Civil Society must force States to Recognize Tamil Genocide in Sri Lanka: TGTE soon to Announce New Initiative on this NEWS PROVIDED BY Visuvanathan Rudrakumaran, Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE) December 14, 2021, 22:30 GMT SHARE THIS ARTICLE
“Heinous crimes are committed not by one single individual or not by one single battalion of the armed forces, but by the state itself”
Sri Lanka is engaged in structural genocide of Tamils. While cultural genocide does not fall within the purview of the Genocide definition, they are clear indication of the perpetrators Intent.”— V. Rudrakumaran.NEW YORK, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, December 14, 2021 /EINPresswire.com/ — Speech delivered by the Prime Minister of Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE), Mr. V. Rudrakumaran, at a Genocide Memorial Day event in Canada.
I open my comments with the sacred memories of the Tamil Maveerar in my heart.
We have gathered here today to observe the International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of Victims of Genocide; we have gathered here today to pay homage to the strength of victims of genocide around the world; we have gathered here today to bear witness to the mass atrocities that have happened and are still happening around the world today; we are gathered here today to ensure “never again.”
In the words of Lemkin, genocide is a crime against humanity itself. As stated by the UN General Assembly Resolution 96(1), it is a denial of the right to existence of an entire group. The Former International Criminal Tribunal of Rwanda designated it as the crime of crimes. It is the mother of all crimes. The International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia characterized it as a crime on the top of the pyramid of crimes.
In 1948, on the heels of the Holocaust, United Nations enacted the Convention of Prevention and Punishment of Genocide. Article 1 of the treaty imposed legal obligation on the parties of the Convention to prevent and punish the Crime of Genocide. Article 2 of the convention identified the genocidal acts that from the crime of constitutes genocide. These acts are :
A. Killing members of the group B. Causing serious bodily or mental harm to the 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 birth within the group E. Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group
On behalf of the Tamil Nation, I would like to use the Tamil genocide in the Sri Lanka as a case study in addressing accountability for the crime of genocide and the preventative measures for future genocide.
In 2009, during the final stages of the war, according to the UN Expert Panel Report, nearly 40,000 people could have been killed. According to the UN Internal Review Report, there is credible evidence that nearly 70,000 people are unaccounted for. According to the late Bishop Father Rayappu Joseph, 146,679 people remain unaccounted for based on the data of the Sri Lankan government itself. The UN Expert Panel Report identified five serious violations committed by the government of Sri Lanka at the time. These are:
1) Killing civilians through widespread shelling. 2) Shelling hospitals and humanitarian objects. 3) Denial of humanitarian assistance. 4) Human rights violations suffered by victims and survivors of the conflict including both IDPs and suspected LTTE cadres. 5) Human rights violations outside the conflict zone including against the media and other critics of the government.
In the findings of the UN Expert Panel, items 1, 2, and 3 correspond to subsections A, B, C of Article 2 of the Genocide Convention. In spite of this, neither the two UN reports nor the report of Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Report (OISL) on Sri Lanka, mention the word Genocide pertaining to the tragic events in Sri Lanka in 2009.
They might turn round and say it is difficult to establish the mental state of the perpetrators. They might say it is difficult to establish the specific intent of the crime of genocide to be established. The intent can be established like in any criminal proceedings. Either by direct evidence or by circumstantial evidence. Given the modern communication systems and surveillance available then, it is quite possible to obtain direct evidence from the communication amongst the perpetrators with regards to the planning and execution of the crimes. It is widely known that the final stages of the war were monitored by various countries as well as the UN via satellites. Arguendo, we accept that there is no direct evidence, the intent can also be established through circumstantial evidence on the general context, the scope of the attack, the scale of atrocities committed, the repetition of destructive and discriminatory acts, etc.
Moreover, it was not expected that the UN Reports would state that the crime of genocide was committed. All that was expected was the statement that there was credible evidence that the crime of genocide had been committed. However, the UN did not mention the word “genocide” in their reports. It is not only unique to the Tamil situation, it has been so in many other situations as well. The UN attempts to downplay the crime of genocide instead of characterizing it as crimes against humanity or war crimes.
The reason for it is once the crime of Genocide is established it impose legal obligation on the parties to the Genocide Convention to take action. However due to geo political considerations the countries are not willing to take action.
