Call For Immediate War Crimes Trials & Trade Embargoes Against Sri Lanka
By S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole –
The position of our government is that no war crimes were committed by our forces at the end of the war. Contradicting that, last week (23 Nov.) I wrote of how we committed horrendous crimes on the battlefield in May 2009 and of how Australia has approached its own charges of war crimes. I commended its example for our government beginning trials, asking for forgiveness, and rescinding the medallions, promotions, and high offices given to our accused war criminals in uniform. There are mountains of evidence available against them.
Subsequently, today’s news is that Rear Admiral Dr. Sarath Weerasekera on taking oaths as Minister of Public Security has committed himself to protect all peoples of Sri Lanka. If that is sincere and true, then to protect Tamils he must embark on punishing all war criminals – for example, those from the Navy who killed the Trinco 5. So long as he fails to do that the killers in uniform will be in our midst in high positions as they already are. Chilling!
Yesterday (27.11) it was reported that those mourning their dead, who had not opened their shops to remember their murdered loved ones, were forced by the army presumably including these alleged killers to open their shops closed to commemorate their dead. Given this, it would appear that by “all communities” Dr. Weerasekera meant only the Sinhalese to whom he would offer protection. From abjuration of any responsibility to commitments on prosecuting war crimes, the government is totally mendacious.
Consider! When battles ended in May 2009, then-President Mahinda Rajapaksa issued statements that no war crime was committed and that his troops went into battle with human rights conventions in one hand and the gun in the other. Sinhalese drunk-with-hate might be expected to make and believe these claims. But Tamils have difficulties understanding why Tamils, an MP in particular, would endorse such unbelievable claims. Subsequently, the government trotted out so-called IT experts from the Sinhalese community from Moratuwa University and in high positions abroad to say that, based on their scientific examination, the graphics in the UK’s Channel 4 documentary showing cold-blooded execution of LTTE-ers was doctored – i.e., photo-shopped). Most Sinhalese seemed to believe it. They do not realize that no one kills his baby to Fake a movie. (To see the photo click here)
In the course of time, Supreme Court Justice Maxwell Paranagama reported in 2015 as part of his government-appointed Commission’s findings that the charge that government troops engaged in war crimes was credible. The government did not like what the Paranagama Commission was finding so it restricted its funding. The Commission collapsed.
As our demagogic Sri Lankan state thereby manipulates Sinhalese, the world sees us as naked like “The Emperor without Clothes.” Only we do not see our nudity and the incredulity with which the world watches us.
The commitments and scientific findings from the Sri Lankan state are just plumb incredible. The people forget all the untruths in which the government has been caught again and again. The government misleads a gullible population that forgets the past, and continues to vote to delay justice. What is sad is that even Tamils have poor memory. We vote for and celebrate alleged killers among us. We give them high offices in our political parties without an inquiry into the heinous accusations against them. But we insist on war crimes trials against Sinhalese. When a major Tamil party voted to deprive hill-country Tamils of their citizenship, many Tamils continued to vote for it. When that party had an internal fissure and one faction brought out how the main faction housed CID personnel in its Jaffna office this year helping them to monitor Tamils, that did not weaken the party’s support base. These people now fight each other to demonstrate who lights more candles on Maaveerar Day. Many people seem taken in.
Whatever Sinhalese communalists and their Tamils supporters may say for holding on to power and state office, it is a certainty that large scale killings of civilians by our armed forces occurred in the last 5 months leading up to May 2009. What is uncertain is whether it was 40,000 as in the UN Report or well over 100,000 as estimated by many (vide my article last week). As noted in the article, the military confirmed that LTTE cadres had surrendered to the army and a Sri Lankan Army Court of Inquiry acknowledged that the military captured LTTE cadres and that 11,800 cadres had surrendered to the military. The BBC cites video evidence on the surrender it calls compelling. In a comical denouement to an RTI request, the Information Officer of the Sri Lanka Military, Brigadier Sumith Atapattu, stated, “LTTE members have not surrendered themselves to the Sri Lanka military during the last stages of the war and they have handed themselves over to the Sri Lankan government.”
The world laughs at us, thanks to our government’s and people’s ignorance of how nude we are. To continue to delude ourselves like this, knowing that others know we are lying, is shameless. Our courts toss out one after the other the findings of previous cases. One, two – all right. But it is now almost every finding by the judiciary against members of the government and its supporters. By so reversing so many decisions, the courts are shooting themselves in the foot and proving the need for external oversight in war-crimes tribunals under UNHRC 30/1. Where the courts found persons, military personnel, and violent monks guilty, the President has pardoned the convicted criminals. This even makes the case for an outside agency to take over the process so that those convicted cannot be pardoned and are held in outside prisons.
There is an ancient Greek saying, “Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first strike mad.” Is this what is happening to our people? We have withdrawn from our own commitment to the UNHRC. We are going back on our commitment to human rights-based on which stopped GSP duty preferences were restored. Like the people of Hamelin, we are dancing to our destruction following our Pied Piper – our government.
We may be blind fools but not the rest of the world. Only Mangala Samaraweera has publicly expressed the dangers of the foolish course of lying to the world that we have embarked on. Our government seems unconcerned about the dangers of the folly of its ways. Since the world understands how crazy and harmful our government is, its lies seem directed at gullible Sinhalese to sustain itself in power.
