Ilankai Tamil Sangam

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Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

Sri Lanka: Sixty Year Ethnic Conflict

by P. Selvaratnam, February 1, 2008

But the final hearing was truly shocking. As the solicitor general repeatedly referred to the ways the Tamil inmates had been murdered—"beaten, stabbed, and some even roasted alive" he would say with a flourish—one of the justices began to mock his emphasis on the word "roasted." This brought much laughter from the other justices and the defense lawyers, and even, most disturbingly, from the government lawyers themselves. This conduct was only the most grotesque example of the judges' utter disdain for the crimes under consideration and for the state's responsibility to determine the truth.

B. Lynn Pascoe,
Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs,
United Nations
 
Benita Ferrero-Waldner,
Commissioner for External Relations,
European Union
 
Your Excellencies:
 
Sri Lanka: Ethnic conflict of sixty years and mass graves
 
The latest finding in a government-controlled area in the most militarized country(more militarized than military-ruled Pakistan!) in South Asia: 

Sri Lanka probes bodies found in shallow graves
 
Numerous massacres, in towns/villages/prisons/detention centers, of Tamils in the last thirty years of armed conflict (leave alone the island-wide state-assisted series of racial pogroms beginning in 1956 when hundreds, then thousands of Tamils were butchered and burnt alive) have not been investigated (the 'investigation'' of the Bindunuwewa massacre was held to ward off international criticism but noone was ever convicted for this atrocious crime), just as all the murders of Tamil politicians and journalists in the same period have not been investigated. Who can ever forget the Chemmani mass graves of nearly 600 Tamil youths who ''disappeared'' after arrests by the armed forces in 1995 and brought to light only by a corporal when caught in a rape case in 1996? Even that case was not investigated.
 
That the then-Prime Minister Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike refused to hold an official inquiry into the nine deaths at the Tamil Research Conference held in Jaffna in 1974 should tell the international community a great deal. There have been countless 'storm signals' (as coined and enumerated by William Clarance in his book, Ethnic Warfare in Sri Lanka and the UN Crisis published in 2007) unheeded by the international community from the time of independence.
 
At least what Alan Keenan, Senior Analyst for International Crisis Group in Sri Lanka, says about the investigation of ''Bindunuwewa massacre'' should prod the international community: No Peace, No War: Have international donors failed Sri Lanka's most vulnerable? by Alan Keenan, Boston Review, Vol 30, No 3, Summer 2005:

'' Armed with knives and poles and gasoline, the mob hacked and burned to death 27 of the Tamil inmates. Some 60 police officers sent to guard the camp made no effort to stop the attack.

But the final hearing was truly shocking. As the solicitor general repeatedly referred to the ways the Tamil inmates had been murdered—"beaten, stabbed, and some even roasted alive" he would say with a flourish—one of the justices began to mock his emphasis on the word "roasted." This brought much laughter from the other justices and the defense lawyers, and even, most disturbingly, from the government lawyers themselves. This conduct was only the most grotesque example of the judges' utter disdain for the crimes under consideration and for the state's responsibility to determine the truth. The proceedings were filled with bad jokes and undignified behavior, lacked any sense of gravity of the case, and indicated no awareness of the state's obligation to protect the inmates whatever their political sympathies.

Sitting quietly and scribbling in my notebook, I felt overcome with the desire to pick up a gun and join the Tigers. I could only imagine how Sri Lankan Tamils would feel .......''

How long is the international community going to wait and watch the slow ethnocide in Sri Lanka?
 
Sincerely,

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