By Brian Senewiratne –
Accountability for Tamil Genocide in Sri Lanka!
For some inexplicable reason, there still seems to be a problem with the term ‘Genocide’. The word has been clearly defined in the UN Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (the Genocide Convention).
It as adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 1948 (coincidentally almost the same time that the newly independent Ceylon, as Sri Lanka was then, had just decitizenised a million Plantation Tamils, one seventh of the population at that time, in one of the worst acts of political barbarism anywhere in the world. That was when I, a 16 year old schoolboy, decided to get involved because what was done was simply unacceptable and a disastrous start for a newly independent country).
The Genocide Convention came into effect in January 1951 (by which time the Plantation Tamils had not only been decitizenised, but disenfranchised as well).
Resolution 260, Article 2, states:
“Genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures to prevent births within the group
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group
The Sri Lankan government has done all of these to the ethnic Sri Lanka Tamils who live in the North and East. The requirements to constitute ‘Genocide’ have been met.
The official definition and a popular misconception
The Genocide Convention clearly states that it is act committed to destroy, in whole or in part, an ethnic group.
Unfortunately, the popular concept of genocide is an attempt to destroy the whole ethnic group – ie all the Tamils in Sri Lanka. This is clearly wrong.
A further problem is that the media focuses on the more ‘newsworthy’ sudden outbursts of mass killing but overlooks the ‘slow’ or more ‘chronic’ killing, such as is occurring today in the Tamil North and East.
The result is that this ‘slow genocide’, despite being Genocide, is ignored.
It is crucial to appreciate that the Genocide Convention does not mention the numbers that ‘need’ to be killed. It could be 50, 500, 5,000 or, as Hitler decided, 6 million. It is the intention backed by the acts to take that intention to fruition, that constitutes ‘Genocide’. (I will deal with the Srebrenica massacre later, where the murder of 7,000 Bosnian Muslim males in a ‘safe zone’ was accepted as Genocide by an International Criminal Court).
All that has to be done is to prove the intention to destroy ‘in whole or in part’ an ethnic group. In Sri Lanka, the ‘part’ is the part that lives in the North and East.
The intention is to make Sri Lanka into a Sinhala-Buddhist nation – a ‘pure’ Sinhala-Buddhist nation – in which there is no place for non-Sinhalese and non-Buddhists. This is extreme ethno-religious chauvinism, masquerading as ‘patriotism’.
There is a ‘problem’ for President Rajapaksa’s regime. If Sri Lanka is to be a Sinhala-Buddhist Nation, what can be done to the Tamils – 18% of the population? There are only 4 options:
- Drive them out of the country. 1.1 million have been, but there are some left.
- Make then non-people. This is happening in the Tamil North and East right now.
- Make them ‘disappear’. That is occurring at an alarming rate.
- Kill them. That is Genocide.
The mass killing of Tamils as a ‘solution’ to the ‘Tamil problem’, is similar to Hitler’s ‘Final Solution’ to the ‘Jewish problem’. The ‘killing fields in Sri Lanka’s North and East’ and the razor-wire fenced ‘rehabilitation centres’, replaced Hitler’s gas chambers and concentration camps. Some, not all, in Rajapaksa’s concentration camps have been released but not to their homes. They are non-people who are facing a ‘slow genocide’ (see below).
The ‘acts’ to take this intention to fruition have been amply documented in my dvd, ‘Sri Lanka. Genocide, Crimes against Humanity, Violation of International Law”, Dr Winston Panchacharan’s massive tome, ‘Genocide in Sri Lanka’, the Channel 4 video, ‘Sri Lanka. The Killing Fields’, and several other publications by internationally renowned human rights groups. There has been a deluge of reports from Amnesty International (AI, a Nobel Prize winner), Human Rights Watch (HRW), the Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG) and even the United States Country Reports.
There is, of course, the massive publication from the UN Panel of Experts into Accountability (the ‘Darusman Report’, the most devastating and comprehensive report on Sri Lanka ever published. More reports from these sources will surely follow.
I will not repeat here what has been set out in my dvd (which is on the net or at briansenewiratne.blogspot.com). I will deal with here is what I have not dealt with in my dvds.