During the massacre of Bosnian Muslims by the Serbs, President Bush Senior refused to characterize it as genocide. During the Rwandan genocide, the Clinton Administration engaged in mind-boggling semantics. If I may paraphrase, his Press Secretary at that time said that hundreds of thousands of people are being butchered and genocidal acts may be taking place and in response to that one reporter asked, “how many genocidal acts constitute a genocide.”
During the Darfur genocide, Bush Jr. initially did not employ the word “genocide.” However, following cries from civil society and media, he relented. The New York Times wrote an editorial stating, no word other than “genocide” can capture the magnitude of the gravity of the crime.
In relation to this matter, I stand obliged to congratulate Canada, the first country that recognized the Rohingya genocide. I also congratulate Canada for passing a unanimous resolution in 2019 calling for an International Investigation of the Crime of Genocide in Sri Lanka. However, I must note that that resolution simply remains as an empty expression. I hope the Canadian authorities will take action to give meaning to this resolution. Denying the name of genocide, failing to call a genocide as genocide, in my view amounts to trivializing the crime and insulting the victims. In short, the characterization of the crime by political bodies depends more on political consideration than legal requirements.
Political considerations also play a role in addressing impunity. We have seen that in the context of the Tamil genocide. Even though the UN Commissioner’s Report calls for the establishment of a hybrid tribunal and later referral to the ICC, the countries that sponsored the Human Rights Council Resolutions have chosen to simply leave the matter of accountability to Sri Lanka itself.
Calling for adoption of a domestic mechanism by the Sri Lankan State, the State which stands accused of committing those heinous crimes, is not only morally reprehensible, but it also insults common sense. However, we cannot leave this matter in the hands of states alone in our quest for accountability. Given the importance and prominence of civil society today, it becomes evident that by mobilizing civil society we can force the states to act. With respect to accountability for Tamil genocide, an influential civil society group, is preparing to launch a campaign to bring legal action against Sri Lanka to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). We will be speaking to all prominent organizations in the coming days about this action.
We, the victims, should also take the issue into our own hands and fashion modalities for accountability. In this connection, the TGTE has launched an initiative called Victims Driven International Justice. We are in the process of obtaining evidence that is already in the UN’s possession based on the right to know and the right to know the truth. According to Professor Groome, a former UN Chief Prosecutor, there are nearly 120 countries where possibilities exist for private citizens to bring criminal proceedings.
Another important matter I would like to address is that these heinous crimes are committed not by one single individual or not by one single battalion of the armed forces, but by the state itself. According to the OISL report, the crimes committed against the Tamils are systemic crimes. However, states hiding behind the veil of sovereign immunity, escape accountability except in legal action before the ICJ. We cannot bring civil suits against the state for these crimes in domestic tribunals. Thus, the TGTE calls upon the Canadian law makers to bring forth an amendment to the Canadian Immunity Act, making the crime of genocide as an exception for the states to employ sovereign immunity as a defense. This will not only benefit Tamils, but other victims throughout the world. Thus, today we form an alliance and embark on this project.
Today, as we speak, the state of Sri Lanka is engaged in structural genocide of Tamils. They achieve this by destroying the Tamil cultural symbols and grabbing Tamil occupied homeland. As Lemkin and international tribunals have said, while cultural genocide does not fall within the purview of the Genocide definition, they are clear indication of the perpetrators intent to physically destroy whole or in part the nation concerned.
Based on international law and moral principles, a nation subjected to genocide is entitled to remedial justice. We strongly believe that remedial justice in the form of an independent state can be the only way to prevent future genocide in Sri Lanka. We also believe that we the Eelam Tamils, who have the inherent right to self-determination, should exercise that right as a resistance to cultural genocide and potential physical genocide. We should exercise the right to self-determination in an external form to prevent genocide. We should exercise the right to self-determination in the form of an independent and sovereign state of Tamil Eelam to ensure our very physical survival. In fact, as the Canadian Supreme Court stated, external self-determination and remedial justice are intertwined. Both are two sides of the same coin.
Let’s rededicate ourselves on this important Day of Remembering to seeking justice for the victims of genocide and let us ensure “Never Again.” Visuvanathan Rudrakumaran Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE) +1-614-202-3377 firstname.lastname@example.org Visit us on social media: Facebook Twitter LinkedIn