25 October, 2020

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Deconstructing The UNHRC And The Western Approach To Eelam

By Athithan Jayapalan

Athithan Jayapalan

Athithan Jayapalan

The much anticipated 25th session of the United Nations Human Right convention (UNHRC) is unfolding in Genève, and Tamils across the world are following its proceedings vigilantly. While some elements within the Tamil polity vehemently opposed the UNHRC process others desperately hoped that engagement would yield some concessions to alleviate the plight of their nation. The question of whether to denounce it altogether or not, the UNHRC caused an unfortunate division among the Eelam Tamil diaspora, the Eelam nation on the island and the pro-Eelam agitators in Tamil Nadu, India.

In this regard the UNHR draft resolution was leaked on 03.03.2014 to the anguish of the U.S. sponsored process of reconciliation in Sri Lanka. Transcending the internal divisions the leaked draft caused a widespread disapproval from various Tamil organizations and movements across the world for its insidious project of watering down an already toothless international stand on the government of Sri Lanka (GOSL).

Furthermore the politics inherent in the U.S. led resolution upholds the unitary Sri Lankan state and denies the genocidal nature of the crimes perpetuated against Eelam Tamils. Nevertheless the resolution holds the potential if steered correctly to transcend the arising divisions caused by the UN process amongst activists. Thereby it should avail the efforts to mobilize a united front among the forces advocating Eelam.

Silencing of Genocide and National oppression

The draft resolution was denounced by Tamils for a variety of reasons, but chief among them was that an international investigation is not advocated and genocide is denied. Instead the GOSL is given the opportunity to conduct an investigation into its own crimes. Moreover the well documented violence which target Tamils based on their national characteristics is effectively distorted and narrated as religious violence. As a final nail to the coffin the much demanded international investigation was to be considered only after an assessment of progress made by the GOSL after a period of more than a year.

It is reckless of the international community to claim to harbor expectations of the Sri Lankan state to be capacitated in investigating their own conduct during the last war through impartial mechanisms, when the state has an enduring history of genocidal practice and a strong culture of impunity. Such an international stand espouses that the state violence experienced by Tamils was not coordinated and was not determined on the basis of their political persuasion, language or ethnicity. Thereby any atrocities committed against Tamils is not presented as being institutionalized which effectively absolves the state from the accusation of systematic persecution of Tamils . Only through such logic can it be claimed that such a philistine state is capable of conducting any form of impartial investigations. Such a stand also effectively denies the genocidal nature of the violence Tamils have been subjected to since 1948. In addition it also denounces the legacy of the national resistance mobilized by Eelam Tamils as measures to fight state terrorism.

The international approach thereby corroborates the Sri Lankan state centric discourse which denies genocidal crimes and naturalizes the military onslaught in 2009 against the Eelam Tamils as being a “humanitarian rescue mission” successfully executed to liberate Tamils from the LTTE. An ocean of evidence points to the contrary and documents the nature of the violence against the Tamils. The comprador status of Sri Lanka and its geo-political importance renders the Western powers rather preoccupied with intimidating an adventurous Sri Lanka venturing towards China back into the fold of the Western imperialists. Punitive actions on the basis of justice for Eelam are a farfetched notion for the imperialists and the resolution is most likely a reminder to Sri Lanka of the consequences of aligning with China.

From the 8th-11th of December 2013 the Permanent Peoples Tribunal (PPT) convened in the German city of Bremen to conduct the Peoples Tribunal on Sri Lanka. The PPT has previously held proceedings on war crimes and genocide on Zaire, El Salvador, Guatemala, East Timor and Afghanistan. Moreover the PPT has its origins from the historic Russell’s tribunal on Vietnam, which in 1967 found the U.S. guilty of war crimes at a time when the ground situation was effectively blacked out by a combination of media cover up and U.S. state propaganda which denied U.S. atrocities and demonized the Vietnamese resistance movement

The verdict concluded upon by the PPT and its panel of experts, corroborated that Eelam Tamils constitute a nation and that the Sri Lankan state is guilty of perpetuating structural genocide against the Eelam Tamils (1). Moreover the U.S. and the U.K. were found to be complicit in the genocide of Tamils owing their military, financial and political links with the perpetrator state. In the absence of political will at the international level to pursue the cases of vicious crimes against humanity, the PPT has since the Vietnam War been a forum to establish the truth. Thus for a critical assessment of the current UNHRC debacle there is a dire need to account for the PPT verdict and other documentations of genocide against Tamils.

In short, the resolution reflects the U.S. led international community’s structural approach towards the Sri Lankan nation-state.

