The Sri Lankan government claims that, after its military victory against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, which was fighting for an independent homeland in the island’s north-east for the Tamil minority, Tamil “terrorism” has been crushed, and that the outlook for the country is rosy.
In reality, Sri Lanka’s problems have gotten worse. The need for international action against the crimes of the regime is more urgent than ever.
This year, the regime’s genocidal war on the Tamil people killed more than 30,000 Tamils this year. This occurred after the government removed international witnesses.
“Genocide” is defined by the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide as an act committed with the intent to destroy in whole or in part a national, ethnic, racial or religious group.
More than 300,000 Tamils have been incarcerated in what are essentially concentration camps set up by the government in the north. A well-functioning defacto state in the Vanni region, four large districts administered by the LTTE for more than a decade, has been decimated.
Democracy in Sri Lanka has been dismantled and a politico-military dictatorship established.
More than any other country, China has assisted Sri Lanka militarily and economically. The quid pro quo is the establishment of a major naval facility in Sri Lanka. This will help supply oil to China from the Middle East and safeguard the movement of manufactured goods from China to the West.
China has also started a coal-powered power plant in the island’s north-west. Eighty families of fisher people in the area have been evicted. The government claims they are “illegal residents” because they live in huts.
A US$500 million “soft loan” has been granted by the Export and Import Bank of China.
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The authorities in Sri Lanka have arrested a popular astrologer who predicted that the president will be ejected from office, police say.
Chandrasiri Bandara announced last week that the government would flounder in September and October because of political and economic problems.
The opposition have condemned the arrest and warned that the country is heading towards a dictatorship.
Astrology is taken seriously by numerous Sri Lankan politicians.
Police told the AP news agency that Mr Bandara told an opposition meeting that the prime minister would take over as president on 9 September and the opposition leader would become prime minister.
He was arrested on Wednesday night to investigate the basis of his prediction, police spokesman Ranjith Gunasekera said.
Mr Bandara made his forecast despite the president’s high approval ratings following the defeat of Tamil Tigers rebels in May, bringing an end to nearly 26 years of civil war.
“The CID (Criminal Investigations Department) is questioning the astrologer,” Mr Gunasekara said.
The astrologer predicted that a planetary change on 8 October will be inauspicious for parliament and the government may not be able to contain rising living costs – a forecast which correspondents say has already been made by private economists.
“The crime which Chandrasiri Bandara committed was publishing an astrological column which was adverse to the government,” said opposition United National Party General Secretary Tissa Attanayake.
So convinced are Sri Lankan politicians over the accuracy of astrology that many have their own personal seers who decide the auspicious times to launch any new initiative.
President Rajapaksa has declared himself to be a believer, telling foreign reporters earlier this year that he has often consulted a favoured astrologer for advice on what time to make speeches or to depart for trips.
Mr Bandara – who has a weekly television show and writes controversial political columns for a pro-opposition newspaper – is one of the most popular astrologers in the country.
Media rights groups have complained of continued efforts by the government to stifle freedom of speech despite the end of the war.
On Wednesday the main media organisations in the country urged the government not to re-establish a body that can fine and imprison print journalists.
According to Amnesty International, at least 14 journalists and staff at news outlets have been killed by suspected government paramilitaries and rebels since the beginning of 2006.
Jan Egeland, the former UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Tuesday told the press that “Sri Lanka is one of the latest examples of the World community letting a government get away with denying access for the international community of witnesses, of humanitarian relief and protection for civilians,” adding that world governments failed what they swore in 2005 of the “responsibility to protect,” and that “for Tamil women” there were a “number of horrors.”
Egeland’s comment contrasts with the stand of his successor John Holmes who earlier commended the Sri Lanka’s treatment of the 300,000 civilians currently being held in internment camps in Vavuniyaa.
In preparation for the September 2005 United Nations Summit of world leaders, Kofi Annan presented a report, “In Larger Freedom,” which urged the Heads of State and Government to ”embrace the ‘responsibility to protect’ as a basis for collective action against genocide, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.“ This was later formulated as the “R2P doctrine” of the UN.
“What happened to the Tamil women in Sri Lanka? We don’t even know. Because there was no access. What we can safely assume is that there were a number of horrors,” Egeland said.
