LTTE Appeal to the Hon. Nelson Mandela
Political Head Office,
Honourable Nelson Mandela,
For decades the Non Aligned Movement has been an ardent supporter of the world national liberation movements. It has been championing the cause of the oppressed people in their struggle for self-determination and political independence. It has effectively voiced against racial repression, colonial domination and other forms of injustices against humanity. In view of the fact NAM has been a progressive global movement seeking to eradicate the systems of oppression and injustice and promote the creation of a just andequitable world order, we submit for your serious attention and urgent consideration the tragic plight of the people of Tamil Eelam in Sri Lanka and their just struggle to determine their own political status and destiny.
The tragic story of the Tamils, their immense suffering and their heroic struggle, is a complex history that spans a period of over fifty years.All successive Governments of Sri Lanka, since the independence of the Islandfrom British colonialism in 1948, have stained their hands with Tamil blood and have committed grave crimes of racial brutality. Conditioned by anillusive ideology of racial superiority and prompted by religious fanaticism, the Sinhalese ruling elites undertook a notorious policy of racial oppressionthat had far-reaching consequences. The oppression attacked the veryfoundations of the Tamil nation , i.e, its language, culture, education, economic lifeand traditional lands. In its totality, the state oppression is genocidal in character, since it is charted with a calculative programme ofsystematically liquidating the structural unity and cohesiveness of the Tamil nation.
This genocidal oppression unfolded in its ugly forms ever since theSinhala majority assumed state power. The Sri Lankan parliament became thepowerful state institution upholding the tyranny of the majority. It enacteddraconian legistations and emergency laws to repress the fundamental rights andfreedoms of the Tamils. It framed racist constitution to entrench Sinhala-Buddhist chauvinistic rule and to alienate the Tamil people from the system ofstate power. In the last two decades the armed forces and the police assumed extra-ordinary powers as the instrument of state terror. During theanti-Tamil racial pogroms that erupted periodically in the island, the state'ssecurity forces actively participated in the ritual of mass murder of Tamils.Following the racial holocaust of July 1983 the armed forces played an active rolein the military occupation and domination of Tamil areas. The offensivemilitary operation in the Tamil homeland brought unprecedented terror and violence. Indiscriminate heavy artillery shelling and blind aerial bombardments that continued unabated for years caused colossal damage to life and propertyof the Tamils. Historical towns and villages were wiped out without trace.These ruthless military campaigns uprooted hundreds of thousands of people and reduced them to a condition of refugees. Life in the military occupiedareas has become a nightmare with continuous search operation, mass arrests, detention, torture, rape, murder and disappearances.
During the last fifty years the Tamil people have suffered immensely and continue to suffer under a worst system of racist oppression practiced inSri Lanka. Under this system of racist terror 60.000 innocent Tamil civilianshave perished, about one million Tamils fled the island in fear and insecurityand half-a-million Tamils are living as displaced destitutes in their own homeland. The magnitude of this monumental human tragedy can only bedescribed as genocide.
In the international political arena Sri Lanka attempts to present itselfas an Island paradise endowed with a pristine Buddhist civilizationcommitted to democratic polity and adhering to the noble path of non - alignment.This is an illusive mask carefully constructed by the propaganda machinery todeceive the community of world nation. Behind this facade lies the factualreality, the reality of racial repression of religious hatred, of militarybrutality, of gross violations of human rights of attempted genocide. Operating an authoritarian political system and ruling the country under emergencylaws and media censorship, Sri Lanka has been committing grave war crimes in theTamil homeland in the guise of fighting 'terrorism'. The bloody and ruthless war that has been unleashed against the Tamil people is the ultimatemanifestation of the racist genocidal oppression practiced by the Sri Lankan state. In a feeble attempt to justify a full-fleged war against a community of peoplewhom Sri Lanka calls her own citizens, the Government has branded the Tamilfreedom struggle as a phenomenon of terrorism. This is a gross misrepresentationof the political reality prevailing in Sri Lanka intended to discredit theTamil struggle.
The Tamil political struggle has a unique evolutionary history extendingto a half-a-century during which time the mode of struggle has taken different forms at different stages. In the early periods the Tamil people adopted peaceful, non-violent political campaigns to articulate their grievances.The Tamil political leadership at that time believed in the Gandhianphilosophy of 'ahimsa' and was convinced that the moral and spiritual power of non - violence would bring an end to the mounting state violence against theTamils. The Tamil protest campaigns received wider popular support and folded into a massive national uprising against the state. The Tamil upsurgencealarmed the Sinhala state which reacted by unleashing military violence and terroragainst the passive campaigners. The brutality of the armed forces finallycrushed the peaceful, non-violent political agitation of the Tamils. Thus, twodecades of non-violent struggle of the oppressed was brought to an end by the violent repression of the oppressor paving the way for the intensive utilizationof military terror as the method of state oppression against the Tamilpolitical struggle. It was during the early seventies when the Tamils realized the futility of the peaceful methods of struggle against a mercilessoppressor who believed in military domination and repression, objective conditions foran armed resistance movement arose. It was at that conjuncture when ourpeople had no alternative methods to defend themselves against the savage form of state terrorism and genocide our liberation organization was born as thearmed resistance movement of the Tamils.
Born as a guerrilla movement in 1972 to resist the military terror of the Sinhala state, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), after yearsof arduous and consistent struggle, gained wider support among the popular masses and firmly established itself as the freedom movement of the Eelam Tamils. Constituting itself as a liberation organization with politicaland military structures, the LTTE has been fighting an armed struggle toprotect and safe-guard the Tamil people and their historical homeland againstSinhala military aggression and occupation.
