A conference about the protection of the rights of the Eelam Tamils was orgnised by ‘TESO’ at Chennai on 12th August, 2012. In the Conclave of the Conference held at Hotel Accord in Thyagarayar Nagar, Chennai in the morning, Kalaignar M.Karunanidhi, President of D.M.K. and TESO delivered the following address:
Dear General Secretary of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (D.M.K.) Perasiriyar Anbazhagan, President of Lok Jana Sakthi Party, my long-standing friend Thiru Ram Vilas Paswan, M.P., General Secretary of Samajwadi Party, Professor Thiru Ram Gopal Yadav, M.P., General Secretary of the National Conference Party, Thiru S.D.Shariq, M.P., Thiru Govind Rao Adik of Nationalist Congress Party, Thiru K.C.Tyagi of the United Janata Dal Party, Dr.Vikrama Bahu Karuna Ratne, President, Nava Sama Samaja Party, Sri Lanka.
Respected dignitaries from U.S.A., U.K., Switzerland, Nigeria, Sweden, Norway, Moracco, Turky, Singapore and Malaysia,
Members of TESO Thiru K.Veeramani, Thiru Thol. Thirumavalavan, M.P., Prof. Thiru Suba.Veerapandian, Tmt. Subbulakshmi Jagadeesan,
Chairman of the Reception Committee Thiru M.K.Stalin,
Leading lights of Tamils from Sri Lanka, distinguished Members of Parliament and friends,
At the outset, let me reverentially salute the martyrs, who, in their search for a dawn in the lives of Eezham Tamils sacrificed their own lives in the battle-field and were laid in tombs.
Members of Parliament Thiru Ram Vilas Paswan, Prof. Ram Gopal Yadav, Thiru S.D.Shariq. and former Members of Parliament, Thiru Govind Rao Adik, and Thiru K.C. Tyagi are all outstanding political luminaries, inspiring the masses and working for the advancement of the poor and downtrodden. They have come here, inspitre of their other engagements.
Very distinguished dignitaries and leaders from abroad – from U.S.A., U.K., Switzerland, Nigeria, Sweden, Moracco, Turkey, Singapore and Malaysia – have travelled a long distance to join us in this conclave and give their valuable views.
Very popular Tamil National leaders from Sri Lanka, M.P.s and former M.Ps., who are admired and held in high esteem by the Eezham Tamils, have come here, considering participation in this conclave, as their bounden duty.
I am happy to extend a warm welcome to everyone of you. Honouring our kind invitation, you have come from far and near to attend this Conclave. On behalf of the TESO, I am thankful to all of you for taking pains to come over to Chennai.
The composition of this conclave will itself explain the concern, not only of Tamil Nadu, but of India, and countries of the world, for the problem of Eezham Tamils. The problem of Eezham Tamils has been drawing international attention.
Concern of world nations about the flight of Eezham Tamils
The nations of the world are very much worried over the pre and post-war developments in Sri Lanka. The problem of Eezham Tamils is a problem linked with humanitarianism, human rights, and dignity of human beings. Therefore, the nations are naturally eager in early resolutions of the issues of the Tamils.
The issues of Eezham Tamils have been hanging fire for over half-a-century. Excessive delay in solving these issues, will amount to pulling civilization and culture, several centuries backwards. Posterity will not pardon the present generation, as we have been witnessing to pre-planned genocide, the crime of crimes; barbaric treatment of a national race on the lines of religion, language and culture and inhuman suppression of the minority by the majority.
Madurai TESO CONFERENCE 1986
The very sight of this Conclave prompts my memory to journey backwards. It was 4th May, 1986, at Madurai, the seat of ancient Tamil literature and capital of Pandya Dynasty. A similar conclave was held by the TESO at Madurai. The Madurai conclave met in a totally different atmosphere and context.
Thiru Vajpayee, former Prime Minister of India, Thiru N.T.Rama Rao, former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Thiru H.N.Bahuguna, former Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh and several other important leaders participated in the Conclave. All the Tamils and militant organisations were also represented in that Conclave.
In the conclave, we, on the Indian side, insisted on co-operation and consolidation, arising from fraternal ties and affinity. In fact, I personally made a very passionate and moving appeal to the militant organisations, with folded hands.
I summed up in that Madurai TESO Conferene and presented a complete picture to show how the heart of Tamil Nadu was pulsating fast; how the blood of Tamil Nadu was boiling and how the nerves of Tamil Nadu were shaking for the sake of the Sri Lankan Tamils.
Prior to the ‘TESO’ Meet at Madurai, on behalf of ‘TESO’, rallys and public meetings were conducted during October, 1985 in Coimbatore, Dindigul, Thoothukdi, Tiruchy, Salem and Vellore to mobilize mass support to the problem of Eezham Tamils.
D.M.K.’s role in the issue of Eezham Tamils
As President of the D.M.K., for over 40 years now, it is my solemn privilege to touch upon the subject of my party’s role in regard to Eezham Tamils. Let me please be permitted to recount this very briefly.
History bears testimony to the fact that the D.M.K. remained steadfast in extending its solid and emotional support to the cause of the Eezham Tamils for over a period of fifty years.
D.M.K.’s support to the cause of Eezham Tamils, flowing from its heart and mind, started during the days of ‘Eezham Gandhi’ Thanthai Selva; continued during the days of Amirthalingam and till this day, we have been firm and fervent.
D.M.K. passed resolution in 1956 itself about the issue of Eezham Tamils
In the D.M.K. General Council meeting presided over by our mentor, Perarignar Anna, in Chidambaram in 1956; on his direction, I moved a resolution condemning the atrocious efforts of the Sri Lankan Government to implement a policy of ‘Sinhala only’, relegating Tamil to the second class status and denying opportunity for the Tamils to eduction and employment. This resolution was seconded by Poovalur Ponnambalanar.