“I can also safely assume that new conflicts will brew because injustice still prevails,” Egeland added.
Last week Inner City Press asked for the UN’s and Holmes’ response to the Sri Lanka government barring even UN workers from bringing cameras into the internment camps. “There was no response, nor to the disbanding of the investigation into killings such as that of 17 Action Contre la Faim aid workers near Kilinochchi,” Inner City Press reported.
Human Rights Watch
End of Government Commission on Wartime Abuses Puts Justice at Risk
Sri Lanka’s presidential commission of inquiry started with a bang and ended with a whimper. The need for an international inquiry into abuses by both sides is greater than ever.
(New York) – The Sri Lankan government’s announcement that it was ending its special inquiry into conflict-related abuses underscores the need for an international commission to investigate violations of international law by government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, Human Rights Watch said today.
“Sri Lanka’s presidential commission of inquiry started with a bang and ended with a whimper,” said Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The need for an international inquiry into abuses by both sides is greater than ever.”
The mandate of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry, which was established in 2006 and assigned to investigate 16 incidents of killings, enforced disappearances, assassinations and other serious abuses, expired on June 14, 2009 and reportedly was not renewed. Although the commission’s chairman, former Supreme Court chief justice Nissanka Udalagama, said that seven of the 16 cases had been investigated, none of the commission’s reports have been released or any other public action taken. Among the cases the commission investigated was the brutal killing of five students in Trincomalee, the summary execution of 17 aid workers in Mutur, and the bomb attack that killed 68 bus passengers in Kebitigollewa. Human Rights Watch has expressed concern about the slow pace of the investigations and President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s unwillingness to release the investigation reports.
The last weeks of the war heightened the need for an independent and impartial inquiry. Fighting in northeastern Sri Lanka intensified from early January until the government’s defeat of the LTTE in May. During that period, both sides were implicated in numerous serious violations of the laws of war. LTTE forces used displaced persons as “human shields,” and fired on civilians who tried to flee the conflict area. Government forces repeatedly fired heavy artillery into densely populated areas, including at hospitals caring for the wounded.
During the special session on Sri Lanka of the UN Human Rights Council in May, the UN high commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay, said that an “independent and credible international investigation into recent events should be dispatched to ascertain the occurrence, nature and scale of violations of international human rights and international humanitarian law, as well as specific responsibilities.”
On May 23, Rajapaksa and the UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, issued a joint statement from Sri Lanka in which the government said it “will take measures to address” the need for an accountability process for violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.
“The decision to disband the presidential commission shows that President Rajapaksa has little intention of fulfilling his promise to Secretary-General Ban,” said Pearson. “It’s now up to concerned governments to step in and ensure that justice is done for the victims of abuses in Sri Lanka’s long war.”
There have been serious ongoing violations of human rights in Sri Lanka and a backlog of cases of enforced disappearance and unlawful killings that run to the tens of thousands, as described for example in the 2008 Human Rights Watch report “Recurring Nightmare.” Despite this track record, there have been only a small number of prosecutions.
Human Rights Watch said the presidential commission of inquiry was just the latest inadequate and incomplete effort by the Sri Lankan government to investigate serious human rights abuses and bring those responsible to justice. Other efforts to address violations through the establishment of ad hoc mechanisms in Sri Lanka produced few results, either in providing information or leading to prosecutions.
FROM CEYLON NADU WEBSITE
- Extrajudicial Killings
- State Responsibility for Enforced Disappearances
- Arbitrary arrests and Detention
- Forcible Returns of IDPs
- Threats to Journalists and Media Restrictions
- Recruitment of Child Soldiers
- Safety of Humanitarian Workers
- Culture of Impunity
“Police and military investigations into the killing of Tamils [and] ddeaths in custody have too often been poorly handled and remarkably few convictions have resulted. . . . from November 2004 to October 2005 the police [fatally] shot at least 22 criminal suspects after taking them into custody. . . . in one of these cases had an internal police inquiry been opened.”
“[D]uring 2006, witnesses in Mutur identified to the Magistrate most of the perpetrators of more than 20 incidents of murder and abduction. The Police in Mutur arrested no one.”
