GENOCIDE OF TAMILS
Twenty five years ago on the 25th of July the world watched in horror, the vicious and the violent attacks against the Tamils in Sri Lanka. While the shocking images of burning bodies, gruesome prison massacres and masses of Tamil refugees were flashed across the screen of the world television, the detailed news articles about the murders, rapes and the plight of refugees were started to emerge in the media all over the globe. An extract taken from the Guardian correspondent speaks for itself.
Smoke from hundreds of shops, offices, warehouses and homes blew idly over Colombo yesterday. Any business, any house belonging to or occupied by a Tamil has been attacked by gangs of goondas and the resulting destruction looks like London after a heavy nights attention from the Luftwaffe. The sharp smell of destruction fills the nostrils and the roads beneath the feet crunch with broken glass. Cars and lorries lie at ungainly angles across the footways. In Pettah, the old commercial heart of the city, row after row of sari boutiques, electronic dealers, rice sellers, car parts stores, lie shattered and scarred government officials yesterday estimated that 20,000 businesses had been attacked in the city. â The Guardian 28 July 1983
The riots began in retaliation for an ambush of an army patrol in Jaffna that left thirteen Sinhalese soldiers dead. The army immediately retaliated by randomly killing a number of innocent civilians in the Jaffna peninsula. This followed by an extensively organised anti-Tamil riot which initially started in Colombo and soon spread to southern part of Sri Lanka where ever the Tamils lived. Sinhalese rioters in Colombo were provided with votersâ lists containing details of names and addresses to enable them to specifically target the Tamil Community. The police, security forces, Buddhist monks and the State Officials turned a blind eye but encouraged the mobs and in some cases they themselves actively took part in the carnage.
The following statement appeared in The Financial Times is a testament to this.
The violence was vicious and bloody. In street after street in Colombo groups of rioters hit only at shops and factories, as well as homes owned by Tamils. Troops and police (almost exclusively Sinhalese) either joined the rioters or stood idly by. The events were so well organized no one doubts that there was a master list of targets. Financial Times, 12 August 1983.
Mobs of angry Sinhalese roamed the streets targeting properties and businesses owned by the Tamils. They chased down and beat any vulnerable people they could find. This lasted for several days and claimed the lives of over 3,000 Tamils. Over 50 Tamils political prisoners were butchered by the fellow Sinhalese inmates and the prison guards.
David Beresford, correspondent to the âThe Guardianâ newspaper described the prison massacres with the following statement.
While accounts of these massacres are circulating widely among Sri Lankas Tamil population, it is the massacres in the Welikada gaol which are attracting the most attention. There is particular interest in circumstances in which two alleged guerrilla leaders were killed.
The two men, Sellarasa âKutimaniâ Yogachandran, leader of the Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation and a political writer and Ganeshanathan Jeganathan had been sentenced to death last year for the murder of a policeman.
In speeches from the dock, the two men announced that they would donate their eyes in the hope that they would be grafted on to Tamils who would see the birth of Eelam, the independent state for which they were fighting.
Second hand reports from Batticaloa gaol, where the survivors of the Welikada massacre are now being kept, say that the two men were forced to kneel and their eyes gouged out with iron bars before they were killed.
One version has it that Kutimanis tongue was cut out by an attacker who drank the blood and cried: âI have drunk the blood of a Tiger.ââ â The Guardian, 10 August 1983
This riot created a mass movement of refugees within the island. Over 100, 000 Tamils fled the island and sought refuge in Europe North America, New Zealand, Australia and India.
The government headed by the President Jayewardene refused to condemn these brutal attacks and did not even release a statement until after four days of mayhem. In 2004 President Chandrika Kumaratunga made just a token apology to the nation.
To this day no one has been prosecuted and no compensation was paid to the families who have lost their loved ones or to the refugees who were forced to abandon their properties and businesses.
This pogrom was the final blow for the Tamils, who immediately began an armed struggle to exercise their right to self-determination. Thousands of youth joined the Tamil militant organisations, took up arms and fought against the Sinhalese regime. This in turn gave resurgence to the Tamil rebel organisations especially to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). This upsurge violence pushed the country into a full scale civil war.
This civil war has already cost hundreds and thousands of lives. The official figure is around 70,000 but recent estimates suggest over 300,000 mostly Tamil lives. Over million Tamils are internally displaced and further a million Tamils have left the island for the safe havens in the West. Riots left a deep psychological scar between the two major ethnic groups
Tamil Tigers were transformed from a hand full of part-timers into a powerful and influential guerrilla movement capable of running over army bases manned by over thousands of professional soldiers. Angry Tamil refugees who settled in the West provided the necessary financial backing to the Tamil Tigers. The relationship between the Tamils and Sinhalese community have since further deteriorated.
