Sri Lanka’s War on Eelam Tamils

by Nadesan Satyendra in TamilNation archives, last updated 2009


Ethnic Cleansing: Sri Lanka

 இனம் ஒன்று அழிவதா,  இதை நாம் பொறுப்பதா…

“…. suffering in common unifies more than joy does. Where national memories are concerned, griefs are of more value than triumphs, for they impose duties, and require a common effort. A nation is therefore a large-scale solidarity, constituted by the feeling of the sacrifices that one has made in the past and of those that one is prepared to make in the future…”  What is a nation? – Ernest Renan, 1882

Nadesan Satyendra

Ethnic cleansing is about assimilating a people. It is about destroying the identity of a people, as a people. And it often occurs in stages. The preferred route of a conqueror is to achieve his objective without resort to violence – peacefully and stealthily. But when that fails, the would be conqueror turns to murderous violence and genocide to progress his assimilative agenda.

In the island of Sri Lanka, the record shows that during the past fifty years and more, the intent and goal of all Sinhala governments (without exception) has been to secure the island as a Sinhala Buddhist Deepa. Rule by a permanent ethnic majority within the confines of a single state is the dark side of democracy. The Sinhala Buddhist nation masquerading as a multi ethnic ‘civic’ ‘Sri Lankan’ nationset about its task of assimilation and ‘cleansing’ the island of  the Tamils, as a people, by

– depriving a section of Eelam Tamils of their citizenship,
– declaring the Sinhala flag as the national flag,
– colonising parts of the Tamil homeland with Sinhala people,
– imposing Sinhala as the official language,
– discriminating against Tamils students seeking University admission,
– depriving Tamil language speakers of employment in the public sector,
– dishonouring agreements entered into with the Tamil parliamentary  political leadership,
– refusing to recognise constititutional safeguards against discrimination,
– later removing these constitutional safeguards altogether,
– giving to themselves an authocthonous Constitution with a foremost place for Buddhism,
– and changing the name of the island itself to the Sinhala Buddhist name of Sri Lanka – appropriately enough, on  the ‘tenth day of the waxing moon in the month of Vesak in the year two thousand five hundred and fifteen of the Buddhist Era’.

When these attempts at ethnic cleansing were resisted by the Tamil people by non violent means and parliamentary struggle, Sinhala governments resorted to violence in 1956, in 1958, in 1961 and again in 1977 – a murderous violence directed to terrorise the Tamils into submission.

The inevitable rise of Tamil armed resistance to State terror was then met with enactment of laws which were an ‘ugly blot on statute book of any civilised country’, with arbitrary arrest and detentiontortureextra judicial killings and massacresindiscriminate aerial bombardment and artillery shellingwanton rape, and genocide – together with press censorship, disinformation and murder of journalists. And the impunity granted to Sinhala armed forces, para military groupsgoondas and Sinhala thugs, exposed the encouragement, support and direction given by successive Sri Lanka governments for the crimes committed against the Tamil people.

Today, (in 2006) the President Rajapakse government seeks to pursue the Sinhala assimilative agenda by reneging on the 2002 Oslo Declaration, by refusing to recognise the existence of the Tamil homeland, and by  perpetuating a Sri Lankan state structure within which the Tamil people may continue to be ruled by a permanent Sinhala majority. At the same time the genocidal intent of the President Rajapakse government is reflected in the war crimes committed by the Sri Lankan armed forces under the President’s command and by the Sri Lanka para military. In the shadow of a ceasefire, they have raped, murdered Tamil ParliamentariansTamil journalistsexecuted Tamil students with impunity, arbitrarily arrested and detained Tamil civilians,  abducted Tamil refugee workers,orchestrated attacks on Tamil civilians and Tamil shopsbombed Tamil civilian population centres and displaced thousands of Tamils from their homes.

The gross, consistent, and continuing violations of the rights of the Tamil people, by the Sri Lankan government and its agencies during the past several decades, include grave breaches of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Genocide Convention, and the Geneva Conventions relating to the humanitarian law of armed conflict.

These violations by Sri Lanka have been well documented by several human rights organisations and independent observers as well as by eye witnesses – and have been the subject of hundreds of statements and interventions at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.  This publication brings together extracts from some of these reports – including those that cover Genocide ’58,  Genocide’83 , the Genocidal War ’95/’01,  Sri Lanka’s Continuing War  – in the Shadow of a Ceasefire.

The Record Speaks...

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