eelamview

March 22, 2012

Cannot expect solutions from NGOs tied to western bureaucracies: Kurdish Activist

Filed under: genocide srilanka, tamil eelam — Tags: — எல்லாளன் @ 5:54 pm

Stating that oppressed nations must enforce their own agendas and not rely on NGOs like ICG for solutions, Kurdish activist in UK, Mehmet Aksoy, argued that such NGOs were entrenched in bureaucracies, at a seminar on ‘State Repression and the Struggle for Self-determination: Strategies for Resistance’ organized by Campaign against Criminalising Communities (CAMPACC) on Sunday. The meeting at the University of London Union, London was held in association with diaspora organizations of Kurds, Balochs, Eezham Tamils, Basques, and Sindhis. The Eezham Tamil activists spoke about how the double standards in dealing with the Tamils deployed by the western governments gave a green signal for the GoSL to carry out its genocidal offensive in May 2009.

CAMPACC

Mehmet Aksoy, Halkevi Kurdish Turkish Community Centre
CAMPACC

[R-L] Hyrbyair Marri, Baloch Political leader and Saleh Mamon, Chair
CAMPACC

Janani Jananayagam, TAG
CAMPACC

Sivagami Rajamanoharan, TYO-UK
CAMPACC

Les Levidow, CAMPACC
CAMPACC

Oier Imaz, Basque activist with the Abertzale Left

The diaspora activists talked about the respective histories of their struggle, the nuances of geo-politics in their specific cases as well as their experiences in dealing with establishments.

The meeting, chaired by Saleh Mamon of CAMPACC, comprising diaspora activists of various nations without states emphasised on the need of building solidarities among such groups especially in the UK and also on the imperative to conceive new resistance strategies to tackle repressive laws in the UK.

Les Levidow of CAMPACC said that beyond the colonial measures of counterinsurgency, the EU has also devised ways to create a stigma of ‘supporter of terrorism’ among oppressed nations here. Noting how refugees have been prosecuted and deported for supporting so called terrorist organizations, he said that there is “a securitization agenda which turns all political conflicts into security issues.”

Referring to David Miliband’s observations in the recently released Channel 4 documentary, he also said that there was an asymmetric labelling of one side as terrorists while the other side was committing genocide.

In the discussion that followed, the Chair Saleh Mamon noted that the counterinsurgency model followed by Sri Lanka, Turkey and Pakistan was the US model.

Talking about how the GoSL was attempting to erase the Eezham Tamil identity, Jan Jananayagam, UK spokesperson for TAG, said that how people in the Tamil homelands were reduced to life at a bare minimum, where struggling to stay alive was made to be the only priority. She referred to double standards in governments of US and Canada where the first prosecutions were not of war criminals but of students who sent computer equipment to Vanni. She also pointed out that what came out in the Channel 4 documentaries were already put across to the world from journalists on the ground much earlier, but the world failed to act.

Sivakami Rajamanohar of the TYO-UK opined that the fact that the LTTE was banned in the western states and the Tamil nation was criminalized for standing by their demands led to the genocidal offensive in 2009. “Although the Sri Lankan government claims peace now, the fact that genocide is ongoing tilts the balance in our favour,” she said.

Ali Has, Kurdish lawyer and Higher Court Advocate practicing Human Rights and Criminal Law in London, talked about the history of the Kurdish struggle for independence and the violent repression of the PKK led movement by the Turkish state. He also spoke about the draconian anti-terror laws in Turkey and how the 1982 Turkish constitution made any demand for Kurdish independence or even autonomy illegal.

Mehmet Aksoy, from the Halkevi Kurdish Turkish Community Centre, spoke on how the Kurdish movement worked with Turkish leftist leaders outside Turkey and with other socialist movements in the western countries. Referring to repression in Turkey, he stated that every time the Turkish appeared as giving a solution, it would combine it with mass arrests. He also elaborated on how Kurdish paramilitaries were used by Turkey to dissipate the movement in Kurdish regions.

When a question was raised during the discussion following the presentations on the role of groups like ICG which talk only about human rights without addressing political demands, with reference to Eezham Tamils and Kurds where the popular demand for sovereignty is painted as extremist by such groups, Mr. Aksoy said that such organizations are tied to bureaucracies of the west and that they should be worked with tactically without expecting too much from them.

“The disease of liberalism will always pull you back making you expect solutions from such organizations. But if you do not enforce your agenda, you will never get a true freedom,” he said.

Oier Imaz, a Basque activist affiliated to the Abertzale Left, talked about the experiences of the Basque struggle and emphasised that a creation of counter-power dynamics, even while working within the system, should be part of our daily agenda.

Baloch political leader Hyrbyair Marri and Baloch human rights activist Dr. Shahzavar Karimzadi spoke about the history of the Baloch movement and of the various human rights abuses by Pakistan. Both opined that a free and democratic Balochistan alone will bring a lasting peace in the region.

Towards the end of the seminar Mr. Levidow proposed that there should be an organized opposition to draconian anti-terror laws in the UK and to prosecution or extradition of refugees in the name of countering terrorism.

TamilNet

SRI LANKA: Extrajudicial Killings – The miserable breakdown of the rule of law

Filed under: genocide srilanka, tamil eelam — Tags: — எல்லாளன் @ 5:52 pm

Our lives are spinning out
from world to world;
the shapes of things
are shifting in the wind.
What do we know
beyond the rapture and the dread?- Stanley Kunitz*

“They finished off my husband after two days of torture, and then took me to Hambantota where a number of women were held on suspicion. To my knowledge, most of them were innocent like me. There too they tortured me and urged me to reveal the names of the people who had connections with the JVP, but I did not know anyone who had JVP connections and I didn’t have any link with them either.” – Mrs. Premasili**

Every national and international observer agrees that Sri Lanka today is a state facing tremendous upheaval and chaotic social disorder, even after the elimination of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), on May 19, 2012 (when the Government of Sri Lanka officially declared the longest civil war in Asia over1). The national and international civil society organizations have documented that violations of fundamental human rights are occurring every day2. The tabling of the drafted resolution on human rights in Sri Lanka by the United State of America, to the 19th Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, has questioned an old phenomenon in a new framework, though it continues, as previous resolutions have, to open widespread discussion on human rights violations by the Government of Sri Lanka, as well as by non-state actors in recent times in the island nation. There is no doubt that the Government of Sri Lanka needs tremendous pressure from the international community, not only to take responsibility for its conduct during the war, but also to address the many constitutional shortcomings that resulted from the introduction of the 1978 Constitution3 and most of its amendments, where the principles of common law were manipulated by the executive branch to place itself above the law.

In regard to the threat to human lives, there is no significant difference between open warfare and political competition between the powerful political parties of Sri Lanka. Since 1971 when the UF Government4 introduced the practice of extrajudicial killing for the first time against the JVP insurrection, many dissidents, both rebel and civilian, have been killed in cold blood. Extrajudicial killings have become a norm of daily life in Sri Lanka. Even though the present regime has made some symbolic developments on extrajudicial killings, they remain part of daily life. Sri Lankans, rightly, remain fearful of abduction and the white van syndrome has become a powerful symbol of extra judicial killings in recent years. However, the Government of Sri Lanka remains unwilling to conduct genuine investigation on “White Van” abductions and it is commonly believed that the Government is the one of the main perpetrators of these heinous crimes.

The worst development of this practice was reported on the second week of February this year, when an armed gang entered the premises of a courthouse and abducted an individual who was being escorted by security officials from the courthouse to prison, after hearing a case against him. The following morning, Tuesday 14th February, 2012, a body of a male was dumped and burnt near Sri Lankan President Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa’s private residence in Boteju Mawatha, in Colombo. Around 9.30 am on 14th February, unidentified persons arrived in a white van, dumped a male body, and burnt it in front of Mr. Rajapaksa’s private residence.

The Asian Human Rights Commission has documented a case of a man who was tortured and illegally detained for 28 months and was abducted before the Supreme Court could hear his Fundamental Rights application. On 11 February, 2012, Mr. Ramasamy Prabakaran was forcibly abducted in the presence of his wife, Shiromi, and their daughter, near their home in Canal Bank Road, Wellawatte. Prabakaran, who owns Panama Traders, an electronic shop in Majestic City Shopping Complex, is a Tamil of Indian origin.5 It has been reported by the media, that there have been 32 unexplained abductions documented between last October and this February, mostly in Colombo and suburb or northern Sri Lanka; the victims being a mix of Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim6.

As a part of the militarization of the country, not only of the North and East, but of the entire country, the rule of law has come under threat while the military controls whole sectors of the country and has been given enormous power to undermine the peoples’ basic rights, rights that have been confirmed in the Constitution of Sri Lanka, international treaties which have been signed by the Government of Sri Lanka, and even in election manifestos issues by each of the political parties, including the present ruling alliance. Former high court judge, Mr. W.T.M.P.B. Warawewa, at a felicitation organized in his honor by the Young Lawyers Association, has claimed that the current breakdown of the rule of law is the result of certain judges failing to maintain the dignity of their profession and having no self-strength. Some judges would fall to any lowly depth for personal gains and this corruption has allowed human rights violations to flourish. Honesty and courage are essential for a judge, and that is why the people respected the judiciary. Very soon, it would not be surprising if the Army’s major generals are appointed to the Supreme Court, as the judiciary has recognized a court martial as a legitimate court of law for accused civilians, as well as military personnel.

The victims of forceful abduction and extrajudicial killings are not only ordinary people, but it has been widespread among all level of the society and some of members of the Government itself are in fear of abduction and execution. In an interview with this writer7 the President of the Urban Council, Kolonnawa, Colombo suburb, Mr. Ravindu Udaya Shantha revealed that the Government was responsible for the extrajudicial killing of his own brother, who was abducted on February 21, 2012, in a white van, as well as an endeavor to abduct him by an armed group attached to the Sri Lankan Army on 11th March 2012, in Umagiliya, Kolonnawa. There is no investigation regarding his brother’s abduction, while the Minister of Economic Development Affairs, who is the brother of the President as well as an adviser, Mr. Basil Rajapakse, unofficially informed Mr. Ravindu that his brother had been killed. There has been no investigation into the abduction of Mr. Ravindu, even after four people who were involved in the attempt were handed over to the police station in Wellampitiya. They were released on special order from the Defence Authority that same day.

Forceful abduction and extrajudicial killing have been constantly growing after the killing of former parliamentarian and an advisor to the President, Mr. Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra, as a result of internal power struggles within the ruling alliance, in Mulleriyawa, Colombo on October 08th 2011. As the Asian Human Rights Commission disclosed, all business transactions and even human transactions will suffer from the unscrupulous actions of persons who will refuse to respect the law. Already this situation exists to a large degree. Guns, goons, and the police and politicians acting illegally have a great influence on business activities both big and small. Those who have influence with the criminal elements and the politicians that support such elements will ensure that the ‘cake’ only belongs to them. Of course these persons will fall out with each other and resort to the same tactics against their former friends.8 Most of abductions and extrajudicial killings that have occurred recently, not only in Colombo but everywhere in the country, targeted businesses, both lawful and unlawful.

