refer to your letter dated February 07, 2005 addressed to Prime Minister
Paul Martin about LTTE recruitment of teen aged children by the LTTE and
other spurious allegations against the LTTE/TRO in your capacity as
Director, Human Rights Watch, USA. Yours is a clever attempt by an
ex-liberal politician with profound disregard to facts showcasing the
conservative HRW as a lily-white human rights watch dog!
HRW is founded on the idea that the
values of the
United States are universal and that the
US has the right to impose its hegemony on the rest
of world at gun point.
is an almost exclusively US-American organization. Its version of human
rights is the Anglo-American tradition. For example seizure and
distribution of the property of the rich is unethical!
look at the composition of HRW board members reveals that it consists of
elite present and past government employees and overlapping directorates
linked to major foreign policy lobbies in the US. It is certainly not an
association of “concerned private citizens.”
cynical, HRW can best be described as a joint venture of George Soros and
US State Department.
find you hold a doctorate in political science. Perusing your letter I
honestly feel that you deserve another doctorate on deception for your role
as director of HRW.
letter to Paul Martin makes a mountain out of a mole hill. Your information
based on hearsay and fanciful imagination. The intensely political
character of the attack on LTTE and TRO is easy to see.
In your obsession with child recruitment by LTTE, you have completely
ignored the plight of thousands of children orphaned (the term orphaned is
taboo in LTTE’s parlance) by the tsunami disaster, children dropping out of
schools due to poverty, widespread malnutrition etc.
I am pretty sure you have never experienced the pangs of hunger or thirst
in your whole life! You should ask what those mean from children in Vanni!
In your letter you claim that “During Human Rights Watch’s investigation,
reliable local sources raised concerns about the close link between the TRO
and LTTE, reporting for example, that TRO representatives are often former
May I ask you what is wrong in former LTTE soldiers engaging themselves in
humanitarian relief work? Is
that a crime for them to serve their brothers and sisters? Don’t
Canada or US involve themselves in community work? The
whole thrust of your argument is to sling mud at the LTTE and demonize
them. Nothing more.
are oblivious to the fact or you conveniently omitted to mention that the
LTTE and TRO run several children homes for orphaned children or children
whose parents cannot support them due to grinding poverty.
It is one such children home run by
the LTTE for kids aged below 5 years that got swept away by the tidal waves
on December 26, 2004. Out of about 145 more than 100 children died on that
I wish you leave your ivory tower and go to Northeast and repeat your
accusations against the LTTE and TRO to the hundreds and thousands of
refugees languishing in make-shift camps and improvised welfare centres?
Again you claim “ Credible sources also report that since the tsunami, the
TRO, in collaboration with the LTTE, has sought to control relief efforts
in the East and relocate displaced persons camps to LTTE-controlled areas,
in order to facilitate LTTE monitoring and control of vulnerable
populations, as well as recruitment.” This again is a figment of your
fertile imagination. What do you mean by “vulnerable population?”
Do you honestly say that the LTTE is exploiting its own kith and kin at a
time of such colossal calamity?
your information, LTTE is concerned about the well being of every
woman and children than you do or anyone else. That is the reason the
Thamils consider the LTTE their saviours and heroes and the LTTE leader
elevated to the level of a demi-god.
these talk of “reliable sources”
“local sources raised concerns”
are nothing but your own disingenuous subterfuges. LTTE has told both
local NGOs and INGOs that they are free to enter areas controlled by them
and distribute relief supplies to whomever and wherever they want.
LTTE are not terrorists as you have taken pains to paint them. They are not
terrorists per se. Thamil people don’t buy your concept of “terrorism”.
Fighting for one’s lost rights is not terrorism. I need not remind you
that George Washington was also a wanted terrorist by the British at one
time. So was Nelson Mandela of the ANC. Both later became heads of states!
Contrary to what you say both LTTE cadres and the TRO volunteers were at
the scene of tsunami disaster within hours to rescue trapped people in
collapsed buildings and homes, give first aid, dispatch the badly wounded
to hospitals, clear debris, collect and bury dead bodies, move the
survivors to make-shift camps/schools and other public buildings, provide
food, medicine etc. On the contrary it took more than 3 weeks for DART to
set foot in Amparai!
contrast to your innuendos and vilification, both the LTTE and the TRO have
won plaudits and accolades from visiting foreign diplomats, correspondents
and members of INGOs for the exemplary and timely humanitarian relief
delivered by them!
