Vaddukoddai Resolution: A Watershed In The History Of Eelam Tamils
The Vaddukoddai Resolution of May 14th 1976 is a watershed in the history of the Eelam Tamil freedom struggle. The late Dr A.J.Wilson former head of the political science department of Brunswick University, described it in his book, S.J.V Chelvanayakam and the Crisis of Sri Lankan Tamil Nationalism, 1947 – 1977 – page 128, as the turning point when Eelam Tamils turned their minds towards liberation: “In the years after the onset of the Sirimavo government’s policies underlining Sinhala majoritarianism, the Tamil people turned their minds towards liberation and self-determination. Tamil youth understood such concepts as a meaningful step towards freedom and independence, for them – it was the only way in which their life chances could be improved, and they will no longer be at the mercy of the Sinhala political class.”
Dr A.J. Wilson in his careful and analytical study said further about the Vaddukoddai Resolution of May 1976 in the following words: “the goals were ratified in the Vaddukoddai Resolution of 14th May 1976 at the first national convention of the TULF under Chelvanayakam’s chairmanship. This historic pronouncement accused the Prime Minister Mrs. Bandaranaike of having ‘callously ignored’ the TULF’s last attempt…to win constitutional recognition of the Tamil Nation without jeopardizing the unity of the country the convention called on the “Tamil Nation in general and the Tamil youth in particular to come forward to throw themselves fully in the sacred fight for freedom and to flinch not till the goal of a sovereign socialist state of Tamil Eelam is reached.”
Dr A.J. Wilson was always careful of the choice of words. This is how he described the collective decision of the main Ceylon Tamil components of the TULF, that is FP and ACTC – Chelvanayakam approving the choice of words. He was a conviction politician who never minced his words, and he was certainly also pragmatic in that he would, “not refuse bread if cake was not on offer”. As a lawyer and a politician he knew that goals could not be attained in a single leap; he believed in the policy of ‘a little now and more later’. The ‘little now’ could not therefore become an end in itself, although many of the comfortable Tamil bourgeoisie interpreted the ‘little now’ aspect of Chelva’s policy – best characterized by the ‘interim adjustments’ he arrived at with prime ministers, SWRD Bandaranaike in 1957 and Dudley Senanayake in 1965 – as final destinations. This was far from his own interpretation of Sinhala majoritarianism. He had come to the conclusion as early as 1958 that the Sinhala leaders were “not big enough to rule the Tamils”.
Dr A.J.Wilson who understood his father-in-law Chelva’s mindset, in his lucid manner he said what Chelvanayakam stood for. To quote Dr A.J.Wilson again “That Chelva stood unflinchingly for a separate Tamils state was clearly enunciated in the last important statement he made in the national state assembly, a few months before his death. Speaking on Nov 1976 at the second reading debate of the annual appropriate bill for 1977, He acknowledged to his listeners how his federal movement has failed to achieve the objective of obtaining the “lost rights on the Tamil – Speaking people”.
Our ancient people were wise, he said, and he seemed to fault himself by stressing that they “had their own Kingdom”, as if to say that is – the FP should at the very start have confronted the proposition of a separate state. He reminded his audience of parliamentarians that the Irish had won their freedom … but after centuries of struggle “against the British”. (He had also often told the Tamil public how a divided Poland had become unified on two different occasions). There was a finality and finiteness in his conclusion:
“We have abandoned the demand for a federal Constitution. Our movement will be all non-violent… we know the Sinhalese people will one day grant our demand and that we will be able to establish a state separate from the rest of the island.”
Whatever the comfortable Tamil middle class residing in Colombo said, Chelva’s last testament was that only a Tamil state could protect the Tamil people from repression by the Sinhala state apparatus. When asked by a journalist how the TULF would achieve its goals, Mr. Chelvanayakam replied prophetically… “We would make such a nuisance of ourselves that they (the Sinhalese) would throw us out.”
In this context it should be said to the credit of Chelvanayakam that he admitted in his interview to the BBC correspondence that “we had failed to produce a Tamil Jinnah at that time”.
To give weight-age to the writer’s argument of the Vaddukoddai Resolution the writer has quoted at length the academician’s statement. In the writers opinion the Vaddukoddai Resolution is a turning point in the history of Eelam Tamils struggle for freedom and an eye opener to the Tamils abroad.
Following the Vaddukoddai Convention the Govt. challenged the resolution and charged the TULF for treason. The trial -at -bar consisted of five eminent judges and 65 Tamil legal luminaries. Mr. Murugesu Thiruchelvam a constitutional authority presented his case in this beautiful manner: He said, “Sinhalese never conquered us nor did we give our consent”.
In a very convincing manner he said, what the Tamils are asking is what we had & what we lost, we want to regain and reassert ourselves. It comes within the category of restoration or reconstitution. He emphasized that the word separation is a misnomer.