There is also the case of Mr. Mohamed Sali Mohamed Niyas, also known as “Loku Seeya”, who was abducted in a Colombo suburb by an armed gang in a white van, and then taken to an unknown location in the Eastern province where it is believed that he was tortured, killed, and his body then dumped at sea. It is questionable how such abductions can occur, taking a victim hundred kilometers away from the place where he was abducted when the abducting gang has to go through at least five major security points. The statement of the wife of Mr. Mohamed Sali Mohamed Niyas a.k.a. Loku Seeya, Mrs. K.G.C Ruika Niyas, shows the kind of gruesome murders taking place in the country. According to the post-mortem, he was strangled and his throat slit. He had also been pounded in the head and stabbed a number of times. He was also administered 3 injections of unknown chemicals. I am still unable to imagine how brutal that must have been. The body had over 100 kgs of weight strapped on to it which was wrapped with barb wire. The body was then covered with polythene and secured further with chicken fencing ( same as barbed wire) . It also had something like an anchor attached to the body. In spite of all that it washed ashore at Akkarai Paththu. The body was flown back home and the funeral proceedings were conducted.9

Meanwhile, there is no justice for the abduction and murder of the human rights activist Mr. Pattani Razeek. He disappeared on 11 February 2010. After much delay in the police investigation, his dead body was found on 28 July 2011 by the police in Kavathamunai, Oddamavadi, Valaichenai, Eastern province. It has been reported that the family and lawyer of Mr. Razeek has yet to receive the post-mortem report and the deoxyribo nucleic acid test (DNA) report that may reveal the truth behind the murder of Razeek.

It has been widely reported that the party of the ruling alliance was directly involved in an abduction and extrajudicial killing in Northern district, in the Jaffna peninsula. On the first week of March 2012, a thirteen-year –old school girl, Jesudasan Lakshmi, was abducted, raped and killed by breaking her skull using a stone, when she was on her way to the school on Delft Island, by a man who is a member of the Eelam People’s Democratic Party (EPDP), led by Douglas Devananda, who is a minister of the Government. In the beginning of the year, on January 28, 2012, there was another extrajudicial killing in Jaffna where sixteen-year-old school student Miss. Iridiyanar Sineshika, of Alwari North, Point Pedro, Jaffna was murdered. Also, on November 10, 2011, Mr. Subramanium Dayabaran (45) who was the Principal of the Karanakuri School, Kodikamam, Jaffna, was murdered. Like other parts of the country, the Jaffna peninsula remains a dangerous place, even after the elimination of the LTTE. There is still no news of Mr. Lalith Kumar and Mr. Kugan Muruganathan who were abducted at the end of last year by an armed group.

Corruption within law enforcement and police brutality towards civilians has resulted in the killing of unarmed civilians who were engaged in peaceful demonstration, due to the loss of their essential rights. The AHRC, over the past few decades, has highlighted the loss of independence of the police, and their shift by government elements towards the unlawful practice of social control and now the police have become another tool to secure the absolute power of politicians. Through the killing of a torture victim, Mr. Sugath Nishantha Fernando, who was pursuing a fundamental rights application against Negambo police, and the killing of Mr. Gerald Perera, who was a torture victim pursuing a case against several police officers at Wattala Police station, the AHRC has examined the country’s policing system and the decline of genuine investigations. Recently, the killing of Mr. Roshan Chanaka Rathnasekara, a worker at the Free Trade Zone (FTZ) in Katunayake, Colombo and the assassination of Mr. Anthony Fernando of Chilaw, who was shot dead while engaged in a peaceful demonstration against the rise in the prices of oil, reveals the changes of law and order, policy, and attitudes relating to murder and its these developments destroy faith in the country’s legal system.

Nationally and internationally pressuring the Government of Sri Lanka to implement the recommendations given in the Report by the Commission of inquiry on Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation (LLRC) is essential to stop the abduction, torture, and extrajudicial killings that have become part of daily life in the island nation. The government has denied human rights to the people and identified opposition to this policy as a threat to national security and part of an international conspiracy against the country. Meanwhile, the government claims that their action plan for the protection and promotion human rights is the result of a government and people deciding to take concrete action to bring about positive change. “In developing the Action Plan, the Government assessed the measures in place to protect and promote human rights, identified areas that need improvement and have committed ourselves to improving the protection and promotion of human rights.”10 However the LLRC report highlights some important aspects of social developments in the country. Acknowledging the losses and suffering of the past and providing mechanisms for recompense, social justice and for restoration of normalcy and expressions of empathy and solidarity, are steps aimed at redress. Relationship building following violent conflict, addressing issues of lack of trust, prejudice, and intolerance whilst accepting commonalities and differences, is the essence of reconciliation.11 The culture of suspicion, fear, mistrust and violence needs to be removed and opportunities and space opened up in which people can hear each other and be heard.12

While we welcomed the draft resolution by the US on Sri Lanka, which urges the implementation of recommendations given by the LLRC, the AHRC believes that there will be little hope for the reconciliation of disordered social institutions unless the Government takes action to change the present constitution to limit the powers of the executive and respect basic law in order to restore social order. The people of Sri Lanka expect that the government of Sri Lanka will be encouraged in the Universal Periodic Review to take gradual action, not only at the legislative level, but beyond that to implement basic principles of rule of law, where complaints will be systematically investigated, and where crimes will be properly prosecuted, regardless of whether they were committed by state agencies or non-state actors.

March 21, 2012

By Nilantha Ilangamuwa

www.humanrights.asia
________________________________________
*Stanley JassponKunitz( 1905-2005) was an American poet
** Mrs. Premasili,a Sinhalese widow. Her husband was killed in cool blood by the Sri Lanka Army, while interrogating in detention camp in 1988.
1.Address by the President MahindaRajapaksa at the ceremonial opening of Parliament, Sri Jayawardhanapura – Kotte, May 19, 2009. (http://www.president.gov.lk/speech_New.php?Id=74 )
2. The Phantom Limb: Failing Judicial Systems, Torture and Human Rights Work in Sri Lanka , Chapter 01- What is and What is Not of Human Rights in Sri Lanka , Asian Human Rights Commission (http://www.humanrights.asia/resources/books/the-phantom-limb )
3. 1978 Constitution original promulgation by the National State Assembly on 7 September 1978, by Prime Minister J. R. Jayewardene then he became first executive president of Sri Lanka. It is Sri Lanka’s second republican constitution and its third constitution since the country’s independence (as Ceylon) in 1948; perhaps it has been formally amended 18 times up to 2010 September.
4. The United Front ( UF) was a political alliance in Sri Lanka, formed by the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), the Lanka SamaSamaja Party (LSSP) and the Communist Party of Sri Lanka (CPSL) in 1968. It came to power in the 1970 general election, but broke up in September 1975.
5. SRI LANKA: Abduction of a torture victim seeking judicial remedies from the Supreme Court (http://www.humanrights.asia/news/urgent-appeals/AHRC-UAC-023-2012 )
6. Sri Lanka’s sinister white van abductions (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-17356575 )
7. Interview with Mr. RavinduUdayaShantha, Mayor, KolonnawaUC ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hxBQH875bVc&feature=youtu.be )
8. Sri Lanka: It is not enough to ‘cry for the country’ (http://www.humanrights.asia/news/ahrc-news/AHRC-STM-155-2011/?searchterm=Bharatha%20Lakshman%20Premachandra )
9. Sri Lanka: The abduction and the brutal murder of Mohamed Sali Mohamed Niyas — the family writes to the human rights organisations (http://www.humanrights.asia/news/ahrc-news/AHRC-STM-202-2011 )
10. Sri Lanka: The National Action plan for protection and promotion of human rights (2011 -2016)
11. The Report by the Commission of inquiry on lessons learnt and reconciliation ( LLRC), Chapter 09-173
12. ibid ( Chapter 09-174)

Document Type :
Article
Document ID :
AHRC-ART-026-2012
Countries :

Sri Lanka: Land grabbing and development-induced displacement -19th HRC Regular Session

Filed under: genocide srilanka, tamil eelam — Tags: — எல்லாளன் @ 5:51 pm

The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), in association with three Sri Lankan non-governmental organisations[1], draws the attention of the United Nations Human Rights Council to the alarming trend violations of the rights to adequate housing, land and property in post-war Sri Lanka.

The government of Sri Lanka‟s push for “development” is playing out in the form of forcible acquisition of land by State and private actors, including foreign corporations, displacing thousands of vulnerable people across the island. These actions undermine efforts towards reconciliation and recovery after almost three decades of war as they are only further alienating, marginalising and disenfranchising communities of farmers and fisher-folk.

Despite the end of the war in 2009, the integrity of former conflict areas has not been restored as lands forcibly acquired by the State during the war for high security zones are being turned into Special Economic Zones. For example, in Sampur near the eastern province town of Trincomalee 1,262 households consisting of over 4,000 people have been displaced for several years and are living in temporary shelters. Instead of returning their land, the area is presently being prepared for the construction of a coal power station in collaboration with an Indian State corporation.[2] The traditional livelihoods of the affected families in agriculture, livestock-rearing and fisheries have been destroyed and those who are displaced are now destitute. Meanwhile, the 350 families who lived in the Mullikulam area of conflict-affected Mannar district in northern Sri Lanka, and who were displaced on multiple occasions due to the war, are yet to be allowed to return to their homes even after the end of war.[3]

The Sri Lankan government‟s approach has been to prioritise the needs of corporations and private interests ahead of the rights of the poor. The Ministry of Defence has alienated 11,600 acres of forest land in the southern district of Moneragala for the cultivation of bananas for export by a multinational corporation[4] from the United States of America. Such land clearances are driving wild elephants into settlements of poor farmers, who have through previous government policies were rendered into seasonal labourers for sugar cane cultivation, following their dispossession from their customary lands. According to one woman farmer, the result is that “houses, property and lives of hundreds of women like me have been lost. It is clear that the programmes which are being carried out under the guise of development have caused the destruction of lives and livelihoods of innocent people”.[5]

The trend towards developing tourist resorts in Sri Lanka‟s coastal areas and its islands is taking place with a blatant disregard of those communities native to that land, while causing significant environmental damage affecting their livelihoods. Around 5,000 fisherfolk livelihoods have been severely compromised in the 14 islands in the Kalpitiya peninsula in the north-west due to the lease of 1,200 hectares of land for tourism, undermining the customary rights of the local people particularly through the blockage of anchorage points, beach seine points and access to the sea and the lagoon.[6]

Near Panama on the eastern coast, more than 350 farmer families in Raigamwela and Shastrawela villages have been forcibly evicted from their lands by the military.[7] The appropriated land has been used for the construction of a tourist hotel. The affected communities have been denied access to their lands, even for agriculture, and are now living in precarious circumstances. There are attempts to prepare the lagoon near Panama, upon which local residents depend on for fishing, as a landing area for sea-planes which would transport tourists to the proposed hotels in that area.