September 11, 2008, is a crucial day in Sri Lanka’s, if not world, history. It was the day when all humanitarian workers including international and even UN workers, were ordered to leave the war zone by the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL). I know of no country in the world where this has been done. This was to commit ‘Genocide without witnesses’, and to make sure that the maximum number of people died.
Some of these human rights organisations remain excluded to this day, 4 years after the end of the armed conflict. If what went on before 19 May 2009 was ‘acute genocide without witnesses’, what is going on today is ‘slow genocide without witnesses’.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the all powerful Defence Secretary, brother of the President, spoke with the BBC. On 2 February 2009, the BBC reported, “Rajapaksa declared that “nothing should live or breathe outside the ‘safe area’”. The interview is in my dvd.
Putting this into practice, the hospital in Puthukkudiyiruppu, outside the ‘safe zone’ – the only one in the area – was bombed at least three times, with bombs that included cluster bombs. It was a blatant breach of the Geneva Convention. This too is in my dvd.
Of serious concern was that schools, with children in them, were bombed. Why kill children? Because that is what Genocide is.
Of the many atrocities committed on Tamil children, the worst was the targeted bombing of the Sencholai orphanage on 14 August 2006 (Rajapaksa became President in November 2005). Kfir jets of the GOSL dropped 16 bombs in repeated flights over the children’s orphanage killing 53 girls and 3 staff. They were well aware of what they were going because the coordinates had been supplied to them so that orphanages would not be targeted. They were.
Markets, such as the Chavakachcheri and Jaffna markets, were specially targeted. Why. Was it that by doing so, it was hoped that the Tamil Tigers could not get food? But the Tamil Tigers were not in the Jaffna Peninsula. They were miles away in the Vanni. Markets in the Peninsula were destroyed so that ordinary Tamil people would not be able to get food. That is Genocide – “deliberately inflicting on a group, conditions of life calculated to bring about their physical destruction”
Hospitals, even make-shift ones, were bombed and shelled. Why? Because what was waged by the GOSL on the Tamil people, was Genocide – deliberately inflicting on a group, conditions of life calculated to bring about their physical destruction”
Hundreds of Christian Churches and Hindu Temples were bombed and shelled. Why? That is what ‘religious genocide’ is. To confirm that it was, after the conflict ended, these non-Buddhist structures were replaced by Buddhist Temples and statues of Buddha. Why, when there are hardly any Buddhists in this area? Because that is ‘religious genocide’ – wiping out everything that is not Buddhist.
In January 2009, some 350,000 Tamil civilians, men, women and children, had amassed in the government-declared ‘safe-zone’. They were bombed, shelled and machine gunned – an absolute contravention of the Geneva Convention- “The Laws of War”.
Mahinda Rajapaksa, Executive President, Minister of Defence, and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Defence Secretary, Sarath Fonseka, Army Commander, and all those involved in this outrage, especially those who had ‘command responsibility’, whether in uniform or not, are guilty of war crimes and genocide and should be charged.
Evidence presented later showed that at least 40,000 people (mainly Tamil civilians) were killed, and hundreds, probably thousands more have ‘disappeared’ from internment camps set up by the GOSL, and run by the Sri Lankan military. They are responsible for the gross violations of human rights that have occurred in these camps, and later.
In their Submission to the ‘LLRC’ (the so called Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission) the Catholic Diocese of Mannar (Most Rev Dr Rayappu Joseph, Catholic Bishop of Mannar, Rev Fr Victor Sosai, Vicar General of the Mannar Diocese, and Rev Fr Xavier Croos, the Representative of the Priests Forum of Mannar), produced evidence based on Government administrative centres, to show that 146,679 people were unaccounted for.
“Based on information from Kachcheris (Government administration centres) of Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi about the population in Vanni in early October 2008, and the number of people who came to the government controlled area after that, 146,679 people seem to be unaccounted for. According to the Kachcheri, the population of the Vanni was 429,059 in the early part of October 2008. According to the UN OCHA updated as of 10 July 2009, the total number of people who came out of the Vanni to government controlled areas after this, is estimated to be 282,380.”