In a very interesting manner, he drew parallel to the Tamils of Tamilnadu & Tamils of Eelam. “Tamilnadu is approx. 55,000 Sq. Miles and the population is roughly 80 million. The size of Eelam is smaller than Tamilnadu. And the population is also comparably small. But the Tamils of Tamilnadu ceased to rule themselves by the end of 1337- the beginning of the 14th century. With the conquest by the Muslims & the Andras. As far as the Eelam Tamils are concerned King Sankili lost his rule in 1619 to the Portuguese. But Pandaravanniyan – the Vanni King ruled till 1803, in other words till the beginning of the 19th century. Tamils of Tamil Eelam maintained their independence till the beginning of the 19th century. We are not here to decry or belittle the people of Tamilnadu. What is being emphasized here is that the Tamils of Tamil Eelam have maintained their contiguity till 1803 and therefore we demand that we have the legal right to rule ourselves.”
The question may be posed by doubting Thomases that the present area of the Tamils is in a weakened position, because of Sinhala colonization, but we would like to quote Muhammad Ali Jinnah the father of Pakistan. When he was asked the question whether he is going to have whole of Pakistan as envisaged by him. Typically of an able articulate civil lawyer Jinnah said, “let us have a truncated Pakistan or a moth eaten Pakistan than no Pakistan”. Eelam Tamils are quite conscious of our weakened position. But our agitation for an independent state of Tamil Eelam will be a reality even if we do not have the entire area for us. There are nations in the UN, which are even smaller than Tamil Eelam – the traditional homeland of the Tamils. Israel is a barren area where the seawater is converted into drinking water and vegetables are grown in polythene bags. The number of Jews in Israel is lesser than the Jews in America. But Israel being an Independent state the Jews in America are in a position to dictate terms to America in its foreign policy, finance and the media. In other words it’s not the size of the country or the strength of the population that counts in a freedom struggle. It is the will & determination of the people that counts in a freedom struggle. Let us not forget Singapore, is smaller than the Jaffna Peninsula. Whether we like it or not the name of Singapore is often mentioned by everybody and it is a power to be reckoned with.
Recently Mr. Urudrakumaran Prime Minister of the TGTE when addressing his members said, “That even if Maithri is going to be mother Teresa, is he going to live forever to entrust our future to him?” The writer was in the audience and endorsed what Mr. Urudrakumaran said by quoting what Jinnah said when a reporter asked him that “Gandhi & Nehru are great men and they think of India as a whole and their above narrow parochialism, if that is so why do you harp on Pakistan?” Mr. Jinnah with his unforgettable smile uttered “that he readily agree that Gandhi & Nehru are great men. They think of India as a whole & they’re above narrow parochialism. But I’m asking this question, are they immortal beings for us to entrust the future of our nation to these mortal beings. That is why I say, that the permanent political safe guard for the Muslims is the creation of Pakistan.” It is in this context TGTE PM’s statement is considered a prophetic utterance. TGTE is a transparent political body and believes in the democratic procedure to win over world opinion. It believes in convincing and converting global opinion.
Dr A.J. Wilson in his book The breakup of Sri Lanka – Sinhala Tamil conflict says in a very prophetic manner “what the Sinhalese leaders must do. To any Sinhalese political leader it should be clear the neighbour Tamilnadu with 52 million Tamil inhabitants, is an important factor in the Indian democratic system. Thus any attempt by the Sinhalese majority in Ceylon to organize a pogrom against the Tamils would present a problem to the govt. of India. Yet for all that, President Jayewardene & Minister Gamini Dissanayake made public statement threatening the very existence of Ceylon Tamils if India were to invade. An invasion was not even contemplated at that time. The dire consequences that President Jayewardene & his Minister indicated were empty threats. Romesh Bandhari , who at one stage was in charge of Ceylonese affair in New Delhi, once told Lalith Authlathmuthali when they happened to meet in Oman that if the Ceylon govt. was looking for a military solution, that could not happen; the inference was that India would not allow it. None the less after the calamity of July 1983, Mrs. Gandhi offered her good offices to help resolve the imbroglio. With the govt. of India in the picture, it was obvious that my role as an intermediary was at an end.”
In conclusion, the writer wishes to quote what the Washington post August 4, 1983 said about the situation in Sri Lanka: “If living together is so hard, what about a separate state in the north for the Tamils? They have as good a claim to a nation of their own as most members of the United Nations. But as always it is a question of power, and in Sri Lanka the Sinhalese have the power. Do they also have the wisdom to see that the Tamil minority is treated in a way that justifies its retention within a unitary state?” (Quoting from the book The Pen & the Gun by S.Sivanayagam – page 75)
When Tamil Eelam was justified in 1983, is there any reason to deny in 2009 after the worst massacres amounting to genocide were carried?
Let us unite under the TGTE banner to fulfill the Vaddukkoddai Resolution as the panacea for all the political ills facing Eelam Tamils.