By C.V. Wigneswaran –
My dear brothers and sisters!
We relate to each other today with the shadow of the corona virus still daunting us.
Today we carry the pain of the brutal genocide that was perpetrated on our people 11 years ago. The fact that justice has still not been found for those affected by the war pains us further. Yet the determination to fight for our rights to find justice envelops us this moment. It is in the background of structural and cultural genocide taking place even today in our traditional homelands that we are remembering the Mullivaikal episode.
We still do not know what happened to the thousands who have disappeared at Mullivaikal on this fateful day in 2009. Our political prisoners still continue to be in incarceration. Successive Governments and Political Parties are trifling with their fates for their petty selfish political ends. Those disabled, those who were former combatants and widows of war are continuing to face immense grief and pain. Our archaeological and cultural symbols are continuing to be destroyed. Acres and acres of our traditional homelands are being expropriated. Obliterating the classical Tamil language which is probably the oldest living language in this world, seems to be high on the agenda of certain sectors.
Yet we seem pathetic and powerless to stop these activities being promoted against us. The reason seems to be centred around the mistakes we made so far in obtaining justice for the genocide that was perpetrated in Mullivaikal.
Some of our politicians have refused to accept the haphazard use of rockets, indiscriminate aerial bombing, the attacking of civilians who entered No fire zones after they were coaxed to enter such zones, attacks on Hospitals, killing of those who surrendered and the wanton killing of thousands of our people brutally, as acts of genocide. They argued that all these were not part of genocide. They had missed the wood for the trees.We helped the Sri Lankan government to get continual postponements in the UN Human Rights’ Council to implement the consensus resolution passed. In fact we stultified ourselves in obtaining justice for our people.
We have failed to learn lessons from the past. Instead we have resorted to “surrender” politics towards the Sinhala powers that be, who have in a planned manner resorted to genocide against our Community. That is why we have not been able to obtain justice for the Mullivaikal genocide. Consequently a reasonable settlement for our political and economic ills have eluded us so far.
Let us not forget justice for the genocide committed in Mullivaikal is absolutely essential if we are to obtain a political settlement with economic, cultural and aesthetic regeneration ensured for our people.
We cannot obtain our political rights nor set up a prosperous future for our people overlooking this nor ignoring it. Therefore we are per force in a situation where our strategies for political and diplomatic agitations must be reconsidered and re-evaluated.
It was our mistakes which have given way to those accused of genocide and crimes against humanity to enter the portals of power today and to rejuvenate Sinhala Buddhist hegemonic viewpoints. We cannot continue to be naïve and apathetic. We need to go beyond mere politics and band together intellectuals and experts, to form into a Committee to study and analyse the incidents of the past, confirm the genocide committed, explore possible steps to ensure International inquiry into the genocide committed, suggest ways and means to bring about a solution to the ethnic question and to ensure that reparatory measures would be taken. This way we could reach significant progress.
I would therefore call upon our brothers and sisters of whatever hue or background to join us beyond the field of politics to set up a Global Tamil Advisory Committee which would advise us all. This Committee must transcend, national, regional, political and other parochial frontiers and consent to sit together to study our case in earnest to ensure a resolution of our political, economic, cultural and aesthetic problems soon.
There is close relationship between Justice and Peace. So the extent to which we try to obtain Justice for the genocide committed, to the same extent the chances and opportunity for our obtaining our political rights would increase.
When we pursue the path to obtain accountability against the genocide committed and crimes against humanity committed in a proper way, it would ipso facto curtail such activities happening in the future and would hold the key to permanent reconciliation and peace. To exempt those who committed criminal activities from undergoing punishment would badly affect the social institutions and infrastructure and would bring mistrust and disrepute against the government. It would prevent permanent peace dawning. The people must feel that justice has been meeted out to those who committed offences against them and that they had been adequately punished for their villainous acts.
This feeling would drive away the frustration, anger and bitterness among those affected and pave the way for reconciliation and peace. It would engender trust among them to seek reconciliation and peace.
If actions are filed against those who committed crimes, those affected and their dear ones would feel their grief and unhappiness so far justified. It would make those affected to get back their self esteem and self respect.
This is how Justice and Peace are interrelated. They augment each other.
But as far as the Tamils are concerned not only has justice been denied to them but acts of genocide do continue unabated to date. These are not accidental nor foolish acts. They are well planned and executed with precision. Their purpose is to erase off the identity and the fact of existence of the Tamils in the Island.
Therefore we need to perforce agitate politically and diplomatically to obtain our rights. By soothing the egos of any governmental personalities we would not obtain any relief.
It is essential that our Sinhalese brethren do come to know as to what happened during the war, how many were killed, how they were killed and so on.
But the Sinhala people have been kept in darkness with regard to what happened in Mullivaikal and the genocide that took place there. Our Sinhala brethren think those who were killed in Mullivaikal were all terrorists. Many Sinhalese refuse to belief that thousands of innocents were wantonly killed.
Our Sinhalese brethren should come to know who created the Tigers and why they decided to carry arms. They should come to know the history of the Tamils of Sri Lanka, the injustice committed to the Tamils from the time of Independence which continues even today.
We need not feel hesitant in educating our brethren with regard to what happened because many of them do not know the truth. Only if we understand what took place would sustainable reconciliation and peace dawn upon us.
This is why I have been consistently asking for International Independent inquiry into what happened in Mullivaikal. The truth must come out. There is no revengeful hidden agenda in this request. The purpose of our get together on this day to remember Mullivaikal is solely to put a stop to the acts of genocide being continued against our people even today and instead usher in a period of peace, reconciliation and prosperity by following the norms and standards internationally laid down to investigate and inquire into what happened. The United Nations and the International Community must understand this fact.
It might be useful to state here as to what Article Two of the UN Convention on Genocide passed in 1948 states –
“Any of the following acts committed with the intent to destroy in whole or part a national, ethnic, racial or religious group as such –
1. Killing members of the group
2. Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group.
3. Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or part.
4. Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group.
5. Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”
The Convention also imposes a general duty on States that are signatories “to prevent and to punish” genocide.
Therefore presently since all efforts to get justice through the UNHRC has failed, since the Sri Lankan government has cheated the UNHRC and ignored its advise, it is necessary for the International Community to take steps to cancel the membership of Sri Lanka from the UN General Assembly in order to hand over Sri Lanka to the International Criminal Court.
We are aware the whole world has been affected by Covid 19 and their attention is turned elsewhere to get free of the Corona Virus. While the Tamil people all over the world would no doubt give their unstinted whole hearted support to combat the Corona Virus, the United Nations and the International Community must come forward to deal with Human Rights’ violations taking place all over the world including the genocide committed against the Tamils in Sri Lanka. There must not be slackness or indifference in this regard.
Let us continue in our Dharmic Path in this holy journey because we are sure Dharma would ensure justice for our people one day or the other. Our struggle for Justice must continue with new strategies. Let us bring together the Tamils all over the world especially the youth into this struggle and ensure a self reliant economy in the North and East of Sri Lanka.
Let us take our decision today on this Commemoration Day to move forward towards self government, self reliance and self sufficiency. I thank every one of you! Nandri! Vanakkam!
*Translation of the speech read out to the U.S North Corotina Mullaivaikal Memorial Event by Justice C.V. Wigneswaran, Leader, Thamizh Makkal Thesiya Kootanii on 18.05.2020.