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Sumanthiran calls out hypocrisy of Sri Lanka Muslim Congress leader over ‘genocide in Gaza’

File photo: Hakeem with accused war criminal Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Tamil lawmaker M A Sumanthiran called out the hypocrisy of  Sri Lanka Muslim Congress leader Rauff Hakeem in parliament this week, as the former Sri Lankan justice minister who lobbied against international accountability for the Tamil genocide, demanded his government cut ties with Israel over the “genocide in Gaza”.

“We know what is like to have suffered this way, so we stand in solidarity,” the Ilankai Tamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK) MP told the house, adding that members of parliament were being hypocritical when it comes to Tamil people and Palestinians.

“Today he is moving, that Netanyahu will be tried before the [International Criminal Court],” said Sumanthiran, speaking on SLMC leader Hakeem. “Why not Gotabaya Rajapaksa? Why not all those who are in the chain of command who perpetrated this violence? These genocidal acts on our people? You want Heads of State of other countries tried before the ICC. ICC is good for you when it is for the other person. But not in this instance.”

“A UN intervention you call for, for the others but not for yourself.”

“As we condemn what is happening in Palestine right now, as we condemn the state of Israel in committing acts of genocide on the people of Palestine, we do so with the consciousness that identical matters happened in our own country in this month, this week,15 years ago. No one has been taken to the ICC. No international prosecution has happened. Members from both sides keep shouting saying this is an internal matter while expressing concern about Palestine. How blind can you be to your own hypocrisy? Wake up!”

“If you are true to what you are saying here today in this House: Sign the Rome statute. If Netanyahu's prosecution before the ICC is good for you, sign the Rome statute. Don't fear! If your hands are clean go before the international criminal court and show yourself.”

Earlier in the day, Hakeem told parliament that Israel is looking to “eliminate the entire civilian population from the Gaza strip”.

“This is an unfolding genocide,” he continued, adding that Sri Lanka must sever diplomatic relations with Israel.

“This is a full genocide and this has to be called into question,” he said. “Threaten Israel and inform it that Sri Lanka will withdraw diplomatic ties if the offensive is not stopped in Gaza. Do this as a last resort.”

Hakeem served as Sri Lanka’s minister of justice under Mahinda Rajapaksa in 2010, shortly after the Tamil genocide in Mullivaikkal. He held that position until the end of 2014.

At the time Hakeem lobbied against international accountability at the UN Human Rights Council and dismissed reports of war crimes or genocide. He particularly spoke out against the United States and European Union for introducing resolutions on accountability at the UN Human Rights Council.

When asked whether he believed the Sri Lankan security forces committed war crimes or human rights abuses, he replied “certainly not”. He instead labelled any deaths “collateral damage”.

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