UNCEASING WAVES

Punish the War Criminals in Sri Lanka

Posted in Pamphlets and Reports by Karthick RM on May 19, 2011

BROUGHT OUT BY DTSU ON MAY 13th

Delhi Tamil Students Union appreciates the solidarity of the progressive organizations and students who participated in the May 10th Convention on “War Crimes in Sri Lanka: The UN Report and Its Implications” and made it a huge success. The speakers at the convention included Prof. Jagmohan Singh, former editor of World Sikh News, Rajinder Sachar, former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court, Ram Vilas Paswan, President of Lok Janashakti Party, D. Raja, CPI, Swapan Mukherjee, CPI(ML)Liberation, Prof. Manivannan, University of Madras, Satya Sivaraman, independant journalist, Malem Ningthouja, CPDM, Nagari Babiah, human rights activist. The speakers almost uniformly recognized what had happened in Sri Lanka as a genocide and called for the prosectuion of war criminals in the Lankan government and the armed forces. The following resolutions were passed at the convention.

1) That the United Nations should follow up the advisory committee’s report with appropriate action.
2) That those responsible for the international crimes against the Tamil people, that is, the political and military command of Sri Lanka, be referred to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.
3) That the war crimes and crimes against humanity, as stated in the UN Report on Sri Lanka, be recognized as genocide considering the nature and extent of atrocities against the Tamils.
4) That the Indian government come out with a white paper on its involvement in Sri Lanka after the breakdown of the peace process and support the due process of international investigation in order to secure peace, dignity and justice for the Tamils.
5) The house also appeals to political parties and all democratic forces in the country to express their serious concerns to raise the issue of war crimes in Sri Lanka.

This convention is not an isolated event, but is rather part of a series of initiatives taken by various activists at different places on the issue of justice for the Eelam Tamils. The Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam, many Eelam Tamil activists, leaders from Tamil Nadu like Kolathur Mani of the PDK, Com. Thiyagu and other progressive organizations have already started mobilizing public opinion and generating awareness about the implications of the UN report. While the UN report has some major limitations, which is all too obvious for anyone who has been following the struggle of the Eelam Tamils, the Tamil activists also recognize the potential of such a report coming from a recognized legal body like the UN. The report, which accuses the Sri Lankan government of war crimes and crimes against humanity, is a powerful tool in the hands of the Tamils to expose to the world the farce that is Sri Lanka and generate sympathy and solidarity for their genuine struggle. The UN report is not an end in itself, but it is indeed a means to an end. And that is how it should be seen.

At a time when there is a deliberate silence and ignorance about the genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka even among ‘progressive’ sections in the country, the UN report gives us an opening to bring the conflict to limelight and generate awareness about the Tamils’ issue. Certain irresponsible elements, who do not know ABC of the Eelam Tamils’ struggle, might use hollow rhetoric to dismiss the significance of the report without understanding how it can be used. Such actions to sabotage attempts to use the report as a strategic weapon only serves the purpose of the fascist Rajapaksa who also wants the UN report to be ‘rejected in toto.’ We appeal to the progressive students to not fall for the empty phrase-mongering of such characters who do not have the support of any significant section of the Tamil people. The need of the hour is to stand in solidarity with the Eelam Tamils and their demands for justice.

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Summary Of May 10th Convention On UN Report On Sri Lanka

Posted in Pamphlets and Reports by Karthick RM on May 12, 2011

A Convention titled ‘War Crimes in Sri Lanka: The UN Report and its Implications’ was organized yesterday, May 10th 2011, by the Delhi Tamil Students Union (DTSU) and other student groups at Krishna Menon Bhavan New Delhi to discuss the significance of the UN Report, why it needs to be popularized and how the Indian public and political parties should respond to it. The convention was divided into two sessions, the first comprised of leading human rights activists. Politicians from various national parties of India spoke at the second session. A condensed version of the UN report published by DTSU, with a foreword by Justice Rajinder Sachar, was released at the convention by Sachar himself.

The first session was chaired by Prof. Jagmohan Singh, former editor of World Sikh News and prominent campaigner against death penalty. He said that considering the atmosphere of silence surrounding the Sri Lankan conflict in India, the report gives us an opportunity to discuss, to debate, to analyze and also to force the UN to rethink its own working and strategy. Even after the release of the UN Report, countries that backed Sri Lanka’s genocide of the Tamils “suffered from a conspiracy of silence or they go into a perpetual denial mode”, he lamented. Referring to the role of India in Sri Lanka, he said that the Indian government cannot escape responsibility for the crimes of the Lankan government. He also pointed out how the gifting of Katchatheevu by India to Sri Lanka resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Tamil fishermen, who were shot by the Sri Lankan navy, noting India’s callousness towards genuine Tamil issues. “This war was a war against Tamil people per se” said Prof. Singh, but “Tamil Nadu politicians did not play the role they could have.” He contended that the Tamil Nadu assembly should pass a resolution that an enquiry into genocide of the Tamils in Sri Lanka should happen. “Tamils may have lost the battle, but they will definitely win the war,” he concluded.

Prof. Manivannan from the University of Madras pointed out that as far as war crimes are concerned how almost all media houses in Sri Lanka and those in India like The Hindu just replicated official versions of the Lankan state. He noted how the Sri Lankan army also used other methods to intimidate the Tamils, like deliberate starvation of the Tamil population and systematic sexual assault of captured Tamil women, all which could fit in the paradigms of genocide. “If this goes unaccounted and unpunished in human history, the word justice will lose its meaning,” he said.

Satya Sivaraman, independent journalist and activist, noted how Sri Lanka changed from a model country for South Asia in the early 50’s to a model that emulates Rwanda now. Calling what happened in Sri Lanka as a “classic war crime”, he pointed out the pernicious role played by some politicians and bureaucrats in the Indian government. “Besides logistical support to Sri Lanka, the Indian government worked as a public relations manager for Rajapaksa’s regime,” he said. He talked about the need for the Eelam Tamils’ issue to be taken beyond Tamil Nadu and for mobilizing public opinion against war crimes in Sri Lanka.

Justice Rajinder Sachar, former Chief Justice of High Court of Delhi, talked about the necessity of taking the report seriously. “Mention any crime, you will find out that it was committed by the Sri Lankan army.” He said that the government of Sri Lanka should be held accountable for its crimes and blasted the President of Sri Lanka for restricting the access of UN panel members to investigate human rights violations in the country. He also lamented the partisan nature of the legal system in Sri Lanka. “India should not remain silent about the barbarism in Sri Lanka. It is not an option,” he said.

Malem Ningthouja of Campaign for Peace and Democracy in Manipur and Nagari Babiah, a Karnataka based human rights activist, also expressed their solidarity with the Tamils’ demand for justice. Malem spoke for the need for the issues of such oppressed communities to be internationalized and for solidarity for such movements to be built at a broader level.

