Stop Genocide in Srilanka
Demand for Equal Rights for Tamils
Kolathur T. S. Mani
(President, Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam)
- 04 July 2009 –
- Hyderabad – English & Foreign Languages University -
Demand for Equal Rights for Tamils
Kolathur T. S. Mani
(President, Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam)
- 04 July 2009 –
- Hyderabad – English & Foreign Languages University -
My dear friends
I am very glad, indeed proud to be here with you. I could see in you, the concern Periyar and Baba sahib Ambedkar had, for the society, for the oppressed and for the humanity as a whole. The same concern is what has brought you here. That’s what makes me proud.
Yes my dear friends.. the world has come to such a state that there is urgency for each one of us to join hands to save humanity. What we saw in Afghanistan, what we saw in Iraq has now come very close to us. We could sense it just beneath our feet. My dear friends.. it will not be too long for us to experience it ourselves.
I am not exaggerating. It is a fact. In Afghanistan and Iraq it was mighty US which executed the crime against humanity. But in this tiny country called Srilanka, it wasn’t any big power from outside. Neither is Srilanka a powerful nation politically, geographically or economically. But such a weak country like Srilanka, could very openly execute a complete genocide on its own people, what bigger danger could befall on humanity?
And more importantly, as Indians, we need to be more ashamed of for what happened in Srilanka. Because, India not only turned its face away against the crying Tamils, but lent its hands full of arms and ammunitions to Srilanka for it to commit the brutality with more vigor. It is our hands, my friends, that are soaked with the blood of the Tamils of Srilanka.
Hence, we, first as Humans, then as Indians have the duty to Stop the Genocide and Demand the Equal Rights for the Tamils of Srilanka. We need to do this at least to wipe our hands off the blood.
When we talk of Demand for Equal Rights, we need to know the history of when these equal rights were deprived off from the Tamils.
Tamils of Srilanka have a very long history, as old as 2500-3000 years of documented history. Found in the context of a Megalithic burial at Aanaikkoaddai in the Jaffna peninsula in 1980, the seal, which is inscribed in Megalithic graffiti in the first line and early Brahmi in the second line, is datable to pre-Christian times. The Tamils are known to have inhabited the Island of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) for over 2500 years. Eezham - is a name used in ancient Tamil Literatures to denote the whole Island. The word Eezham is found in the Sangam Literature dated more than 2000 years. These show that the Tamils are the original inhabitants of the Island.
Mahavamsa, the primary Epic of the Sinhalese, also says that the first Sinhalese King Vijayan came from Orissa of India. A stamp issued by the Srilankan Government in 1972 depicts the arrival of King Vijayan to the Island. The stamp shows King Vijaya in boat arriving at the island, where on the shore original inhabitants of the island look upon. Hence the Sinhalese through this stamp agree that the Tamils are the original inhabitants and Sinhalese are people who came in later. But later the Srilankan Government withdrew this stamp.
When the Portuguese occupied the Island in 1505, there were separate kingdoms for the 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 only in 1833 merged the Tamil and Sinhala nations into one unit for their administrative convenience.
Sir Hugh Cleghom, British Colonial Secretary says in June 1799 “Two different nations, from a very ancient period, have divided between them the possession of the Island: the Sinhalese inhabiting the interior in its Southern and western parts from the river Wallouwe to Chilaw, and the Malabars (Tamils) who possess the Northern and Eastern Districts. These two nations differ entirely in their religion, language and manners.”
On independence in February 1948, the British left the Island with a Westminster-style political representation, despite protests 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 of today’s conflict was sown.
Just as the British left the country, the Sinhalese wanted the whole nation for themselves. Within nine months of Independence, the Government passed the Citizenship Act. That disenfranchised more than a million Tamils of Indian Origin. These Tamils were brought to the Island in 1834 by the British to work on the plantations and since then they have been living in the Island and made it their home. These people were mainly from the downtrodden sector of the society, who through their hard toil, made tea Srilanka's main export commodity and created a viable economy.
The British who brought them here did not intervene or the least condemn when these people were made stateless.
