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[TamilNet, Monday, 31 March 2014 14:58 No Comment]

“An intrusive investigation has so far not yielded genuine reconciliation, and a life of dignity and self-respect for people anywhere. Sri Lanka can’t be any different,” said The Hindu in an editorial on Saturday, shedding crocodile tears for the dignity and self respect of Eezham Tamils and joining the forces that are determined to sabotage even a weak international investigation at the outset. The freedom of the investigation on the ground has already been ditched by the US withdrawing the demilitarisation part of the resolution, and the international weight as well as the result yielding capacity of the investigation has considerably been wrecked by New Delhi abstaining from the voting and openly declaring against the investigation, commented Tamil activists for alternative politics in the island.

Unlike Vijay Nambiar and Kamalesh Sharma in the international organisations, who were taking the line of serving New Delhi’s agenda on Eezham Tamils and have brought in questions on the credibility of the organisations they serve, Ms Navi Pillai, despite her limitations, is on a refreshing path in rejuvenating hopes on international forums.

Against the backdrop of the stand taken by the existing New Delhi regime, and media in India such as The Hindu, peoples of India, especially the people of Tamil Nadu have to think of ways how the UNHRC mission could be strengthened to bring in positive results in the delivery of justice.

As The Hindu implies, internal investigation and internal measures are an ideal course, if they could work. Perhaps that is what peoples of India and their civil institutions have to embark upon about the Establishment in India and media empires that have contributed and are contributing to genocide.

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The Hindu:

A mandate for the UNHRC

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Mar 192014
 
Time for International Investigations, says Camp

Sri Lanka “looks to be drifting toward authoritarianism. Journalists are terrified and intimidated by arrests and mysterious assaults on those critical of the government….The once-independent judiciary has learned not to challenge the government’s edicts. The war-heavy defense establishment carries out many internal security functions, and “white vans” have become synonymous with the disappearance of dissidents who speak out against the government,” writes Donald Camp, a retired foreign service officer at the US Department of State, adding, “after five years of stalling by the government [Colombo], it is time for an international investigation to do what Colombo has been unwilling to do.”

Camp was a political officer in the U.S. Embassy in Sri Lanka.

Full text of the article follows:

There was a time, not so long ago, when Sri Lanka was known for the quality of its democracy. In 1975, when I was a Foreign Service officer at the U.S. Embassy there, the country was in economic straits but proud of its international reputation for an independent political culture, a feisty press, and a remarkably high standard of education and social services.

There were tensions between the Sinhalese and Tamils, but there was also a history of cooperation and respect amid Sri Lanka’s ethnic and religious diversity. Hindu shrines thrived within the country’s most sacred Buddhist temples. Christians and Muslims played a prominent political role. And at least among the urban elite, Tamils and Sinhalese studied together, played together, and often married each other.

Today, Sri Lanka is another country. The bloody war between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the government tore the country apart after 1983. The United States and many other friends of Sri Lanka supported the government in its fight. In 2009, the military succeeded in crushing the Tigers. But the government, after winning the war, has not been able to manage the peace or rebuild Sri Lanka’s democratic traditions.

Instead, the country looks to be drifting toward authoritarianism. Journalists are terrified and intimidated by arrests and mysterious assaults on those critical of the government. The annual press freedom index lists Sri Lanka near the bottom, just above China and North Korea.

The once-independent judiciary has learned not to challenge the government’s edicts. The war-heavy defense establishment carries out many internal security functions, and “white vans” have become synonymous with the disappearance of dissidents who speak out against the government. Extremist Buddhist clergy have attacked churches and mosques, with little response from police and with minimal condemnation by political leaders.

But one of the saddest legacies of the long war is the polarization of the Tamil and Sinhalese communities.

President Mahinda Rajapakse and his government had the opportunity to be magnanimous in victory, and to offer the minority Tamil community clear signals that the government would respond to their legitimate grievances, and would offer a modicum of regional autonomy for the traditional Tamil heartland of the north and east. It has failed to do that.

The government also needed to acknowledge and deal with the scar left by the bloody end of the war, in which tens of thousands of innocent Tamil civilians were killed by indiscriminate military shelling and by LTTE hostage-taking.

The government still owes its people – and especially the relatives of those who died – an honest accounting of that time and a genuine effort to bring to justice wrongdoers. Sweeping these tragedies under the carpet will not help the nation heal nor bridge the divide between Tamils and Sinhalese. There must be truth before there can be meaningful reconciliation.