The second session was chaired by Satya Sivaraman. Videos showing the brutalities of the Sri Lankan army on the Tamils, including shelling of hospitals, civilian zones and humiliation and execution of captured prisoners was screened. D. Raja, from the Communist Party of India, who spoke in great detail about the atrocities on Tamils in Sri Lanka that has been happening over a long period of time, pointed out how the ruling class of Sri Lanka had always been opposed to the Tamils and how this took a more virulent turn after Rajapaksa took over. In the context of the UN report it was necessary for India to take responsibility now, he argued. “Even though the war was waged by the Sri Lankan government, India was a collaborator,” he said. He asked how the UPA government could help Sri Lanka in this genocide of Tamils, besides criticizing India’s previous attempts to prevent war crimes investigations by the UNHRC. “This UN report deserves a response from India and the international community,” he said. Adding that “Government of India’s foreign policy towards Sri Lanka has completely failed now,” he demanded an explanation from the Government of India as regards the UN report.

Ram Vilas Paswan, National President of Lok Janashakti Party (LJP), remarked that as early as 1982 they had stated in the parliament Sri Lanka is heading towards chaos. He pointed how Sri Lanka’s desire to impose a monolithic polity through one language and one culture and denial of any autonomy whatsoever to the Tamils led to the current scenario. He said that while there was considerable debate in the Indian media about issues of Bangladesh, Palestine or Afghanistan, when it came to Sri Lanka it was all reduced to the issue of Tamil ‘terrorism’. “There has been an attempt to hide from the non-Tamils in India the problems of Tamils in Sri Lanka,” he said. Paswan said that the heart-rending videos shown proved that what was happening in Sri Lanka was a genocide. “Indian government cannot have one policy for Bangladesh and another one for Sri Lanka,” he remarked. Telling that the Tamils’ issue needed to be taken throughout India, he said that 90% of the Indian population stood for justice and against fascism. Remarking that “The Indian government cannot be silent. If there is an assault on humanity, whether on Tamils or on anyone else, the government should speak up,” Paswan promised that LJP would ensure that the Tamils’ issue will be raised in the Indian parliament. “One signal from the Indian government that we will not stand with the atrocities is enough for Sri Lanka,” he said.

Swapan Mukherjee of the CPI(ML)Liberation also extended his party’s solidarity with the attempts to popularize the UN report and to generate a movement in India to pressurize the government to come clear on its position on Sri Lanka. The Indian people must actively pressurize the Indian government and the TN assembly to pass resolutions against the Sri Lankan government, he said. “The Rajapakse government must be taken to task. This is for the future of democracy, secularism, peace and prosperity in South Asia,” he said, affirming his party’s commitment to take the campaign forward.

The convention put forth five resolutions which were passed with unanimous approval by the house. They are as follows

1) That the United Nations should follow up the advisory committee’s report with appropriate action.
2) That those responsible for the international crimes against the Tamil people, that is, the political and military command of Sri Lanka, be referred to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.
3) That the war crimes and crimes against humanity, as stated in the UN Report on Sri Lanka, be recognized as genocide considering the nature and extent of atrocities against the Tamils.
4) That the Indian government come out with a white paper on its involvement in Sri Lanka after the breakdown of the peace process and support the due process of international investigation in order to secure peace, dignity and justice for the Tamils.
5) The house also appeals to political parties and all democratic forces in the country to express their serious concerns to raise the issue of war crimes in Sri Lanka.

On the United-Nations’ Report on Sri Lanka

Posted in Pamphlets and Reports by Karthick RM on April 19, 2011

When the UN report that came out recently indicted Sri Lanka for war crimes and crimes against humanity, activists following the crisis in Sri Lanka were least surprised. The Lankan state’s war on the Tamils, which it has been waging openly for over three decades in order to crush their national aspirations, has witnessed every imaginable and unimaginable atrocity being committed – with the all too common argument of “war on terror.” The Permanent People’s Tribunal, in a hearing at Dublin in January 2010, found conclusive evidence of wanton atrocities committed by the Sri Lankan state on Tamil civilians and combatants alike. These included usage of banned chemical weapons, cluster bombs, rampant torture, summary executions and sexual abuse of captured women. So what’s the big deal about the UN report?

The UN report has nothing really new to say that we do not already know. In fact, the leaked parts of the report seem to indicate that those that framed it have only a partial understanding of the conflict and the demands of the Tamils. Yet, whether we like it or not, the UN happens to be recognized as a legal arbitrator of international affairs and a report, even should it be a mild one, on war crimes will be taken seriously by most countries. Its inadequacies and biases, of course, have been pointed out by many experts. But at the moment, this particular report on Sri Lanka does open up some possibilities for generating a movement for justice to the Eelam Tamils.

The impact of the report was immediately felt. Sri Lankan officials dismissed the report as rubbish. They have also sought the help of China and Russia, countries that have a consistent record of human rights violations themselves, to defend them against prosecution. Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa went on a jingoistic diatribe claiming that he was willing to even face the electric chair for his country, knowing fully well that it would never happen, but just to flare up the sentiments of his Sinhala-chauvinist supporters. One is actually worried that his threats to have protests against the report on May Day might not lead to violence against the Tamils. Given the massive military-bureaucratic apparatus and the triumphalist mentality that exists in Sri Lanka now, should a breakout of violence happen, it will just end in a Kristallnacht of sorts. It would be indeed a sad reflection on affairs if the world powers allow that…

Activists in Tamil Nadu and politicians who have used the Eelam struggle for their careers should take this UN report seriously. Coming as it is from a recognized legal body, they should use the report to push for the recognition of genocide in the Tamil Nadu Assembly that shall soon be formed after the elections. Till now, that has been avoided since it has only been independent tribunals or commissions that have accused the Lankan state of genocide. Now, the Assembly cannot have any excuse to not officially recognize the crimes of the Lankan state and push for concrete steps in favor of the Eelam Tamils.

While the UN report is indeed a powerful weapon for the Eelam Tamils, especially the diaspora, to secure justice for the brutalities they suffered, they must not lose sight of their political demands. The opportunity that they have now requires a twin-track approach – one, to mobilize international pressure to prosecute those in the Sri Lankan government who are guilty of war crimes. Two, to generate support for their legitimate demands for national self-determination. If the latter is forgotten, this opportunity might just slip into a human rights discourse, one that our liberal democracies in the west are all too familiar with.

‘Sri Lanka Style Solution Gets Legitimacy From India’

Posted in Pamphlets and Reports by Karthick RM on April 4, 2011

A public meeting on “The Tamil Eelam Movement: Contemporary Crisis and its Significance” was conducted at JNU on 1st April, by the Coordination Committee for Oppressed Nationalities (CCON). The meeting sought to discuss the present scenario in Eelam and its implications for the Tamil people as well as for other oppressed nationalities. CCON was formed in March 2011 to provide a platform to build solidarity among oppressed nationalities, especially in South Asia, and to debate and discuss issues concerning them.

The meeting started with the book release of “In the Name of Peace: IPKF massacres of Tamils in Sri Lanka.” The 39 page book which documents various atrocities committed by the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka was released by A. Bimol Akoijam, Professor of Sociology, JNU. Prof. Akoijam, who also chaired the meeting, discussed the frameworks of the debates on ‘terrorism’ in the mainstream. Pointing out that “terrorism is the illegitimate child of a legitimate politics”, he said that the ruling classes deployed the terminology of ‘terrorism’ to delegitimise political movements. He also argued that Sri Lanka gets legitimized by India to be used as a card to be played against the nationalities that it oppresses, giving the example of how the Indian government threatened the Naga movement with the possibility of a ‘Sri Lanka Style’ solution.