The irony of fact is that this act was passed with the support of many Tamil MPs who were mostly from the Hindu higher hierarchical status. The ruling party proposed this Act with the slogan ‘Indians vs. Ceylonists’ and asked the Tamil MPs to support the Act as Ceylonists as against Indians.
One among the very few who opposed the Act was Mr. Chelvanayagam, who was then an MP of Ilankai Thamizhar Congress. Though his party was in support of the Act, he voted against the Act. Due to this conflict, he came out of the party. He then found the Federal Party which demanded for a Federal setup in the country.
After crippling the Tamils of Indian Origin legally, the Sinhalese turned their eye towards the indigenous Tamils.
The Tamils are spread over the Northern and Eastern parts of the Island. During 1930s they formed almost 95% of the total population in Northern and Eastern provinces. But this demographical density reduced drastically during a period of time. For instance, in Triconmalai District of the Eastern Province, in 1827, Sinhalese were just 1.3%. Even in 1921, Sinhalese were only 4.4%. This rapidly increased, as a result of which in 1981 Sinhalese were 33.6%. How did this happen?
Starting from 1948, the Srilankan Government brought in Sinhala settlements in the Northern and Eastern provinces in a systematic manner. Especially, the Eastern Province, which is a thin stripe of land, much closer to the Sinhalese dominated areas, was occupied by Sinhalese settlers, who were ex-convicts or the families of military personnel. They were settled in the name of land development schemes and such development schemes. What is the aim of such settlements?
Firstly, the Tamils should not have a distinct homeland of their own. Hence by bringing down the demographical density of Tamil population in their homeland, the legal right of Tamils to claim the land as their own is turned down.
Secondly, to exploit the resources of the Tamil Home land and thus take control of the entire Island. As a first step to this, the historical Triconamalai harbor, which was under the control of the district council, was nationalized and brought under the control of the Srilankan Government. Next, the fertile land in the rural areas of Eastern Province was re-distributed.
As a result of Sinhala settlements and intrusions in Tamil areas, incidents of violence against Tamils cropped up here and there. The ex-convicts who were settled were provided with arms. Tamils started having a feel of insecurity living among the Sinhalese. This began as early as 1950s.
Oppressing the Tamils through practical means on one side, the Srilankan Government also took steps to isolate the Tamils legally.
In 1956 came the Sinhala only act, which said that only the Sinhala language would be the official language at all levels of the Government, which means that only those who are well versed in Sinhala can alone become Government employees. Then in 1970s came the Educational Standardization which separated Tamil students, not taking into consideration of their social, economic or educational background and restricted their entry into higher education by fixing a minimum requirement which was much higher than that fixed for Sinhalese.
The Tamil leaders raised their voice against these kinds of legal isolations and agitated in a democratic way. But, not only did the Sinhala Government, yes my friends, it was no more a Government for the all the people of Srilanka comprising of Sinhalese, Indigenous Tamils, Muslims and Tamils of Indian Origins... but a Government that cares only for the Sinhalese majority.. This Sinhala Government.. not only disregarded the democratic agitations of the Tamil leaders, but sent in Sinhala thugs to make chaos in the demonstrations of the Tamil leaders. In 1956, in one such demonstration by the Tamils before the Parliament building in Colombo, the Sinhalese thugs intruded violently and attacked the demonstrators. The Police force, which also comprised of mainly Sinhalese, just stood aside and watched. About 150 people were killed in the attack. Almost 12,000 people took shelter in the Royal College in Colombo as refugees and later they were sent to the North Province in a ship by the Government directly. This 1956 riot was the first documented riot against Tamils in Srilanka.
Then it became a practice for such riots to crop up systematically and periodically in Tamil areas. I would say, riot is itself a wrong term. Riot means a conflict between two groups. But in these cases, the Tamils never retorted. Hence the attack against Tamils was nothing but a Pogrom - An organized, officially encouraged massacre.
The Pogroms, which started in 1956 and was executed periodically, most brutal and documented ones in 1958, 1961, 1972, and 1977, reached its peak in 1983.
