Friday, May 18, 2012

Victims without a voice: Genocide of Tamils

Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day – May 18

Over 40,000 Tamils Murdered
Over 146,000 Tamils uncounted for
Over 25,000 Tamil Children orphaned.

May 2009 brought Tamils around the world unprecedented anguish and tragedy as the 27 year long brutal ethnic conflict came to a disastrous end. The month of May will always be etched in the memory of Tamils around the world for generations to come as more than 40,000 Tamils were massacred during the final stages. It was two years back, on the 18th of May, Sri Lanka supposedly ended its so called ‘war on terror.’ The LTTE was crushed finally, the government announced. The nation is united, the ruling party declared. Lankan President Rajapaksa used words like ‘freedom’ and ‘justice’ to define the army’s victory. The day, May 18th, meant to the Sinhalese nationalists there restoration of order and peace. For Tamils, it meant something else. The final penetrative act of the army that provided an orgasmic psychological release for the repressed anxieties of Sinhala majoritarians, was read by the Tamils as rape of their homeland. An occupying army rapes. By its very presence. The guns, the boots, the uniform, the gaze are all penetrative. It strips, observes, humiliates, abuses and scars permanently. May 18th is a scar for the Tamils.

There is a humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka, where the Tamil minority in the island’s north and east are facing annihilation at the hands of the Sinhalese-dominated government. The Sri Lankan Tamil community has been deliberately targeted by the Sinhalese-dominated government of Sri Lanka and its mono-ethnic armed forces ince the beginning of fighting between the Sinhalese and the Tamils in 1983. Acts of genocide, including pogroms, ethnic cleansing and state-sponsored colonization of Tamil areas, against the Tamil population have taken place ever since independence from Britain in 1948.
According to the UN Panel, the killings and other abuses that took place amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. Independent experts believe that there are elements of these abuses that constitute an act of genocide. The UN Human Rights Council recently looked into this mass killing and passed a Resolution on accountability for these international crimes. Here, I would like you to know what is going on in Sri Lanka.
Problem of ethnic cleansing

There are four options to achieve an exclusively Sinaha-Buddhist Sri Lanka.

1. Drive out the Tamilians out of Srilanka. Although 1.3 million have already been driven out, there are still 2 million left.

2. Make them “non-people”, ie: internal refugees. Currently, there are 500,000 Tamil civilians living in refugee camps in the Tamil north and east or have fled into the jungles in the north to escape Sri Lankan army bombing. There are also 200,000 Tamil refugees in south India. Most of them are staying in Tamil Nadu as refugees.

Let me bring out two more important articles to support my argument on ethnic cleansing

On November 19, 2011, Amnesty International USA, in a publication titled Sri Lanka government must act now to protect 300,000 displaced persons, stated: “In September 2008, the Sri Lankan government ordered the United Nations (UN) and non-government aid-workers to leave the region (the Tamil North). The government then assumed total responsibility for ensuring the needs of the civilian population affected by the hostilities are met.”

On December 23, 2011, the US-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) came out with a 49-page report entitled Besieged, Displaced, and Detained. The Plight of Civilians in Sri Lanka’s Vanni Region, which detailed the Sri Lankan government’s responsibility for the plight of 230,000 to 300,000 displaced people in the Vanni (northern) conflict zone.

3. Make them “disappear”. Today, Sri Lanka leads the world in “involuntary disappearances”. On November 24, HRW published report entitled Sri Lanka: Human Rights Situation Deteriorating in the East in which Adams stated: “The Sri Lankan government says that the ‘liberated’ East is an example of democracy in action and a model for areas recaptured from the LTTE. But killings and abductions are rife, and there is total impunity for horrific acts.”

Tamils are routinely arrested and either murdered or ‘disappear’ in military custody. The numbers have been rising in recent months. Scores are being killed each week in all districts of the Northeast – Jaffna, Trincomalee, Vavunia, Mannar, and Batticaloa – and even in Colombo.

Tamil journalists, academics, politicians, aid workers and rights activists have been abducted and murdered by Sri Lanka’s military with complete impunity, despite the frequent protests by local and international human rights groups and civil society organisations.