Denationalization and denial of national existence

The draft resolution also furthered that the co-sponsors of the resolution are “Recognizing the Human Rights Council’s support of all Sri Lankans to enjoy their right regardless of creed, faith or ethnicity, in a peaceful and unified land” (2)

This passage might appear harmless and even progressive as it seems to emphasis equality. Nevertheless the U.S. liberalist language is perceptive, when one bears in mind that the human rights violations in question is perpetuated by the state against a distinct social group on the basis of ethnicity, language, belief and territory. When they urge an egalitarian Sri Lankan identity, they effectively denounce the national existence and consciousness of the Tamils and impose the national identity of the oppressor upon the oppressed. When doing so they also deny Tamils their inalienable right to self-determination subsequently silencing their political aspirations.

It is to be noted that the political mobilization of Tamils consolidated first under the banner of federalism before advocating independence as a bid to organize national resistance. This was a consequence of the growing national oppression perpetuated by the Sri Lankan state which effectively shut down democratic venues to address the national question. Thus the legacy of resistance and of national oppression is inevitably inscribed into the fabric of Tamil identity and collective memory. Thereby the camouflaged imposition of the unitary state through such liberalist rhetoric legitimizes the national oppression of Tamils, which is foremost grounded on the denial of nationality. The resolution also reiterates the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Sri Lankan state and naturalizes its rule over the Tamil homeland. Hence the draft indicates a dangerous tendency of facilitating the full-fledged denationalization of the Eelam Tamils.

The draft further reads that the co-sponsors are “Alarmed at the rapid rise in violence and discrimination on the basis of religion or belief, particularly against members of religious minority groups in Sri Lanka, including Hindus, Muslims and Christians“.

Such a narration shadows the genocidal nature of the violence in Sri Lanka. It is the blatant truth that Tamils are subjected to oppression on the basis of their ethnic identity and not on religious grounds. The politics of framing Tamils as Christians and Hindus, seems to promote divisions on religious grounds among the oppressed Tamils as well as to depoliticize the Eelam Tamils regarding their national entitlement. This is a means to ensure the destruction of the spirit of national resistance exhibited by the Tamils even under an oppressive military occupation.

The UNHRC draft resolution despite addressing militarization, human rights violations and state sponsored violence, deliberately silences the genocidal nature of the above mentioned processes. Instead it narrates gender and religious violence as paramount in the island. This effectively equalizes the genocidal oppression in Eelam with the authoritarian and dictatorial regime perpetuated by the state in other parts of the island. In a similar vein, national oppression is reframed into being rising religious and gender violence. It is noteworthy that a concept of gender violence in conflict situations absolved from intersection with ethnicity, nationality and language is in line with the U.K. government’s much aggrandized about international campaign against sexual and gender violence. Thereby what constitutes the interests behind the resolution seems to be based on geo-politics and external affair considerations of the U.S. and the U.K.

To reframe the whole situation of national oppression as being based on religion and gender is audacious, and is a blatant attempt to create a narration in favor of the Sri Lankan state. The reiteration of the 13th amendment is also indicative of the attempts by the West to appease the Indian state, which has its own peculiar role in the great geo political game which strangles Eelam.

The future of the Tamils is decided upon by the GOSL, the U.S. led coalition of nation states and India. The crooked nature of such extra local decision is that a beleaguered nation subjected to genocidal processes is denied any form of self-determination.

In the aftermath of the leaked draft resolution various struggles commenced across the globe condemning such injustice. Similarly student mobilization is unfolding in Tamil Nadu denouncing the draft while agitating to pressure India to demand an international investigation against GOSL and to bring forth a plebiscite on Eelam.

Conclusion

The faith in the international community is increasingly waning off, as time after time the procedures promised are strikingly weak consequently reproducing the status-quo while creating an illusion of progress. It slowly and shrewdly attempts to depoliticize the national question in the island as well as it tries to contain and disintegrate Tamil national mobilization by fixing identity categories such as Christian, Hindu and Sri Lankan. Even those who held faith in the US led processes, subsequently fighting off internal criticism from more radical hold, are now left in the cold regarding interpreting the draft resolution and in assessing the yield of their pro-West lobby. Around 10 000 Eelam Tamil diaspora members from various European countries, gathered in Genève in an unprecedented protest against the weak resolution. Reflecting the popular sentiment in Tamil Nadu and among Eelam Tamils on the island, the demonstrators demanded an international investigation into genocide and a plebiscite for Eelam (3).

