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Sri Lanka: The Challenge is Genocide, The Struggle is for Freedom

by Nadodi, March, 2009

Rajapakse government needs to make a distinct difference between “military gains and finding a lasting solution to Sri Lankan’s ethnic conflict...

“Allowing the war to continue leaving Tamil civilians in the hands of the preying Sinhalese army which we dread, demonstrates only the cruelty of the few minds that determine the course of the war from outside of the island and how international norms evolved through civilization have become a joke,” said P. Kanagalingam, the president of Vanni people’s welfare organization

Three hundred (300,000) Tamil people in Vanni can’t be wrong. The reason why the Tamils never preferred to flee from the Vanni, but continue to stay where the LTTE is in command is the time-tested experience of the horrendous persecution they have suffered at the hands of the Sri Lankan Government since 1983. There is no denying the fact that it was after the LTTE came to be accepted by the Tamils at large as their sole representative that any Tamil, irrespective any shade of political affiliation, could walk the streets of Colombo or the deep South with a sense of dignity, security, and above all as a free citizen with safety, without the fear of being mauled or bullied by the Sinhalese extremists. The Tamils are safe with the LTTE than be taken up by the empty rhetoric given by the  Government over the last sixty years and this time around Mahinda Rajapakse’s pronouncement over the BBC that he is determined to save the Tamils from the LTTE. The Tamils actually don’t see the logic of being saved from the LTTE when it is the LTTE that is saving the Tamils from the terror leashed by Mahinda Rajapakse. The International community should not go by the false propaganda of the Sri Lankan government; (http://sangam.org/taraki/articles/2006/10-16_Mislead.php?uid=1995%20) or watch the fury of the genocide taking place and wait till the last Tamil in Vanni is killed.  The Tamils have gone through the barbaric treatment meted out to them over the last sixty years by the Sri Lankan Government. In the early eighties the Sri Lankan army rounded up the Tamil youth in Jaffna and put them in concentration camps in the South and tortured them to death.  Over the years Torture was very ruthlessly carried out so as to regiment the Tamils.

THE CURRENT SITUATION

  • The latest news emerging from Vanni indicate a Tremendous Human Catastrophe, Food & Medical Emergency, unsafe “Safe Zones”, round-the-clock artillery barrage on civilian settlements and the genocidal intention of the war – all of which require an immediate INTERNATIONAL intervention.

  • The government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) has rejected the international call for cessation of hostilities for humanitarian purpose but has been actively lobbying in the international arena for their evacuation strategy. The international community must ensure that the civilians are protected where they are now and are not given to the hands of their genocidal killers. Moving the mass population from rebel-held area into military-held area will result in a huge human tragedy. The latest news reports indicate that the government has clandestine plans to put the civilians from war zone into Nazi style concentration camps for at least three years.

  • The GOSL has already set up internment camps in Vavunia for the people who crossed or were made to cross into the military controlled area. Youths in these camps are separated from their families and are going through untold hardships. Several young males & females in these camps have been abducted, tortured, raped, and murdered according to humanitarian organizations.

  • The current phase of the war has already taken a huge toll. At least 2056 civilians have been killed and 4054 have been severely injured in Vanni region by SL Army artillery fire and SL Air force bombardment in last 45 days alone. 186 youths have been disappeared and 304 are detained without charges under Prevention of Terrorism Act
    in the military (government) controlled Tamil areas in the same period.

  • Government of Sri Lanka is using food & medicine as weapons. The government military is deliberately hindering the transportation of wounded civilians out of the conflict zone by the ICRC and is prohibiting food convoys & medical supplies into the war zone for a much extended period of time.

  • Killings of journalists, prohibiting journalists from the war zone, arrests and torture of journalists under Prevention of Terrorism Act, attacks on broadcasting stations, and restrictions on the media freedom are directly blamed on the Government of Sri Lanka. Only the killing of Lasantha Wickramatunge, the editor-in-chief of Sunday Leader newspaper received the proper international attention but unfortunately many others especially those of the ethnic Tamil journalists received poor international attention.

