An Open Letter to UN and Foreign Ministers of EU Countries

By: Dr C P Thiagarajah
Dear UN Secretary General and Foreign Ministers of the EU Countries,

The Sri-Lankan Tamil Diaspora are deeply saddened by the step-motherly treatment meted out by your respective organisations to the Tamils in their Traditional Homeland (TH) of North and East (N&E), over Human Rights (HR) violations of the Sinhala government of Sri-Lanka. This is in spite of evidence that substantiate the accusations. Year 2007 had been a tortuous and horrendous year for the Tamils of N&E. Still for all no concrete action was taken by you to put any sort of apparent coercive measures against the Government of Sri-Lanka (GSL). Your organisations and others with geopolitical interest in the area are continuing to provide GSL with much needed financial and military aid to carry on the aggressive war against the TH in spite of GSL’s bad record on HR transgressions and crime against humanity.

Reports from NGOs and the WHO abound in support. These indicate the neglect of TH of the N&E, by the GSL. There is slow progress in resettlement of internally displaced people from the needless aggressive war, repair of war damaged houses and public institutions, and construction of houses for those affected by the Tsunami that hit the island in Dec 2005. Infrastructure development and health services development in the TH has long been stopped. The main highway A9 that is a life wire for economic development of the North is diabolically blocked by the GSL. This is in spite of military intelligence reports that the closure of this highway will not assist in the safety of its troop transport or that it will be causing hardships to the LTTE. Even religious leader’s request to open this vital highway was malevolently refused.

The tragic situation that prevailed during early 2007 in TH had gone to the worst. The war environs that prevailed in the TH of the N&E of Sri-Lanka in early 2007 (almost an year earlier) can be judged from the Sri-lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) Weekly Official Reports. A sample of its weekly release, report for 8 Jan-14 January 2007 show the people feelings and state of affairs due to the war as follows. “The situation in Vavuniya remained tense; both due to the continued high number of attacks on the SF but also because the SF was conducting search and round-up operations on an almost daily basis. The frustration among the civilian population continued to be high, as more and more people felt threatened by the SF operations as well as by the increased numbers of direct assassinations and abductions. It seems likely that both the tension and attacks will remain on high level throughout the coming week, together with the ever growing sense of frustration among the civilian population”.

The weekly reports show that the only official agent to record GSL HR violations was the SLMM that was put in place under the 2002 Peace Treaty to report on the ground situation during the treaty is in force. If not for these reports there will be no other records of the Government’s HR violations. The government is ethnocentric. Hence its records are biased. It favours the majority race the Sinhalese. TH is discriminated in every aspect of the governance. The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) party that has a large majority of Tamil members of parliament that represent TH are not consulted for any legislative and executive decision making on policies over TH. The GSL unjustified war is an outcome of the failure of MR government to consult with the TNA MPs.

The People in the East of the TH were also badly affected in Early 2007. It was announced by the United Nations Resident Co-ordinator and aid agencies working in the country on 12 March 2007 that increasing fighting in Sri Lanka between Tamil separatists and the Government had forced well over 100,000 civilians to flee their homes in the eastern district of Batticaloa.

The TH ground situation at the end of the year as seen by NGOs Human Rights Watch and INFORM in Sri-Lanka. Human Rights Watch researcher Fred Abrahams and Sunila Abeyasekera of the INFORM –a human rights documentation centre in Colombo told Chicago radio on 22 Saturday December that mainly Tamil men between 18-35 are being abducted or killed at a rate of 4 persons per day. Men are often taken in for questioning. Inhuman methods and torture are used in interrogations. Some are held in uncongenial detentions facilities. The government does not release their names, as they should under law. Under emergency Regulations now in force for last several years they could be held there without charge for long period. They revealed that these abductions are carried out in a way to terrorise the community-armed men in white vans arrive and take people in broad day light without any question asked load the victims in an authoritarian way.

UN Latest Report for 2007.

News from India e News of on Friday, December 28, 2007 carried a report that Walter Kalin, the UN secretary general's representative on human rights of IDPs, said on Thursday in his report following a visit to war-affected parts of Northeast Sri Lanka last week the following. 1) There is a 'pervasive sense of fear' for physical security among the thousands internally displaced persons (IDPs). 2) The refugee numbers had swelled to 300,000 since 1980, 3) Some of the major concerns of the refugees were:- a) There have also been abductions, lootings and attacks on individuals by the Tamil Makkal Vidhuthalai Puligal, a group that had broken away from the LTTE in 2004 and has been operating in the eastern districts of Batticaloa and Amparai. b) Incomplete mine clearance in the cleared areas. c) There are round ups by Sri Lankan security forces and detention of people without notification to their families about the reason and the place of imprisonment.