On 24 May 2009, CNN reported, “UN seeks access to Sri Lankan refugee camps”. The GOSL refused such access. What did the UN do? Nothing.
It was worse than doing nothing. On 25 May 2009, less than a week after the end of the genocidal slaughter of Tamils, the UN Human Rights Council had a two-day ‘special session’. Sri Lanka proposed a Resolution describing the conflict as a “domestic matter that did not warrant outside intervention”. China, India, Egypt and Cuba were among 29 developing countries that backed the Resolution which was passed.
Western diplomats and human rights workers were shocked. Amnesty International said, “The vote is extremely disappointing and is a low-point for the Human Rights Council. It abandons hundreds of thousands of people in Sri Lanka to cynical political considerations”.
China which provided much of the weaponry for the GOSL to commit Genocide, now wants its ‘reward’ – a foothold in Sri Lanka – a massive harbour in Rajapaksa’s home area, Hambantota, and an airport, Mattala airport, thrown in for good measure. Sri Lanka has now become a ‘pearl’ in China’s ‘String of Pearls’ – a string of military bases across the Indian Ocean to safeguard oil supplies from the Middle East to China and manufactured goods going the other way.
China will almost certainly veto any action the UN Security Council might consider taking, genocide or war crimes notwithstanding. The implementation of the UN R2P (Responsibility to Protect) (see below), will surely be blocked.
The presence of the LTTE in the area bombed and shelled
The GOSL claims that it is the presence of the LTTE among the civilian population that was the reason for the bombing and shelling of the area. This is nonsense. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), a United Nations Court of Law dealing with war crimes, was quite clear on this. In Prosecutor v Blaslac et al ICTY Appeals Chamber, made a clear statement:
“With respect to the meaning of a civilian population, the inclusion in a civilian population of military elements or combatants does not affect its status as civilians”
For the GOSL to claim that the North and East were militarily attacked because of the presence of Tamil Tigers is legally invalid.
The continuing exclusion of human rights groups
If, as the GOSL claims, the Tamil people ‘have been rescued from terrorists’ (meaning the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam), and have been rehabilitated, then the Government must explain why international human rights groups such as Amnesty International (AI), Human Rights Watch (HRW) and International Crisis Group (ICG), continue to be barred from entering this area and checking this out. Let them see the ‘happy smiling faces’ of the ‘rehabilitated’ Tamils, who have been ‘rescued’ from ‘terrorists’. Why the reluctance?
All the evidence points to the Tamil people in the North and East facing ‘extinction’ – a word used by the Report of the UN Secretary General’s Panel of Experts. ‘Extinction’ of a people is genocide. I will deal with this word ‘extinction’ later.
The spectrum of Genocide
Although the Genocide Convention focuses on physical genocide – killing, causing serious bodily harm and mental harm, and deliberately inflicting on a group conditions of life calculated to bring about their physical destruction, there is a lot more to it than that. There are different types of Genocide.
Types of genocide
1) Physical Genocide – that which has been clearly defined in the Genocide Convention
2) Cultural Genocide – eg the destruction of the Jaffna Public library with more than 90,000 books, documents and material, some of which dealt with Tamil culture.
3) Educational Genocide – destruction of schools and preventing children from going to school
4) Economic genocide – preventing Tamil people from setting up businesses, much of it now in the hands of the Sinhalese military, or earning a living (fishing and agriculture) by land-grabs and the relocation of Tamil people eg relocating fishermen where there is no sea.
5) Religious Genocide – destroying Hindu temples and Christian Churches and replacing them with Buddhist shrines.
6) Structural Genocide – destroying anything built by Tamils, and setting Sinhalese from the South in the Tamil North and East.
This is an extension of the Genocide Convention, being the “intention backed by the act of destroying, in whole or in part”, the people, their culture, education, economic existence, religion and structures.
All of these (and more) the Sri Lankan (Sinhalese) Government has done, and what is serious, is continuing to do with increased zeal, determination and alarming speed.
Ways of committing Genocide
- Bombing, shelling and shooting. These are ‘highly effective’ but are not the only way to kill.
