Ilankai Tamil Sangam

24th Year on the Web

Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

TCHR: Paramilitaries & a Terrorism Conference

In this so-called democratic country, there is no chance for anyone from any other ethnic group to be head of state or even to live equally to their fellow citizens, the Singhalese...

There are 192 member states in the United Nations and more than a hundred definitions of “Terrorism.” In other words states have their own definitions in order to fulfil their own purposes. But they claim that they all agree on one common ground! What is the common ground? It is to say, that whatever is against a state is “Terrorism.”..

[E]ven though this event was known as the “International Conference on Countering Terrorism,” the government of Sri Lanka used this opportunity to justify their aggressive war against the Tamil people...

Sri Lanka discredited the internationally respected participants by allowing a paramilitary leader to present a paper to this conference...

The motive of Karuna’s trip to the UK raises suspicion as to whether the government of Sri Lanka is going to expand its paramilitary activities to Western countries...

If the CHOGM is serious in its business - why is there a reluctance to expel Sri Lanka from the Commonwealth?

Tamil Centre for Human Rights

Press Release

Ref : TZ042/PR/2007       28 November 2007

International community is “Pinching the baby and rocking the cradle.”

A paramilitary leader presented a paper to an anti-terrorist conference !

What is happening in Sri Lanka since independence 1948 is unethical, unimaginable and unbelievable.

The head of state is invariably a Singhalese and a Buddhist, and rules with the backing of Buddhist monks – he or she does everything to satisfy the numerical majority the Singhalese. In this so-called democratic country, there is no chance for anyone from any other ethnic group to be head of state or even to live equally to their fellow citizens, the Singhalese.

So far only one head of state told this truth openly to the public, including to the international community,

“I am not worried about the opinion of the Tamil people. Now we cannot think of them, not about their lives or their opinion. The more you put pressure in the north, the happier the Sinhala people will be here. Really if I starve the Tamils out, the Sinhala people will be happy.” – President J.R. Jeyawardene, Daily Telegraph, UK 11th July 1983

Other heads of state may not have boldly said this, but they have put it into practice. As far as the Singhala Buddhist state is concerned, discrimination against another ethnic group is known as “Patriotism.”

The Tamils, who are a Nation, had a Kingdom of their own prior to - and during - Colonial rule by the Portuguese, the Dutch and the early part of British rule. When independence was given by the British [in 1948], the then Tamil leaders thought, unlike Mohammad Ali Jinnah, father of Pakistan, that they could live in peace and harmony with the numerical majority Singhalese. But this proved impossible when the Singhalese obtained majority rule. The violent response by the Singhala rulers to nearly thirty-five years of non-violent protest by the Tamils against discrimination, created the conditions for the birth of the Tamil freedom struggle through use of Arms – now in existence for twenty-five years with the exception of a few short intervals. This armed struggle is presently portrayed as terrorism to the international community by Sri Lanka.

provenance unknown

 

Patriotism?

When the Japanese suicide mission “Kamikaze” (Divine wind / God wind) was carried out during World War II to attack and destroy enemy targets, it was considered to be “Patriotism” by the Japanese. The then Minister of Finance of Ceylon (Sri Lanka) J. R. Jeyawardena supported the Japanese in the international arena in San Francisco. Four decades later on 23 October 1983, during the Lebanese civil war, the same style of attack was carried out in Beirut to bomb the multinational force in Lebanon. Some Islamic countries indirectly praised this as “patriots” carrying out a holy war.

During World War II, when France was occupied by Germany, the Vichy regime in France collaborated with Nazi Germany, headed by Marshal Philippe Pétain, and branded all the “Resistance movement’s” activities as “Terrorism.” Eventually Philippe Pétain ended up in French modern history as a “Traitor.”

The recent history of world events has proved and taught us that, “one person's terrorist is another person's freedom fighter”.

In Sri Lanka

TCHR has no reservation in supporting the global war against terrorism. It has to be fought without reservation. But as far as Sri Lanka is concerned, what is terrorism?

