“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
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
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
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
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
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.