With the government so far unresponsive, there is increasing pressure for the United Nations to take action. The U.N.’s senior human rights official, Navi Pillay, said in August that if Sri Lanka didn’t make meaningful progress on reconciliation, particularly on issues of accountability during the final stages of the war, “the international community will have a duty to establish its own inquiry mechanisms.”

The issue is coming to a head as the U.N. Human Rights Council meets in Geneva this month. The United States and other members of the council, including neighbor India, last year supported a resolution calling on Sri Lanka to undertake its own independent and credible investigation into alleged war crimes.

The government of Sri Lanka has levied accusations of bad faith and hypocrisy at the countries calling for action by the U.N. Human Rights Council. In fact, the council is acting only because Sri Lanka has failed to do so.

The world community supported Sri Lanka during its battle with the LTTE, and respected the country’s traditional commitment to democratic governance and to religious and ethnic tolerance.If the government had demonstrated that it was listening to the voices within the country calling for justice and reconciliation, and for an accurate accounting of the actions of the military, there would be no call for action in Geneva.

It is Sri Lanka that has changed, not the United Nations or the nations calling for action at the Human Rights Council.

After five years of stalling by the government, it is time for an international investigation to do what Colombo has been unwilling to do.

External Links:

CSIS:

U.N. council steps in where Sri Lanka has failed to act

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Jan 142014
 
Sri Lankan Weltanschauung

The accumulating woes for Sri Lankan State in the international scene can be attributed to two distinct and inter-related phenomena. One, the continuing denial of the history of injustices inflicted by the State on the Tamils, culminating in the Mu’l’livaaykaal massacres of civilians and the refusal by the Sinhala rulers and the elites to acknowledge the killings, and second, the locally prevailing “Weltanschauung” (worldview) cultivated as an instrument for the ruling autocracy to stay in power, which accepts that, to eliminate the Tigers, any atrocity against any Tamil is acceptable. However, the Sri Lankan weltanschauung does not apply in the international arena. Colombo’s refusal to respond to the accusations of war-crimes, and genocide, partly arises from the tolerance for Tamil injustice that is intrinsic to Sri Lanka’s weltanshauung.

worldview01Front In evolving autocracies like in Sri Lanka, the ruling families develop restricted and regime-friendly weltanschauung as one of their tools necessary to sustain power.

Retooling the media to dominate all means of mass-communications is one key element of this nefarious exercise. While many authoritarian regimes do not seek total domination of all means of mass communication, in Sri Lanka, total domination of media prevails, enforced by intolerance to dissent including threat to lives of journalists who dare to challenge Rajapaksas.

The result is, selective censorship of political expression, constant torrent of pro-government narratives, and the use the subservient power of editorial omission to limit criticism of official policies and actions. After the Mu’l’lvaaykaal massacres where, according to U.N. estimates between 40,000 and 80,000 Tamil civilians were killed by State’s military, the narrative still is that there were no casualties.

However, this media effort assures longevity and feeds the demanding hubris arising from defeating the Tigers, at the expense of building a society with an outward looking weltanschauung, consistent with the view of the rest of the democratic world, political observers note.

Besides the international political decision makers who would have access to credible independent information streams from the local embassies, and are unlikely to be influenced by the propagandist versions of State narratives, the autocrats might wish to seek influence from three different audiences: regime elites, mass audiences, and the political opposition/independent civil society, according to Robert Orttung of Elliot School in Washington D.C.

According to Orttung, the first is regime elites: Authoritarian governments must always worry about their elites because any split among this group could lead to regime collapse. State-controlled media make it a mission to reassure these regime mainstays that the incumbent ruler stands secure. Clear media dominance signals to members of the ruling coalition that defections will be punished, including through smear campaigns.

In the island of Sri Lanka, this group is virtually entirely absent, and many “elites” have unashamedly forced or fallen within the State’s weltanschauung. The few who are troubled by the moral deprivity of this stand, attempt to write neutrally, but even here, they advocate Government response enough to avoid international opprobrium. These intellectuals advance the inferior ‘hypothetical imperative’ driven by the desire to benefit, not worthy of the “elite” label, instead of taking the moral high ground advancing Kant’s superior ‘categorical imperative,’ acts driven by duty and not desire.

A former Defence Secretary, Austin Fernando, writes in the Sunday Leader, elucidating the tactics to counter international pressure. For those pushing for accountability, Mr. Fernando’s response is, “[t]he danger in this kind of attitude is that it pushes ‘war managers’ and/ or the ‘political leadership’ against the wall, causing them in turn to utilize nationalistic sentiment, in order to stave off potential atrocious punishment. This is why patience is virtue, in post-conflict reconciliation.” Mr. Fernando appears to ignore “[un]disciplined, [un]wise and [ir]rational behavior” of the State the past five years and wants Tamils to be still patient.

