People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 32

August 07, 2011





CPI(M) Holds Special Convention On

Sri Lankan Tamils Issue

                                                                       R Chandra


THE CPI(M) Tamilnadu state committee organised a special convention on 'Equal Rights and Political Solution to the Issue of Sri Lankan Tamils '  on July 30, at Periyar Thidal, Chennai.  The convention was to highlight the need for an urgent political solution to the issue of the right of Sri Lankan Tamils to live in Sri Lanka with dignity and equality of rights.


Inaugurating the  convention, Prakash Karat, CPI{M} general secretary pointed out  that though the armed conflict was over two years ago,  the Sri Lankan government has failed  to solve the problems of the Tamils.The SriLankan president Rajapakse promised to take up the issue of Tamils  after the parliament elections, but did not fulfil the promise. Instead, he has strengthened the process of militarisation and resorts to delay tactics. Provision of autonomy and devolution of powers are necessary for the Sri Lankan State to remain united.   This has not been done. Prakash Karat  referred to  the atrocities  committed on civilians and innocent people during the last phase of the armed conflict and demanded a high level and credible enquiry  into  the atrocities  so as to nail the responsibility of the authorities concerned and make them accountable. The Sri Lankan government is in a denial mode.  The UN panel report has brought out the atrocities committed by both sides. Hence, the human rights violations must be thoroughly enquired into. The Sri Lankan government should constitute an independent enquiry commission to enquire into the human rights violations.


Prakash Karat pointed out that, at this juncture, the important question concerns the rehabilitation and resettlement of the Sri Lankan Tamil refugees. Even though the armed conflict is over, they are unable to return to their homes. The help extended by India for such activities as construction of houses has not reached the people in distress. He reiterated that the major barrier to go forward towards settlement is the failure to dismantle the military regime in the affected areas. There is emergency rule and the army plays an important role in the administration. It has become a concern for all democratic forces in India and Sri Lanka. He also stressed the need for a fresh approach. Genuine autonomy is the only way to solve this problem. Karat stated that the government of India should use its diplomacy to urge the Sri Lankan government to   fulfil its commitment to go for a political solution. Prakash Karat urged the Sri Lankan government  to immediately take up measures for rehabilitation and resettlement , restoration of normalcy, setting up a high level enquiry to make all those accountable for the human rights violations  in order to win the trust of the Tamil people, demilitarisation,  end of emergency rule and working out a political settlement without any further delay. 
  The leader of the Tamil National Alliance (which recently won a massive mandate in the local body elections in the Northern and Eastern regions of Sri Lanka) and a member of the Sri Lankan parliament   Suresh Premachandran, in his powerful and moving address, pleaded that the Sri Lankan Tamil issue should not be looked at as the problem of Tamils and Tamilnadu alone, but as a problem faced by India. The Rajapakse led ruling alliance tried to hoodwink the Tamil voters by giving freebies during election to win the elections somehow and to prove to the international community that Tamils where with them.  But the Tamils are not fools and they voted for the victory of the Tamil National Alliance. He gave a chilling account of the atrocities committed by the Lankan armed forces especially in the last phase of the armed conflict. There were no witnesses to these atrocities since the media was not permitted in the war zone. Though the armed conflict is over, the armed forces have started encroaching the land.  Not a single event can be conducted without the knowledge of the army. That is the power of the army. Agricultural lands have been grabbed by the army and the people have lost all sources of livelihood. More than one lakh families are to be resettled.  A number of Tamils were abducted during the armed conflict and there is no information about them. Though this issue was raised in the Sri Lankan parliament, the government did not respond. The current status of Tamils in Sri Lanka is worse than what it was during the armed conflict. He appealed to the CPI(M), to take up the  cause of the Tamils  and expressed his gratitude for holding a special convention on the equal rights and political solution to the Sri Lankan Tamil Problem.  


G Ramakrishnan, Central Committee member and secretary of the Tamilnadu state committee of the CPI(M), moved a resolution demanding equal rights for the Tamils and a political solution to this prolonged problem. He criticised the attitude of the Sri Lankan government in delaying the rehabilitation and resettlement of the Tamils. The Sri Lankan army does not permit the aid given to the refugees by supporters of Tamils. He pointed out that as a member country of the UN, Sri Lankan government should constitute an independent and credible enquiry commission to go into the human right violations and war crimes during the last phase of the war with the LTTE.


A Soundararajan, a member of the state secretariat of the CPI(M) and the leader of the CPI(M)  in the state legislature,  sharply criticised the attitude of the Sri Lankan government which was  not taking up the rehabilitation work. Without the pressure from the Indian government, it will not be possible for the Sri Lankan Tamils to lead a normal, decent life. He appealed to the international community to take efforts to restore the livelihood of the affected people and ensure equal rights through political solution to the ethnic problem. S Tamilselvan, general secretary of the Progressive Writers and Artistes Association of Tamilnadu and a member of the state committee of the CPI(M), narrated the woes of the displaced Tamils and the atrocities of the armed forces. He said that the Sri Lankan writers have started writing about the war and the atrocities commited during the war. The people in the war torn regions have been psychologically affected and all these matters have been written about by the Sri Lankan writers. R Chandra, state committee member of the CPI(M) and a leader of the AIKS Tamilnadu unit,  moved a resolution on the plight of the refugees in the camps and the welfare programmes of the Tamilandu government for the refugees. The resolution pointed out that, though a few steps have been taken by the state government, the allocation is inadequate and the basic amenities should be provided to the refugees.  


The special convention also adopted a resolution asking the central and the state governments to safeguard the Tamil fisherfolk from attacks by the Sri Lankan Navy, and to ensure their right to earn a livelihood through fishing in the high seas.


Responding to the plea by the Sri Lankan member of parliament, Premachandran, Prakash Karat announced that on August 9, besides massive demonstrations in Tamilnadu on the problems of Sri Lankan Tamils and for a democratic  political solution to the issue, there will also be demonstrations outside the parliament during the winter session in New Delhi by the CPI(M). The Party will also discuss in its forthcoming Central Committee meeting in Kolkata on how to take up this issue at the national level.


Hundreds of comrades and well-wishers of SriLankan Tamils from Chennai and neighbouring districts participated in this very well attended and successful convention. T K Shanmugam, secretary of the CPI(M) North Chennai district committee, welcomed the gathering and Bheemarao, CPI(M) MLA from Madhuravoyal constituency in South Chennai proposed the vote of thanks.