Nadarajah Thangathurai's Statement in Sri Lanka Court
On 24 February 1983, Nadarajah Thangathurai, one of the first Tamil freedom fighters captured by the Sri Lanka government, was sentenced to life imprisonment. On the first of March 1983, he made a statement from the dock of the courthouse, which to this day remains one of the best testaments to the Tamil sentiments in Sri Lanka.
Full Text of the Statement [1 March 1983]:
have already objected to a Court in Sri Lanka subjecting us to an
inquiry. Despite that objection a case has been fabricated against us,
and the trial has gone on for nearly four months.
Senior Counsel, Nadesan Satyendra, has exposed the somersaults of the
Sri Lanka police witnesses both by his cross-examination and by his
concluding submissions. He has also exposed the various acts of torture
to which we were subjected at the hands of the Sri Lanka authorities.
Our respected Senior Counsel has said that he bows his head in humility
in front of us who have been willing to give our lives for the
liberation of our people. May I only say that his dedication and
sustained effort and the many faceted legal skills that he has employed
from the day that he took on the responsibility for this case to this
very day is a duty that he has nobly discharged for the Tamil people and
is in no way less than what we have done.
skill can be seen in every aspect of this case. His two day address on
the question of the admissibility of the statements made in custody
served to further the cause of truth and will find a place of honour in
the history of our struggle. It is my deepest wish that such legal
expertise and noble dedication will not be confined simply to a court of
law, or to the cause of a particular people but will shine on behalf all
oppressed peoples in the world in the years to come.
the British government entrusted the fate of the Tamils to a group of
Sinhala politicians, the Tamil people did not clamour for freedom for
themselves. They did not suspect that they would in course of time be
made second-class citizens of this country. But some Tamil leaders did
perceptively ask for bigger representation for the Tamils in the
legislature. This was justified by later events when the plantation
Tamils were deprived of their franchise. What the next 25 years saw was
not only the erosion of Tamil rights but also the erosion of the Tamil
homeland. For 25 years, the Tamil leaders expressed their protest in
Parliament and outside, adopting the principles of ahimsa and
Satyagraha. But what happened?
1956 the Tamil leaders sat down to a peaceful protest on Galle Face
Green. Sinhala thugs were unleashed on them. Later, in 1961, when the
Tamil leaders and the Tamil people sat in peaceful Satyagraha in front
of the Jaffna Kacheri, the Sri Lanka army did not fail to react with
which chapter of your long history of democracy are you going to
incorporate these events? Not one, not two, but there have been a
continuing series of thuggery and violence inflicted on the Tamil people
over a period of 25 years. How many chapters will you need to record
this 25-year villainy? How many Tamils have been robbed of both their
lives and their material wealth? There have been Tamil women whose
chastity has been offended in the very presence of their family members.
cultural wealth preserved for generations has been put to flames. What a
mockery to think that these could be compensated by a few lakhs of
rupees! Have all these acts of hurt and humiliation made the Tamil
people lose their determination? Have they gone back on their ideals?
These acts of hurt and humiliation have only strengthened their resolve.
We have never missed an opportunity to make the Sri Lanka government
conscious of our mind. Twice in two elections the Tamil people have
recently re-stated their aspirations.
it not ridiculous for a Government that promotes race hatred and race
killings to look at us and call us ‘terrorists’? While on the one
hand celebrations were going on to mark ‘50 years of Parliamentary
democracy’, (in 1981) Tamil members of the same Parliament were
subject to midnight arrest and the house of one Member of Parliament was
set on fire. These are not acts that you can do in a civilised world and
then hold your head high. You talk of terrorism and robbery. Has this
country seen anything to compare with the state terrorism and the race
hate carried out with state weaponry? We have even heard of influential
Sri Lanka government politicians terrorising people with revolvers!
are made that we are asking for separation, that we are trying to divide
the country. When were we undivided after all? Our traditional land
captured by the European invaders has never been restored to us. We have
not even mortgaged our land at any time to anyone in the name of one
country. Our land has changed hands off and on under various regimes,
and that is what has happened. We have yet to reach a stage when we can
have our land for ourselves.
we ask for is not division but freedom. Why we ask this is not because
of narrow (minded) thinking. What we hope to achieve is not only the emancipation
of the Tamil people but the greater good of the Sinhalese people
themselves. Why? Because, thereafter, the so-called Tamil problem will
cease to be a livelihood for opportunist Sinhalese politicians. That
will provide a chance for the Sinhalese people to free themselves from
the political, social and economic shackles that bind them today and
realize where their true slavery lies.
is no testament in the world that declares that a people who fight to
recover their own rights or work for their self-determination are guilty
of sedition or terrorism. Had you endorsed our basic human rights at the
very beginning this situation would not have arisen. You had not only
not recognised our rights but for the purpose of clinging on to
political seats of power you had been injecting into the poor innocent
Sinhalese people hate and venom over the past 35 years. That not all the
Sinhala people have fallen victims to your racist poison has been proved
by the fact that many of them during the time of race riots, have time
and again rescued Tamils from armed thugs and complete extermination. It
has been customary for every opposition party in Sri Lanka that wants to
come to power to obstruct any settlement of the Tamil question and rouse
the Sinhala people for that purpose.
against that, for a ruling party to permit racist violence as it has
done during the past six years is more reprehensible. If the
relationship between the Tamil people and the Sri Lanka government has
reached the present deplorable state, that responsibility lies squarely
with the present dispensation.