The second crucial audience, according to Orttung, is the populace at large. State-dominated media work to make mass audiences respect and fear the regime, but breeding apathy and passivity is just as important, Orttung says. Rajapaksas’ media successfully keeps in the dark, the regime-fearing masses who are inebriated with victory, but reel from meeting daily financial struggles of making their ends meet.

The third group, the political opposition and independent civil society, is controlled in the island, almost exactly as Orttung outlines. “In democracies, open media are the lifeblood of politics. In authoritarian regimes, state-controlled media seek to isolate activists from society at large, with the idea of preventing them from organizing and mobilizing. To this end, state-run media try to discredit in the public’s mind any notion of a political alternative. State media attacks de-legitimize civil society and the opposition, paving the way for other repressive measures, while accusing oppositionists of wanting to cause chaos, a charge that may resonate widely in societies with histories of political instability,” according to Orttung.

“Until Sri Lanka, encouraged by its ‘elites,’ moves away from the currently prevailing blinded weltanschauung, engaging productively with liberal democratic power houses of the West including premier Rights organizations will face challenges, many insurmountable,” political observers note.

External Links:

WP:

Why autocrats need media

Wiki:

Weltanschauung

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Jul 152013
 
‘Abuse of Tamil women part and parcel of intended genocide’

The abuse of Eezham Tamil women committed by the Sri Lankan state apparatus should not be seen as individual human rights violations but as a part and parcel of an intended genocide of a protracted nature, write Dr. N. Malathy, key member of NESoHR and author of ‘A Fleeting Moment in my Country’ and RM Karthick, research scholar at University of Essex, UK. In an article published on Indian journal Sanhati’s 6th issue for 2013, the authors, criticizing international organizations for their failure to properly deal with the issue of genocidal rape by Sri Lankan forces, also call on the Tamil community to have a change of social approach towards rape survivors, noting how violence against Tamil women is deeply intertwined with communal identity.

Full text of the article titled ‘Rape: Sri Lanka’s Weapon of Genocide’ jointly authored by Dr. N. Malathy and RM Karthick follows:

My fellow Tamil women

What have you done for peace in the isle?

Take off your clothes and open up your vagina

For the Sinhala warriors of the land of Buddha

– Poem by an Angry Tamil Woman

On February 26th 2013, Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report on sexual violence perpetrated on Tamil detainees by Sri Lankan security forces. The 140 page report, titled “We will teach you a lesson – Sexual Violence against Tamils by Sri Lankan Security Forces”, contains 75 cases of Tamil men and women who were tortured and sexually abused repeatedly by Sri Lankan forces. The HRW report further indicates that these cases are but examples of a much broader pattern in the abuses perpetrated by Sri Lanka’s security apparatus.

“The sexual violence that we are talking about in this report, it is not random, it is not some criminal element engaging in violence. There is method in it. It’s deliberate, it’s premeditated. This is coercive, designed to intimidate, to instil fear, to extract information, sometimes to extract confessions… This is a deliberate policy,” David Mepham, UK director of HRW said at a Press Meet in London.

He further stated an independent international investigation needs to take place in Sri Lanka to probe allegations of such abuses. However, in an interview to TamilNet [1], Mr. Mepham said that while HRW was of the view that “systematic human rights abuses have been perpetrated by the Government of Sri Lanka against elements of the Tamil population”, they have not concluded that this was part of a genocidal plan.

Before 2009, the prominent organizations like HRW that were carrying out the public discourses were focussing more on blaming the LTTE on ‘child soldiers’, ‘forcible recruitment’ etc and had little or no focus on the systematic rapes committed by the Sri Lankan army. With the recent admission of a UN official to HRW that “a large number of women fleeing from the conflict areas during the peak of fighting were sexually assaulted” and that “The abuse was extensive, causing a large number of civilians to flee back to the theatre of conflict to escape the abuse,” [2] even the allegation that the Tigers were using civilians as ‘human shields’ falls on weak grounds.

Rapes against Eelam Tamils have been used by the Sinhalese in riots, pogroms, police and military operations ever since the Sinhalese took to power and gained a constitutionally sanctioned monopoly over violence in the colonially created unitary state. After the onset of the Eelam Tamil liberation struggle, if there was one period where the rapes dropped to the lowest levels, it was after Pirapaharan’s LTTE crippled the Sri Lankan military in the Unceasing Waves operations and effectively challenged the Sinhala monopoly over violence through its de facto state. After the internationally aided counterinsurgency operation against the LTTE which led to its military defeat in May 2009, along with a massacre of epic proportions in Tamil history, the Sinhala army went on an orgy of rape of the remaining Tamils, civilians and LTTE cadres alike. The abuses in the IDP camps, aptly described by some as “Concentration Camps”, have been well documented by numerous sources.