This is in spite of the government promise that it will give ambrosia to the liberated areas of the Eastern province. These are emotive conceited promises from opportunist Sinhala politicians to hoodwink the democratic countries of the world to justify their wanton military assault on Tamils in the east. What the Sinhala government has given the East TH is eternal suffering. These Tamils a few months before the war were self-supporting and lived in a thriving community. Now post-war they have been robbed of their civilisations, houses, and source of livelihood and reduced to nonentities. They have been reduced to dependant beggars on dole outs from the government after the government ironical ‘war of liberation’.

After initial victory GSL is struggling to hold on to the East of TH.

Because the GSL is an invading force lacking support of the indigenous people it is finding it hard to hold on to the military gains in the East. On the contrary the Sinhala government is sharing the unethical military gains in the East with the criminal Tamil paramilitary group of Karuna (Muthia Muralitharan) who is in detention in the UK for diplomatic passport violations with the connivance of Mahinda Rajapakse regime. By the by the passport name given by the Mahinda Rajapakse to Karuna is Dushmantha Gunawardene which is a Sinhalese name. Karuna was also allegedly allowed to transfer $50 million of money made through ransom to his foreign accounts. The result of the government sharing the loot of the war with the para-militaries is the cause for the woe that Mr Walter kalin had observed on his visit. Mr MR had to maintain this unholy alliance if his forces want to hold on to the East as the pyrrhic victory is only transient; attacks by the LTTE on GSL forces are daily occurrences in the East. MR has opened the Pandora’s box in the N&E due to his chauvinistic stance. He does not care about it because the victims are not from his ethnic group-Sinhalese. He has exposed his racist agenda in the East by this dirty war. Ironically, when the population has not recovered from the devastation of the war MR is conducting a phoney election in the East under abnormal circumstances to convince the world that he had brought democracy to the East. This is an attempt to cheat the gullible world.

Yet Again NGOs come to Expose the Duplicity of GSL.

It was only the NGOs and other voluntary human rights group that aired their disappointment at the turn of these events, which had taken a communal twist targeting the ethnic Tamils. Mr Publius of shares this view in his article of December 29, 2007 in the web. He emphasises “ the government’s unprincipled and undisciplined use of paramilitaries coupled with a clearly hegemonic programme of settling Sinhala people in Muslim lands in the Eastern Province has had the perceptible effect of pressurising the Muslims to turn against the government if not yet the State in the recent past”.

He gives the causes for these rabid actions. “The executive presidency and increasing authoritarianism, the concomitant deterioration in the respect for fundamental human rights, the relegation of Parliament to a farcical side-show of patronage politics and impotence to reassert any sense of constitutional balance between it and the presidency, and a muscular consolidation of the already ethnicised nature of the practice of democracy and conduct of government that has led to the failure of the Sri Lankan State as a politically viable entity capable of managing ethnic, religious and cultural diversity in a liberal democratic manner.

This will mean human suffering on a massive scale in a country already ravaged by thirty years of civil conflict, and tragically, it also means that the prospects for a durable and inclusive peace secured by a constitutional settlement addressing the aspirations of all Sri Lankans may have been retarded by at least another generation”.

What has changed during the year 2007.

So what has changed in the one year of war in 2007 under MR? Nothing changed in favour of the government nor in the expectation of the EU that Sri-lankan government of dictatorial MR will succeed in its war against the LTTE. Unfortunately the HR situation had deteriorated beyond redemption.

Under the circumstances there is a Need for UN monitoring of HR violations.

In the absence of the SLMM after Sri-lanka unilaterally abrogated the Ceasefire agreement the UN has to fill the gap in a responsible way. The leader of the Western People's Front (WPP) and Convenor, Civil Monitoring Commission (CMC), MR Mano Ganesan, who was recently honoured by the US government for his role as a human rights defender, told the Sunday Leader, that international surveillance on the island's fast deteriorating human rights situation was a necessity. He blamed the Sri-Lankan authorities on 30 December at an interview for lack of investigations, failure to apprehend suspects even when sufficient evidence was available and complicity that had led to a serious erosion of public faith in the law enforcement authorities.

UN and EU are deaf to International appeals for UN HR monitoring team.

When Human Rights Council opened its fourth session on 12 March 2007, a founding resolution was proposed for the active presence of the UN in Sri-Lanka to monitor HR. Mahinda Samarasinghe, a Sinhalese, who is the Minister of Disaster Management and Human Rights of Sri Lanka, said the Council should be primarily focused on institution building to meet expectations stipulated in the founding resolution. Sri Lanka was committed to provide all necessary assistance to the Presidential Commission of Inquiry and to the International Independent Group of Eminent Persons to carry out its tasks and inquire into alleged violations of human rights. He did not want a UN, HR monitoring team. MR government was suspicious that such a UN team would be a hindrance to the GSL to carry on the mass HR violation that are at present taking place undeterred in order to subjugate and ethnic Tamil minorities.

