26 October, 2020

Blog

Universal Declaration For Human Rights & Sri Lanka

By Kumarathasan Rasingam

Kumarathasan Rasingam

The Universal Declaration for Human Rights [UDHR] was adopted on 10th December 1948 by the United Nations at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris. The UDHR contains thirty Articles. Articles 1 and 2 outline the philosophical claim of the UDHR and emphasise that human beings are born free in equal dignity and are entitled to all rights and freedoms without any kind of discrimination.

Considering the emphasis of articles in the UDHR it is important to analyse how far the UDHR has been respected by the successive Governments of Sri Lanka regarding the human rights of Tamils in the island of Sri Lanka. 

List of UDHR violations since independence from the British in 1948:

1948 The Citizenship Act: Disenfranchising Tamils of Indian origin plantation workers who were brought from South India by the Bruisers to work in the Tea and Coffee plantations in the country, more than 100,000 Tamils were victimized [Violation of UDHR Article 21]

1956: The Sinhala Only Act was passed in the Sri Lankan Parliament, this Act made Tamils as second class citizens in the island. Tamils staged protests in Colombo and  Gal Oya. More than 150 Tamils were burnt alive or hacked to death, more than 3000 were made refugees and their properties were looted by Sinhala mobs. [Violation of UDHR Article 2, 3. 5, 12 and 17]

1958: Anti-Tamil pogrom against the Tamils, massacre of Tamils. 25,000 Tamils were made refugees, more than 500 Tamils were hacked to death or burnt alive and more than 200 Tamil women raped, Tamils properties were looted and set on fire.

1961: Tamils peaceful non-violent civil disobedience [Satyagraha] organized and executed by late S.J.V. Chelvanayakam demanding justice to the oppressed Tamils was disrupted by the Security Forces by beating the peaceful protesters and arresting them by force. [Violation of UDHR Article 5, 9 & 20]

1964: Srima-Shastri Pact – between India and Sri Lanka to evacuate the Tamil plantation workers of Indian Origin was signed. This act was signed without any consultation with the Tamils or their leaders. 650,000 Tamils became stateless persons [Violation of UDHR Articles 4, 15 and 23]

1972: Equal education opportunities for Tamil students were denied, Standardization on University admission was introduced. [Tamils students to score more marks to get admission into the University.]  [Violation of UDHR Article 26]

1974: The fourth International Tamil Research Conference held on 10/01/1974 in Jaffna was disrupted by the Police Committing genocidal act.

1977: In July, Tamil United Liberation Front – TULF contested and won overwhelmingly at the Parliamentary election with a mandate to exercise the “Right of Self-determination and establish Tamil Eelam in the North and East of Sri Lanka. 

1979: July – The draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act  [PTA} was introduced in Sri Lanka. This Act gives a free hand to the Security Forces and Police to arrest, detain, torture, rape, kill and dispose bodies with impunity Arrested people could be detained for three months without being produced in Courts. [Violation of UDHR Articles – 2, 3, 5, 6. 7, 8, 9 10,11 and 12]

1981: The Jaffna Public Library containing 95,000 volumes was completely destroyed in a fire set by a group of Police officers who went on a rampage in the Jaffna city on May 31, 1981, Most of the rare old manuscripts were lost. The UNP Government later apologized for this sin.

1983: The Government masterminded anti-Tamil pogrom in July 1983. More than 6000 Tamil’s were killed by the Sinhalese mobs in the South. Tamils houses and business establishments were looted and set on fire and destroyed. Tamils living the capital Colombo and in the South were sent to the North as refugees in ships for their safety. More than 250,000 were made refugees. 2500 Tamils were hacked to death, more than 500 women raped, in addition more than 53 Tamil political prisoners were brutally murdered in the maximum security Welikada prison on 25 – 27 July. [Violation of UDHR Articles 3, 4. 6. 7.8.9.12.13.14, 17,23, 24, 25 & 26]

Apart from these  violations there were several sporadic arrests, massacres, torture against the Tamil civilians. 

1985:  Valvettithurai massacre  – This massacre happened on May 12, 1985. 70 Tamil civilians from the town of Valvettiturai were rounded up by the Sri Lankan Army and forced to go into the town library and then the library was blown up by the Sri Lanka Army killing all of the 70 civilians.

