The Weekend Leader - Cry for referendum

‘Diaspora Tamils should be part of UN referendum on Eelam’

Visuvanathan Rudrakumaran


Vol 3 | Issue 13

The Tamil struggle in Sri Lanka for an independent and sovereign state has two dimensions. One is to create conditions for international recognition and full realization of the Tamils’ right to self-determination and the other to bring to light what happened in the final stages of the war in 2009.

What happened then was nothing but an act of genocide. We want to ensure accountability and justice for the victims. We also hope that the international community will recognize that what happened in Sri Lanka was an act of genocide. This in turn will justify and lend support for our demand that only an independent state will ensure Tamils’ physical survival in our traditional homeland.

The bombs that set fire to thousands of Tamil houses have not extinguished the undying passion for Eelam (Photo courtesy:

With respect to the first [self determination], the UN resolution is a setback for Tamils. The Resolution by talking about devolution of powers is attempting to reduce the status of Tamils, who have all the components of a “people” who are entitled to the right of self determination, into a “minority”.

With respect to the second component [genocide], our position has always been that only an independent international investigation will bring justice. This is not just our position alone, but also the position of the UN Secretary General’s Panel of Experts and that of the international Civil Society.

As the Panel of Experts pointed out, and contrary to the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) findings, the international crimes, namely, genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes are not merely isolated incidents, but a premeditated, coordinated and institutionalized policy.

It is a given that there is no political will in the island to investigate the international crimes, and this was the view of the Panel of Experts also. The LLRC findings pertaining to the final stages are a clear proof of this.

Thus, the fact there has been no call yet for an independent international mechanism for an inquiry is a failure.

However it should also be acknowledged that this is the first time that the UN has seized the Tamil issue. For all these years, the Tamils have been subject to bilateral dealings [e.g. Indo - Sri Lanka Accord; the Norway Peace Process] and now is the first time that our issue has become a subject of international concern.

The Tamil community has widely succeeded in focusing the attention of the world’s nations on the war crimes and genocide perpetrated on Vanni soil by the Sri Lankan Government.

The Government has been handed a body blow in Geneva, against its evasive maneuvers to eliminate this item of gross human rights violations during the war from the international agenda with a view to skip its obligations under the international law.

After justice is done to our people, we want the UN to deliberate, similar to its deliberations pertaining to Kosovo, about the measures that should be taken to prevent reoccurrence of genocide on the island of Sri Lanka.

As Tamils who have been subjected to the genocide, despite our repeated efforts over three decades to peacefully cohabit the island, today we firmly believe that only an independent sovereign state can ensure the Tamils’ physical security.

And we hope that the UN will organize a referendum to ascertain the will of the people in the North Eastern parts of the island of Sri Lanka.

In all the referendums held in recent years, whether it be Kosovo, South Sudan or even East Timor, the Diaspora was entitled and allowed to vote. Tamils inside the island of Sri Lanka and those outside it are indeed like two sides of the same coin, namely the nation of Tamil Eelam.

A large portion of the members of the Tamil Diaspora are refugees, who bore the brunt of the persecution, thus they have every right to be part of the resolution. Thus, in any political solution, whether it be through a referendum or other means, the Diaspora has an equal role to play in it.

While recognizing that the international community still tries to treat the Tamil issue as a domestic matter, there is the potential to make it as the international subject it deserves to be.

As someone observed lately, this remains just as a line now and how we are going to make it as a drawing depends on us. Through hard work and creativity we can make the Tamil issue as a subject of international concern.

Visuvanathan Rudrakumaran is Prime Minister of TGTE (Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam). TGTE is a democratically elected government of Tamils from the island of Sri Lanka.

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