The permanent representative to the UN Ambassador Ravinath Aryasinha ironically condemned the UNHRC resolution terming it biased and unwarranted (4). Furthermore he accused the U.S. for undermining the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka and for jeopardizing the “hard won peace”. He further claims that the main incentive for the resolution was the attempt by these countries to appease LTTE sympathizers in their respective electoral constituencies. Such a discourse accredits the U.S. resolution as being anti- Sri Lankan, consequently presenting the U.S. and Sri Lanka as being polarized and on collision course. Such an illusion is divertive of the real truth and creates a belief that there is confrontation between the West and Sri Lanka. There is evidently friction between the former allies, which Tamils can utilize to isolate Sri Lanka, the structural links and the geo-politics of the region renders Washington and Colombo allied. This is most vividly represented in the meticulous wordings in the U.S. resolution which reiterates Sri Lanka’s unitary state and its territorial sovereignty. Moreover the resolution draft attempts to manipulate ground reality, by silencing the genocidal processes against Tamils. Such representations are in effect legitimizing the Sri Lankan state and its operations which in a coordinated manner target the essential foundations of the national existence of Tamils. The U.S. sponsored UNHRC resolution thereby enhances the denationalization of Tamils by propagating the discourse of minorities and denial of genocide.

Reference :

1) For the pdf version of the full PPT verdict, see : http://www.tamilnet.com/img/publish/2014/01/pt_bremen_2013december.pdf

2) For the full version of the US draft resolution, see :  https://www.colombotelegraph.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/140303.UNHRC_.DraftResolution.pdf

3) http://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=13&artid=37091

4) For the full statement of Sri Lanka’s Permanent representative to the UN, see: http://www.dailymirror.lk/news/44172-draft-resolution-violates-sls-constitution-provisions-sl.html

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Latest comments

  • 12
    10

    There should be an international investigation starting from the British rule and since independence. This should include successive governments, JVP insurrection, IPKF, LTTE activities including diaspora who supported them with funds and in any other form and countries that allowed banking and supported and harbored LTTE terrorists.

    • 3
      4

      Eusense is beoming a nuisance day to another.

      Even if he and the ilk would make every effort to draw a nice picture of the govt, nothing will stop them getting the UN resolution draft passed against srilanken MR regime. Today is no late to react adequately if the parties have intelligence to do so. Unfortuantley, the bugger and co, seem to see nothing like crucial.

      Why you guys have fears against crime investigations ?

      Telling someting palatable but being vehemently against for any kind of crime investigations… paradox in every form..

    • 5
      1

      eusense,

      Chief minister Wigneswaran would like to rewrite the history. https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/npc-chief-wigneswaran-wants-sri-lankas-history-rewritten/ I support that idea.

      Prof H.L. Seneviratne – “In our bemoanings about the state of Buddhism today, we tend to explicitly or implicitly posit a golden age of Buddhism in the ancient period of our history. I doubt very much that there was any such. The likelihood is that things were not very different from what they are today. Tyrants like Dutugamunu used religion for purposes of gaining and remaining in power, and as opium of the masses, and there were willing supporters among the Sangha, as there are plenty that support the tyranny of our own times.” https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/sharmini-on-buddhism-and-ritual/

      So may be we can start from prince Vijaya time.

      • 0
        4

        Anpu,
        I thought you are interested in investigating the end of the terror war only. Why don’t you ask NAvi pillay to start from vijaya’s time!
        I feel anyone can investigate what ever they want but Sri Lanka will always stand undivided.

    • 3
      0

      Nonsense:

      There should be an investigation stretching back 2600 years under the following heading.

      Genetic composition of the Sinhala Race and research in to the Animal Instinct
      Arrival of the Descendants.
      Why the Overwhelming Majority are overtly Racist and Anti Tamil.

      The findings by a panel of Experts and not Sri Lankan Military might yield some results.

  • 4
    7

    Athithan,
    You wrote that Tamils have been subjected to violence since 1948. Let me take you only on that point for the time being.

    You may not be aware but let me tell you that first known Tamil Sinhala riot had started in 1939 in Nawalapitiya. Hindu Organ reported on Nov 1st, 1939 that “At a meeting in Nawalapitiya, GGP attacked the Mahawamsa and the Sinhalese in such extreme terms that the people there attacked him, and the first Sinhala-Tamil riots began with clashes in Nawalapitiya, Passara, Maskeliya and even in Jaffna.” So, it was Tamils who started violence in the first place and during the British Raj.

    Such anti-Sinhala movement of GGP made him popular among the Jaffna people. In fact, his party, ‘Tamil Congress’ captured power from the moderate Tamils like Ponnambalam Ramanathan and ‘Jaffna youth’.

