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"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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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) > Call for Economic Embargo on Sri Lanka > Boycott Sri Lanka Products and  Services  & Save Tamil Lives


Call for Economic Embargo on Sri Lanka

Tamil Centre for Human Rights (TCHR)
6 September 2006

[see also Boycott Sri Lanka Products and  Services  & Save Tamil Lives]

“Power wants to do nasty things to the people, without accountability”. “Impunity for Power is the law of the jungle”. “ The supreme international crime is war of aggression”- Ramsey Clark – Paris, 23 September 2005

The purpose of law is to preserve society and equality is the mother of justice. Power should not be above the law. These are a few cardinal principles of democracy and the rule of law. Where do these principles stand in Sri Lanka?

If we look back at Sri Lanka’s human rights record - various reports of the United Nations’ Special Rapporteurs and treaty bodies; International institutions; Parliamentarians belong to European Union countries and other countries, have all accepted that Sri Lanka violates the human rights of Tamils. Whoever you meet, wherever you go, the decision-makers of various states, world bodies, inter-governmental and regional bodies accept the fact that the bloody conflict in the island of Sri Lanka is of deep concern to them. However, the international community has no remedy for the State terrorism in Sri Lanka.

In 1998, the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances stated that, "Sri Lanka had the second highest number of disappearances in the world, ranking next to Iraq". Also Sri Lanka was the only country that the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances has visited several times.

For over twenty-five years, how much torture, how many cold-blood killings, massacres, rapes, disappearances of Tamil people in the North East have been reported, with 100% evidence of Sri Lankan security forces involvement. The latest statistics shows that 79,000 were killed, more than 25,300 disappeared and more than 12,000 women raped.

We are talking about matters of life and death, but some pretend not to see any of this, and some even blame the victims who stood up for their rights. In our long years of work with various world institutions and meetings with many diplomats, we have gathered that it is the Sri Lankan government’s misinformation lobby that prevents any of the world bodies taking action on Sri Lanka. Therefore, Sri Lanka is given total impunity by the international community. This is where international law has failed and the double standards of the international community are glaringly obvious.

A significant part of the Sri Lankan lobby is carried out through Sri Lankan Embassies in Western countries which expect Tamils to work for them, providing information about the activities of the Tamil Diaspora. Whosoever refuses to collaborate is harassed and intimidated by members of Sri Lanka’s National intelligence Bureau – (NIB), who are attached to the Sri Lankan Embassies in the Western Countries.

On top of all the aforementioned atrocities, for more than a decade the people in the North East were strangled by a draconian Economic embargo imposed by the Sri Lanka government. This same government incredibly claims that the people in the North East are its citizens. The embargo really affected the people seriously in many aspects, and with long term consequences, especially the elders and the children.

This embargo has once again been enforced by the Sri Lankan government on various areas in the North East.

The international community is just watching, never even making an attempt to condemn any of the aggressive acts and policies of the Sri Lanka government. Therefore, now is the right time for the Tamil diaspora to show its strength and to follow the path of other ethnic groups who have emerged from the clutches of these double standards of the international community.

For example, the South African path points in a right direction. As a result of the struggle against Apartheid, the injustice of the repressive Apartheid regime became a focus of international outrage. The South African diaspora in the Western countries played a crucial role in enforcing an economic embargo on the Apartheid regime.

It is true that for a long time, the Tamil diaspora has been discussing, talking, even appealing to some of the western governments to stop supplying arms to Sri Lanka, and campaigning against the tourist industry in Sri Lanka. Also, some made appeals to the World Bank, the IMF and various other institutions requesting them not to give aid to Sri Lanka, because those funds allowed for the release of massive financing for military purposes. But these requests, demands were not heard. They fell on deaf ears.

In fact, these sorts of activities were carried out in a more or less ad hoc way, on a small group and individual basis. Not in a fully-fledged organised way internationally.

Practically speaking, even though many of us are in favour of an economic embargo on Sri Lanka through world bodies like the UN, we are far behind in bringing either an economic embargo or arms embargo against Sri Lanka through world bodies. Protocols and series of actions necessary prior to such an embargo, have not been placed by any of the world bodies on Sri Lanka. It is to be noted that nowadays many member states of the UN are not in favour of economic embargos on any member states. Nevertheless, these options could still be kept open for action. History shows that the process of enforcing an economic embargo on any country through world bodies takes many years.

Once again, as the Sri Lanka government has declared war against the Tamil people and the international community is pretending not to see any of the atrocities committed by Sri Lankan security forces, the Tamil diaspora has to work in a cooperative way on an immediate remedy which could be carried out, such as an economic embargo on Sri Lanka.

The fact should be accepted that Sri Lanka is earning large sums of foreign exchange through the Tamil diaspora who mostly come to Western countries as political refugees. Several items produced by the Sri Lankan marketing department and various other state and private industries are exported to Western countries. The consumers of these items are mostly the Tamil diaspora.

The Western world is full of open markets for various similar products from other Asian and African countries. If the Tamil diaspora starts to boycott Sri Lankan products, this will certainly stop the pumping of their hard earned money into killing their kith and kin.

At the same time, many of the Tamil diaspora who send remittances to relatives in Sri Lanka do so through Sri Lankan Banks. These banks earn a huge of foreign exchange for the government of Sri Lanka which eventually uses the profit for military purposes to kill the kith and kin of the Tamil diaspora in the North East.

In the recent past, the Sri Lankan national carrier, “Sri Lankan Air Lines”, has been frequently used by the Tamil Diaspora for travelling to Sri Lanka and other destinations. The profit of all these commercial entreprises have pumped money into Sri Lankan military oppression in the North East of the Island.

In other words, knowingly or unknowingly - part of Sri Lankan military expenditure is bolstered by the Tamil diaspora. If the Tamil diaspora changes the pattern of their shopping, remitting money and mode of transport and various other activities, this would be a big down fall to the Sri Lankan government.

Also the Tamil diaspora has a huge responsibility in campaigining to convey the real situation to the local people in the country wherever they live and preventing tourists flocking to Sri Lanka. Surely the voice of the Tamil diaspora could help to expose the unethical nature of holidaying on an island where atrocities of such magnitude exist.

Let us work together, in many organisations, with all those who have been thinking of this ingenious idea for many years and together bring the Sri Lankan war machine to a halt. This is the best way at the current time to save the people from Sri Lanka State terrorism, enviromental terrorism, cultural genocide and for finding a durable solution to the long standing bloody conflict.

Importantly, such actions will raise awareness of the true human rights situation in the island of Sri Lanka, within the wider communities we live in. All people of goodwill can be invited to join in solidarity by boycotting Sri Lankan products and other foreign income generators, in order to express their opposition to Sri Lanka’s genocidal policies and actions.



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