A cruel logic for the rapes can be that they were war time ‘excess’ as has known to happen in many wars across the world. But facts on the ground show that it is precisely in the ‘stabilized’, ‘post-conflict’ Sri Lanka that the vulnerability of Eelam Tamil women to sexual abuse has reached levels hitherto unheard of in their history [3]. Indeed, many of the cases in the HRW report are post-2009 and HRW personnel claim that these are but samples of a much larger problem.

One of the authors had already written about the ideology behind rape in united Sri Lanka. [4] The ideology of a ‘united Sri Lanka’, Sinhala colonization and militarization of the Tamil homeland, requires rape of Eelam Tamils as a practice for it to sustain itself. Rape of Tamils is ingrained both in the neurotic-pathological desire of Sinhala nationalism to penetrate and possess the Tamil homeland and in the political economy of the Sinhala military apparatus that colonizes it. HRW is right to note that rape of Tamils was deliberate and methodical. However, HRW would have been closer to the ground reality had it recognized this systematic rape as a weapon of genocide.

The public discourses of prominent international organizations like the HRW is sandwiched between two other layers of discourses that continue to take place but do not become very public. One layer of discourse considers the strategies to be used by the real power centres and its military arms for containing the restless masses also known as the counter insurgency strategies. The other discourse in the other layer is indeed that of the restless masses like the poem cited at the beginning. Tamils knew of the strategy of sexual violence used by the Sri Lankan military, its extent and its nature. Several Tamil activists, in the island, from Tamil Nadu, and in the diaspora, have been stating much before the so-called end of the war in 2009 that rape was used as a weapon of genocidal war by the Sri Lankan state forces. For example see the video clip [5] for comments made by three Tamil women as early as 2006. One of them is one of the authors. This author has in possession 60 handwritten affidavits made in 2006 by Tamil political detainees describing in detail the very violent sexual assaults on them by both male and female Sri Lankan armed forces. Another commentator in the video clip, Dr Elumathy Karikalan, was disappeared by the Sri Lankan military after she walked out of the war zone.

While the three Tamil women noted above were able to document and describe the sexual violence in the safety of Vanni under the LTTE in 2006, today no Tamil living in the island has the safety to record them. After marginalising the Tamil women activist through the genocide of the Tamils, organizations like HRW, however, through their vast resources are able to gather and record these thus monopolising the human rights reporting of the Tamils.

The latest attention to the sexual violence against Tamils by the organizations like HRW after neglecting this issue for years is a good example of how these organizations remain loyal to the power centres and selectively focus on the discourses of the masses in their service to the power centres. In this case, the need of the power centres to change the regime in Sri Lanka.

Carolyn Nordstrom who had carried out extensive field work in war zones writes, “‘Rape stands as a powerful example of physical assaults that are intended to carry deeper, supraphysical, impacts. I have listened to hundreds of accounts of rape, and few focus primarily on the physical pain. It is the emotional trauma, the social shame, and the violation of humanity that is conveyed most strongly in these accounts. What makes rape so grievous an act isn’t just the assault against the body, but the attacks against family, dignity, self-worth, and future. I have seen women suffer tremendously, even die, in difficult childbirths. I have seen devastating vaginal infections women have carried for months, even years, on front lines devoid of medicines. The physical pain involved in these is often as severe as that suffered in rape, and the grief over the deceased and the infirm as great as any war casualty. But these don’t invoke the horror of rape and the intent that underlies such aggression.” [6]

Kevin Gerard Neill also commenting on sexual violence perpetrated against women during war writes “Like any rifle or shell, rape in war assumes the level of being a weapon. It serves a specific military purpose. Putting aside for a moment the unforgivable defiling of an individual woman, rape in war achieves the goal of demoralizing and intimidating the side of the victim. It wounds identity and pride. And, in a traditional society, rape will likely be internalized by the victim, her family and, in the end, by the community in which she lives. In this manner, raping the women of a defeated people or nation becomes part of the effort to destroy them.” [7]

Abjectness, in effect, is worse than being objectified because the person is made to feel that they are a polluted object or a despicable thing. The women rape survivors know that they were raped not just because they were women, but because they were Tamil women. Unlike other rape victims, the appearance of PTSD in such women is marked by anxiety about their sense of identity as well because they were defiled by an enemy whom their kith and kin are fighting to preserve their identity. The individual trauma is experienced by those subject to abuse also as cultural trauma, leaving psychological scars on the subject, their families and the community, thus preventing them from creative political participation. The climate of Sinhala omnipresence and dominance perpetuated by the Sri Lankan state in the occupied Tamil homeland only accentuates this trauma. Which is why the argument that the abuses committed by the SL state apparatus should not be seen as individual human rights violations or as ‘sad stories’, as is the fashion with some liberal bleeding hearts, but rather as part and parcel of an intended genocide of a protracted nature.