S. Santosh, visiting faculty in School of Arts and Aesthetics, JNU and Sabih Ahmed, ex-student, JNU, who had visited Jaffna recently, discussed their experiences and observations. Talking about the omnipresence of the military in Jaffna, Santosh said that the day to day instances of army interrogations gave the atmosphere of an “open prison” in Jaffna. He was complemented by Sabih who said that the military in Jaffna was “a demonstration of power in the most archaic sense.” Pointing out how many ‘liberal’ Sri Lankan intellectuals took an easy way out of their ethical responsibilities to discuss the contemporary situation in Sri Lanka, Santosh said that they were rather content speculating that Rajapaksa might deliver a solution to the Tamil problem. He also noted that surveillance by the Sri Lankan state restricted academic freedom and freedom to dissent.

Referring to the cultural assaults on the Tamils, Sabih argued that in their attempts to erase memories, the Sri Lankan government “was deliberately trying to eliminate all traces of Tamil culture” through the demolition of historical buildings and erasure of local histories. Supporting his argument, Santosh gave examples of the demolition of LTTE monuments and the state-supported construction of Buddhist statues.

Satya Sivaraman, independent journalist and activist, who spoke next, lamented the “shared level of deliberate ignorance” among the Indian intelligentsia. Speaking on India’s “pernicious” role in the Sri Lankan conflict he said that “India acted as a broker, part-manager and bouncer for Sri Lanka.” He argued that India acted as a buffer between the world and the war on Tamils and that India ensured that there was no attempt to impose a ceasefire in Sri Lanka. Remarking that “India is as complicit in the genocide of Tamils as Sri Lanka” Sivaraman stressed on the necessity for a movement in India to press for the prosecution of officials in the Lankan government who were responsible for war crimes against the Tamils and to pressurize the Indian government to release a white paper on its role in the conflict. “Once you allow such a crime to happen in your neighborhood, that too with the support of your government, it can happen in your own home tomorrow” he said. Sivaraman also emphasized on the need for solidarity between Eelam Tamils and the other oppressed nationalities. “A separatist movement needs to unify with a larger entity beyond itself” he said.

Following a question-answer session in which students from other nationalities also actively participated, ‘Mullaitivu saga’, a documentary on the atrocities of the Lankan armed forces on the Tamils in the last stages of the war, was screened. The film-maker of the documentary, Someetharan, was also present to interact with the students. The representative from CCON concluded with the organization’s position that without justice and freedom for the Tamils, ‘peace’ in Sri Lanka is merely an empty phrase.

Tamil Eelam Movement: Contemporary Crisis and Its Significance

Posted in Pamphlets and Reports by Karthick RM on April 2, 2011

PAMPHLET BROUGHT OUT BY COORDINATION COMMITTEE FOR OPPRESSED NATIONALITIES

When the Sri Lankan Government declared on May 19th 2009 that the war against the Tamil Tigers is over, thereby claiming that the Eelam struggle was finished, it received compliments from a curious combination of international forces. India and Pakistan welcomed Sri Lanka’s victory against ‘terrorism’. Israel and Iran congratulated Rajapaksa for upholding democracy. The Turkish government expressed opinions signaling that the PKK would meet a similar fate like the LTTE while quite a few military analysts in India and Colombia considered the possibility of finishing off the armed struggles waged by the Maoists and the FARC respectively in a ‘Sri Lanka style’ solution. The big powers, USA, France, Russia and China also expressed their solidarity with the victorious Lankan government. The pro-US Colombian government and the supposedly anti-imperialist Cuba and Venezuela conveyed their admiration for Rajapaksa’s firmness in dealing with ‘seditionists.’ Most of the above mentioned countries have also directly and indirectly provided material support to Sri Lanka.

INTELLECTUALS AND THE WAR: Indeed, some of the intellectuals who support these so-called anti-US countries, considering them to be truly ‘revolutionary’, have even characterized the Eelam struggle as being funded by imperialist powers. This despite the fact that the LTTE was banned and continues to faces a ban in the US, Canada and the European Union and that quite some Tamils who have been suspected of aiding the Tigers have been arrested by these governments. This despite the fact that the US, Israel and many countries of the West have supplied the Sri Lankan government with economic and military aid. This despite the fact that none of those countries that had no qualms in going to war with undemocratic regimes in Iraq earlier and now in Libya raised a finger while over 50000 civilians were butchered by the Sri Lankan Armed Forces between January and May 2009. Media houses like The Hindu and NDTV that put up a sham liberal facade propagated this blatant lie of ‘terrorism promoted by foreign powers’, besides even positively projecting Sinhalese chauvinist-triumphalism after the massacre of the Tamils. Recent cables released by Wikileaks shows how the Indian Government opposed foreign powers preventing the Sri Lankan state’s war against the Tamils and also how the Sri Lankan government was desperately trying to get greater aid from the US in their war on the Tamils.

While the silence in intellectual circles on the genocide in Sri Lanka is grossly disproportionate to its intensity, the talks and debates on Sri Lanka in the mainstream Indian media and academia focuses on either peace or reconciliation or both. What is conveniently forgotten is the struggle of a people for freedom and justice. The ‘left’ intellectuals affiliated with the CPM and few other parliamentary left parties, who have no qualms in shouting their support for the Palestinian liberation struggle, are happy to denounce the equally genuine demands of the Eelam Tamil people and to distort the truth of their oppression. That they hold similar positions on the other national-liberation struggles in the subcontinent is testimonial to their commitment to the oppressed peoples. Even those who recognize the war-crimes of the Sri Lankan government are rather silent on the political demand for self-determination of the Eelam Tamils and slip into a human-rights discourse instead. The tragedy that befell the Tamils then becomes a ‘soft-story’ discussion for the NGO’s and status quo intellectuals.

The truth is this. The war in Sri Lanka is not about human rights violations alone. It is primarily about political rights of the Tamils as a nation to secede and form an independent state. Unless that is recognized, all appeals for peace and co-existence are just mere shams to cover the naked racist oppression that exists in Sri Lanka, the brutal face of Sinhala majoritarian chauvinism. The Lankan emperor is wearing no clothes – but why do so few have the courage to point that out?

A BRIEF HISTORY OF BLOOD: As soon as Sri Lanka gained independence in 1948, it passed the Citizenship act, which in effect disenfranchised more than 10 lakh plantation Tamil workers in the island. Following the Sirimavo-Shastri pact of 1964, over 5 lakh of them were expatriated – the remaining were to get Sri Lankan citizenship only in 2003. In 1956, the notorious ‘Sinhala Only’ act, that made Sinhalese the sole official language was passed. Tamils staged peaceful protests and the response was state-sponsored riots which led to over a 150 deaths. Large scale riots against the Tamils occurred again in 1958, again as a response to non-violent protests of the Tamils. When the Federal Party declared civil disobedience, emergency was declared in many Tamil areas and the army was deployed to crush protests. Sinhalese academics in this period wrote ‘historical works’ that received official support which sought to obliterate the historical presence of the Tamils in the island. A sample – “The history of Sri Lanka is the history of the Sinhalese race… Buddhism is the golden thread running through the history of the Race and the Land…” (DC Wijewardena, The Revolt in the Temple)

Anti-Tamil riots occurred with varying frequencies in the 60’s and the 70’s. The Republican constitution of 1972, plucked away the few minority rights that the Tamils had. By officially privileging the faith of the majority, it made complete Sinhala-Buddhist supremacy a reality. The Tamils, deeply conscious of the oppression that they faced as a collective, realized that future in an united Sri Lanka would only spell doom for them. The Tamil United Liberation Front, which was formed on 1976, passed the Vaddukkodai resolution under the aegis of S.J.V. Chelvanayakam that year which stated that the struggle for “the Free, Sovereign, Secular, Socialist State of Tamil Eelam, based on the right of self determination inherent to every nation, has become inevitable in order to safeguard the very existence of the Tamil Nation in this Country.” The constitution promised a socialist-democratic state, committed to abolition of casteism and religious discrimination.