Lancaster, writing in the Washington Post (4 January 2005) under the
heading “Tsunami Disaster & the People of Tamil Eelam -Thamil Tiger
Guerrillas Directing Relief Effort - In Ruined Town, Rebels Outperform
Officials” says, inter-alia, -
the activity that's been going on here has been guided or sponsored by the
Tigers…..The central government hasn't given anything, really….
Tigers have also been taking the lead in sheltering refugees, establishing
an emergency task force along with representatives of international aid
organizations and the central government, which maintains a low-key
administrative presence in the area.” (emphasis mine)
Boston Globe of January 04, 2005 editorially commended the work of
TRO in glowing terms. Here is an excerpt –
"...A relief organization that cooperates with the Tigers, the Tamil
Rehabilitation Organization, or TRO, has been assisting not only Tamil
Hindus in the northeast but also Buddhist Sinhalese and Muslim families.
The central government, however, wants nothing to do with the
Tiger-linked TRO. In one community in northeastern Jaffna Peninsula,
Tamil peasants refused food aid from a contingent of Sri Lankan Army
soldiers, whom the locals had come to fear. According to the peasants,
the soldiers later returned with their faces covered, entered a shed where
local Tamil volunteers had stored food parcels, and burned it down. After
visiting a Tamil town in the northeast that was destroyed by the tidal
wave, Carol Bellamy, executive director of UNICEF, said Monday that
the TRO's "well-coordinated relief arrangements put in place within so
short a time are all really commendable." (emphasis mine)
This does not
mean everything is rosy in the Northeast. The SLG itself has confessed that
70% of aid has not reached people because of bureaucratic red tape and
A report by
the Toronto Para medic group that went to the eastern province to undertake
relief work reports that “Two hundred thousand people lost their homes in
this district. They were the lucky ones. More than 3,500 people perished and
that number will only rise as the more than 1,500 missing are either found
or declared dead. The camps are crowded and not clean. Respiratory
infections, gastrointestinal infections and skin diseases are common. People
with chronic ailments such as hypertension have lost their medication. They
live under the constant threat of cholera and E. coli outbreaks.”
wells and renewing lives” Toronto Star – February 14, 2005)
What you are
doing is the easiest job of criticizing others. Your concern about child
soldiers is hypocritical.
On July 09,
1995, when you were the Minister of Human Resources the Sri Lankan air
force bombed St. Peters Church and St. Peters School in Navaly, Jaffna
where hundreds have sought shelter, was deliberately bombed by Sri Lanka
air force planes. The death toll in this mindless bombing totalled 120.
Thirteen babies died in their mother's arms. Rescue workers reported torn
limbs and pieces of human flesh strewn over the area.
September 09, 1995 Sri Lankan Air Force Pucara plane bombed Nagarkoyil
Central School in the Jaffna Peninsula. Twenty five children, aged 10-17,
died in this cowardly attack.
only two instances out of many. The bombing of civilian targets continued
right throughout the nineties till February 22, 2002.
Lankan government imposed a vicious economic embargo on the North that
lasted from 1995-2002 which reduced the people to starvation, disease and
squalor. Thousands of pregnant mothers and children suffered second degree
malnutrition due to lack of food. Sri Lankan government even banned
pain-killers like Tylenol.
period you were a Minister, you or your government did not raise the issue
of human rights violations tantamount to war crimes committed by the Sri
Lankan government. Worse your government was supplying small arms and other
so-called “non-lethal” military hardware to Sri Lankan army!
the 1993 when a FACT delegation made representation to you at Ottawa about
the raging ethnic war in Sri Lanka, you said that once the Liberal Party is
elected to office, your government will address our concerns. When I later
reminded about your promise at a dinner hosted in your honor at Ottawa, you
merely quipped “You have a good memory!”
recapitulating these facts just to demonstrate that you as Director, HRW,
is least qualified to speak about human rights, leave alone children’s
You are now
shedding crocodile tears on recruitment of child soldiers in the comfort of
your air-conditioned ivory towers!
statement that an “unknown number of children died in conflict in April
2004” is bereft of any truth. This is typical of the mind set of westerners
who assume that they have a superior civilization and have a right to
sermonize others. An “unknown number of children died in conflict in April
2004” is based on hearsay. You are trying to convey the impression that the
conflict lasted the whole of April, 2004 when in actual fact it lasted only
3 days! A handful of cadres did get killed, but certainly no children died!