Is it possible to consider the struggle against undemocratic and aggressive governments, dictatorship and opportunistic politics and the struggle for right to self-determination  - as terrorism? If so, what is the response to State terrorism and State-sponsored terrorism?

The abductions, involuntary disappearances, summary executions, mass killings, bombings and destruction of hospitals, schools, religious places, houses, public places, etc - are these not acts of terrorism? Is there any international covenant or convention that permits a State to practice all these activities on innocent civilians? Certainly not. Have any international norms or laws been used to take action against this violating state? Unfortunately not.  

First of all, it must be stated that there is no universally accepted definition of terrorism. There are 192 member states in the United Nations and more than a hundred definitions of “Terrorism.” In other words states have their own definitions in order to fulfil their own purposes. But they claim that they all agree on one common ground! What is the common ground? It is to say, that whatever is against a state is “Terrorism.”

Now-a-days, there are many Anti-Terrorism Conferences taking place around the world, especially hosted by countries which are looking for the support of the international community to justify their aggressive war against the people who are struggling for their right to self-determination.

Anti-Terrorism Conference in Colombo

Last October there was a conference organised by the Sri Lankan government in Colombo. Many respected dignitaries working on terrorism from various countries participated and some presented papers. The noted absentee was Britain - no-one from UK addressed this conference.

The foreign dignitaries gave some valuable information on terrorism. However, even though this event was known as the “International Conference on Countering Terrorism,” the government of Sri Lanka used this opportunity to justify their aggressive war against the Tamil people. Documents circulated during this conference clearly show this motive.

Keynote speaker humiliated

On the first day of the conference, 18th October, keynote speaker Dr. Gerard Chaliand, former Director, European Center for the Study of Conflicts, from France, presented a paper entitled “The Threat Posed by International Terrorist Networks.” He gave an interview to Reuters, in Colombo, on the 20th saying that 'No way, you can't crush the Tigers. Before them I've seen two others which were outstanding. The Vietnamese, and the EPLF from Eritrea -- they won. (The Tigers) are the third one,'  Technically speaking they are the most efficient movement at present in the world. You don't crush those guys with the Sri Lankan army, which by the way is not the best in the world.'

The government which was yearning for sweet words from foreign dignitaries could not tolerate the remarks by Dr Gerard Chaliand to Reuters. President Mahinda Rajapaksa's brother, Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa told Reuters: 'I don't agree with that at all. I'm sure we are the best when you talk about counter-terrorism, who else has had to do this? He can't make a comment like that, it's not logical. He doesn't know the ground situation, he is looking from far away.' In fact, Gatabaya Rajapasa’s remarks were not the last humiliation of the keynote speaker, Dr Gerard Chaliand.

One of the pro-government websites commented the following: “Yes, Gerard, they will be the winners in the hell with you! Now will you tell us how much you were paid by the Wanni terrorists? It can be sometimes Norway or some other who paid you, right? Now without trying to be another clown in Sri Lanka you better get lost! If you compare the Vietnamese to Wanni terrorists, it shows how much you know about the Vietnam War and the ruthless Wanni terrorists. Never think of coming to Sri Lankan ever again!.......”

It is the usual practice in Sri Lanka to brand anyone who happens to make an independent comment about the realities in Sri Lanka, as a 'Terrorist' or as 'helping the terrorists.' Gerard Chaliand also become a victim for not speaking in favour of Sinhala chauvinism.

Paper presented by paramilitary leader

An interesting feature of this conference was that papers were presented by two Tamils who are neither academics nor professionals. One was an unpopular Tamil politician who lost his deposit in many general elections including the most recent one, Mr V Anandasangare, and the other was a “Paramilitary Leader,” Douglas Devananda who is responsible for many abductions, disappearances, killings, etc in the North East, especially in Jaffna – even while he was presenting his paper. [Devananda is an MP from the EPDP and an appointed government minister, but he also commands a paramilitary group which works with the Sri Lankan armed forces in the NorthEast, the border areas and Colombo. The Sri Lankan armed forces do not speak Tamil and do not know the social or physical landscape of the Tamil community, so they require the assistance of such groups in their anti-insurgency campaign. - Ed. Comm.] It is equal to allowing a butcher to conduct mass in a Church where Bishops and Cardinals are present. Sri Lanka discredited the internationally respected participants by allowing a Paramilitary leader to present a paper to this conference.