THE RISE OF ARMED STRUGGLE: The Tamil youth, who were the worst to be affected by the language policy of the government, and the rural populace who were under constant economic pressures, began losing faith in the peaceful methods of the TULF. The LTTE which was formed in 1976, gained popularity after the assassination of Jaffna mayor Alfred Duriappah. The burning of the Jaffna library, which contained numerous valuable historical manuscripts of the Tamils, by Sinhalese policemen in 1981 convinced the radical youth that the Sinhala chauvinist government was bent on erasing them totally and that armed struggle was the only way to secure justice. The horrible Black July riots of 1983 by Sinhalese mobs, policemen and the army, that was given a free hand by the state and which caused the deaths of over 4000 Tamils and the displacement of hundreds of thousands led to the intensification of Tamil armed resistance and its greater acceptance among the Tamil populace. The LTTE, with its programme for a Socialist Tamil Eelam, consciously promoted the involvement of women, dalits and backward castes in its ranks and reached out to a wider audience than the other parties.

INDIAN INVOLVEMENT: Other militant groups also emerged in this period. The TELO was openly favoured by the Indian government. After its decimation by the LTTE, the RAW chose the EPRLF, who were content to be happy stooges of India. Only the LTTE maintained its independent agenda and refused to be a junior partner of any power. Thus, when following the Indo-Sri Lanka accord the Indian Peace Keeping Force entered Sri Lanka, they launched their brutal assaults on the LTTE and the Tamil people. The IPKF also trained mercenary squads from the EPRLF in the name of ‘Tamil National Army’ to create terror among the local people. Yet, the Tigers were able to secure a decisive victory over the Indian army owing to their mass support and the usage of guerrilla warfare. After that defeat, India has supplied arms to Sri Lanka and also training to its armed forces, albeit covertly, mostly owing to fear of a backlash in Tamil Nadu.

CONSOLIDATION AND CRISIS: After a series of military successes, the LTTE consolidated its rule in the North and Eastern regions of Sri Lanka, having almost 15000 sq km under its control. When it entered into a Ceasefire agreement with Sri Lanka in 2002, it was functioning as a de facto state. It ran schools, hospitals, relief teams, judiciary and police. But by this time, various international powers starting stepping up their covert and overt support to Sri Lanka, especially after the media-generated paranoia on ‘terrorism’ after 9-11. The LTTE was banned in various countries and people suspected to be its members/sympathizers were arrested in India, the USA, France etc. While the movement of men and material for the LTTE was clamped down, the governments of China, Israel, Russia, Pakistan, Libya and Iran gave extensive military support to Sri Lanka.

The defection of Karuna, the Eastern Commander of the LTTE, in 2004 which was partly engineered by the Lankan government came as a major blow to the Tigers. The December 2004 Tsunami also greatly damaged human resources and infrastructure in Tiger controlled areas. With Rajapaksa’s election in 2005 the ceasefire began to deteriorate. On July 2006, the Sri Lankan military started its full scale offensive against the Tamils with blessings from various international powers. Numerous atrocious acts like the Chencholai orphanage bombing of August 2006 which killed 61 Tamil children were committed by the Lankan armed forces with impunity.

Towards the last stages of the military operations in Mullaitivu, the Lankan armed forces violated all established conventions of war. Chemical weapons and cluster bombs were used on civilian populations. Non-combatants were subject to tortures and sexual abuse. Media freedom was curtailed and vigilante groups were propped to violently snuff out any democratic voices. The murders of journalists Taraki Sivaram, Lasantha Wickramatunga and P. Devakumaran are ghastly examples. When the Lankan government declared on May 19th that the war was over and that peace was ahead, it failed to mention the bloody trail that it had left behind.

POST-WAR SRI LANKA: The Permanent People’s Tribunal in a hearing on January 2010 found the Sri Lankan government guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Chomsky compared the Sri Lankan war on the Tamils to the atrocities in Rwanda. Despite claims to champion ‘peaceful co-existence’ the Sri Lankan government has been consistently pursuing militarization and colonization of Tamil areas since May 2009, especially in the absence of an organized resistance from the Tamils. Summary executions by mercenary gangs and the army, abductions, illegal detentions and rape are commonplace. Suicide rates among Tamils are one of the highest in the world and many suffer from psychological traumas.

Demographics of the region are changed by state supported Sinhalese settlements and establishment of army camps in Tamil areas. Many Tamil lands have now been used for foreign projects under the guise of government schemes. The assaults on the cultural level are also happening side by side. Besides wanton destruction of Tamil Churches and Temples, there are attempts to change the names of Tamil localities into Sinhala, thereby denying them their local history. Desecration of statues of Tamil martyrs has been accomplished with systematic efforts. In July 2010, the army demolished the Tamil war heroes cemetery in Thenmaradaachi, Jaffna, in order to build an army base over it. The purpose of this is two fold: one, to show the Tamils once and for all who their superiors are. Two, to erase all memories of resistance from the thoughts of the Tamils. Despite all this, dreams persist, words are spoken and stories are told.

CCON feels that at a stage where various national-liberation struggles are being brutally suppressed and are undergoing strategic and ideological changes, it is imperative for us to learn from various movements. And since the so-called ‘Sri Lanka solution is being upheld by various oppressor countries, we feel it is necessary to discuss how this ‘final solution’ turned out to be and what it signifies for the Tamils and other oppressed nationalities.

OPPRESSED NATIONALITIES OF THE WORLD UNITE!

Assam and the Question of National Self-Determination

Posted in Pamphlets and Reports by Karthick RM on March 19, 2011

PAMPHLET BROUGHT OUT BY THE CO-ORDINATION COMMITTEE FOR OPPRESSED NATIONALITIES

“To glorify democracy and to silence people is a farce; to discourse on humanism and to negate people is a lie.” Paulo Freire

Claiming freedom from the British rule, India had a ‘tryst with destiny’ on August 15th, 1947. Ever since that fateful day, the India has attempted, many a time with brute force, to shape the destinies of nations that came under its territory. Carrying forward the logic of the British colonial state, and adding theatrics of ‘liberal’ democratic phrase-mongering with a virulent strain of illiberal nationalism, the Indian state has butchered and subsumed many histories in its zeal for integration…

BRIEF HISTORICAL BACKGROUND: In the colonial period, Assam was the first territory in the northeastern region to be occupied by the British East India Company after the Treaty of Yandaboo in 1826, using it as a base to extend rule to adjoining hill and plain areas including Naga, Manipur, Mizo and Matak territories. An extractive colonial economy saw the region being envisaged as a huge tea plantation. This was accompanied by forcible dispossession of the tribals and peasantry from their means of production, separation of the historical linkages of the plains and hills people with the Inner Line, infusion of opium along with a banning of local production, exorbitant taxes and a destruction of the collective ethos and local subsistence economy. Cheap indentured labour brought in from central India and being made to work in slave-like conditions ensured the super-profits of the colonialists. The excavation and coal and petroleum since the 20th century added to this scenario as another capital-intensive and extractive industry. To ensure continued economic exploitation and hegemony, colonial rule of law was established militarily with complex network of posts and commands, as well as administratively, with a class of middle-men carved out of the feudal rural gentry of the Ahom era and new traders from Marwar region.

