According to the UN resolution on citizenship anyone born in any country or any soil is a citizen of that country. The US has gone one step further and accordingly anyone born in an aircraft while flying within the air space of the US is a citizen of the US. In that country, any child born is granted citizenship immediately. So, irrespective of colour of skin, origin of parents, the newborn is a US citizen and has the right to obtain the US passport from the time of birth.
Here in our motherland Sri Lanka the situation is quite different to what's stated in the UN resolution. Until recently our Tamil-speaking Sri Lankans were not even considered Sri Lankans. Fortunately, after 1977, all Tamil-speaking estate workers of Indian origin who were born here for generations were given citizenship. But the irony is that there are thousands yet without a birth certificate and the National Identity Card (NIC).
Most Sri Lankans identify themselves as either Sri Lankan Sinhalese, Tamils or Muslims. The other day Parliamentarian and former Cricket captain Arjuna Ranatunga at a discussion on TV openly said that whenever he went abroad many Sri Lankans told him that they are Sri Lankan Sinhalese and that annoyed him. He is correct and I must congratulate him for having such a vision which other politicians in Sri Lanka don't have. All of us born in this island are Sri Lankans.
Therefore, there cannot be differences among us and all should be able to even become the President of Sri Lanka. Unfortunately, that is just a myth. No Tamil speaking Sri Lankan or a Muslim will ever be our President and not even the Prime Minister, or even the commanders of the armed forces. In the US, African-American Barrack Obama became the President of that country in 2008. Can politicians such as
R. Sampanthan, Ananda Sangari or Thondaman or Rauf Hakeem ever aspire to be our President? The answer is a big NO, which means that we don't consider Tamils, Muslims or even Burghers Sri Lankans.
Recently many Tamil-speaking Sri Lankans staged a peaceful "sathyagraha" (demonstration) against the detention of Tamil-speaking Sri Lankans, alleged to be Tamil Tigers. These suspected Tamil-speaking Sri Lankans have not been charge sheeted since 2009. If the Government has no valid reason to charge sheet them, then they must be released. Unfortunately, this does not happen, which means they are second class citizens.
It is also learnt that schoolchildren who perform term end concerts have to produce the script of their plays to the army. This law is applicable to the north and the east of Sri Lanka, where the majority are Sri Lankan Tamils. Similarly, even at a birthday party or a wedding ceremony I have heard it's apparently mandatory that an army officer to be present. Does this happen in the South where a majority are Sinhalese?
Until we get rid of the phobia about Tamil-speaking Sri Lankans, all citizens of this island are not Sri Lankans.
Professor J.Jinadasa, Massachusetts, USA