By Brian Senewiratne –
This is being written for forthcoming 46th UNHRC Sessions in February/March 2021.
It is based on the following documents:-
1. Delayed or Denied? Sri Lanka’s Failing Transitional Justice Process by PEARL (People for Equality and Relief in Lanka – A Tamil advocacy group in Washington D.C USA)
2. Normalising the Abnormal. The militarisation of Mullaitivu by PEARL and the ACPR (Adayaalam Centre for Policy Research – a similar group in Jaffna, Sri Lanka)
The PEARL publication is very important. Before I go into this, I will point out to those who dismiss this as being ‘too old’ (May 2018), that in a recent Statement (27 November 2020) PEARL commemorates Maaveerar Naal; Condemns crackdown in North-East” no statement was made that any of what was stated in the May 2018 Report had to be changed.
The PEARL publication
In late 2017 and early 2018, PEARL analysed over 170 English language statements made by the Sri Lankan government officials on transitional justice. In July 2017 and February 2018 PEARL researches did what no other international investigation has done – they sent research workers to physically visit the Sri Lankan North—East (seven of the eight districts) and stay there and interview 50 war-affected individuals about transitional justice. The result was a ‘must read’ document which is on the net.
The last paragraph of this 47 page A4 document is alarming. I will quote it in full.
“The growing protest movement across the North-East reflects the fact that despite Sri Lanka’s grand promises in Geneva, many Tamils feel that nothing has changed for them. “Are we even in transition? queried one activist, echoing comments made by numerous interviewees. Others spoke of the possibility that the increasing anger within the Tamil community may spark violence “Our children are talking about taking up arms”. Many suggested that the ongoing failure to grapple with victims and survivors’ grievances is endangering the prospects for long-term peace and reconciliation in Sri Lanka. “If the government doesn’t listen, there needs to be other action. If that doesn’t happen, Tamils will take up arms. This is how it all started”.
The Agenda of the Sinhalese government
The agenda of the Sri Lankan (Sinhalese) government is that it wants the land (the North and East) without people (Tamils and Muslims). They will populate the area with Sinhalese from the South. This is ‘Sinhalisation’. The aim is to create a Sinhala-Buddhist land.
What then happens to the people (Tamils and Muslims) who have been in the area for hundreds of years? They can
1. Leave the country as asylum seekers.
2. Stay there as 2nd or 3rd class citizens
3. End up in prisons or detention centres
4. Be killed. That is Genocide. A large article on Genocide of the Tamil people will be found in the second of my two books on Sri Lanka – The struggle for Justice of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka 2nd Edition May 2020
The size of the Armed Forces
The Sri Lankan Armed Forces consist of the Army, Navy and Air Force. According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies February 2019, ‘The military Balance’, the Sri Lankan military has 255,000 active members. This is a larger military than in the United Kingdom (146,390), Israel (146,390), France (203,910) and Saudi Arabia( 227,000).
The situation in Mullaitivu in the Sri Lankan North and East is particularly serious with some 60,000 army personnel – 1 soldier for every two civilian making it the most militarised region in the whole world.
Unlike the Sri Lankan Army, there is no available information on the number of military personnel in the military air force and military navy, so that figure quoted above ( 255,000) are significant underestimates of the size of the Sri Lankan military.
The Sri Lankan government has to justify the need for such a massive Armed Force. The militant Tamil Tigers have been crushed. Who is the enemy?
Mahinda Rajapaksa, when he was President, was asked about this. He asked “What am I to do with the Armed Forces?” The answer was straightforward –“Demobilise them”.
Where the rest of the world, in particular the donor community is concerned, the action that has to be taken is “Unless the Armed Forces are removed from the Sri Lankan North and East, there will be no aid” .This is what the expatriate Tamils, now more than 1.5 million, should be doing.
Extent of Land occupied by the military in Mullaitivu
Mullaitivu in the North-East has been picked because of the detailed information available.
The Mullaitivu district is made up of 5 Divisional Secretariat (DS) divisions. Numbers obtained from Government offices put the total are of land occupied by the military at 2,265 acres. However, a document prepared by the Mullaitivu District Secretariat for a Resettlement Plan meeting placed the land occupied by the military at 13,546 acres.
Thurairasa Ravikaran, a member of the former Northern Provincial Council representing Mullaitivu, undertook an extensive research study through intensives with villages, rural development societies and other grass roots organisers. He showed that the land occupied by the armed forces was a staggering 34,191 acres. It is obvious that the government significantly downplays the actual amount of land occupied by the military.