Based on these experiences, other communities facing impending risk of forcible acquisition of their lands are pessimistic, with one affected woman observing that “people are now aware that development benefitting only a selected segment which throws hapless people out onto the streets is not development of the country.”[8] Her family, among hundreds living near the inland reservoir of Parakrama Samudra near Polonnaruwa, fear that they will lose access to their fishing waters once sea-planes and motorboats begin transporting tourists to the resorts. Over 30,000 farmers depending on the reservoir for water to irrigate their fields are concerned that tourism promoters will be privileged in decisions over water use and will manipulate the water levels in the dry season.

The environmental ramifications of infrastructure development has adversely affected the fishing community in Rathgama lagoon in southern Sri Lanka, who have been complaining of fish dying in large numbers since an estuary was blocked due to construction of a harbour which has connected the lagoon to the sea.[9] This construction is for the purpose of making the area attractive for the development of tourist hotels. The entry of sea water has also badly affected the crop from rice paddy lands which were irrigated by the lagoon.

Meanwhile, forced eviction is also carried out in the urban areas. For instance, in an informal settlement in Colombo known as „Seevali Pura‟, the expansion of the Kelani Valley railway line, threatens 76 households with imminent forced eviction. These families have lived in their homes for decades. They have not received information on compensation, or of the possibility of resettlement in nearby areas to minimise the disruption to their lives and livelihoods.[10]

These emerging trends in Sri Lanka of undermining the rights of affected communities in favour of development projects by public or private entities are systematic in nature and contravene the spirit of the 1986 United Nations Declaration on the Right to Development which is best articulated in Article 2.3: “States have the right and the duty to formulate appropriate national development policies that aim at the constant improvement of the well-being of the entire population and of all individuals, on the basis of their active, free and meaningful participation in development and in the fair distribution of the benefits resulting therefrom”.

In this light, Forum-Asia calls upon the government of Sri Lanka:

  • To comply with its human rights obligations as a State party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to respect, protect and fulfil the right to adequate housing, including the right not to be forcibly evicted;
  • To abide by the directive principle of state policy enshrined in the Sri Lankan Constitution Article 27(c) to realise for all citizens “an adequate standard of living for themselves and their families, including adequate […] housing”;
  • To respect the customary rights of the people who depend on land, coastal areas, islands, tanks and aquatic resources for their livelihoods;
  • To ensure transparency and adequate publicity to land acquisitions and re-zoning of lands for non-agricultural purposes through the right to information;
  • To ensure the free, prior and informed consent and participation of local communities in economic activities in their areas to enable them to be the central subject of development;
  • To ensure that credible environmental and social impact assessments are carried out before authorisation is granted to development and infrastructure projects;
  • To ensure that those who have been resettled are provided with security of tenure in their new homes and lands, and receive adequate monetary compensation; and
  • To demilitarise conflict-affected areas through reducing the number and spread of security force personnel, and ensuring that administrative decisions including on land use are taken by civilian authorities in consultation with the community.
www.forum-asia.org/


[1] This statement has been prepared in association with three Sri Lankan non-governmental organizations: the National Fisheries Solidarity Organisation (NAFSO), Praja Abilasha Network (PAN), and the Law & Society Trust (LST) – members of the Peoples‟ Alliance for the Right to Land (PARL) in Sri Lanka.

[2] Bhavani Fonseka and Mirak Raheem, “Trincomalee High Security Zone and Special Economic Zone”, Centre for Policy Alternatives, 2009, , http://cpalanka.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/Trincomalee%20High%20Security%20Zone%20and%20Special%20Economic%20Zone.pdf

[3] Melani Manel Perera, “Colombo‟s New Development Projects Must Protect, Not Destroy”, AsiaNews, 9 August 2011, http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Fishermen:-Colombo%E2%80%99s-new-development-projects-must-protect,-not-destroy-22579.html

[4] Nirmala Kannangara, “Illegal Clearing of Forests by Dole Lanka”, The Sunday Leader, 4 September 2011, http://www.thesundayleader.lk/2011/09/04/illegal-clearing-of-forests-by-dole-lanka

[5] Testimony at the Peoples Tribunal on Land-Grabbing and Displacement, Colombo, 31 January 2012, http://nafsoonline.blogspot.com/2012/01/peoples-tribunal-on-land-grabbing-and.html

[6] “Between the Fence and the Deep Sea – Report of an International Fact-Finding Mission on Tourist Development in Kalpitiya, Sri Lanka”, 16 March 2011, South Asia Citizens Web, http://www.sacw.net/IMG/pdf/Sri_Lanka_IFFM_final_report-16-03-11.pdf

[7] “Navy Accused of Land-Grab in Ampara”, BBC Sinhala.com, 4 July 2011, http://www.bbc.co.uk/sinhala/news/story/2011/07/110704_navy_panama_land.shtml

[8] Testimony at the Peoples Tribunal on Land-Grabbing and Displacement, Colombo, 31 January 2012, http://nafsoonline.blogspot.com/2012/01/peoples-tribunal-on-land-grabbing-and.html

[9] “Fish Dying in Large Numbers at Rathgama Lagoon”, News First.com, 5 February 2012, http://www.newsfirst.lk/english-news/?view=news_more&id=9097

[10] Testimony at the Peoples Tribunal on Land-Grabbing and Displacement, Colombo, 31 January 2012, http://nafsoonline.blogspot.com/2012/01/peoples-tribunal-on-land-grabbing-and.html 

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The Sri Lankan Case Rhetoric, Reality and Next Steps?

Filed under: genocide srilanka, tamil eelam — Tags: — எல்லாளன் @ 5:49 pm

There are discrepancies in issuing public documents and notices, which are issued only in Sinhala. The inability and/or unwillingness to have notices and official documents in Tamil has been challenged in court as  a violation language rights as provided by Article 22 of  the Constitution.

The last few weeks have witnessed increased activity by the Government of Sri Lanka in announcing various measures recently taken and to be taken to strengthen human rights, peace and reconciliation in Sri Lanka including the implementation of some interim and final recommendations of its own Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission(LLRC) issued in September 2010 and November 2011, respectively. Any genuine effort to address human rights, governance, a political solution and reconciliation is welcome. Yet the suddenness of such statements raises questions of timing and the genuine will of the Government. They should be seen against the backdrop of the impending resolution on Sri Lanka at the 19 th Session of the  United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). The heightened activity raises the question as to whether these measures are yet another ploy to distract its critics from the absence of a real plan of implementation for the LLRC  recommendations. This short note looks at GOSL rhetoric and demonstrates the fundamental flaws in the structure of government in addressing human rights violations and accountability issues, the failures of past domestic processes and the need for immediate action by the international community.

Government’s Rhetoric and Ground Realities  

At the outset, several achievements by the Government since the end of the war must be noted. Government figures indicate over 300,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) returning to their districts of origin, removal of emergency regulations, some reduction of High Security Zones (HSZs), ‘rehabilitation’ and release of over 10,000 former LTTE ex-combatants and the reconstruction of infrastructure in the war ravaged North and East. On the policy front, the formulation of the National Human Rights Action Plan (NHRAP) is indicative of the Government’s stand on specific human rights issues. In addition, the establishment of the LLRC by the present Government in May 2010 as an answer to the international call for accountability and reconciliation also marked a positive step in identifying the challenges to reconciliation and peace in post-war Sri Lanka. While the list is impressive, ground realities show a different story. The following are some brief points to demonstrate that while on paper the above developments can paint a picture of positive  change, serious problems persist:

  • Violations continue unabated across Sri Lanka, including disappearances, extrajudicial killings, torture and threats to freedom of speech, expression and assembly. [1] Peaceful protests have been met with brutal force resulting in deaths of protesters and threats to human rights defenders and media who have been critical of violations and Government practices. [2]
  • Thousands of persons are still unable to return to their homes and continue to live in displacement. Some of those who have been able to return to their districts of origin – thereby reducing official IDP figures – are unable to return to their own homes and continue to live in displacement. [3] Military occupation of private property, presence of land mines, secondary occupation and the acquisition of land for development purposes, disregarding the established legal framework, are some of the  reasons for continued displacement.
  • While emergency regulations are no longer in existence, the Government lost no time in introducing similar measures under the draconian Prevention of  Terrorism Act (PTA). [4] These regulations can be promulgated by the  Executive at any time and without reference to  Parliament or any oversight mechanism.
  • The military and police continue to occupy large tracts of private land in the North and East, including the appropriation of land for ‘ad-hoc’ HSZs, with no legal rationale provided for such large scale occupation. [5]
  • The security of ex-combatants released is questionable when thousands continue to be under surveillance and need  to report regularly to the military and police. [6]
  • The role of the military in civilian administration continues, including in assuming a dominant role in day-to-day tasks at the village-level such as the registration and photographing of civilians, approving the holding of  functions at the community-level, approving beneficiary lists and  coordinating NGO activities in the area. [7] The extent of militarisation is also evident with the presence of retired military officials in governance structures such as the two Governors for the North and East respectively, and the Government Agent for Trincomalee district (in the Eastern Province) – all of whom are key officials in the administration of these areas.
  • The National Anthem of Sri Lanka continues to be sung in Sinhala including at official events in the predominantly Tamil speaking North and East. [8] Those contesting this practice have been threatened.
  • There are discrepancies in issuing public documents and notices, which are issued only in Sinhala. The inability and/or unwillingness to have notices and official documents in Tamil has been challenged in court as  a violation language rights as provided by Article 22 of  the Constitution. [9]
  • The NHRAP contains some useful recommendations and timelines for implementation, but raises questions of process as well as success in implementation. Several civil society individuals who were part of the consultations for the NHRAP indicated that their suggestions were not incorporated, contrary to the claim of an inclusive process put forward by the Government. [10] There are also questions as to whether any significant improvements can be achieved when for example the Ministry of Defence has been identified as the lead agency in implementing the specific provisions related to torture.
  • The LLRC came out with a useful list of recommendations on human rights,governance and reconciliation, but its findings particularly on accountability are weak and there are omissions in other areas. Although committees have been setup to explore and implement both the interim and final recommendations, questions of genuine political will and commitment persist. More than 18 months after the interim recommendations were issued and 4 months after the presentation of the LLRC report, there has been no demonstrable action on the ground.
  • A court of inquiry was established on 2 January 2012 by the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) to ‘inquire into observations made by the LLRC in its report on alleged civilian casualties during the final phase of the humanitarian operation and probe as regards Channel 4 video footage…’. [11] There is no public information available on the terms of reference of such an inquiry, on who is to be investigated, the charges and the legal framework to be used. Further, the court of inquiry was appointed by the present SLA commander, an actor directly involved in the military victory of 2009 and thereby possibly either involved in or complicit in violations documented. Such a process as it stands cannot be considered independent.
  • While there has been progress regarding economic development including the construction of roads, hospitals, schools in the North and East with the support of key donors, thousands of persons in these areas continue to live in displacement and are unable to use their  own land for livelihood purposes due to military occupation and security surveillance.

by Centre for Policy Alternatives, Colombo, March 2012

Footnotes

[1] The situation in Sri Lanka – an unsigned statement from Sri Lankan civil society, February 2012- http://www.scribd.com/fullscreen/82184215-The-Situation-in-Sri-Lanka?access_key=key-3szuxcd2ta360nmtijl

[2] Fisherman killed in Chilaw  protest, 15 February 2012, http://www.dailymirror.lk/news/16832-fisherman-killed-in-chilaw-protest.html ; Fishermen leader in hiding after  threats, 26 February, 2012, http://www.bbc.co.uk/sinhala/news/story/2012/02/printable/120226_herman_hiding.shtml

[3] Land in the Northern Province: Post-War Politics, Policy and Practices  – Bhavani Fonseka & Mirak Raheem, CPA,December 2011.