“[T] the army – assisted by pro-government Tamil paramilitaries – is also engaged in a deliberate policy of extrajudicial killings and abductions of Tamils considered part of LTTE’s civilian support network. Targeted assassinations have been particularly frequent in Jaffna and parts of the east, often victimising civilians with no connection to the LTTE.”
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A press statement has been released by Mr Visuvanathan Rudrakumaran, Coordinator of the Committee for the formation of a Provisional Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam. The statement said: The legitimate campaign of the Tamils to realize their right to self-determination has been brutally crushed through military aggression, which has been in violation of humanitarian laws and all civilized norms. People all over the world are shocked and deeply saddened by the massacres of Tamils in the Vanni.
Of particular note, banned weapons and heavy shelling by the Sinhalese military were responsible for the massacre of an estimated 30,000 Tamil civilians in the no fire zone this year. Today the government of Sri Lanka continues to incarcerate 300,000 Tamils, who have been herded into internment camps guarded by the Sinhalese military. The UN, INGOS and other relief organizations and journalists have been barred from free access to these internment camps. Those Tamils who live outside the camps hardly fare better in terms of their safety and well-being. The Jaffna Peninsula is an open prison camp. The Eastern part of the island, part of traditional habitation of Tamil-speaking people, is occupied territory. The South of the island is under the control of an anti-Tamil government, and the Tamils who live there are securitized, harassed and live in constant fear of violence. All Tamil civilians are being targeted solely on account of their Tamil ethnicity. Tamils are on the verge of being annihilated as a nation, a people and a community through deliberate killing and disappearance, forced assimilation, ethnic cleansing and colonization.
Not only is the very physical survival of Tamils in danger in the island of Sri Lanka, but Tamils also do not have any political space to articulate their legitimate political aspirations on the island.
Politicians who articulate the voices of their people are in grave danger of their life. Three Tamil Members of Parliament have been killed since Pres. Rajapakse was elected in 2005, more have fled the country and the ones who remain are very brave. In addition, because of the systematic colonization of Tamil areas, the gerrymandering of electoral districts, the large numbers who were driven from or fled the Tamil areas because of violence and the lack of new voter registration, Tamil representation has decreased substantially in the legislature since independence. Moreover, the electoral process in the island of Sri Lanka is entrenched with pervasive racism and has resulted in further marginalization and oppression of Tamil people at each and every election as acknowledged by academics. Consequently the Tamils are denied effective participation in the political process of the island.
A symptom of this lack of political space is the 1983 Sixth Amendment which prohibits even discussion of a separate state in violation of freedom of speech. The physical insecurity of Tamils is embodied in the 1979 Prevention of Terrorism Act which has been described as “an ugly blot on the statute book of any civilized country” by the International Commission of Jurists, and in the Emergency laws that have allowed hundreds of thousands of enforced disappearances, extrajudicial executions, torture and rape of Tamils with total impunity by the perpetrators. There is no political space for the full articulation of Tamil political aspirations within the constraints of the Sri Lankan state’s constitutional structure, and, with the lack of personal security for Tamils within the island, the Tamils’ political campaign for their rights can be pursued only from outside the island.
We, the people of Tamil Eelam and its Diaspora, therefore, firmly believe that the formation of a Provisional Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam is imperative. It is a well accepted proposition in international law that the legal claim to establish a government in exile arises the more readily when the exclusion of its political leaders is achieved through acts contrary to principles of ius cogens, such as the unlawful use of force, abductions with a view to torture, genocide, war crimes, detention in internment camps or “open prisons,” the rape of women and the kidnapping of children.
In this connection, we, the people of Tamil Eelam and its Diaspora, propose to put together a committee for the Formation of a Provisional Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam. Our program and efforts in this regard are fundamentally democratic.
The Committee is given the task of structuring such a provisional government, with the view of
1. Uniting all Tamil entities and elements who subscribe to the fundamental tenets of Tamil political aspiration, namely the recognition of Tamil Nationhood, a Tamil homeland as recognized in the 1987 Indo- Sri Lanka Agreement, and the Tamils’ right to self-determination found in the 1976 Vaddukoddai Resolution, which was subsequently endorsed and mandated in the general election of 1977, the 1985 Thimpu Declaration and the 2003 Interim Self-Governing Authority (ISGA) proposals;
2. Working in partnership with the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), considering that the political policies and aspirations articulated by the TNA at consecutive elections in 2001 and 2004 were strongly endorsed and, thereby mandated, by the Tamil people, and with any other Tamil political party or representatives of other parties that support and advocate for the realization of the Tamils’ right to self-determination.