In 1958, the Srilankan Government issued an order stating that all vehicles should inscribe the letter Shree in Sinhala script in their number plate. Tamils again opposed this. They requested for Tamil Grantha Shree script to be written in vehicles from Tamil areas. But, the sinhala thugs stopped the vehicles without the Sinhala shree, pulled down the drivers, and wrote the sinhala shree letter with tar or hot iron on their bodies. In one incident, a Tamil woman who was riding in such a vehicle was pulled down and the sinhala letter shree was written on her breast.
In the later part of 1960, Sinhala language was made the official language of the courts.
As the Pogroms continued on one side, the Srilankan Presidents entered into pacts with Tamil Leaders only to be broken. The Dudley-Chelva pact and the Chelva-Banda pact both were not heeded by the Government. SWRD Bandaranayake, who entered into a pact with Chelvanayagam, unable to withstand the resistance from the Buddhist monks and Sinhala racists against the pact, tore the original copy of the signed pact into pieces in front of his house thus humiliating the Tamils.
Due to such continious humiliations, at one stage the Tamil Leaders cry for Self-Determination grew aloud. In 1961, the Tamil Leaders started the Tamil State Postal Service, issued their own stamps, and ran it successfully.
Though the Tamil Leaders and political parties have been crying aloud to protect the political, social and educational rights of the Tamils, in a democratic way, the brutality of the pogroms increased day after day. The Tamils almost lost their land, their educational rights, their political rights & employment opportunities. In 1983, only 1% of Tamils were in armed forces and Police. There was no security for their life and belongings. The Tamils could very well understand that they can no more look upon for the Srilankan Sinhalese government to protect their life, leave alone their rights. It was evident that there was no security for Tamils within the Sovereignty of the Sinhalese dominated Srilankan state.
It was at this instance that the Tamil Leaders came to a conclusion that restoration and reconstitution of the Free, Sovereign, Secular, Socialist State of Tamil Eelam, based on the right of self determination inherent to every nation, has become inevitable in order to safeguard the very existence of the Tamil Nation in this Country. The Tamil Political parties joined hands under a common banner named Tamils United Liberation Front under the leadership of Mr. Chelvanayagam. The first conference of the Tamil United Liberation Front was held in Vaddukottai in 1976. It was at this conference the historical declaration of ‘Self-Determination for Tamils in the form of separate Tamil Nation’ was made.
Proposing this declaration as their election manifesto, and vowing to achieve this goal, the Tamil United Liberation Front contested the 1977 election. But just a few months after the Vaddukottai Conference and before the 1977 election, Mr. Chelvanayagam demised. A few words about Mr. Chelvanayagam. Fondly called as Thanthai Chelva or Father Chelva by the Tamil people, Mr. Chelvanayagam had been fighting for the legal and political rights of the Tamils from even before the Independence of Srilanka. In 1948 when the Government introduced the act, which made the Tamils of Indian Origin stateless, as an MP, he voted against the Act. He then found the Federal Party which demanded for a Federal setup in the country. Friends, Though the party was named Tamil Arasu katchi or Tamil State Party in Tamil, he called it Federal Party in English meaning that their demand was a Tamil State within the frame of Srilanka which is nothing but a Federal setup. In 1926, SWRD Bandaranayake himself stated that, ‘There are 3 nations in this country.. Tamils, Up-country Sinhalese and Sinhalese.. Hence we should have a Federal setup of these three nations’. The initial demand of the Tamils was also that of a Federal setup. But the continuous atrocities and discriminations against Tamils pushed the Tamil Leaders to decide that only a separate Tamil state will save their community.
The Tamil United Liberation Front asked for the referendum of the Tamil people for the declaration they had made in Vaddukottai. And the Tamil people gave their overwhelming mandate for an Independent Tamil Nation, the Tamil Eelam, as proposed by the Tamil Leaders.
Remember my friends, this, was purely a democratic move. It was well before the upsurge of armed struggle. It was a proposal by eminent, veteran Tamil Leaders, who had been struggling for equal rights for more than 3 decades. And the people's consent was spontaneous.
After the 1977 elections, the Sinhalese became even more furious on the unity of the Tamils. Immediately after the elections in 1977, was executed a pogrom. And then it was continuous. Almost each and every day, there was some violence against Tamils in some part of the Island. Hatred against Tamils was spread so rapidly and systematically among the Sinhalese commons. The effect of this hatred was exhibited in the notorious 1983 pogrom.