[4] CPA Statement on the new Regulations under the Prevention of Terrorism Act,  26 September 2011

[5] Land in the Northern Province: Post-War Politics, Policy and Practices  – Bhavani Fonseka & Mirak Raheem, CPA,December 2011; Land in the Eastern Province: Politics, Policy and Conflict  – Bhavani Fonseka & Mirak Raheem,CPA, May 2010.

[6] Information received from local groups working in the North, January 2012

[7] Land in the Northern Province: Post-War Politics, Policy and Practices  – Bhavani Fonseka & Mirak Raheem, CPA,December 2011

[8]Based on information received from interviews in the North, February 2012

[9] One of the violations challenged in fundamental rights petitions filed related to the Navaanthuraiincidents in Jaffna in  August 2011. (SCFR 384/2011 and others)

[10] Feedback received from discussions with civil society in December 2011 and January 2012.

[11] The appointment was only made public by a statement issued on 16 February  2012

March 21, 2012

New evidence of war crime Srilanka – DEATH OF COL. RAMESH

Filed under: eelamview, genocide srilanka, tamil eelam, war crimes — Tags: , — எல்லாளன் @ 5:37 pm

New evidence of the murder of one man is key to revealing a conspiracy behind mass murder. This evidence, shown and told in The Global Mail’s story, is graphic and confronting. The issue is now being debated by the United Nations. 

There’s an intriguing video that’s been available online for a little less than a year. When properly considered, along with fresh pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, it might ensure the passage this week of a resolution being considered by the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. The resolution is being furiously opposed by the Sri Lankan government.

The video shows a man in the custody of the Sri Lankan armed forces, excerpts from his interrogation and preparations to conceal his impending execution. It’s important because, together with a batch of newly discovered photographs, it is evidence of a chain of events that places this man consistently in the custody of authorities until his murder and the disposal of his body.

This single murder, insignificant of itself, suggest the systematic, large-scale killing of prisoners – civilians and fighters – by the Sri Lankan authorities. These are the murders that the government has long denied, and which, when asked, they say didn’t happen, or if they did were committed by the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) themselves. When pressed, they ask for the evidence, assert that the recorded images are fakes, or request the names

of witnesses, such as several Sinhalese troops who already have come forward to provide secret testimony of war crimes.

Like all the other electronically recorded images that have emerged since the end of the war, there is nothing particularly furtive about these sequences. They were recorded by young men with mobile telephones, as trophy videos or as intelligence records. There are many fellow soldiers around, and they are relaxed and often smiling and joking as they go about their work. This is not a secret after all: they are responding to orders, issued by their commanders.

RAMESH INTERROGATED IN AN ARMOURED PERSONNEL CARRIER. | Supplied photo.

The context

In the final months of the war, Sri Lanka’s army had surrounded the Tamil Tiger guerrillas and some 330,000 Tamil civilians on a small sandy strip on the island’s coastline. Although beaten, the Tigers refused to surrender, and they used the civilians with them as a shield against an all-out assault by the army.

Nevertheless, the Sri Lankan army did attack, with bombardment, commando raids and assault teams, which combined to breach the thin Tiger defences. The army managed to release tens of thousands of terrified civilians, who streamed across a low lagoon while the battle raged behind them. Many civilians died, and many Tiger fighters discarded their weapons, and escaped with them. The final shots were fired on or around May 18, 2009.

One who escaped was T. Thurairajasingham, whose call sign was Romeo Sierra, and nom de guerre was Colonel Ramesh. He was a senior commander in the Tamil Tigers. He is the man in the video linked to above. A witness statement places Ramesh at the lagoon on May 17, dressed in a white shirt and sarong, crossing with his family, with one of his children in his arms. Sensibly, knowing the battle lost, he had discarded his weapon and hoped to blend into the civilian columns, in order to preserve the lives of his family as well as his own. Once on the other side, he was recognized by the military and arrested. He was taken like almost 300,000 others to one of the detention camps in the town of Vavuniya. Another witness saw him in the camp wearing a white shirt and blue-checked sarong, separated off with other Tamil Tigers who had been similarly recognised. As we can now surmise, he was eventually taken from the camp on May 22.

The interrogation

The first frames in the video sequence show Ramesh lying on his back on the floor of a crude armoured personnel carrier (APC). He is clean and dry and wearing a fresh sarong and shirt. He shows no sign of the filth and sweat of the battlefield or the months-long siege. Indeed, he is wearing precisely the same civilian clothes worn by many men in the detention camps at the end of the war. His clothes alone narrow him to a time and place. His captor is standing at his feet, filming him.

Next, a shirtless Ramesh has been given a pair of clean camouflaged Tamil Tiger trousers to wear (see gallery). He is now sitting in the APC. At various stages, some six to eight uniformed soldiers can been seen or heard questioning him and examining him. The soldiers’ white, cotton-thread wristbands denote that they are Buddhists, the religion of the island’s predominant Sinhalese population.

 

Because the interrogators are Sri Lankan soldiers and the prisoner is Tamil, and neither understands the native language of the other, the interrogation is conducted in patchy English. Occasionally, as the interview unfolds, the surrounding few troops exchange remarks between each other in Sinhala, the language of the army and police of Sri Lanka.

Ramesh has a freshly applied and clean dressing on his back. An off-camera soldier lifts the dressing to reveal a very old wound, which Ramesh says dates from 1988, and a fresh, suppurating wound that has been plugged with gauze. The dressing also places Ramesh in time and context. The dressing is as clean as he is. His battle wound has been dressed in the detention camp. We know this because after months of siege, there were no more dressings to be had and in the Nandikadal lagoon, if they were available to a senior commander at all, they would have been quickly dirtied in the siege and battle zone.

At one stage, one of the soldiers says in Sinhala to his comrades, “When you hear what you want, let’s do it, let’s do it.”

The videoed interrogation now moves between two locations. The APC, where the engine can be heard running, and the second location, which is a mud brick and thatch building. The condition of this second location – rubble from a broken wall, detritus of cloth, and a hole in another wall – suggests that he has been taken back to the site of a battle. By the time he has reached this second location, he has been changed again. Gone are his Tiger stripes, and instead he has been instructed to change into the ordinary fatigues of a soldier of the army of Sri Lanka.

By now Ramesh is more clearly frightened. Earlier, Ramesh had been told, “Don’t be afraid,” by the interrogating officer. “We want information only. Okay, now you are safe. Here is the army personnel, we are not going to harass you, you just tell the truth.” But Ramesh knows that as a senior Tamil Tiger commander, he is unlikely to receive mercy from his captors. He licks his dry lips, and at one point raises his hands in fear when the leading interrogator becomes angry, stands over him and threatens him in some way we cannot see because he is off camera.

From the interrogation at these two locations, we learn a number of things. His name, his birth date, his rank and the date he joined the Tigers. He is persistently asked for the whereabouts of a Tiger commander from Batticaloa, a town on the east of the island, who evidently has evaded capture. He names his own wife and three children, a boy aged seven, and two girls aged nine and two. He confirms that they are now in one of the detention camps in Vavuniya. An off-camera soldier pats him soothingly on the back.

More prosaically, we know also that, for so long as we live, we live in hope. This tough, ruthless, highly disciplined, professional fighter – like the birds we can hear in the trees, also recorded – begins to sing in the small hope that by cooperating he might save his life. He provides the names of his comrades, the men who were probably at that stage still in Batticaloa running the remnants of the underground Tiger movement, despite the town’s earlier capture by the army; Kumaran, who is apparently still in charge of military affairs, and Tayamohan, who is the political cadre.

We learn also that the prisoner was at Nandikadal lagoon; “At Nandikadal, did you see the leader’s wife?” he is asked. There is only one leader superior to Colonel Ramesh, and it is The Leader, a.k.a. Velupillai Prabhakaran, the founder and commander of the Tamil Tigers.

Another marker of time and place is revealed when he is asked, “Where is your leader’s daughter?” So we know that the army is trying to account for the family of Prabhakaran, which we also know from a variety of evidence, could only have happened on or after May 18, when the final patch of land held by the Tigers was captured.

On or around that date, the last of the family were being rounded up. Parts of another video used in the latest Channel 4 video, illustrates the fate of The Leader’s son, 12-year-old Balichandran, captured and executed at close range, probably on May 18. The difference between the evidence of the boy’s killing and the interrogation and death of Ramesh is that while the former shows the aftermath of an appalling murder, the latter shows a murder, from custody to death and disposal of the corpse by the Sri Lankan military.

Before his death, the prisoner and the interrogator share a moment, when it is confirmed that they were both present at the 2006 battle of Thoppigala in eastern Sri Lanka. “I know that you participated in the Thoppigala battle, because I was also there…” says his captor. However it is not enough for the two men to bond, because shortly the interrogator becomes angry. “Don’t tell a lie!” he shouts, while Ramesh cowers, raises his hands, and says “I understand, I understand,” in an effort to placate. But the two men don’t understand each other very well, which is what makes this interview so awkward and crude but ultimately so revealing.

For example, in the course of the exchange, as each misunderstands the other, we learn that the date is May 22. “When you going back refugees camp [sic]?” ask the interrogator in his broken English, when he actually means to ask “When did you reach the refugee camp?” knowing that Ramesh had entered the detention camp in Vavuniya at 4.30am on May 17, five days earlier. Thus, we have another series of time and location markers, which coincide with the metadata of the video that shows it was transferred from recording device to computer on May 22, later the same day of the interrogation.