One of the most important steps in demilitarisation is a transparent and credible estimate of the land area occupied by the military. This, the government and the military, will not do.
Land occupied by the military:
1. From the Government – 2,265 acres
2. From the Mullaitivu District Secretariat – 13,545 acres
3. From a reliable private individual – 34,191 acres
What is clear is that figures released by the military and the government simply cannot be believed. The most credible estimate of how much land the military occupies in the Mullaitivu district alone is 30,000 acres. Land taken by the Sri Lankan military and Police in the rest of the North and East, is much larger.
This is land taken (stolen) by the Armed Forces and Police with no payment to those who owned the land. The answer is again in the hands of the donors –“Give the land back to the rightful owners or there will be no aid”.
To get back to the PEARL publication:-
Rewarding Failure? Granting an Extension in 2017
This section documents what has been known for years – Sri Lanka will agree with UN Resolutions but will not implement them. They are effectively a waste of time. Here is an example.
On 1 October 2015, the UN Human Rights Council passed Resolution 30/1 which set out what Sri Lanka had to do. The UN High Commissioner’s progress report in early 2017 concluded that Sri Lanka’s progress in implementing Resolution 30/1 was “elementary” and “worryingly slow”. Despite this, at the next (34th) session, the HRC granted Sri Lanka a two-year extension, till March 2019, to perform. However, one year later, there was little indication that it will do so rather than telling Sri Lanka to deliver, the extension appears to have only emboldened further intransigence. In early 2018, the High Commissioner again decried the government’s pace, this time noting that “the authorities have not yet demonstrated the capacity or willingness to address impunity”.
Needless to say, this failure to pressure Sri Lanka encouraged those in power in Sri Lanka. Kumaratunga, head of the Office of National Unity and Reconciliation, told an audience in Jaffna that there would be no trials and that only Tamil diaspora organisations – not locals- wanted prosecutions
The military’s presence and infiltration into civilian life throughout the North–East remains pervasive into 2018, including in religious, cultural, school, and tourism-related activities.
PEARL and the Adayaalam Centre for Policy Research found that one-fourth of Sri Lanka’s Army, was stationed in Mullaitivu District resulting in an extraordinary ratio of nearly 1 soldier for every 2 civilians, making the area the most militarised area in the world. .
The ongoing presence of the military in Tamil-inhabited areas has had a profound impact on civilian’s daily lives. Members of the security forces continue to harass and intimidate Tamils in the North-East.
Although there is much more in the PEARL publication, I will move on to the most important section, which is of direct relevance to my publication – “The Effect on the Victims”.
The leniency shown by members of the international community does not just communicate to the Sri Lankan government that it can get away with flouting its obligations. It also tells the victim-survivor community that their suffering and struggle for accountability is increasingly unimportant.
With war-affected individuals’ faith in the Sri Lankan government non-existent, their best hope for accountability has always rested with members of the international community. But increased military cooperation accompanied by commendations of Sri Lanka’s “progress”—despite ongoing repression and overt repudiation of transitional justice commitments—has put a significant dent in victims and survivors’ trust in the international community.
Victims’ Low Expectations “Hope is gone now”
The majority of our interviews were conducted shortly after the OMP(Office of Missing Persons) bill was finally signed into law in July 2017. However, while the international community interpreted the bill’s passage as an encouraging sign of progress, our interviewees were universally pessimistic about the OMP and the prospects for transitional justice more broadly. As one member of the victim-survivor community put it, underscoring the government’s refusal to provide any information about the fate of the disappeared: “If they can’t even answer simple questions, what is the OMP going to do? They just want to hoodwink the international community”
Another explained that she lost faith in the process after the results of the consultative process were ignored. “During the consultations, nothing from us was taken on board. We expected good things from the consultations—we were able to share our view, but nothing has happened”
A long-time community activist pointed out that victim-survivors were also not included in the -establishment of the Office of National Unity and Reconciliation (ONUR), dismissing it as “just another office”
“They use the OMP as a handy excuse to show progress—but where is this OMP? Why haven’t we been contacted yet about how it will work?”
Many highlighted the absence not only of victim-survivor participation in decision-making, but also outreach to inform them about transitional justice institutions. Some said the only information they had received about the OMP came from the newspaper or mentioned hearing the name “ONUR” but nothing further.
Others noted the spread of misinformation. One victim-survivor said a local government official told her that the OMP was already operational and had an office open in Kilinochchi, which was untrue.