While the international community who had visited the island as tourists and the foreign media watching, the most brutal Pogrom against Tamils was executed in the very capital of the country. I would like to narrate two brutal incidents.
The first was reported by The Telegraph, London
Telegraph writes: " a mob attacked a Tamil cyclist riding near Colombo’s Eye Hospital, a few hundred yards from the home of Junius Jayawardene, the nation’s 76 year old President. The cyclist was hauled from his bike, striped naked. The mob danced around him for a while, then, drenched him with petrol and set alight. As he ran screaming down the street, the mob set on him and hacked him down with jungle knives..." This was reported with photographs.
Secondly.. a French magazine, quoting an eyewitness who is a French national, writes: "The bus I was traveling in was stopped and all the passengers were asked to get down. The Tamils among the passengers were identified and asked to board the bus. Others were asked to move away. Just before our eyes, the bus with 22 Tamils boarded in was set alight".
Friends.. Imagine.. Its not only brutality.. but how arrogant the mob should have been to commit such a crime near the home of the President of the nation and that too before the eyes of the media. This clearly indicates that the government machinery was completely in support of the Pogrom.
Media reported that senior ministers of the cabinet, led the mob with Voters list in their hands, identifying the residences and buildings belonging to Tamils.
The 1983 Pogrom was a turning point in the history of the Island. It was only after this that the youth of the Tamil community as well as the people came to a conclusion that they need some means to protect themselves. It was in this background, that the youth, took up arms, not to attack the Sinhalese but to protect themselves.. their people and their land.
The UN in its International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1966 says quite clearly in Article One that “All peoples have the right of self determination”. Most importantly Government of Sri Lanka is a party to this Covenant and hence is bound by its own treaty.
Based on the UN’s definition of Self-determination, many nations were provided with the right of Self-determination. Very recently 2 nations, East Timor and Montenegro were provided the right of Self-Determination based on a referendum. In East Timor 74.85% of the people voted in favor of Self-Determination. In Montenegro, only 55% voted in favor of Self-Determination. Yet the UN recognized their right to Self-Determination.
But the people of Tamil Eelam have been opting for Self-Determination from as early as 1977 and have been voting in favor of the same. In the 1977 elections, when the TULF contested the election with a single point manifesto, stating to achieve Self-Determination of Tamils through a separate Tamil Nation, out of the 19 seats 18 seats were won by them, which accounts to more than 90% people in favor of Self-Determination.
In 1983, during the Local bodies election, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam called for the people to boycott the election, on the line of Self-Determination. At that period, LTTE was just one of the five militant movements fighting for Self-Determination, and the smallest. Even then the people accepted the call and 95% of them boycotted the election.
In 2004 Parliamentary elections, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), comprising of 4 Tamil Political parties, viz., TELO, EPRLF, TULF and SLTC, contested the election stating that they accept the leadership of LTTE in the struggle of Self-Determination for Tamils in the form of separate Tamil Nation. TNA won 22 of the total 23 seats. Here again the result indicates that more than 90% voted in favor of Self-Determination. Not only in the areas under the control of LTTE, but also in Jaffna, which is under Government Control, 90.65% of votes were polled in favor of TNA.
In 2005 Presidential Elections, LTTE called for boycott and more than 95% boycotted the election. In Jaffna, which is under Government Control the polling was only 1.21%.
Hence, not once, but in 4 elections, the Tamil people have expressed their consent for Self-Determination. That too every time it was more than 90%. When UN can recognize East Timor with 74.85% and Montenegro with just 55% why can’t it recognize Tamil Eelam with more than 90% for 4 times?
While the Tamils have been continously expressing their will for Self-Determination through all possible ways, the Sinhalese was using various political tactics to undermine the Tamils.
