Posts Categorized: Human Rights

COIN & Sri Lanka

While state police forces and right-wing media in India, the local partner in the genocide, keep hailing the ‘Sri Lanka solution’ as appropriate to deal with the Maoist insurgency, influential military thinkers in the US appear to be doing a professional, scientific study of the Sri Lankan model and its applicability to other contexts….

He argues that Sri Lanka’s victory “has led some people in the counterinsurgency community to question the basic precepts of classical counterinsurgency as understood in the West which advocates protecting the population and focusing on political primacy as a means to win over the population and isolate the insurgent and forge a lasting peace.”

Further, “Sri Lanka in this case shows a different path, somewhat in contradiction to these prescriptions and produced both quick and decisive results. Firstly, counterinsurgency is at its heart – a counter adaptation level – a struggle to develop and apply new techniques in a fast moving high threat environment against an enemy that’s continually updating and developing. Counterinsurgency isn’t defined by a single, specific set of techniques rather a combination of techniques used for a particular insurgency under particular circumstances. Sri Lanka’s approach embodied that principle.”

Most ironically, in his book ‘Counterinsurgency’ published in 2010, Dr. Kilcullen had advocated that “Scrupulously moral conduct, alongside political legitimacy and respect for the rule of law, are thus operational imperatives: they enable victory, and in their absence no amount of killing—not even genocidal brutality, as in the case of Nazi antipartisan warfare, described below—can avert defeat.”…

But yet, when influential COIN and military experts in the establishments like Kilcullen and Hashim praise the successes of Sri Lanka’s war on the Tamil people, overlooking the genocide and the concomitant political fallout in Tamil Nadu and the diaspora, and while the various HR reports produced by those NGOs and State Departments in the same establishments only engage in counting the trees without addressing the question of genocide, nationhood, and sovereignty of the Eezham Tamil nation, it is hard not to think that they are two sides of the same coin.

UNHCHR Can Now Visit Sri Lanka With Authority

Who are the real beneficiaries of this construction work? Certainly not Tamils. It is all for Sinhalese businessmen and contractors who employ Sinhala workers. Under military occupation, most of the people who have been devastated by war are living in poverty in the North and East.

In reality, those who have been so-called ‘rehabilitated’ and others have been placed under constant monitoring by military intelligence. The number of ex-combatants released is exaggerated. The government does not have the actual figures….

Enough is enough. The HRC resolution is actively endorsed, guaranteed, by the international community. Let’s concentrate on the positive side of this resolution, rather than, in effect, joining hands with the Rajapaksa’s government by rejecting it.

The Need to Repeal the PTA

The provisions of the PTA fly in the face of almost every conceivable human rights norm pertaining to the liberty of the person, including most prominently, detention without charge for extended periods of time at irregular places of detention, the broad denial of detainees’ rights, admissibility of confessions in judicial proceedings subject only to the most tenuous of safeguards, the shifting of the evidential burden of proof to the defendant, and disproportionate penalties. The unchecked detention powers, special trial procedures and absence of meaningful judicial review in the PTA facilitate arbitrary and capricious official conduct, including torture. The PTA also makes serious incursions into the freedom of expression and the media by requiring in certain circumstances governmental approval for printing, publishing and distributing publications and newspapers. For these reasons, the PTA represents an aberration of the rule of law upon which the constitutional order of Sri Lanka is ostensibly based, and has been the gateway to systematic abuse of human rights, giving rise especially to gross ethnic discrimination in its implementation.

Kickstarter Campaign for ‘No Fire Zone’

No Fire Zone – Impact Distribution http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/599171067/no-fire-zone-impact-distribution 3,800 British pounds raised to date.  Need 20,000 pounds by May 30 to get any funds according to Kickstarter rules. This was supposed to be a war conducted in secret. The Government excluded the international press, forced the UN to leave the war zone and ruthlessly silenced the… Read more »

Arrest of Azath Salley

“Azad Sally’s arrest, and the harassment he has faced over the past weeks, is indicative of the climate of fear government critics in Sri Lanka are forced to live under. He must be released immediately or charged with an internationally recognisable criminal offence,” said Polly Truscott, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director.

“He has been campaigning to end oppressive practices against minorities in Sri Lanka, in particular Muslims and Tamils, for which he has faced the ire of the Sri Lankan government.

Returning to Mulliyawalai

While in Mullaitheevu (and in Vavuniya too) tension over land between Muslims and Tamil returnees are building up to the point of burning down poor returnees’ temporary huts in Mulliyawallai and blaming each other, in Weli Oya (Mullaitheevu) and Thalapogaswewa (in Vavuniya) Sinhala settlers are being brought by the government in bus loads for colonization. To date there have been about 4800 Sinhala families brought to Weli Oya and about 2000 families to Thalabogaswewa.

Dharmaratnam Sivaram

Sivaram had succeeded in bringing the Tamil struggle into the light in a world dominated by big media. This was a sensational achievement in a world dominated by media spin, where the voice of the oppressed had no chance of being heard.