As noted by the disappeared Dr Elumathy Karikalan in the video clip noted above, on the part of the Tamils at large too, a substantive social change is expected. Vietnamese resistance led by the Vietminh, noticing the stigma that the women raped by American troops faced from their society, declared rape survivors as national heroines. Considering the extent of sexual violence perpetrated in the occupied homeland of Eelam Tamils both during the war and after, Tamils world over should also consider dramatic changes to their social approaches to rape and torture survivors.

References:

[1] ‘Sexual violence against Tamils is premeditated, deliberate’: HRW UK Director

[2] “We Will Teach You a Lesson: Sexual Violence against Tamils by Sri Lankan Security Forces”, Human Rights Watch Report, 2013, p7

[3] Former LTTE cadres are in a particularly vulnerable position. See “Genocidal sex abuse of ex-LTTE female cadres becomes routine in North and East”

[4] “Ideology behind military rape in ‘United Sri Lanka’” by Karthick RM

[5] Rape – A Poem and Comments by Three Tamil Eelam Women –

[6] Carolyn Nordstrom, “Shadows of War: Violence, Power, and International Profiteering in the Twenty-First Century”, University of California Press, 2004, p63

[7] Kevin Gerard Neill, “Duty, Honor, Rape: Sexual Assault Against Women During War” in Journal of International Women Studies, Vol. 2, Issue 1, Nov-2000, p47

External Links:

Sanhati: Rape: Sri Lanka’s Weapon of Genocide

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Jun 062013
 
"US action on Sri Lanka necessary to protect Tamils"

Dr. Karunyan Arulanantham, the executive director of the Tamil American Peace Initiative, an organization of American Tamils, in a article in the CNN World website says, “[j]udging by recent history, one thing seems clear: Sri Lanka won’t solve its problems on its own,” and advocating that “U.S. pressure is necessary,” suggests that “[a] U.N. mechanism that would allow the international community to act decisively and initiate independent investigations and conduct a U.N. supervised referendum on options for peaceful coexistence is long overdue. This is by far the best way to achieve real reconciliation.”

Full text of the article follows:

Time for U.S. pressure on Sri Lanka

Amid the jungle and sandy beaches of northeast Sri Lanka’s Vanni region lie tragic truths the government has desperately sought to suppress in the four years since its civil war with the Liberation Tamil Tigers of Eelam (LTTE) came to a sudden and gory halt. On the Mullivaikal peninsula, between the Nanthikadal Lagoon and the sea just north of the town of Mullaithivu, the government declared a safe zone, where hundreds of thousands of Tamil civilians were trapped as they sought refuge from the bloodshed.

What happened next is almost unimaginable. Seeking to crush the LTTE once and for all, the government proceeded to shell the No Fire Zone and surrounding areas after assuring the world that they would not use heavy weapons. The government declared victory over the LTTE in late May 2009, but in doing so, tens of thousands of innocent Tamil civilians were also killed by government forces.

According to the U.N. Panel of Experts on Sri Lanka, as many as 40,000 civilians may have been killed during the war’s final stages, while “only a proper investigation can lead to the identification of all of the victims and to the formulation of an accurate figure.” Some analysts paint an even starker picture. The Catholic Bishop of Mannar, Joseph Rayappu, has testified that over 140,000 civilians remain unaccounted for since the fall of 2008.

In March, the U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC) passed a resolution calling for the Sri Lankan government to “conduct an independent and credible investigation into allegations of violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law” that occurred during the war’s final stages. But how honest are we being with ourselves when we ask a government that stands chief among the accused to credibly and independently investigate its own wrongdoing?

More from CNN: Tamils want inquiry

In fact, the government continues to promote the very same climate of oppression and indifference that largely fueled Sri Lanka’s ethnic conflict and led to civil war.

The UNHRC is well aware of this, citing in its report the continuation of “enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, torture, and violations of the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, as well as intimidation of and reprisals against human rights defenders, members of civil society and journalists, threats to judicial independence and the rule of law, and discrimination on the basis of religion or belief.”

