Newsletter of the Ilankai Tamil Sangam, USA

FALL 1995

bulletNavali and the Tamil Minister
bulletEditorial: The Tamil Resolve - A New Zenith
bulletWorld Tamil Organization Resolves
bulletThe Bombing of St.Peter's Church
bulletThe FeTNA Resolution
bulletA Quote
bulletThe Devolution Package - Did the LTTE Reject Them?
bulletThe Fate of the Container from California
bulletThe Sri Lankan Government Imposes Press Censorship
bulletThe Fall and Rise of Tamil Nadu
bulletThe Peace Brigade  International Bulletin
bulletDouglas Devananda Condemns the Government
bulletAbout Tamil Voice

Go to Homepage



"Aiyo", cried a mother whose child was wounded in the air-raid. "Please take my child to the hospital" she begged a cyclist, who looked around first, and then decided to help. "She was alive just a few minutes ago," cried a man cradling the dead body of his pretty young wife. "She just came to help the refugees, and now she is dead," cried a brother. Wails and cries such as these were heard (and recorded on video) on July 9th, soon after the Sinhala Airforce decided to drop, not one but nine bombs, on the Navaly St. Peter's Church, housing refugees in Thamileelam.

Only a few hours earlier, the Sinhala Airforce had dropped leaflets asking civilians to take shelter in churches and temples. The poor, unsuspecting Tamil civilians had complied. This was preceded by a massive propaganda effort initiated in Colombo, to justify the newest Sinhala army offensive on Thamileelam, code-named "Operation Leap Forward." Proclamations were made that this was a sacrificial effort made by the Sinhala people, to "liberate the Tamils from the clutches of the LTTE."

The fact that most Tamils fled, in the hundreds of thousands (300,000 people, to be precise), from the so called Liberating Sinhala Forces didn't matter. The fact that not one able bodied Tamil, remained in his/her home to be rescued by Chandrika's army didn't matter either. The Sinhala army was leaping forward anyway, to "save the Tamils."

The biggest culprit in this macabre episode was a Tamil - who declared himself to be one (i.e. A Tamil) at the UN - Mr. Lakshman Kadirgamar, the Foreign Minister of the Sinhala State of Sri Lanka.

When the Church in Navaly was bombed, this 'Tamil' Minister of the Sinhala Sri Lanka became agitated. He became upset and irate - but ironically, not because of the tragedy experienced by the innocent refugees, but because the International Red Cross had leaked the news of the church bombing. The innocent children who were killed or maimed by his Sinhala masters didn't matter to him. The families that were torn asunder, so tragically by his masters' forces, were of no concern at all. All that mattered to him was that his masters' image was tarnished; And, he had worked so hard to build it up!

He ranted and raved at the Red Cross. He was joined by the racist monk Rahula Walpola and his ilk, who demanded that the ICRC be expelled. The Red Cross, which happens to be the only international relief organization in Thamileelam got worried, and its chief in Colombo, Marco Altherr, actually apologized to the minister - A Galilean apology, no doubt! Mr. Altherr must have muttered something under his breath, like the Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei, who in AD 1633 apologized for having said that the earth is round!

The 'frogs in the Sri Lankan well' celebrated. The Sinhala media, unashamedly published the ravings of this minister. The Island headlines read - Foreign Minister Raps ICRC. There was no condemnation of the airforce for this dastardly deed. There was no rush to aid the poor victims - more of whom died due to lack of medical attention, created by the newly imposed embargo.

President Chandrika, however, got busy phoning the Archbishop in Colombo, first to disclaim that the attack ever took place, and then to promise a leisurely investigation, which is yet to be conducted. She then patted her Tamil Foreign Minister on his back for a job well done, and sent him abroad for further damage control and news management.

The message to the airforce pilots was very clear - "do what you want to do, we will defend you." Guess what? Another of those pilots decided that some school children in a remote village were an easy target. No Tigers around, to shoot his plane down; bomb them! On Sep. 22, he bombed Nagar Koil Maha Vidyalayam killing 23 children on the spot, during their lunch break. In repeated sorties, neighbors who rushed to help the injured children were also killed.