  • Statement from the Secretary of Defense that Hospitals outside of the “safe zone” are legitimate military targets is an example how the war is conducted by the GOSL. Hospitals & make-shift hospitals that function inside the Safe Zone have also been attacked multiple times by SL Air force and SL Artillery Division. Further, the
    government of Sri Lanka is directly responsible for the lack of many vital medicines such as antibiotics, anesthetic drugs, blood bags etc in hospitals that function inside the so called “safe zone”.

  • Deployment of cluster munitions, white phosphorous and combustible bombs in civilian settlements by SL Air force and SL Army Artillery Division. 16 cluster bombs were dropped in a camp for Internally Displaced People (IDP) in Uzhavanoor alone.

  • Expelling of the International and Local Non-governmental Organizations (including UN Agencies), Rights Groups, Humanitarian Organizations, and Media Persons from the war zone by the government of Sri Lanka.

  • Forced abortions are violently carried out by brutal physical abuse and torture of Tamil women on the direction of military officials. These pregnant women came to the hospitals in government- controlled territory from the war zone.

  • Civil administration in Tamil dominated provinces are controlled by the military Commanders. Majority of these places have daily curfew hours and function like open prisons. The expelled civilians from High Security Zones remain as displaced for more than a decade.

THE TERRIFYING PLIGHT OF THE TAMILS.

Behind a wall of censorship horrendous battles are under way in northern Sri Lanka. The details are unclear since no independent reporters have been allowed access. But through the fog of war a dreadful outline emerges. According to international aid agencies about a quarter of a million people have been made homeless by conflict in the area which the tigers once controlled behind officially agreed ceasefire1.  Time magazine online in a recent special report states that judging by the death toll the Sri Lankan conflict is deadlier than the war in Afghanistan in the year 2008. In its special “Top 10 underreported news stories of 2008” following the Sri Lankan government pulling out from the 2002 ceasefire in January this year, the war has claimed more lives than the US led war in Afghanistan the same period 2.

Sri Lankan army had stepped up attacks on hospitals in Vanni, disregarding the Geneva Conventions. Mullaithevu Government Hospital had come under attack under artillery fire by the Sri Lankan army despite the Sri Lankan military and civil authorities being reportedly urged by the Medical Authorities at the hospital not to fire shells on the Hospital Premises 3. Sri Lanka now bleeds with no peace in sight. Sri-Lanka’s dragging ethnic conflict is at a decisive phase, with the military determined to crush the Tamil Tigers and the Guerrillas adamantly refusing to give up4. Journalists have been barred from the Northeast for more than thirty months. Tamils live in fear and hopelessness under the Sinhalese army in Occupation. The European Parliamentary delegation visiting Sri-Lanka six months ago was preventedfrom going there. The Sri Lankan Government has been refusingfor more than three years to let in UN human rights monitoring mechanism in Colombo. The New York based Genocide prevention project issued a damning new report releasedto mark world human rights day listed Sri Lankaamong top eight RED ALERT regions including Darfur, Democratic republic of Congo & Somalia all engaged in Genocidal Conflicts 5. The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) wrote to the Secretary General of the UN, Mr. Ban Ki Moon calling for diplomatic engagement with all the members of the United Nations& the Sri Lankan Government (SLG) regarding several incidents, which are not only shocking but are in our view War Crimes and gross abuses that violates all the basic norms of human decency and human rights6. Sri Lankan army attack on the LTTE and capture of Kilinochchi willaggravate tensions and would be disastrous to Sri Lanka. It does not mean LTTE will stop the war, but it will be more dangerous to the Sinhalese Government7. The outcome of the military engagement, a major humanitarian catastrophe is well under way, including displacement of people in the battle torn regions. This is likely to result in a refugee problem in the near future8.

.Rajapakse government needs to make a distinct difference between “military gains and finding a lasting solution to Sri Lankan’s ethnic conflict. The political management of the ethnic conflict is very important, as it is a conflict for equality. Unfortunately, the government. propaganda machinery creates an impression that this is a Sinhalese victory over Tamils9.  Sri Lanka has rejected its basic responsibilities. Sri Lanka is in the grips of a major humanitarian crisis where thousands of civilians have been killed and hundreds of thousands forcibly uprooted from their homes. Much to the government’s irritation, Aid Agencies have described conditions on the ground as similar to those in Somalia. Behind each declaration of military victory are tragic stories of human suffering, eroding civil freedom and the deepening of Tamil anger at home and abroad10.