Thee policies and instruments of rule find a continuation in the post-1947 period with Indian State’s occupation of the area. While the region remains a ‘low cash’ economy, the plantations, together with a petroleum extraction industry, are highly capital-intensive sectors that link the region to metropolitan dynamics in a most direct way. In this context, though there is apparently formal representative democracy, the basis of rule is military and it reinforces the racial inflection in the constituting logic of India, treating the region as enemy territory of the ‘other’. There are two ways of looking at the northeast from the Indian hegemonic viewpoint: as a security or law-and-order problem of the ‘frontier region’, and as a zone of ethnic or racial conflicts, where identities of ethnicity/race is the ruling logic. Under this cover, genuine peoples’ aspirations for self-determination and workers and peasants mass organisations struggling against capital and its servile state, are being crushed daily and with increasing vigour and impunity.

IN THE NAME OF ‘INTEGRATION’: The Unified Command structure is the basis of state rule in the region, with the Indian Army along with Paramilitary forces and Assam Police as the de-facto ruler. The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act which provides the Army with powers to ‘kill anyone and destroy public property on suspicion’ with complete impunity from the courts has been in place since 1958, and an ever-intensifying centralisation of the armed forces is the order of the day (with even the looming threat of air bombing in central India already an experimented reality here with ruthless decimation of Aizwal, Mizoram by hunter and toofani fighters on March 4th, 1966). All movements and appeals against this draconian law have been summarily crushed by the military state which considers it necessary to contain ‘militancy’ in the region. That military is the de facto ruler can be read from the fact that all governors till date in the region have been Retired Army generals with retd. Lt. Col. S.K. Sinha being particularly repressive – he would later render his services to crush the Kashmiri national struggle later. Along with brute military repression, which in Assam alone has killed more than 11000 people in the past three decades, militarization of civilian space is carried forth. Splits within resistance groups were engineered and vigilante groups popped up by the State to counter opposition by the genuine representatives of the people. Creation of confusion by fostering divisions and hampering dialogues between communities in Asom has been a well-used tactic. Historically, these communities have had greater interaction with one another than with the Delhi government. All of a sudden, when the Indian state becomes the patriarchal benefactor of some communities, pitting them against others, one should try to see the designs of the state in its new found love for these communities. The parliamentary institutions and the parties operating in this are mere puppets in this setup, with a section of the Assamese middle-class and upper classes of other communities acting as the lapdogs of imperialist and big capital. The present Congress government is thus leaving no opportunity lost to usher in neo-liberal policies with the extraction of natural resources – already 168 big dams have been built, toeing the ‘structurally-adjusted’ “Look east policy” under the aegis of World Bank and ADB.

RESISTANCE TO MILITARY OCCUPATION AND EXPLOITATION: Against this form of colonial occupation, workers and peasants have a history of resistance since 1827 when Gomdhar Konwar led the struggle against the British. The Assam Movement from 1979 to ’85 is a case in point of the mass participation for struggle to expose and challenge the continued economic exploitation of the region, and the racist logic which informs it. Around the same time, ULFA started its trajectory in April 1979, signifying a progressive nationalism in order to establish a “sovereign, socialist Assam” by overthrowing the occupying forces through armed struggle. Against the exclusive form which nationality movements tend to be pushed into and the chauvinist anti-Bangladeshi sentiment used by the right-wing to communalize the region, ULFA in a document puts forth the concept of Asombasi i.e anyone, irrespective of their “prior identity…is prepared to fight for Assam’s future” rather than the exclusivist Asomiya (Assamese) it says that it would even consider changing the name Asom(Assam) or the term Asomiya(Assamese) “should it be necessary to do so in order to build a revolutionary unity of the people who live in Assam”. It carried forward many developmental drives through community labour with the mass participation and support among all sections of the population including the peasantry, workers and youth. It has also taken a consistent approach against communalism, giving clear warnings and taking action against the right-wing fascist forces- like during and in the aftermath of the Nellie massacres in 1983, and also during the 1992 Babri Masjid demolitions, and politicizing a unity against their attempts to split the people along religious lines.

Along with the demonizing of the resistance forces as coldblooded terrorists and waging a war of hegemony, the state through the Indian Army launched coordinated military attacks as Operation Bajrang and Operation Rhino since 1990, (right after the attack by ULFA on tea plantation owners, showing the state’s complicity with who it actually represents) along with constant combing operations.

The killing of Parag Kumar Das in 1996, the former secretary of the human rights group MASS (Manab Adhikar Sangram Samiti) inaugurated one of the darkest period in recent memory, that of ‘Secret killings’ which was a joint project of extra-judicial killings sponsored and maneuvered by the Assam police (headed by the IGP, G.M. Srivastava), the ruling AGP under Prafulla Kr. Mahanta, and the state’s sponsored vigilante group SULFA (Surrendered-ULFA). The unemployed youth of rural Assam were used as pawns in this game of fratricidal killings, wiping out entire families of the ULFA cadres, human rights defenders, and organisations speaking up on exploitation of the people of Assam.

Keeping with its big brother logic state, India muscled the Bhutanese King Jigmye Sigmye Wangchuk (check spelling) in 2004 to launch Operation All-Clear to decimate the camps of the resistance forces, who were also working in solidarity with the oppressed peasantry in bordering Bhutan who have historical ties with Assam, and which became a sore to the King. At present the pliant Shiekh Hasina government of Bangladesh is fully hand-in-glove under the Indian State, and has worked in tandem with RAW and the Indian armed forces and attacked the resistance forces sheltered in the country.

RECENT DEVELOPMENTS: The present situation is one where on the one hand a complete decimation and humiliation of those speaking of sovereignty is taken to be granted, and new justification through an extension of Operation Greenhunt by labeling of groups and activists as ’Maoists’ are given for the state-corporate nexus’s bullets. The vigilante groups are carved from among the militants who have surrendered or forced to do so, by keeping them in designated camps. The 28th battalion of the ULFA coming for talks two years back, are in the tune of SULFA being sought to be used as a lumpen force by the state. And now a breakaway faction of the ULFA, including the former chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa, recently came for talks with the central government, while the commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah still commands the ULFA forces struggling against Indian State’s occupation.. This is being projected by the shrill corporate media as the way forward for all struggling forces. Some ‘respectable’ middle class papers like The Hindu have already written the obituary of the self-determination movement in Asom with gleeful malice, and are calling for a return to ‘normalcy’. This “normalcy” is brought about by homogenising of all struggles as some form of terrorism, whose only way ahead is “talks”. The language of conflict-resolution in which these and other such “talks” have been held exposes their farcical nature which is only used by the government to crush the movements under the veneer of democratic dialogue, either surreptitiously or by joining the mainstream electoral process and serve as stooges of capital. Along with this, other organisations working among the masses like Assam Students and Youth Organisation and Brihot Nodibandh Pratirodh Manch (Anti-big Dam Protest Committee) and Asom Chah Jonogosthi Surakhya Samiti (Assam Tea community protection committee), who highlight the plight and conditions of the working class here, which is forged of a violent splitting of communities, against the merely singular identity and ethnicity-based way of looking at the northeast, are being daily attacked

While the loot of resources and pauperisation of the population is declared as a “national goal”, from central India to the northeast, the working masses cannot be totally silenced from their expropriation from their means of production of life and culture. As the ‘nation’ is mapped only through GDP, and any disagreement and resistance against this brutal primitive accumulation, armed or non-armed, is de-legitimised and de-humanised as the terrorists, secessionists and Maoists or as their ‘sympathisers’, with the machinery of the judiciary and media toeing the line, people are daily revolting.