3. Articulating positions for negotiations with the Sinhala nation;
4. Conducting voter registration among the Tamil Diaspora within various countries in collaboration with an internationally reputed firm in preparation for electing a constituent assembly to frame a Constitution and to vote at a referendum subject to international supervision with respect to a final resolution of the Tamil national question;
5. Establishing procedures for electing a Congress and an Executive;
6. Establishing direct links with foreign Governments and other international organizations;
7. Working for the social, economic and cultural well-being of the one million members of the Tamil Diaspora;
8. Building a political program with the participation of Muslim representatives, taking into account that the diversity of Tamil and Muslim regions has been used as a threat in the past against the realization of the Tamils’ right to self-determination;
9. Performing such other tasks as may be necessary to promote the interests of the Tamil people in the North East of the island of Sri Lanka and the Tamil Diaspora.
Given the urgent need to halt the ongoing genocide of Tamils on the island, the Committee is also given the task of liaising with international nongovernmental organizations and international organizations to ensure that Tamils’ physical survival is guaranteed; to stop the sexual violence against Tamil women; to stop the physical abuse of Tamil children by the Sri Lankan government’s mono-ethnic armed forces and ensure their speedy reunification with their families; to ensure the return of the 300,000 Tamils held in internment camps to their homes and to bring to justice those who have committed genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The Committee shall also liaise with organizations representing the global Tamil Diaspora from various parts of the world and, especially, the second generation, to realize its task.
Members of the Formation Committee consist of a core team and many subcommittees on a country and sector basis, and are now being recruited.
The Formation Committee is supported by an Advisory Committee of experts in various fields. Professor M. Sornarajah (UK), Professor Francis Boyle (USA), Professor P. Ramasamy (Malaysia), Professor Rev A.J.C Chandrakanthan (Canada), Professor Nadaraja Sriskandarajah (Sweden), Dr Murugar Gunasingham (Australia), Dr Sivanendran Seevanayagam (Australia), Dr A.L. Vasanthakumar (UK), Ms Karen Parker (USA), Dr N. Jeyalingam (USA), Mr Selva Sivarajah (Australia), Mr Paul Williams (Netherlands) and Professor Peter Schalk (Sweden) have agreed to function as Advisory Committee members.
We kindly request all committed individuals to come forward to work for the important task of the formation of a Provisional Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam.
The Formation Committee is expected to function until December 31, 2009. Upon completion of its term, the Committee is required to produce a report of its work. The Committee invites suggestions from the general public in the above matter. In this connection the Committee has setup an email address for the public to use – email@example.com
Almost a month after their devastating defeat by the Sri Lankan Army, the Tamil Tigers’ last few surviving leaders have announced that the rebel group will be reborn as a separatist movement in exile.
In an e-mailed audio file that has flown around the Tamil diaspora, the rebels’ head of international relations, Selvarasa Pathmanathan, said that the group was reorganising to pursue its goal of a separate Tamil state from outside Sri Lanka. “The struggle of the people of Tamil Eelam has reached a new stage,” he said. “It is time now for us to move forward with our political vision towards our freedom.”
Mr Pathmanathan gave no indication that the group would renounce violence but announced the establishment of a “provisional transnational government of Tamil Eelam”, which would decide on a course of action “within democratic principles”. Tamil Eelam is the name given by the Tigers to the north and eastern areas of Sri Lanka to which they lay claim.
Mr Pathmanathan, who is wanted by Interpol in connection with his role as the Tigers’ main arms smuggler, is one of a handful of senior cadres who escaped annihilation last month because he is based overseas.
The Tamil diaspora, a community of millions from Canada to Australia, has been crucial in financing the rebel movement, donating millions of dollars, much of it for weapons. Some Tamils in Sri Lanka have condemned the diaspora for its support of an undemocratic regime which its members did not have to live under.
Velupillai Prabhakaran, the Tiger leader killed during the offensive in May, resisted democratic reform of his movement, posing a key obstacle to the peace process which was finally abandoned in 2006, heralding the return to war.
