Ilankai Tamil Sangam

Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

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A Call to Impose Sanctions on the Government of Sri Lanka

November 27, 2005

Press Release

We, the undersigned organizations in the USA, are angry and deeply saddened by the brutal murder of Mr. Joseph Pararajasingham, Tamil Parliamentarian and a human rights activist. We are shocked that the murder was carried out in a church and during a midnight mass to celebrate Christmas. St. Mary’s Church where Mr. Pararajasingham was murdered is in a Sri Lankan army-controlled High Security Zone in the Batticaloa town.

Mr. Joseph Pararajasingham was shot just after he received communion from Bishop Kingsley Swampillai, the Bishop of Batticaloa. Mr. Pararajasingham’s wife, Sugunam, was also seriously wounded and is in a critical condition. Seven others, including children, were also wounded in this barbaric act.

The Tamil people all over the world have lost a fearless champion who risked his life to tell the truth of injustice and cruelty to the Tamils by the Sinhala Buddhist-controlled Sri Lankan government. The world has lost an honest and decent human being.

Mr. Joseph Pararajasingham was a founding member of the NorthEast Secretariat for Human Rights [NESHOR]. He was also an Executive Member of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and the SAARC Parliamentary Association.

Mr. Joseph Pararajasingham met various world leaders and officials, including the US Department of State, and brought to their attention the persecution of Tamils by successive Sri Lankan governments. When the US Congressman Danny K. Davis visited Tamil areas this year, Mr. Joseph Pararajasingham accompanied him. This callous murder should be seen in the context of the Sri Lankan government’s efforts to de-link the Tamils from the international community and deny them an opportunity to bring to their attention the ceasefire violations, and the extrajudicial and sexual assaults perpetrated by the Sri Lankan armed forces.

The sanctity of a church and the sacredness of the day were not considered in carrying this atrocious act on Christmas day in a Church. This incident should not be considered in isolation, but in the context of the recent persecution of Christians and burning of churches by the Sinhala Buddhist chauvinistic forces in callous disregard for the religious pluralism in the country.

We are shocked by the cynicism of the Sri Lankan government, which by its statements or insinuations by their spokesperson, Sinhala correspondents and Sinhala ‘experts,’ are trying to blame the LTTE for this murder. These outrageous accusations, as usual, are done without any investigations or even the apprehension of the assassins who carried out the murder in a High Security Zone controlled by the Sri Lankan army. This insults the intelligence of people. The location of the assassination in a “High Security Zone,” which is a Tamil area occupied by the Sinhala armed forces, along with Mr. Pararajasingam's endorsement of Tamil political rights, clearly establishes that this atrocious murder was probably done by the Sri Lankan armed forces or by paramilitary forces acting in collusion with the Sri Lankan military intelligence.

This cowardly action is not only in violation of Article 2.1 of the ceasefire agreement, which prohibits assassination, but also the killing of a noncombatant. It is also a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Times of War. This assassination is nothing but an act of State terrorism in its most naked form.

We also sadly point out that the action/inaction on the part of the international community has contributed to the present climate on the island. When the Sri Lankan leadership repeatedly claimed that they had established an international safety net designed to surround and contain the Tamils' struggle for self-determination, the international community’s failure to repudiate these claims and disassociate itself from the stated partisan goals of such a safety net strengthened the hands of the Sinhala armed forces.

The Co-Chairs' turning a blind eye towards the failure of the Sri Lankan armed forces to vacate civilian homes, temples, schools in violation of Article 2.2 of the ceasefire agreement and International Humanitarian Laws; the failure of the Sri Lankan government to disarm the paramilitary groups as required by Article 1.8 of the ceasefire agreement; and the scuttling of the Post-Tsunami Operational Management [PTOMS], required to address the urgent humanitarian needs of the Tsunami victims, embolden the Sinhala chauvinist forces to believe that they can breach the ceasefire agreement with impunity and impose a military solution to the Tamil national question.

In addition, while the international community employs concepts such as “earned sovereignty,”“conditional sovereignty” and “phased out sovereignty” in national conflicts in Sudan, Bougainville, Montenegro, and Kosovo, its insistence that solutions to the current conflicts in the island of Sri Lanka should be within a united Sri Lanka creates a perception that the international community is on the side of the Sinhala chauvinistic forces.

The international community must take concrete actions to stop this State terrorism. We are aware that when known leaders of the Tamil struggle are killed, such as Mr. Kausalyan, the head of LTTE’s Eastern political wing and the head of the Eastern Tsunami reconstruction efforts; Mr. Chandra Nehru, the Human Rights activist; and journalist Taraki, the international community expressed concerns. However, the assassination of Mr. Joseph Pararajasingham demonstrates that these concerns have not had any effect on the Sri Lankan government.

It is appalling that these and other deaths are never investigated fully and brought to any conclusion. The impunity with which the killings of Tamils are never properly investigated or punished, including mass murders, are an encouragement for the armed forces to continue with their killings. However, the LTTE is blamed without any effective investigation. This is part of the war to marginalize and dehumanize the only force that can effectively speak up for the Tamils.

We are also aware that, due to the inherent bias in the international system and diplomatic protocols, it is easy to criticize and take actions against a non-state party. We also would like to point out that, given the political history since independence, appeasement of the Sinhala Buddhist forces will not change their pervasive and entrenched racism.

The international community must show political and moral courage and impose sanctions on the government of Sri Lanka in order to put an immediate end to this deliberate and calculated violence. Such an action would restore confidence of the Tamil people in the peace process.


World Tamil Coordinating Committee – USA

Illankai Tamil sangam – USA

World Tamil Women Organization – USA

Federation of Tamil Association of North America (FeTNA)– USA

Center for Women’s Development and Rehabilitation – USA

Tamil Heritage International – USA

Illankai Tamil sangam – Florida

World Tamil Organization – Illinois

Midwest Tamil sangam – Illinois

Ohio Tamil Association – Ohio

Tamil Refugees Rehabilitation Organization – California

Illankai Tamil sangam – California

Illankai Tamil sangam – Vancouver - Portland - Washington

Illankai Tamil Association – North Carolina

Tamil Welfare and Human Rights Committee – District of Colombia