- Denial of food, medicines and medical care.
- Preventing survival activities to a group (eg fishing, agriculture, employment and business).
- Destroying homes, hospitals, schools, markets and businesses.
- Making it dangerous for children to attend school by having a heavy military presence of ruthless, undisciplined, brutal men in the area who can do what they want with no accountability
- Forcibly sterilising women- of which there is considerable evidence.
- Depriving a group of people their land, and access to their place of work eg the sea and land.
Once the intention is there to commit Genocide, the ways of doing so are endless. All of this (and more) has gone on, and is currently going on, in the Tamil areas of Sri Lanka. Let me get back to the types of genocide.
Much of this has been set out in my dvd on genocide in Sri Lanka. To repeat it here is unnecessary.
There are several important points in this dvd. It shows the actual bombing and shelling of the Tamil areas, which was later documented by UK Channel 4, ‘Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields’.
My dvd shows the actual targeted bombing of the Sencholai orphanage, the Puthukkudiyiruppu Hospital, the mass slaughter of civilians in Churches (where they were asked to take refuge), of schools and the wiping out of entire villages. What I have been able to record is a tiny fraction of what went on.
Most importantly, it shows the destruction of evidence of the slaughter, the mass incineration of dead bodies, so that it will be difficult, if not impossible to collect evidence of mass killings. It has all been burnt.
There is little doubt that successive Sinhalese governments have engaged in the cultural destruction of the Tamil people. This extends from the outrageous burning of the Jaffna Public library, one of the finest in South Asia, a store-house of irreplaceable manuscripts and books on Tamil culture, to the destruction of schools and learning facilities in the Tamil areas.
With permission from the (Sinhalese) military necessary for every event, including cultural events, Tamil culture is being put on the back-burner.
To compound the issue, school teachers in the Tamil areas are now not infrequently Sinhalese soldiers, with no expertise in teaching and even less knowledge of Tamil culture.
This is what the Sinhalese government wants to happen, whether admitted to or not. The perception seems to be that it is ‘not possible’ to have a thriving Tamil culture in a ‘Sinhala-Buddhist’ country. So, destroy that culture.
Unless this problem is addressed, one of the ancient cultures in the world will slowly die in Sri Lanka.
This is a serious matter for an ethnic group, the Tamils, who have, for centuries, put education as the top priority. No other group in Sri Lanka has given education as high a priority as the Tamils have.
Indeed, it was discrimination in education, the so-called “Standardisation of University entrance marks” in 1972 by the Sirima Bandaranaike government where Tamil students from the North had to get higher marks to enter the University, that led to the Tamil youths picking up arms. Tamil students who should (on merit) have entered the University (which was the criteria for admission before 1971), were denied admission because of their ethnicity and the area they came from (Jaffna).
At the time I was a Senior Lecturer in Medicine in Sri Lanka, and saw it all.
Educational genocide is currently being committed in a different way. As has been mentioned already, there has been an extensive destruction of schools and other places of learning in the Tamil areas. Much of this has not been rebuilt or handed over to civilian control.
School children, especially girls, are too afraid to go to school because of the widespread presence of Sinhalese soldiers and the very real possibility of abduction or a ‘nocturnal visit’. There is ample documentation that (Sinhalese) soldiers and (Sinhalese) Police simply arrive at a school, arrest students, especially student leaders, and take them away ‘for questioning’. This happens with alarming regularity.
A matter of serious concern is the relocation of Sinhalese students from the South to the University in the North, especially in the Medical and Law Faculty. The students seem to be picked more on their ethnicity than their academic ability. Tamil students are denied places in the University, since to go to the (profusion of) Universities in the South is unaffordable and dangerous (being young Tamil men they are LTTE supporters or cadre, almost by definition).
The inevitable result is to leave the country, if possible. Hundreds of thousands have already left. Sri Lanka will deprive itself of its most valuable asset, highly trainable and talented students. It is a high price for the country to pay for Educational Genocide.
The Tamil people in the North and East have lost their homes, employment, businesses and ways of earning a living. There has been a wholesale displacement of Tamils from an area where they have lived (and have a right to live). Their homes and property have been declared “High Security Zones’. The Tamils have been permanently displaced.
