The Importance of Recording Contemporary History

 

(Forward to the Lest We Forget Chronicle compiled by (NESOHR))

 

South India and Sri Lanka have been inhabited by Thamils from the beginning of recorded history. The ancient history of Thamil Nadu dates back to about 6000 years and their origin is topic of debate related to the Aryan invasion theory. This theory espouses the view that the Thamils belong to the Dravidian race and were part of the early Indus Valley settlers. Later with the advent of the Aryan invasion the Dravidians were forced to move Deep South where they ultimately settled. The present day states of Thamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh constitute the Dravidian culture. Kerala where Thamil Chera kings ruled lost its identity due to influx of Brahmins from the North.

 

The Thamils were sea faring people. They traded with Rome in the days of Emperor Augustus. They sent ships to many lands bordering the Indian Ocean and with the ships went traders, scholars and a way of life. The island of Ceylon which was separated from the Indian subcontinent by less than 30 miles of water was not unknown to the Thamils who called it Eelam.

 

Thamil Sangam literature dating from the 1st century BC to 2nd century AD speaks of three ruling families in India: the Cholas, the Pandyas and the Cheras. South India was divided into several broad geographical-cum-cultural zones, known as Nadus.

 

During the later half of 4th century, Pallavar the great temple builders emerged into prominence and dominated the South for another 400 years. A large part of Thamil Nadu was ruled by then with Kanchipuram as their base. In the 6th century they defeated the Cholas and extended their rule as far as Ceylon. Among the greatest Pallavar rulers were Mahendravarman l and his son Narasimhavarman. Dravidian architecture reached its epitome during Pallavar rule. The last Pallavar King was Aparajitha. He was defeated by Aditya Chola towards the end of the 9th century.

The basin of the Kaveri River became the Chola heartland known as Chola Nadu. Pandi Nadu was ruled by Pandya monarchs with Madurai the capital. Kongu Nadu in and around Coimbatore  was at times in the hands of the Cheras of Kerala along the western Malabar Coast and at times controlled by the rulers of the Thamil region. At the height of Chola power between 1000 and 1100 the Chola empire encompassed all these regions.

Under Rajaraja Chola and his son Rajendra Chola, the Cholas again rose as a formidable power in the 9th century in South India. The Chola empire extended to the central Indian states like Orissa and parts of West Bengal. Rajaraja Chola conquered the eastern Chalukya kingdom by defeating the Cheras and also occupied parts of Ceylon by defeating the Pandyas. Rajendra Chola went beyond occupying the islands of Andaman and Nicobar, Lakshadweep, Sumatra, Java, Malaya and the islands of Pegu with his fleet of ships. He defeated Mahipala, the king of Bihar and Bengal, and to mark his victory he built a new capital called Gangaikonda Cholapuram. The Cholas started loosing their power around the 13th century.

As Cholas declined, the Pandyas once again emerged as a power in the early 14th century. But this was short lived and soon they were subdued by Muslim Khilji invaders from the north in 1316. The city of Madurai was plundered and completely destroyed. The invasion destroyed the Chola and Pandya dynasties and led to the establishment of Bahmani Kingdom in the Northern Deccan.

Due to the 14th century invasion the Hindus retaliated and rallied to build a strong new kingdom called the Vijayanagara empire. This empire included all the strongholds of Cholas and other local Hindu rulers to check the Muslims. Governors called Nayakars were employed to run different territories of the empire. Vijayanagar empire was the most prosperous dynasty in the south with Hampi as the Capital. But by 1564 the empire came to an end at the hands of Deccan sultans in the battle of Talikota. The empire dismantled into many parts and was given to the Nayakars to rule. Thamil Country under the Telugu Nayakars was peaceful and prosperous. The Nayakars of Madurai and Thanjavur were most prominent of them all, who reconstructed some of the oldest temples in the country.

The Dutch accomplished a settlement in Pulicat around 1609. The British, under the British East India Company established a settlement further south, in present day Chennai, in the year 1639. The British took advantage of the petty quarrels among the provincial rulers (divide and rule) to expand their area of power.

The British fought with the various European powers, notably the French at Vandavasi (Wandiwash) in 1760, and the Dutch at Tharangambadi (Tranquebar), driving the Dutch away entirely and reducing the French dominions in India to Pondicherry. The British also fought four wars with the Kingdom of Mysore under Hyder Ali and later his son Tipu Sultan which led to their eventual domination of India's south. They consolidated southern India into the Madras Presidency.

During the rule of the Cholas in the eleventh century, the Thamils living in the Island of Ceylon were able to consolidate their positions in the militia and the administration of the court. It may be assumed that more Thamils settled in the northern region during this period.

In 1215 AD, Magha of Kalinga conquered the Sinhalese kingdom with its capital in Polonnaruwa with the help of Dravidian soldiers. This invasion weakened the Sinhalese power to such an extent that any semblance of political unity in the Island disappeared.