“Prior to the ceasefire, children were routinely used in combat. Studies
conducted during the mid-1990 found that 40-60 percent of LTTE soldiers who
died in battle were children under the age of eighteen…”
forces over-ran heavily fortified bases of the SLA many times. Are you
serious that LTTE forces consisting of 40-60% teen-aged fighters defeated
a professionally trained and better equipped SL armed forces? Does that make
state “the devastating December 26 tsunami has not halted the LTTE's
recruitment of children. As of January 26, UNICEF had registered over forty
cases of child recruitment by the LTTE.” The fact of the matter is that
these children lost their parents during the tsunami disaster. And the LTTE
was merely looking after them till they are found shelter. UNICEF simply
jumped the gun and made much ado over nothing!
The issue of
child recruitment is now jointly tackled by the UNICEF, NESOHR
East Secretariat for Human Rights) and LTTE. The LTTE has already handed
over children found to be under-aged. NESOHR in a statement published in
February has answered in detail the accusations contained in HRW report
titled Living in Fear, in November, 2004.
This is the
type of disinformation you spread in the name of defending human rights! And
you want to pose off as someone more concerned about our children than
foolishly suggests that Thamil Diaspora should avoid giving money to Thamils
Rehabilitation Organization (TRO). This is nothing more than sanctimonious
humbugging and a sure recipe for those children to die a slow death!
Ms. Jo Becker
of the HRW who held a meeting in Toronto to bash the LTTE met her waterloo.
The poor lady could not find a single Thamil Canadian to represent the
250,000 strong Thamil Canadian community! As expected the meeting ended in a
suggest that you first write to Prime Minister Paul Martin about Omar Chard,
a teen-aged Canadian citizen jailed, abused and tortured at Guantanamo Bay
by US forces and fellow detainees. Chard, 18, visited by his American lawyer
over four days last November alleged he had been beaten, threatened with
rape, tied for hours in painful positions, and once had pine oil thrown on
the ground and his body used to clean the floor.
still cuffed, his hands and feet behind his back, military officials lifted
Omar off the ground, used him as a human mop and used his body to clean up
the urine on the floor. He was then returned to his cell and not allowed a
change of clothes for two days," Washington lawyer Miner Ahmad told
reporters at a press conference in Toronto a few days ago.
Mind you he
was only 15 when he was captured by invading US army in Afghanistan. The
lawyers for Chard allege that Canada has failed to change the plight of this
children in distant Vanni this teen, Mr. Axworthy, is right under your nose!
also take up what Federal Court judge has described as Canada's own
Guantanamo Bay situation facing five Muslims held a collective 184 months
behind Canadian prison walls without charge or bail.
Hassan Almrei, a Syrian refugee in solitary confinement in a Toronto prison
since October, 2001; Mohammad Mahjoub, detained since June, 2000, in
solitary for half that time; Mahmoud Jaballah, held since August, 2001;
Mohamed Harkat, detained since December, 2002; and Adil Charkaoui, held
since May, 2003.
They still do
not know why they are being detained, as neither they nor their lawyers are
allowed access to the secret case.
All the five
men have asked for is that they either be charged or tried in a fair and
open court proceeding with disclosure of the case against them, or that they
be released immediately.
Prime Minister Paul Martin would then be in a better position to talk about
human rights on the global stage if he polished his image and cleansed house
here at home first.
I will like
to ask Mr. Axworthy to apply his energies to more flagrant and worrying
breach of human rights. Especially on the unilateral military and illegal
invasion of Iraq on fabricated evidence, short-circuiting of the
UNO, killing of 100,000 Iraq civilians by dropping smart bombs, the Abu
Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay prison abuse/torture scandals etc. All these make
mockery of US statement department rhetoric on terrorism!
number of innocent Iraqi children have been killed by US indiscriminate
bombing of Iraqi cities during the last two years.
To sum up,
the evidence indicates your letter to Prime Minister Paul Martin lacks
substantive credibility and is driven by a clear and consistent political
bias on ideological grounds.
contributing to selective human right norms, pretended self-pity and
demonizing LTTE, your agenda also diverts attention from genuine human
rights problems faced by Thamil people and Thamil children like arbitrary
arrests, torture, involuntary disappearances, mass-graves, restrictions
on fishing, forceful occupation of homes and farmlands etc. by the
Sinhala armed forces.
cc. Right Hon. Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers,
Members of Parliament and Media.
Tel. - (416) 281 1165 (416) 335 9462 (905) 949 0824
Fax - (416) 261 6745