The land that the Tamils have lost has been given by the GOSL to Sinhalese soldiers, and landless Sinhalese from the South in what is State-sponsored ‘Sinhalisation’ of the Tamil areas.
As the economic genocide of the Tamils continues apace, the Armed Forces are taking over (indeed they already have) businesses, commerce and trade. The Tamil people are not in the equation.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of Hindu shrines and Christian Churches have been destroyed. They have been replaced by Buddhist temples or just a statue of Buddha. To say that this is religious genocide would be an understatement.
Violent members of politically-active Buddhist clergy have now targeted mosques.
The political party of the Buddhist clergy (Jathika Hela Urumaya – National Heritage Party) has repeatedly brought up a motion in Parliament to ban religious conversions (for example, of Buddhists to Christians). The ‘Anti-Conversion Bill’ introduced in 2004, was challenged in the Supreme Court by the National Christian Evangelical Alliance in Sri Lanka. The Supreme Court held that it was unconstitutional because it breached Article 10 of the Constitution “Every person is entitled to freedom ….including the freedom to have or adopt a belief of his choice”.
Brought up again in 2009, and shelved because of pressure from America – a bipartisan protest by 15 Congressmen.
It has recently (2011) been brought up again!
It is interesting that in a country where 70% are Buddhists, Christianity and Hinduism are such a threat that they have to be outlawed.
This is the destruction of anything built by the Tamils, however functional it is. The best example is the decimation of the fully functional entity in the Vanni which Professor Kristian Stokke, University of Oslo, Faculty of Sociology and Human Geography, described in detail: “Building the Tamil Eelam State….Emerging State structures…” (published in the 3rd World Quarterly 27 (6) 2006).
This fully functional entity, complete with Law Courts, Banks, hospitals, schools etc was reduced to rubble.
Of serious concern is the demolition of tombstones in cemeteries in the Tamil areas. This is not only outrageous, but has seriously affected the ‘grieving process’. To hope that this senseless act will not adversely affect ‘Reconciliation’ is absurd.
The most serious aspect of structural genocide is the Government-directed (massive) settlement of Sinhalese from the South (many of them ex-military people) in the Tamil North and East. It an attempt to permanently destroy the reality of a “Tamil homeland”, once and for all. It is ‘Sinhalisation’ of the Tami area, a demographic change which might well be irreversible.
The political implications of is this policy is that the Tamils will be a minority in the area where they are a majority. Taken to its logical conclusion, there might be no voice for the Tamils even in Parliament. The Tamils will be “a voiceless people’. This is well underway.
The time-frame for genocide
This can be ‘acute’, ‘intermittent’ or ‘slow’.
This is ‘mass killing’ of a population or part of a population. It is dramatic and easily recognised as genocide. This is what happened in the last 5 months of the conflict in Sri Lanka – massive aerial bombardment, shelling and shooting.
With advances in technology (mobile phones, video cameras etc), this can be seen – at least in part, by the world even if witnesses are removed.
What was not seen at the time was seen later as soldiers filmed some of the atrocities as grisly ‘war trophies’ and then sold them eg to UK Channel 4.
This is repeated episodes of acute killing such as have occurred in Sri Lanka since 1983 (when some 3,000 Tamils in the Sinhalese South were butchered in a week).
The oft-quoted claim that there has been a 26 year long ‘civil war’ in Sri Lanka is certainly not true. There has not been a civil war in Sri Lanka since 1915. and that was one between the Sinhalese and the Muslims.
What there has been on post-independent Sri Lanka have been intermittent pogroms of the Tamil people by the Sinhalese government – acts of ‘intermittent genocide – the worst (till late) being in July 1983.
Then came the ‘Final Solution’, the mass slaughter after Rajapaksa became President in November 2005, and the obvious genocide in the closing months of the slaughter (January to May 2009).
This is far more dangerous because it is not recognised as such. People simply wither away from starvation, lack of medical treatment, suicide or ‘disappear’.