Not a single pact entered into by Sinhalese was respected by them. Not only the pacts entered into with Tamil Leaders like the Dudley-Chelva and Chelva-Banda pacts, also the pacts entered into with another country or with the mediation of third country were broken by the Sinhala Governments. In 1987, India represented by its Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, entered into an agreement with Srilanka represented by its President Jayawardane. This agreement had various clauses which included merging the northern and eastern provinces and withdrawal of military forces from educational institutions and places of worship. The LTTE respecting the agreement, surrrendered its arms. But on the Sinhalese side, the military was not withdrawn. LTTE commander Dileepan undertook fast unto death stressing the Indian Government to implement the clauses of the agreement. But India let Dileepan die. Yes friends.. coming from a militant organisation, Dileepan did not fight with India with arms. He followed the path of the Father of Indian Nation, Gandhi, and undertook fast unto death. But India did not respect his struggle. Gandhi’s country let an young man die on fasting. After 12 days of fasting without even a single drop of water, Dileepan gave up his last breath.
Recently, the Sinhalese made the merger of Northern and Eastern Provinces unlawful through a court verdict. The only clause remaining in the Indo-Srilankan agreement was also thrashed.
On February 22 2002, Srilanka entered into an agreement with LTTE in the presence of Norway in Oslo. The main clauses of the agreement was to withdraw the military from social buildings. The Military had occupied 156 school buildings in Tamil areas. Also, in 144 schools, stating that the buildings were un safe, the military had restrained the schools from functioning in the buildings and hence those schools were functioning under the trees. Further military had occupied places of worship like churches and hindu temples. Added to that they had occupied houses and residential places too. The Oslo agreement was that the military be withdrawn from Schools and places of worship in 160 days, from houses in 30 days and from other residential areas in 60 days. Further the agreement stated that Tamils would be allowed fishing in the sea in 90 days. But none of these were done.
It is this level of respect does the Sinhalese give to international community and international laws. It is this same Sinhalese Government which now says that it maintains the camps with international standards. The Sinhalese Government has always been unruly, uncontrolled by any of the International standards, rules and regulations.
Now the Srilankan Government says that it has eliminated the militants of the Tamil community. Friends.. it is not just elimination of militants only.. but an explicit genocide in the name of fighting terrorism.
United Nations defines Genocide as the "The systematic and widespread extermination or attempted extermination of an entire national, racial, religious, or ethnic group."
In less than 5 months starting from January 2009, more than one lakh people were killed. Friends.. not militants.. but innocent civilians and that too only Tamils. And that too, using universally banned Phosphorous bombs and cluster bombs. If this cannot be termed Genocide then what else is?
In the May 09 2009 issue Tehelka Magazine published an article on the last days of the Srilankan war (by P C Vinojkumar)
The article starts like this:
SRI LANKAN President Mahinda Rajapaksa should consider writing a book on how to win wars. The Rajapaksa Doctrine is quite simple. There are three main rules. The First (and most important) Rule: Conduct the War Without Witnesses. Ensure that the theatre of war is out of bounds for the media, international monitors and aid agencies. The Second Rule: Give the Army a Free Hand. Do not constrain them with rules and international conventions. The Third Rule: (In the absence of witnesses), Don’t Worry About Human Rights Violations.
Yes friends.. the lines aptly describe what happened in the Island. Though the Sinhalese Government has declared that the war is over, till today not even the International Aid agencies, like ICRC, are allowed free movement within the Island.
More than 3 Lakh Tamil people are detained in concentration camps. They are not Refugee camps. I consciously term them as concentration camps and also I consciously use the word 'detained'. No one is allowed to move out of the camp. Reports come on youth being separated. Young men are taken away by the military and their whereabouts are not heard of then after. Young women are subject to sexual harassment. Children are separated from their families. You may say that these may not have evidences. Fine.. but the past history of Sinhalese racism is fit enough to prove that they are capable of doing such atrocities. If the Srilankan Government truly cares for the people in the camps, why not allow the international aid agencies and media. From day one, Srilankan Government has been very cautious and stubborn in not allowing the International community in the conflict zone.
