Ilankai Tamil Sangam

Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

The Vavuniya Declaration

A Declaration, passed at the Tamil Resurgence meeting on July, 27, 2005 at Vairavapuliyankulam Children's Park in Vavuniya

Mayhem in Southern Sri Lanka today is wrought by Sinhala Buddhist Chauvinism.  This has completely shut the door to a democratic settlement to the conflict of the Tamil-speaking population.

In this context, we, the Tamil-speaking people inhabiting the traditional Tamil homeland, place our desperate and perilous plight before the international community and seek justice and endorsement.

We, the Tamils, have inhabited this land as an independent nation before the European occupation.  The Tamil and Sinhala nations were amalgamated in 1833 when the British introduced a unitary structure, resulting in the loss of our sovereignty.  We wish to point out that in 1948 the departing British left Tamil sovereignty in the hands of the Sinhala majority.

Thus, after the inappropriate acquisition of sovereignty, a parliamentary majority was used to mistreat and oppress our people.  Citizenship legislations were enacted to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of plantation Tamils.  With the Sinhala Only Act Tamils were deprived of rights to their Language and employment.  The Prevention of Terrorism and Emergency Acts furthered the complete denial of human rights for Tamils. Through systematic Sinhala colonisation, our traditional habitations were subjected to land grabs, devastating our demographic distribution and right to life.

Not only legislations, but the Sri Lankan Constitution itself was designed as an instrument of oppression.  Section 29 of the Constitution to safeguard the minority rights introduced by the Soulbury Commission was removed in 1972 through the Socialist Democratic Republic Constitution without Tamil participation.  Through the changed constitution Buddhism was made the official religion, paving the way for racial and religious discrimination.  The constitution brought in 1978 further reinforced this.  Thus, the Constitution, that should serve justice, became the embodiment of injustice.

Against such racial oppression the Tamil leadership of yester years protested with peaceful, non-violent political campaigns.  The Sinhala rulers countered such protests with political agreements, which were later to be abrogated.  The 1957 Banda - Chelva Agreement and 1965 Dudley - Chelva Agreement are cited as evidence.  Peaceful protests were reciprocated with violence, rape and genocide.

On the face of such oppression, in the early 1970s the Tamils were forced to take up arms for their self protection and freedom.

Realising the futility of achieving political settlement via non-violent pursuits, the then Tamil leadership made the Vaddukkoddai Resolution on 14 May 1976.  In the 1977 Sri Lanka parliamentary elections these leaders received the mandate for secession from the Tamil people through the ballot box.

Forced to pursue an armed struggle, we rose under the guidance of a national leader who adores our land and our people and a determined army capable of conventional warfare.  As a result, we rose to enunciate the reality that we were a separate nation of people in the Island to the world arena.

During the time of conflict, the just proposals for political settlement made by Tamil parties at various peace talks were all dismissed.  Land seizures and genocidal killings continued unabated.  Indiscriminate aerial bombardment and shelling of schools, places of worship and heavily populated civilian areas mercilessly killed children and the elderly alike.

Due to the many military offensives, the Tamil people were displaced and made refugees in their own land.  The Sinhala Buddhist chauvinists justified such state terrorism under the façade of a ‘state.’  However, our struggle for liberation advanced victoriously against occupying forces.  Our people rose in strength as the force behind this struggle for liberation.

In this historic context, administrative structures for the governance are being instituted for the Tamil people.

Sri Lankan government had come to realise the futility of a military victory over our national liberation struggle.  At the same time, the international community approached our national leadership seeking an opportunity for a peaceful resolution of the conflict.  Our leadership came forward to unilaterally declare a ceasefire.

Left with no viable alternatives, and relenting to international pressure, the Sri Lankan government consented to a ceasefire agreement with the LTTE, the sole representatives of the Tamil people.  On 22.2.2002, with the facilitation of the Government of Norway, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasingha and the Tamil National Leader V Prabahakaran signed a Cease-Fire Agreement.

Following the agreement, six rounds of peace talks were conducted and, as an interim measure, proposals were formulated for an interim administration.

However, the talks were stalled because the Sri Lankan government refused to pursue dialogue.

The Tamil expectations for the return to normalcy for the past three years have failed to materialise.  Our lush and fertile fields and rich seas have been seized by Sinhala forces and controlled as high security zones depriving us our livelihoods.

Even afterthe Tsunami disaster that shook the world, the Sinhala hegemonic attitude has prevailed, exemplified by the fate that befell the proposed Tsunami Joint Mechanism (P-TOMS).  The world is now a witness to the hardened hearts steeped in Buddhist Chauvinistic extremism.

Disregarding all this, the Sinhala leaders are entangled in a struggle for power.  The government has again resorted to military pacts and expansions with a view to crushing the Tamil struggle for their rights.  We hasten to stress that these moves are at hand while the international community is engaged in peace efforts in the island of Sri Lanka.

We have ascertained yet again, that the Sri Lankan rulers will not initiate any just solution for the Tamil-speaking people.  We believe that the international community, too, would have realized this fact from the activities during the period of the cease-fire agreement.

For such apparent reasons we are forced by Sinhala Buddhist chauvinists to take definitive decisions.

Therefore, we demand through this proclamation that the occupying Sinhala forces must vacate our land and seas with immediate effect.

We proclaim that an environment must be created to enable us to decide our destiny and our people are continuing to rise as a force to procure the goal of a sacred and higher life of freedom.

At the same time, while making this proclamation, we seek the recognition by the international community of our basic rights and life of freedom with peace on the basis of our traditional homeland, our nationhood and self-rule and struggle for sovereignty.

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Posted October 2, 2005