Tamil civil society formalises TCSF organisation
A loosely organised network of Tamil Civil Society Activists from the North-East of Sri Lanka who had been functioning for the past five years under the leadership of the Mannaar Bishop have now formally constituted themselves as an organization – the Tamil Civil Society Forum (TCSF). A policy document setting out the aims, objectives and core beliefs of the organisation and a constitution were adopted by more than 60 Tamil Civil Society Activists who took part in the Annual General Meeting of the forum held in mid-November 2014. The aim of the TCSF forum is to protect and promote the existential rights of the Tamil people and the exercise of their right to self determine their social, political, linguistic, cultural and economic future. TCSF is a network of Tamil Civil Society Activists living and/or working primarily in the North-East part of the island.
The primary objective of the forum is to create, provide space and act as a medium for the articulation and expression of the views of its membership on contemporary issues of social, political, economic and cultural interests to the Tamil people living in the island of Sri Lanka. Towards this end the Forum will strive to a) organize public events in the form of workshops, seminars, conferences, public consultations art, drama and theatre; b) mobilise grass roots activists through empowerment programmes and the active creation of spaces; c) engage in research activism relating to the social, political and economic well-being of the Tamil people and related issues; d) engage through advocacy and lobbying with relevant stakeholders in relation to the well being of the Tamil people.
The following two were endorsed as two core principles of the TCSF with regards to sovereign Tamil nationhood:
The right to self determination of the Tamil people based on a collective self-conscious on the part of the Tamil people as them being a Nation. Owing to their right to self-determination, the Tamil people are a sovereign nation and vice versa.
The North and East parts of the island of Sri Lanka is the traditional homeland of the Tamil people and thus constitutes the self determining unit of the Tamil Nation.
The TCSF was referring to the country of Eezham Tamils as ‘North-East’, a hyphenated term, which the TCSF said it preferred over the term usage of ‘North and East’ to emphasise the territorial contiguity of the Tamil homeland.
The TCSF in its policy document said it stood for a negotiated political solution of the Tamil political question underwritten by international participation and international law.
Any solution has to provide for the effective exercise of the right to self- determination of the Tamil people within its self-determining unit, the TCSF document said.
The form and content of the political institutions that form part of the political solution have to acknowledge the continuing nature of this right.
Any political solution and the resulting state structure devoid of prior recognition of the right to self-determination will not guarantee an effective form of self- government for the Tamil people.
TCSF believes that any solution within a unitary state would not be acceptable.
Any existing structures within the unitary state (the provincial council system) would not even be a starting point to a political solution.
The TCSF stands for accountability for past injustices and maintains the position that accountability cannot be bartered away for the attainment of a political solution, the policy document said, adding that it firmly believed that domestic mechanisms lack sufficient will to deliver on accountability.
Identifying the diaspora as a key component of the Tamil Nation and the Global Tamil Community, in particular the people of Tamil Nadu, as an important stakeholder in the search for accountability and political solution, the TCSF expressed the secularity of Tamil Nation as follows: “Tamil Nationalism never has and should not have a religious affiliation. A future Tamil self-government should treat all religions with respect and provide the space for all religions to co-exist and flourish. A future constitutional settlement should not give any particular religion a ‘foremost place’ status. ”
Bishop of Mannaar Dr. Rayappu Joseph was elected as the Convenor in the first Annual General Meeting. P. N. Singham and Thiyagarajan Rajan were elected as secretaries, Kumaravadivel Guruparan and Elil Rajan were elected as spokespersons and Prof V. P. Sivanathan was elected as treasurer of the TCSF.