The armed struggle of the Liberation Tigers is based on a clearly defined political programme. This political project aims at securing the right to self-determination of the Tamil people. The LTTE holds the position thatthe Tamils constitute themselves as a people or a nation and have a homelandand that they are entitled to the right to self-determination. This rightentailed the freedom of a people to determine their own political status. The Tamil people had invoked the right to self-determination at the 1977 general elections and opted to fight for political independence. The politicalproject of the LTTE is based on the people's mandate for self-determination. Therefore, the LTTE objective in fighting for the political independenceof the Tamil homeland is the expression and articulation of the collectivewill and aspiration of the Tamil people.
The right to self-determination is the cardinal principle upon which our liberation struggle is being fought today. It is the principle thatupholds the sacred right of a nation to decide its own political destiny. The international covenants of the UN charter enunciates the principle of self-determination in the following terms; " All people have the right to self-determination. By the virtue of that right they freely determinetheir political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development".
Originally the principle of self-determination was applied specifically to people under colonial domination fighting a liberation struggle forpolitical independence. In contemporary times the principle has broader applicationin that it incorporates people facing various modes of oppression.Particularly it applies to people oppressed by racist regimes or subjected to alien domination or foreign occupation. Alien domination can be designated as subjugation of one nation by another nation. The Tamil people areoppressed by a racist regime. This oppression has assumed genocidal proportion. Theyare also subjected to military domination and occupation by the Sinhalanation, which can be categorized as a case of alien domination. Therefore, theTamils posses all the necessary attributes that would satisfy the conditions in international law for the exercise of their right to self - determination.
Though the Tamils are entitled for their right to self-determination andhave been fighting a sustained struggle to win that right, Sri Lanka has consistently refused to recognize the Tamils as a people and denied their right to self-determination. By constitutional amendment, Sri Lanka has prohibited the Tamil demand for self -determination as unlawful. It hasalso rejected the Tamil right to their historical homeland. In order tolegitimize its rejection of the Tamil claim of nationhood, Sri Lanka has beenpropagating a false view that Tamil are a minority group living in a multi-ethnic Sri Lankan social formation and therefore not entitled for either a separate homeland or nationhood. Having taken such entrenched position, the Sinhala state has been depicting the Tamil struggle for self-determination as separatism and the armed struggle as terrorism. It is precisely because of this rigid and inflexible position that refuses to recognize and acceptthe legitimacy and reality of the Tamil cause, the Sinhalese regime isreluctant to enter into a meaningful dialogue with the LTTE. Instead, theGovernment has adopted the military path with an objective of occupying and subjugatingthe Tamil nation to crush the Tamil aspiration for self-rule in theirhistorical homeland.
The present Sri Lankan Government under Chandrika Kumaratunga, which cameto power four years ago with the grand promises of peace and ethnic reconciliation turned out to be worst repressive racist regime in SriLankan political history inflicting intolerable suffering on the Tamil people.This regime is responsible for the escalation of the ethnic conflict and forthe intensification of the war against the Tamils. Soon after assuming statepower Kumaratunga's Government initiated a hidden agenda, a well-worked out programme of military conquest of the Tamil homeland couched in anotorious doctrine called "war for peace". Having mobilized maximum military power,the Government let loose terror and violence in the Tamil areas in the guiseof "liberating the Tamils". The war continues with unabated fury for the last four years turning the Tamil nation into a cauldron of state violence. Itis the Tamil people who bore the brunt of the military conflagration andsuffered enormously as casualties of war with the disintegration of the social, cultural and economic life. Chandrika's war has also affected profoundlythe personal security, liberty and dignity of the Tamil people in the form ofmass arrests detentions without trial, torture and rape. In addition to havoc caused by the ongoing war, the imposition of economic embargo, the ban on medical items, the stoppage of food ration of refugees, the restrictionson the freedom of movement the Tamil civilians, the rigid application of emergency laws all these harsh measures have burdened the Tamil with intolerable hardships. Furthermore, the Government imposed mediacensorship on military news has blacked-out information reaching the out side world ofthe gross violation of human rights practiced by the armed forces in theoccupied Tamil area.
Chandrika Kumaratunga's much publicized 'peace package', upon whichseveral international countries had pinned their hopes and expectation for aneventual solution to the Tamil conflict, has now become a dead letter. TheGovernment has lost interest in the pursuit of peace and has invested all itsenergies and efforts in the prosecution of the war with a determination of findinga military solution. Chandrika's Government has also outrightly rejectedthird party mediation to the conflict and imposed impossible conditions for political negotiation with the LTTE.
Sri Lanka has become the sick man of Asia torn by the turbulence of warand violence and by wasting all its resources and wealth in a meaningless warthat drags on perpetually with no end in sight. The country is driven into this tragic and unstable condition because the Sinhalese leadership lacks agenuine political will to meet the aspirations of the Tamil people throughnegotiated political settlement. All the Sri Lankan Governments, the past as well asthe present, over the last fifty years have and callously denied the basic political rights and freedoms of the Tamils and showed no inclinations whatsoever to accommodate the Tamil people in civilized political systemof power sharing. Deluded by historical myths and obsessed by the desire to transform the entire island into a Sinhala-Buddhist nation, the SriLankan political leaders have adopted an irrational policy of subjugating theTamil nation under the absolute power of the Sinhala state. Such a disastrouspolicy provides the Tamils with no alternative other than to fight for theirliberty and dignity.
We appeal to President Nelson Mandela and his Government who hosts thisgreat forum and to the leaders of the Third World to recognize the collective aspirations of our people for national identity and self determination. We call upon you to use your good office to impress upon the Government ofSri Lanka to abandon its aggressive military policy and seek a negotiated settlement based on the principles enunciated at Thimpu talks.
Our sincere greetings and well wishes.