However this pogrom and the ongoing civil war have made the world to acknowledge that the Tamils have legitimate grievances in Sri Lanka.
To commemorate this pogrom, Tamil Tigers attacked the heavily fortified Katunayake airbase on the 24th of July 2001. This was the biggest blow for the security forces and crippled the already fragile economy of Sri Lanka. Millions of dollars worth of military and civilian aircrafts were destroyed and stopped the flow of tourists coming into the island. The Guardian correspondent Derek Brown describes the attack on the airbase with the following statement.
âTamil Tiger rebels have inflicted awesome damage on Sri Lankas only international airport in what was their most audacious attack since they assassinated the president eight years ago.â Guardian 24 July 2001
In 2002 the newly elected government of Sri Lanka and the Tamil Tigers signed a Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) in February 2002. Both parties held six highly publicised rounds of talks mediated by the Norwegians. The peace talks were abandoned mainly due the pressure from Sinhalese nationalist coalition parties. Although some progress were made, namely Tamil Tigers agreeing to a federal model as an alternative to an independent Tamil state called Eelam.
The current Sri Lankan regime under President Mahinda Rajapaksa is determined to crush the Tamil Tigers. They have pulled out of the CFA in January this year and started a full scale war in the North and East of Sri Lanka. The security forces have made some progress in the East and managed to bring the Eastern province under their control. Rebels withdrew from the East and fortified their northern stronghold. They are fiercely resisting Sri Lankan forces in the Northern Sri Lanka. In a recent battle rebels have proved their strength by inflicting heavy casualties to the security forces in the northern front of Mukamalai.
The Sri Lankan State has already spent tens of billions of US dollars against fighting the Tamil Tiger rebels. It has allocated a record US $1.5 billion into the war effort this year alone and countryâs external debt has increased to US $14 billion.
The Sri Lankan government is getting isolated by the International Community and the State is finding it difficult to fund the war and manage the economy. The war is destroying the economy. The high commodity prices, hike in food prices, near 30% inflation and trade union strikes are crippling the economy to almost bankruptcy. As a desperate measure Sri Lanka took up a massive loan of US $ 500 million through an international bond issue underwritten by HSBC, Barclays Capital and JP Morgan to balance its finances. Recently Sri Lanka has officially become a top 20 failed State as well.
The human rights situation in Sri Lanka is atrocious. Abductions, disappearances and murders are very common. Sri Lanka has the second highest number of disappearances in the world, ranking only behind Iraq according to the UN.
There is no media freedom any more. The defence ministry has publicly labelled the journalists who cover the war as âtraitorsâ. Within the last 3 years 12 journalists have been killed, 11 of them in government-controlled high security areas. There have been series of abductions and assaults against journalists in Sri Lanka. A senior minister marched into the offices of the state broadcasting corporation and attacked the news editor in day light. The opposition party UNP has openly accused the countrys most senior army officer of being behind violent attacks on journalists. So far no-one has been brought to court for the attacks and most Sri Lankan believe that security forces are behind these attacks. The World Association of Newspapers has ranked Sri Lanka as the third most dangerous country in the world for media workers. (Iraq and Somalia are ranked 1 and 2 respectively.)
Sri Lankaâs newly found friendship with Iran, China and Pakistan is making India and the West very uncomfortable. West is piling a lot of pressure on Sri Lanka to come up with an acceptable proposal. Sri Lanka is getting a fraction of the aid it used to get and now EU is using GSP-plus as a bargaining chip to improve the human rights situation.
The gulf between Sinhalese and Tamil communities is ever widening by the day. Unless the Tamil grievances are addressed by the majority government there will be no end to the violence in Sri Lanka.
Genocide of Tamils
The outbreak of anti-Tamil riots in Sri Lanka did change the course of the nationâs history. Extensively organised anti-Tamil riots took place in Colombo and South of Sri Lanka. The riots lasted for several days and left over 3,000 Tamils dead and millions of dollars worth of their property were destroyed. Rather than stopping the genocide the Sri Lankan politicians, police, armed forces as well as the Buddhist clergy actively took part in many of the murders and rapes. Sinhalese community systematically attacked Tamils and destroy Tamil property, and the riots create a movement of refugees within the island. Thousands of Tamils fled to Tamil Nadu, Europe and North America.