1991: Kokkadocholai Massacre This massacre happened on June 12, 1991. 152 Tamil civilians were killed. The Sri Lankan Government instituted a Presidential Commission to investigate the massacre. The Commission found the Commanding Officer negligent in controlling troops and recommended that he be removed from office. The Commission also identified 19 members of the Sri Lankan military as responsible for mass murder. In a Military Tribunal that followed the Presidential Commission in Colombo, all the 19 charged soldiers were later acquitted.

1995 Navaly Church Bombing:  this bombing happened on July 09, 1995. The Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in Navaly in the Jaffna peninsula by the Sri Lankan Air Force during the Sri Lankan civil war. It is estimated that at least 147 civilians, who had taken refuge from the fighting inside the church, died as a result of this incident. The victims included men, women and children.

1985 Kumuthini boat massacre;  This massacre happened on May 15th 1996 when 23 Tamils men, women and children were on a ferry boat named Kumuthini sailing from island of Delft to the island of Nainativu were killed by Sri Lankan Navy personnel.

1996: Kimarapuram massacre This massacre happened on February 11, 1996 Tamil civilians including 13 women and 9 children below the age of 12 were massacred and another 28 Tamil civilians were severely injured as well. The government arrested a number of soldiers and home guards and a court case was started/ On July 27 2016 The court acquitted the six Army Corporals.

2006:  Trincomalee massacre of NGO workers. This massacre happened on August 4 2006 when 17 Tamil employees of the French NGO Action Against Hunger [Action Contre la Faim or ACF] were shot at close range in the city of Muttur.

Full list of massacres enlisted in the Wikipedia 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_massacres_in_Sri_Lanka 

Genocide of Tamils

Sri Lankan Government’s full scale war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam [LTTE] from 2006 – 2009 caused the death of 70,000 Tamil civilians. But Father Rayappu Joseph proved to the LLRC Commission that the actual number is 147,649.and now Sri Lanka is changed for committing human rights violations, crimes against humanity amounting to genocide. 

Sri Lanka’s killing fields

https://www.channel4.com/programmes/sri-lankas-killing-fields 

https://pulitzercenter.org/projects/sri-lanka-kilinochchi-civil-war-human-rights-justice-tamil-tigers 

Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields (2011) 

The UN Human Rights Council passed Resolutions 30/1 and 40/1 urging Sri Lanka to implement the recommendations. Sri Lanka after so many years is now refusing to honour the UNHRC Resolutions and threatening to withdraw from co-sponsoring the Resolutions. 

It should be noted that the Tamils inhabited the island of Ceylon [now Sri Lanka] for over 2500 years/ When the Portuguese occupied the island in 1505, there were separate Kingdoms for Tamils and the Sinhalese, the Portuguese ruled the territories as separate units. Later the Dutch [1658 – 1796] maintained this status quo, The British occupied the island from 1796 and in 1833 merged the Tamil and Sinhala nations into one unit for administrative convenience.

In 1948, the British left the island with a Westminster style political representation despite protestation from the Tamils who made up almost 30% of the population. This made the Tamils a permanent minority, rendering their parliamentary representation meaningless, thus, the seed for today’s conflict was sown. 

The majority Buddhist Sinhalese successive governments since independence in 1948 started colonization schemes in Tamils homeland and brought Buddhist Sinhalese from the south to settle in Tamils areas thereby the demography of Tamils areas started to shrink.

The sufferings and misery of Tamils is due to the failure of the British to hand over the Tamils state to the Tamils. And Great Britain is duty bound to find remedial justice to the oppressed Tamils in Sri Lanka.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 15
    2

    This article comes at a time when the majoritarians seem to be at the height of revisionist propaganda.

    Important to be aware of this history. Good to be reminded. A long history of the State‘s violations and state-fostered/sponsored brutality and gruesome violence much of which were directly inflicted by Sri Lanka’s armed forces.

    Important to note that the article does not include an exhaustive list of the massacres; while the author has provided a Wikipedia link for this, I am certain many have not been documented.

    Unfortunately. it doesn’t appear that much of Lanka has neither any interest nor the morality to transform the country from the long legacy of human rights abuses, hate, and brutal violence!

