5 December, 2020

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Maaveerar Naal: Crimes Against Humanity Committed In Sri Lanka Must Be Investigated

By Lee Rhiannon

Lee Rhiannon - Senator

November 27 marks a very important and hauntingly sad day for Tamils all around the world including in Sri Lanka.

In Tamil the day is known as “Maaveerar Naal”.  Veerar means “warrior or hero”. Maa means “great”. Naal means ”day”.

It is a day on which millions of Tamils will remember the hundreds and thousands of brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, children and the elderly who sacrificed their life in the 26-year long struggle for their freedom.

Last year on this day I joined around 2000 Tamils in Sydney’s west to pay respect to the courage, strength and sacrifice of the Tamil people. The overwhelming distress and pain of the Tamil community as they stood in line to lay down a flower in respect for the fallen was a piercing emotional experience for me. I am in parliament today so I will not be able to join the community. But I still stand beside them as their friend on this significant day.

I have come to know the Tamil community in Sydney very intimately and I know that their grief and feeling of betrayal by the international community, world leaders and the United Nations is still very raw.

These emotions are perpetuated by the discrimination and brutality the Tamils continue to face at the hands of the Sri Lankan government, including the sexual abuse and exploitation of women, imprisonment, land grabs, torture, assassinations and kidnappings.

Australia’s continuing “friendly” relations with Sri Lanka, in order to stop Tamils from fleeing their country, is a matter of despair. The Australian government and Opposition’s discriminatory views and actions towards Tamil asylum seekers who do manage to make the dangerous journey here is shameful.

The recent assassination in France of a French Tamil community leader is an example of the ongoing challenges that the diaspora Tamils face.

Over the weekend, thousands of Tamils across France and Europe gathered in Paris to pay their respects to Mr Nadarajah also known as Parithi who was murdered on November 8.

It is alleged that his killing was orchestrated by Sri Lankan government officials. When investigating these crimes I trust that the French authorities will be very thorough and transparent with any information that may indicate it was a political assassination.

At the service, there were community representatives from Australia, Canada and New Zealand. French politicians were reportedly present.

The mass attendance and the state like ceremony that was performed reflects the commitment and resolve of the Tamils.  Amidst their show of communal grief, they have once again sent a powerful message to the international community that they will not be silenced in their work to achieve a war crimes investigation and justice for Tamils in Sri Lanka.

A few weeks ago the UN made international headlines when a leaked internal UN report prepared by Charles Petrie concluded that various UN agencies had failed to meet their responsibilities in the last months of the civil war in Sri Lanka.

“Events in Sri Lanka mark a grave failure of the UN,” the report concludes.

Writing for Canada’s The Globe and Mail on November 19, Frances Harrison, a former BBC correspondent in Sri Lanka and author of Still Counting the Dead: Survivors of Sri Lanka’s Hidden War states: “The latest UN report documents how UN staff members were in possession of reliable information that showed that the Sri Lankan government was responsible for the majority of deaths.

“And that two-thirds of the killings were inside safe zones unilaterally declared by the Sri Lankan government purportedly to protect civilians. This was information senior UN managers decided not to share with diplomats when they briefed them.”

The BBC has reported that the Petrie report points out that in Colombo “many senior UN staff did not perceive the prevention of killing of civilians as their responsibility – and agency and department heads at UNHQ were not instructing them otherwise” and there was “a continued reluctance” among UN personnel in Sri Lanka “to stand up for the rights of people they were mandated to assist”.

The report also talks about the UN’s reluctance to publish casualty figures.

During the war, the UN maintained a figure of about 8000 Tamil deaths. After the war, a former UN spokesperson in Sri Lanka Gordon Weiss, put this figure as high as 40,000.

The Petrie report says that “credible information” indicates “that over 70,000 people are unaccounted for”. Dr Sam Pari, spokesperson for the Australian Tamil Congress, says Tamil church leaders and civil society, using census statistics, have calculated the death toll to be 146,679.

Against this figure of 146,679 Tamil deaths, the UN estimation of 8000 is an insult. Even a possible 70,000 figure is hard to trust. So three years on, we still have no agreed figure of how many men, women, children and elderly were killed in the first five months of 2009.

