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HomeTamils - a Nation without a State > Struggle for Tamil Eelam  >  Human Rights & the Tamil People >Tamil Centre for Human Rights (TCHR) > Obvious discrimination by the International Community


Tamil Centre for Human Rights (TCHR) on
Obvious discrimination by the International Community

25 May 2006

"It would seem to International Educational Development that the Tamil people are not viewed as worthy of attention and this must be viewed as rank and despicable discrimination. What other conclusion is possible when in the face of this long and protracted war, neither the Commission nor the Sub-Commission has issued a resolution since 1987? Have these bodies not paid any attention to the reports of the Commission's Working Groups and Rapporteurs? Are these bodies unaware that Sri Lanka is just behind Iraq in disappearances and that almost all the disappeared are Tamils? "

"Are the Tamil people not as fashionable as the Bosnians? Is the fact that the Tamil people are historically Hindu a problem, seeing that so few other countries are Hindu? Is it because certain foreign powers have such an interest in Trincomalee harbour (in the Tamil areas) for their geo political control of the region? Why is it that the international community imposes sanctions on the Republic of Yugoslavia because of the practically identical situation in Kosovo and says not a word about Sri Lanka?" (In a Statement by Karen Parker – The chief delegate of the International Educational Development/Humanitarian Law Project in the 50th session of the UN Sub Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities - 5 August 1998)

This was said by Karen Parker in 1998 in the United Nations Sub-Commission on Human rights, after working for more than a decade with international bodies on raising concerns regarding the human rights of Tamils, including the right to self-determination. These comments came purely from what she has witnessed happening in world bodies including in the United Nations. Karen Parker is an international lawyer, specialised in international humanitarian law. During her many years experience of the workings of international human rights mechanisms, she has raised concerns regarding many situations of armed conflict around the world.

Are there any further reasons for the international community to take a biased position on the conflict in Sri Lanka? Obviously, since 1983 the Sri Lanka government has been running a multi-million dollar propaganda project. But how long can lies and deceptions be acceptable to a group, society or institute of sensible people?

Consider a few recent conflicts (eg. Bosnia, Kosovo and others) in which the numbers of lives lost and of people displaced were comparatively lower than those of the Tamils in Sri Lanka. International bodies placed the conflicts in Bosnia and Kosovo squarely on their agenda. During that time, Tamils were told that the Bosnia and Kosovo conflicts were in their backyard and Tamils are geographically very far away from western countries. In addition, it has been said that there are no economic interests in the Tamil area. These are not genuine reasons for ignoring the plight of the Tamils. The conflict may be taking place far away from them but the killing and destroying of the Tamils is done with arms and ammunition given by western countries to Sri Lanka. Furthermore 500,000 Tamils sought asylum in western countries.

We frequently talk about the actions of the international community. First of all let us see who this international community is? There is no actual definition for "International Community". It cannot be presumed that all nations or countries other than the country in conflict under discussion could be considered as the "international community". At the moment Tamils can presume that "anyone who is ignoring the Sri Lankan atrocities and blindly blaming the Tamils" is the international community, mostly western countries.

As Karen Parker said in the UN in 1998, Tamil people do not appear to be viewed as worthy of attention by this international community, which completely ignores many important reports by independent experts of the UN, produced only after visiting Sri Lanka. As also stated, is the fact that Tamil people are historically Hindu a problem? Or could it be presumed that the international community is caught up with Singhalese myths and misconceptions which claim that their roots are of "Aryan race". Is this the reason why the International community is so totally biased?

Otherwise, how is this so-called "international community" unable to see what has been happening to the Tamils since 1948 and so willing to support an aggressor which oppresses another ethnic group mercilessly like the regime of Saddam Hussain or Milosevic. Did this International community ever think of supporting the Hutus’ who carried out genocide against Tutsis in Rwanda? Why only in Sri Lanka are they supporting the merciless Sri Lankan regime?

At the moment, whatever is said by the Sri Lanka government are golden words for the international community and whatever happens to the Tamils is not even considered a violation. Within the last two months the Tamils have seen the true colours of the international community.

On 19 November 2005, Mahinda Rajapaksa was sworn in as Sri Lanka's fifth executive President. Within the five months since then, he has been responsible for the killing of more than 300 innocent Tamils - Academics, educationalists, parliamentarians, journalists, businessmen and others. This was no different to what Saddam Hussain has done to the Kurdish people in Iraq

Mahinda Rajapaksa has breached the four years old Cease-fire agreement signed in February 2002, between the Sri Lankan government and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam – LTTE, especially articles – 1.2, 1.8 & 4.4. He openly declared war on 25 April 2006, ordering deliberate military attacks by Air, Sea, and Land on the Tamil population. In this operation - innocent people including children were killed and many seriously wounded. More than 40,000 people were made homeless and displaced. The killings of innocent civilians including children still continue under his leadership.


In order to justify Sri Lankan atrocities against the Tamils in the island, the so called international community is looking at only a few issues, purely based on the Sri Lankan propaganda led by paid lobbyists in the western countries.