This is what Madeline Albright, former US Secretary of State and an advisor to President Obama, called the ‘Rolling Genocide’ (with reference to Dafur).
This is what has been going on in the Tamil areas of Sri Lanka (the North and the East) since the end of ‘acute genocide’ on 19th May 2009.
If the idea of ‘intermittent’ and ‘slow’ genocide are grasped, rather than just the acute outburst of killing such as occurred in the Tamil areas in the closing stages of the conflict (January to May 2009), then there is little doubt that the events in Sri Lanka, particularly since 1983, meet the criteria of Genocide of the Tamil people.
The presence of the Sri Lankan (Sinhaese) Armed Forces and (Sinhalese) Police
The massive presence of the Sinhalese Armed Forces in the Tamil North and East (the largest per capita of the civilian population anywhere in the world), who treat the Tamils as the ‘Spoils of war’, and their land as “Conquered Territory’, is the main cause of the ongoing problems facing the Tamils in this area, including, and especially genocide.
The entire Tamil area is under military occupation. 16 of the 19 Divisions of the Sri Lankan Army are stationed in the North.
The strength of the Armed Forces is huge, and increasing;
170,000 at the end of the armed conflict
300,000 in 2012
400,000 by 2015.
The ratio of soldiers to civilians in Vavuniya in the North, is reported to be 1:3.
The Armed Forces are involved in everything, especially in civilian activities. The military own 11 hotels, many restaurants and cafes, 2 whale watching tours, 3 cricket stadiums, a 180 acre farm, a golf course, and a ferry service. These are only the ones we know about.
They do what they want to whoever they want with no accountability. It is a military dictatorship – a Police State, just as what is going on in the rest of the country is a political dictatorship – a Totalitarian regime.
Until this ‘Occupying Force’ is dismantled, (the chance is small – indeed very small), genocide of the Tamil people will continue.
It is this that makes it mandatory for international intervention – the application of R2P (see below).
Tamils ceasing to exist as a ‘people’
In February 2012, the US State Department sent two officials to Sri Lanka to inform the Rajapaksa government that the US intended to submit a Resolution on Sri Lanka at the up-coming 19th Session of the UN Human Rights Council (27 February- 23 March 2012).
19 Tamils, non-politicians, “Civil Society”, including Rt Rev Dr Rayappu Joseph, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Mannar, sent a letter (10 February 2012). It is a concise and precise letter to Maria Otago, Undersecretary of State, and Robert Blake, Assistant Secretary of State, US State Department.
It set out the concerns of the Tamil people and their expectations (and the responsibility) of the UN Human Rights Council. This letter is reproduced in full in my booklet on Bishop Rayappu Joseph (Life of a Sri Lankan Tamil Bishop Most Rev Dr Rayappu Joseph and others in danger. 6 April 2012). It is on the net and in briansenewiratne.blogspot.com.
The closing two sentences say it all:
“The Governments current activities in the North and East are challenging the very existence of the Tamil people and more time to the GOSL to implement the LLRC’s recommendations will only mean further time for the Government to play havoc in the North and East and subjugate the interests and aspirations of the Tami people. If the International Community does not act now, like they did not act in May 2009, the Tamils will cease to exist as a ‘people’ in the country”.
‘Ceasing to exist as a people’ is Genocide.
UN Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon, appointed a Panel of Experts to advise him on the issue of accountability with regard to any alleged violations of international human rights and humanitarian law during the final stages of the conflict in Sri Lanka. Its members were: Marzuki Darusman (Indonesia), Chair; Yasmin Sooka (South Africa); and Steven Ratner (United States).
Their findings in the 124 page, “Report of The UN Secretary General’s Panel of Experts into Accountability in Sri Lanka” (released 31 March 2011), was the most serious indictment of the Sri Lankan government ever published.
Section 251 (page 68) referred to what happened as “Extermination”
Under the ICC (International Criminal Court) Statue, ‘extermination’ includes “Intentional infliction of conditions of life, inter alia the deprivation of access to food and medicine, calculated to bring about the destruction of part of the population” Article 7(2)(b).
The fact that these senior lawyers with international credibility should use the word “extermination’ is highly significant.
Extermination is Genocide.