Regardless, the Tamil Minister of the Sinhala Sri Lanka made his rounds in Australia, U.K., Canada and the US, advising Sinhala Ambassadors and Sinhala organizations on how to conduct propaganda. His mission was also to counter Tamil groups in these countries. The sangam office bearers were contacted individually to meet with the Minister. The Ilankai Tamil Sangam, USA, responded, politely of course, as to why a meeting wasn't possible with a minister whose hands are tainted with Tamil blood!





The brutality of the Sinhala army and their blatant disregard for Tamil lives and limbs has reached a new level. The deliberate recklessness with which refugees in churches, patients in hospitals and children in school-yards are savagely attacked and killed under Chandrika's presidency is a new peak. The defiance of the people of Thamileelam, in the face of such cruelty, is also a new zenith. Well over six hundred thousand people fleeing an army, that they were told was coming to rescue them from these awful Tigers, is unprecedented; something that did not happen even during the brutal occupation of Jaffna by the Indian army!

The solidarity and cohesion that these events has created among the Tamil Diaspora is also unprecedented. Thousands upon thousands of Tamils marching in Toronto, New York, Geneva, London, Ottawa, Canberra, and now in Thamil Nadu, is conclusive attestation to the new level of consolidation of the Tamil mindset. The Ilankai Tamil sangam has also experienced this phenomenon, in our own small way, with enraged callers wanting to help.

But, despite such clear and unambiguous expression of this heightened Tamil will, a few Tamil errand boys, living in Colombo at the mercy of the Sinhala government, are visiting the Tamils all over the world, trying to reverse the trend. They want the Tamils to embrace the colonially imposed Sri Lankan state, where the Tamils will always be a minority; A system, where the Sinhala majority will give to the Tamils - what they think is right, when they think it is right, and how much they think is right. In 1949 they said it was right to disenfranchise a million Tamils; In 1956 they decreed that the Tamil's language doesn't deserve equality with theirs; In 1961 they decided that Tamil children didn't deserve equal access to education; the list is endless

Now in 1995, a smooth talking but vicious matron, literally of the same genetic make up as the previous persecutors, has ordained what is good for the Tamils. She plans to ask the Sinhala parliamentarians and the Sinhala population to determine if the Tamil people deserve what she plans to dish out to them. When Tamils failed to readily accept her design and her charity, she decided to brutalize the entire Tamil population.

In 1977 the Tamil people voted to secede and form a separate state. If this was Quebec or Scotland, Thamileelam would have easily become a separate nation state! In 1995, the Tamils have shown once again that they do not want anything from the Sinhala people or their army. What more proof does one need, than the spectacle of well over half a million people fleeing on foot to escape a force, that has not behaved any different from a foreign invading army - which in reality they are.

The Sinhala government ruling from Colombo has lost its moral authority to govern the Tamil people. A government that needs to use its army, airforce and navy, and for so long, to enforce compliance of a people cannot be called its government.

Once again the Tamil people have spoken.


The following resolutions were passed unanimously at the annual convention of the World Tamil Organization, held during Sep. 2, 3 & 4, 1995, at the

Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.


Based on its assessment and analysis of all available information, World Tamil Organization strongly believes that,

A. The Sri Lankan government showed bad faith during the peace talks and it did not fulfill its obligation in supplying the basic necessities, such as food and medicine, to the Northern Province, thereby destroying any chance of the peace process succeeding.

B. During the talks, the Sri Lankan government continued to build up its security forces in the East and imported additional sophisticated armaments

C. Due to the frustration, and only after repeated notices totaling five weeks (although the agreement for cessation of hostilities provided for only a 72 hour notice), did the Tamil freedom fighters abandon the so called peace process in order to protect their homeland and people.

D. The Sri Lankan governments propaganda that the Tamil freedom fighters (LTTE) unilaterally broke the peace process is totally and completely false.

E. Of the government's admitted figure of 50,000 deaths, nearly 30,000 are that of civilians, of which approximately 95% have been killed by the security and the paramilitary forces, by bombing, shelling, strafing and murdering of arrested Tamils.

Therefore, World Tamil Organization strongly condemns the systematic genocide of Tamils currently being carried out in Sri Lanka, and appeals to the world governments to discontinue the supply of arms to Sri Lankan government and exert maximum pressure on it to enter into a true, meaningful and genuine peace process.

