Question of Indian Tamils & Ceylon Tamils & Disenfranchisement
There is much hue and cry over allegations of post-independent Sri Lanka disenfranchising Indian Tamils. Let us therefore address this question directly.
Sri Lanka was illegally invaded and occupied by 3 western European countries from 1505 – the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British.
These colonial invaders followed a policy of divide and rule – dividing the natives so they were kept busy while the colonials plundered our wealth.
The colonial invaders began many plantation projects and when the natives were too proud to work on them, they brought in indentured laborers mostly from South India. It is these South Indian laborers brought by the colonials who are referred to as Indian Tamils. They were not asked to come to Sri Lanka by the natives, they were forcibly brought to Sri Lanka by the colonials and made to live & work in Sri Lanka. If anyone should look after their welfare it is the colonials who dragged them from their homes in South India and dumped them in Sri Lanka to work. If the Sri Lankan kings or leaders had brought these South Indian laborers, then certainly they must look after them, but when they were brought by colonials, isn’t it they who should have looked into their rights at the time of independence?
None of the countries to which these Tamils were transported during colonial rule wanted them or even asked for them.
By independence in 1948, Sri Lanka had over 1million Indian Tamil indentured laborers. The total population of the country was 8million.
It is not the fault of Ceylon/Sri Lanka that these Indians were treated as aliens, with no right of asylum. That was how the British wanted their status to be. The British only spoke for their rights when they were preparing to leave Sri Lanka.
As for the name Ceylon Tamils, this too entered the books only in 1911 when Ponnambalam Arunachalam became Registrar General and compiled the National Census report in 1911.
Before 1911 there were no people called Ceylon Tamils. It was an artificially created name.
An article by Dilrook Kannangara titled ‘Wigneswaran should know eelam (Ceylon) Tamil ethnicity is only 105 years old” draws attention to how the British created an artificial ethnic group called Ceylon Tamils in 1911. Before 1911 there was no ethnic group called Ceylon Tamils (it is identical to how the British created Rohingya issue in Myanmar).
Any Tamil born in Sri Lanka or those born in India became Ceylon Tamils in 1911.
What has to be understood from this is that the TNA and LTTE diaspora usage of ‘disenfranchisement’ of Tamils in reality referring to these coolies brought by the colonials from South India to Sri Lanka were only brought for colonial benefit and thus if anyone should be looking after them or providing citizenship to them it is no one else but the Dutch & the British. This whole argument of disenfranchisement is invalid and incorrect and we hope the UN & international community realize this and not fall for the TNA LTTE Diaspora traps by quoting disenfranchisement in their records. Some truths are hard to swallow.
Shenali D Waduge