Peace for the World

Peace for the World
First democratic leader of Justice the Godfather of the Sri Lankan Tamil Struggle: Honourable Samuel James Veluppillai Chelvanayakam

Saturday, August 5, 2017

A Look Back with Fresh Hope

Photograph courtesy Al Jazeera


Many Sri Lankans trace the ethnic problem back to the movement for ‘Sinhala Only’ and the passage of the Official Language Act in 1956. In fact, the problemneeds to be traced back to at least the first year of Independence in which over one million people of recent Indian origin but well settled in the plantation districts, were deprived of citizenship and voting rights. Perhaps the conflicts need to be traced further back to the anti-Muslim riots of 1915. Curiously, the Sri Lankan Tamil leadership (with a few exceptions) as well as the Muslim leadership weresupportive of the acts against the Up Country Tamils, and the Sri Lankan Tamil leadership was also indifferent to the plight of the Muslim victimsof the 1915 riots.  In fact, in the first general electionafter Up Country Tamils were deprived of citizenship and franchise rights, the Tamil party which opposed these acts was routed in the North and East. In the years that followed, Up Country Tamilshave faced discrimination on many fronts; moreover, in all the anti-Tamil pogroms they were the most vulnerable and suffered greatly.