Sri Lanka Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar has
matched the genocidal war
launched by his Government on the Tamil people with his
own belligerence. He told Reuters on 20 February:
"Third parties coming here is absolutely
out of the question. This is an internal matter..
several governments, individuals and non governmental
organisations had offered out of goodwill to help end
the war but…. It (mediation) becomes an
interference in our internal affairs and we will not
tolerate it at all."
Tamil people will hope that the 'several governments
and non governmental organisations' who had 'offered
out of goodwill to help' will take the Foreign Minister
at his word and also stop giving external aid to the
tune of more than 860 million US Dollars - which aid
has served to prop up and support Sri Lanka's genocidal
war on the Tamil people. After all, as Foreign Minister
Kadirgamar has been at pains to point out, the conflict
is an 'internal matter' and there is no reason why
taxpayers in foreign countries should foot the bill for
the Sinhala dominated Sri Lanka government's 'internal'
Again, hopefully, the United States too will
take Foreign Minister Kadirgamar's warning seriously
and withdraw its Green Berets and technical aid. The
conflict in the island is an 'internal matter' and Sri
Lanka, it appears, will not tolerate foreign offers
even when made 'out of good will to help'.
However, perhaps even Foreign Minister Kadirgamar
will admit that there are matters in relation to the
conflict which are not internal. Human rights and the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights are not internal matters.
The humanitarian law of armed conflict and the Geneva
Conventions are not internal matters. Genocide is
not an internal matter. It is an international
Under the Convention on the Prevention and
Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, acts of murder
committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part,
a national, ethnical, racial or religious group as such
are considered as acts of genocide.
During the period commencing May 1995 and continuing
uptodate, the actions of the Sri Lanka authorities in
their war on the Tamil people in the North-East of the
island of Sri Lanka amount to genocide. The fact of the
murder and rape of members of the group, of torture and
grave attacks on their physical and mental integrity
and of the subjection of the group to conditions
leading necessarily to their deaths are clearly
Margaret Trawick, Professor of Social Anthropology,
Massey University Palmerston North, New Zealand
moved to comment on 28 April 1996:
"I have been struggling in my mind against the
conclusion that the SL government is trying to kill
or terrorize as many Tamil people as possible; that
the government is trying to keep the conditions of
the war unreported internationally, because if those
conditions were reported, the actions of the military
would be perceived as so deplorable that foreign
nations would have no choice but to condemn them. And
this would be embarrassing to everybody. But it seems
now that no other conclusion is possible..."
And, under cover of press restrictions which
the Non Governmental Organisation Article 19 has
described as going ' far beyond any legitimate interest
in protecting national security or public order'
Sri Lanka's genocide continues to the present
The Commander in Chief of the Sri Lanka armed
forces, President Chandrika Kumaratunga and the Sri
Lanka government have celebrated the genocidal
onslaught on the Tamil people at victory
ceremonies evoking memories of earlier conquests of the
Tamil homeland by Sinhala kings. They have failed to
investigate the genocidal acts committed by their
armed forces and para military agencies. They have
refrained from intervening to prevent the genocide. The
U.S. Department of State, Sri Lanka Country Report on
Human Rights Practices for 1996 concluded that "
immunity for those responsible for human rights abuses
remained a problem". The attitude of President
Kumaratunga and her Government amounts to incitement to
crime and criminal negligence and must be judged as
severely as the crimes actively committed by those
under their command.
rights and freedoms of the people of Tamil Eelam
are of direct concern to the international community,
which is entitled and duty bound to ensure that these
rights are respected, particularly when they are openly
breached by one of its member states. Genocide is not
an internal matter. It is an international crime - and
transcends state boundaries.