What this internal review has revealed is nothing new. All throughout the final months of the war, Tamils all over the world pleaded with international leaders to take notice of the massacre taking place in Sri Lanka.

Thousands of Tamils continuously took to the streets in India, Australia, Canada, US, Malaysia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Germany and France. In the UK, an unprecedented 300,000 Tamils closed off Parliament Square crying out for a ceasefire.

Numerous young Tamils were on hunger strikes, and in India young men burnt themselves alive unable to bear the news of what was happening to their brothers and sisters.

Former UN spokesperson Gordon Weiss said in a blog post on November 15:
“Sri Lanka pulled off one of the nastiest episodes of mass killing since the Rwandan genocide – and got away with it.”

He went on to say that: “despite a clear advantage over the near-vanquished rebels, the army bombed packed hospitals, used starvation tactics, executed civilian captives, raped and killed female guerillas and corralled women and children into “safe zones” before shelling them. When that was done, it interrogated and then killed the Tamil Tiger political and military leadership, along with their families.”

I find it hard to believe that Western governments didn’t know what was going on. It has been confirmed that the UN certainly did know. While there were diplomatic efforts by some European leaders, their efforts were minimal.

I congratulate the aid workers, Tamil doctors, priests, Tamilnet journalists and diaspora Tamils who stayed in the conflict zone and did everything they could to make the world listen. Many died.

Today, I will remember them on Maaveerar Naal.

In responding to the leaked UN internal review, UN [secretary-general] Ban Ki-Moon said in a statement: “I am determined that the United Nations draws the appropriate lessons and does its utmost to earn the confidence of the world’s people, especially those caught in conflict who look to the organisation for help.”

I welcome Mr Moon’s statement. It is important to hear that the UN is “determined” to draw the “appropriate lessons”. Mr Moon has said he will organise a senior-level team to give him careful consideration to the recommendations and advise on a way forward.

It is a step in the right direction but we have to acknowledge it is a very small step and for the Tamil community it is too late. My concern with Mr Moon’s statement is what he omitted. Will anyone in the UN be held responsible?

In his blog, Gordon Weiss speaks about an incident during the war — when Australian UN humanitarian worker James Elder warned that children were being killed and a Sri Lankan government official accused him of supporting terrorists.

The government expelled Elder. That government official, Palitha Kohona, is now Sri Lanka’s representative at the UN. His deputy is a former general accused of mass killing during the war.  Is Palitha Kohona going to be held accountable?

And what about Vijay Nambiar, who was Mr. Moon’s then chef de cabinet?  Writing for The Huffington Post on November 16, Frances Harrison says Mr Nambiar implored the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, to dilute her statement when she wanted to speak about potential war crimes by the Sri Lankan government. Will Mr Moon do anything about him?

And what about a war crimes investigation? Will Mr Moon make attempts to appoint an international war crimes investigation to set the record straight? And will member states give him the backing that he needs?

The Australian government has maintained a complicit silence regarding the Rajapakse regime and the allegations of war crimes against it, and it continues to give a former Navy official during the war — Thisara Samarasinghe — diplomatic immunity in Canberra.

I note here a sentence from page 28 of the Report of the Secretary-General’s Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka.

“From as early as 6 February 2009, the SLA [Sri Lankan Army] continuously shelled within the area that became the second NFZ [No Fire Zone], from all directions, including land, air and sea.”

The failure of the Australian government and other western governments to take decisive actions, such as adding their support to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s call to boycott CHOGM if held in Sri Lanka in 2013, adds to the pain and anguish that so many Tamils and their supporters feel, particularly on a day as important as today.

I congratulate all those who are working to ensure that there will be a war crimes investigation.

As November 27 dawns around the world I acknowledge the grief and courage of Tamils who gather together to remember and reflect on the enormity of the lives lost.

I repeat the call that crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Sri Lanka must be investigated.

*Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon spoke in Australian parliament on November 27 to mark the the Tamil day, “Maaveerar Naal”

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Latest comments

  • 0
    0

    It is common among many western politicians, in particular those of minority parties, to support minority groups, even terrorist groups, in order to attract votes – as the mass populations have little knowledge of such movements, and have little interest in such parties. One would have thought this lady, if genuine, would first concentrate on ‘crimes’ of her own nation, against its native population…?

    Also amazing how she fails to describe the background of this so called murdered member of the Tamil community, or the likely reality that he was actually killed by a Tamil member of the same community…

    Even more brilliant how she states ‘at the service, there were community representatives from Australia, Canada and New Zealand’ – trying to mislead the reader/listener by giving the impression this was some sort of international event! Who are ‘community representatives’? Fellow terrorists from around the globe?!

    And apparently ‘French politicians were reportedly present’. Reported by who? ‘French politicians’ as opportunistic and pathetic as her perhaps? ;)

    • 0
      1

      senator, sri lanka is a terrorist pariah state. this pariah state should be nuked regardless of your believes. sinhala pariahs walk about with a chip on their shoulder. they have a minority complex too even though they are the majority in turd lanka. majority of the sinhala people are thick more than two planks and hence we call them para sinhala modayas. these para sinhala modayas don’t know how to run a country. these sinhala people have been slaves to europeans for over 400 years. british shouldn’t have given the country to these black monkeys. black monkeys only know how to swing on trees. they say they have engineering marvels in turd lanka. as far as i know they have a couple of disused water tanks and a handful of dilapidated buddhist shrines. their religon buddhism is a savage religon and their clergy are all thugs, rapists and child molesters. they run the country like a fish market. majority of the sinhala people are dalits who were brought from the coastal areas of tamil nadu to catch sardines by the portuguese. as you are aware most of these dalits have names like perera, silva, fernando , rodrigo, zoysa etc.

      • 1
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        Rama – First of all, ‘Dalits’ are human beings. So are the Sinhalese. To call a human being a human being is not an insult. Though I can see that was your attempt.

        As for your other comments here – they will be measured by the pathetic nature of your attitude! You advertise your ignorance through your anger and hate, and in doing so, show yourself to be another ‘perfect human modaya’ – to put it in your own style…

        Take a deep breath mate, and then smell the air. Just because you scream out of hate, life won’t become any easier, or the truth won’t change to suit your gross generalisations or fantasies… ;)

  • 1
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    These are pillars that carried the Tamil terrorism for 30 years… and now feeling the pinch due to lack of the Terror.

    Sri Lankans need to read these signals and realize that Tamil Terrorist Diaspora is very much alive and kicking… and waiting for the right moment to create violence in Sri Lanka.

    • 0
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      perfect sinhala modaya.

    • 0
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      BunkerRat says:

      “that Tamil Terrorist Diaspora is very much alive and kicking… and waiting for the right moment to create violence in Sri Lanka.”

      And you are right there to support them.

      Island reported:

      “Nearly 400 soldiers committed suicide in peacetime”

      http://www.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=62302

      What are you doing about it?

      You should be ashamed of yourself for neglecting the soldiers whose heads are screwed up because they witnessed the war crimes and being the perpetrators.

      Keep your women folks secured including your grandmas.

    • 0
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      “Nearly 400 soldiers committed suicide in peacetime”

      These bunkerrats and the rest of MARA’s bootlickers of this forums don’t give a damn about whether these Ranavirus rape, rob, plunder, murder, or got beaten by minister`s son, OR KILL THEMSELVES.
      They are here to protect MARA regime. Anyone Speaks against their paymasters are TRAITORS, CONSPIRATORS, tamil DIASPORA, Vedda diaspora, Sinhala non Buddhist diaspora, Sinhala KOTI(those lives in Sri Lanka), western conspirators, UN conspirators…………………….. and so on.
      I think there is INTERNATIONAL CONSPIRACY against our “The Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.”
      :-)

      • 0
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        G1

        I have raised the same issue several times with BunkerRat.

        He does not grasp the gravity of these issues as his only purpose in this forum is to establish a non existing Sinhala/Buddhist superiority over rest of the people.