RAMESH ON FLOOR OF APC. T. Thurairajasingham, whose nom de guerre was Colonel Ramesh, being interrogated, and his old and new wounds being examined, on 22 May 2009 by Sri Lankan army personnel in the back of an APC (possibly an armoured Humvee), an image that forms part of the chain of custody. Supplied photo.

Death, and disposal

May 22, 2009 also coincides with the existing metadata on a series of newly revealed photos. These photos were apparently taken by other soldiers using mobile telephones, or were lifted as stills from the video footage under consideration. The images record the passage of time from the interrogation of Ramesh, to his various changes of clothes and locations. They do not show the actual point of death, but they do show his corpse moments after he has been shot through the side of the head by a large calibre bullet. It shows Sri Lankan troops (their faces and military insignia clear) as they pose for trophy shots next to the burning corpse.

The Global Mail has examined these images with lawyers and senior police investigators. In the words of one investigator, a former police officer, these images leave “no doubt” and are prima facie evidence that a crime has been committed, showing victim, place, time and overwhelming evidence of perpetrators at the crime scene and engaged in the concealment of the death. Of course, in case you’d missed it, it made better sense for the body to be dressed in a Sri Lankan army uniform, leaving no messy traces of Tiger stripes.

Photos of the corpse of The Leader’s daughter, Duvarika, have since emerged. Evidently, she met a violent end, too. Prabhakaran’s eldest son, Charles Anthony, aged 22, apparently died in the final days of the war. There are literally hundreds of photos and videos of corpses that have been bound, mutilated, systematically executed and sexuall violated by persons unknown – but then disposed of by soldiers of the army of Sri Lanka.

United Nations panel of expertsdetermined in April last year that enough credible allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity — the systematic bombarding of areas of civilian concentration, starvation tactics, hostage-taking, the illegal executions of prisoners, the targeting of schools and hospitals — exists to warrant a proper investigation. A subsequent investigationinstigated under international pressure by the Sri Lankan government found that while there may have been aberrations committed by Sri Lanka’s military, determining criminal responsibility was impossible for lack of evidence.

The international context

Peace between two peoples is of primary importance in Sri Lanka, as in any conflict, once the dust has settled. But the persistent, dogged denial of any wrong-doing by the government of Sri Lanka has frustrated the UN as well as the United States and European Union. Today the Australian Senate passed a resolution in support of a US-proposed resolution that would tie the government of Sri Lanka to a specific accountability process. It is due to be voted on at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva this week.

Throughout the war and since, Sri Lanka’s leaders have insisted that their war was “bloodless” in terms of civilians killed. Sri Lanka has seemed so unconcerned by international criticism that it has appointed military men with command responsibility over alleged war crimes to diplomatic posts, even sending them to represent Sri Lanka at the UN. As a result it is likely that even her ally India will vote against Sri Lanka in the current resolution.

Prasad Kariyawasam, Sri Lanka’s envoy to India, said, “We’re very surprised on the US trying to force our hand on what we’re doing naturally. This kind of pressure, the public will see as not helpful. It will delay our reconciliation process.”

Of the video of the murder of 12-year-old Balachandran, Mr. Kariyawasam dismissed it as “not corroborated”. Last month, Sri Lanka’s minister for human rights, Mahinda Samarasinghe, told the UN Human Rights Council that the government was engaged in reconciliation and that outside pressure would spoil its efforts.

Writing to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who has called for the UN resolution to be passed, Sri Lanka’s External Affairs Minister, G.L. Peiris, said that UN action “would only lead to derailing the ongoing reconciliation process that has been put in place by the government”. Yet there are almost no detectable signs of any such process. Sri Lanka’s judiciary and police force remain crippled by a residual culture from 30 years of war. In November 2011 the UN Committee Against Torture published a damning report on Sri Lanka, revealing the extent of allegations of human rights violations perpetrated by the state.

Sri Lanka has been an astute manipulator of international processes. In June 2009, a first resolution put by western nations to the UN Human Rights Council, which criticized Sri Lanka’s conduct of the war, was deftly transformed by Sri Lankan diplomats into a resolution of praise.

Of the mass of available evidence, the most compelling trail is that of Colonel Ramesh. His death provides a crack of light that illuminates the deaths of thousands of others, and the motives of the probable perpetrators.

By Gordon Weiss -

Gordon Weiss

( The Global Mail Org)

SOLDIER WITH RAMESH’S CREMATION PYRE. T. Thurairajasingham, whose nom de guerre was Colonel Ramesh, after being shot with a high calibre weapon on 22 May 2009, is burned on a pyre. A Sri Lankan army soldier poses for a ‘trophy’ photo, an image that forms part of the chain of custody. Supplied photo

RAMESH ON CREMATION PYRE. T. Thurairajasingham, whose nom de guerre was Colonel Ramesh, after being shot with a high calibre weapon on 22 May 2009, now placed on a stack of wood for burning, an image that forms part of the chain of custody. Supplied photo.

SOLDIER VIEWS RAMESH’S BODY. T. Thurairajasingham, whose nom de guerre was Colonel Ramesh, after being shot with a high calibre weapon on 22 May 2009 lies outside a mud wall house, viewed by a Sri Lankan army soldier, an image that forms part of the chain of custody. Supplied photo.

RAMESH MOMENTS AFTER EXECUTION. T. Thurairajasingham, whose nom de guerre was Colonel Ramesh, moments after being shot with a high calibre weapon on 22 May 2009 lies on the floor of a mud wall house, an image that forms part of the chain of custody. Supplied photo.

RAMESH INTERROGATED IN MUD HOUSE. T. Thurairajasingham, whose nom de guerre was Colonel Ramesh, being interrogated on 22 May 2009 by Sri Lankan army personnel in a mud wall house, an image that forms part of the chain of custody. Supplied photo

RAMESH CHANGES TO MILITARY FATIGUES. T. Thurairajasingham, whose nom de guerre was Colonel Ramesh, changing into Sri Lankan army fatigues on 22 May 2009, watched by Sri Lankan army personnel in the back of an APC (possibly an armoured Humvee), an image that forms part of the chain of custody. Supplied photo.

RAMESH INTERROGATED IN AN APC. T. Thurairajasingham, whose nom de guerre was Colonel Ramesh, being interrogated on 22 May 2009 by Sri Lankan army personnel in the back of an APC (possibly an armoured Humvee), an image that forms part of the chain of custody. Supplied photo

De-miners locate remains of cluster bomb in Ki'linochchi

Filed under: genocide srilanka, tamil eelam — Tags: — எல்லாளன் @ 5:23 pm

A container allegedly deployed by the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) to carry cluster bomblets has been recovered recently by the de-miners of the humanitarian de-mining agency Halo Trust near a house at Thiruvaiuyaa’ru, 3 km east of Ki’linochchi town, media sources told TamilNet on Wednesday providing a photo displaying the container placed at the office of the Halo Trust. The markings on the case have been masked by painting, allegedly by the SLAF before the bombardment, a practice observed following the exposure of SLAF deploying banned weapons in 2009. Despite the systematic destruction of crucial evidences of war-crimes and genocide in the occupied country of Eezham Tamils following May 2009 by the Sri Lankan military, humanitarian de-miners have obtained parts of cluster bombs that were heavily used by the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) during the war, the sources further said.

Cluster bomb recovered by Halo Trust

The de-mining agency has not allowed journalists or public to access the site where the evidence is preserved.

Despite several references made by civilians of cluster and chemical bombs (referred to by the survivors as “koththuk-ku’ndu” and “eri ku’ndu”) during their testimonies to the LLRC, an eyewash and time buying exercise set-up by the Colombo establishment, there was not a single word in its final report on the grave and systematic violation.

The main criticism by the Eezham Tamil civil society in the homeland and the Eezham Tamil grassroots in the Diaspora and in Tamil Nadu on the US-proposed draft resolution, currently tabled at the UN Human Rights Council, is that the flawed Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) report issued in November 2011 should not be the basis for any international accountability mechanism.

During the war, TamilNet has brought out photographic evidences and eyewitness accounts of a number of cluster attacks from November 2008 onwards (See related stories below). TamilNet’s wartime correspondent in Vanni had witnessed systematic use of cluster bombs by the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) and the Sri Lanka Army (SLA), which also fired shells that carried cluster munitions on civilian targets.

As the photos began appearing in TamilNet, the SLAF began to mask Russian alphabets on the containers by paint (See photos in the stories from January 2009).

The final report by the Permanent People’s Tribunal in Dublin in January 2010 had the following observations on the alleged use of cluster munitions by the SL military:

“The atrocities carried out by the military relate particularly to civilians, and there is evidence of cluster munitions being dropped by warplanes. Some witnesses reported that white phosphorous was used in violation of international law. Several witnesses had seen burn marks on wounded civilians. Others believed that indications of napalm were apparent, and evidence of other incendiary devices has been confirmed by doctors who had cared for hundreds of Tamil civilians wounded in this manner.”

The Dublin report concluded its chapter on “The Atrocities of the Last Weeks of the War” with the following paragraph: “The use of artillery and illegal weapons such as white phosphorus and cluster munitions places the government outside accepted international legal standards. It is not surprising that charges of atrocities, ethnic cleansing and indeed genocide have been levelled at Colombo. War crimes and crimes against humanity clearly appear to have been committed.”

The UNSG Expert Panel Report, which was finalised in March 2011, has registered the alleged use of cluster ammunitions in Vanni war with the following words in its paragraph 169:

“There are allegations that the SLA used cluster bomb munitions or white phosphorus or other chemical substances against civilians, particularly around PTK and in the second NFZ. Accounts refer to large explosions, followed by numerous smaller explosions consistent with the sound of a cluster bomb. Some wounds in the various hospitals are alleged to have been caused by cluster munitions or white phosphorus. The Government of denies the use of these weapons and, instead, accuses the LTTE of using white phosphorus”.

Cluster bomb recovered by Halo Trust

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US-led World Bank loans to Rajapaksa, fortifies Colombo-dominated structure

Filed under: genocide srilanka, tamil eelam — Tags: — எல்லாளன் @ 5:14 pm

While the Eezham Tamils are hoodwinked by the ploy and decoy of a US-resolution at Geneva, and while the plight of Eezham Tamils is considerably due to a Colombo-centric structure in the island, the US-dominated World Bank headquartered in Washington has approved a loan of US$ 213 million on Thursday for the development of Colombo city. The loan has been granted under the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) institution of the World Bank for the Metro Colombo Urban Development Project. This is the first IBRD loan to Sri Lanka. Colombo metro ‘development’ project is completely in the hands of war-crimes-accused presidential sibling Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, who is also a US citizen. Immediately after the war the IMF bailed out the genocidal state by granting US$ 2600 million.

In July 2009, when the International Monetary Fund (IMF) decided to buttress the genocidal state, the US, UK and France that control roughly 25 per cent of the votes didn’t vote against Sri Lanka. They only abstained.