Tens of thousands of people are on the run without any safe passage, the Red Cross said. The ICRC said it was “extremely concerned’ over the plight of the civilians since Jan 9. “This has put at risk the lives of patients who cannot receive suitable treatment on the spot and therefore need to be transferred to Vavuniya hospital in Government-controlled territory” the ICRC said. “Repeated displacements, often involving the loss of their personal belongings, have taken a toll” said Paul Castella, the ICRC head of delegation11.

“Allowing the war to continue leaving Tamil civilians in the hands of the preying Sinhalese army which we dread, demonstrates only the cruelty of the few minds that determine the course of the war from outside of the island and how international norms evolved through civilization have become a joke,” said P. Kanagalingam, the president of Vanni people’s welfare organization12.

As the Tamil Tigers face defeat, Sri Lanka’s freedom is also under threat. This week saw the publication of a remarkable posthumous column by Lasantha Wikrematunga, a Sri Lankan newspaper editor. From the grave he has left an eloquent warning to the government led by a man he called 'friend,' President Rajapakse, which as the army grinds relentlessly towards final triumph in a 25 year civil war, the very foundations of the democratic free society it should be fighting for are in jeopardy. This is dangerous leading to a one-sided triumph list portrayal of the war. The press has largely been excluded from the main battlefield in the north. Little is known about the conditions of some 250,000 civilians displaced by the fighting. “THE WOUNDS OF WAR” he wrote in his self-penned obituary “WILL SCAR THEM FOREVER” leaving “AN EVEN MORE BITTER AND HATEFUL DIASPORA”13.

TORTURE

Torture is widely practiced in Sri Lanka, and this practice is prone to become routine in the context of counter-terrorism operations”14. The UN Special Rapporteur, Philip Aston had on October 29, 2007 called on the UN General Assembly and the UN Human Rights Council to act on Sri Lanka, as the situation in the country on Extrajudicial Summary or Arbitrary Executions had worsened.  UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Ms. Louise Arbour who visited the island lamented the dire state of human rights in the island and called for a strong mandate to monitor Human Rights and independent monitoring15. The Sinhalese Human Rights Minister blindly rejected her report and labeled her as a terrorist. 

The Asian Human Rights Commission issued a statement on lawlessness that within the policing systems, higher officers ranging from IGP to ASPs have shown irresponsibility that was alarming.  The Sri Lankan Government violated Articles, 15, 16, and 17 of the First Geneva convention in carrying out war crimes when they disrobed the female dead freedom fighters after the Anuradhapura Air Port Attack and brazenly chained the bodies by the legs, dragged them on the road and displayed the naked dead bodies on the streets to be photographed by the public. The GoSL allegedly buried them on the orders of the Magistrate without handing over the bodies to the Red Cross. The Magistrate however denied giving orders to that effect. 

ABDUCTIONS

Living in constant fear, the Tamils are fugitives in their own land. For the Tamils in Sri Lanka white Van is terror on four wheels. WHITE VANShave been used to abduct people, especially young Tamil Men. Mano Ganeshan, MP from Colombo and head of Civil Monitoring Commission that tracts human rights issue of the Tamils feels the abductions were carried out with the CONNIVANCE OF THE ARMY. Report says there have been around 3,000 white van abductions in Sri Lankasince the Cease-fire16.

Karuna group, which defected from the LTTE (also known as the TMVP) has been given protection by the GoSL, even though it has forcibly recruited several hundred children and was involved in kidnappings of wealthy, predominantly Tamil businessmen.  The TMVP had carried out forcible abductions from temples, playgrounds and refugee camps in army controlled areas. This armed group continues to operate in the government-controlled Amparai District (in the East) with harassments, intimidation of civilians and executions17. One international Red Cross worker abducted and murdered in government controlled Jaffna peninsula is blamed on the army intelligence unit18.