The world Tamil Organization also resolved to request the Sri Lankan government to-

a. Send food and medicines to the Northern Province to meet the needs of the starving and sick population.

b. Desist from the proposed expulsion of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)

c. Pursue the peace process under acceptable international mediation.

d. Recognize Tamils as a nation.

e. Recognize the right to self-determination of the Tamils

f. Recognize the rights of Tamils to their traditional homelands of the Northern and Eastern Provinces.



The Bombing of St. Peter's Church

Testimonies Collected By The ICRC

Pragasam Rajendran (M) 73 Yrs: ... Had seen the plane. His wife Nageswary stayed next to him and saw "the bombs rolling in the air like pamphlets."...

Anthony Manuelpillai (M) 73 Yrs: ... had seen the plane at a very low altitude and saw the bombs falling "like rolling papers."

Jeganathan Jeyakumar (M) 17 Yrs:. ... As the plane passes over him blaring, he said, he lied down and heard a series of explosions around the church area.

Anthonythas Arulammah (F) 40 Yrs: ... had seen the plane dropping something ...

Velupillai Arulammah (M) 59 Yrs: ..saw the plane dropping bombs while cooking meals for the displaced people...

George Theva (F) 45 Yrs: ... had seen the plane dropping some objects like "big watermelon."

Sebamali Jeyawathani (F) 45 Yrs., Arulappu Antony Croos (M) 51 Yrs., Chelliah Arulnathan (M) 45 Yrs., Antony Croos Mary Regina (F) 43 Yrs., and Manuelpillai Mariammah (F) 62 Yrs: ...saw the bombs falling from the plane. They said they initially suspected the falling bombs as the leaflets usually dropped by security forces ... They said they could feel 9 explosions.

V.T.R. Mohan (ICRC Jaffna TA): ...Soon afterwards he heard continuous explosions.

Father James ... saw a plane and bombs falling one after the other.

Other Evidence...

... At about 4.30 pm on 09.07.95 St.Peters Church, Navaly, where hundreds of families have taken refuge under the existing calamity an aircraft has bombed this facility...

(Government Agent's Report)

Pope John Paul said on Wednesday he was suffering along with the families of people killed when air force bombs hit a church in Sri Lanka...

[Reuters (July 12)]

All targets hit by aerial bombing have been civilian population, civilian dwellings and sacred places.

- [Univerity of Jaffna Teachers' Association]

This offensive has been characterised by blind, indiscriminate and excessive aerial bombardment and artillery shelling of densely populated residential areas and particularly the Churches and Temples.

- [Jaffna Citizens Committee]

Chandrika - A Month Later

The bombing of the church last month was probably the work of the Tamil Tigers. They were firing mortar shells in that direction.... The ICRC says all kinds of things...

- President Kumaratunga (August 4, 1995)



The FeTNA Resolution

Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America (FeTNA), the umbrella organization of 30 Tamil associations in North America, with a combined membership exceeding 100,000, passed the following resolution, at its Annual Convention held on Jul. 2nd 1995.

The FeTNA, after taking into consideration the news reports in the Sri Lankan press, that the Deputy Defense Minister Anuradha Ratwatte is visiting the United States of America to ask the American Government for arms, ammunition and other military assistance is of the view that any such supply of arms, ammunition and other assistance will only escalate and prolong the current civil war between the Tamils and the Sinhalese.

The National conflict in Sri Lanka between the Tamil Nation and the Sinhalese Nation is basically a political problem and needs a political resolution and not a military resolution. Hence the FeTNA asks the United States Government to refrain from supplying arms, ammunition and other forms of military assistance.

The FeTNA has further resolved to ask the United States of America to pressure the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam to resume a meaningful peace process, and find a political resolution to the national conflict and thus end the bloody civil war which has dragged on for more than a decade.

President FeTNA



A Quote

If it is the position of the government that it must have "a position of strength" and "supremacy over land, sea and air," what the government wants is to finish the LTTE or make it impotent.

If the Tamils do not resist this, we will go down as a nation personifying ingratitude. The LTTE is the only sanction against the destruction of Tamil aspirations.

Therefore the Tamils must now close ranks and stand firmly with the LTTE.

The Tamil mercenaries must not forget that if the LTTE is finished, so are they because they will go completely out of business.