After Magha, the Javakas led by Chandrabhanu came to power with the help of Thamil soldiers from South India and ruled over most of the territory that were previously under Magha. Chandrabhanu became almost a vassal of the Pandyas and was overthrown by them when he refused to send tribute.

The centre of power of the Northern Kingdom was the Jaffna Peninsula and hence it was known by the name of the Kingdom of Jaffna. Ibn Battuta, the Arab traveler who visited the capital in 1344 AD states that the Thamil King's power extended up to Puttalam and that he was in control of the pearl fishery.

In the middle of the fourteenth century, the army of the Thamil King had penetrated as far south as Gampola and had driven the reigning Sinhalese King from his capital.

Under the Vijaya Nagara empire of South India the Thamil kingdom became its tributary and there followed a protective relationship. After its decline, Jaffna came under the sway of Thanjavur and Madurai, two centres of power that succeeded the former empire.

The following are the names of the Kings and their period of rule of 
Jaffna Kingdom 
 
1. Kalingaman alias Koolangai Singai Aryan alias Kalinga Vijeyabahu (1215 
to 1240) 
2. Kulasegara Pararajasegaram (1240 to 1256) 
3. Kulothungan (1256 to 1279) 
4. Vikramnan (1279 to 1302) 
5. Varothayan (1371 to 1380) 
6. Marthanda Perumalan (1325 to 1348) 
7. Kunapooshanan (1348 to 1371) 
8. Virothayan (1371 to 1380) 
9. Jeyaveeran (1380 to 1410) 
10. Kunaveeran (1410 to 1446) 
11. Kanagasooriyan (1446 to 1450).
 From 1450 to 1467 Jaffna Kingdom came under the rule of Kotte kingdom. 
Troops  under the command of Chenpakap Perumal captured Jaffna. 
He was a Chera prince and adopted son of Parakramabahu V1 of Kotte. Later he became King of Kotte under 
the name of King Bhuvanekabahu VI. Kanagasooriyan fled to Thamil Nadu and came back with an army and 
re-captured the Kingdom and again ruled from 1467 to 1478. 
12. Pararajasegaran (1478 to 1519) 
13. Sankili Segarajasegaran (1519 to 1561). He was born to the third wife 
of Pararajasegaran. 
14. Pararasa Pandaram, Pararasasekaran (1561 to 1565). Son of Sankili. 
15. Kurunchi Nainar (1565 to 1570) 
16. Periapillai Sekarasa Sekaran (1570 to 1582) 
17. Puvirasa Pandaram II (1582 to 1591) 
18. Ethirmanna Singa Pararasasekaran (1591 to 1615). (Set up by the 
Portuguese)
19. Sankili Kumaran (1615 to 1619) (Nephew of Above)

The Kingdom came to end in 1619 when the Portuguese finally managed to defeat Sankili. He was captured and taken by the Portuguese to Goa where he was put to the sword.  The Portuguese ruled Jaffna Kingdom from 1619 to 1658. The Dutch who captured the Kingdom from the Portuguese ruled till 1795 and the British till February 03,1948.  

This is a brief snapshot of our history spanning more than 2,000 years. But sadly Thamils failed to record their history in the modern sense of the word. While the Thamils excelled in literature, architecture, fine arts etc. they lacked historical consciousness. They had no sense of time and did not create a calendar like the Romans. It is with the help of Sangam literature attempts are made to reconstruct history. However, there are gaping holes in between.

Thamils 1800 Years Ago by V. Kanagasabhai is the first attempt to write Thamils history in the modern sense of the word.   This work is based on a series of articles published in Madras Review between the years 1895 and 1901 with the objective of bringing out all the information available in Thamil literature regarding the ancient civilization of the Thamils.

With a view to confine strictly to the subject of the book as shown in the title, the author has carefully avoided touching upon the history of the Thamils before AD 50 or after AD 150.

This book describes the ancient geography of the land of the Thamils, their foreign commerce, the different races that spoke Thamil, their political history, and concludes with an account of their social life, mode of warfare, literature, philosophy and religion. Many historical works by prominent historians followed later.

Lest We Forget (Part 1) is a chronology of Events covering the period 1956 2001. The conflict between the Sinhalese and Thamils took a turn for the worse when Sinhala Only was declared the official language of Ceylon in June, 1956.

A peaceful protest by Thamil leaders at Galle Face green by Thamil leaders were attacked by Sinhala goons and broken up.  Ceylon   witnessed its first ethnic clash since independence when Thamil civilians were set upon by Sinhalese mobs. This was followed up with a series of ethnic clashes between the Sinhalese and Thamils in 1958, 1977, 1979, 1981 and 1983.

This Chronicle painstakingly record massacres that occurred between 1956 2001. Although the chronicle is by no means complete the compilers have done a commendable job recording part of contemporary history without leaving it to future historians. Our gratitude is due to all individuals and institutions who laboured hard under trying conditions to compile this chronicle.

These massacres were carried out by the Sinhala armed forces ably aided and abetted by racist Sinhala politicians.  The genocidal war against the Thamil people has killed more than 100,000 Thamils since 1956. In the last phase of the Eelam War IV (May, 2009) 25,000 civilians died and twice that number were seriously injured. Sadly some among them are some of those who worked on this project.