Nearly everyone we spoke to emphasized Sri Lanka’s long history of window-dressing accountability institutions. Several family members of the appeared estimated that they had submitted information about their missing loved ones on as many as 50 occasions to past commissions, police stations, and government officials. “We started in 2009 from the IDP camps and haven’t stopped”.
These experiences left many exhausted and wondering about the point of participating in another institution. Nevertheless, several said they planned to go to the OMP anyway, despite having “no hope and no expectation”
Some expressed the concern that if they did not participate, the government would use that fact strategically “as an excuse for more time at the Human Rights Council”
Members of the victim-survivor community clearly saw the disconnect between Sri Lanka’s rhetoric abroad and actions at home. “There is no will on the part of the government” said one activist, referring to the government’s promises in Geneva
Again and again, they highlighted the fact that in the absence of international participation, any transitional justice process would be a farce. “How can those responsible prosecute themselves?”
While they were particularly pessimistic about the prospect of criminal accountability without international involvement, many also stressed the need for a role for foreigners in the OMP. “Without international participation in the OMP, the government won’t let information about perpetrators come out”.
Others pointed out that it was “only because of the international community” that progress had occurred on related issues such as land return
Losing Faith in the International Community “We have no faith in the government but [have faith] in the international community”
None of the protesters we spoke to expressed surprise that the government had failed to act on their demands. In fact, many downplayed any expectation that the Sirisena administration would respond to them, identifying their target audience as the international community rather than the Sri Lankan government
“Our only hope is that the international community puts pressure on the government”
Several mentioned their wish for more members of the international community to come meet with them. “It has to have an effect—at least let the international community know what’s happening”
Our interviewees were surprised and confused by the two-year extension granted to Sri Lanka by the Human Rights Council in March 2017. “The government can’t even do the OMP. How are they going to do the bigger things they promised?”
One activist who had been to Geneva described the costs of delay: “I told them, you give them two years, you are giving time to the Army”
Another argued that Sri Lanka had already shown that the extension was worthless: “What have they done in four months?”
For many, this confusion shaded into frustration. “I don’t understand what the international community is waiting for”
Several victims and survivors criticized the international community for what they saw as wilful blindness to Sri Lanka’s intransigence on transitional justice. One called out specific members of the international community, saying: “The US, UK, and Swiss used to be very active, now they don’t open their mouths”.
Another remarked incredulously: “The international community is sending us to the government and the military for justice even now”
Advocates working with the families of the disappeared explained that victims and survivors “had expectations of the international community” and that when the extension was announced “they were shocked”
What this section on the effects on the victims demonstrates is anger, serious anger, which can so easily result in people taking up arms. If there is any doubt about this, I will re-state what I have already stated, “Others spoke of the possibility that the increasing anger within the Tamil community may spark violence. “Our children are talking about taking up arms”. Many suggested that the ongoing failure to grapple with victims and survivors’ grievances is endangering the prospects for long-term peace and reconciliation in Sri Lanka. “If the government doesn’t happen, Tamils will take up arms. This is how it all started”?
Back to an Armed struggle
I do not know what sort of an armed uprising it will be. It could be an open armed conflict or a guerrilla conflict. Well aware of what happened the last time round when the Tamil Tigers got into a conventional war (they were wiped out) my guess is that it will be guerrilla warfare.
The problem with guerrilla warfare is that it is impossible to identify those who are armed. Let me give you one example.
It was when the Indian Peace Keeping Force was in Jaffna. Three Indian soldiers were on foot patrol. It was boiling hot with outside temperatures in the mid 40s.People have died of dehydration unless fluid is administered. I know the scene well because of many research projects I have done years ago in Jaffna. The Indian soldiers were looking for water. They saw a well and a village girl drawing water- which is what they urgently needed. They approached the girl and asked her whether she could give them some water. She said that she could and would run across to her home and get three cups. She brought the cups on a tray, filled them up with water and gave it to the soldiers. When they had finished drinking the water, they thanked her and set off on their patrol. As soon as they turned their backs, the girl who happened to be a Tamil guerrilla fighter, took out her revolver and shot dead all three soldiers.
It was all done quietly and with no fuss. Leaving the bodies piled up on the ground, the girl took the cups and the tray back to her home and returned to do what she was doing – collecting water for her mother. That is the problem with guerrilla fighters – an inability to identify them.