    • 2
      0

      Master mind of the perpetrators who deliberately committed high crimes are today s leaders.
      :
      If people voted for them, it is obvious that majority of people would not see things in a different way. It is obvious, elected parliamentatarians and the majority of people share the same thoughts no matter any unfairnesses would stand out. I really dont know why a society – would elect BUNCH of thugs, whose CRIME investigations were becoming public secret during the GOOD governance govt.
      Whoever whatever being said and done, MURDERS, HIGH SCALE MONEY LAUNDERING, STATE FUNDS ABUSES were the allegations thrown on RAJAKASHES. People saw all these by their own eye,s however, two PACHAWAHINIS (TV channels biased to Rajakashe politics) made the PUBLIC perception in favour fo them so that they could do it better.
      :
      By today, though made false promises, have failed to hold the prices of DAILY needs constant as previous govt did. Even if EASTER SUNDAY attack killed innocient few hundreds, due to total ignorance of SIRISENA the dog of the nation, previoius govt under RANIL WICKRAMASIGNE did some good work. They managed it to the top in the lines of HEALTH SECTOR and saving funds for the next govt.

  • 7
    2

    Thank you Kumar. This is also worth watching https://vimeo.com/319579483 and more information on war crimes and other matters https://www.srilankacampaign.org/

  • 6
    6

    There is no way any of this will ever change. So what is the only solution?
    Split the island into Sinhala Only nation and Tamil Elam by relocating people between the two nations based on ethnicity. Take a leaf from British India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. If they remained one nation, it would have been far worse than SL with constant civil wars, discrimination, race riots, etc.

    BTW all countries violate the UNDHR. SL is no exception. Even USA, China, India, Russia, France, the UK, etc.

    • 0
      1

      Process must begin by relocating people NOW.
      TNA must launch a campaign encouraging Tamils (all Tamil speaking people scattered across the island irrespective of their religion caste or the date of arrival) to move voluntarily.

      Soma

      • 2
        0

        somass

        “Process must begin by relocating people NOW.”

        I am sorry your Sinhala/Buddhist Ghetto is not ready yet.
        Hang in there for another few years you can start relocating to your habitat.

        • 0
          0

          NV
          If you, Wingeshwaran and TNA combined can persuade a SINGLE TAMIL FAMILY to move out voluntarily from Sinhala majority areas to resettle in a designated Tamil Ealam I will be the most committed supporter of Tamil demands.
          ,-
          Soma

  • 2
    7

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.

    For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2

  • 2
    7

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.

    For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2

  • 1
    5

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.

    For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2

    • 2
      0

      Eagle Brain Dead Blind Eye

      Thanks for keeping brief.
      Keep up your good work.

  • 4
    11

    Does this Universal Declaration for Human Rights [UDHR] apply only to Sinhalayo in Sri Lanka?
    We can write a book on human rights violations committed by LTTE Tamil terrorists during the three decades they slaughtered Sinhalayo.
    Malabar Vellala Tamils also violate human rights of low caste Tamils (Dalits) in Yapanaya by treating them as sub-humans.

  • 1
    8

    Some thoughts on the article and Sri Lanka’s ethno-politics from a young expat:
    1.
The article does seem a bit one sided – Sri Lanka’s history of ethnic violence is complicated and there were faults done from both sides, and yes definitely from the Sinhalese post independence leading up to 1987:
    However the LTTE were no saints: (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_attacks_attributed_to_the_LTTE).
    Not saying that the LTTE represents the aspirations of the tamil people, however that is what the new generation Tamil diaspora seem to believe. There is nothing wrong with fighting for the Tamil’s cause however, not under the banner/flag of a terrorist organisation. You don’t believe this, I was there at the Central bank in ’96 – damn right I believe they are terrorists. Most Sinhalese in Colombo, rural areas and overseas have this same belief.
    2.
The tamil diaspora if they want to make a difference, should open more dialogue on how the two ethnic groups can continue reconciling under one country – there are plenty of Sinhalese youth in Sri Lanka who will try to facilitate more open discussion. Sri Lanka like Singapore, Malaysia etc. will always lean towards ethnic majority-centric policies, more so under GR/SLPP

    • 0
      7

      2. contd..

      more so under GR/SLPP – I believe it is upto the younger generations of the different ethnic groups to work out how to co-exist peacefully with this in mind.

      3.
      Security of the country is a strong priority however, and there should be no room left for extremism – it is unfortunate how a minority (Muslims) is now viewed in a negative light due to the actions of a few selfish. However those selfish choices will lead to continued Sinhala-Nationalism, something that the minorities living in Sri Lanka do need to come to terms with.

      4.
      Racism will always exist, like in much of the developed world, Sri Lanka’s new generation which now takes up large parts of the workforce needs to work out how manage this in peace.

    • 3
      0

      Young DJ0608,
      “The article does seem a bit one sided” – Please visit the links already given above and also visit this with open mind
      “there are plenty of Sinhalese youth in Sri Lanka who will try to facilitate more open discussion” good to hear.
      Our Tamil politicians had talk with the Sinhalease politicians from 1925 – they did not ask for eelam.

