Ilankai Tamil Sangam

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Save the Children

by Usha Sri-Skanda-Rajah, September 24, 2008

As an effective deterrent to forcing Rajapakse into compliance, the United Nations member countries must:

  • stop all military support including the sale of arms to the government of Sri Lanka.    
  • withdraw all foreign-aid and debt relief to Sri Lanka
  • impose trade and economic sanctions against Sri Lanka.

Speech given at UN rally by Eelam Tamils on September 24, 2008

A plea to the UN to Save Tamil Children in Sri Lanka as Mahinda Rajapakse addresses the UN General Assembly.

Usha Sri-Skanda-Rajah Speaking at UN Rally September 24, 2008
Sri-Skanda-Rajah Speaking at UN Rally. Photo: TamilNet

Ladies and Gentlemen, Brothers and Sisters

(I know I don’t have to preach to the converted, I want to address the media personnel here. I want them to hear me.)

I come to you as a mother; I make this desperate plea on behalf of mothers - Tamil mothers all over all over the world who are traumatized by the suffering of innocent children - our Tamil children who are facing genocide at the hands of Mahinda Rajapakse and his treacherous Sinhala forces.

It’s despicable and morally reprehensible that Mahinda Rajapakse is being given a platform in the United Nations to tell lies, while he is right on cue in his agenda driven to pursue the continuing genocide of the Tamil people.

I say, Mahinda Rajapakse has blood on his hands.

I ask that I be heard in these “August Halls.”

I make this earnest appeal to all the moral super powers of the world, the caring and compassionate member states of the United Nations to “Save Tamil children”. I urge you to stop Mahinda Rajapakse from starving and bombing our children in contravention of the Geneva Conventions.

Let me tell you about Mahinda Rajapakse. – Mahinda Rajapakse a virtual dictator, aided and abetted by his brothers and family is running Sri Lanka like his ‘own household’ where he is in full control of major part of the purse strings. It’s “all in the family’ ladies and gentlemen – it’s “all in the family.”

We are talking about Sri Lanka!

- Where corruption nepotism, family bandy-ism and terror rule supreme.  

- Where democracy is a farce. True democracy is defined as a form of society characterized by social equality and tolerance. It’s not so in Sri Lanka. The kind of democracy prevalent in Sri Lanka has led to the very oppression and persecution of the Tamil people.

Children in  Kilinochchi

Agony of Sri Lanka’s displaced - BBC – 22nd Sept 2008

As women and mothers we have been warning the International Community that Mahinda Rajapakse’s unilateral abrogation of the ceasefire agreement was of great concern to us. We have said his determination to pursue a destructive war would result in civilian deaths, ethnic cleansing and displacement of a magnitude that would end in the extermination of a people. And true to our word Mahinda Rajapakse having ordered local and international humanitarian aid agencies out, denied access to International media and imposed an embargo on all essential items needed to sustain life including food and medicine is all poised to destroy the Tamil people. If the United Nations does not act, I say before it’s too late – Sri Lanka will be another Rwanda. Having learned the bitter lessons of Rwanda as mothers we urge the United Nations to be vigilant and not let another Rwanda happen in Sri Lanka.

Ladies and gentlemen as mothers we fear for our Tamil children. We want urgent action. We want a United Nations field presence in the Tamil Homeland.

We urge the United Nations to force Mahinda Rajapakse to:

  • Comply with obligations to stationing a human rights monitoring mission in Sri Lanka to stop all human rights abuses and acts of state terrorism
  • To end the military offensive and re-instate the ceasefire agreement
  • To reopen the major highways to the north and east ensuring access to the north and East for local and international humanitarian aid to flow freely and for providing for the free movement of people goods and services.
  • To address the Tamil national Question and come to a negotiated settlement that reflects Tamil aspirations for self determination in their traditional homeland.

We  do not approve of Mahinda Rajapakse’s bid to set up ‘bogus’ provincial councils presenting it as a viable solution to the ethnic crisis and canvassing support for it in international circles. Mahinda Rajapakse is fooling the International Community when he gleefully boasts about what he has done in the East after placing his stooges there and making a mockery of democracy with promises of development but none so far. We guarantee that it would be few that would enjoy the perks and privileges he is offering as patronage - if not stopped it would ruin the very fabric of ‘Eastern Values’ and sustained development.

Tamils do not approve of Provincial Councils which according to legal luminaries are glorified “local authorities” It shows that Sinhalese politicians ‘do not get it’; it shows a callous disregard and contemptuous lack of understanding of the legitimate aspirations of the Tamil people.

As an effective deterrent to forcing Rajapakse into compliance, the United Nations member countries must:

  • stop all military support including the sale of arms to the government of Sri Lanka.    
  • withdraw all foreign-aid and debt relief to Sri Lanka
  • Impose trade and economic sanctions against Sri Lanka.

As mothers we ask this so that Tamil children living in their traditional homeland in the island of Sri Lanka can enjoy true freedom, security and human rights THAT EVERY CHILD is entitled to under the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child. Death and destruction, abject poverty, poor health, malnutrition, hunger, lack of education, depravation and displacement has taken its toll on Tamil children.  

The deplorable conditions in which our Tamil children are growing was highlighted by the International Federation of Tamils' (IFT) Working Group on the Rights of the Child in its report "Cry Of NorthEast Child" where it laid a damning indictment at the feet of successive Sri Lankan governments who have by their actions and omissions violated international law, namely the Convention on the Rights of the Child – article 2 (non discrimination) article 3 (best interests of the child) article 6 (survival and development) article 10 (family reunification) article 20 (protection of child without family) article 23 (disabled children) article 24 (health and health services) article 26 (social security) article 27 (standard of living) article 28 (education) article 29 (aims of education) and article 31 (leisure recreation and cultural activities).

As our children stand at death’s door we plead to the world. As death and displacement rise our children in Sri Lankan government controlled areas of the Tamil homeland are the most vulnerable children in the world and more so in the war affected targeted zone of the dreaded Sri Lankan armed forces in the North including the Vanni.

The grim realties of the future of our children are being felt deeply by us mothers. The pain and the suffering of children in an ever worsening crisis with no reprieve, with no end in sight are agonizing for us mothers.

We as mothers ask that our cry be heard.

We want the United Nations TO FREE THE TAMIL PEOPLE and SAVE THE CHILDREN from the tyranny of Mahinda Rajapakse and his men – who claim to be ‘guardians of the state’ but have no qualms of killing a people who have just as much right to live in a safe and secure environment enjoying self determination in their homeland in the island of Sri Lanka as any other.

As mothers we make this plea to the United Nations to please “save our children.”

So that soon they too can enjoy full rights under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

References:

Thirteenth Amendment to Sri Lanka Constitution – Devolution or Comic Opera – Nadesan Satyendra

UN Conventions on the Rights of the Child

Cry of the Northeast Child - IFT

BBC picture – Agony of Sri Lanka’s displaced – Sept 22nd 2008