The government headed by President Jayawardene refused to condemn the riots and did not even release a statement until after four days of mayhem. In 2004 President Chandrika Kumaratunga made a token apology to the nation. The âapologyâ was accompanied by nominal compensation to some of the victims. Just 72.3 million rupees [$US702,000] was promised. To this day no one knew whether this was paid or not for the injuries and destruction Tamils suffered. Leaving aside the cost in lives, the loss of property alone in 1983 has been estimated to run into billions of rupees.
This web library is dedicated to the innocent Tamils massacred by the Sri Lankan Sinhalese community. Should you wish to share your experiences please drop me am email. I am trying to build this as a library to publish or link relevant materials, articles, evidence, statements and photographs. Your comments, suggestions and contributions are most welcome.
Genocide (Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide New York, 9 December 194
The United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide defines the term as: Any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group: (a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group. Sri Lanka 12 Oct 1950 (Accession)
The Legal Definition of Genocide
The international legal definition of the crime of genocide is found in Articles II and III of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide.
Article II describes two elements of the crime of genocide:
1)the mental element, meaning the âintent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as suchâ, and
2)the physical element which includes five acts described in sections a, b, c, d and e. A crime must include both elements to be called âgenocide.â
Article III described five punishable forms of the crime of genocide: genocide; conspiracy, incitement, attempt and complicity. (Click here for more)
Genocide Wikipedia article & Links
Genocide Wiktionary Definition
Savagery replaces Sri Lankas eroded cease-fire
By Somini Sengupta The New York Times MONDAY, MAY 15, 2006
TRINCOMALEE, Sri Lanka The bad blood, you could say, began with the Buddha. Last May, in the dead of night, someone erected a giant white Buddha statue on a cement platform behind the main market here. What followed in this multiethnic, multifaith, perennially self-destructive city on the northeastern coast of Sri Lanka was a chain of anger and savagery.
The ethnic Tamils of Trincomalee, who are mostly Hindu and Christian, saw the clandestine raising of the Buddha statue as an act of provocation by Sinhalese Buddhists. The Tamils protested. The man who led the protests, Vanniasingam Vigneswaran, was shot and killed as he went to the bank one morning. Another morning, the bodies of five Tamil youths were found on the beach. The largely Sinhalese security forces came under steady attack by people suspected of being ethnic Tamil guerrillas.
The tit for tat went on for a year and then shifted into overdrive on a Wednesday afternoon in mid-April, when an explosion at the entrance of the market killed 16 people. A Sinhalese mob then torched Tamil-owned shops and hunted down Tamil civilians.
In the reprisals that followed, Sinhalese villagers were slaughtered, Tamil homes were burned, and schools and churches were turned into squalid camps of frightened, wounded villagers. At the end of April, a suicide bombing in Colombo, said to have been carried out by Tamil rebels, prompted government airstrikes on the rebel-held countryside just south of here. More than a dozen died and hundreds more villagers fled.
After four years of livable peace since the 2002 cease-fire between the government and the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, Trincomalee has once again sunk into the muck of fear, uncertainty and distrust that marked the worst years of the ethnic Sri Lankan conflict of the past two decades.
With the truce having unraveled, the latest violence raises the specter of the 1983 anti-Tamil campaign that plunged the country into all-out war. Bad memories compound the ill will.
Nowhere is that more apparent than in Trincomalee, 255 kilometers, or 160 miles, from Colombo. The city is a demographic microcosm of the country, with Tamils, Sinhalese and Muslims living together in roughly equal numbers. It is here that the repercussions of the war are felt most intensely.
There is right now a lot of suspicion by the communities of each other, said the Reverend George Dissanayake, a Roman Catholic priest and the secretary of the Inter-Religious Peace Foundation here. We have gone back 20 years. It is very difficult to repair the damage.
Today, Sinhalese villagers living around Trincomalee say the police have offered them shotguns to protect themselves. In their territory, the Tamil Tigers, too, are raising village defense committees.
The city and the surrounding countryside are increasingly divided along ethnic lines. The market has turned into a Sinhalese enclave, and the traders, bereft of Tamil and Muslim customers, while away the day playing cards.
Nearby, a Tamil laundry, spared by the mob, waits for its Sinhalese customers to bring in their wash. Across the street, a Sinhalese grocer waits for Tamil shoppers who no longer come. Offices close by early afternoon. By nightfall, the streets are bare except for the edgy soldiers who man checkpoints at every corner.
The events moved R. Rajarammohan, one of the most successful businessmen in the city, to do what he had strenuously resisted for years: cloister himself with his fellow Tamils.