Coping with guerrilla fighters
How Gotabaya Rajapaksa will cope with guerrilla fighters only time will tell. As we know from the past, is that he is a very violent man. He knows only one way to handle any situation and that is violently.
It is possible that he will ask is Armed Forces to open fire and flatten the lot. This is something that we will have to be aware of and decide what we can do.
One thing we can do is to contact Gotabaya Rajapaksa and tell him that he is on our watch list. I am more than willing to do so but it will be more credible if half a dozen people add their names.
Informers and Funds
We must have informers, spies if you like, on the ground in the Sri Lankan North and East. Can they be found? Yes, they can be but they will have to be paid.
I have mentioned to the organisation to which I belong, the TGTE (The Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam), the need to have some funds. Business organisations, especially in Canada, will provide the money if they know what the money will be used for.
Say No” to Sri Lanka which was operative sometime ago, will have to be restarted. When I was in South Africa to see Bishop Desmond Tutu, I met several former ANC leaders. They told me that the two things that were successful in overthrowing the apartheid regime were the boycott on the economy and the boycott on sports, especially cricket. These proven methods should be used on Sri Lanka to bring the ruling regime to its knees.
Responsibility to Protect (R2P)
Responsibility to Protect is global political commitment which was endorsed by all the members of the UN at the 2005 World Summit, to prevent genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
R2P is based on the premise that sovereignty is a responsibility to protect all its population from mass atrocities and human rights violations. It is based on a respect for the norms and international law relating to sovereignty, peace and security, human rights and armed conflict.
Clearly this is applicable to the North and East of Sri Lanka where the Tamil people are in need of protection.
Anne-Marie Slaughter from Princeton University called R2P “the most important shift in our conception of sovereignty since the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648”.
Louise Arbour from International Crisis Group said that “The responsibility to protect is the most important and imaginative doctrine to emerge on the international scene for decades”.
Professor Damien Kingsbury, Deakins University, Australia, has written an entire book. Sri Lanka and the Responsibility to Protect: politics, ethnicity and genocide
I will leave it to lawyers to decide where we go from here. As for me, knowing the talk-shop that the UN is, I will not be surprised if the Responsibility to Protect are just three words with no meaning.
Support those who work
There is an absolute need to support people like PEARL and the ACPR that have produced outstanding work. To support PEARL, and get them to send another team of investigators to Sri Lanka is crucial.
Get people of importance to visit the North and East of Sri Lanka
Get your Member of Parliament and others in high places to visit the North and East of Sri Lanka and speak with the people, as PEARL have done. It is important that they take with them people who can speak Tamil and not rely on the Sri Lankan government to provide them.
India, or rather Delhi, has a crucial role to play which it has not done. This is why I have urged the organisation that I work with, to set up an office, however small, in Delhi and in Tamil Nadu, to supply the necessary information about the current situation in Sri Lanka.
Such an office, the Tamil Information Centre, existed in London many years ago under Kandiah Kandasamy, and was crucially important in providing information. I have visited this centre and been greatly impressed with the work they did.
It is most important that people get involved. There are some one and a half million expatriate Tamils in the world, living and working in the most powerful countries in the world. They are, by far, the most powerful force that the Tamils in the Tamil North and East have got. If, instead of fighting with each other or saying “We want Tamil Eelam”, they focussed on the deteriorating human rights situation in the Sri Lankan North and East, a lot can be achieved. All of us who support the struggle of the Tamil people want Tamil Eelam. However with rapid ‘Sinhalisation’ of the Tamil North and East, there might be no Tamil Eelam. Hence the need, the urgent need, to act now, tomorrow might be too late for the Tamils in the North and East of Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka is almost bankrupt
Nimal Sanderatne from the Peradeniya University in Sri Lanka has recently written an outstanding analysis of the Sri Lankan financial crisis. This being so, the answer is to block financial aid coming to Sri Lanka from the IMF and elsewhere or state that aid will come provided that there is a marked improvement in human rights. This is what the expatriate Tamils and others concerned with human rights in Sri Lanka should be doing. The Chinese will, of course, not cooperate. As much money that Sri Lanka wants will be supplied by China as it was when the Rajapaksas were last in power. This is money that Sri Lanka can never repay. So the land will be sold to China as has happened in the South. More will be sold this time and Sri Lanka will become a Chinese colony—one of China’s “String of Pearls”.
Given this economic crisis, a well-planned economic boycott of goods and services going in and out of Sri Lanka till the Tamil people get their rights is very important.
