Condemning the invitation sent to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa for the Commonwealth Games to be held in Scotland later this month, several Tamil diaspora youth and student organizations sent a letter to Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond urging him to reconsider this decision. “We believe it is hypocritical of Scotland to advocate the right for independence through a referendum yet invite President Mahinda Rajapaksa to the Commonwealth Games, an alleged war criminal and perpetrator of genocide, who governs a country that denies human rights to the Tamil people and denies the right for the self-determination of the Tamil nation” the letter said. The consternation of the youth in general was that Mr. Salmond, a strong advocate of Scottish independence, had no qualms in hosting the perpetrator of the worst genocide of the 21st century.
Full text of the letter signed by diaspora student and youth organizations from across the globe follows:
On behalf of the Tamil Youth Organisation and the Tamil societies from across the UK, we would like to wish you success for the Scottish Referendum as the Eelam Tamils can relate to the longing of the Scottish people for their independence. The Tamils on the island of Sri Lanka, whose historic homeland is the north and east of the island, have been longing for independence since the British left the island. Since Sri Lanka’s independence Tamils have been subject to systematic attacks orchestrated by the Sri Lankan state and the genocide of Tamils continue to date.
Sri Lanka’s genocide of Tamils has become clearer to the world through the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal and documentaries such as those shown by Channel 4 on the Sri Lankan genocide of Tamils, while the world neglected and failed to see the genocidal face of Sri Lanka during the last phases of the armed conflict in 2009. The UK and Commonwealth countries made a historic blunder by holding CHOGM 2013 in the genocidal Sri Lanka, despite NGOs and human rights organisations objecting to this decision. Sri Lanka’s long history of systematic attacks against the Tamil speaking people are evident and continues today with increasing intolerance towards the religions they practice.
Like Scotland, Tamils had a hold of their own separate kingdom in the north-east of Sri Lanka, before the amalgamation by the British colonial rulers. The different kingdoms on the island of Ceylon, as it was called then, were unified by the British in 1833 for administrative purposes. The unitary state had been created using the territorial boundaries that the British had drawn up. Britain, as the former colonial ruler, has the moral obligation to safeguard the victims – Tamils, from the Sinhala nation’s atrocities in Sri Lanka.
The hope for a united country failed miserably due to the systematic attacks against the Tamils, such as in the 1948, 1956, 1958, 1967, 1977, 1983 anti-Tamil pogroms and riots, as well as in 2009, the peak of the genocide. Yet, even now Britain still does nothing to ensure the protection of the Tamil people, but the Scottish people are now reinventing their identity and nationhood by going to vote in a referendum in the months to come.
We believe it is hypocritical of Scotland to advocate the right for independence through a referendum yet invite President Mahinda Rajapaksa to the Commonwealth Games, an alleged war criminal and perpetrator of genocide, who governs a country that denies human rights to the Tamil people and denies the right for the self-determination of the Tamil nation. Recently, the Sri Lankan government has also categorically rejected cooperation for the investigation to be conducted by the United Nations Human Rights body.
We ask you to use your good offices to stop Scotland from being a part of the Sri Lankan genocide of the Tamils. By inviting President Mahinda Rajapaksa to the Commonwealth Games you are not only respecting one of the world’s worst genocidal states, but also supporting the country’s views that are essentially what the Scottish Referendum is against.
Sri Lanka, like the apartheid South Africa, must be isolated and boycotted in each and every field until the UN conducts an independent, international investigation on the genocide of Tamils, since 1948, and further conduct a UN facilitated referendum amongst Tamils amicably and democratically without any further bloodshed.
Finally, we Tamils fervently hope that Scotland will feel the pain of Tamils at the receiving end of Sri Lankan systematic atrocities and genocide and will take appropriate action to isolate Sri Lanka by not inviting the Sri Lankan president to the commonwealth games in Scotland.