NECESSITY FOR SOLIDARITY: At a juncture when various national liberation struggles similar to that of Assam are being brutally repressed throughout the world, it is imperative for them to unite on a common platform to learn from each other’s experiences and to challenge hegemonic discourses set by the various pro-state media. Coordination Committee for Oppressed Nationalities (CCON) works with the belief that genuine free-union of nations with the right to politically secede is the only way forward for the creation of truly democratic societies. As a platform, we seek to discuss, debate and deliberate on the struggles of various nationalities, with special focus on South Asia, with the aim of standing in solidarity with the struggle of oppressed nationalities.

OPPRESSED NATIONALITIES OF THE WORLD UNITE!

In Solidarity With the Kashmiri Struggle

Posted in Pamphlets and Reports by Karthick RM on August 16, 2010

“The children of all the enslaved nations in the world not only have to suffer the oppression and
suppression by tyrants, but also have to fight shoulder to shoulder, for freedom.”

-Shaheed-e-Kashmir Maqbool Bhat

WHAT INDIA DID TO KASHMIR: A BRIEF HISTORY OF BLOOD AND BETRAYAL

On 27 October 1947, Mountbatten wrote to the then Kashmiri Maharaja that the accession of Kashmir should be ratified by a ‘reference to the people’. Where did it happen?

On 2 November 1947, Nehru promised “not only to the people of Kashmir but to the world… to hold a referendum under international auspices such as the United Nations” to allow the Kashmiri people to determine their future. What happened next?

In January 1948, the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan was formed in order to conduct a plebiscite that would determine Kashmir’s status.

Between 1948 and 1957, the Security Council repeatedly passed resolutions calling for the dispute to be settled in accordance with the will of the Kashmiri people, through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite.

From 17 November 1952, Article 370 which gave limited autonomy to Kashmir was meant to be enforced.

But, right from 1953, Indian government successfully curbed even the very little ‘freedoms’ meant to be provided through Article 370. This it did through force, intimidation, blackmail and other cheap arm-twisting tactics thereby ensuring that only puppets of Delhi could rule in Kashmir. Mass upsurges in the valley began to take place, which were suppressed through brutal methods. Kashmir started to become a police-state.

In 1956, Nehru swallowed his own promise, stating in the parliament that plebiscite in Kashmir is “beside the point”.

From 1957, all elections in Kashmir were mere mockeries of democracy. Any politician or activist even referring to Nehru’s ‘promise’ to the Kashmiri people or anyone falling out of favour with the centre was arrested. The continuation of such a situation for long increasingly contributed to the disillusionment of the Kashmiri people with India.

In 1987 March elections, a formation called Muslim United Front, which was opposed to the excessive interference of New Delhi, opposed the ruling stooge parties of Kashmir. The elections were rigged and the youth associated with the MUF were ruthlessly targeted by the Indian police and intelligence.

In 1989, realizing the futility of electoral politics to express their legitimate grievances, many youth took up the path of armed struggle for national liberation.

In January 1990, massive demonstrations for Azadi broke out in various parts of Kashmir. In March, the Indian army carried out a massacre of unarmed, peaceful demonstrators in Zakora and Tengpora.

In July 1990, the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), a draconian ‘legal’ provision that gives unlimited powers to the army, was enforced in Kashmir. Ever since then, the Kashmiris became prisoners in their own homes. Bloody massacres of Sopore, Gawakdal, Bijhbehara and many others could occur unchecked.

Now, Kashmir stands as a crude joke of the ‘world’s largest democracy’. It is one of the biggest militarized zones in the world. With over 4 lakh soldiers deployed to control a population of about 50 lakh, the state Kashmir is a military garrison. Over 90,000 people have been killed since 1989. Over 9000 women have been raped by the armed forces – a 2005 report of Doctors Without Borders shows that over 11% of Kashmiri women have faced some form of sexual abuse in their lives. There are regular crackdowns and arrests of pro-freedom activists and politicians. There is no media freedom and journalists are targeted on a regular basis. The fascist terror is such that even Kashmiri facebook users are hounded up by the police and interrogated. In recent protests more than 60 people have been killed and hundreds have been wounded. Almost every family in Kashmir has faced direct oppression at some level or other at the hands of the Indian state.

At this juncture, it is necessary to take the Kashmiri issue far and wide across India. It is all the more important for the other oppressed nationalities to come together and fight and expose the reactionary Indian state. With these objectives, Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam (PDK) and some other progressive parties held a dharna in Chennai, on 13th Aug, against the Indian state’s atrocities in Kashmir and in support of the Kashmiri struggle. Many of the activists, including PDK president Kolathur Mani, were arrested. The arrested were denied bail on the pretext that if this kind of protests were allowed in Tamil Nadu, it would sabotage India’s agenda and strengthen the ‘Kashmiri separatists’.

The demonstrators placed the following four demands to the Indian govt:

1) India should stop its war on the Kashmiri people
2) AFSPA should be scrapped immediately
3) The Indian army should be withdrawn from Kashmir
4) Talks should be initiated on the rights of the Kashmiris to self-determination

As early as 1956, when the then Indian govt. was trying project the image of ‘one India’ at all costs, Periyar stood by the right of the Kashmiris to self-determination, recognizing them as a unique national formation. But Karunanidhi, who shamelessly claims to uphold the Periyar legacy, is cracking down on all democratic voices supporting various national-liberation struggles. As the situation stands in Tamil Nadu, anyone speaking in support of the Eelam Tamils or protesting against the racist Sri Lankan state are arrested under ridiculous charges, including the draconian NSA. The arrest of the activists who voiced their support of the Kashmiri struggle clearly shows the fascist nature of the Indian state and its stooge, the DMK govt.

Clearly, the Indian state is worried about various nationalities uniting on a common issue! And its nervousness is visible among the ‘Indian patriots’ in the campus too. Condemning the arrest of the activists and expressing our support to the Kashmiri struggle, DTSU had brought out posters on 13th August. All of the posters were torn that very night by ABVP-YFE goons. This was followed by a rally where jingoist and communally provocative slogans were raised. It is a shame that they were allowed to do such acts of hooliganism with the support of the security. They involved in such monkey antics earlier too in April in the context of the cultural meeting of the JNU Forum Against War on People. This assault on campus democracy cannot be tolerated and these junior fascists need to be fought at all levels.