DISAPPEARANCES

The International Independent Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP) appointed by the President to oversee the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) to probe abductions, disappearances, and extrajudicial killings of only a selected 15 incidents that took place since 2005, had criticized the performance of the CoI.

The mandate of one year of the CoI that expired by the end of November 2007, ended without resolving any of the incidents probed. The IIGEP also stated that the Attorney General's involvement in the panel of counsels to the Commission was a severe conflict of interest. The Attorney General had totally disagreed with this view. The President’s office wrote to the commission that it was not necessary to probe the conduct of the Attorney General or his department regarding investigations relevant to the probe. It had also interfered with a commission probing civil war rights abuses and murders that included some blamed on state security forces19.

The final report of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry of missing persons said “Most of the disappearances had been caused by the army and police." The Sri Lanka 

Monitoring Mission expressed concern over continuing disappearances, killings and abductions in the eastern part of the country20. The commission failed to effectively probe into the original police investigations, and had difficulties in securing cooperation and disclosure of information from the state officials and other persons.  It had also not succeeded in identifying why the original police investigations failed to identify and prosecute the perpetrators of these serious crimes. The IIGEP’ reinforced the view that the inquiry’s process fell short of international norms and standards. The commission’s work lacked transparency and there continued to be a lack of full and timely disclosure of information to the IIGEP. Lack of independence, ineffective witness protection measures and shortcomings with investigations, persistent disregard for its recommendations by the government of Sri Lanka, and the CoI, tend to render the IIGEP’s continued role irrelevant, and urged the government to take immediate steps for implementing corrective action21.

With a terrible record of torture and disappearances, Sri Lanka doesn’t deserve a

seat in the UN Human Rights Council. It should be voted out. The systematic

abuses by Sri Lankan government Forces are among the most serious imaginable22.  

NON-SUMMARY KILLINGS

P. Devakumar, a Tamil television Reporter and his friend were hacked to death as they were returning home in the city of Jaffna. These murders were the latest in a series of killings of journalists in the troubled Jaffna Region. Condemnations and promises of investigations had no meaning “without the political will” to complete the investigation. “The repugnant impunity that aids and abets violence against journalists and media personnel must come to an end,” the FMM said23. Mr. A.Vigneswaran, a humanitarian worker in Batticaloa was the third employee of the Norwegian Refugee Council to be murdered. The UN humanitarian Coordinator (HC) in Sri Lanka Neil Buhne condemned this murder24.

HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS

Since mid-2006 resumption of military operations, civilians have borne the brunt of the fighting. More than 1,000 have reportedly disappeared. Several hundreds of thousands have been displaced. In the past 18 months there had been a significant jump in abuses by government forces, such as indiscriminate shelling and extra-judicial executions and forced disappearances. In addition, there was evidence that Sri Lanka Government forces had stood by while pro-government armed groups had carried out abuses, including forcibly recruiting children into their forces. Members of the government security had long enjoyed impunity from prosecutions: there was little evidence that the Government was bringing the perpetrators of serious abuses to justice. It is important to note that the Department of State had publicly supported a strong UN Monitoring Mission and urged the Sri Lanka Government to meet the conditions in the Senate bill25. (Note: Since the issuance of this letter the Daily Mirror of 10th November 2007 reports that the US has handed over a radar-based surveillance system and several rigid hull inflatable Boats to Sri Lanka.)  Sri Lanka lacks credible domestic institutions to address human rights violations, and the National Human Rights Commission failed to address the hundreds of violations in Sri Lanka over the past two years26. US lawmakers had decided to bar all but a small amount of military aid to Sri Lanka till it makes certain improvements in its human rights practices27. Human rights abuses have made Sri Lanka one of the most lawless places in the world. The constant killing of people in police detention and the falsification of information to justify crimes committed by state agencies makes the Sri Lanka’s criminal Justice system “dysfunctional”.  As long as this situation remains, life will remain a nightmare to all civilians in the country28. Sri Lanka had the highest frequency of cases of disappearances in the world reported to the UN. The present situation requires immediate scrutiny and action on the part of the UN and the International community29

Based on the August 2008 Report of the North East Secretariat on Human Rights (NESoHR) on the enormity of the problem of  civilian causalities, there were 1585 cases of extrajudicial killings  and 1147 cases of disappearances since 2002. Two thirds of conflict related civilian deaths were due to extrajudicial killings and only one third is due to other type of incidents such as bombings and claymore Attacks30.