Not only in these camps.. even the Tamil people in Jaffna, which has been under the Srilankan Government control for about 14 years, are not allowed free movement in and out the district. They are not even allowed to go to the country’s capital, Colombo, without the permission of the authorities. Even within the district, they are not allowed to be on roads after 6 PM. Jaffna is very much away from the conflict zone. Not only that the people’s movement is curtailed, but also the food and medical supplies are restricted. The A-9 highway, the main route of supplies is closed for the past of 5 years. Jaffna district is almost an open prison. The camps have barbed wires. Jaffna does not have. That is the only difference. This is the situation in Jaffna for the past 14 years.
'War without witness' - That is what they have executed. And they do not want to leave behind any witness.
Three doctors, Srilankan Government employed doctors, Dr. Sathiyamoorthy, Dr. Varadarajah and Dr. Shanmugarajah who have been serving courageously in the conflict zone till the last day of war, and yet another doctor, Dr. Ilanchezhiya Pallavan, are now detained by the Srilankan Government under no charge. These doctors are authentic witnesses of the war and that is the very reason for their detention. They were arrested .. yes friends.. arrested just the day after the Government declared the war was over.. and till today.. no one knows their whereabouts.
Not only the doctors.. Vavuniya District Government Agent .. equivalent to our District Collector, Mr. Parthibaraja has disappeared. While the Srilankan government said that only 70,000 people were in the conflict zone, which was endorsed by the Indian External Affairs Minister in the parliament, it was Mr. Parthibaraja who said that it was not mere 70,000 people but it was 80,000 families who were in the conflict zone. From the next day he was not found.
The Amnesty International has taken up the issue of the doctors and has requested the Srilankan Government to release the doctors. It has also requested the international community to give pressure to the Srilankan Government for the release of the doctors. Various countries and International bodies have expressed their concern and requested the Srilankan Government. But in vain.
If the plight of well-known Government Employed doctors and Government Agents is such.. imagine the plight of common, vulnerable people in the camps. The people are of course the witnesses of the war. And what other reason does the Srilankan Government need to eliminate or silence these people.
Even after so much of hue and cry from the Western Countries requesting and pressurizing the Srilankan Government to allow International aid organizations and media, the Srilankan Government is not ready to give in.
In 1992-1995 Bosnian war, the Bosnian Serb Army massacred more than 40,000 Bosnian Muslims. This was taken to the International Court of Justice as war crime. The International Court of Justice declared its verdict on 2007 Feb 26. The court concluded that it was a 'War Crime' and convicted many army and government officials including the then Bosnian president Slobodan Milosevic, though he had demised in 2006 itself.
Now in Srilanka, more than 3 lakh people have been killed in the past 30 years of which more than 1 lakh in just 5 months. It is essential to bring the Srilankan President Mahinda Rajapakse and his associates, Godhapaya Rajapakse and Army chief Sarath Fonseka as criminals of war crime. Godhapaya Rajapakse, the defence secretary and President’s Mahinda Rajapakse’s brother, and Sarath Fonseka, the army chief, both hold American citizenship. Based on this, Mr. Bruce Fein an eminent Lawyer and a former attorney general of the US government has moved legally against these two in the US courts as war criminals.
Friends, Immediately after the Nazis’ war crimes trial, the famous Nuremberg policies were drafted which defined three major crimes, which can be prosecuted under International law. 1. War crime. 2. Crime against Humanity. 3. Genocide.
Friends.. we must note that Srilanka has committed all the three crimes.
As Ms.Karen Parker, an eminent Human rights advocate from Canada, puts it, the criteria for Self-determination as recognized by UN contains 5 basic points. 1. Land 2. Governance 3. Cultural Identity 4. Will to Self Determination and 5. Capability
The Sinhalese are aiming at taking away all of these basic criterion from the Tamils. Through Sinhalese settlements in the Tamils homeland, the land was grabbed away. It was Tamils who ruled the Tamils home land, Tamil Eelam, before the colonial rule. Since it is a historical fact the Sinhalese had nothing to do with it. The third is the Cultural Identity. In 1974, in the World Tamil Research Conference held at Jaffna, Sinhala thugs intruded and attacked the research scholars and visitors of the conference, in which 9 Tamils died. In 1981, the Jaffna Library, which stood as a symbol of pride for the Tamil Community, with a collection of more than 97,000 books and irreplaceble manuscripts on Tamil Literature and culture, was burnt down to ashes. These two incidents, both of which took place in the presence and guidance of two Sinhala Chauvinist ministers, Kamini Dissanayake and Cyril Mathew, are examples of the Sinhalese intention to devastate the cultural identity of the Tamils. Now with more than 3 Lakh people detained in concentration camps with their movements arrested, without proper food, education and other basic needs, the Srilankan Government is planning to produce a new generation of Tamils, without any capability, without the will to freedom, without any progressive thinking, without the fighting spirit, with their minds totally occupied on worries about their day to day life.
