Ilankai Tamil Sangam

Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

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Genocide Continues with Negotiations

by Tamil Centre for Human Rights, France, UK, Netherlands and Switzerland, February 18, 2006

Alongside continuous acts of state terrorism in the NorthEast, many peace talks have taken place, ultimately resulting in even greater numbers of killings, disappearances, rapes and displacements.

“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

When the British gave independence to Ceylon (Sri Lanka) in 1948, the power was handed over to the numerical majority, the Singhalese. The British never considered the fact that, unlike the other Colonial powers, the Portuguese and Dutch, in 1883 they had amalgamated the Tamil Kingdom with other Singhalese Kingdoms for administrative purposes. This is the history.

The Tamil leaders of the independence period thought that the Singhalese would treat the Tamil people as equals in the Island. Soon after independence, these leaders were proved wrong. The Singhalese in power started adopting racist and discriminatory policies against the Tamils on citizenship, voting rights, language and education. In the meantime, anti-Tamil riots and government-sponsored Sinhalese colonisation in the NorthEast became the root causes of the ethnic conflict.

By 1983, it had become clear that agitation in the Sri Lankan parliament by Tamil parliamentarians and the non-violent ahimsa struggle that had been carried out for 35 years by the Tamils had brought nothing other than loss of lives and properties. What followed was twenty years of war.

Within the last 58 years many negotiations and peace talks have taken place between the Tamil and Sinhalese leaders. On 26 July 1957 and 24 March 1965 two agreements were signed between then Tamil leader Mr. S. J. V. Chelvanayagam and then Prime Ministers S.W.R.D. Bandaranayke and Dudley Senanayake respectively. Implementation of the agreements never took place. Both pacts were unilaterally abrogated by the Prime Ministers due to vehement protests by the Singhalese, notably by the Buddhist monks and the opposition.

During the period between these two abrogated peace agreements, nearly 505 Tamils in the island were killed in political violence and anti-Tamil pogroms. During the same period, the Tamils’ socio-economic structures were also damaged by government-sponsored arson, vandalism and looting.

Alongside continuous acts of State terrorism in the NorthEast, many peace talks have taken place, ultimately resulting in even greater numbers of killings, disappearances, rapes and displacements.

Below we quote some peace talks and the documented human rights abuses of the Tamils in the NorthEast :

Peace Initiative






B-C and D-C Pacts






Thimpu Talks - 1985






J R Jeyawardene- 1986






R Premadasa - 1989






C Kumaratunga - 1994






R Wickremasinghe - 2002






M Rajapakse - 2006






The genocide of the past decades has led to the displacement of at least half of the population, the destruction of the economic basis and infrastructure of the area, and a drastic decline in all indicators of well-being of the population of the NorthEast.

In May 2003, the Norwegian-mediated peace initiative was brought to a stalemate, as the outcome of six rounds of peace talks were never implemented by the government.

Following this stalemate, many gross ceasefire violations were reported. Within the last three months alone – there have been 47 killings, 45 abductions and 20 disappearances of students, journalists, educationalists and a Parliamentarian perpetrated by the Sri Lanka military intelligence and its paramilitary groups. In the meantime, more than 9500 people have been internally displaced in the NorthEast. There have been cordon and search operations all over the island, in which Tamils have been harassed, terrorised, arrested and detained. There were reports of Tamil women and girls raped. Many cold-blooded killings have been reported within the High Security Zones and Sri Lankan military-controlled areas. These killings and abductions have never being properly investigated nor have any culprits been brought to justice.

Here we would like to point out a few killings that have taken place in recent months.

A young woman, Ilayathamby Tharshini, aged 20, was brutally raped and strangled to death by the Sri Lankan Navy in Punguduthivu in Jaffna on 16 December 2005.

On Christmas day, 25 December 2005, Mr. Joseph Pararajasingham, senior parliamentarian and human rights defender, was killed inside the Cathedral in Batticaloa in the presence of his so-called government bodyguards. The Church is situated in a High Security Zone. When Mr Pararajasingham entered the Church, there was a heavy presence of security forces personnel surrounding the Church. By the time Joseph Pararajasingham was killed, there were no uniformed security present and even the bodyguards who were within the church never made any attempt to save Mr. Pararajasingham. No proper inquiry into this killing was held. But soon afterwards, President Mahinda Rajapaksa requested Mr Joseph Pararajasingham's family to permit him to hold a state funeral for Pararajasingham.

The names of the three assassins, including one nicknamed Kaluthavalai Ravi, were personally given to the President Mahinda Rajapaksa. However, until today no action has been taken against them. The culprits are freely circulating with the Sri Lankan security forces in Batticaloa town, hunting for some other people on their long list.

On 2 January 2006, five students aged under 20 years from Trincomalee were shot dead by the security forces.

On 14th January, a family of five was shot by eight paramilitary members in Manipay. The killers jumped over the walls and entered the house around 10:30pm. In this shooting, the mother aged 53 and her two daughters aged 30 and 22 were killed on the spot. This house is situated between two checkpoints of the Sri Lankan military.

On 30th and 31st January, ten humanitarian workers of the Tamil Rehabilitation organisation (TRO) were abducted, while they were travelling from Batticaloa to Vavuniya. They were abducted at Welikandai, between two Sri Lankan army checkpoints. There is a huge Sri Lanka Army presence in Welikandai. Last year, ex-parliamentarian Chandra Neru, Kousalyan of the political wing of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)  and five others were killed in the same area where these abductions took place.

So far only three of the ten abducted humanitarian workers have been released and there is no news of the other seven. President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the Sri Lankan police have turned a blind eye to these and many other abductions. Many disappearances have also taken place in Jaffna.

The international community and the human rights organisations based in G8 countries always condemn and discredit one side to the conflict, totally ignoring the truth and ground realities. It cannot be said that these killings and abductions, carried out by the Sri Lankan military intelligence and the paramilitary forces, were not known to these organisations.

In a way, the international community and these human rights organisations bear the responsibility for the deteriorating human rights situation of the Tamils in the island.

After the human rights violations escalated severely in 1983, if the international community had looked into the root cause of the problems, rather than helping Sri Lanka militarily, the island’s history would have been very different. Without maintaining any neutrality, the international community openly gave military equipment, training and advice to the Sri Lanka government, contributing in part to the causes of today's violations in that island.

We hope that the international community will change their approach and cease to make use of the groups which have no support in the NorthEast. These paramilitary groups are used by the Sri Lankan government to perpetrate genocide against the Tamils.

If there should be any meaningful political solution in Sri Lanka, first the State terrorism and State sponsored violations in the NorthEast must be stopped. The paramilitary forces should be disarmed as stipulated in the Ceasefire Agreement which was signed between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan government in February 2002. In other words the Ceasefire Agreement should be fully implemented. All abducted TRO workers should be released without further delay. We earnestly hope that impending peace talks will give priority to the affected people in the NorthEast and bring normalcy to their lives.

Apart from a short interval, the present government has been in power since 1994. According to the media, the government negotiators for the forthcoming Geneva talks are currently receiving training and a crash course in peace making and negotiation! If this is the case, it is the right time for the international community to recall the unsuccessful peace negotiations in 1994. At that time the international community did not believe that the government lacked seriousness in their negotiations and that they were simply buying time until they were fully prepared for war. Subsequent events proved that the negotiations were just an effort to buy time to build up the Sri Lankan armed forces.

Now, what conclusion can be drawn regarding the present 'training for negotiations?' We believe the current government is just using the same tactic it did in 1994.

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