Feature Article

Norway Tamils ballot-test political course

[TamilNet, Sunday, 10 May 2009, 08:50 GMT]
"After deliberately abetting the process of ethnic polarisation to its height reaching genocide, and after creating a situation that warrants secession more than ever, the international community and India, vested with their own interests, have started talking about a federal solution. It is time that the Tamils have to democratically test the validity of the political course democratically set for them in 1976 by the Vaddukkoaddai Resolution and democratically tell the world what they want now," commented a self-exiled Tamil politician of the pre-1977 times responding to a ballot on Vaddukkoaddai resolution taking place among Eezham Tamils in Norway on Sunday.

The comments received from the Tamil politician added with background information follows:

PDF IconVaddukkoaddai Resolution
We have been always told that the game of cricket and parliamentary democracy are contributions of the English to humanity. We are also conditioned by our textbooks that democracy originated in the Greek civilisation, which the West considers as the basis for its civilisation today.

Ballot sheet used in Norwegian Tamil referrendum
The ballot sheet in three languages, Tamil, Norwegian and English [Photo courtesy: tamilvalg.com]
It is not merely colonialism and Orientalism, but even the contemporary world of postmodernism try to condition us that the Tamils need to be ‘educated’ in the values of the so-called liberal democracy.

The idea and practice of democracy was never new to Tamils. Thousands of inscriptions in Tamil on the 'Kudavoalai' system would tell how an elaborate system of democracy was practiced at the grass-root level among Tamils since ancient times. Democracy was a shared heritage of all South Asians. The Buddha himself was born in a democratic clan – a Mahajana-pada, in which his father was an elected chief.

Coming to modern ways of the practice of democracy, the island of Ceylon was one of the first to adopt it. When a modern electoral process was introduced by the British, allowing ‘educated Ceylonese’ to elect a representative, a 27 years old young man among Eezham Tamils, Ponnampalam Ramanathan (later knighted) was the first to get elected.

Ceylon was the first colony to practice universal adult enfranchisement in 1931. Even in Britain the women received full voting right only in 1928.

But it was an unfortunate irony that such a major stride of progress actually brought in a death knell to Eezham Tamils in the decades that followed.

The Donoughmore Commission that advocated universal adult enfranchisement to Ceylon failed to heed requests at that time to consider a federal set up of three territories for Tamils, Kandyan Sinhalese and the Coastal Sinhalese.

The result was that an ethnic unity of the majority Sinhalese, formed an all Sinhalese cabinet in 1936, disenfranchised the Up-Country Tamils in 1949, brought in Sinhala Only legislation in 1956, declared Sri Lanka a Sinhala-Buddhist country in the constitution of 1972 and waged a genocidal war since 1977 – all through the practice of ‘democracy’.

All democratic protests and peaceful requests of Tamils for a federal solution were met with oppression and violence.

It was at the frustrations end, all Tamil political parties for the first time united in 1976 and presided over by S.J.V. Chelvanayakam, came out with a resolution at Vaddukkoaddai.

Tamils are a distinct nation of antiquity in the island, they have a traditional homeland, the sovereignty of their kingdom was lost to the Portuguese first and its identity was lost when the British unified the island for administrative convenience in 1833, the Tamils have every right to assert to their self-determination and on the basis of the above, an independent and sovereign state of Tamil Eezham has to be formed in the North and East of the island and Tamils have to relentlessly fight until they achieve this goal, were the political fundamentals of the Vaddukkoaddai resolution.

The Tamil United Liberation Front, formed as an umbrella front of all Tamil parties, contested the 1977 general elections with the agenda of getting the mandate from the Tamil people for the resolution. The resolution was overwhelmingly endorsed by the people in the length and breath of the Tamil homeland – the Northern and Eastern provinces of the island, where the front stood for the election.

In fact, this was the last election the Tamils had a free say in expressing their opinion on this issue.

The Prevention of Terrorism Act enacted by the Colombo government in 1979 and the 6th Amendment to the constitution enacted in 1983, prevented the Tamils from openly expressing secession.

The rest of the history is well known.

But today, after deliberately abetting the process of ethnic polarisation to its height reaching genocide, and after creating a situation that warrants secession more than ever, the international community and India, vested with their own interests, have started talking about a federal solution.

The foundation for this was laid in the Oslo Declaration in which the international community brought in a term ‘internal self-determination’, just for this purpose.

Apart from the fact attested by decades of experience that the Sinhala majority and the Sri Lankan state system will not yield in to a meaningful federal solution, the thinking of India and the international community is likely to lead Eezham Tamils into a new situation of confirmed colonial enslavement under the Sinhala state in Colombo.

Colombo, India and the IC are aiming to enforce this slavery after creating military and political vacuum for Tamils and after keeping the entire population in closed or open prisons.

A few days ago some ministers and diplomats in the international community were heard saying ‘Sri Lanka is a democratically elected government fighting a terrorist organization’. It is not that they don’t understand what is democracy in Sri Lanka. But they were only signalling the IC’s and UN’s endorsement to ‘democratic genocide’ in the island.

But, what is strange is that there are people even among Tamils who try to tell that the adamant attitude of India and the IC consenting with Colombo in the genocide is merely because of the LTTE and Pirapaharan. In their bias they are deceiving themselves and others. The game is much deeper than that.

It is time that the Tamils have to democratically test the validity of the political course democratically set for them in 1976 by the Vaddukkoaddai Resolution and democratically tell the world what they want now.

Already an effort was taken in this regard in France where 67 grass root organisations of Eezham Tamils met to take up the question of the validity of the Vaddukkoaddai Resolution in a secret ballot. The result was a 100 percent endorsement. The model adopted in France was something like the electoral-college system.

Now, Eezham Tamils in Norway have opted for an elaborate ballot conducted by a multi-cultural biweekly, Utrop, involving every adult over 18 years old.

The ballot is taking place on Sunday, simultaneously in a number of centres covering the different parts of the country.

What is more important is the spirit of self-constructed and self-constructive democracy within the Eezham Tamil nation than the demonstration of its will to others. Because we have now seen how ‘democratic’ the others are, beginning from the largest of the democracies.



[An interview with Ki Pi Aravinthan on Vaddukkoaddai Resolution. Courtesy: tamilvalg.com]


Chronology:


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