The argument that monetary aid would correct the state never worked. On the other hand it only helped the state to become more confident of its agenda of structural genocide of Eezham Tamils and to accelerate it.

World Bank’s IBRD coming forward with its first loan to Sri Lanka at a time when the naïve and gullible are made to believe that the US is acting against the Rajapaksa regime to bring in ‘justice’ to Tamils, shows who is the ultimate saviour of the genocidal regime and state in the island, commented political observers in Jaffna.

The IBRD loan to Colombo city is for “rehabilitating, improving and maintaining critical infrastructure and services in order to position the city as a competitive hub by 2016,” said a World Bank press release on Thursday.

The project lays the foundations for a long-term partnership with Sri Lanka. The bank’s support will reflect in the Country Partnership Strategy, said officials of the World Bank.

Colombo city is the international gateway to Sri Lanka, producing almost 50 per cent of the GDP of the island, the press release further said.

It is not merely 50 per cent of the GDP. More than 50 per cent of the elite are Colombo-centric in thinking and even the remaining are made to depend on it. These are largely the impediments that permanently keep the Eezham Tamils a subjugated nation in the island. While the US money further fortifies the Colombo-centric system, the US-resolution at Geneva on implementing the LLRC recommendations wants to bind the Eezham Tamils to the unitary constitution of Colombo. From politicians to NGOs there are many who pose themselves as the articulating section of Eezham Tamils without being able to come out of the cocoon of Colombo. How will they have the guts to challenge the duplicity of the US, commented a social activist in Jaffna.

Chronology:

21.03.12  US-led World Bank loans to Rajapaksa, fortifies Co..
21.03.12  China card misleads Indian public
20.03.12  Centre for Peace and Reconciliation attacked in Ja..
19.03.12  Jayalalithaa blasts New Delhi supporting US-bailou..
19.03.12  India inclined to vote in favour of US resolution:..
19.03.12  Begin next stage of struggle by burning Sri Lankan..
18.03.12  Tamil civil society warned US officials on LLRC da..
18.03.12  ‘LLRC hollow, India must use pressure to secure ju..
16.03.12  Eezham Tamils demonstrate outside US Embassy in Lo..
15.03.12  US resolution offers bailout to Rajapaksa: Brian S..
14.03.12  New Delhi’s ‘historical’ Lanka relations outweigh ..
14.03.12  Onus focuses on India
13.03.12  Boyle warns Tamil diaspora against “Stall and Dela..
13.03.12  Grassroot Diaspora unites, upholds Tamil sovereign..
12.03.12  LLRC will only legitimise Sinhala occupation of Ta..
12.03.12  Win TV discussion sets Tamil perspective straight ..
11.03.12  Without international investigation accused will b..
11.03.12  We always requested international investigation: T..
11.03.12  LLRC-based resolution extremely disappointing: Gaj..
10.03.12  Tamil Nadu activists caution diaspora of the US-re..
09.03.12  US-resolution inadequate, India should seize oppor..
08.03.12  US-resolution binds Tamils to less than the 13th A..
07.03.12  World socialists reject both US-backed resolution ..
06.03.12  Thousands gather in Geneva denouncing deceptive de..
06.03.12  Tamil Nadu demands India to declare Rajapaksa guil..
06.03.12  Sumanthiran, Sritharan contradict reasoning Geneva..
05.03.12  West has to concede to Tamils its failure of ‘war ..
02.03.12  US demand on Sri Lanka is not enough: UNSG Panel o..
01.03.12  US, Sri Lanka squabble whether hang or slaughter E..
29.02.12  Enragement over US-India stand results in Sumanthi..
27.02.12  SL colonial governor coordinates anti-UN demonstra..
26.02.12  Peace academic denounces US-LLRC formula, urges al..
25.02.12  TNA plans boycotting UNHRC, requests people to rem..
25.02.12  US ‘tables’ Rajapaksa formula while pretending pre..
24.02.12  UNHRC sessions open on Monday amidst US–Sri Lanka ..
18.02.12  TNA tries to sell Indo-US pre-emption to Eezham Ta..
16.02.12  Sumanthiran comes forward to save Rajapaksa from i..
22.01.12  TNA should use its Tamil national mandate: Bishop ..
01.01.12  Majority ITAK members welcome civil society report..
13.12.11  TNA leadership faces admonition from civil society..

External Links:

Worldbank: World Bank Approves its First IBRD Loan of US$213 Million to Sri Lanka to Support the Colombo Urban Development Program

Sri Lanka orientates education to conform structural genocide

Filed under: genocide srilanka, tamil eelam — Tags: — எல்லாளன் @ 5:12 pm

Sri Lanka’s ‘terrorism’ professor Rohan Gunaratna was the foremost of the six “prominent professionals in the education field” cited by Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute in Colombo, as lecturing in a ‘National Conference on the Role of Education in Reconciliation’ hosted by the institute last Tuesday. The professor, lecturing on the “immense success” of Sri Lanka ‘rehabilitating’ ex-LTTE combatants despite their ‘past engagement in the killings in the North and East and outside,’ stressed on the need of schools becoming “multi-ethnic” in the island, shedding ethnic and religious segregations. This means, there can be no more schools for Tamils, like that they can’t have a territory for them, and Tamil and Muslim children will eventually be ‘minorities’ subjugated in the Sinhala-Buddhist schools of the island, commented an educationalist in Jaffna.

Rohan Gunaratna

Rohan Gunaratna, professor and head of International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research in Singapore, stressed on the need for ‘multi-ethnic national’ schools. From news-reporting in the early 1980s to ‘university counter-insurgency’, Rohan Gunaratna has a three-decades record of working against the aspirations of Eezham Tamils.

Genocidal Sri Lanka’s foreign minister Prof GL Peiris delivering the keynote address of the event was also harping on the importance of ‘national institutions.’

According to GL Peiris, “conscious racial and linguistic identity” was the problem that affected the country and the answer lies in the “National Trilingual Policy”.

All policies that don’t accept the Eezham Tamils as an ancient nation of its own territory in the island are camouflages of the Sinhala nation aiming at annihilation of Tamil identity and eventual Sinhalicisation of all, as the ‘ultimate’ solution, the educationalist in Jaffna said.

The New Delhi Establishment harping on ‘equal citizenship’ of Tamils in the island, without land, political and security infrastructures is another camouflage abetting the structural genocide, the educationalist further said, adding that polity in Tamil Nadu should not be carried away by the hoodwink of ‘equal citizenship’ but should be vocal in prioritising the right to self-determination of Eezham Tamils.

Recently, India’s former president Abdul Kalam was used as a ploy by both genocidal Sri Lanka and abetting New Delhi to inaugurate the ‘Trilingual’ camouflage.

Sri Lanka will first sell its structural genocide of Tamil education to Colombo-centric elite before imposing it in the country of Eezham Tamils, political observers said.

The educational institutions of Eezham Tamils, whether started by the missionaries or started by natives as an antithesis to missionary institutions and colonial outlook of education, are a historical legacy of nearly 200 years that served the foundation for whatever little the Eezham Tamils were able to achieve despite all the odds.

After the so-called independence, by ‘taking over’ the institutions in the name of ‘nationalisation’ of education, first they were degraded as schools when the Sinhala south had four universities – two of them were Sinhala-Buddhist seminaries elevated into universities.

Until ‘nationalisation’ some of the Tamil institutions were collegiate institutions producing pioneers of Tamil studies like CW Thamodarampillai, astronomers of international reputation like Ambalavanar Allen Abraham and professionals in medicine and engineering who served all over the world.

Destroying the link of school and collegiate education of Tamils by the monopoly of the so-called ‘national’ universities, standardisation, proportional admission etc., genocidal Sri Lanka has now entered into the tertiary stage of erasing the identity of all Tamil educational institutions right from the school level.

An incident that took place last week when Jaffna school students went to the South to participate in a ‘national’ cadet camp would show how education in a ‘national’ institution is going to be a daily torture for the Tamil school children, commented a person connected to educational administration in the North.

Colombo nowadays targets luring the diaspora alumni associations of leading schools of Tamils, through petty offers like buildings, swimming pools etc., while the policy is to erode the very foundation of Eezham Tamils having education with their Eezham Tamil identity.

Some leading educational institutions of Jaffna have already been polluted by structures built by hands stained by the blood of Tamils. In the next stage, some of them will be ‘converted’ into ‘national’ institutions to accommodate the demographic engineering of genocidal Sri Lanka. Eventually, the diaspora alumni associations may have to prepare themselves to send funds for the ‘foreign education’ of Tamil children affected by the ‘national’ institutions, like what the ‘Ceylonese’ in Singapore and Malaysia are doing now, was the comment of a diaspora activist.

There were three Tamils among the prominent educationalists at the national conference of the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute on last Tuesday, sharing the sessions with ‘terrorism’ professor Rohan Gunaratna.

Mr. Sundaram Divakalala, a former secretary of the North-East provincial education, asked for more funds to the education of Vanni to promote ‘national reconciliation’.

Mrs. Imelda Sugumar, Sri Lanka Government Agent of Jaffna, spoke on 600 odd child abuse cases of girls between 10-12 years annually reported in Jaffna and in islands off the peninsula including Delft.

Dr Rajasingham Narendran, formerly served in Saudi Arabia as associate professor was hopeful of ethical education meeting the challenge of reconciliation and social harmony in the island.

The way structural genocide is accelerated by Sri Lanka, Eezham Tamils would be constantly needing more and more educational ‘spokespersons’ to the futile exercise of endlessly pleading with colonial Colombo on funds, abuses, ethics and many more, commented the educational administrator in Jaffna.

Rajapaksa at Jaffna Central College

Rajapaksa and his son came to the opening ceremony of the swimming pool at Jaffna Central College (a high school of boys) with a team of swimmers from the South
Maldivian Defence Minister visits occupying SLA in Jaffna

Occupying SL military showcases its ‘building’ at Mahajana College (a high school) at Thellippazhai, Jaffna, to visiting Defence Minister of Maldives
Kokku'laay School

A Tamil school in Kokku’laay in the Mullaiththeevu district of Vanni

Chronology:

20.03.12  Sri Lanka orientates education to conform structur..
17.03.12  Sinhala school students attack visiting Tamil coun..

Related Articles:
06.02.12   Tamil journalists blocked from attending Rajapaksa’s meeting..
13.10.11   Maldives defence minister visits Jaffna
20.03.11   Jaffna university alumni association formed in London

March 20, 2012

Channel 4 Videos On Sri Lanka: Background Is Essential

Filed under: eelamview, genocide srilanka, tamil eelam — Tags: , — எல்லாளன் @ 10:31 pm

Dr. Brian Senewiratne

The Channel 4 News videos on the ethnic conflict in Sri Lankaare about the most important contributions to apprise the world of what has gone on, and is still going on, behind the closed and censored doors of Sri Lanka.