Kumar Ponnambalam

The Sunday Leader, June 18, 1995



The Devolution Package
Did the LTTE Reject Them?

The response of the Liberation Tigers to the so called `devolution package' was a measured one, but never a rejection. The Sinhala owned media and the newswire services (fed by Sinhala groups) have tried to make out that the LTTE rejected them.

Mr. Anton Balasingham's statement at the Press Conference in Jaffna of August 11, 1995 is as follows:

"The so called political package is a mask to conceal the government's military intentions.

President Chandrika Kumaratunga has already promised the Buddhist Maha Nayakas that she would not finalise the proposals until the Liberation Tigers are militarily defeated and the war brought to a finish. Under these conditions, how can she resolve the conflict through political means or bring durable peace to the country?

It is being said that under this package, areas that were forcibly colonised by Sinhalese will be excised from the North-East region. It is also being said that this is not a package to devolve power to the Tamil people but to all the regions in the island.

The package has to be placed before the Parliamentary Select Committee. After the Committee sits on it, it has to go before Parliament which must pass the bill with a two-thirds majority. The Peoples Alliance government has only a wafer thin majority in Parliament and within the Alliance itself there is opposition to the proposals. Having passed all these hurdles, the Sinhala people have to approve the proposals at a referendum.

We say that the Tamil people have the right to determine their own future. If any attempt is made to impose an arbitrary political settlement on the Tamil people through military means, the LTTE will resist it.

Even today when the Chandrika government has closed its doors on peace, we have not given up hopes of exploring a peaceful settlement. Whether it is peace or war, we are ready for both. If the government halts its military operations and creates the necessary atmosphere for peace by showing concern for the day to day living needs of the Tamil people, we are still prepared for political negotiations.

If on the other hand, the government tries to shut the doors against peace for all time, and intensifies its war efforts we will have no option but to close our own doors for peace and set about carving our own state in which our people can live in peace and dignity."

Justice Krishna Aiyer's Response

The ex Chief Justice of India, V.R.Krishna Aiyer's comments published in the Hindu (6 September 1995)

" It is beyond argument that the North-East is the homeland of the Tamils and an unconditional acceptance of their integrated existence as a provincial unit is basic. To treat the Tamil region just like any other region is to miss the categorical imperative that the North and East is an entity with a higher autonomy and foundational features, as distinguished from the other provinces. To carve out other areas and glorify them as regions may be a stroke of federal realism but the North-East is a "quasi-Eelam" with more sub-sovereign powers and less Central presence than the other regions. Otherwise, the whole course of the decade-long bloody history will come to nought... The Chandrika vision of Sri Lanka with all communities living in safety and security, human dignity and equality, together with a string of platitudes regarding human rights and fundamental freedoms does not take note of the core of the controversy, except to the extent of declaring an equal status for Sinhala and Tamil with English as the link language. The sharing of power of all regions cannot be alike since that obliterates the relevance of the Tamil struggle which entitles them to a far larger protection regarding human rights, coexisting, as they are, with a snarling Sinhala majority.. The contiguous Tamil territory, with its integrity restored as before the disintegrative process during the last decade began, is important. Even the powers, administrative, legislative, and judicative have to be wider, deep-rooted and beyond manipulation by a majority in Parliament. The grievous error in the "Chandrika package" is its failure to install the North-East as a special category."



The Fate of the Container from California.

Comments of the Jaffna Diocese.

The Tamil Voice (Summer '95) reported on how the government of Sri Lanka refused a container of Medicine and clothes sent to the Jaffna Diocese of the Church of South India by the Sommer Haven International Church of southern California. Not satisfied with merely blocking the items from reaching the needy in Thamileelam, the Sinhala owned media, including the state owned Rupavahini, started accusing the Church of importing items for the LTTE. The following is the press release by the Church of South India, in response to these allegations.

The Jaffna Diocese of the Church of South India is deeply distressed by news reports published recently which have denigrated the image of our Diocese and our Bishop, Rt. Reverend S.Jebanesan.