But the mentality of these lumpens is the “secular and democratic basis of the Indian state” (Refer SFI’s poster of 14th Aug). If an orgy of loot, rape and murder is what constitutes Indian ‘secularism’ and ‘democracy’ the Kashmiris are far better without it. It should be clear to any progressive, least of all a Marxist, that there can be no benevolent occupying army. And no state which deploys its army to crush the genuine demands of a nationality, using communal propaganda as and when necessary, can be a secular democratic state. Contrary to propaganda by state agents, supporting the Kashmir struggle is a necessity for the other oppressed sections in India. The Kashmiri movement is not alien but complementary to the people’s revolutionary struggle in the subcontinent in that all such struggles are being waged against the same class of oppressors.

Lenin says that “it is impossible to fight for the socialist international revolution against imperialism unless the right of nations to self-determination is recognized”. The opposition of SFI-CPM to self-determination of the Kashmiris, their parroting of the reactionary argument of the so called ‘Pakistani involvement’ and the concomitant attempts to undermine and negate the conscious demands of the Kashmiri people for Azadi is nothing but a plain expression of their social-chauvinist politics, aptly described by Lenin as the defence of the privileges of one’s own bourgeoisie to pillage and plunder. CPM’s historical stance on other nationality struggles like Tamil Eelam, North-Eastern states is well known. Their hobnobbing with majoritarian-chauvinist forces like JVP of Sri Lanka until recently, their support of Operation Blue Star which led to the massacre of hundreds of Sikh civilians, their use of AFSPA in Tripura shows the color of their ‘internationalism’ – a variant of saffron.

STAND IN SOLIDARITY WITH THE KASHMIRI DEMAND FOR AZADI!
OPPOSE THE FASCIST INDIAN STATE AND THE ABVP-YFE LUMPENS!
EXPOSE THE SOCIAL-CHAUVINIST SFI-CPM AND ITS DELIBERATE DISTORTION OF THE KASHMIRI STRUGGLE!

Report of the April 15th Convention on War Crimes in Sri Lanka

Posted in Pamphlets and Reports by Karthick RM on April 18, 2010

The Delhi Tamil Students Union and the Democratic Students Union jointly organized a convention titled “The Unspoken Genocide: War Crimes in Sri Lanka” in Delhi on the 15th of April. Focusing on the Dublin based Permanent People’s Tribunal report that indicted the Sri Lankan government of war crimes and crimes against humanity, the speakers charged the Sri Lankan government with genocide and criticized the international powers for their support to the war crimes committed by the Lankan state. The Indian English version of the report was released by Ajit Singh Bains, Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Kolathur Mani.

Rajinder Sachar, former Chief Justice of High Court of Delhi, said that conditions in Sri Lanka cannot improve unless the Tamils are given a respectful place in society as equal citizens. “Unfortunately, that is not happening” he said. He also pointed out that the Tamils may be forced to take other courses of action if in the immediate future the Lankan government did not give them an equal and respectful place. VR Krishna Iyer, former Judge of the Indian Supreme Court, seconded Sachar’s point by adding that the concept of human rights was absent for the Tamils suffering in Sri Lanka. Mr. Iyer, who could not attend the convention owing to health reasons, had sent in a recorded video statement.

Prof. GN Saibaba, Vice-Chairperson, International League of Peoples’ Struggles, drew a link between what is happening in Sri Lanka and what is happening in other parts of South Asia. He said that pressure must be put on the international community to prevent the extermination of the Tamils. Terming the war on the Tamils as “one of the biggest genocides of the 21st century,” he said that if the international community failed to save the Tamils, they would be unable to intervene in the case of repression in Kashmir, the North-Eastern states or on the Adivasis of the Indian heartland. “The most immediate task that all of us have to do is for all nationalities facing similar situations to come together and raise a voice.”

Syed Ali Shah Geelani, All Party Hurriyat Conference, Kashmir, expressed his solidarity with the struggle of the Eelam Tamils against state repression and said that the people in India should extend their support to the Tamils in Sri Lanka. Pointing how state terrorism made life miserable for the people of Sri Lanka, Kashmir, Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine he said that “all humanity should unite against state terrorism.” Ajit Singh Bains, former Judge, Chandigarh High Court, also spoke on the issue of state terror. “When the state has become terrorist, there is no rule of law.” He argued that a UN commission must be appointed to probe the atrocities of the Lankan government.

Kolathur Mani, president, Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam, said that the genocide which was carried out by the Lankan government with help from international forces was “part of a systematic programme and should also be investigated for the context of the patterns.” Accusing the Indian govt. of aiding Sri Lanka in its war crimes, he said that as ‘Indians’, “our hands are soaked in blood.” He also lamented the pathetic conditions of the Eelam Tamils in the refugee camps in India. Kavita Krishnan, from CPI(ML) Liberation, said that much of the Indian media has gone overboard in selling Rajapakse ‘final solution’ as an ideal model. She said that talks of peace in Sri Lanka was a joke considering that lakhs of Tamils were languishing in camps under sub-human conditions. “We will have to stand in solidarity with the Tamils’ movement for self-determination and justice,” she said.

Prof. Jagmohan Singh, editor, World Sikh News, was of the opinion that there was a pressing necessity for a permanent mechanism to provide for a unity for various struggling peoples. As far as the Tamils were concerned, he said that it was time for a next phase of action to be launched. Lauding the struggle for Tamil Eelam, he said that “we need to recall the historic and heroic role of all Tamil Eelam fighters.” Many speakers expressed their admiration for Prabhakaran and the Tamil Eelam movement.

Varavara Rao, revolutionary poet, sent in a written statement where he condemned the Indian government for its support to the genocide of the Eelam Tamils. “This genocide of the Eelam Tamils under the leadership of V. Prabhakaran was orchestrated, supported and directed by the Indian government.” He also criticized the major political parties in Tamil Nadu for doing nothing more than shedding crocodile tears for the Eelam Tamils. In his statement, he also remarked that “Prabhakaran will not die” to show that the ideas of the Tamil Eelam movement would regenerate in newer struggles. A poem written by Varavara Rao in honour of the LTTE leader was also read out.

SAR Geelani, Committee for Release of Political Prisoners, said that India intervening in Sri Lanka to bring about a positive solution is most unlikely considering that the Indian government has not even bothered about the welfare of Tamils in camps in its own territory. “It is the responsibility of concerned people to raise these issues and to make them a public debate.” Stating that defeat itself is not so harmful as the sense of defeat, he said that the sense of defeat should not get into the psyche of the Tamil community. “The martyrdom of Prabhakaran does not signal the end of the struggle for self-determination” he said.

Viraj Mendis, International Human Rights Association, Germany, said that “if not for the position that India took on the Tamil struggle, the international perception about the oppression of the Tamils would not have occurred.” He argued that the role of India and other international powers in the Sri Lankan conflict needed to be critically examined. Alleging that India turned 180 degrees as regards to the Tamil question in Sri Lanka, he said that “without this change the genocide would not have happened.” He also criticized the international powers for their role in the collapse of the peace talks in Sri Lanka. Mr. Mendis, who is Sinhalese by origin, is a renowned human rights activists and is one of the main organizers of the Tribunal. He was denied a visa by the Indian embassy in Hamburg as they did not get ‘approval’ from their counterpart in Colombo and thus, he sent a recorded video statement instead.