Within minutes of the April 12 market blast, a gang of young men came up Central Road with kerosene cans and fishing knives, and set upon Rajarammohans household-products wholesale company. They broke into his office, but seemed not to know who he was or his ethnicity. It signaled to him that they were not from the area.
The mob set his shop on fire. In the course of an hour, Rajarammohan lost $400,000 in goods, computers, four trucks and a new car, and even the insurance papers. Today, he is setting up shop in a Tamil enclave, far from the buzz of Central Road and the main market.
Wed love to go back; wed love to work with them, he said of his Sinhalese neighbors on Central Road. But they cant protect us, can they? Weve learned the bitter way. It was the fourth time since 1983 that his business had been hit in anti-Tamil riots.
One measure of the distrust between the communities is the swirl of conspiracy theories about what happened when the market got bombed. Among Sinhalese, one theory is that the bomb killed mainly Sinhalese and that the riots erupted spontaneously. Among Tamils, a theory is that the bomb was the handiwork of security forces or their allies and that the majority of the dead were Tamils in what they call organized reprisal attacks.
The truth is harder to categorize. According to the main hospital, the explosion killed 16 people, representing the local demographic mix: eight Tamils, five Sinhalese, two Muslims and a person who could not be identified. The reprisal attacks claimed another five: four Tamils and one Sinhalese, who were burned, stabbed and shot to death.
Whether the riots were spontaneous or planned is impossible to know, although one thing seems certain: The police and the army, deployed in full force around the market, did not manage to stop them.
Rohan Abeywardana, the deputy inspector general of police in charge of Trincomalee, said his forces were overpowered. And anyway, those arrested were released the next morning.
Behind the market, the Buddha, encircled by concertina wire, gazes silently on the once-busy Trincomalee market. The dozens of soldiers barricaded around the statue light oil lamps before him every day.
They are the only ones who can touch its feet today, along with the crows still free to roam.
No instructions on Chemmani CID
Police say that they have not received proper instructions from the government on conducting the Chemmani massacre inquiry.
In the Colombo Magistrates court on Wednesday, Police Central Investigation Division (CID) revealed that the investigations that commenced six years ago cannot be concluded until the Attorney-General (AG) issues the relevant instructions.
Police informed court that they are waiting instructions as the findings of the investigation has been already handed over to the AG.
The magistrate who said that it is unacceptable that an inquiry takes so long, directed the CID to expedite the conclusion of the investigation.
CID pointed out that DNA test results on the remains of the deceased are also due from India.
The courts ordered police to be report the progress to court on May 17th together with instructions from the AG and the DNA results.
Six soldiers who are charged with abduction and murder of Tamil civilians who were later allegedly buried in were also ordered to appear in court on that day.
Excavations in 1999 at a site in Chemmani near Jaffna revealed human remains.
The excavations was witnessed by four international observers, including two from Amnesty International.
Authorities were led to the site by a former soldier, Somaratne Rajapakse, who was sentenced to death for the rape and murder of a Tamil teenager in 1996.
The ex-soldier told a court that hundreds of Tamil civilians were buried in Chemmani by the Sri Lankan army after the takeover of Jaffna.
After the security forces captured the Jaffna peninsula from the Tigers in 1995-96, they detained large number of local Tamils on suspicion of being involved with the rebels.
More than 600 of those who were held are missing and observers say it is unlikely that they are still alive.
The Sri Lankan military has denied allegations that government troops killed hundreds of Tamils and then buried them in mass graves.
Sri Lanka accused on riot report
Sri Lanka must publish an official report into the massacre of 27 young Tamils, a human rights group has urged.
The Delhi-based Asian Centre for Human Rights says it has seen the report, which was commissioned by President Kumaratunga but never released.
The group says police knew locals were about to attack a detention centre housing the Tamil youths five years ago, but did nothing to stop them.
Earlier this year, the Supreme Court acquitted all accused in the case.
Sri Lankan Justice Minister John Senaviratna said police officers accused in the case had been acquitted following trials.
He said the matter was in the hands of the president.
The Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) says disciplinary action should be initiated against eight police officers, following the massacre at Bundarawela in central Sri Lanka in October 2000.
It says the report by Justice PHK Kulatilaka, who led the commission of inquiry into the killings, accuses the police of indefensible inaction and attitudes at the time of the incident.
As well as the 27 who died, 14 others were seriously injured in the attack, which brought international condemnation.
Local residents assaulted the inmates with clubs and knives after reports they had taken a security guard hostage. Some victims were said to have been burned alive.
