Tamil Solidarity appeal to the Aragalaya

TS has put forward key demands to be taken up by the movement.  See here for those demands:

This appeal specifically deals with demands in relation to the Tamil-speaking population.

Who we are:

Tamil Solidarity (TS) was set up in 2009 towards the end of the war with the aim of fighting for all democratic rights for everyone. TS also demanded justice for victims of war and war crime investigations. Our demand for the right to self-determination of the Tamils is interlinked with economic and democratic demands for all in the island. Continued repression against Tamils over the years has further strengthened this demand. However, this demand is in no way an attack on the Sinhala masses. TS rejects some of the Tamil leaders who articulate Tamil nationalism as anti-Sinhalese. TS stands for the full rights of Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim, and Hill Country masses. We reject all the right-wing parties in Sri Lanka and in the region. We do not appeal to the UN or any western government to provide a solution to Tamils’ national question. We do not believe any solution can be brought on that basis. We have always appealed to the workers, activists, and progressive sections in all communities to unite together for a struggle. It is through such struggle that everyone can win their rights.

What we say about the current struggle:

Tamil Solidarity has given full support to the current struggle and has been trying to mobilise Tamils to join it. The first solidarity protest in Britain to support the struggle was organised by TS. We also organised a protest on 9 July and continue to take part in other protests. While giving full support, we have also raised concerns about a number of issues. We request that the protest demands are further developed to include the demands of all communities. Families in the north and east have been protesting for years simply demanding to know what happened to their loved ones. There are many demands put forward by Tamils in general that are basic democratic demands and should be incorporated into the demands of the movement.

Flag issue

TS is a left political group. We reject all national flags. We don’t carry the LTTE flag. However, we do not oppose all those who use this flag as a symbol of struggle and a symbol of opposition to the repressive Sri Lankan government. We also reject the Sri Lanka flag – it’s a symbol of the political elite. Many atrocities have been committed under this flag. At the same time, we understand that this flag has different meanings for many who carry it today and who see it as a symbol of the people against the elite. However, we urge both Sinhala and Tamil activists to find new symbols of struggle to build a new united movement.

Our appeal

Tamil Solidarity has made strong criticisms of Tamil right-wing leaders for not fully supporting the struggle. In terms of economic policies, they have collaborated in the past with right-wing governments, particularly the United National Party (UNP). They have also created the false illusion that Tamil rights could be delivered by the Western and Indian governments, and also trust in the UN to deliver on human rights. In fear of the current movement and to protect their own position, they consciously campaign to keep Tamils away from joining protests. This we reject, and continue to argue for a mobilisation.

However, this is not the main reason why Tamil participation is low in the movement. The Tamil population defied the wrong methods of their leaders in the past. The main reason is that they feel that the movement has not taken up their demands, and that it is still dominated by anti-Tamil, Muslim, Sinhala-Buddhist nationalism. Though there was an appeal for unity and some demands were taken up by the movement, it still did not articulate or incorporate the demands of the Tamils, Muslims and Hill Country workers.

The movement should at least take up the following issues:

  • Rajapaksa’s family committed heinous crimes against all communities. They are also responsible for war crimes committed against the Tamils. This family and their allies in the military high command who stand accused of war crimes should be brought to justice.
  • All political prisoners should be released immediately.
  • Justice for the disappeared; a new and adequate investigation should be launched.
  • Military participation in any civilian matters should be stopped immediately and the military should be withdrawn from all civilian areas.
  • All occupied land to be released to its owners – tea workers’ right to land should be granted.
  • The right to religion and non-religion should be respected – no forms of Islamophobia should be permitted.
  • Draconian laws such as the PTA should be abolished.
  • The election of a revolutionary constituent assembly to be held organised by the mass movement. This body can start a fresh discussion about a constitution that would be acceptable for all.

If the masses establish a constituent assembly, this can also grant to the Tamils their right to self-determination. If the masses decided to take the revolutionary path in building a better future for all, it will not be in the interest of Tamils to build a separate nation completely, but to come forward to form a confederation, which would safeguard their national rights and at the same time bring communities together to plan the resources for all.

Tamil Diaspora role

The majority of the Sri Lankan diaspora was created by refugees who fled the war. They should have the right to have a say in politics in Sri Lanka. Right-wing capitalists were very quick to invite their allies with money to Sri Lanka, even giving them long-term residence permits. Instead, diaspora political groups such as Tamil Solidarity should be allowed to have a voice in the debate on what to do next. TS under no circumstances will collaborate or work with right-wing governments or any parties or bodies that carry out repression or exploitation against the Sinhala masses. But we want to collaborate with the mass movement and progressive sections, and contribute in building forces for revolutionary change in Tamil areas. Until now, our role has been massively restricted by successive governments. They propagated lies about the Tamil diaspora. They used the false propaganda of ‘terrorism’, etc. to whip up patriotism only to protect their own grip on power and resources. This should change and diaspora organisations should be allowed to have a voice in the mass politics in Sri Lanka.

National Coordinating Committee