Rev. Fr. M.X.Karunaratnam who functioned as the Chairman of the NorthEast Secretariat on Human Rights (NESOHR) was killed in a Claymore attack carried out by the Long Range Reconnaissance Petrol (LRRP) of the Sri Lanka Army on April 20, 2008  in Vanni.

 

The very first massacre deals with what took place in Inginiyakala on June 05, 1956 in the aftermath of the Sinhala Only bill passed in the parliament. This was the commencement of Sinhala mob terrorism against unarmed Thamils.  The police was ineffective and remained mute spectators.

 

Inginigala is one of several   Sinhalese settlements created under the Gal Oya Development scheme in the Amparai District.  State sponsored Gal Oya Development scheme and Allai Kanthalai   in the Trincomalee district were major Sinhala colonization schemes that altered the demographic composition of the eastern province. It reduced the status of Thamils in the eastern province from majority to minority. 

The sinister plan of the Sinhala government is to make Sinhala people the single largest ethnic group in the Eastern Province. The master plan envisaged demographic changes through state aided settlements, tourism development and a Buddhist revival in Amparai District and agro-business promotion in the Thoppigala areas in Batticaloa District.

Population statistics will help to illustrate how demography patterns have been unnaturally altered or distorted through state aided colonisation, demarcation of new political and administrative units and accelerated irrigation schemes in the Eastern Province.

The Eastern Province is 3,839 sq. miles in extent. Originally Trincomalee 1,016 sq. miles and Batticaloa 2,823 sq. miles were the districts in this province. According to the 1921 census, the Sinhalese were 3% of the population in the Trincomalee District and 4.5% in the combined Batticaloa and Amparai District. The Sinhalese were less than 4% in the whole of Eastern Province.

The Batticaloa District was divided into the present Amparai District 1,775 sq. miles and Batticaloa District 1,048 sq. miles in 1961.  The following Table shows the demographic changes between 1881 1981 which is self explanatory.

Demographic changes between 1881 1981

 

 

Sinhalese

Thamils

Muslims

Year

Population

%

Population

%

Population

%

1881

5947

4.5

75408

61.35

43001

30.65

1891

7512

4.75

87701

61.55

51206

30.75

1901

8778

4.7

96296

57.5

62448

33.15

1911

6909

3.75

101181

56.2

70409

36.0

1921

8744

4.5

103551

53.5

75992

39.4

1946

23456

8.4

146059

52.3

109024

39.1

1953

46470

13.1

167898

47.3

135322

38.1

1963

109690

20.1

246120

45.1

185750

34.0

1971

148572

20.7

315560

43.9

248567

34.6

1981

243358

24.9

409451

41.9

315201

32.2

 Population Increase between 1946 and 1981

Thamil population increased from 146,059 to 409,451 - 302%, Muslim population increased from 109,024 to 315,201 - 289%, Sinhalese population increased from 27,556 to 243,358 - 883%. The National average increase of Sinhalese during this period is only 238%. The sudden increase of Sinhala population is the result of Government planed Sinhala Colonisation in Gal-Oya, Pannal- Oya, and Ambalam- Oya in Amparai District, and Kanthalai, Allai, Morawewa, Muthalikkulam, Pathaviya and Mahadiuluwewa schemes in Trincomalee District.

Reverting to the chronicle efforts should be now made to compile the second part of this chronicle to cover the period 2002 to 2009.

 

We hope this chronicle will give both Thamils and Non-Thamils an insight about the state violence unleashed against Thamils by a government bent on undisguised genocide. Thamils have experienced nothing but death, destruction, disappearances since independence.

 

The just concluded Eelam War IV had proved beyond any doubt that co-existence between the majority Sinhala-Buddhists and Thamils is not a possibility under a single polity.  They are like dry and wet clay that will never stick together.

Any solution to the ethnic conflict should be anchored on the following historical and landmark resolution, mandate and principles.

1)      The Vaddukkoddai Resolution adopted at the first National Convention of the Thamil United Liberation Front (TULF) on 14 May 1976. In this Resolution, the TULF declared its intent of forming a sovereign State of Thamil Eelam based on the right of self determination inherent to every nation.  

2)       The Mandate given to the TULF at the general elections held in 1977.

3)      The  Declaration at the Thimbu talks  that  any meaningful solution to the Thamil national question must be based on the following four cardinal principles:

         recognition of the Thamils of Ceylon as a nation

         recognition of the existence of an identified homeland for the Thamils of Ceylon

         recognition of the right of self determination of the Thamil nation

         recognition of the right to citizenship and the fundamental rights of all Thamils of Ceylon

It is now our historical duty to carry forward the sacred fight for freedom and not rest till the goal of a sovereign state of Thamil Eelam is reached.

 

 

 

Veluppillai Thangavelu
President
Thamil Creative Writers Association
Canada.

June 2, 2009