    After the independence, SJV Chelvanayakam come up with more jingoistic policies than GGP. And almost all the GGP’s voter base had been swayed to Chelva’s side. It is against this rising racist programs (GGP and Chelva’s) that Bandaranaike and many others had to take up a more polarized Sinhala nationalist position in 1956.

    Soon, with Chelvanayakam’s agitations, he has became tantai Chelva and there after with his satyagraha he became trousered Gandhi. But So-called peaceful man got a violent resolution passed at a mass rally in Vattukoddai on May 14th 1976.

    The resolution said in verbatim that “this Convention directs the Action Committee of the TAMIL UNITED LIBERATION FRONT to formulate a plan of action and launch without undue delay the struggle for winning the sovereignty and freedom of the Tamil Nation; And this Convention calls upon the Tamil Nation in general and the Tamil youth in particular to come forward to throw themselves fully into the sacred fight for freedom and to flinch not till the goal of a sovereign state of TAMIL EELAM is reached.”

    Pirapakaran and his gang took up the challenge by Chelva and his party, TULF. And Tamil Diaspora have provided them with all the logistical backing that is needed to train child soldiers, suicide bombers, pistol gangs, makkal padai, and buy ships, planes, cannons, bombs, claymore mines and etc. to maim and kill civilians and terrorise Sri Lanka for almost 33 years. Now that we have drowned the terrorists in toto in Nanthikadal lagoon, Diaspora Tamils have changed their clothes to become egalitarians and Human Right activists. They think UNHRC can deliver them Eelam.

    In my opinion Eelam should not be in the North of Sri Lanka where only one million ‘malabar’ Tamils live but in Tamil Nadu, India where 70 million ‘original Chola’ Tamils live.

    • 5
      1

      Banda

      “In my opinion Eelam should not be in the North of Sri Lanka where only one million ‘malabar’ Tamils live but in Tamil Nadu, India where 70 million ‘original Chola’ Tamils live.”

      I hate to agree with you in part.

      According evidence available, this island is populated by 20 odd million descendants of South Indians. All of them could build their respective nations in Tamilnadu.

      There is no room for either Tamil Eelam or Sinhala Eelam in this island. three people in this island is too crowded.

      Banda

      before you start quoting your own version of history please check your DNA.

    • 0
      1

      Look! this is the type of communal writing and communal speaking and Political anti Tamil policies, Successive Governments making anti Tamil Constitutions and Tamil parties taking countermeasures by peaceful struggles and peaceful demonstrations made brutally violent by the Police and Army that brought about the division. There was no chance for any Tamil party to make a decision or change a constitution. It was all done and decided by the majority Sinhalese Governments and always against the Tamils! Now how can any blame be thrown on the powerless Tamil Parties. They were and are always at the receiving end. Now even a decision coming from the International community just for an independent investigation is also said to be coming from LTTE supporters! The logic in all these processes is definitely pointing towards what actually happened and not what is said.

    • 1
      0

      Let’s not mention 1915 and the slaughter of innocent muslims shall we?

    • 1
      0

      It looks like Banda have a copy of Hindu Organ of 1939.
      Mr.Banda can you scan this copy and publish it in CT?

      Thanks

    • 1
      1

      Banda,

      India will not allow a bunch of primitives to set up shop called Ealaam in Tamil Nadu. Nor will Sri lanka allow on Sri Lankan soil. After this round of shouting in Geneva the diaspora lunatics will realise that they have fired all their bullets, and go to the nearest beach to bury their heads in the sand. The pragmatics will negotiate with the GOSL and abandon the war cries from the cowardly diaspora. Read Mr Nadesan’s column (CT 21/March), Tamils in Jaffna are welcoming the dawn of peace and turning their backs on diaspora provocations.

    • 2
      0

      Banda:

      ****Attacks on the Mahavamsa and the First Sinhala-Tamil riot in 1939.

      The Tamil Vellalas realized that they would loose their dominant position if universal franchise was upheld. GGP began a full campaign against Universal Franchise and the historical position of the Sinhalese. Jane Russell writes (page 131): “The Ceylon Tamils had no written document on the lines of the Mahavamsa to authenticate their singular and separate historical authority in Sri Lanka, a fact which Ceylon Tamil communalists found very irksome”. Because of this, Tamil writers,and budding politicians like Ponnambalam began to attack the Mahavamsa. He went to political meeting claiming that the Tamils have always ruled the Sinhalese, and that the Sinhalese were “a race of hybrids” and an offshoot of the Tamils. The Dutugamunu-Elara story was used by “Ceylon Tamil agitators ? (as) an historical justification for the sense of grievance which they were so carefully nursing, and it was used to suggest that Sinhalese perfidy in the name of Sinhalese Buddhism would be the accepted practice in the future as well as in the past” (Russell, p. 154). Meanwhile, the Tamils continued to insist that they are effectively a majority community (Morning Star, January 2, 1934). The famous Peradeniya historian, Prof. K. M. de Silva has cited this fact as a main cause of the failure of the Ceylon National Congress and the concept of a united Sri Lanka (University of Ceylon History of Ceylon , p401).