There are now two documentaries, Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields released in June 2011, and Sri Lanka’s killing Fields. War Crimes Unpunished released in March 2012. They contain crucial evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity, if not Genocide of the Tamils.

Channel-4’s first documentary, ‘Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields’

and the newly released follow-up program,

‘Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields: War Crimes Unpunished’

The world needs to see these, since all that comes out of Sri Lanka is what the Sri Lankan Government wants the world to believe. That is what a Totalitarian does – to shut down the Media, among other repressive measures.  It is therefore essential that these dreadful atrocities be seen by as many people as possible.

There is, however, a problem with these Channel 4 videos. There is no background information which is so important to appreciate why these atrocities occurred. If this is not provided, then these videos are nothing but yet another ‘horror movie’. What has gone on in the war waged by the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) on the Tamil people (not just the Tamil Tigers), is much more than a horror story.

The dozen dvds I have recorded on the plight of the Tamil people has essential information on this. I do not expect people to wade through this mass of information, but the last of these, “Sri Lanka, Genocide, Crimes against Humanity, Violation of International Law”, contains all that is needed. For those who want more information, this will be found in my “Sri Lanka. Humanitarian Crisis in the Tamil areas. An Appeal to stop the slaughter and ensure Peace with Justice” which is in two volumes, an hour each. These are too long for the ‘average’ viewer.

It is also important to get the point across to the Sinhalese that yesterday it was the Tamil people, tomorrow it will be the Sinhalese, since this is what Totalitarian regimes have done for centuries

What I have done in Brisbane,Australia, when these Channel 4 dvds are shown, is to start the meeting with a powerpoint presentation based on information in my shorter dvd. This takes about 15-20 minutes. It provides the basic information – the ethnoreligous and language set up, Sinhala populist politics to get elected to power by discriminating against the Tamils to get the votes of the Sinhala-Buddhist population (70% of the population), peaceful protests by the Tamils for years at this discrimination, and when they failed, a resort to an armed conflict, essentially a liberation struggle to free the Tamil people from Sinhala domination. These systematic and recurring pogroms against the Tamils and the ‘need’ to wipe out the Tamils, by committing Genocide of the Tamils if necessary, was ‘necessary’ to make multiethnic, multilingual, multirelgious Sri Lanka, into a Sinhala-Buddhist nation.

It is in this setting and with this agenda, that President Rajapaksa launched his murderous assault, the closing stages of which are seen in the Channel 4 videos. My dvds are not as heinous as the Channel 4 videos, but cover a much wider time-frame, and show that Rajapaksa only completed what a succession of Sinhalese leaders, at least since 1956, have wanted to do but were not barbaric enough attempt. The Rajapaksas had no such problems. If it was ‘necessary’ to murder the entire Tamil population in the North and East and/or make them ‘non-people’, they were more than happy to do so. All they needed was an Army commander with the same mind-set, and in General Sarath Fonseka, they found the man and his interview with a Canadian newspaper a couple of years ago.

I then go on to show the weapons that the GoSL unleashed on the Tamil people and the human and structural damage done. “Now that you know the background and the agenda of the Sri Lankan government, I will now show you the end stages of this massacre of Tamils in the Channel 4 video – Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields – obtained from  Sinhalese soldiers who recorded these on their mobile phones as grisly ‘war trophies’

I now have the Channel 4 video screened. I then return to the podium and ask whether there are any points which the audience wants clarified. If so, I do.

I do not believe that the majority of Sinhalese are barbarians despite their ‘celebration’ of Rajapaksa’s ’victory’. I do believe that many, indeed most, of them will be horrified if they see what their Government has done to the Tamil civilians in the North and East

I then throw the ball into their court, “Now that you have seen what has gone on and is still going on behind the closed and censored door of Sri Lanka, what are you going to do about it? If it is simply to express horror and go home, then the whole point of seeing these videos is lost. It is not just a blood bath, it is more, much more. It is Genocide being committed with international observers excluded from the area – Genocide without witnesses, are you going to let that go uninvestigated and unpunished?”.

To counter any ‘patriotic Sinhalese’, and those who support the murderous Rajapaksa regime and claim that the Tamil Tigers have been crushed and “terrorism has been wiped out”, I ask the obvious question, “If that is so, and there are happy smiling Tamil people in the Tamil North and East, why is Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, International Crisis Group and International Media still not allowed to enter the area and speak with these happy people?” 

I point out that these are questions that must be raised with “your parliamentarians” asking them what they intend to do about it. If they intend to do nothing, then they will have to be prepared to admit thousands of asylum seekers and refugees, fleeing a barbaric regime in Sri Lanka.

As for the size of the audience, I do not think it matters. I have addressed and shown these videos to 10 or 300. The presentation is what matters, not the number of recipients.

I have been to meetings organized by others where just the Channel 4 video has been shown. After the meeting, non-Sri Lankans have come up to me and asked, “Are not the Tamils the terrorists?”  I tell them that Tamils are citizens of the country who have been in the country probably (on archeological evidence) for many centuries before the Sinhalese ever got there. I tell them that if after what they have seen they ask such questions, it is clear that they have no idea of what has gone on (and is still going on), in Sri Lanka. Since this is clearly the case from the question asked, they should organize another meeting where I will set out the basic facts about Sri Lanka and the complex ethnic problem in that country, which the Sri Lankan government is happy to dismiss as ‘nothing but Tamil terrorism’.

At most of the meetings I organize, I have a copy of the Channel 4 dvd (and now both dvds), and my dvd on ‘Sri Lanka: Genocide, Crimes against Humanity, Violation of International Law’. These are handed around free, with a request that instead of payment, I would appreciate it if it can be passed on to others, who can contact me if they want me to organize a meeting for them. This is obviously in Australia only. For other countries, someone else (one or, hopefully, many) will have to do this.

There is, however, a problem with these Channel 4 videos. There is no background information which is so important to appreciate why these atrocities occurred.

I will be more than happy to send the dvds and even the powerpoint presentation I have referred to – at no cost. All I need is a postal address.

To do so in Sri Lanka is a little more difficult with a murderous regime running the country. However, it is crucially important that my people, the Sinhalese, know what their Government has done (and is still doing) in their name.

I do not believe that the majority of Sinhalese are barbarians despite their ‘celebration’ of Rajapaksa’s ’victory’. I do believe that many, indeed most, of them will be horrified if they see what their Government has done to the Tamil civilians in the North and East. It must be remembered that in 1983 when the J.R.Jayawardene government organized and conducted the 1983 Tamil pogrom in Colombo and the South, it was my people, the Sinhalese, who risked life and limb to save hundreds, if not thousands, of Tamils. Had they not done so, far more than 3,000 Tamils would have been butchered by Jayewardene’s hoodlums and the thugs in yellow robes. Just for the record, my mother was a staunch Buddhist and I have gone to Buddhist temples with her for years.

It is also important to get the point across to the Sinhalese that yesterday it was the Tamil people, tomorrow it will be the Sinhalese, since this is what Totalitarian regimes have done for centuries – wipe out all who hold an opposing point of view or protest at, say, the rising cost of living, as is already happening in Sri Lanka. The blueprint is there.

My dvds will not be allowed into Sri Lanka. They will have to be smuggled in – a risky operation. The best I can suggest is that they be uploaded on to the internet. Someone in Sri Lanka might be able to download them. The same hold for the Channel 4 videos. I doubt if these will be freely available in Sri Lanka. However they are on the net – in a dedicated site thanks to Channel 4, and will remain there. The GoSL could well block this access as it has done to Tamilnet.

If we do not do this, the disinformation campaign that a succession of Sri Lankan governments have carried out both abroad and even in the Sri Lankan South, will ‘succeed’ and the world will remain ignorant of what goes on in one of the most repressive and brutal countries in the world – masquerading as a ‘Democracy’.

There is, of course, a price to pay. In Sri Lanka, it will be the arrival of a “White Van”, and that is it.

In counties outside Sri Lankait is intrusion by ‘patriotic’ Sinhalese who disrupt meetings (many of mine have been, but I now know how to handle these – get the ‘Security people’ to throw them out).

The other problem is telephone abuse. For at least three days after each of my talks or articles, I can look forward to abusive phone calls – “You mother f…..g Tamil Tiger c…t” etc. These come 15 minutes apart, day and night, to disrupt my work, and to make sure that I do not sleep. I respond to these using the Queens English rather than get into the verbal gutter with the caller. I say, “Sir/Madam (some are), I have always treated my mother with the utmost respect. If this is what you do to your mother, then you have a problem. May I suggest that you call my Secretary for an appointment to see me and I will point you in the right direction. I am sorry to disappoint you, but I am not a Tamil, nor a Tiger. As a student of human anatomy, may I also point out that your description of me is anatomically impossible. The organ needed for one act is not present in those who have the other. So you have to make up your mind as to what I have – it cannot be both. Thank you for calling. Feel free to call again but try and keep to the Queens English and not get into the gutter. It does not help. Goodnight Sir/Madam, Thank you for sitting up all night to call me”. This usually works. To lose your cool never works.

Why not take the phone off the hook. I cannot, because I am ‘on-call’ to some hospitals, and in any case, must be available for my patients. My letter box is vandalized on a regular basis.

To get back to the Channel 4 videos, it is crucial that they are shown to as many people as possible to counter the disinformation campaign of the GoSL. These videos must be shown but only after the presentation of a basic outline of the ethnic problem in Sri Lanka, emphasizing that what the GoSL is trying to do is to settle a political problem by wiping out a section of the population – the Tamils in the North and East.

By Brian Senewiratne

WikiLeaks: Time For A Cease-Fire To Pursue Political Negotiations Is Now Passed – Norwegians

Filed under: genocide srilanka, tamil eelam, WikiLeaks — Tags: , — எல்லாளன் @ 10:27 pm

The time for a cease-fire to pursue political negotiations is now passed – Photo: MATTIS SANDBLAD

“The Government of Norway has been engaged in quiet efforts to persuade the LTTE to allow civilians in the safe zone to leave.” the US Embassy informed Washington.

The Colombo Telegraph found the leaked US diplomatic cable from WikiLeak database. The Cable is classified as “confidential” and written by the Ambassador Robert O. Blake on March 19, 2009,

Placing a note ambassador Blake wrote “Norwegian efforts must be strictly protected and not referred to either publicly or privately by USG officials with third country nationals.”

“The LTTE has responded to Norwegian overtures by insisting there should be a cease-fire and political negotiations to resolve the conflict. The LTTE has also raised numerous procedural and other questions about how the UN and ICRC might evacuate civilians, the treatment they would be subjected to in the camps in Vavuniya, and GSL plans to resettle them. The Norwegians have made clear that the time for a cease-fire to pursue political negotiations is now passed; they are only responding to LTTE questions regarding the treatment of civilians once they leave the North. These talks are unlikely to reach a satisfactory conclusion before mid-April. In addition, despite Norway’s good faith efforts, a recent leak to a nationalist newspaper suggests the Government is wary of Norway’s work in this matter and may be preparing the ground to undercut Norway.” ambassador Blake further wrote.

