Tamil Americans United

Welcome to Tamil Americans United PAC


Independence Referendum for Eelam Tamils

The Eelam Tamil people have been living on the island presently known as Sri Lanka for more than 3000 years, and believed to be the original inhabitants of the island. The history of the Sinhalese people associates their origin to King Vijaya and 700 followers that came from India. The Tamils and the Sinhalese had separate sovereign kingdoms in different part of the islands.
The archaeological evidence from ports in the Tamil region of Jaffna peninsula indicates very early trade connections with China to the east, Rome, and Arabia to the west, and India to the north from ancient times. The Kingdom of Jaffna had included a vast territory beyond the present-day Jaffna Peninsula. Its boundary was the peninsula to the north, Puttalam to the west, and south of Trincomalee to the east. Nallur was the capital city of the Kingdom of Jaffna.

The island was initially known as “Seylan” by the Portuguese, eventually became known as “Ceylon” until May 1972 when the Sinhalese changed the name to Republic of Sri Lanka. The colonial rule of the island began with the arrival of the Portuguese. The Portuguese traders arrived in the island around 1505 when the island had separate Sinhalese and the Tamil Kingdoms.

By 1619, the King Sankili Kumaran (Cankili II) of Jaffna Kingdom was overpowered by the Portuguese and taken to Goa, India as a prisoner of war, along with every surviving member of the royal family. King Sankili's remaining soldiers were beheaded by Portuguese without trial. The King Sankili was eventually sentenced to death and decapitated in 1623 in Goa. The Dutch took control of most of the island between 1658 and 1796. After about 150 years of Dutch rule, the British took control of the island in 1796 till 1948. The Portuguese and the Dutch had separate governing administrations for the Sinhalese and the Tamil countries.

After the British took control of the entire island of Ceylon in 1815, it was divided into three ethnic-based administrative structures: Low Country Sinhalese, Kandyan Sinhalese and Tamil. In 1829, the British established the Colebrooke–Cameron Commission to review the colonial government of Ceylon, including its administrative structures. The commission recommended that the existing three ethnic based administrations be unified into a single administration divided into five geographic provinces. The early changes under British rule were systematized by a series of reforms enacted in 1833, which laid the foundation for the subsequent political and economic structure of Ceylon. Steps were taken to adopt a unitary administrative and judicial system for the whole island. Accordingly, on 1 October 1833, five provinces under one administration came into being. With that the Sinhalese region and the Tamil region were merged under a single administrative unit for the very first time.
In June 1879, Sir Hugh Cleghorn, the first British Colonial Secretary of Ceylon, in his letter to the British Government, wrote:

“Two different nations, from a very ancient period, have divided between them the possession of the Island: the Sinhalese inhabiting the interior in its Southern and western parts from the river Wallouwe to Chilaw, and the Malabars (Tamils) who possess the Northern and Eastern Districts. These two nations differ entirely in their religion, language and manners.”

When the British gave independence to the island in 1948, the power was transferred to the Sinhalese without the consent of the Tamils. The Tamils were not given any opportunity to exercise their rights to self-determination. It was an improper and unfinished decolonization. For the Tamils, the colonization turned into oppression under the Sinhalese hegemony.
Immediately after the independence, the Sinhalese institutionalized anti-Tamil activities, and began to weaken the Tamils politically, economically, and educationally. Tamils’ non-violent struggle to resolve the issue did not yield any results, and the Tamils resorted to arms with the goal of achieving their independence. In 1987, India sent about 100,000 troops to Sri Lanka under the bilateral Indo-Lanka Accord which recognized the North-East territory as the traditional homeland of the Tamils. As a result of the Accord, Sri Lanka introduced the 13th Amendment to the Constitution and offered some limited powers. The Tamils expressed their disappointment with India as well as Sri Lanka and rejected the 13th Amendment as grossly inadequate and not meeting their aspirations. Sri Lanka, later refused to fully implement the 13th Amendment saying it’s against the wishes of the Sinhalese people. The war continued till its brutal end in 2009, with an estimated 300,000 - 400,000 people dead. The Tamils’ territory remains as non-self-governing territory while highly occupied by the Sinhalese military.
Sri Lanka has committed Genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity against the Tamil people. President Obama called it a UN failure to prevent “ethnic slaughter” in Sri Lanka. The UN has setup internal investigative panels and found widespread crimes were committed during the war. The US has been spearheading accountability at the UNHRC without success. Having co-sponsored UNHRC Resolutions, but emboldened by the support from China and Russia, Sri Lanka has withdrawn from the UNHRC process in 2020, rejecting any investigations. Even after 13 years, the UNHRC has not made any significant progress towards justice or to ensure non-recurrence. It has failed to move the case forward to the UN Security Council for the referral to the International Criminal Court.
The UN system has failed the Tamils and has set a bad precedent. Sri Lanka has reneged on its commitments and promises to the Tamils, and the International Community including the UN. Having won the war, Sri Lanka is currently engaged in taking over the Tamils’ lands for Sinhalese settlements and replacing Hindu temples with Buddhist temples with the intent to transform the whole island into a mono Sinhalese Buddhist fundamentalist country. The Tamils are fast losing their traditional homeland.
The Tamil Nation lost its sovereignty due to the European invasions. It further lost it to the Sinhalese, due to the failure of the British to return the sovereignty to the Tamils. The Tamil issue brought several countries to the island. India sent troops to the island in 1987, and then the international monitors came from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, and Sweden during the Norway-led ceasefire agreement during 2002-2008. The US considered sending its troops during the height of the war in 2009. In 1981, the Massachusetts House of Representatives adopted a resolution urging the US government to recognize the self-determination of the Tamils and support the restoration of the sovereign state of Tamil Eelam. In May 2022, the Canadian Parliament unanimously adopted a motion recognizing the Tamil Genocide. Today, a part of the issue is at the UN, but the core of the issue is Tamils’ sovereignty, and it is not Sri Lanka’s internal affair, but an international issue requiring international solution.
The oppression and colonization of the Eelam Tamils must end. The proper decolonization procedure must now be executed using the existing UN process and by conducting an Independence Referendum for the Eelam Tamils. The urgency is necessitated due to the atrocity crimes committed by Sri Lanka, its continuing aggression against the Tamil Nation, and the absence of guarantees of non-recurrence. Independence Referendums have been conducted in many regions of the world to resolve such conflicts peacefully, democratically, and permanently. Armenia, Croatia, Eritrea, Estonia, East Timor, Kosovo, Montenegro, and South Sudan are some of the examples where Independence Referendum were conducted.
The Eelam Tamil people, by virtue of their language, religion, culture, heritage, and their history of independent separate kingdoms over a distinct territory till they were conquered by the Europeans, are a nation, having the right to self-determination as per the international laws, and by virtue of their right they can freely determine their political status in their homeland in the contiguous North-East region of the island. The International Community must help resolve this issue fairly, legally, peacefully, democratically, and permanently!
Self-determination is human rights! Independence Referendum for Eelam Tamils!!