The social, political, and economic arrangements of a society can place some people in a privileged position relative to others, particularly with respect to important goods, like institutional representation, economic resources, and even less tangible goods like “respect” and “welfare”. Since societal arrangements are not always brought into reflective awareness, it is unsurprising when even well meaning and well-intentioned members of privileged groups are unaware of how they may benefit from social arrangements relative to members of other groups. Many times have we experienced “upper-caste” Tamils unable and unwilling to recognize the privilege they hold vis-à-vis “lower-caste” Tamils in Sri Lanka and beyond. Sometimes they may well be aware of some of the difficulties faced by oppressed caste members. Sometimes they may even work for the betterment of other communities in the island, but this hardly ever translates into wider acknowledgment of the privilege centred around their “upper-caste” Tamil identity.
Sri Lanka last week announced a census to ascertain the number of war casualties; an attempt to counter increasingly insistent international demands for a credible accountability process at the next UN Human Rights Council session in March 2014. But Sri Lanka’s intention is not to establish an accurate count of civilian casualties. The clue rests in census officials’ assertions that only those cases where relatives can produce a death certificate will be counted as officially dead. Sri Lanka has however stalled and delayed certifying the deaths of large numbers of Tamil civilians,...
Reflecting on the Indian minister P Chidambaram's recent statement that 'none can deny there was a genocide' during the final stages of the armed conflict, in its editorial today entitled, 'After Indira's, a bold decision' , the Jaffna based newspaper Uthayan welcomed the move, stressing the importance of the international community acknowledging the genocide before being able to provide a just solution to the Tamils. The editorial is translated in full below: After Indira's, a bold decision The Indian government's sudden decision to accept that what happened at the final conflict was a genocide for the first time has caused astonishment and bewilderment. The Central government minister P. Chidambaram announced this position of the Indian government about the final conflict, at the event which took place in Chennai on Saturday evening. This announcement - this position of India's central government - is a very, very important milestone in the Eelam Tamil struggle. Going one step further Chidambaram announced that the Indian government would not rest until those responsible for the genocide on the island are brought to justice, reported the Tamil version of the newspaper, 'The Hindu'. There is no doubt that if this is the true position of the Indian government on the final conflict, then this is to be praised and welcomed. If a lasting peace is desired on the island, then it is vital that the international community accept that what is taking place here is a genocide, and those responsible for the war crimes committed during the final conflict are identified and brought to justice. Only when the fact that a genocide is being committed against Tamils is accepted, can the international community provide a true, just and fair solution to them. Similarly, it is only when those involved in the war crimes and genocide are brought before the law that afflicted Tamils will find solace, and confidence in the majority community can be found.
The TNA MP S Sritharan's comments in Parliament the day before Maaveerar Naal have ruffled more than a few feathers within the Sri Lankan state. Amidst the Sri Lankan state's attempt to quash any acts of remembrance, defending the right of Tamils to commemorate fallen LTTE cadre on Maaveerar Naal, Sritharan said the majority of Tamils in the North-East see the LTTE leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran as the nation's leader. The condemnation and criticism from the government has been predictably ferocious . Gotabhaya Rajapaksa accused Sritharan of intentionally provoking the government and the...
Speaking at Youth Maaveerar Naal hosted by Imperial College London on Monday, students representing Kings College London spoke in remembrance of those that had lost their lives fighting against the genocide of the Eelam Tamil nation. The full speech is reproduced below:
The Mannar Citizens’ Committee, in a letter addressed to the Sri Lankan president today, outlined the intimidation and threats that Tamil human rights activists were facing in the North-East. The committee expressed concern regarding strong evidence that suggested police and army forces were responsible for several cases of threats and intimidation against human rights workers, in the lead up and after the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). Extracts from the letter , which also included descriptions of individual cases of intimidation, are reproduced below. “The competent authorities in the higher echelons of the Security Sector claim that the Government restored peace and security to the citizens of this country, but it is not so practically. The security excesses, CID threats and intimidation continue to be the order of civil routine almost daily. ” “Civil Organisations and their workers face threats and intimidation by various types from the intelligence side varying from warning to telephone threats, extortion and intimidation. Even the people affected in various forms expressing their grievances, objections or protests in the internationally accepted democratic way and peaceful resistance are not tolerated in this Country. ”
Richard Hamer, programme director of Amnesty International in Scotland criticised Scotland’s sports minister Shona Robison for not speaking out about human rights while in Colombo. Writing in the Scotsman, Hamer argued that the UN Human Rights Council must establish an international investigation in its March session. See here for full article. Extracts reproduced below: “THERE has been much talk of the legacy the 2014 Commonwealth Games will leave for the people of Glasgow and Scotland as a nation, but becoming a silent witness to war crimes was not the sort of thing we had in mind.”
Acclaimed journalist J. S. Tissainayagam in an opinion on Thursday, argued that an international investigation into Sri Lanka's war crimes is long overdue. See here for full article. Extracts reproduced below: "British Prime Minister David Cameron’s presence at last week’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) facilitated coverage that might not have been possible otherwise for media organisations. But if the human rights and war crimes issues highlighted by the international media are to be redressed and Commonwealth values and international law upheld, the band-aid solution proposed by the Sri Lanka government and aided by the Commonwealth Secretariat has to be dismissed. Instead, what is required is implementing an international investigation into war crimes. "
Dr Nick Cheesman, a research fellow at the department of political and social change in the Australian National University's College of Asia and the Pacific, writes in the Canberra Times arguing that Abbott's deportation policy damages Australia's credibility and endangers the rights of asylum seekers coming from Sri Lanka. See here for full article. Extracts reproduced below: "At the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka at the weekend, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said that while his government ''deplores the use of torture, we accept that sometimes, in difficult circumstances, difficult things happen''.
Extract’s from an opinion in the Sydney Morning Herald by Ben Doherty, South Asia correspondent: Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott came to Sri Lanka to praise President Mahinda Rajapakse, not to bury him under the weight of human rights abuse allegations that completely dominated this Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. For his fealty, he was rewarded. Sri Lanka has vowed to further help Mr Abbott with his No.1 domestic priority, "stopping the boats" of asylum seekers looking to go to Australia. The countries' existing co-operation has been extended, with Australia giving Sri Lanka...