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No moral equivalency

We, the Tamil Americans, are appalled at the killing of 65 internally displaced people (IDPs) who were seeking shelter in a school in Vakarai by the government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) on November 8th. The victims include children.

We are also shocked at the GOSL’s deliberate offensive firing in Poonahari that placed the life of the Sri Lankan Monitoring Mission (SLMM) Head in grave danger.

We are also saddened by the international community’s lack of moral courage to condemn these brutal and inhuman actions of the Sri Lankan government.

With over 300 people injured and not given adequate care, it is feared that the death toll in Vakarai might rise to more than 100 people.

The killing of IDPs in Vakarai in the eastern part of the island of Sri Lanka was preceded by the GOSL’s air attack within 500 meters of Kilinochi General Hospital in the northern part of the island of Sri Lanka.

The Sri Lankan Monitoring Mission (SLMM) ruled that the GOSL’s air attack is a serious violation of the ceasefire. We would also like to point out that the attack within the vicinity of a hospital is a gross violation of Article 18 of the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Times of War.

The GOSL’s military offensives, conducted after their pledge at the Geneva II negotiation that they will not engage in military offensives, is a demonstration of the GOSL’s male fide in the peace process.

By any stretch of the imagination, the GOSL’s actions cannot be described as defensive measures.

The SLMM spokeswoman, Helen Olafsdottir, stated that: “Our monitors saw there were no military installations in the camp area, so we would certainly like some answers from the military regarding the nature and reason of this attack.”

The Norwegian International Development Minister Erik Solheim stated: "However, it is a very, very serious situation, where the Sri Lankan government soldiers have fired to kill unarmed people."

The above pattern of violence establishes beyond any doubt that while the international community has taken great pains to differentiate between the Tamil people and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), who represent the former at the negotiating table, the GOSL simply mistreats both the same.

The GOSL’s gross, systematic persecution of Tamils is solely on account of their Tamil nationality.

The international community’s failure to unreservedly condemn the war crimes by GOSL and issuing mere “regrets” will send the wrong signal to the GOSL, namely that the international community tacitly condones a military solution to the Tamil national question if it is possible or at least that they can continue the persecution of Tamils with impunity.

The continued arms sale to the failed state of Sri Lanka and the military training of its armed forces by the international community give credence to the above and also render the international community as an accomplice in the war crimes and crimes against humanity being perpetrated against the Tamils by the GOSL.

Thus, we call upon the international community to impose a moratorium on military assistance to GOSL.

Ambassador Alan Rock, the special advisor to the U.N. Office of Children in Armed Conflict, who is visiting Sri Lanka, has visited the Vakarai school where the massacre of the IDPs took place, has said that the sight was “shocking.”

The killing of children in the armed conflict is a violation of the Security Council Resolution 1539 and thus it clearly falls within his mandate.

We hope that when he returns, he will bring this barbaric act to the attention of the U.N. Security Council.

We would also like to say loud and clear that there is no moral equivalency between the persecutor and the persecuted.

Given the stagnation of the peace process and the mounting loss of innocent lives, the co-chairs of the peace process should reevaluate their position.

The status quo is not acceptable in terms of protection of human life and stability of the South Asia region.

We urge the co-chairs of the peace process to explore modalities that will allow the peoples on the island of Sri Lanka to live with dignity, to determine their political and economic future without interference, and to ensure regional security.

Association of Tamil Americans, USA
Illankai Tamil Sangam – California, USA
Illankai Tamil Sangam – Florida, USA
Illankai Tamil Sangam – USA
Ilankai Tamil Sangam – Houston, Texas, USA
Ohio Tamil Association – Ohio, USA
Tamil Refugees Rehabilitation Organization - California
Tamil Youth Organization - USA
Tamil Welfare and Human Rights Committee – District of Columbia, USA
World Tamil Women Organization – USA
World Tamil Coordinating Committee – USA

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