UNHCR Overview: IDPs in Sri Lanka

  UNHCR Overview 2012: People internally displaced by conflict and violence – Sri Lanka Publisher Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) Publication Date 29 April 2013 Cite as Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), Global Overview 2012: People internally displaced by conflict and violence – Sri Lanka, 29 April 2013, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/517fb0516.html [accessed 30 April 2013] Disclaimer This is… Read more »

Torture of Tamils Continues

Tamil Refugee Council Australia Statement on Kumar torture April 25 2013 The Evil Ways of Sri Lankan Regime Exposed on One Man’s Back by Tamil Refugee Council, Australia, April 25, 2013       Torture Claims Emerge from Sri Lanka by Heather Ewart,  Australian Broadcasting Corporation, April 24, 2013

HRW: Burma, Ethnic Cleansing

Burma: End ‘Ethnic Cleansing’ of Rohingya Muslims by Human Rights Watch, New York, April 22, 2013 (Bangkok) – Burmese authorities and members of Arakanese groups have committed crimes against humanity in a campaign of ethnic cleansing against Rohingya Muslims in Arakan State since June 2012, Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today. The 153-page… Read more »

Leahy Amendment Stronger on Paper Than in Practice in Pakistan

The law is sound in theory, but in practice the real impact on curbing human rights abuses is often tempered by the desire of the United States to advance its own security interests, even if at times it requires overlooking questionable human rights records.

Remembering Fr. Kili

by K. Sivapalan, ‘Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka,’ France, April 20, 2013 Rev.Fr. Mariampillai Xavier Karunaratnam (1951-2008), or ‘Kili’ Father as he was known affectionately was assassinated on 20th April, 2008 by a deep penetration unit of the  Sri Lanka Army. We lost two other members of NESOHR previously.Chandra Nehru  Ariyanayagam was killed in cold blood by… Read more »

The War May Be Over But The Idea Lives On

Former Tamil MP Ponnambalam puts it simply: “I think it’s dangerous for us to think about what is possible. If we start thinking about that, it only means assimilation. We must stop talking Tamil, we must give up our religion. We must be Sinhalese and Buddhist.”

OVER AND above the geopolitics and domestic Tamil politics that directly affects India, the Sri Lankan Tamils’ story raises a disturbing question. Can the desperate and continuing plight of a people be explained away by terrorism alone? For now, more than 22 lakh Tamils within Sri Lanka and an estimated 10 lakh in the diaspora, are asking this universally perplexing question. As their story also serves as a warning to other displaced people without a nation — while the world and the UN plays a double game, your idea of nationhood could be the next to disappear.

But even in the aftermath of the terror and genocide, the Tamil idea of nationhood has not disappeared. If India does not want another cycle of violence at its doorstep, it cannot afford to be indifferent to the voices of the Lankan Tamils.

Attacks Choke Sri Lanka’s Press

“If you attack a journalist, you are likely going to get away with it – that’s the message,” said Fred Carver, director of Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice, a London-based rights group.

“While there is little outright censorship, there’s a real climate of fear that makes it very difficult to be critical of the government,” added Mr. Carver, who says the Tamil press has been especially targeted.

Country Report: Human Rights 2012

Discrimination against the ethnic Tamil minority continued, and a disproportionate number of victims of human rights violations were Tamils.

Tamils Continue to Flee Sri Lanka

To escape this climate of fear, it appears that an increasing number of Tamils are fleeing Sri Lanka, boarding barely seaworthy vessels, bound for an uncertain future as asylum seekers. This is despite the government’s official effort to reconstruct the war-torn north of the country. “You have a significant number of people leaving postwar, at a point at which the government is assuring that economic development is prioritized and reconciliation is being effected in earnest,” says the CPA’s Saravanamuttu. The fact that so many people are choosing to go “seems to suggest people in the north don’t feel that way. They are voting with their feet, so to speak, and they are paying fairly large sums of money and risking life and limb to do it.” Saravanamuttu says that official numbers of the number of people leaving are unavailable, but to give just one example, over 6,000 Tamils arrived in Australia in 2012, some 30 times higher than the 2011 figure.

Urgent Need for Visible Rights Reform

Despite disturbing video footage released by Channel 4 supported by compelling eyewitness accounts that civilians compressed into a tiny area were repeatedly shelled and bombed, Rajapaksa asserted, “No, but we never fired like how they do in bombing Afghanistan. We never did that.” He also denied that hospitals were shelled – which Human Rights Watch reported on in detail — insisting “it was a complete propaganda,” and that he had seen pictures to the contrary. And despite the 2011 report of a United Nations Panel of Experts that found credible allegations of war crimes and said that up to 40,000 civilians were killed in the final months of the war primarily by indiscriminate shelling from government forces, the president declared: “LTTE shot some of them when they tried to escape. Other than that I don’t think any civilians were killed.” So how many? asked interviewer Shekhar Gupta. The president responded: “I would say less than 100.”

Throwback

Vittachi concludes the book with a question. “Have the Sinhalese and the Tamils reached the parting of the ways?” The question was asked in 1958. It was definitively answered, 25 years later, in 1983. Another 26 years later, in 2009, we were reminded of the answer.

55 years after Vittachi first asked the question, who in the Sinhala community is willing to openly ask the question,