These alleged transgressions were echoed in last year’s U.S. State Department Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, which also noted “a lack of accountability for thousands who disappeared in previous years; and widespread impunity for a broad range of human rights abuses, particularly involving police torture, and attacks on media institutions and the judiciary.”

Meanwhile, the Tamils in particular continue to be marginalized, demonized and endangered. They are denied political representation and economic opportunity while enduring the seizure and militarization of their homes and lands. The latest reported land grab by the army is the alleged seizure of 6,381 acres of land belonging to Tamils in just one small northern area of Valikamam, although others have also been claimed.

After the war, the government scrapped the singing of the national anthem in Tamil at official functions, and is quickly and decisively dismantling the cultural identity of the Tamils.

Aware of all this, what is the international community waiting for? A U.N. mechanism that would allow the international community to act decisively and initiate independent investigations and conduct a U.N. supervised referendum on options for peaceful coexistence is long overdue. This is by far the best way to achieve real reconciliation.

The Tamil people deserve to have their rights protected. Yet they now face a systematic attempt by a conquering, vindictive government to erase them from the country’s future and the nation’s collective memory. By definition, you can’t have reconciliation or stability when certain groups are perennially subjugated.

Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan government has mounted an expensive public relations strategy that denies and distracts from the real issues the country faces. It promises to take meaningful steps forward, but only makes halfhearted attempts in the hopes that more years will pass, and the international community will forget. But forgetting the past will only ensure it is repeated.

Because the government won’t pursue truth and reconciliation, the international community must. And the United States should take the lead on such an effort. As President Obama said on May 13, 2009 as the war neared its end, “Going forward, Sri Lanka must seek a peace that is secure and lasting, and grounded in respect for all of its citizens.”

Judging by recent history, one thing seems clear: Sri Lanka won’t solve its problems on its own.

External Links:

CNN: Time for U.S. pressure on Sri Lanka

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May 292013
 
BBC says SL military seizure of land in East not verified

Charles Haviland of BBC, reporting from Colombo on last Friday, cited recent TamilNet reports on SL military seizure of lands of Tamils and Muslims in the Eastern Province, and said that the reports have not been verified. International media operating from Colombo long plays this game. They did it to facilitate the genocidal end of the war and now they do it to subtly shield the structural genocide and annihilation of the contiguous country of Eezham Tamils in the North and East. While the genocidal Sinhala military seizing land in an accelerated way in the North and East is almost a daily routine, the international media never say that this is a direct result of the policy followed by the US-led West, as such as the two LLRC-based resolutions at Geneva, commented an activist for alternative politics in the island.

Further comments from the activist:

The East is now almost forgotten. Today, to Haviland, the East is “ethnically mixed.” A similar demographic genocide is being carried out in the North. Conspicuous in the process are the visits of the US, British and Australian delegations to the seized lands, encouraging the SL military. But the international media always pretend blind in telling the world the actual forces at work.

Haviland’s report was superficially focussing on the SL military seizers and colonisation in the North, as though it was only an issue between the people of the North and the occupying Sinhala military.

He was citing TNA’s nominated parliamentarian MA Sumanthiran, and an article jointly written by Jaffna civil society activist Kumaravadivel Guruparan and UK-based Ms R. Sivakami.

A crucial factor is that even the provisions of the rotten Indo-Lanka Agreement and of the original 13th Amendment on preserving the territorial integrity and arresting demographic genocide, are not there in the ‘non-descript’ processes of the USA and the resolutions it has tabled at Geneva.

But the spirit that was found in the diaspora and in the articulating activists in exposing and opposing the Indian manipulations in the late 1980s and early 1990s is missing today in dealing with the game of the USA and the West.

Haviland has given a new epithet, “Radical,” to TamilNet.

People who are familiar with the old game of vilification, and the ‘radical-moderate’ divide and capture game played by the outfits of the West, could understand the connotations.

It is a matter of serious perusal, if the “radical foreign-based website” TamilNet’s reports on the seizure of land in the East could not be verified by a prime international media, operating in Colombo since historical times of its inception.

External Links:

BBC:

Tension over army ‘seizure’ of Sri Lanka Jaffna land

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Apr 182013
 
Colombo revives colonial rule to monitor foreign tourists
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[TamilNet, Thursday, 18 April 2013 09:52 No Comment]

Citing an obscure 1886 ordinance of the colonial times of British Ceylon, that has been largely ignored for decades, the Sri Lankan Police now says that it will monitor foreign tourists’ whereabouts in the entire island, a report by the International Business Times said Wednesday. The news report in the IBT has come while Eezham Tamils world over have been campaigning against tourists visiting the Sri Lankan ‘killing fields’.

