The Tamil people's right to self-determination

Author: Deirdre McConnell

DOI: 10.1080/09557570701828592

Publication Frequency: 4 issues per year

Published in: Cambridge Review of International Affairs, Volume 21, Issue 1 March 2008 , pages 59 - 76

Subject: Foreign Policy;

The Tamil people's right to self-determination



Comparison of Eelam Tamils with Palestine


Comparison of Eelam Tamils with Palestine





The Right to Self-determination, Tamils of Sri Lanka (Ceylon)

Compared with Montenegro, Kosovo and Bougainville

                                   Montenegro        Kosovo                        Bougainville                Tamil Eelam (North East)

                                               (Independent state         (on the verge of                         (Peace agreement in                   (De-facto government for more than 16 years.

                                               since 21 May 2006)        Independence)                           August 2001. Referendum          No initiative by the International Community,

                                                                                                                                for independence in 10-15 years) for the Tamils to have their right to self- determination)

Sq. Kilo meters                      13,812 km²                   10,887 km²                               10,570 km²                               19,509 km²

Capital                                   Podgorica                     Pristina                                   Arawa/ Buka                           Trincomalee

Annexed with                         Yugoslavia in 1945       Serbia  in 1989                        Papua N/Gunina in 1973          Ceylon (Sri Lanka) in 1948

Conflicting peoples                Serbs vs           Montenegrins   Serbs vs Kosovons                    Papuans vs Bougains    Singhalese vs Tamils

Population                             730,000                        600,000                                    200,000                                    (3,598,000 - census in 1979

                                                                                                                                                                               (93% Tamils in the North East

Domination by                       Serbs                           Serbs                                       PNG Defence Forces                  Singhalese of Sri Lanka

Military Composition                        -------                            100% Serbs                             100% PNGs                 99% Singhalese

Colonisation                          -------                            Kosovo region by Serbs            -------                                        North East by Singhalese

Settlers                                   Serbians                      ------                                         -------                                        over 300,000 Singhalese colonists

Armed conflict                                  ------                             March 1998                              1989                            From July 1983, To date

Freedom fighters /     )           Socialist People's -        Kosovo Liberation Army -         Bougainville Revolutionary -     Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam - LTTE                    

Political party               )           Party of Montenegro      KLA                                       Army (BRA)                             under the leadership of National Leader Pirabaharan   

Economic embargo                -------                            not enforced                             enforced in 1990                       since 1987 with few intervals. Now in force

Press & Freedom of movement   ------                           denied                                     denied                                     denied

Civilians killed                                   -------                            over 5000                                 20,000                          nearly 100,000

Disappearances                      -------                            over 4000                                 figures not known                    27,000 To date

Mass graves                           -------                            526                                          ------                                         many identified in the North-East

Internally displaced               ------                             250,000 single displacement       70,000                                     over 800,000 multiple displacement

Refugees                                -------                            61,000                                     40,000                                     over 600,000 in western countries and India

Property damaged                 -------                            figures not known                    figures not known                    over eight billion US Dollars

Houses destroyed                   -------                            128,000                                    -do-                                         300,000 To date

Attacks on religious places    -------                            500                                          -do-                                         2375 (both Christian and Hindu-Saivaites)

Villages demolished               -------                            figures not known                    -do-                                         more than 500

Political prisoners                  -------                            -do-                                         -do-                                         over 1000 (at present)

Rapes                                     -------                            -do-                                         -do-                                         12,500 To date

Visit by High Commissioner  ------                           visited                                     -------                                        not visited

UN/EU intervention               yes                               yes                                          yes                                          none

UN Resolutions                      yes                               yes                                          yes                                          none

Negotiations started in         2002                            1989                                        July 1997                                 1927 onwards. Norwegian mediation began in Feb 2002.

                                                                                                                                                                               Talks brought to an end by attacks on LTTE positions

                                                                                                                                                                   initiated by Government Forces.

(Tamil Centre for Human Rights – TCHR, France – March 2007)


Comparison of Tamils in the Island of Sri Lanka with Palestine and Kosova

Tamil Centre for Human Rights - TCHR/CTDH            Email : /

website :

                                                Palestine                    Kosova                       Tamils

                                                (2/5 landmass of Israel)             (1/5 landmass of Serbia)             (1/3 landmass of Island of Sri Lanka)

Annexed with                      May 14 1948 Israel                     In 1989 Serbia                           In 1833 - Ceylon

Conflicting People               Israelis vs Palestinians              Serbs vs Kosovars                     Sinhalese vs Tamils

Population                             97% in Palestine are Arabs         90% in Kosovo are Albanians            93% Tamil in North-East

Domination by                      Jews of Israel, 6 million             Serbs of Serbia 11 million            Sinhalese of Sri Lanka 18 million

Military Composition          100% Israelis                            100% Serbs                               99% Sinhalese

Colonisation                         Palestine by Jews                      Kosova region by Serbs              Tamil hereditary land by Sinhalese

Occupied by                          Israeli forces                             40,000 Serbian forces                 150,000 S/L force in North-East

Colonised areas                  About 4800km2                          ---                                             8000km2

                                               (79% of present West Bank and Gaza Strip)                                                                       (50% of Tamil hereditary land)

Settlers                                 400,000 Jews                             ---                                             500,000 Sinhalese

Armed conflict started       1964                                         March 1998                                July 1983

Freedom fighters                PLO                                          KLA (Kosovo Liberation Army)            LTTE(Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam)

Economic embargo             Not presently                             Not enforced                              Since 1990 (Embargo on essential items)

Freedom of movement      Denied                                      Denied                                      Denied

Civilians killed                      Over thousand                           Over 500                                   More than 70,000

Disappearances                   figures not known                      figures not known                      Over 10,000

Mass graves                         Several                                     Several                                     Many

Refugees                              3.6 million                                 250,000 Single displacement        Over 1,000,000 Multiple displacements

Property damaged              209 billion dollars                      figures not known                      Over US $ four billion

Houses destroyed              8500                                         figures not known                      300,000

Attack on religious places figures not known                      figures not known                      2000

Villages demolished           531 Villages and towns               figures not known                        More than 400

Political Prisoners               1682 Arabs(8/10/2000)                figures not known                      Over 10,000 Tamils

Detainees torture ratio      85% Palestine                            figures not known                      99% Tamils

Visit by Mary Robinson      Visited                                      Visited                                      Not visited

UN H/R Special sessions    Several                                     Several                                     None

UN Resolutions                    Several                                     Several                                     None

For facts on Palestine - Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of Internal Affairs (PASSIA)

(Excert from the TCHR report submitted to the UN 57th Session of the Commission on Human Rights - 19 March 2001 )