        The point I raised about the PTSD’s among the soldiers is important not because they pose threat to ordinary people but because from a humanity point of view.

        Whether they are right or wrong the fact of the matter is they suffer from PTSD, which many who work with them consider a widespread one and not a minor health and mental issue.

        I don’t think many who ride on the glorious Sinhala/Buddhist victory over Tamil terrorists are serious about the soldiers’ welfare who sacrificed their lives one way or another.

        • 0
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          Native, you have raised a very important issue!! Teenagers trained to kill, and then put on a pedestal for excelling in what they were trained… What is their value for life? At least the Tamil Tiger Soldiers who escaped were exposed to some form of rehabilitation…

  • 0
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    while no doubt that tamil tigers were responsible for many problems in srilanka.maaveerar naal as a concept will continue to be etched in the minds of tamils worldwide for the reasons not far to seek.tamils in srilanka despite the fact that three and half years have gone by since the end of the war have not been properly rehabiliated and their genuine claims are being ignored by sinhalese.despite international pressure 13th amendment has not been implemented by srilankan government continues to inspire diffidence in the minds of tamils does not augur well.if north and east is merged with full powers i can bet for sure that there will be no need for maaveerar naal.it will die a natural death ball is in sinhalese it is for them to decide i hope they take a positive decision.

  • 0
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    Navin & Bun.Rat:

    It must be remembered that the Tamil Diaspora is there to stay. They
    are growing very strong economically and politically – forced by
    the stupidity and Sinhala mentality of the Regimes post-war tactics
    and praises by some commentators.

    All politically inclined action in any country will take into
    recognition this new commnunity now heading for one Million. Gotas Defence Consultant like Rohana G has only added to the determination of
    the Tamil intellectuals to prove their logical stand Internationally.

    One must also relise why this community is taking the same direction,
    as even MR himself reached out to the UN for the Sinhala communitys
    plight at the height of JVP insurrection.

    • 0
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      Punchinilame, I agree. All politicians are corrupt. And the UN is also made up of politicians. And using the argument of hypocrisy, all politicians continue to justify doing the wrong thing. And the ignorant masses continue to buy the lies.

  • 0
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    These unscrupulous political confidence tricksters like Rhiannon have no compassion for the Tamils. Her words and posturing are simply for effect and as another reader observed, purely for the purpose of getting ‘minority’ votes.

    What a pathetic endorsement of a subject she has hardly a grasp of!

    She shamelessly uses her political “credentials” to spew forth her
    venom couched in a ’cause’ which merely serves as a gateway for her nefarious objectives.

    CT must surely take account of these factors before letting her exploit this otherwise unsuspecting vector for her own narrow and ruthless agendas…

    • 0
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      Lasantha Pethiyagoda says:

      “What a pathetic endorsement of a subject she has hardly a grasp of! “

      Lets forget about her.

      Have you ever managed to grasp the subject?

      If you have, plese let us know what you know about the subject.

  • 0
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    MARA is using the words like…Regime Change, Foreign Coup, Tamil diaspora terrorists to topple Govt. ect..etc..
    It is actually MARA’s ultimate dream of becomming the next King in sri lanka according to his Astrologers predictments, that he comes up with these false allegations.
    After taking over the parliament, his next step is to kick out the CJ and take over control of the Judiciary so the whole country is under his authority.
    I wrote two comments which I attach here which will prove his ultimate dream of becomming the next king.

    No where in the history in the world what MARA did to Sri Lanka’s parliement..ie. bribing and buying over 100 opposition MP’s to cross over to fulfill his dream of becomming another dictator.
    What MR is doing to judiciary is to jump the last hurdle to endorse to be the next KING…COCONUT ..in Sri Lanka as his astrologers have told him.
    The disappearance of swards, rings,battons, coins etc, from museum, cutting valuable sandlewood trees and making chairs, tables and beds for MR are few of them. There can be so many other underhand stuff that we readers don’t here may be going under the nose of media and public.
    The citizens, religious dieties, judiciary,trade unions,opposition parties, diaspora and the International community will decide his astrological predictions whether MR ENDS UP IN THE KINGS THRONE….OR IN VELIKADA PRISON.

