Rights to Self Determination

Eelam Tamils in Sri Lanka, has been systematically oppressed in every possible way since, 1948.

Sovereignty of the Tamil Nation

The sovereignty of the people of Tamil Eelam changed hands from the Portuguese who defeated them in battle into those of the Dutch and later into those of the British. Ceylon was granted independence on the fourth of February 1948.

Though political power was transferred to the people of this country, yet the British Queen continued to be the repository of their sovereignty.

The republican constitution that came into operation with its acceptance by the Constituent Assembly on the 22nd of May 1972 severed this legal continuity and guaranteed the sovereignty of the people of Ceylon proclaiming that the people of Ceylon themselves were the repository of this sovereignty.

Different Kinds of SovereigntyThe five different kinds of sovereignty are as follows:

(1) Nominal arid Real Sovereignty 

De facto, or actual, sovereignty is concerned with whether control in fact exists. Cooperation and respect of the populace; control of resources in, or moved into, an area; means of enforcement and security; and ability to carry out various functions of state all represent measures of de facto sovereignty.

(2) Legal Sovereignty

Legal sovereignty is the conception of sovereignty in terms of law, and it refers to that person or body of persons who, by law, have the power to issue final commands. … Such an authority is known as the legal sovereign and the authority of the legal sovereign is supreme and final over all individuals and associations.

(3) Political Sovereignty 

Sovereignty is a political concept that refers to dominant power or supreme authority. In a monarchy, supreme power resides in the “sovereign”, or king. In modern democracies, sovereign power rests with the people and is exercised through representative bodies such as Congress or Parliament.

(5) Deo Facto and De Jure Sovereignty.

In law and government, de facto describes practices that exist in reality, even though they are not officially recognized by laws. In law and government, de jure describes practices that are legally recognised, regardless of whether the practice exists in reality.

But the representatives of the Tamil Nation withheld their consent to this constitution and rejected it. 15 out of the 19 Members of Parliament elected by the Tamil people rejected it and boycotted the meeting of 22nd of May 1972 that was called to accept that constitution. It is clear that there is neither legal continuity nor the consent of the Tamil Nation to this constitution.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (CCPR) recognizes, in accordance with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, article 1 of the CCPR, that all peoples have the right of self-determination. “The right of self-determination is of particular importance because its realization is an essential condition for the effective guarantee and observance of individual human rights and for the promotion and strengthening of those rights. It is for that reason that States set forth the right of self-determination in a provision of positive law in both Covenants and placed this provision as article 1 apart from and before all of the other rights in the two Covenants. Article 1 enshrines an inalienable right of all peoples as described in its paragraphs 1 and 2. By virtue of that right they freely “determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.” The article imposes on all States parties corresponding obligations. This right and the corresponding obligations concerning its implementation are interrelated with other provisions of the Covenant and rules of international law” (The right of self-determination of peoples –Article 1, 13/03/1983. CCPR General Comment)

In July 1977, Tamil United Liberation Front-TULF, contested and won overwhelmingly at the Parliamentary election giving them a mandate to exercise the “Right to Self-determination” and establish Tamil Eelam in the North East.