Dr Winston Panchacharam, Nanuet, New York, has put together an extraordinary book that has no equal, Genocide in Sri Lanka. It is a monumental work, a 185 page colour ‘atlas’ – for want of a better word. I strongly recommend this to you, although you might have difficulty in obtaining a copy. If you do, contact me –not that I can assure you that I can help.
It has all the photographs you need to establish the charge of Genocide. In a heart-rending plea addressed to “Your Excellencies – Global Leaders for the protection of the Vulnerable and those Oppressed by Genocidal Acts:-
“On behalf of Global Public Opinion, the Tamil Diaspora and the Dying Race of Tamis in Sri Lanka, we appeal to Your Excellencies – Global Leaders to act quickly and follow through to protect the dying Tamil Race in Sri Lanka. Justice delayed is Justice buried”.
The book ends with the dramatic (and crucial) question (in big red letters!)
Is the word GENOCIDE important?
Is it important to establish that Genocide of the Tamil people, has happened and is continuing to happen, in Sri Lanka to this day? Yes it is. It is not just a matter of words.
Genocide constitutes clear and uncontestable grounds for the application of R2P (Responsibility to Protect). The UN was very clear about this in the Report of the Independent Inquiry into the Actions of the United Nations during the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda. UN Document s/1999/1257 :
“There can be no neutrality in the face of Genocide”
R2P – Responsibility to Protect
Following the genocide in Rwanda and the failure of the international community to intervene, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan asked the question, “When does the international community intervene for protecting populations?”
The Canadian government established the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) in September 2000.
In February 2001, at the 3rd round table meeting of ICISS in London, Gareth Evans (former Australian Foreign Minister and later the CEO of the Brussels-based International Crisis Group from 2000-2009), and others, suggested the phrase “Responsibility to Protect”.
In December 2001, the ICISS released its report “The Responsibility to Protect”. The report stated that sovereignty was not a right but a responsibility, and that the international community had to prevent mass atrocities. Economic, political and social measures were to be used along with diplomatic engagement. Military intervention was to be used as a last resort.
R2P included bringing security and justice to the victim population and of finding the root cause of the mass atrocity.
The fact that R2P was not able to be invoked, and that at least 40,000 people were killed in Sri Lanka and some 150,000 were unaccounted for, is a practical failure of R2P.
It is time that this failure is addressed, and R2P applied in Sri Lanka, since the Tamil people in the North and East need ‘Protection’. All four cardinal features of R2P – Genocide, War crimes, Crimes against Humanity and Ethnic Cleansing – have occurred in Sri Lanka, and disturbingly are continuing to occur.
The Srebrenica massacre
In considering Genocide in Sri Lanka, it is very important to look at the Srebrenica massacre.
I will briefly summarise this but a detailed comparison is very important. Time and space do not allow me to do this here.
The slaughter of 7,000 Muslim males in Srebrenica, has been declared as ‘Genocide’ by an International Criminal Tribunal. Yet the slaughter of ten times that number of civilians in Sri Lanka has not been taken up.
In April 1993, the United Nations declared the besieged enclave of Srebrenica in the Drina Valley of north-eastern Bosnia a “safe area” under UN protection (In Sri Lanka the GOSL declared a large area in the North East, a “safe area” but there were no UN protectors).
Despite the UN protectors, in July 1995, the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR), a 400-strong contingent of Dutch peacekeepers, Dutchbat, did not prevent the town’s capture by the VRS and the subsequent massacre. The VRS was the Army of Republika Srpska under the command of General Ratko Mladić. (In Sri Lanka, it is General Sarath Fonseka, working directly under Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Defence Secretary, and President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Commander-in- Chief of the Armed Forces).
In 2004, in a unanimous ruling on the case of Prosecutor v. Krstić, the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), in The Hague, ruled that the massacre of the enclave’s male inhabitants constituted genocide, a crime under international law.
The forcible transfer of between 25,000 to 30,000 Bosniak women, children and elderly which accompanied the massacre was found to be confirming evidence of the genocidal intent of members of the VRS Main Staff who orchestrated the massacre. (In Sri Lanka, the forcible transfer of some 300,000 Tamils and Muslims to razor-wire fenced concentration camps on the orders of Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa and President Mahinda Rajapksa – the “Main Staff” in the Rajapaksa government dealing with the war).