Is this not a crime against humanity? Is it not essential to prosecute Srilanka on these charges under International law? I feel this as highly essential for the future of humanity.
In May 2009, Switzerland moved a resolution in the United Nations Human Rights Council. The resolution was a much mild one, which states as :
12. The Council stresses the importance of combating impunity and calls on the government of Srilanka to investigate all allegations and bring to justice in accordance with international standards, perpetrators of violations of human rights and of international humanitarian law, including hostage taking, torture, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, and to increase its efforts to further prevent such violations.
13. The Council calls on the Government of Sri Lanka to take measures to ensure full respect for the right of freedom of opinion and expression and protect human rights defenders, and effectively investigate allegations of attacks on journalists and media personnel and human rights defenders and prosecute those responsible.
The resolution did not say that the UN or any international body should probe and take action on the human rights violations in Sri Lanka. It asked the Srilankan Government itself to take actions. Even such a mild resolution could not be passed successfully, though the whole of the western countries were in support of the resolution.
And friends, it is a shame that India stood in support of Srilanka to defeat the resolution. It is high time we understand the reason behind India’s stand on Srilanka.
We could understand that China, in the course of emerging as a new super power, wants to take control of South Asia and the Indian Ocean, against India and its interests and hence is supporting Srilanka.
As you might know, during the Indo-China war, Srilanka stood on China’s side. During Indo-Pakistan war too, Srilanka stood on Pakistan’s side. Historically Srilanka had never been a confident ally of India.
Now with China strongly putting down its feet in Srilanka, it is really surprising that India is also backing Srilanka even beyond a number of humiliating comments from the Srilankan ministers and authorities.
Friends.. it is here we must apply our mind with the messages rendered by Periyar and Baba sahib Ambedkar.
The Brahmin community, which does not form a nation by itself, wants to hold India as a whole under its domination. The huge investors from the Baniya community want to hold India together as a single large market. With the upsurge of Tamils in Srilanka, these communities are scared that it may lead to the rise of the nationalities in India. Already, in the northeast states, and in Jammu and Kashmir, the nationality struggle is on against the Indian dominance. Indian dominance is nothing but the dominance of the Brahmin-Baniya ruling class. Hence the upsurge of the nationalities is bound to affect the interests of the Brahmin-Baniya ruling class. Hence, it is this Brahmin-Baniya ruling class, which decides the so-called foreign policy, based on their own interests as against the interests of humanity.
There has always been rivalry between Aryans and Dravidians and between Aryan languages and Dravidian languages. It is the same conflict that is prevailing in Srilanka with Sinhalese of Aryan origin and Tamils of Dravidian origin.
Now whom do we look up to? The Governments have betrayed us. The Political parties always betray us.
What else we do?
Friends.. It is time that the younger generation takes the history in their hands. It is only in your hands.. the younger generation with humane and social concern.. to bring back peace to this world. To save humanity. To bring Liberty, Equality and Fraternity.
We, as human rights activists, socially concerned, need to ensure that the following are achieved.
As an immediate relief, the IDP camps are to be handed over to International bodies. Also the IDP camp now set up in a particular area should be distributed and set up in each region and people should be moved to camps nearest to their native places. This could avoid Sinhalese settlements to some extent.
Secondly, the people in the camps should be re-located in their own homes from the camps at the earliest.
Thirdly, the political prisoners and prisoners of war be treated in accordance with the International laws.
Finally, as a long-term objective, the Self-determination of the Tamils is to be recognized.
Let us join hands and work towards achieving these to ensure the safety of the Tamils of Srilanka and for their righteous, peaceful life with equal rights.
Thanks one and all