After the Tigers’ military defeat some supporters overseas said that they were waiting for word of what would happen to the movement in order to decide how to channel their money.
The Tigers are a banned terrorist group in most Western countries. Last week the founder of the British Tamil Association was sentenced to two years in jail for illegally procuring electrical components for the group.
Almost 300,000 Tamil civilians who had been trapped in the war zone are now interned in military-run camps in northern Sri Lanka. The Government says they must stay there until they can be “screened” for links to the Tigers — although Sri Lanka’s Foreign Secretary has suggested that all Tamils could be considered as being “with” the Tigers “at least mentally”.
The United Nations has called on the Sri Lankan Government to allow full humanitarian access to the camps.International human rights groups have called for an independent inquiry into war crimes allegedly committed by both sides during the final assault in May. A Times investigation last month found that more than 20,000 Tamil civilians were killed, most of them during government shelling.
Yesterday government officials revealed that the only human rights investigation into the war had been disbanded with more than half of its cases unresolved. The inquiry was established two years ago under international pressure and was assigned 16 cases of alleged abuses by both sides, including the execution-style killings of 17 aid workers from the French group Action Contre la Faim.
In March last year a team of international observers on the commission resigned saying the Government lacked the will to investigate the abuse claims.
FROM THE WEBSITE OF TAMIL NET
Sunila Abeysekera, a human rights activist and executive director of INFORM human rights documentation center in Sri Lanka, in an interview to Real News Network in Toronto, accused the Sri Lanka Government authorities of not providing enough attention to the welfare of the nearly 300,000 people in the internment camps who have come to these camps after months of deprivation, and said that the lack of proper registration procedures for the people inside the camp is providing Colombo a free hand in facilitating the Paramilitaries to take youths out of the camps in large numbers without any accountability.
“Many of the people are dehydrated and have infected wounds,” Abeysekara said, and pointed to the April 11th statement by the High Court Judge in Vavuniyaa that fourteen elderly people died of starvation in one day.
Abeysekara said that she cannot accept Sri Lanka Government’s stand that they will screen the 300,000 people before giving access to independent NGOs including ICRC, and UNHCR, and that independent observers should be allowed to monitor the screening process.
She also said that more than 200 youths between the ages of 11 and 17 were taken from the Manik farm camp in Vavuniyaa last week, and the Government has not disclosed the list of the youths taken. “The parents of these youths are desparate,” Ms Abeysekera said.
Government admits that they have 10,000 LTTE surrendees and captives in who have surrendered, Ms Abeysekera said. “We don’t know where they are. We don’t have a list of who they are. There are families of senior LTTE cadres are in Government custody. For example, Soosai’s wife and children are captured by the Sri Lanka Navy. We are trying to find where these people are. And it is impossible,” Ms Abeysekara added.
Ms Abeysekera was honored as a Human Rights Watch Defender at the 2007, Voices for Justice Dinner Worldview.
“When even the then supporters of the GoSL [Government of Sri Lanka] in Berlin, Paris or London have demanded an enquiry into war crimes and violations of human and humanitarian law in view of the estimated 20,000 mostly dead civilians during the last few weeks, when even the established media question the internment of 300,000 Tamil IDP, there is no way for any self-respecting intellectual or the critical public in general in the country concerned to pretend that the only problem left to be tackled is “humanitarian,” said Prof. John Neelsen of Institute of Sociology in Tuebingen Germany in response to appeal for relief funds by the head of the NGO Foundation for Co-Existense’s Dr Kumar Rupesinghe, accusing the NGO of supporting a “dictatorship masquerading as democracy.”
“Instead of rising against the root causes, mobilizing the Singhalese public to fight against chauvinism, the security state, the dictatorship maskerading as democracy, for the rule of law and against the “culture of impunity”, for a democratic, inclusive, participatory polity and society, you call for hand-outs, for charity implicitely justifying the present state of affairs,” Prof. Neelson said in his letter.
“But, the plight of the Tamils is not due to a natural disaster, not another tsunami, but the result of the conscious policy of a government that had no calms of bombarding people that it claims as its own citizens with heavy artillery, according to some reports even illegal chemical weapons,” Neelson said.