The ambassador wrote “The LTTE maintains the fiction that civilians do not want to leave. All evidence points to the contrary: several civilians have been shot trying to escape, many others have escaped. We need to call the LTTE’s bluff. The SYG could reassure civilians they will be well treated, recalling Holmes, statement to the UNSC. To give added credibility to his assurances, he should coordinate in advance with the GSL so he can announce that the GSL has invited UN Special Rapporteur for IDP Issues Walter Kaelin to work with GSL to resolve remaining issues in the camps. The ICRC confirms it could then work in the safe zone to determine who actually wants to leave. If the LTTE refuses to cooperate, the UN can say so publicly which would likely cause the LTTE significant problems with its paymasters in the Tamil Diaspora. Ambassador has discussed the outlines of this proposal with the UN, ICRC and Foreign Minister, all of whom believe it is worth trying.”

Read the cable below for further details;

VZCZCXYZ0010
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHLM #0308/01 0781118
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 191118Z MAR 09
FM AMEMBASSY COLOMBO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9612
INFO RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK PRIORITY 3655
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU PRIORITY 6673
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 2794
RUEHNY/AMEMBASSY OSLO PRIORITY 4768
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 3870
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA PRIORITY 3325
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 1018
C O N F I D E N T I A L COLOMBO 000308

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR D, P, SCA A/S BOUCHER AND PRM
AID/W FOR DCHA/OFDA FOR KLUU, RTHAYER AND RKERR
KATHMANDU FOR USAID/DCHA/OFDA MROGERS
USMISSION GENEVA FOR KYLOH

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/19/2019
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREF EAID CE
SUBJECT: A SUGGESTION FOR GETTING MANY OF SRI LANKA'S
CIVILIANS OUT OF THE CONFLICT ZONE

Classified By: Ambassador Robert O. Blake, Jr. for reasons
1.4 (b) and (d).

1. (C) Summary:  While the US and some others are engaged in
intensive efforts to protect the estimated 120-150,000
civilians trapped in the "safe zone" of northern Sri Lanka
from shelling, and assure they have adequate food and
medicine, the international community needs a plan to
evacuate as many of these civilians as possible.  The Sri
Lankan Army very soon will control all territory in the north
except the safe zone and nationalists here will then push for
the SLA to finish the job.  Ambassador warned the Foreign
Minister on March 18 that such an effort could kill
thousands, and potentially tens of thousands of civilians and
would likely subject Sri Lanka to war crimes charges and
international outrage. The Minister promised the GSL will
exercise patience.  Others are not so sure. Norway is
engaging the LTTE, but these talks are moving slowly.
Mission recommends the USG ask the UNSYG to issue a public
statement calling on both sides to allow a humanitarian pause
in fighting for civilians who want to leave.  The LTTE
maintains the fiction that civilians do not want to leave.
All evidence points to the contrary:  several civilians have
been shot trying to escape, many others have escaped.  We
need to call the LTTE's bluff.  The SYG could reassure
civilians they will be well treated, recalling Holmes,
statement to the UNSC.  To give added credibility to his
assurances, he should coordinate in advance with the GSL so
he can announce that the GSL has invited UN Special
Rapporteur for IDP Issues Walter Kaelin to work with GSL to
resolve remaining issues in the camps.    The ICRC confirms
it could then work in the safe zone to determine who actually
wants to leave.  If the LTTE refuses to cooperate, the UN can
say so publicly which would likely cause the LTTE significant
problems with its paymasters in the Tamil Diaspora.
Ambassador has discussed the outlines of this proposal with
the UN, ICRC and Foreign Minister, all of whom believe it is
worth trying.  End Summary.

Background
----------

2. (C) The USG in Colombo and Washington has been engaged in
intensive efforts to protect the estimated 120-150,000
civilians presently trapped in the "safe-zone" in northern
Sri Lanka.  We have pursued several tracks.  First, we and
other Co-Chair countries have called on the LTTE immediately
to allow civilians freedom of movement.  The LTTE has not
done so, instead it has shot civilians who have tried to
escape, and engaged in forcible recruitment of progressively
younger and older civilians to augment its diminishing cadre,
now estimated by the government at 400-500.  There is also
growing evidence of civilian confrontations with the LTTE in
the safe zone.  Publicly the LTTE continues to insist that it
is not safe for the civilians to be evacuated to
"concentration camps" in Vavuniya.  UN U/SYG Holmes in his
recent report to the UN Security Council following his visit
to Sri Lanka rebutted the LTTE's clais and stated that basic
needs are being met, altough clearly more needs to be done
on several frnts (for example, reduce overcrowding and
improve sanitation).

3. (C) While we continue pressure on the LTTE, the U.S. and
others have pressed the government not to respond to LTTE
shelling emanating from the safe zone.  Despite repeated
assurances that it would not use heavy weapons or shell the
safe zone, Sri Lankan Army continues to respond to LTTE
shelling on almost a daily basis and has killed hundreds of
civilians just in the last week.  UN High Commissioner for
Human Rights issued a public statement on March 13 that more
than 2800 civilians have been killed just since January 20.
Lastly, we and others continue to press the government to
allow in food and medicine for the civilians, who are
completely dependent on such assistance.  The government has
done a much better job recently of allowing food in, but the
Ministry of Defense continues to block all medical shipments
leading to very high rates of mortality for civilians wounded
by shelling.

Pressure On GSL to Finish Off the LTTE
----------------------------------------

4. (C)  In his February 4 National Day speech, President
Rajapaksa promised the Sri Lankan people that the Sri Lankan
military would occupy the north "in a matter of days."
Today, 6 weeks later, it is clear the LTTE has put up a much
stouter defense than anyone anticipated.  Nonetheless, the
Sri Lankan Army is now clearing the last remaining LTTE-held
town of Puthukkudiyiruppu (PTK).  Mopping up operations may
still last one to three weeks, but it is likely that very
soon the Sri Lankan Army will control all territory in the
north except the safe zone.  With the Sinhala and Tamil New
Year's celebrations on April 13 and 14 and Provincial Council
elections in late April, the GSL will face mounting domestic
pressure from its nationalist base and coalition partners to
finish off the LTTE before these take place.

5. (C) A decision by the government to forcibly enter the
safe zone to kill or capture the remaining LTTE cadres would
have disastrous humanitarian consequences.  Credible
reporting suggests that the LTTE has prepared trenches and
bunkers in the safe zone in anticipation of a long siege.
Unless significant numbers of civilians can escape or be
evacuated, thousands, or even tens of thousands, of civilians
could be killed if the GSL tries to enter the safe zone
forcibly.

6. (C) In a meeting with the Foreign Minister on March 18,
Ambassador expressed appreciation for the Defense Secretary's
repeated assurances that the GSL would not enter the safe
zone forcibly.  Nonetheless, the Ambassador noted that he was
hearing credible reports that many in the military and
elsewhere favor entering the safe zone and finishing off the
conflict.  The Ambassador warned the Minister that Sri Lanka
needed to understand that the deaths of thousands or even
tens of thousands of civilians from such an action would
cause an international outcry, likely subject the GSL to war
crime charges, and almost certainly undermine public support
in the U.S. and other donor countries for future
reconstruction efforts in the north.  The Minister
acknowledged these realities and reassured the Ambassador
that the GSL has no intention of entering the safe zone
forcibly.

Diplomatic Efforts to Evacuate Civilians
----------------------------------------

7. (C) The Government of Norway has been engaged in quiet
efforts to persuade the LTTE to allow civilians in the safe
zone to leave.  (Note: Norwegian efforts must be strictly
protected and not referred to either publicly or privately by
USG officials with third country nationals.)  The LTTE has
responded to Norwegian overtures by insisting there should be
a cease-fire and political negotiations to resolve the
conflict.  The LTTE has also raised numerous procedural and
other questions about how the UN and ICRC might evacuate
civilians, the treatment they would be subjected to in the
camps in Vavuniya, and GSL plans to resettle them.  The
Norwegians have made clear that the time for a cease-fire to
pursue political negotiations is now passed; they are only
responding to LTTE questions regarding the treatment of
civilians once they leave the North.  These talks are
unlikely to reach a satisfactory conclusion before mid-April.
 In addition, despite Norway's good faith efforts, a recent
leak to a nationalist newspaper suggests the Government is
wary of Norway's work in this matter and may be preparing the
ground to undercut Norway.

A Suggested Plan
----------------

8. (C) It is clear, then, that the international community
needs a plan now to evacuate as many of the civilians as
possible.  Mission recommends that Washington and USUN
consider the following approach.  The USG should ask the UN
Secretary General to issue a public statement calling on both

sides to allow a humanitarian pause in fighting for civilians
who want to leave.  The LTTE maintains the fiction that
civilians do not want to leave.  As noted above, all evidence
points to the contrary.  The UN needs to call the LTTE's
bluff.  The SYG could reassure civilians they will be well
treated, recalling Holmes, late February statement to the UN
Security Council.  To give added credibility to his
assurances, the UN should coordinate in advance with the GSL
so the SYG can announce that the GSL has invited UN Special
Rapporteur for IDP Issues Walter Kaelin to work with GSL to
resolve remaining issues in the camps.  It is important the
initiative be cast as a GSL proposal given the GSL's
stiff-arming of Special Envoys proposed by the UK and others.
 Kaelin already has extensive experience in Sri Lanka and
would be well suited to this job.

9.  (C) The obvious challenge is to get the LTTE's agreement
to this plan.  The ICRC confirmed to Embassy Colombo that
their staff in the safe zone could develop a mechanism to
determine which of the civilians want to leave.  If the LTTE
refuses to cooperate, the UN must then be prepared to say so
publicly.  Such an announcement would likely cause the LTTE
significant problems with the Tamil Diaspora, who have
supported the LTTE thus far and whom the LTTE is counting on
to help finance the reconstitution of the LTTE once fighting
is over in the North.  The Diaspora remains very concerned
about the plight of the civilians and would likely help the
UN pressure the LTTE to allow those civilians to leave who
want to.  (Septel will offer thoughts on ways the USG can do
more to reach out to the Tamil Diaspora in the U.S. both to
respond to their mail campaigns and engage them directly.)
Ambassador has discussed the outlines of this proposal with
the UN, ICRC and Sri Lanka's Foreign Minister, all of whom
believe it is worth trying.  It is clear the LTTE will not
let all of the civilians go because the civilians serve as
human shields and as a pool for conscription.  But even if we
can evacuate two-thirds of the civilians, that would mark
significant progress.
BLAKE
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