We are particularly distressed that all the news bulletins of `Rupavahini' on August 23 presented a most unfavourable image of our Diocese and our Bishop. The facts are as follows:

A pastoral team from the United States of America representing `Sommer Haven Ranch International' visited the Northern Province in the latter part of February 1995. At that time we had the cessation of hostilities and there was no embargo on the transport of food, medicine and agricultural requirements. The pastoral Team felt that if the Mission Hospital in the Northern Peninsula run by our diocese were better equipped, they would be able to alleviate the sufferings of the poor people who come to them for treatment. Our Diocese runs Mission Hospitals at Manipay, Inuvil and Paranthan, and our medical services are much appreciated by the people in those areas. These hospitals are run by our Diocese without any assistance whatsoever from the State.

After returning to the USA, the Pastoral Team sent a container of medical supplies, clothing, food items and Christian literature. The container left the United States on April 13, 1995 on the ship `Ever Gallant' and it arrived here on May, 27, 1995. By the time the container arrived here, unfortunately hostilities had resumed and the embargo had been reimposed.

When we made an attempt to clear the consignment on behalf of the Diocese we were unable to do so since we were asked to Register our Diocese as an NGO with the Department of Social Services and to obtain an important licence for the medical supplies, for which we would have to pay over Rs. 150, 000.

Furthermore, since May 27 it has been virtually impossible to transport these items to the North in consequence of the embargo. All goods in the container have been itemised and a copy of this list was available to the authorities. There were no goods whatsoever in this container that could be used by any group for military purposes. These goods were sent to Sri Lanka to provide relief to poor people in Jaffna who endure much suffering.

We are greatly saddened by the fact that a Tamil telecast on August 23 actually announced that Bishop S. Jebanesan had run away and was hiding in the Navali Church. Our Bishop resides in the Peninsula in the Bishop's House, Vaddukoddai since he is the Bishop in Jaffna of the Church of South India. On his last visit to Colombo he met Her Excellency the President at Temple Trees and discussed the prevailing situation in Jaffna. Her Excellency had given him a most sympathetic hearing.

On August 23, the Sinhala and English telecast gave a different, though still distorted version from the Tamil telecast implicating Reverend S. Jebanesan, one of our clergy.

This information unfortunately makes the peace process in our country all the more difficult and should be condemned by all citizens in our country who value justice and truth.



Sri Lankn Government Imposes A Press Censorship

The Sri Lankan government imposed a censorship on all reports pertaining to the war. The measure imposed on Sep. 21, was accompanied by the following communiqué:

"The government perceived that the irresponsible reporting of news related to the armed forces by certain newspapers and electronic media has harmed the interests of the country and the public (!) distortion of facts on military operation impedes attempts to solve the national crisis and affects the morale of the forces (!!)"

Foreign TV news broadcasts were also affected. Every time there was any bit on Sri Lanka the image and the sound were jammed.

At a time when the Sri Lanka government has resorted to wholesale lies about Tamil civilian casualties, this is a dangerous development. The government at first denied the bombing of the St. Peters church and the Nagar Koil school, and the news came out only because the ICRC and Medicine Sans Frontieres were there to witness these events.

But the Sinhala intelligentsia and the public becomes uninterested when it comes to violation of Tamil rights. The PBI bulletin had the following comment on the lukewarm opposition to this censorship. It said, "although the measure was not welcome by many groups the opposition has not been as strong as one would expect."



The Fall And Rise Of The Tamil Nation

By V. Navaratnam Former MP (Kayts)

"It is often repeated, particularly in the information media, that the Tamils are fighting for a separate state because they are discriminated against in education and employment opportunity by the majority Sinhalese. It is not true. No people ever have recourse to such a serious remedy, as armed warfare against the state, to correct discrimination in education and employment. While it is true that such discrimination in education and employment provoked discontent and unrest among the Tamil youth, the real causes which led to their taking up arms and fighting a war for their separate state lie far deeper in the political and social history of the island..."

Having said this in the preface of his book, he goes on to chronicle the events in the post independence era, that eventually led to the present war. As a founder member of the Federal party he lived and experienced events of this entire period, and the information he provides in his book is first hand.

The pinnacle of this book is his brilliant exposition of the illegality of the Sri Lankan state. He takes on the illegitimacy of the 1972 Constitution. He says, "... the day she (Sirimavo Bandaranayake) on her own volition abdicated her rights and office as the lawfully elected Prime Minister of the whole of Ceylon, and opted to put the illegitimate mantle of an illegal first minister the State of a united Ceylon ceased to exist... The overthrow of the constitution established by consensus, however, had a boomerang effect in law. It released the Tamils from whatever constitutional bonds which had them bound to the Sinhalese part of the island. It restored to them all the rights, powers and attributes of independent statehood they had possessed before they went under the European colonial powers."