      At a meeting in Navalapitiya in 1939, Ponnambalam attacked the Mahavamsa and the Sinhalese in such extreme terms that the people attacked him, and the first Sinhala-Tamil riots began, with clashes in Navalapitiya, Passara, Maskeliya and even in Jaffna (reported in full in the newspaper, Hindu Organ November 1, 1939. This paper is said to be available at the Jaffna University Library). The British government rapidly put down the clashes and so they did not become extensive as in the post-1950s clashes.

      Nice try but there is a World of Difference between the above what we have seen Post 1950 when you slaughtered thousands.

      SO DONT TRY TO JUSTIFY YOUR ATROCITIES WHICH HAS CONTINUED UNABATED.

  • 0
    3

    Genocite Genocite

    • 0
      0

      Donkey Abhaya today without usual IT acronyms ?

      How come ?

  • 3
    1

    Jayapalan .. a pro LTTE dreamer..

    Sri Lanka should only conduct the investigation on human rites abuses not the war crimes. i do agree that the human rites should be respected and that too should have a limit. Sri Lanka is not a wealthy country that can practice 100% democracy. you may have witnessed the Egypetian never ending crisis. Sri lanka can have a moderate democracy till it reach to a developed state. war crime is a gimmick that every one must keep a side and move on. but need to restore the human rites not the rite of LTTE. you may wish to have a seperate state in sri Lanka, you can keep dreaming till you die. you are a puppet of the NGO and the diaspora.. get a life..

  • 0
    0

    Pre War genocide

    War genocide

    Post war genocide

    all by one family rule -MR regime

    • 0
      1

      No more problems. All problems fixed in May 2009. Thank you, MR and GR.

  • 4
    3

    Tamil Elam is in Tamil Nadu.

  • 2
    2

    Thanks Athithan. Keep up the good work.

    8 Stages of Genocide – Tamil
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wr88vpE5Oo

    http://www.genocidewatch.org/aboutgenocide/8stagesofgenocide.html

  • 2
    3

    The Regimes of SL has a record of brutally suppressing the citizenry and the reasonable demands of Tamils. There is nothing wrong in struggling to liberate Tamils from the clutches of the oppressive Sinhala hegemony.

    If Tamils are fighting to go their separate way, it would be dishonest for the moderate Sinhalese to argue that they cannot understand what lead to this neurotic fear of Tamils.

    So, that is where SL stands today.

    The unceasing waves of discriminatory policies and practices of successive governments of SL has exasperated our sensitive youth and elders. The moderate Tamils have run out of reasons to disagree with those sections of the Tamil community that argue against moderation.

    The ball is in your court, – the Sinhalese moderates.

    • 0
      2

      Was that the same difficulty that made you finance LTTE terrorism for 30 years prolonging human sufffering?

  • 2
    0

    If two people cannot live together, the best and the only solution is ‘separation’- Legal Divorce ! Nothing else will work, everything was tried and miserably failed. There is no other choice and one day it will happen, it will be good for both ‘nations’ and both can prosper.

    • 0
      2

      If the one asking for a seperate nation has NO right over the nation? with no culture and no civilization uniue to them?

      • 2
        0

        “no culture and no civilization uniue to them” – Sri Lankan culture and civilisation promoted by Muderer Rajapakse is a UNIQUE one.

  • 3
    0

    Jayapalan:

    The faith in the international community is increasingly waning off.

    Let me correct you and tell you that the International community you are referring is confined to India. Majority of the International Community understand our plight and are behind us but India is the stumbling block for obvious reasons. India has done everything to shield Sri Lanka up to now by watering down previous resolutions for fear of being implicated as they are partners in Crime with Sri Lanka.
    Everything will change after election in India.

  • 3
    0

    Good article by Jayapalan, we need to deconstruct the UNHRC and western approach to Eelam. It will come.

  • 0
    0

    Great article by Jayapalan. Please continue to write.

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