China has a stranglehold on Sri Lanka. 4 years ago Sri Lanka built Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport (MRIA) in Hambantota (Rajapaksa’s home area) with Chinese assistance of $190 million. Today MRIA is running at a huge loss and Sri Lanka is unable to pay back dues to China’s EXIM bank.
China will lend money to countries at high interest rates which the recipient country is unable to repay. This leads to China getting a permanent footprint in the country.
Not far from the loss-making airport is the sea port of Hambantota also built by China. China has recently got a 99-year lease for running the Hambantota port.
For the Hambantota port project, Sri Lanka borrowed US $ 300 million from China at interest rates of 6.3%. Interest rates for loans from India to neighbouring countries is as low as 1%, and even lower.
Sri Lanka is currently unable to pay its debt to China because of its slow economic growth. To resolve its debt crisis, the Sri Lankan government has agreed to convert the debt into equity. This will probably lead to Chinese ownership of the project finally.
Sri Lanka’s decision to hand over the loss-making airport to India is a move against China’s tightening noose of debt.
China’s “One Belt One Road” (OBOR) project is a global partnership of China. In reality, OBOR is really an exploitative, colonial stratagem to gain vital assets in smaller countries
Boycott Sri Lanka. Say “No” to Sri Lanka
A boycott of goods and services in and out of Sri Lanka is essential. It must be not only an economic boycott but a boycott of sports, especially cricket, and of tourism. All this was done when dealing with apartheid South Africa. As activists in South Africa confirmed to me when I visited that country, it was just these two, an economic boycott, and a boycott of sports, that brought apartheid South Africa to its knees, and brought to an end that dreadful regime. There is no reason why it should fail in bringing the dreadful regime running Sri Lanka to its knees.
It is foreign aid that enables corrupt and evil regimes to continue. The donor community must realise this and state that aid will only be given in exchange for an improvement in human rights. There is enough published information in the ground situation in the Sri Lankan North and East, to list this out – the demilitarisation of the Sri Lankan North and East, handing back lands in the area to the rightful owners, stopping ‘Sinhalisation’ and ‘Buddhistisation’, enabling the people in the area to live with equality and dignity. This is by no means a comprehensive list.
The only country that will not cooperate with this is China. However, aid’ from China is more like a loan that has to be paid back – at enormous interest rates.
Where are the weapons of mass destruction?
A question that has not been asked is ‘where are the Kfir jets, the multibarrel rocket launchers,and the helicopter gunships that the Sri Lankan government and Armed Forces have? We have a right to know. Until they are sold there should be no aid going to Sri Lanka.
Work with the local groups in the Sri Lankan North and East
It is crucial for expatriate Tamils and others concerned with what is going on in Sri Lanka to work with activists and active groups in the Sri Lankan North and East. It has to be a joint venture. Expatriate groups cannot do what local groups can do and local groups cannot do what can be done abroad.
Local groups can bring the North and East to a halt. This has already been done at least twice. Thousands of Sri Lankan military and police were helpless and could only watch but not act. Local groups cannot stop foreign aid, those outside can.
There is more, much more, that needs to be included but this document is getting too long. The rest will have to be dealt with in another article. However, the critical situation in Jaffna has to be dealt with, if only briefly.
Education in Jaffna in chaos
Dr Daya Somasunderam, Professor of Psychiatry in Jaffna, delivered an important lecture, “A lost Generation of Tamil Youth: Impact of past war trauma, present psychosocial context, globalisation and Education”. What he said was alarming. 70% of students failed the Grade 5 examination annually, and 50% failed the Ordinary Level (O/L) examination. Of those who sit for the Advanced Level (A/L) examination, only 15 % enter Universities.
Even the few who enter universities are not assured of a bright future. The university system that was dong reasonable well up to the early 1980s has deteriorated drastically due to the general chaos of war, poor resources and support from the State, loss of able academics and teachers with the general brain drain. This ‘must-read’ publication is on the net.
The difficulty in getting into universities is compounded by the fact that large numbers of Sinhalese from the South are getting into the Jaffna University. Some of them qualify for university education. Others get in because they know the ‘right’ people.
As someone who has been a Senior Lecturer in Medicine in the Peradeniya University in the late 1960s, I am well aware that a significant number of medical students were Tamils, many from Jaffna. There is no place that I know of in any part of the world that has produced more professionals than Jaffna. As such, what is now going on in Jaffna is an absolute disaster. Jaffna will take decades, if ever, to get back to where it was at the top of the educational league table.
