The full report of the judgement of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal on Sri Lanka (Bremen Session), released on Wednesday, came out with a discussion on the choice of nomenclature to identify the victims of genocide and has decided on the use of the term “Eelam Tamils as a national group.” This recognition, coming for the first time, from a credible global body of humanity such as the Peoples’ Tribunal, nullifies the so-called legitimacy in the insistence of the use of the term ‘Sri Lankan Tamil’ thrust on the victims by various States and their international organisations. This part of the PPT judgement is of equal importance like the verdict on genocide, complicity etc., and the implementation of it is of much practical value to the people’s struggle of the victims, said Tamil civil activists.
“Regarding the characterization of the victims as belonging to a particular national, ethnical, racial or religious group population, the Tribunal specifies that the victims are in this case the Eelam Tamils as a national group,” said the PPT judgement report (18.104.22.168).
In coming out with its verdicts, the PPT judgement report has been widely using phrases such as, Eelam Tamils, Eelam Tamil national group, Eelam Tamil group, Eelam Tamil people, Eelam Tamil population, Eelam Tamil women, Eelam Tamil generations, Eelam Tamil territory, Eelam Tamil areas, Eelam Tamil identity etc.
The PPT judgement recommendations to the UN, EU, Germany, Sri Lanka and to the international organizations and agencies – governmental as well as non-governmental – have also asked them to respect and promote the Eelam Tamil identity and rights of Eelam Tamils in the island as well as in the diaspora.
The universal implementation of the PPT judgement on the identity and nomenclature mainly depends on the will power of the Eezham Tamils in consciously avoiding the use of Sri Lanka, Sri Lankan and Sri Lankan Tamil in their interactions among them and with others, commented diaspora activists.
* * *Further excerpts from the judgement on identity:
“According to both the objective and subjective approaches of the group accepted by the International Criminal Tribunals and the International Court of Justice, the protected group should be ‘stable and permanent, sharing a common national identity’ as with the Eelam Tamils (objective approach); it is also perceived as such by the members of the group themselves (subjective approach).”
“The Eelam Tamil designation refers to the Tamils in the north and east of the island, and it is important to note that the Eelam Tamil identity pre-dates the armed struggle, emerging progressively and with increased intensity in recent years, indeed as a result of the oppression that compelled the Tamils to assert their right to self-determination in their traditional homeland.”
“While the word “Eelam” had earlier been used by Tamils as the name for the whole of the island, it became increasingly used to denote the area and people of the desired independent north and east.”
* * *However, the PPT judgement report has not used the term “Eelam Tamils as a nation.”
The prosecution of the Tribunal, while making its statement, has put the following among others for the consideration of the judges, and the term Eelam Tamil nation has been used:
“The peoples of the world should recognize the legitimate struggle of the Eelam Tamil nation that is denied by genocidal violence. Their voluntary wish is a separate state,” the prosecution statement said.
While delivering the judgement, the following observations were made by the judges:
“A national group often comprises several different ethnic groups…. The concept of nation therefore does not coincide with the ethnic group but is characterized by a common wish to live together, a common ideal, a common goal and common aspirations,” the judgement cited the fourth report of the Special Rapporteur on the Draft Code of Offences Against the Peace and Security of Mankind.
“It is clear that the main target of this particular genocide has been the Eelam Tamil national group, even if it did not constitute the whole of the Tamil group, but that part of it that expressed the will of living in common, with common ideals, goals and aspirations,” the judgement said.
It seems Eezham Tamils are yet to present a more powerful case at the PPT to prove them a nation.
* * *
PPT verdict finding Sri Lanka guilty of the crime of genocide and ongoing genocide:
“On the strength of the evidence presented, the Tribunal reached the consensus ruling that the state of Sri Lanka is guilty of the crime of genocide against Eelam Tamils and that the consequences of the genocide continue to the present day with ongoing acts of genocide against Eelam Tamils.”
* * *Verdict on the complicity of the UK:
“The Tribunal found that UK complicity in the genocide against the Eelam Tamils during the period of the armed struggle and its repression was overt and explicit and qualifies as “‘aid or assistance’ furnished by one State for the commission of a wrongful act by another State”, under Article 16 of the International Law Commission’s Articles on State Responsibility. Further, the Tribunal views the events of 2009 as the logical manifestation of the structural genocide that had been put in place during the colonial period and in the construction of the newly independent unitary Sri Lankan state.”