The Millennium Challenge Corporation suspended over $11 million in aid intended for Sri Lanka, based on a statement by Freedom House for the serious rights abuses and excessive restrictions on freedom of speech (Senator Leahy, US Senate).. The E.U., India, and the US, had to implement an even-handed approach and policy to facilitate resumption of talks for a peaceful settlement, (Paul Willms, ex-M.P.of the Netherlands). The government’s air strikes on Voice of Tigers Radio Station, was a violation of the civic rights and there can be no excuse for military strikes on civilian media. UNESCO also condemned mass arrests of Tamils by the thousands31.

The Members of Parliament of the East, both Muslim and Tamils, protested to the Sinhalese majority Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) that the captured areas of the East are being colonized with Sinhalese convicts, as was in the Plantations of the Cashew Corporation. They have also criticized the GoSL's decision to have development projects in the East managed by the security forces and police. The East is anything but liberated. The government says that the “liberated” east is an example of democracy in action and a model for areas recaptured from the LTTE. The reality is anything but killings and abductions are rife. There is total impunity for horrific abuses. The eastern province is under siege from all sides. While Government is showcasing the region as one that is returning to normal, the people are still caught in a vicious cycle of violence32. TNA MP, P. Ariyaratnam, a Tamil Parliamentarian was prevented from leaving for India for medical treatment.  At the airport immigration officials told him that they were officially informed by the CID that he should not be allowed to leave the country33. Tamils in Sri Lanka who democratically opt for self rule in their traditional homeland of North & East are being herded by the bombing sprees of the Sri Lankan Kifer jets targeting the civilians living under trees and makeshift camps andbutchered like the Jews in Auschwitz (Poland) 34. 

During the Presidential campaign, in an interview to candidates@google, Obama said that conflicts in the West stemmed from the inability of people to accommodate others who were not like them. Speaking about Sri Lanka, he said that a 'vicious civil war' raged in that country, even though 'everybody there looks exactly the same.' During the same campaign Hillary Clinton told a leading British newspaper that she would like a more 'nuanced' approach to armed non-state actors who were routinely dubbed as terrorists in the current war on terror. Some of these groups needed to be viewed differently, she said, and mentioned the Tamil Tigers as one group that deserved such consideration35.

FREEDOM OF THE PRESS

Behind the muzzled voices from a troubled Sri Lanka, all information that comes out of the Sri Lanka conflict is inherently untrustworthy since it is provided only by the Sri Lankan Government which has a long record of telling lies in the name of propaganda. The effects of this dirty war are taking a terrible toll on Sri Lanka as a whole. There is the case of Tamil Journalist J. S. Tissainayagam who has been in jail since March, 2008 under Sri Lanka’s Sweeping anti-terror laws, for writing articles critical of the government in his magazine North Eastern Monthly which has now been shut down. In the name of “National Interest” and “War Sprit”, SLG has effectively crushed all opposition even from those who would ordinarily be considered patriots of the Sinhalese Cause36, 37.

OBLIGATIONS UNDER INTERNATIONAL PROTOCOL / U.N. OBLIGATION

Sri Lanka has contravened its obligations under several UN conventions in issuing

new restriction on VISA Regulations to the staff of the United Nations. In a strong

note addressed to Sri Lanka’s permanent representative to the UN in New York

Patricia O’Brien reveals serious concerns the UN has over Sri Lanka’s treatment of

its staff38. In a statement that could anger the Manmohan Singh Government’s Southern

allies, the Sri Lankan army Chief has said that New Delhi would not listen to

“Political Jokers” in Tamil Nadu to insist on a ceasefire with the Tamil Tiger

Rebels39.