He concludes his book by stating,

"In the broader spectrum of South Asian geopolitics, Velupillai Prabhakaran, as the undisputed national leader of the Tamils, represents the hopes and aspirations of a people who are assailed from every side. He stands as a bulwark against the forces whose aim is to destroy (the Tamils). It is incumbent on everybody to stand behind him unitedly and render him all possible help so that future generations will not be left to blame the present for being disunited, selfish and supine at the very time when the race was in peril. The present generation should make it possible for posterity to feel proud of its ancestors..."



The Peace Brigades International Bulletin

The Armed Forces Creates Dissension between Tamils & Muslims

In their October '95 Bulletin the Peace Brigades International stationed in Batticaloa talks about the friction between the Tamil and Muslim communities in the region.

The following is the relevant portion of their report.

An issue of big concern for peace workers in the East has been alleged attempts to deteriorate relations between the Tamil and Muslim communities. All of this began with the abduction of three Muslim homeguards (de facto an armed forces body) by the LTTE, an incident that raised anger within the Muslim community. Even a Muslim politician, trying to ease tensions, made it clear that it was a struggle between two armed groups. and nothing to do with civilians. A number of rumors made it more difficult; several stories of hijacked buses and even killings by one or the other party were circulating throughout the Batticaloa district; suspicion and mistrust were easily pumped up. Fortunately, the three homeguards were finally released and tensions seemed to be relieved. However, it seemed clear that despite good overall relations between the two communities, old wounds have not healed completely and the situation is much more fragile than it appeared to be. Some sources assert that the hand of the government's armed forces is behind these incidents and rumors propagation. They say that one of the ways for the army and/or police to avoid being transferred to the North, where major fighting is on course, is by creating tension in the East so that the government will reconsider the need of troops in the region.


Douglas Devananda Condemns Sri Lanka Government.

Douglas Devananda MP, who is currently visiting the US as part of a Sri Lankan parliamentary delegation, has called several Tamil expatriates all over the US.

Those who received these calls told the Tamil Voice that, he asked for their help for him to join with the LTTE, to fight for a just resolution to the Tamil national question. He had told them that he condemned Chandrika's devolution package, and had even boycotted the parliament for 10 days. Just a short while ago, he said, he did not vote with the government on the emergency regulations. His family had told him that the recent attempt on his life was a retaliation by the Sri Lankan army for this opposing vote.

Most of those who received these calls, however, were highly skeptical and refused to meet with him.

Some, including the President of the Sangam, had pointed out his past deeds against the Tamil people. He had worked with enemies of the Tamils and his cadres had committed all sorts of crimes against the Tamil people. He has worked closely with the Sri Lankan army, both during the Premadasa regime as well as the current Chandrika regime, with his cadres fighting the Tamils alongside the Sri Lankan forces. His cadres have acted as informers. His organization has produced detailed maps of the peninsula for the army. As interrogators they have engaged in abduction, ransom, torture and murder of ordinary Tamil civilians.

One of the Tamil expatriates visited him at the hotel he was staying in New York city and he described it as a bizarre experience. At first, he said, he was accosted in the hotel lobby by armed Sri Lankan body guards (Some of them Sinhalese, who looked like thugs dressed in suits) who insisted on doing a body search, which he flatly refused. Douglas himself had then come down and accompanied him to his posh hotel room, where they had had a long conversation. He was shown a memorandum, where he had condemned the Sinhala government actions. He had said he was opposed to Chandrika's devolution package as it was inadequate, and asked for help to contact the LTTE.

Finally, someone in Massachusetts and another in California contacted Mr. Lawrence Thilakar in Paris asking for a meeting with Douglas Devandanda. Their solicitations were however, politely, refused by Mr. Thilakar.


Tamil Voice - Internet Version (Abridged from Print Version)

Print Version Available from Editorial Office at
23 Tamidan Road
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601.

Subscription Rates: Free to sangam Members;

Others US$ 12.50 per year


Back to Contents Page