DMK chief wants New Delhi to provide Indian citizenship to Eezham Tamil refugees

Press Trust of India (PTI) reported Friday that DMK Chief M Karunanidhi has requested New Delhi to provide citizenship to over 100,000 Eezham Tamils living in South Indian state of Tamil Nadu as refugees. Pointing out to the immigration reforms in the U.S., Mr Karunanidhi was quoted as saying, "[s]imilarly, it is also our wish and request to the Centre to come forward and provide citizenship to over one lakh Eezham Tamils living in the country ensuring their permanent safety," the PTI added.

Mr Karunanidhi further said that such an effort taken by the Centre would guarantee the Tamil refugees’ future, adding that while DMK was in power continuous efforts were made to provide citizenship to the Eezham Tamils living as refugees.

Spokesperson for Tamils Against Genocide (TAG), a rights organization that fights for rights of war-affected Tamils, said that majority of the refugees, especially the children born inside refugee camps, can legally assert their rights to citizenship under India’s current laws.

"Providing de facto asylum without a path to naturalized Indian citizenship, all the while suspending civil and political rights like buying property, free movement, voting, is an injustice for the Tamil refugee populations which have been stateless in Tamil Nadu since the 1980s," TAG spokesperson added, welcoming the Tamil Nadu’s effort to highlight the plight of the refugees with the Center.

However, seen from a Tamil rights perspective, a more meaningful way of dealing with the issue for Tamil Nadu leaders would be to take a principled approach in making the New Delhi Establishment to declare the Eezham Tamils as a nation entitled to exercise their own Right to Self-Determination in their homeland and protect their right to self-determination providing necessary rights preserving their identity to return to their homeland with dignity, Tamil Nadu activists told TamilNet.

The genocidal Sinhala State in the island often intimidates the Eezham Tamils in a derogatory way to ‘go and ask your Eezham in India’.

The Diaspora Tamils, wherever they live, should also assert their right to be called as Eezham Tamils and not ‘Sri Lankan Tamils’ by their host countries, the activists in Tamil Nadu said.

The very first country where such demand should be raised in the West is the United Kingdom, the last Western colonial power that left the political power in the hands of the Sinhalese, who named the island ‘Sri Lanka’ and changed the Constitution of Ceylon in 1972 without the consent of the Eezham Tamils.

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