International institutions which are very vocal about Child soldiers and children in armed conflict, have kept silent on the killings of Tamil children within the last two months. Does the international community permit the killing of Tamil children and civilians by the Sri Lankan government?

The international community paid no attention to the General election which took place in July 1977, in which the Tamil people in the North East overwhelmingly voted to establish and exercise their “Right to Self-determination” in the North East. This democratic mandate was deliberately ignored by the international community.

Again the international community purposely ignored another democratic mandate, that of the last General election in Sri Lanka (April 2004). In this election, the political party "Tamil National Alliance (TNA)" won overwhelmingly in 22 electorates in the North East. The TNA election manifesto stated, "Accepting LTTE’s leadership as the national leadership of the Tamil Eelam Tamils and the Liberation Tigers as the sole and authentic representatives of the Tamil people, let us devote our full cooperation for the ideals of the Liberation Tigers’ struggle with honesty and steadfastness".

WHAT WAS THE REACTION OF THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY TO THESE DEMOCRATIC MANDATES OF THE TAMIL PEOPLE? A biased response. The international community which completely ignored those democratic mandates given by the Tamils, should understand why Tamil people have lost confidence in voting and did not vote in the last Presidential election. It was the international community which made the Tamils lose confidence in voting and is now pushing them to an even worse situation!

Very recently we have seen how the international community has taken action on the situation in Sudan. We do not think any sensible person will find many differences between the happenings in Sudan and in Sri Lanka. Yet what has been the reaction of the international community to Sri Lanka? Nothing.

Even while Sri Lanka ranks the second highest number of disappearances in 1998, just behind Iraq – the United Nations never took any appropriate action on Sri Lanka. We see countries which do not have half as many atrocities as Sri Lanka, assigned country rapporteurs, special representatives of the Secretary General etc. Why is this discrimination practiced by these world bodies?

In 1997, between 24 August to 5 September, Mr. Bacre Waly Ndiaye, United Nations Special Rapporteur, on Extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions visited Sri Lanka and submitted a comprehensive report (E/CN.4/1998/68/Add.2 - 12 March 1998) on extrajudicial killings in Sri Lanka to the 54th session of the UN Commission on Human Rights. This report was deliberately ignored by the then High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson who did excellent work on certain other country situations. It should be noted that it was Mr. Bacre Waly Ndiaye who visited Rwanda before the genocide took place in that country, and raised an early warning predicting the impending genocide.

Tamils have been continuously massacred since 1983 by the security forces. Detail of nearly a hundred massacres have been well published with evidence. None of the culprits have been brought to justice. This impunity is also well supported by the international community. If the international community had scrutinised Sri Lanka's human rights record then Sri Lanka may have been forced to stop these killings long ago.

What has been the reaction of the international community to Sri Lanka’s human rights violations? Sri Lanka has been rewarded with membership in the UN Human Rights Council, is waiting for membership in the UN Human Rights Committee and is also waiting for its candidate to be voted for the post of the UN Secretary General. This is one way, the international community has found a method of encouraging state terrorism in Sri Lanka.

Now we are able to witness an apparent conspiracy against the Tamils in the international arena. Otherwise why does the international community punish only one party to the conflict and let the other party enjoy impunity.

During the 55th session of the UN Commission on Human Rights (7 April 1999) Mr. Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations stated: "….No government has the right to hide behind national sovereignty in order to violate the human rights or fundamental freedoms of its peoples. Whether a person belongs to the minority or the majority, that person's human rights and fundamental freedoms are sacred". We hope that all the Western governments will seriously consider this statement when they make their decisions regarding the situation in Sri Lanka.

The Singhalese leaders, whether of the JVP, JHU, SLFP or UNP never wanted the international community to help them find a peaceful solution to the island's long and bloody conflict of many years. They need the International community only for arms and ammunition and for making statements condemning the activities of their opponents. The international community goes along with this agenda and fully supports Sri Lanka.

Our experience with Western countries is that reports with many pages, produced by Tamils on the violations by the Sri Lanka government, go unnoticed by western governments. In the meantime, a few lines of statement containing lies and fictions against Tamils, produced by the Sri Lankan government and its propagandists are accepted without any reservation. Then the documents with lies and fiction are the ones taken for discussion by Ministry personnel in Western countries.

Sri Lanka government representatives and propagandists can very easily meet with all the Western officials and brief them periodically. On the other hand any Tamil or Tamil organisations are not entertained by most of the Western governments. Whenever any Tamil other than the Sri Lankan government propagandists want to meet the Western government officials, they refuse to meet them and keep them at a distance. This is pure discrimination practiced by the western governments and they are not ready to listen to anything against the Sri Lankan government. This is one of the reasons the Western governments do not understand the opinion and ground realities of the Tamils.

Already there are 500,000 Tamil asylum seekers in western countries. The biased attitude of the western countries is going to bring another 500,000 or more asylum seekers to the west in the near future. We hope, those countries who are supporting a military solution in Sri Lanka, will be prepared to welcome the refugees as well.


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