“You speak -echoing the official government line – of ‘300.000 temporarily displaced Tamils being ‘sheltered in welfare centres’. This is but typical Orwellian language trying to turn reality upside down in light of the razor sharp barbed wires surrounding these camps, of the military controlling all access to and exits from them, of the prevention of independent outside observers, journalists and NGOs from entering them, of official announcements that a new prolonged phase of “counter-insurgency”.
“The’welfare centres’ are but internment camps, the ‘rehabilitation in the camps’ is but a racist policy of collective suspicion, intimidation, witchhunt, and impoverishment. When you talk of the “fear and anxiety of the people undoubtedly brainwashed by the LTTE” you seem to forget Bindunuwewa or Chemmani or the numerous reports by UN agencies and Human Rights organizations that have castigated the massive human rights violations, such as disappearances, extra-judicial killings, and torture committed for decades by the security forces especially against the SLT [Sri Lanka’s Tamils],” Neelson said in his letter.
Full text of Prof. Neelsen’s response:
- Dear Mr.Rupesinghe,
allow me to reply to your appeal for financial contributions for the construction of 1000 latrins, and (earlier for) educational materials for Tamil youngsters in the camps in the Vanni. To state my position clearly at the outset: I am totally opposed to your proposal and hope to convince at least some of the other recipients of your appeal!
Only in passing, I like to remind you of the high sounding speeches, including yours, on peace, negotiations, and reconciliation at the April 2006 conference in Zurich/Switzerland (“Envisioning New Trajectories for Peace in SL”) or your similarly titled volumes. With the armed resistance defeated, the LTTE decapitated, today these sentiments and arguments appear light-years away. I wonder how you (and the other, particularly Singhalese, participants) read -and defend – your respective contributions now…
Anyhow, today you are seemingly assuming a purely humanitarian viewpoint and, indeed, the door has been thrown wide open for all manifestly similarly minded people in NGOs and governments all over the world.
But, the plight of the Tamils is not due to a natural disaster, not another tsunami, but the result of the conscious policy of a government that had no calms of bombarding people that it claims as its own citizens with heavy artillery, according to some reports even illegal chemical weapons.
When even the then supporters of the GoSL in Berlin, Paris or London have demanded an enquiry into war crimes and violations of human and humanitarian law in view of the estimated 20.000 mostly dead civilians during the last few weeks, when even the established media question the internment of 300.000 Tamil IDP, there is no way for any self-respecting intellectual or the critical public in general in the country concerned to pretend that the only problem left to be tackled is “humanitarian”.
Just the contrary! You speak -echoing the official government line – of ‘300.000 temporarily displaced Tamils being ‘sheltered in welfare centres’. This is but typical Orwellian language trying to turn reality upside down in light of the razor sharp barbed wires surrounding these camps, of the military controlling all access to and exits from them, of the prevention of independent outside observers, journalists and NGOs from entering them, of official announcements that a new prolonged phase of “counter-insurgency”. The’welfare centres’ are but internment camps, the ‘rehabilitation in the camps’ is but a racist policy of collective suspicion, intimidation, witchhunt, and impoverishment. When you talk of the “fear and anxiety of the people undoubtedly brainwashed by the LTTE” you seem to forget Bindunuwewa or Chemmani or the numerous reports by UN agencies and Human Rights organizations that have castigated the massive human rights violations, such as disappearances, extra-judicial killings, and torture committed for decades by the security forces especially against the SLT.
- Apart from their own experiences, these terrified people may also have heard of the situation on the ground following the ‘liberation’ of the Eastern province in mid-July 2007. What the government euphemistically describes as a “Nagenahira Navodaya or Eastern Awakening” programme, has nothing to do with “post-conflict reconstruction” but is a nightmare of violence, political instability, repression, and land expropiration according to the International Crisis Group (Asia report No 165 of April 16, 2009 entitled “Development Assistance and Conflict in Sri Lanka – Lessons from the Eastern Province”). And this is only the tip of the iceberg when viewed against the appropriation of the state by the majority coupled with the systemic oppression, including pogroms, of the Tamil people and the minorities in language, education, public employment or land colonisation.
Against this background, your appeal is anything but well-minded and humanitarian, it is highly political, in fact legitimizing the racist policies of the GoSL. Instead of rising against the root causes, mobilizing the Singhalese public to fight against chauvinism, the security state, the dictatorship maskerading as democracy, for the rule of law and against the “culture of impunity”, for a democratic, inclusive, participatory polity and society, you call for hand-outs, for charity implicitely justifying the present state of affairs.