4. Kill them — i.e. commit genocide. “Genocide” is defined by the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide as “an act committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group”. Genocide has nothing to do with numbers killed, it is the intention and the act(s) to achieve this intention that defines it.

Bombing, shelling and shooting are not the only ways to kill. One could starve them, withhold essential medicines, prevent survival activity (e.g. fishing and agriculture), destroy businesses, markets, homes, hospitals and schools. Once the intention is there, the ways to achieve genocide are endless.

There are also different types of genocide. I call these, “educational genocide”, “cultural genocide”, “economic genocide” and “religious genocide” — defined as the intention, backed by the act, of destroying in whole or part the education, culture or economy and religion of an ethnic group.

The Sri Lankan government is guilty of all of these, but who is gonna stop them and when?

Therefore, don’t think of it as an isolated individual event without connection with rest of the world. There is no such thing in this interconnected world that we live in. Ultimately the world should understand that how people can be prepared by governments and organizations to use horrific violence outside of the realm of civilized behavior. It’s ironic, in war everybody is killing but there are rules even for killing and should be. The whole world knows that Sri Lanka never fought the war according to the international rules. The whole world simply watched when thousands of innocent Tamil civilians were brutally killed by Srilankan army.
Moreover, the UN Secretary General appointed a Panel of Experts on Sri Lanka to investigate the mass atrocities, international humanitarian law and human rights violations. The Panel of Experts submitted its report in April 2011 calling for international independent investigations into the deaths of up to 40,000 Tamil civilians, mostly caused by Sri Lankan government’s indiscriminate military assault on civilian enclaves and “no-fire-zones” and blocking of emergency food and live-saving medical supplies. The report confirmed violations of international humanitarian law which could amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Further, the well respected Catholic Bishop of Mannar in Srilanka, Rev. Dr. Rayappu Joseph has publicly stated that a total of 146,679 civilians who lived in the area of the conflict are unaccounted for in the final two years of the conflict. Ms. Suba Suntharalingam, speaking for the groups organizing the rally said, “In the absence of credible international investigations to ascertain the truth, we Tamils hold the Sri Lanka government responsible for the deaths of up to 146,000 Tamil civilians in the final months of the blood bath on the beaches of the Tamil homeland.” The international community has done nothing to stop this massacre.

In 2011 UK’s Channel 4 exposed damning evidence of atrocities committed in the war in Sri Lanka. It presents this powerful follow-up film, revealing new video evidence as well as contemporaneous documents, eye-witness accounts, photographic stills and videos relating to how exactly events unfolded during the final days of the civil war. If you have not watched, do watch

Sri Lanka came under severe criticism at the UN Human Rights Council meeting held in Geneva in March. The UN body passed a resolution calling for accountability, investigation of incidents of grave violations of international humanitarian law and immediate implementation of positive recommendations of Sri Lanka’s own internal commission. It also mandates the UN Human Rights Commissioner and Special Reporters to monitor and report progress back to the Human Rights Council.

But are these things will bring out justice? What about those human-animals who committed war crime against Tamils? Violations of human rights can no longer be considered an “internal affair” of that country. Hundreds of thousands of innocent Tamils have been raped, tortured, murdered and simply disappeared. The Rajapakse regime continues defy international law (R2P) and deny unrestricted access to media, journalists, NGOs, human rights groups and diplomats to Tamils areas to report independently. There is a culture of impunity and no history of any investigations or justice delivered to hundreds of thousands of crimes committed against Tamils.

This long war is entirely a creation of the Sinhala majority denying the Tamil minority their right to live in peace and dignity. After all ancient Ezham was a seperate kingdom , older then the Sinhala kingdom. Like Aborigines in Australia and the Native Indians in America and like our own poor tribals in India the Tamils are being oppressed and suppressed. If multiculture causes problems, better there should be a separate country for Tamils.

“Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.” Is 1: 17.
The only one solution to solve the Tamil issue is Tamil Ealem. Hundred and Twenty Million Tamil who are living in the different parts of the world should join together to stand for Tamil cause to make the Tamil Ealem.


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