Since the world pledged “NEVER AGAIN” in the wake of Holocaust, Cambodia , Rwanda and Bosnia are but three examples of places where mass slaughter has occurred. A new Comprehensive Watch list – the 60th anniversary of the United Nations prevention of Genocide Convention by the New York based Genocide Prevention Project, combines the findings of five Leading independent watch list to create a “Watch list of Watch lists”. Sri Lanka made the list’s top Eight and appears in each of the five expert indexes40.

John Campbell from World Food Programme in a rebel-held area of northern Sri

Lanka said that Conditions for displaced people there are “as basic as in Somalia”.  Service that conditions “as basic as can be” are “much less than ideal”. The UN estimates that there are about 230,000 displaced people throughout rebel-held areas of the North41. With the election of five strongly pro-US countries as non-permanent members of the Security Counsel for 2009- namely Austria, Japan, Mexico, Uganda and Turkey, some of the European union countries which have been critical of human rights abuse in Sri Lanka are likely push for a more aggressive UN role in the country. The Foreign Ministry fears there may be an attempt to place Sri Lanka on the Security Council agenda next year making Sri Lanka vulnerable to UN censure. A hidden agenda during President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s visit to Ankara recently was to solicit Turkey’s support to stall any moves against Sri Lanka42,

Presented evidence from relatives of what was happening in Vanni province there is an immediate crisis and a need not only for a long term solution, but an immediate one particularly for those deprived of even the most basic medical supplies and of support from United Nations Agencies43.The current approach by the govt. of Sri Lankato defeat the LTTE militarily before developing a political solution does nothing to win the hearts and minds of conflict affected civilians in the north and it will not resolve the UNDERLYING CONFLICT said minister of state, foreign and common wealth office Bill Rammell44.

India is to be blamed for the deteriorating situation in Sri Lanka. Accusing the congress –ledUPA of “betraying” Sri-Lankan Tamil cause, the CPI asked the Central Government. to put pressure on President Mahinda Rajapakse to end the war and resolve the ethnic conflict through negotiation. “India should help Tamils live peacefully in their country and also make sure that their legitimate aspirations are met.” The report also said that India should not indulge in providing “Clandestine military aid to the Sri Lankan Government”45.  Washington encouraged Colombo to resume Civil war in 2006 and has aided and abetted every step of the Sri Lankan military’s bloody advance. The new-found Powers of the Sri Lanka military is due almost entirely to the support it has received from Washington directly or from key US allies46.

A leading advocacy group called for US President Elect Barack Obama to put human rights at the center of US foreign, domestic and security policy and  undo the “enormous damage’ of the Bush administration. The report said Human Rights Watch documented abuses – including attacks on civilians – during conflicts in Afghanistan, Columbia, Congo, Georgia, Somalia, Sri Lanka and Sudan. “As a vital first step Barack Obama and his team should radically rethink how they fight terrorism,” said Kenneth Roth, the executive director of the group. “It is not only wrong but ineffectual to commit abuses in the name of fighting terrorism or to excuse abuses by repressive governments because they are thought to be allies in countering terror” he said47. Sri Lanka’s militarist government reacted furiously to warnings by UN Human Rights chief Louise Arbour that human rights abuse in Sri Lanka left perpetrators and their commanders at risk of international war crimes charges. Rejecting Ms. Arbour’s comments as “Pathetically unenforceable threats,” Sri Lanka’s embassy to the UN said the Colombo Government “will not be deterred by thinly veiled threats attempting to undermine the morale of its military, deter its military campaigns and save separatist terrorism from elimination." It also challenged the transparency of funding for Ms. Arbour’s office and the extent to which it represented the world’s peoples48.