the past quarter century, the ruling governments have like parrots kept
on repeating the same threadbare statements ‘we will solve the Tamil
question’. Whether we accept your solutions or not, what honest
attempts have been made to solve the problems of the Tamils? While
holding out the bogus promise of solving the problems of the Tamil
people, you have spent all your time in trying to blunt Tamil
resistance. What have the Tamil people asked you? Not economic benefits,
not employment opportunities. That no such benefits could come from you
is a fact well known to them.
if you do come forward to grant these benefits, what guarantee can you
give the Tamils that they could live with self-respect in this island in
the future? What ever you give them without securing that self-respect
will be alien to them.
this island there are sanctuaries for even wild animals, but upto now
there is no sanctuary in any part of this island where Tamils can live
without fear. This is not something we can expect from you in the future
Deputy Solicitor General in the course of his cross-examination turned
to Mr.Yogachandran and asked him: ‘Do you intend to use this court of
law as a platform?’ Of what use are platforms to us? We did not ask
anybody to provide us platforms. It was you who brought us to this Court
and heaped accusations on us. When you not only throw lies at us but
also try to make out that we are liars, we simply came out with the
does not require platforms. It has its own glory. No power on earth can
suppress it forever.
are not lovers of violence nor victims of mental disorders. We are
honest fighters belonging to an organization that is struggling to
liberate a people.
those noble souls who keep on prating “terrorism, terrorism” we have
something to say. Did you not get frightened of terrorism when hundreds
of Tamils were massacred in cold blood, when racist hate spread like
fire in this country of yours? Did terrorism mean nothing to you when
Tamil women were raped? When cultural treasures were set on fire? When
hundreds and hundreds of Tamil homes were looted? Why in 1977 alone 400
Tamils lost their lives reddening the sky above with their splattered
blood - did you not see any terrorism then? Did your thoughts and
feelings become deadened when it concerned Tamil lives and Tamil
property or are your minds unable to conceive the very idea of Tamil
is nothing that prevents two neighbouring nations living in co-operation.
You must not run away with the thought that our sole objective is to
establish Tamil Eelam. Tamil Eelam certainly remains an objective
because we have learnt through bitter experience over the past several
years that it is only by establishing a State of Tamil Eelam can Tamils
live with self-respect.
our vision is broader than that. Our vision is global. Wherever there is
oppression, wherever there is violation of human dignity, whether in
Africa or in Latin America, we are prepared to link hands with the
oppressed and the under dog. When our vision is so global how can it
fail to take into account the future good of the Sinhala people?
I mention this? We will not stop at raising our voices on behalf of
those people. There is nothing that prevents two neighbouring nations
living in co-operation. Even nations with differing policies get
together for common economic good and for the purpose of common
security. Does that mean that those nations give up their distinctive
characteristics or sovereignty?
have to safeguard the collective good of this island. If at any time in
the future a common organisation has to emerge which could withstand the
political and economic onslaught made against third world countries
particularly in the areas surrounding the Indian sub continent, you can
be sure that Tamil Eelam will rise to lend its might in all co-operative
endeavours that will raise the quality of life of the people of this
part of the world.
want to ask this question from my Sinhala friends. Do you accept as
correct and justified the various acts of oppression that the Tamil
people have suffered until now not only in our land but in various parts
of your land as a result of various acts of thuggery and terrorism? Do
you also consider wrong our attempt to free ourselves from the inhumane
oppression of your government?
do you consider that this present eyewash in the form of a trial
conducted under special laws an act of fairness to a people like us who
are fighting for a noble ideal, the ideal of human freedom? Or does it
mean that you do not care what happens because the victims are Tamils?
If that is so, our sympathies are with you.
Believe me our freedom is an assured fact and will come. Once that happens your law books and terrorist laws cannot touch us. Thereafter you will be the sole ‘beneficiaries’ of the very laws that oppress us now.
you urge your government to stop the injustice against us and
acknowledge our sovereignty?
you as a first step towards this and towards the eradication of
terrorism, urge your government to recall the Sri Lanka Police Force and
the Armed Forces - wholesale merchants of terrorism -from our soil?
leave it to you to decide whether you will show the world how committed
you are to justice. Though belonging to a different nation, as fellow
humans living in the same island we have participated in the inquiry
hoping for your understanding. Today we have made our position quite
clear. If the understanding that flows from this prompts you in the
future to raise your voice on our behalf, our hearts will be filled with
wish to tell you sincerely here and now that even if this understanding
does not become a reality, we will throw the full weight of our support
behind you, when you rise up in the future to free yourselves and shatter the
social and economic fetters that shackle you now.
this case we have made our real position known to the world and in
particular to the peoples of this island. This is the joyous feeling
that is uppermost in our minds... Even a hundred fabricated cases
against us and all the slanders heaped on us will not bother us. It is
we who will win through this kind action of yours - the consequences of
the verdict of this Court will not touch us, content as we are that we
have done our duty.
will not flinch from embracing death or spending the rest of our lives
in jail, content as we are that we have done our duty. All these are
merely commonplace incidents in the history of a nation’s struggle for
freedom. We were fully conscious of what we were doing. Hence there is
no question of disappointment.
We are firm believers in the saying that what one sows one reaps. That is why our minds are calm. The seeds we sowed were not seeds of poison, our arrow heads were not dipped in venom. But my fervent prayer is that innocent Sinhala people should not have to reap what power hungry Sinhala politicians have sown. These tribulations are a boon bestowed by God to purify us.
The final victory is ours.
Live Tamil Eelam!
Live Tamil Eelam!
|On 25th July 1983, Nadarajah Thangathurai, along with 35 other Tamil prisoners, was killed inside a maximum-security government prison (Welikade), by a Sinhala mob with the connivance of prison officials.|