In fact when President Rajapakse goes abroad, Douglas Devananda always accompanies him to show the world that the president is with a Tamil. In the most recent trip to the USA, however, Devananda did not go. Only President Rajapaksa, Douglas Devananda and the US Embassy in Colombo know why!

Here we highlight only one sentence from his paper to show how Douglas Devananda and the government of Sri Lanka are lying to the world. The paramilitary leader stated: “To place on record, in the four decades of confrontation, not a single Tamil leader has been murdered by the Sri Lankan security forces.

Even someone with the most cursory knowledge of the human rights situation in Sri Lanka will know this to be a blatant falsehood.

It is to be noted that in the last election in 2004, the spoiled votes (21,233) in Jaffna, exceeded the number of votes polled for EPDP Douglas Devananda (18,612). But on the basis of the proportional representative system, the elections officials agreed to give one seat to EPDP as they could not give a seat for spoiled votes. The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) polled 91% of the votes in Jaffna (257,320).

http://www.kadirgamarinstitute.lk/html/pdf/Douglas_Devananda.pdf

http://www.kadirgamarinstitute.lk/html/media_releases.html

A Singhalese chauvinist, a government pied-piper (RG), presented a paper in this conference. In the year 2000, this person along with another pied-piper who poses as a journalist (DR) in one of the racist English language newspapers in Sri Lanka, prepared a hit list of a few Tamils in the diaspora and Western Academics.

These were the few local people allowed by the government of Sri Lanka to present papers to this conference in which many respected high profile dignitaries presented their papers.

Paramilitary leader in UK

A government which smuggled another Paramilitary leader, Karuna (Vinayagamoorthi Muralitharan), to London, UK, on a forged Diplomatic passport, on 18 September,  hosted an “International Conference on Countering Terrorism” in Colombo! Is the Sri Lanka government qualified to host such a conference, while it is harbouring and supporting the activities of the Paramilitary groups, and its own forces are responsible for kidnapping and mass killings of innocent civilians too? The motive of Karuna’s trip to the UK raises suspicion as to whether the government of Sri Lanka is going to expand its paramilitary activities to Western countries.

It is believed that Karuna managed to smuggle a huge amount of money (believed to be 53 crores Sri lankan ruppees – one crore equal to 10 million) into the UK. This money was collected through kidnapping, abducting and killing of innocent people and co-ordinated very well by the government of Sri Lanka. Is this neither Terrorism for Sri Lanka nor for the international community? The assassination of prominent persons like Parliamentarians Joseph Pararajasingham,  Ariyanayagam Chandra Nehru, V. Vigneswaran, Academic Vice-chancellor Ravindranathan and Journalists Sivaram and Nadesan are among the killings carried out by Karuna in Sri Lanka [with the connivance of the armed forces].

Mixed response of the international community

What is the response of the international community to all these problems in Sri Lanka? When the Tsunami hit Sri Lanka, the NorthEast, which was more affected than any other part of Sri Lanka, did not receive enough government support nor relief aid. The Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), especially the Tamil Rehabiltation Organization (TRO) were the ones which provided food, clothing, shelter to the War-displaced people as well as to the Tsunami victims in the NorthEast. It is well-known that the Tsunami victims in the North East are not resettled and they are still in temporary houses and fully dependent on TRO’s help. TRO’s humanitarian work is well recorded and valued highly by the International NGOs and VVIPs. This was one of the reasons that President Kumaratunga could not ignore the service rendered by TRO to the people, and gave them an appreciation award on 22 August 2005.

