"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
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.
WHERE IS THE CONDEMNATION OR EVEN A STATEMENT BY THE INTERNATIONAL
COMMUNITY ON SRI LANKA’S VIOLATIONS OF THE CEASE-FIRE BY ORDERING
AERIAL BOMBING, ARTILLERY SHELLING, FIRING FROM GUN BOATS ON TAMIL
RESIDENTIAL AREAS? In the eyes of the International community, are
these not cease-fire violations?
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
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
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