The IBT report by the AFP, noting that Sri Lanka has always been wary of foreigners travelling to the “once-forbidden far north”, also observed that the visiting foreigners to the northeastern shores must still sign in with their passports at military checkpoints,

In the meantime, news sources in Vavuniyaa told TamilNet that all the buses travelling north are instructed by the occupying SL military to provide details, including photo copies of the passports of the foreigners.

Before the passenger reaches the destination, the local SL military camp and attached intelligence officers of the SL military receive details by fax from the entry point, bus operators told TamilNet.

External Links:

IBT:

Sri Lanka To Monitor Tourists ‘For Their Own Safety’

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Apr 162013
 
Sri Lanka torture concerns well founded, says Time

The popular biweekly, the Time magazine, commenting on Sri Lanka’s deteriorating rights climate, said that amid abuse and fear, Tamils are continuing to flee Sri Lanka, and that torture and sexual violence by Sri Lanka’s military against Tamils with alleged separatist ties during the 26-year civil war make credible the threat of torture to a well-known Tamil TV reporter who the UAE is threatening to deport to Sri Lanka. Also pointing to the attack on Uthayan, the Time said, “[t]he tensions revealed in the incident [at Uthayan] are becoming depressingly familiar. The clouds have been darkening over this picturesque island nation in recent years as euphoria over the end of its long-running civil war has ebbed.”

Full text of the article in the April 15th edition of the Time follows:

The offices of a Tamil newspaper in northern Sri Lanka were attacked on Saturday morning, the latest in a string of outrages on the press and a fresh reminder of how the war’s end nearly four years ago did not bring peace for all in this South Asian nation. In what has been reported as the second strike on the paper’s operations in two weeks, senior staff of Uthayan, a Tamil paper that has been critical of the government and the nation’s powerful military, told reporters that three armed men broke into the paper’s headquarters in the northern city of Jaffna, setting fire to the day’s edition and to its printing presses.

No employees were hurt in the attack, but they have been in the past. In 2011, an editor and reporter were attacked, and in 2006, gunmen stormed the paper’s offices, killing two members of staff. Eswarapatham Saravanapavan, Uthayan’s owner and a parliamentarian for the Tamil National Alliance party, told the U.K.’s Independent newspaper that he believed the attack on Saturday may have been linked to the military, which a military spokesman has denied.

The tensions revealed in the incident are becoming depressingly familiar. The clouds have been darkening over this picturesque island nation in recent years as euphoria over the end of its long-running civil war has ebbed. Since its 2009 defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), an insurgency group that for decades fought for an independent homeland for the nation’s ethnic Tamils, the Sri Lankan government has not responded to increasingly vocal demands from the international community for a investigation into alleged war crimes committed in the final stages of the conflict. In March, 25 countries, including India, passed a U.S.-sponsored U.N. Human Rights Council resolution calling for a probe into those allegations and expressing concern at ongoing reports of human-rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings, disappearances and torture. Colombo called the measure a threat to Sri Lanka’s domestic reconciliation efforts; Minister of Media and Information and government spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella told the state-run Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corp. that “the U.S. government is trying to undermine Sri Lanka’s endeavor to consolidate peace and harmony.”

That recalcitrance — paired with an oversize army without a war to fight and the enduring distrust of some sectors in the Tamil community — has prevented a more meaningful peace from taking hold. “It was the end of a war, but not the end of conflict,” says Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, executive director of the Center for Policy Alternatives (CPA), a Colombo-based research group. “There are flagrant violations of rule of law and a culture of impunity that envelop this country.”

One of the most obvious symptoms of that culture has been the near relentless siege on the nation’s press. Sri Lanka ranks 162 of 179 countries in Reporters Without Borders’ 2013 World Press Freedom Index. Tamil news outlets, particularly those with historic links to the separatist movement, have long been regular targets, but members of Sri Lanka’s Sinhala majority have not been spared either. In 2009, months before government forces defeated the LTTE, Sunday Leader editor and TIME contributor Lasantha Wickrematunge, an outspoken critic of the government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, was assassinated by two gunmen on the way to his office, prompting an exodus of independent-minded journalists. Wickrematunge had predicted his own demise. In a chilling posthumous editorial published days after he was murdered, he wrote: “When finally I am killed, it will be the government that kills me.”