  • 0
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    Where on earth does her information come from . No Other than Gordon weiss,Tamil diaspora, Channel 4 lunatics I expect. Her outrageous assumptions are manufactured gossip .

    • 0
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      there are no lunatics like you and the people who govern you are in channel 4. they are all seasoned reporters with integrity and honesty.
      possibly you can find quite a lot of lunatics in sri lanka broadcasting corporation or for that matter in your state controlled media. these idiots just crawl to the rajapaksa’s. they either add gloss to some reports or omit the relevant details in certain reports.
      in other word anything unfavourable to rajapaksa’s either will not be reported or highlighted. when you have a state controlled media , what moral right you have to criticise the freedom of expression practised in the west. don’t compare this lady with shenali waduge. shenali waduge is a frustrated woman.i want to say a lot about shenali waduge and others who contribute to the lanka toilet web but ct will not be happy with my post. neither gordon weiss nor lee rhiannon have have any problem. it’s you and your lot is having a problem. anyway, what happened towards the end of the civil war as reported by channel 4 is absolute truth and nothing but the truth. an international war crimes investigation is vital to punish whoever are responsible for the killing of 40,000 tamil civilians and other war related offences like rape , child molesting , starving the tamil civilians , refusal of medical assistance etc.etc. there is no fabrication or manufactured gossip here. she is a busy lady and she has no time for gossip. it’s the sinhala liars who have ample time for gossip and more.

    • 0
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      In general – info nearing to the truth seem hurt that much to you and your ilk. But wait and see, how it would end up for the killing minded soon.

      May all perpetrators on the soil be punished soon. Jaya wewa Lanka.

  • 0
    0

    UNSG Darusman report is ‘wrong”, Channel 4 Killing Field is ‘fabricated’, Gordon Weiss’s Cage is just a fiction and BBC correspondent Francis Harrison’s ‘Still Counting the deaths’ is another thrash, UN ‘Petrie Report’ report is an internal report is baseless allegations and that it should not have been leaked, and all other various reports, videos and cases filed in courts in USA are according to GOSL are false, and MR revelation that “there were zero casualty” is ONLY correct. All the above mentioned are the work of Diaspora and there is blood in their hands and only Gotaffi’s hands are clean. Diaspora ‘had spent money’ and they have succeeded whereas Bell Pottinger that GOSL engaged failed and US$5 Million of People’s money down the drain and only someone in the Government Line got his 5% commission into his pocket! What a MARA situation is this??

  • 0
    0

    Lee Rhiannon what is your stand about the terrorists who were responsible for the Bali bombing and who were later executed by the Indonesian government?

    Did you consider them as martyrs because they did it for a cause they believed in?

    If you say they are terrorists then the so-called LTTE martyrs are also terrorists who killed people in suicide mission ordered by their LTTE leader prapabaharan.

    Your country Australia and the White Australians killed the aboriginees of Australia who were only defending their own country. Those Aboriginees are still treated as second class citizsens. You being a white Australian has no right to call for an investigation against the Sri Lankan government for killing a bunch of LTTE terrorists who held their own Tamil people as human shield. You people apply double standards.

    You Australian politicians believe all what the pro-LTTE Tamil Diaspora in your country tell you about the Sinhala people and the Sri Lankan government. You say these things because you want the votes of these pro-LTTE Tamils. They also want people like you on their side for propaganda purposes.

  • 0
    0

    Senator Rhiannon,

    We have an Australian Terrorist living here. I’m sure our Home Secretary Theresa May is willing to deport her back to Australia, provided you can give her a guarantee that the above Terrorist won’t be tortured and a fair trial will be given.

    This Australian Terrorist has done unmentionable things to young Tamil girls, we have all the evidence and we know where she lives.

    What say you?

  • 0
    0

    Sri Lanka did Crime to Humanity and the Sri Lankan Government must pay for it. Their crimes against women and children are unforgivable. I hope world leaders would unite against Sri Lanka and isolate the country from the rest of the world.

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