The Buddha spoke up for nonviolence. The post-Sangam Epic Period of the Tamils (Third to Fifth Centuries AD when Manimekalai was authored by the Tamil Buddhist monk Kulavaṇikan Seethalai Sataṉar), was a high multi-cultural time for Tamils with evidence for Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Judaism, and Christianity being practiced. That highlighted the liberal ethos where Devanambiya Theesan converted to Buddhism from Hinduism. Asoka’s missionaries implanted this ethos, giving us vegetarianism based on nonviolence, hospitals, travelers’ rests, environmental consciousness with trees being planted, animal hospitals, etc.. The Buddhist ruins of Kandarodai in Chunnakam testify to our liberalism.
Despite that heritage, the governments since 1972 have sought to ram Buddhism down Tamil and Muslim throats by making it the state religion even in the twenty-first century, unaware of the human rights consciousness that has overtaken the globe. It would seem, to use V.S. Naipaul’s phrase, we Sri Lankans came out of our villages into the twenty-first century with a democratic state, but the village has not left us. We remain savages.
Ask a Tamil what images are conjured in his head by Buddhism, which has given us so much good. The answer would be war crimes, communal riots, lawlessness, murderous Buddhist monks, the use of ethnic cleansing to take over our homes and lands, Buddhist temples coming up where there are few to no Buddhists, and military rule. Claiming that this is a Buddhist country, every state-paid feast at once has dishes of mutton, chicken, beef, fish, and prawns. Even the sparse vegetable curries have sprats. Sri Lanka’s Buddhists, it seems, cannot eat meals embodying nonviolence, but I have had educated Buddhists arguing with me that vegetarianism is not Buddhist. The lust for meat is inveterate. Even a tourist with goodwill having a Buddha tattoo on her body was sentenced by our nationalist police and judiciary. A religion that Sri Lankans do not believe in, is being foisted on others as means of demonstrating power. This is evident from the introduction of this pernicious clause into our constitution with no one asking by Colvin R. de Silva, a Marxist and therefore godless by definition. He was giving opium to the Sinhalese in the form of Buddhism to secure his support base.
Persons of goodwill, whether Sinhalese or Tamil, are now willy-nilly placed in the position of safeguarding the constitution and recovering the once untarnished name of the Buddhist religion. Our governments themselves are responsible for the assault on Buddhism and the lawlessness in our midst.
Sri Lankans of sound minds has tried all they can and have failed. Now we must look for outside help from democratic countries. In this endeavour, Tamils must keep in mind that the UN report faulted both the government and the LTTE for war crimes. We cannot push for one part of the report while tossing out the other against the LTTE. Doing that, we condemn ourselves as the same delusional racists that the government is said to consist of.
Maveerar Day, 27 Nov., translates as “Big Heroes Day.” It is set for the day after V Prabhakaran’s Birthday, 26 Nov. It makes clear that we are unprepared to jettison our misplaced LTTE sympathies, and shows us to be as racially-prejudiced as the Sinhalese. However, many of the people killed were civilians forced into the Mullaitivu area and shot by the LTTE in the back when they tried to flee Sri Lankan bombings. It is indeed appropriate to remember them and celebrate their lives. I suggest changing the day to a day in May when most of the butchery occurred, and renaming it as Tami Massacre Day, and enlisting foreign help to ensure there is accountability. It is the only way to convince the world that we truly and sincerely ask for justice. It is then that outside nations will join us in quenching our thirst for justice and addressing our cry for freedom. The time is opportune as the UK has initiated inquiries against mercenaries that helped Sri Lanka in the war.
We now need to ask openly for the full implementation of UNHRC Resolution 30/1, and trade embargoes against Sri Lanka including elimination of GSP preferential duties. Our MPs must ask for these in Parliament and we through supportive news outlets to reach free-thinking Sinhalese. We must seek to be heard. As things are, no one asks for these out of fear of a repressive state and judicial machinery, so the world thinks we are happy with allowing the crimes against humanity to go unpunished. The Sinhalese will understand that this is not racism but expressing what many of them are fearful of saying.
This is a good time. Joe Biden, a human rights advocate, is President-Elect of the USA. In 1983, the assault on Tamils under J.R. Jayawardene was at its height especially after his open admission of Sinhalese racism to The Daily Telegraph (11 July 1983): “Really if I starve the Tamils out, the Sinhala people will be happy.” It was a time we rightly feared for our future and even Sri Lanka’s future. An uncle of mine in Delaware was a medical practitioner where Biden is one of its two Senators. He got us an appointment and we met Joe Biden. A cousin’s aged mother-in-law (a US Citizen) had been raped by Sinhalese thugs in Colombo. My uncle read out a petition. Biden was attentive when I told him of the rape. He was sympathetic and I expect he still is after far worse things have happened.
Ranil Wickremesinghe, like his uncle, had given excuses for not keeping his promises to the UN. Like SWRD Bandaranaike, agreements mean nothing to the Sinhalese-State as it now ponders the removal of Provincial Councils violating agreements with India. The world realizes that solemn promises by Sri Lanka are worthless and made only to buy time till Sri Lanka is an ethnostate.
We and the world must act together before it is too late. This is not against Sri Lanka but for it. As David Cameron, British PM, stated upon the passage of 30/1, “The UNHRC decision on Sri Lanka is a victory for its people.”