    • 4
      0

      Dear DJ0608:
      You have missed the jist of this article clearly stated at the top;
      “[Considering the emphasis of articles in the UDHR] it is important to analyse how far the UDHR has been respected by the successive Governments of Sri Lanka regarding the human rights of Tamils in the island of Sri Lanka.”

      The scope of this article is confined to UDHR violations by the successive Governments of SriLanka, specifically re: the human rights of Tamils in the island.

      Hypocritically, your writing is one-sided and an apparent attempt to shift the spotlight elsewhere. Seems you support the masses in this country who’ve waived accountability of the state and its perpetrators for their brutal crimes, and offered unquestioned impunity.

      There are plenty of Tamil youth in Sri Lanka who are already engaged in building unity amongst the various communities. Plenty more who are striving for an inclusive and equitable country.

      However, you have opined that an equitable multi-ethnic/religious SriLanka is impossible so the minorities should settle for less by compromising with Sinhala youth who are open to discussion.
      That has been the shameful footing of this country since independence. That supports the jist of this article.

      • 0
        0

        *gist

      • 2
        2

        Sinhalese so called Buddhists politicians do not practice Buddhism. Would they care about UDHR?

        • 2
          0

          Dear Anbu:
          I think that the morality to ensure the rights of all human beings equally and impartially irrespective of their ethnicity and/or religious faith doesn’t necessarily have to come from practicing a religion.

          But I agree that the resolve to be righteous is deeply deficient amongst the vast of the voters in SriLanka and their elected representatives. Attaching this country to any religious tradition is not flattering for the particular religion!

          • 2
            0

            Dear Sugandh
            Thanks.
            What I mean by practising Buddhism? This monks explain it well https://www.facebook.com/rachel.richards.7355/videos/1565686006905909
            If any one give me his contact details I will be grateful.

            • 2
              0

              Thank you Anbu. I loved his sermon.

              Google search for “Buddhist sermon in English“ quickly led to this amazing Buddhist clergy.
              Happy to provide his name;
              Venerable Dr. K. Sri Dhammananda.

              But he is no more. However, you can find several of his videos on YouTube under Buddhaghosha.

              • 0
                0

                Thank you Sugandh. Sorry to hear about Venerable Dr. K. Sri Dhammananda. Do we have another monk like him?

          • 2
            0

            Sugandh

            “But I agree that the resolve to be righteous is deeply deficient amongst the vast of the voters in SriLanka and their elected representatives.”

            Don’t you think it is a good reason to why we should remove all religious reference from constitution and impose ban on crooks including president and and his fellow politicians branding this island as being Sinhala/Buddhist?

            • 2
              0

              NV:
              It’s an Unequivocal YES from me.

              Upholding an individual’s fundamental rights and freedoms is a key tenet of democracy; includes religious freedom and the right to not practice any religion.

              But SriLanka’s constitution evolved to be that of a pseudo-religious state fed by the desire of the masses to make it a Sinhala-Buddhist state with the sole intent of marginalizing the rest of the population; needless to say, sac-relige to Buddha’s teachings.

              The state’s constitutional responsibility to uphold one single religion above all others’ is (1) counterproductive in a democracy, (2) oppressive and inequitable in a multi religious, multi ethnic state.

  • 6
    9

    Kumarathasan,

    “It should be noted that the Tamils inhabited the island of Ceylon [now Sri Lanka] for over 2500 years”

    You fellows are part of the Tamil diaspora. Just accept it man.

    “The majority Buddhist Sinhalese successive governments since independence in 1948 started colonization schemes in Tamils homeland”

    The whites in south africa are also saying this kind of crap now. For you it is colonisation, for us it is moving back into areas which we had lost earlier

    You fellows have been making the same accusations for the last so many years with no international help. First try and convince the embassies in Colombo

    In another 20 yrs Batticalo and vanni will be Sinhala majority as well. You will be dead by then

    • 2
      0

      RAVI PERERA

      “For you it is colonisation, for us it is moving back into areas which we had lost earlier”

      Dumbo, your land is in South India, hire a thonie driven by speed outboard motor get back as fast as you can. It appears North Indians are colonising South India. Get in time for the last plot.

      ” In another 20 yrs Batticalo and vanni will be Sinhala majority as well. “

      Only if you survive Covid 19 and soon to be expected next Tsunami, one estimate is that the waves could rise upto 700 Metres. Go pray to Skantha.

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 7 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.