Then in 2005, in a message to the tenth anniversary commemoration of the Srebrenica massacre genocide, the then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan issued a press release (UN Press releasee SG/SM/9993UN, 11/07/2005) stating that, while blame lay first and foremost with those who planned and carried out the massacre and those who assisted and harboured them, great nations had failed to respond adequately. The UN itself had made serious errors of judgement and the tragedy of Srebrenica would haunt the UN’s history forever.
After a visit to the Rajapaksa’s internment camps, UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon said, “I have travelled around the word and visited similar places, but this is by far the, the most appalling scenes I have seen”.
What did he do? He spent some 15 minutes in the camp, was garlanded, he smiled, and left. That was it. Did he take this up with President Rajapaksa or his brother? I have no evidence that he did.
A disturbing scenario of fascism
I have no proof that President Rajapaksa, his all-powerful brother, Gotabaya, former-General Sarath Fonseka or someone influential in the Rajapaksa junta studied the details of mid-twentieth-century fascism and totalitarianism, but there is suggestive evidence.
The ‘war’ has now been over for 4 years (19 May 2009), but there are more than 200,000 members of the Sri Lankan (Sinhalese) Armed Forces in the Tamil North and East. Who is the enemy? The Tamil Tiger ‘terrorists’. But they have been crushed. The new enemy are imaginary Tamil Tigers in ‘sleeper cells’, waiting to suddenly appear and create mayhem.
‘Sleeper cell’ is from Stalin’s Russia, where propagandists said that imaginary cells, consisting of “international capitalism” (in Sri Lanka – the expatriate Tamils and others who are calling for an independent Tamil State, Eelam), have been sent to infiltrate Soviet society. These secret agents would pose as good Soviet comrades (in Sri Lanka – law abiding Tamils in the North and East), living quietly among their neighbours but just awaiting the day when, at a signal, they would rise up and commit mayhem.
Sri Lanka is still on a “war footing” with is imaginary enemy (the crushed Tamil Tigers). ‘War footing’ is an interesting word. It is also an odd choice of words. Sri Lanka is not actually at war. That ended on 19 May 2009. What then is a ‘war footing’ and the ‘need’ for this massive (Sinhalese) Army in the Tamil area? What is interesting is that Nazi leaders explained after the Reichstag fire, that Germany, which was not actually at war, was from then on a permanent “kriegsfusz” – literally a “war-footing”.
The Rajapaksa junta claimed that what occurred in the Tamil North and East was a “massive rescue operation” (to rescue the Tamil people from Tamil Tiger terrorism) and that once this is done, the Tamil people will welcome the ‘Liberators’ ie the Sri Lankan Armed Forces. Interestingly, when the German army occupied the Rhineland, Nazi propaganda asserted that the troops would be welcomed as liberators.
I cannot prove that President Mahinda Rajapkasa or his brother studied Hitler’s regime, but when the President says (as he has) that not a single Tamil civilian was killed by the Sri Lankan Forces (it was all the work of the Tamil Tigers), and that his Army (one of the most disciplined in the world!) went to war with a gun in one hand and the Human Rights Convention in the other, it does remind one of Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels “Big Lie’ – that if a lie is audacious enough and repeated many times it will be believed.
The importance of all this in this paper on the Genocide of the Tamil people, is that until the ‘liberators’ – the Sinhalese Armed Forces and Police are removed from the Tamil areas, the ‘slow genocide’ of the Tamil people will continue.
There you have it – be it Bishop Rt Rev Rayappu Joseph’s “Tamils ceasing to exist as a ‘people’” or the UN Panel of Experts ‘Extermination’, or Dr Winston Panchacharam’s ‘The Dying Tamil Race in Sri Lanka’, it is Genocide.
I will close with another look at that last page of Dr Panchacharan’s book, ‘Genocide in Sri Lanka’
IF THIS IS NOT GENOCIDE, THEN WHAT IS IT?