Recorded statements from KG Kannabiran, former PUCL national president, and Janani Jananayagam, spokesperson for Tamils Against Genocide, were also received but could not be displayed owing to certain technical problems and lack of time. KG Kannabiran, who has worked on the Eelam Tamil issue since the 90s, said that the Tamils of Sri Lanka would not be content to be treated as subordinate citizens. Ms Jananayagam in her statement drew parallels between the military strategy of Sri Lanka to the well planned massacre of Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica. She also made an appeal to India to apply ‘Right to Protect’ to Sri Lanka. Dr. Mrigank from Nauajawan Bharat Sabha and Malem Ningthouja from Manipur Students’ Association also expressed their solidarity with the struggle of the Eelam Tamils.

The organizers of the convention put forth five resolutions which were passed with unanimous approval by the house. They are as follows

1) The house condemns the genocidal war crimes perpetrated by the Sri Lankan govt. on the Tamils. War criminals in the Sri Lankan govt. must be brought to justice.
2) The house demands the release of all the Tamils who have been forcefully detained in camps and their settlement in their native homes.
3) The house demands an immediate end to the colonization of Tamil Eelam by the Lankan state.
4) The house demands that the Indian govt. stop providing political, military and logistical aid to the genocidal Lankan govt.
5) The house condemns the Indian state’s war on the various nationalities fighting for self-determination.

The Unspoken Genocide: War Crimes in Sri Lanka

Posted in Pamphlets and Reports by Karthick RM on April 17, 2010

A colossal tragedy – and a preventable one – played out in Sri Lanka last year. Colossal, because in its brutal offensive in the name of eliminating the Tamil Tigers, the Sri Lankan state massacred thousands of civilians and carried out the worst genocide in 21st century South Asia. Preventable, because Sri Lanka is essentially a semi-colonial country dependant on the aid of imperialist and expansionist forces and it would have stopped the offensive if pressure had been exerted. If only. But due to their strategic and economic interests in the tiny island, these forces gave complete support to a racist regime and watched as the Tamil community got butchered. It is a shame that India, which is home to 6.5 crore Tamils, was one of the partners in this brutal war and aided the racist Sri Lankan state.
The Permanent People’s Tribunal consisting of internationally renowned activists including Nobel laureates, held a hearing in Dublin on January 2010 where it found the Sri Lankan govt. guilty of war-crimes and guilty of crimes against humanity. The report brought by the Tribunal also concluded that charges of Genocide need further investigation, besides criticizing the international powers for their tacit support to Sri Lanka. The report contains extensive details on the atrocities committed on the Tamils by the Sri Lankan state.
History of Persecution Ever since it gained independence, the Sri Lankan ruling class has adhered to a majoritarian form of government and has systematically implemented measures to disempower the Tamils. The state sought to destroy all political, cultural and economical spaces of the Tamils and the major parties were playing games of competitive chauvinism. With the anti-Tamil riots of 1956, 1958, 1977 and the horrible Black July massacre of 1983, the Tamil masses realized that only a free Tamil Eelam would be a solution to their problems. And it is their genuine struggle for freedom that was dubbed as ‘terrorism’ by imperialist powers and their agents.
Intended Genocide In its so called ‘war against terror’, the Lankan armed forces committed every form of human rights violation imaginable. The Tribunal found that the Lankan Army dropped cluster ammunitions and chemical weapons like white phosphorus by war planes. There were was frequent use of heavy military artillery against LTTE forces in civilian areas which constitutes a violation of the Geneva Conventions. Between January 08 and May 08, over 40000 civilians were killed in air raids, mortar shelling and indiscriminate firing by soldiers. The aged, the disabled, women and children were not spared. Civilian areas, including schools, hospitals, camps and orphanages were deliberately targeted. Brazenly flouting Geneva convention principles, prisoners of war were killed by the Sinhalese soldiers. Recently UN sources have confirmed the veracity of a tape that shows naked, bound Tamil captives being shot by Sinhalese soldiers. It is not without reason that Noam Chomsky likened the situation in Sri Lanka to the genocide that happened in Rwanda.
Concentration Camps Over 280000 internally displaced people (IDP) have been herded into ‘welfare camps’ – which are modeled on the lines of the camps of Auschwitz and Dachau. While resettlement was promised, going by recent reports, it doesn’t seem to be happening. The detained Tamils face mental humiliation and torture on a day to day basis. On the slightest suspicion people are taken for ‘interrogation’ never to return. Besides abductions, rape and murder by the security forces, the interned Tamils are falling prey to all kinds of diseases owing to unhygienic conditions, lack of clean food and water, and unavailability of medicines. Thomas Seibert, a German human rights activist, confirmed that Tamil IDPs inside the barbed-wire internment camps in Sri Lanka Army controlled Vavuniya are not only medically underserved, but are subjected to degrading interrogations and there are reports of regular rapes and killings. Only the gas chambers are missing… Of course, media persons, except those who sing praises of the Lankan govt., and independent observers have been denied access to the camps.
Rape as a weapon of war Historically, armies of reactionary forces have used sexual violence as a weapon of war in order to physically and psychologically humiliate the ‘enemy’ women. The most recent examples of horrifying mass sexual violence perpetrated by armies are in Rwanda and Bosnia. Sri Lanka can easily be added to that list. In the course of the war, Sri Lankan soldiers raped scores of Tamil civilians. In fact, there are video accounts that show army men stripping the bodies of dead women Tigers and parading them nude. The tribunal report states that sexual abuse of the detained women was rampant in the “welfare camps”. There is also enforced sterilizations, forced pregnancies and sex slavery.
Tamil Eelam is Bound to Win It is clear that the Lankan state’s ‘victory’ seeks to crush the national aspirations of the Tamils physically, psychologically and politically. Even after the war, repression continues in other forms, this time in the name of ‘peace’. The people of Eelam who have fought relentlessly for over 70 years, will not accept living as third grade citizens in a majoritarian Sri Lanka. As long as there is oppression there will be a fight for freedom and only a free and independent Tamil Eelam can ensure permanent resolution to the national question in Sri Lanka, and only a unity based on justice and equality of the two nations can usher in peace in the island. The Struggle for Tamil Eelam is not just a movement for an independent state that the Tamils could call home. It is an idea of an egalitarian society sans bias, sans discrimination where free men and women would progress and prosper. An idea of struggle for justice and freedom. This critical moment in the timeline of the Eelam struggle signals only the end of a phase, not the struggle as such. Tamil Eelam is not over. It has reached a new beginning.
At this crucial juncture, there is a pressing necessity to discuss and deliberate on the injustices committed on the Tamil nation. There is a need not only for sympathetic ears, but also firm voices, to condemn the brutal repression on the Tamils. The need to keep the Lankan disaster in discourse is not only because of the numerous hardships the Tamils are enduring in the concentration camps, but also because of the chilling similarities with the Indian state’s war on people in Kashmir, North-east and in its own heartland. It is not a coincidence that the shameless supporters of Operation Green Hunt want a ‘Sri Lanka solution’ to crush the people’s movement in the country.

Invitation for Convention on the Genocide in Sri Lanka

Posted in Pamphlets and Reports by Karthick RM on April 12, 2010

Invitation