the Battle of Jaffna and its King Sangkili was captured and taken to Goa in Portuguese India and tried for conspiring with the Sinhalese to drive the Portuguese out of Kotte and hanged for that offence. Only the Tamil Kingdom fought and lost to the foreigners.

Later the Dutch took over and ousted the Portuguese in about 1659 and lost to the British both Kotte and the Northern Tamil Kingdom (Jaffna) in about 1796. The British in 1815 got the Kandyan Kingdom by surrender and all Lanka was British. 

For the first time in about 1830 they amalgamated the three separate units into one administrative unit with nine provinces. The above are irrefutable facts and what the Tamils demand is the restoration of their ancient Ringdom and territories as nonexistence with the Sinhalese is not possible and is obviously not wanted by them even judging from their behavior.

Lord Soulbury in his Foreword in 1963 to B.H.Farmer's study titled 'Ceylon - a Divided Nation' (Oxford University Press):

".... A Commission, of which I had the honour to be the Chairman, was appointed by the British Government in 1944, to examine and discuss proposals for the constitutional reform of Ceylon. It did not take long to discover that the relations of minorities to majorities, and particularly of the Tamil minority in the northern and eastern provinces to the Sinhalese majority further south, were in the words of the Commission's report 'the most difficult of the many problems involved'. The Commission had of course a cursory knowledge of the age-long antagonism between these two communities, but might have been less hopeful of a solution had Mr. Farmer's book been available to underline the deplorable effect of centuries of troubled history upon the Ceylonese of today.

The Commission ... stated that it was satisfied that the Government of Ceylon was fully aware that the contentment of the minorities was essential not only to their own well-being but to the well-being of the island as a whole... Needless to say the consequences have been a bitter disappointment to myself and my fellow Commissioners..."

The British left hoping that Section 29 of the Soulbury Constitution would sufficiently safeguard the Tamils and their rights. But the new Sinhalese masters of Lanka had none to question or challenge them - new constitutions were framed and accepted - Section 29 went overboard. Lanka became a Republic and there was no appeal possible to the Crown or the Privy Council.

Thus the Tamils of Sri Lanka became a doomed community. Their only hope is, just like many other countries and people seeking independence, that the democratic peoples and nations and the U.N. which provides for the Restoration of Human Rights would rescue then.

The blood and tears of the Tamils of Sri Lanka over their sufferings referred to above and their case for the restoration of their homeland in North and East Lanka to enable them to live in peace and amity as free men, call for the immediate and sympathetic consideration by you Madam, as the Prime Minister of the British Government that trusted the Sinhalese Government to respect Tamil rights. 

You have intervened to save "Democracy and Human Rights" in any part of the world and looked at from any angle the case of the Balkan Tamils should merit no less concern and attention from you. you alone can grant them redress.

The President of Sri Lanka has already visited your country in June as an honored guest. As the Read of a former colony he is entitled to a great welcome. It is said that his visit to Britain is to put right the image of Sri Lanka damaged and shamed by the recurring anti-Tamil violence in Sri Lanka. 

Formality might call for mutual garlands and compliments on such an occasion, but the Lankan Tamils beg of  you not to give him and Sri Lanka a clean bill, knowing even without my appeal, the correct facts about events in Lanka from your own advisers and from the World Press and other important agencies. 

Any certificate from you that he is a Democrat and Sri Lanka is Democracy would be travesty of those words and would be used by him and his legions to finish off the Lankan Tamils for ever.

You, as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom have not hesitated to impose on countries, large or small, seeking your aid and recognition, conditions demanded of them to conform to democratic, civilized and human standards. 

Sri Lanka's President should not be allowed to get away with it nor to fool anyone in Britain and America by quoting from Buddha and Gandhi. 

The only hope and salvation for the Tamils of Lanka lies in you. Nothing and none can prevent you from demanding from him immediate steps to redress the grievance of the Tamils and to make possible for them to live as a free people at least in their homeland, as they did before 1619 when the Portuguese invaded them and their Kingdom.

May this Appeal receive your attention. May God Bless you and your great country.

Yours faithfully,

An Anonymous Lankan Civil Refugee

P.S. Since it is a crime in Sri Lanka to discuss freedom for the Tamils, I regret that I have to remain anonymous.

 
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