Arignar Anna’s resolution demanding the Government of India to take up the issue of Eezham Tamils to the United Nations
In our General Council meeting at Thoothukudi in 1961, an important resoslution was personally drafted by Arignar Anna. It was moved by me in the meeting and seconded by Thiru K.A.Mathialagan. It was resolved that the issue of Sri Lankan Tamils should be taken up by the Government of India to the notice of the U.N.O.
Thus it was the D.M.K., which sought the invervention of the U.N. for the first time.
When, in 1977, after the tearful demise of Thanthai Selva, Amirthalingam visited Tamil Nadu, the D.M.K. gave full support to him. In fact, we assisted him closely to meet various leaders in New Delhi and to appraise them of the Sri Lankan situation.
D.M.K.’s initiatives in support of Eezham Tamils During the mass murder in 1983 in Sri Lanka, I, along with the General Secretary of D.M.K., Perasiriyar Anbazhagan, resigned the membership of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly.
In August 1983, I burnt a copy of the black law of the Sri Lankan Government, the 6th Amendment to the Constitution. It prevented Eezham Tamils from even talking about their independence. Before burning, I said, “Let the fire spread and consume the sufferings of Eezham Tamils.”
It was the D.M.K., which for the first time, conducted a massive signature campaign, urging the U.N.O. for its intervention in the Eezham Tamils’ issue.
In the Centenary Celebrations of Arignar Anna at Kanchipuram on 26th September, 2009, it was resolved that “Eezham Tamils have been living in Tamil Nadu for the last 25 years as refugees and therefore they should be given Indian citizenship rights.”
The D.M.K. Government in Tamil Nadu was dismissed twice, because of our strong support to Eezham Tamils.
On a number of occasions I have spoken at length on the issue of Eezham Tamils in the Tamil Nadu legislative assembly. There are numerous instances of resolutions passed by the D.M.K., in its conferences and meetings of General Council. D.M.K. had organized demonstrations and public meetings, rallys and human chains, fasting and striking work. All genuine forms of agitations permissible in a democracy were organised by us.
Even while ruling the State, we conducted the longest Human Chain on 24th October, 2008 extending from Parrys corner in Chennai upto Chinglepet for 60 k.m. in support of Eezham Tamils. All Party leaders and lakhs of people participated in the human chain.
During the final stages of war in Sri Lanka in 2008-2009, D.M.K. tried its best by taking series of steps to stop blood shed. As the expected good news about calling off the war did not reach me till 5 a.m. on 27th April, 2009, I commenced a fast unto death in Anna Memorial. Immediately, the Security Council of the Sri Lankan Government held an urgent meeting. The Council, after taking stock of the situation including the on-going war and my fast unto death, decided to stop the war. Based on the Sri Lankan statement that the war was stopped, the External Affairs Minister of India, issued a statement, a copy of which was sent to me to the site of fasting. Since I belived that the war was over, I gave up fasting. But what happened was that the Sri Lankan
Government misguided the Government of India and indeed the whole world and I had to rely on the version of the Government of India.
I am explaining this to you not to influence your mind. It may be helpful to give shape to your ideas on the Sri lankan situation. It may be useful to formulate your suggestions.
Theme Paper about the steps to be taken
A Theme-paper has been circulated to all the participants. The paper may not be exhaustive. But it is indicative of the steps to be taken for resettlement, relief and rehabilitation.
The paper outlines the condition of Tamils in Sri Lanka, before and after the war in 2009. It brings out how the Tamils have been treated as second class citizens, having been denied their constitutional rights and opportunities.
It shows how a number of attempts including armed struggle were taken to protect the dignity and cultural identity of the Tamils.
It reminds us how various fact finding reports of neutral and objective agencies have confirmed serious war crimes and severe human rights violations by the Sri Lankan State.
It brings to mind how systematic ‘Sinhalization’ has been taking place and how there has been total disorder and torturous disturbances in the day-to-day life of the Tamils.
It presents how the road to return to normal life for the Tamils is full of thorny bushes, mud and mire.
It may be painful to note that the Sri Lankan Military runs a State of Emergency in the Tamil areas. It is also distressing that intimidation in the routine life of the Tamils has increased after the recent resolution in Geneva, calling Colombo to promote post-war reconcilliation.
Condemnation on the tyrannical attitude of Sri Lanka by world community
The sacrifices made by the Eezham Tamils are stupendous. The torture and abuses, harrasments and persecutions, which have suffered, are undreamt of. The external support from a number of nations is extraordinary. Condemnation of the neutral committees and strictures, passed by various countries on the tyrannical attitude of the Sri Lankan State are striking and shocking. Inspite of all this, the problems of Eezham Tamils are continuing. In fact they are increasing in number and size.
The problem of Eezham Tamils need long-term as well as short term solutions
The problem of Eezham Tamils calls for immediate or short-term, medium-term and long-term solutions. Immediate solution will have to be found for the resettlement, relief and rehabilitation for the war affected and displaced Tamils.
Medium-term solution demands construction of infrastructural and civic facilities, necessary for a reasonably decent living. It also covers restoration of rights to property, education and employment, and other democratic rights. It includes the problems faced by the refugees.
Long-term solution is a political solution, which has been discussed and debated for a very long time.
I am sure that you will ponder over the length and depth of the issues of Eezham Tamils; reflecting on democratic and practical solution and make your valuable suggestions and comments.
Before I conclude, I once again, convey my gratitude to all of you for your kind and active participation in the deliberations of the Conclave.