* * *Verdict on the complicity of the USA:
“Active US complicity in the genocide arises not only from its sustained efforts to increase the power and effectiveness of the Sri Lankan military, the direct perpetrator of the genocidal acts taking place in the last months of the war, but perhaps even more significantly from its role in blocking and even reversing political and diplomatic initiatives to implement the peace process and in blacking out information on the unfolding critical situation and the unprecedented worldwide protests by Tamil communities in the diaspora. These military and non-military actions constitute “the provision of means to enable or facilitate the commission of the crime”, as determined to be included in “complicity” in genocide by the International Court of Justice in February 2007.”
* * *On the Alleged Complicity of the Indian State:
The Tribunal was asked to consider the accusation that “the Indian state is guilty of being complicit in the crime of Genocide against the Tamil people”.
“In the late 1980’s India intervened against the LTTE in order to gain control over the Tamil population in Sri Lanka as a strategic asset, an action that resulted in the death of 12,000. In the 1990’s India, played the role of a junior partner in a strategic alliance with the United States, and has continued to subordinate its strategic policy approach towards Sri Lanka under the US war paradigm.”
“Owing to the complexity of India’s shifting role within the conflict in Sri Lanka and, as there was neither sufficient material evidence nor time for the Tribunal to consider properly the afore-stated Accusation, the panel of judges decided to postpone deliberations of the question.”
[The prosecution in its statement has said the following on India’s complicity with genocide: “The panel has been provided with a comprehensive documentation pack that we ask be fully studied, although we recognise it arrived quite late in the process, through no fault of its authors….]
* * *On India, China and others:
Recognizing that the Sri Lankan state alone did not have the capacity to achieve its genocidal ambitions, and given the evidence presented, the Tribunal believes that the UK, the USA and India are guilty of complicity in genocide. Further, the Tribunal judges that the UK and the USA are clearly accomplices in the genocidal process. Regarding the charge against India, the Tribunal decides to withhold its final decision pending the consideration of additional evidence, which could include examination of the potential responsibility of other States, such as China.
* * *Some highlights among recommendations:
To the UN:
“To give maximum priority to the establishment of a strategy aimed primarily at stopping the ongoing genocide, and also at creating concrete conditions for the Eelam Tamils to exercise their rights to peace and self-determination.”
To the EU:
To review its external policy, in order to assure that the political, economic, and cultural rights of the Eelam Tamils are respected and promoted with specific attention to the difficult situation of denial and repression created by the Sri Lankan government.
To Germany the host country of the tribunal:
“In particular, to promote and request within the pertinent European institutions – including the Council of the EU, European Commission and the European Parliament – the adoption of measures directed to ensure the protection and promotion of the rights of the Eelam Tamil diaspora in EU member states, specifically with regard to their right to asylum, work and association, since the protection of the Eelam Tamil diaspora is one of the paramount means of fostering the security and well-being of Eelam Tamils in Sri Lanka.”
To international organisations and NGOs:
– To coordinate as far as possible their actions so that peaceful processes of civic resistance, and restitution and promotion of the identity of Eelam Tamils can take place in their homeland in Sri Lanka, as well as in their diaspora.
Recommendation on universal observation of Mullivaikkal Day:
“Finally, the Tribunal invites worldwide civil society and governments to commemorate the victims of the genocide that took place in Sri Lanka and acknowledge the anguish and trauma of the victims and their families by marking 18 May as ‘Mullivaikkal Commemoration Day.’ This symbolic step can signal the redemptive process that the global community should embark on to safeguard the memory of the victims.”
* * *Excerpts from what the prosecution in its statement had asked the judges to consider:
[On behalf of the prosecution team, Andy Higginbottom and Karen Parker have made the prosecution statement.]
“This is a Genocide in which the question of national self determination and the legitimacy or not of an armed struggle for independent statehood is at stake. The denial of national self determination is at the heart of this genocide. As a result of their experiences of persecution, physical and cultural destruction, and abandonment over decades, the Eelam Tamils refuse to accept the paradigm that they remain a second class minority within the unitary Sri Lankan state. They determine themselves as Eelam Tamils, not Sri Lankan Tamils, seeking their own homeland.”
“We appeal to the panel of judges and we call on all people of conscience, social movements and states around the world to speak out against the genocide and recognize the legitimacy of Eelam Tamils to national self determination. The prevention of genocide and realization of national rights are inseparable in this case.”
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