On 15 November, to everyone’s surprise, the TRO funds in US were frozen due to pressure applied by the government of Sri Lanka. We, TCHR, kindly appeal to the US authorities to reconsider their decision on this humanitarian organisation - the TRO.

Following the US decision, the Sri Lankan government has also proscribed the TRO in Sri Lanka. This is to satisfy the political demand of the Singhalese extreme Nationalist party, Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP).

As far as the JVP is concerned, people of any views - whether capitalist, communist, socialist or leftist - are welcomed when they come forward to suppress the Tamil struggle for the right to self determination. On the basis of opportunistic politics, the JVP opposed the 1987 Indo-Sri Lanka Accord and the presence of the Indian Peace Keeping Forces - IPKF in Sri Lanka, and created a turmoil bringing the country to a stand-still in 1988-89. Now on the basis of so-called patriotism, they are happily accepting the multinational military presence (US, Israelis, Pakistanis, Indian and others) in Sri Lanka.

As far as the Ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka is concerned, the international community, especially the US, EU and other Co-chairs are of the opinion that the government of Sri Lanka should not opt for a military solution and that the government should negotiate a peaceful solution with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam ( LTTE). On the other hand, the same countries are supplying copious arms and ammunition to Sri Lanka, while demanding that Sri Lanka accept an international human rights monitoring body.

It is regrettable that the international community, especially the western countries are applying the attitude of “pinching the baby and rocking the cradle.”

It is very unfortunate that only a handful of English, Singhalese and Tamil journalists and media personal are working day and night to tell the truth to the world. But they are being harassed, abducted and killed by the government-sponsored terrorists, the “Paramilitaries.”

TCHR strongly condemns the arson attack on the Sunday Leader/Morning Leader printing press on 21 November. As usual, this was also done by a so-called 'unknown' group. This is Sri Lankan-style democracy. 

Appeal to the Commonwealth

In the last session of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kampala, Uganda, Pakistan was expelled - mainly because of its declaration of State of emergency. If that is the case, then the Commonwealth has to consider Sri Lanka’s record. Sri Lanka has been in a declared state of emergency for almost entirely the past thirty-five years; also it was found by the UN Working Group on Disappearances to be the country with the 2nd highest number of disappearances in the world and, furthermore, many other violations are taking place, worse than in Pakistan. If the CHOGM is serious in its business - why is there a reluctance to expel Sri Lanka from the Commonwealth?

We kindly request everyone to send an appeal to the Commonwealth Secretary General, urging him to take strong and urgent action on Sri Lanka.  

Secretary-General Mr Don McKinnon
The Commonwealth Secretariat,
Marlborough House, Pall Mall,
London SW1Y 5HX
UNITED KINGDOM

Fax      : +44 (0) 20 7930 0827

 

HEAD OFFICE:

Tamil Centre for Human Rights - TCHR/CTDH

9, rue des Peupliers - 95140 Garge les Gonesse - FRANCE

Contact person : S. V. Kirubaharan – General Secretary

Tel/Fax: + 33 1 42 67 54 36  - Email: tchrgs@hotmail.com / tchgs@tchr.net

TCHR-UK

Tamil Centre for Human Rights - TCHR/CTDH

PO Box 182, Manchester M16 8ED, UNITED KINGDOM

Contact person : Deirdre McConnell – Director International Programme

Fax: + 44 161 860 4609 - Email: tchrdip@hotmail.com / tchrdip@tchr.net

TCHR-NETHERLANDS

Tamil Centrum voor Mensenrechten- TCHR  

Stellingmolen 43  

1703 TE Heerhugowaard

THE NETHERLANDS

Contact person : I. Chinniah

TCHR-SWITZERLAND

Tamilen Zentrum fur Mensenrechten - TCHR

P. o. Box : 319

8172 – Niederglatt, SWITZERLAND

Contact person : Thambirajah Genegatharan

Email : tchrswitzerland@hotmail.com