British foreign secretary slammed the US-led “WAR ON TERROR” as a “Misleading and mistaken doctrine’. Speaking in Mumbai, David Milband said the concept has “invidious comparisons” between organizations as diverse as the Tamil Tigers, fighting for independence of the Tamil homeland in Sri Lanka and Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Pakistan-based faction that Indian and British officials believe was behind the Mumbai atrocities. “Terrorism is deadly tactic, not an institution or an ideology,” he was quoted by the Times as saying. During Hillary’s campaign, she also called for more nuanced approach to foreign armed organizations and their political causes. She also singled out the LTTE “The bottom line is , you can’t lump all terrorists together, and I think We have got to do a much better job of clarifying what are the motivations , the raisons e’etre of terrorists “ she told the Guardian newspaper49.

Sri Lanka snubbed the International community‘s call for a ceasefire.  The Government Ministers refused to hold Peace Talks saying they would accept nothing less than a total surrender. POPE BENEDICT XVI added his voice to the call to stop the war for the sake of what he called “Growing number of innocent victims” The Quartet of Sri Lanka’s International Supporters - the US, EU, Japan, and Norway- called the rebels to stop the fighting and take part in a political dialogue to end the war that has claimed more than 70,000 lives50. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and UK foreign Secretary David Milliband said the LTTE and the Government of Sri Lanka must respect the International Law of armed conflict. “The time to resume political discussion is now and called on both sides to agree to a temporary no fire period”. Richard Boucher who advocated Homeland for the Tamils in the north and east of Sri Lanka on June 1, 2006 said “Although we reject he method the Tamil Tigers have used, there are legitimate issues that are raised by the Tamil Community and they have a very legitimate desire as anybody would to be able to control their own lives, to rule their own destinies, and to govern themselves, in their homeland in the areas they have traditionally inhabited”.  Richard Boucher had admitted that the LTTE is not exporting terrorism and are not a threat to any foreign Governments51.

GENOCIDE IS THE NAME

Describing several recent escalation in incidents where Sri Lanka armed forces have targeted Tamil civilian during festive days between Christmas and Thaipongal, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) in a press release issues “Stringent economic, food and medical embargos on the war affected areas:” are not only war crimes in a contravention of the Geneva Conventions but are also a part of a policy of Genocide that the Sri Lankan state has been carrying out against the Tamil people. “The release also noted with disappointment of the silence of the international community whilst the Genocide of Tamil people is taking place” and continuing military assistance of the international states to the Sri Lankan state “using various pretexts52.

“Allowing the war to continue leaving Tamil civilians in the hands of the preying Sinhalese army which we dread, demonstrates only the cruelty of the few minds that determine the course of the war from outside of the island and how international norms evolved through civilization have become a joke,” said P. Kanagalingam, the president of Vanni people’s welfare organization53.  “Mahathma Gandhi” who fought against British Colonialists didn’t think of taking the side of Genocidal Hitler during World War II. He was not seeking personal vengeance against the British. Likewise the present leaders in New Delhi should also take a bold decision that they will not support the Genocidal War being waged by the Sri Lankan state on Eelam Tamils,” said Kasi Anandan, a well known Eelam poet living in Tamil Nadu, inaugurating the fast-unto-death campaign launched by VCK (Liberation Panthers Party) President Thol. Thirumavalavan54.

Defense Secretary Gotabaya Rajapakse’s strident outburst this week against dissenters in the media underscores the fact that we now live in a dictatorship cloaked in an exceedingly thin guise of a democracy. Objectively evaluating the interview conducted on National Television one would conclude that the Defense Secretary did both himself and his brother President Mahinda Rajapakse considerably more harm than good. The Defense Secretary’s largely measured tones when discussing about the war and military victories gave way to a shrill and even hysterical denunciation of the media at a point,

freely categorizing anyone who pointed the finger at the Government in regard to media repression as being a terrorist55. Meanwhile in the Tamil enclaves in the North, Sri Lankan Air Force has deployed several cluster bombs in the air strikes.  After being exposed by Tamil Net in November and December, 2008, the Russian alphabets on the outer shells of the cluster munitions have been masked by paint before deployment by the Air Force56. Dozens of UN workers and their families spent a terrifying night huddling in hastily built bunkers as artillery fire pounded a civilian “Safe Zone” in the  War-wrecked North, according to an internal UN memo. The memo obtained by the AP said the artillery shells killed nine civilians in a nearby bunker and were apparently fired by Government Forces. As concern mounted for the estimated 250,000 civilians in the war zone Dr T Varathrajah the top health official in the area said that at least 1,140 civilians -248 younger than 15- were wounded and brought to the three hospitals57.