Of equal concern is that parents, who can afford to do so, are sending their children abroad. Once trained, they are not going to return. This serious brain drain will affect not only Jaffna but the rest of the country.
On 18 March 2018, the former Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe referred to this problem. He said, “The whole system of education in the North has fallen today. What we have to do is to lay the foundation stone to revive this system in the province. I cannot say that we can do this in one year as it will take at least ten years”.
With the Rajapaksas returning to power, it might take a hundred years, or more.
Drugs and alcohol from Kerala
The Sri Lankan Navy in Jaffna is bringing in large amounts of drugs and alcohol from Kerala which are being sold to people in Jaffna, including children. Several children are unable to go to school for obvious reasons. Drugs and alcohol are even reaching the villages, resulting in serious family problems. The problem will not be resolved until the Navy is removed from Jaffna, something that the Sri Lankan government has no intention of doing. It is left to public spirited people to act. As to how they can act is unclear.
The public in the North and East have decided to launch mass protests. At least three massive protests have brought Jaffna and the East to a halt. More of these will have to follow to make the area ungovernable. None of this is known to the outside world or even to the rest of Sri Lanka. The attitude of the government seems to be, “It is a free country. You can protest if you want to”.
Sri Lanka is heading to be a ‘Failed State’ if it has not got there already.
The Tamil Homelands in the Sri Lankan North and East is being ‘Sinhalised’
Expatriate Tamil groups, including the one to which I belong, the TGTE (Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam) seem to be unaware that the Tamil homelands in the Sri Lankan North and East no longer exist. The area is being ‘Sinhalised’ by the movement of thousands of Sinhalese from the Sri Lankan South. Documents from the TGTE still has “The Thirst of Tamils is Tamil Eelam!” It is time that everyone realised that Tamil Eelam only exists in the minds of (some) Tamils. It is certainly not there where it should be – in the North and East of Sri Lanka.
Many years ago, I went with the Director of Irrigation (my father-in-law) and the Tamil political leader, S.J.V. Chelvanayagam, to see what was going on in Amparai in the East which was being ‘Sinhalised’. It was when S.W.R.D Bandaranaike was changing the Official Language from English to Sinhalese. Neither of the two people with whom I travelled, were great talkers. When they did, it was important to listen to what they said. Chelvanayagam, having seen what was going on, quietly said “This is far more dangerous to the Tamils than a change in the Official language”. How right he was. Amparai which was a Tamil area, is now no longer a Tamil area. It has been ‘Sinhalised’.
Exactly the same is happening with great speed to the Tamil homeland in the North and East. In the not too distant future, it will be ‘Sinhalised’. It is to make Sri Lanka into a Sinhalese-Buddhist country. The Tamils will not have a Tamil homeland.
As has been said, the Tamil people in the North and East can do one of 4 things – 1) Leave the area and the country as asylum seekers, 2) Live as 2nd or 3rd class citizens 4) End up in detention centres or prisons 5) Die. This is Genocide of the Tamil people which I have extensively written about elsewhere.
There is an entire Chapter on this in the book I have just published “The Struggle for Justice of the Tamil People in Sri Lanka”. I will be more than happy to email the entire book. Just send me your email (to firstname.lastname@example.org). There will be no cost.
If Genocide of the Tamil people is to be prevented, action will have to be taken now. Tomorrow will be too late.
Today there are some one and a half million expatriate Tamils in the most important and powerful countries in the world. They will have to unite which, unfortunately, they have never been able to do. They will have to realise the ground situation in the Sri Lankan North and East where the Tamil people are ‘disappearing’. It is Genocide before our very eyes. Is that acceptable?
Can anything be done?
I have said earlier, the UN can act. R2P, the responsibility to protect, can clearly be applied because the people in the Sri Lankan North and East are in need of protection. Let me repeat what I have said because it is so important.
R2P is based on the premise that sovereignty is a responsibility to protect all its population from mass atrocities and human rights violations. It is based on a respect for the norms and international law relating to sovereignty, peace and security, human rights and armed conflict.
Will the UN apply R2P? No, it will not, just as it did not do so in 2019 when the people in the North and East were very much in need of protection and more than 50,000 people, men, women and children were slaughtered. It is confirmation that responsibility to protect are just three words which are not to be taken seriously.
*Brian Senewiratne, MA(Cantab), MBBChir (Cantab), MBBS Hons (Lond), MDLondon), FRCPLond). FRACP – Consultant Physician