Many of those who died were teenage Tamil Tiger rebel suspects.
The director of ACHR, Suhas Chakma, said the delay in releasing the report into the attack was because the presidential commission of inquiry clearly indicated that it was an organised massacre.
He claimed police officials were involved in it and evidence was destroyed by the prosecution.
It would therefore be difficult for the government to exonerate all the accused and at the same time have a report indicting policemen, the prosecution and the criminal investigation department, Mr Chakma says.
According to the ACHR, Justice Kulatilaka said the police knew about the impending attack as the crowd gathered to attack the camp.
It also says that the report found that no meaningful steps had been taken by the police to prevent the mob from getting into the centre.
Earlier this year, the US-based Human Rights Watch said the case showed crimes committed against alleged Tamil Tiger members were not being addressed.
The Tamil Tigers have fought a two-decade armed campaign for autonomy in the north and east. It is estimated that more than 60,000 people have died so far.
Genocide of Tamils
Some of the most famous racist quotes by the Sinhalese politicians
Some of the most famous racist quotes by the Sinhalese politicians.
If we are governing, we must govern. If we are ruling, we must rule. Do not give into the minorities. Mrs. Wimala Kannangara M.P. Sri Lankan Parliament, July 1981
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. Jayawardene, Daily Telegraph 11th July 1983
They are wanting a separate state a minority community which is not the original people of the country, etc. (Saying that Tamils do not belong in Sri Lanka) President Chandrika Kumaratunga in an interview on South African TV, September 1998
Karen Parker of the Non Governmental Human Rights Organisation, International Educational Development put it succinctly at the 42nd Sessions of UN Sub Commission on the Protection of Minorities.
âThe Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that all persons, including members of minority groups, have the right to the full realisation of their human rights and to an international order in which their rights can be realised.
The Sri Lanka situation has shown that for the past forty years, the Sinhala controlled government has been unwilling and unable to promote and protect the human rights of the Tamil population, and the Tamil population has accordingly lost all confidence in any present or future willingness or ability of the Sinhala majority to do so. Are people in this situation required to settle for less than their full rights. Can the international community impose on a people a forced marriage they no longer want and in which they can clearly demonstrate they have been Abused?... We consider that in the case of Sri Lanka, 40 years is clearly enough for any group to wait for their human rights.â
Senator A.L.Missen, Chairman, Australian Parliamentary Group of Amnesty International, expressed his growing concern in March 1986:
âSome 6000 Tamils have been killed altogether in the last few years These events are not accidental. It can be seen that they are the result of a deliberate policy on the part of the Sri Lankan government Democracy in Sri Lanka does not exist in any real sense. The democracy of Sri Lanka has been described in the following terms, terms which are a fair and accurate description: âThe reluctance to hold general elections, the muzzling of the opposition press, the continued reliance on extraordinary powers unknown to a free democracy, arbitrary detention without access to lawyers or relations, torture of detainees on a systematic basis , the intimidation of the judiciary by the executive, the disenfranchisement of the opposition, an executive President who holds undated letters of resignation from members of the legislature, an elected President who publiclys , the intimidation of the judiciary by the executive, the disenfranchisement of the opposition, an executive President who holds undated letters of resignation from members of the legislature, an elected President who publicly declares his lack of care for the lives or opinion of a section of his electorate, and the continued subjugation of the Tamil people by a permanent Sinhala majority, within the confines of an unitary constitutional frame, constitute the reality of democracy, Sri Lankan style.ion of a section of his electorate, and the continued subjugation of the Tamil people by a permanent Sinhala majority, within the confines of an unitary constitutional frame, constitute the reality of democracy, Sri Lankan style.
A Working Group chaired by Goran Backstrand, of the Swedish Red Cross at the Second Consultation on Ethnic Violence, Development and Human Rights, Netherlands, in February 1985 concluded:
âThere was a general consensus that within Sri Lanka today, the Tamils do not have the protection of the rule of law, that the Sri Lankan government presents itself as a democracy in crisis, and that neither the government, nor its friends abroad, appreciate the serious inroads on democracy which have been made by the legislative, administrative, and military measures which are being taken. The extreme measures which are currently being adopted by the government inevitably provoke extreme reactions from the other side The normal life of the (Tamil) population of the North has been seriously affected. People either have great difficulty or find it completely impossible to continue with their employment and there is a severe shortage of food and basic necessities Many Tamils are daily fleeing across the Palk Straits to Southern India. The continuing colonisation of Tamil areas with Sinhalese settlers is exacerbating the situation and the country is on the brink of civil war.â
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