The International Crime of Genocide: The Case of the Tamil People in Sri Lanka by Lutz Oette, Tamil Information Centre, London, March 1998 Dr. Lutz Oette is today Counsel at REDRESS, a human rights organisation that helps torture survivors obtain justice, www.redress.org and Lecturer in Law at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)… Read more »
Posts Categorized: History
“…Against partisans backed by the entire population, colonial armies are helpless. They have only one way of escaping from the harassment which demoralizes them …. This is to eliminate the civilian population. As it is the unity of a whole people that is containing the conventional army, the only anti-guerrilla strategy which will be effective is the destruction of that people, in other words, the civilians, women and children…” Jean Paul Sartre’s Statement ‘On Genocide’
[A]s Prime Minister, when the Jain Commission report accused the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam of supporting the Sri Lankan Tamil Tigers who were responsible for Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination, he refused to drop the party, even though the price was: withdrawal of support by the Congress.
“It is true Tamil Eelam is a small nation on the globe. However it is a nation with great potential. It is a nation with a characteristic individuality. It has a distinctive language, cultural heritage and history. Sinhalam seeks with its military might to destroy all these. It seeks to destroy Tamil sovereignty and replace it with Sinhala sovereignty. As the freedom movement of the people of Tamil Eelam we will never, ever allow Sinhala occupation or Sinhala domination of our homeland.
“Whatever challenges confront us, whatever contingencies we encounter, whatever forces stand on our path, we will still continue with our struggle for the freedom of the Tamil people. On the path shown by history, on the command of the circumstances of today, we will continue with our struggle till alien Sinhala occupation of our land is removed.”
Hattrem summarized the Norwegian view of the challenges to finding out about war crimes: that in all likelihood only 2-3 army officers knew about any given illegal action, that orders were given verbally, that government officials will not give evidence, and that the Tamils are afraid to give evidence. Strommen suggested that although Williamson cannot use information given by the ICRC directly, that information may be used as a cross-check against information gathered from other sources. Stangeland said that the Norwegian government was shocked by the extent to which, in the last stages of the conflict, the Sri Lankan army and government (a) said that its actions were proportionate, which turned out to be false, and (b) violated every guaranteed civilian “safe zone” that was supposedly put into place.
“..The Tamils are the pawns in a political game. It does not matter to anybody how we suffer, how we feel, so long as in this game one Sinhala party is the victor and the other Sinhala party is the vanquished. That is all. That is why I ask you not to make us pawns in your game. … We are willing to go. Every Tamil man, woman and child is willing to go…We do not want language rights from you. Please have Sinhalese only. We only want the right to live in our areas. We want the right to be able to walk the streets without being molested. Those are the rights we want. We will look after our language… The elementary duty of a Government is to afford protection to its subjects, and the duty of the citizens is to be loyal to that Government. The moment that Government fails to afford that protection, it forfeits its right to that loyalty and affection. This Government has forfeited that right. “
“…While no doubt in a democratic state the will of the majority should prevail, the principle of majority rule can operate fully only in those states which have a homogenous population. In multinational states, this principle cannot apply in determining matters relating to the rights of national minorities. If this principle is applied to such questions then it would amount to the rule of the national minorities by the national majority. The minorities will thus be denied their ordinary human rights of self-expression and self-determination and will he subject to the tyranny of an impersonal majority….if the Tamils as a result of a plebiscite in the Tamil areas opt for a federal constitution, they will be exercising their right of self-determination and it is not for somebody else to say “nay”…”
In this connection there was a lot of agitation and Mr.Bandaranaike thereafter clarified his position and issued a statement on 16th August 1957. This is the policy which he laid down, and I am sure that it is a policy which all fair-minded people will accept as just:
‘The instrument of colonization should not be used to convert the Northern and Eastern Provinces into Sinhalese majority areas or in any other manner to the detriment of the Tamil-speaking people of those areas.’
That is the policy which he adopted and accepted, and I should say in fairness to him that thereafter, during his tenure of office between 1957 and 1959 this planned colonization ceased for a time.
‘G.G. Ponnambalam The Marathon Crusade for 50-50 (Balanced Representation) in the State Council 1939′ is a booklet published Chennai, 2001 with an introduction and background political sketch.
The Fourth Eelam War IV ended in May 2009 and marked the decimation of the Tamil Tigers. By the end, this genocidal massacre claimed between 40,000 and 100,000 civilian lives. In June this year, I had the opportunity to interview TamilNet.com’s chief correspondent in the Vanni, Lokeesan who stayed on in Mullivaaikkal until a few… Read more »