‘Very Fair to Say SL Army Committed Genocide’

— Former UN staffer

by ‘The Economic Times,’ India, from Press Trust of India, January 27, 2018

The atrocities committed against Tamils during the 25-year civil war in Sri Lanka amounted to ethnic cleansing and even today a huge drive is underway to change the demography of the Tamil-dominated region, noted photographer and former UN staffer Benjamin Dix said today.
Dix worked as communication manager for the United Nations in Sri Lanka and spent four years (2004-2008) to bring the human rights abuses in the island nation to a wider audience. He was based in LTTE-controlled Vanni in the northern region.”The crimes in Sri Lanka were horrific from both sides. The Sri Lankan Army is culpable of war crimes, but the Tamil leadership also failed the people in the last decade of the civil war,” the noted photographer told PTI in an interview at the Jaipur Literature Festival here.
“The Sri Lankan Army does not believe that they committed atrocities. It is a propaganda that they liberated Tamils from the Tamil leadership. It was not a liberation, but destruction of the Tamil community,” he said.The noted photographer has co-authored with Lindsay Pollock the graphic novel entitled “The Vanni” that deals with the fortunes of a fictional Tamil family through war and displacement, and its search for asylum.

Dix said the accusations levelled against the Sri Lankan Army of committing genocide were a “very fair” assessment.

“It is very fair to say that the Army committed genocide. The atrocities in Sri Lanka were definitely towards ethnic cleansing,” he asserted.
The former United Nations staffer alleged that the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime did not want Tamils in Sri Lanka and went after them to have them removed from the nation.
“The atrocities continue in terms of removing the Tamil history, or changing names or allowing the Lankan Army to run hotels and tourism in the north. There is still a sense of victory over the Tamils in the north,” Dix said. “There is still a huge drive to change the demography of north Sri Lanka, but I find the atmosphere reasonably relaxed today, compared to what it was in the past.”
The photographer also lamented that the Tamil refugees were hardly receiving the media attention they deserved and that the “sexy story” of Syrian refugees was hogging all the limelight.Dix said it was wrong to label Syrian refugees as “extraordinary people” as they are often described in the mainstream media.

“Syrian refugees are just normal people. They are not special because they are fleeing a civil war. Everyone will flee at the time of war. So Syrians are no different, they are just like us,” he said.

Sri Lanka has faced the United Nations Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC) ire for alleged human rights abuses during the last phase of the three-decade-long conflict.

 

 

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