UN Rights Chief deplores conditions for civilians trapped in Sri Lanka fighting Reports of  rapidly deteriorating conditions for some 250,000 civilians trapped in the war-torn Northern Lanka have sparked concern from United Nations Human Rights Chief , who is alarmed by alleged human rights abuses, civilian casualties and massive displacement in the area. “The perilous situation of civilians after many months of fighting of multiple displacements and heavy rains and flooding is extremely worrying” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights MS. Navi Pillay said in a news release58.  The International Committee of the Red Cross said a humanitarian crisis is unfolding and described horrific conditions in the conflict zone sealed off by the Government to Aid Agencies, Diplomats and Journalists.  It said medical supplies, food, and shelter were almost nonexistent and families were living in makeshift tents and ditches in the jungle.  Hundreds have been killed by the heavy artillery bombardment. The rebels claim 800 have died in 10 days amid scenes of havoc in a “Safe Security Zone” where the refugees are supposed to gather but where missiles have been falling.  Tamil Nurses are at work in out door clinics, bandaging children. Bodies lie in rows under Trees59.

A former US Diplomat makes serious charges of Genocide against Lankan Officials which could go all the way to US courts.  Even as United Nations voiced concerns over the increasing number of civilian Tamil casualties in the war between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan Army, pressure is building on the Nations Hard line Sinhalese Leadership over its allegedly genocidal acts against the Tamil Minority.  Former US Deputy Associate Attorney   General Bruce Fein has compiled evidence he believes is sufficient to prosecute Sri Lankan Defense Secretary Gotabaya Rajapakse and Army Chief L. T. General Sarath Fonseka under the US Genocide Accountability Act. Gotabaya, brother of President Mahinda Rajapakse is a US Citizen and Fonseka a Green Card Holder.  Comparing the present conditions of Tamils in Sri Lanka to the sufferings of the Jews under the Nazis and the Blacks during the Apartheid era in South Africa Fein says, The National Identity cards given to the Tamils are almost like the star of David badges the Jews had to wear during the “Nazi era “. H e alleges that the cards are meant to identify Tamils easily so the Government knows “whom to kill”60

THE STRUGGLE IS FOR FREEDOM.

The International Federation of Tamils, a Geneva-based umbrella group of expatriate Tamil organizations in a press release “called upon over 70 million strong

WorldTamil Community to redouble its support to the Eelam Tamils for their struggle to create the state of Tamil Eelam”. Noting that “the struggle to realize the 1977 mandate of the Tamil people is being spearheaded by the LTTE” and that “the LTTE are considered by the Tamils to be their authentic representative is clear from the overwhelming support received by the Tamil National Alliance at consecutive elections in Dec 2001 and April 2004.” IFT says it believes only after establishing a power center will Tamils have a “realistic prospect of ushering a just and durable solution to the Conflict. It is also through such an approach can peace and stability be achieved in the island of Sri Lanka61.

The sad truth nonetheless is the rhetoric of eradicating terrorism is just a misapprehension of the ground reality. The government has managed to secure only a “Symbolic” victory after losing thousands of lives. The battle seems to have been in favor of the state forces. But sadly the war is far from over. Walking into Kilinochchi does not eradicate perennial Tamil question for self-determination. Unless and Until every Tamil Civilian feels safe and free in their homeland the Sri Lanka State is simply deceiving the Sinhalese masses62.

The war that is going on in Sri Lanka is a Liberation Struggle of the Tamil People for their Rights to Self Determination, which would enable them to exist with equality, dignity and safety in the area of historic habitation of the Tamil People-the North and East of Sri Lanka.  International Human Rights Monitors must be admitted into Sri Lanka now. Tomorrow might be too late for the Tamils. Violations of Human Rights can no longer be considered an “internal affair” of that country.  That is why the world got involved in the issue of Apartheid in South Africa. Indisputably an “internal affair of that country”63

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