During the past month several events took place to mark the 200th Anniversary of the Malaiyaha Tamil people in Sri Lanka. Of symbolic significance was the march from Talaimannar to Matale that retraced the arduous trek of the original migrants. The National Peace Council and likeminded civil society organizations participated in these events that have sought to give recognition to the Malaiyaha Tamil people and their place in the country as an integral part of a plural society and with equal rights as Sri Lankan citizens. 

The National Peace Council believes there is a special need for reparations to be given to this community for the deprivations they have suffered ever since being denied citizenship by the newly independent government in 1948. NPC notes that the Malaiyaha Tamil community living within the plantations continue to suffer from the debilities unjustly imposed on them at the dawn of Independence. Even today they live in abysmal conditions and are paid a grossly inadequate wage. They suffer from the highest levels of poverty of any community. 

This community want integration and not separation either geographically or politically. They need to be treated as equals to other communities in terms of their political and economic rights and dignity, and the denial of ensuring this equality by the state in particular is unacceptable.  Given the contribution they and their forebears have made to the national economy with their sweat and their toil, they deserve the identity they demand as free and equal citizens on par with other communities having been in this country now for two centuries.

NPC urges the government to take steps to increase the wage levels of the plantation workers as a priority. This would require restructuring the planation sector on modern lines as in other tea growing countries. There is also a need to permit the people on the plantations to purchase their land and own their homes. The ugly breaking of a house on the plantations which recently got nationwide attention must be remedied in a spirit of justice and reparation for decades of injustice. 

The government's policy commitment in 2016 to give seven perches of land for housing in the plantation estates to their workers needs to be implemented without delay and made applicable to all state owned plantations regardless of their management.  The budget proposals for 2017 referred to the transfer of ‘public housing to dwellers who have lived in such houses for more than 15 years’ and giving each plantation family seven perches of land ‘with clear title deed’ in order to ‘alleviate their conditions from the line rooms.’ We call on the Human Rights Commission, Labour Ministry or any other institutions relevant to, or responsible for, looking after workers’ welfare to go to courts to get justice and other services provided to other workers in this country to this community also as another remedy.

Governing Council
The National Peace Council is an independent and non partisan organization that works towards a negotiated political solution to the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. It has a vision of a peaceful and prosperous Sri Lanka in which the freedom, human rights and democratic rights of all the communities are respected. The policy of the National Peace Council is determined by its Governing Council of who are drawn from diverse walks of life and belong to all the main ethnic and religious communities in the country.

About us

The National Peace Council (NPC) was established as an independent and impartial national non-government organization