As a former Dy.Director of SIPRI, Oslo and coordinator of the UN Programme on Conflict Resolution, you know that in a conflict each and every action can not be viewed in isolation, but has to be seen in its socio-political context. In the concrete situation: A camp is a camp, to put a whole people behind barbed wire is racism.
The unambigous struggle for the immediate dissolution of the camps and the return of the IDP to their homes must be the absolute priority, and not to make life somewhat easier for the inmates…
Such a political commitment is, by the way, also in the best long-term interest of the Singhalese and all the other people living on the island.
Prof. John Neesen
The text for appeal for funds by the Foundation for Co-Existence:
- WINNING THE PEACE
The territorial battle between the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE is at an end. Over two hundred and eighty thousand people have come into government controlled areas with fear and anxiety in their eyes, some maimed and injured and some separated from their kith and kin.
The rehabilitation of the Tamil people in the camps is a major challenge, for they look a defeated people, undoubtedly brainwashed by the LTTE and shell shocked and emaciated.
This is why I am keen to ensure these young people to obtain English training and training in information technology. Once this program gets going then other vocational training skills can be imparted to them. The young people should not be allowed to be idle for 24 hours is a very long time in a camp. Therefore they should be given reading material in Tamil and the books, magazines and journals should be carefully whetted. A strategic plan must be created with a long term vision. We owe this to a desperate and troubled mind of a future younger generation in the camps. We must not let history repeat itself.
During any war terminations, people must pick up the pieces and rebuild their societies. In Sri Lanka too such a moment has arisen.
A team of five Tamil National Alliance (TNA) parliamentarians met the new Indian Foreign Minister S M Krishna on Thursday and discussed matters related to the release of the three doctors and a TNA parliamentarian who rendered invaluable service to the beleaguered people to the very end of war, demilitarization of Tamil areas, resettlement and rehabilitation of civilians in the internment camps and grant amnesty to LTTE carders in captivity, TNA circles told TamilNet. The parliamentarians met National Security Advisor M K Narayanan on Wednesday and Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon on Tuesday before the meeting with Mr. S M Krishna. They also met the leader of the opposition L. K. Advani on Friday.
Dr. Sathyamoorthy, Dr. Varatharajah and Dr. Shanmugarajah are the three Tamil doctors who braved a situation in serving the people that none of the international organizations and the world’s charities could not face and Mr. Kanagaratnam is the parliamentarian representing Mullaiththeevu who preferred to stay with his people throughout their misery. They have not violated any laws but are in the custody of the Sri Lanka government and are investigated by the Criminal Investigation Department and Terrorist Investigation Department.
The Indian Foreign Minister was urged to secure their release at the earliest by the TNA parliamentarians.
The MPs briefed Mr. Krishna of the humiliation and harassment faced by Tamil civilians in their homeland by the presence of Sinhala armed forces. As the LTTE does not exist any longer as a conventional military force, the intrusion of armed forces into the life of Tamil civilians must come to an end, the MPs said adding that new armed forces camps should not be allowed to be pursued and all military facilities that came up after the commencement of the armed conflict should be dismantled early.
Saying that the camps set by the Colombo government are nothing but ‘concentration camps’ and there is secrecy and lack of transparency in resettlement an rehabilitation, the MPs pointed out the Sinhala Task Force appointed by the Colombo government for this purpose and the talk of settling Sinhalese or Sinhala armed forces in the Tamil areas captured by Sinhala armed forces.
The TNA parliamentarians also urged that the LTTE cadres now in captivity should be treated in accordance to international laws applicable to combatants, should be handled with the participation of the ICRC and the precedence set by granting amnesty to the JVP should be followed in the case of the LTTE cadres too.
TNA Parliamentary Group Leader R. Sampanthan, Ilankai Tamil Arasuk Kadchi General Secretary Mavai Senathirajah, All Ceylon Tamil Congress General secretary G.G. Ponnampalam, Eelam People Revolutionary Liberation Front General secretary Suresh Premachandran and Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization President Selvam Adaikalanathan were the TNA parliamentarians who met the Indian Foreign Minister Thursday.