Recently, rights groups staged a campaign to stop the United Arab Emirates from deporting a well-known Tamil television reporter back to Sri Lanka, where they feared she would be tortured. Their concerns are well founded. Reports of military and police torture and sexual violence against Tamils with alleged separatist ties were not uncommon during the 26-year civil war. Returning Tamils now appear to be facing the same abuses. A Human Rights Watch report on alleged rapes that took place between 2006 and ’12 found that sexual violence continues to be used by security forces against male and female prisoners with suspected links to the insurgency. Because the agency was unable to speak to those currently in detention in Sri Lanka, or conduct open research in the country, it believes that the 75 cases it has documented represent “a fraction” of total custodial rape cases.

To escape this climate of fear, it appears that an increasing number of Tamils are fleeing Sri Lanka, boarding barely seaworthy vessels, bound for an uncertain future as asylum seekers. This is despite the government’s official effort to reconstruct the war-torn north of the country. “You have a significant number of people leaving postwar, at a point at which the government is assuring that economic development is prioritized and reconciliation is being effected in earnest,” says the CPA’s Saravanamuttu. The fact that so many people are choosing to go “seems to suggest people in the north don’t feel that way. They are voting with their feet, so to speak, and they are paying fairly large sums of money and risking life and limb to do it.” Saravanamuttu says that official numbers of the number of people leaving are unavailable, but to give just one example, over 6,000 Tamils arrived in Australia in 2012, some 30 times higher than the 2011 figure.

Uthayan, the newspaper whose offices were attacked, had been reporting on the encroachment of the military into local businesses in the north, the paper’s owner has said. The ratio of military to civilians is exponentially higher in the region compared with the rest of the country, and now that they are not required to mop up armed insurgents, soldiers have taken on nonmilitary roles, such as farming and running small shops that compete against Tamil businesses. While new roads have been built and internationally funded efforts are under way to help the region get back to some version of its prewar self, many say that the military’s overwhelming presence stands in the way of a return to anything resembling normalcy. Saravanamuttu recalls what one man from Jaffna told him after the war: “Things might look better, but they feel a lot worse.”

External Links:

Time:

Amid Abuse and Fear, Tamils Continue to Flee Sri Lanka

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Feb 172013
 
"Free pass on rights violations, a dangerous precedent"

“The end of war has not augured a return to normalcy in Sri Lanka’s North and East. Rather, there are clear, indisputable indications that conditions are getting worse. Consequently, international condemnation of the country’s human rights record is not only justified; it is essential. Giving Sri Lanka a free pass on human rights and reconciliation would set a damaging precedent that could take decades to overcome. If the time for more resolute action has not yet arrived, will it ever?” asks an analytical article on Foreign Policy (FP) magazine’s website.

Four years after the Mu’l’livaaykkaal killings of more than 80,000 Tamil civilians by the Sri Lanka’s military, “[t]he country’s North and East are plagued by a host of problems that are unlikely to be resolved soon. Misguided policies emanating from the central government in Colombo have directly contributed to these negative trends. Lofty talk about “the defeat of terrorism” and majoritarian triumphalism have further antagonized people,” the FP article said.

Excerpts from the article follows:

The politics of land remains controversial…families that have been “resettled” lack adequate housing, including locks for doors and windows or suitable sanitation facilities…People who were recently resettled in Mullivaikkal have returned to transit camps due to appalling living conditions “at home” and the dismal security situation there.

The government’s talk about a military drawdown lacks merit, especially in the Northern Province. “We are living under military occupation,” notes one community member living near Jaffna. Even though several checkpoints have been removed, a large number of them have been converted into shops – such as grocery stores and cafés – that are run by the military. The ubiquity of military personnel does not leave people feeling safer; ordinary citizens feel more vulnerable and the country’s continued militarization has contributed to a host of widespread social problems including alcohol abuse, sexual violence and rape.

…heavy monitoring of ex-combatants has continued unabated. Ex-LTTE cadres are consistently harassed by state security personnel.

…it appears that even preschool education will now fall under the purview of the Ministry of Defence.

Disappearances and extrajudicial killings have continued, but assailants are rarely held accountable. Like elsewhere in Sri Lanka, impunity has become institutionalized.

…dozens of towns and numerous streets that originally had Tamil names have been given Sinhalese ones. And, with government money, Buddhist temples and war memorials (venerating the military) continue to be built in the North and East. Yet, scores of Hindu temples in need of renovation have been left neglected.

…reports of sexual violence and intimidation are commonplace. In other instances, women engage in sexual relationships with soldiers with the hope that they will be protected from other abuses. Failing to succumb to a military man’s request for sexual favors could result in continued visits and harassment.

Noting that the “end of war has not augured a return to normalcy in Sri Lanka’s North and East,” and instead the “conditions are getting worse,” the magazine asserted that concerted, resolute action is required from the International Community.

External Links:

FP:
Broken Dreams: The Truth about Sri Lanka

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