Incidentally, the professionals in the International Independent Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP) had in fact noticed that the presidency was unnecessarily interfering into its activities and that of the other bodies appointed to investigate unlawful killings of NGO workers eg COI. It had officially complained on 26 December of the President’s Interference into the Commission of Inquiry (COI) into civil war rights abuse and murder. So how truthful was Mr Samarasinghe to the august UN body on HR during debates at the fourth session? UN never cared to critically analyse the reply of the politician.

On March 30, 2007 UN Watch in Geneva expressed disappointment that the UN Human Rights Council concluded its fourth session that day without addressing the vast majority of human rights abuses occurring around the world. It would appear that the UN accepts what the elitist politicians say rather than the NGOs who have first hand knowledge of HR violations on the ground as it were. Here again it is politics and not justice that wins the day.

The GSL had also grown intolerant to genuine criticism of its HR violations and turned abusive and authoritarian in its reaction to such criticism. Sri-Lanka warns UNICEF and the UNESCO:

During the 3rd week of December Sri-Lankan Sinhala government warned two UN organisations for expressing their opinion and doing their duty honestly acting within Sri-lankan and international laws. UNESCO director general Koichierore Matsurra released a statement earlier condemning the Sri-Lankan air force attack on the Voice of Tigers radio station. Three staff and 15 civilians were killed. In addition 4 editorial staff were wounded. The head of UNICEF in Sri-Lanka Philippe Duamelle was told that GSL was concerned over his visit on 13 December to LTTE Peace Secretariat to meet the Political Head Mr P Nadesan.

These actions are dictatorial and aimed at international organisations to intimidate them to side with the government on any thing what they do overt or covert, right or wrong.

Government Overreacts Further.

Dr Norbert Ropers, Director of the Berghof Foundation for Peace Support, a Swiss and German funded think-tank, has had his working visa terminated and asked by the government to leave the country, on charges of 'compromising national security'. The Berghof Foundation fosters creative, effective and durable peace initiatives

In a hurry GSL signs aid pacts with one of USA’s three axis of evil, Iran, to get financial and military aid to execute the impending war against the TH.

HR violations Continue, Rape Continues.

Rape of Tamil women who regard chastity as virtue is used by the army as a weapon of war to instil fear among the Tamil population and punish them. The past records of rape and murder are well documented and it is in public domain. Recently, Tamilnet divulged that Armed men in military uniform abducted a woman on Saturday early morning from her house in Imaiyaa’nan close to the Jaffna-Point Pedro road at in Vadamaraadchi, Jaffna, and gang raped her in a shrub land near her house, according to a Women Welfare volunteer Organization. The victim had been admitted to Manthikai, hospital in KKS.

Lately, neighbouring India had noted the ongoing decadence in the HR situation in Sri-Lanka. Nilova Roy Chaudhury and agencies wrote in the Hindustan Times in New Delhi on January 01, 2008 that a senior Indian diplomat said “Awful human rights violations are taking place in the name of attacking the LTTE. Aware of the fact that the world’s attention at the moment is focused on Pakistan, the Sri Lankan government has been quietly pressing ahead with its military solution to the ethnic problem. “The government (in Colombo) seems hell-bent on pursuing a military solution, with no attempts to come up with a credible devolution package,” a diplomatic source said. “The Lankan government is hoodwinking India by claiming that it is keen to devolve power.”

Sri-Lankan Press.

The GSL is desperately muzzling the free media in Colombo and in the TH in order to halt the spread of its HR violation reaching the world. The television station of the LTTE “Voice of Tiger’s” was bombed by the GSL against international rules. The IFJ’s 2007 annual report on journalists killed around the world, Tragedy Unlimited, highlights Sri Lanka as one of the most dangerous countries in the world for practising journalists, with six killed there in 2007. In Sri Lanka, the killing of a media worker is most likely to be an act of murder. This toll does not reveal the equally dark reality of journalists who are reported missing and whose whereabouts remain unknown.

Sinhala Government Unilaterally Abrogates the 2002 Peace Agreement to block reports by SLMM reaching the world.

The last straw that broke the Camel’s back was when the GSL on 2 January 2008, formally withdrew from the Norwegian brokered Cease-Fire Agreement (CFA). This was a calculated move to remove the SLMM that was a thorn in its flesh over HR violations.

The public in Sri-Lanka and the Tamil Diaspora feel that EU and the UN mainly share the blame for the collapse of Sri Lankan cease-fire agreement and the last peace talk. Had they taken punitive action earlier GSL would have come to its knees as it is in deep financial crisis. GSL is already a failed state by any standard. The voluntary charity Fund for Peace (FfP) has listed Sri-Lanka as 25th most critical failed state in the world for 2007. GSL has no cash reserve to carry on a war-a tragic war against its own minorities. But there are states like Pakistan and Iran that come forward to offer cash and aid to boost such a sinister war.

Norway expressed concern that the Sri Lankan move was a “serious step” which would further escalate the violence in the island nation. On 3 January 2008, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon regretted Sri Lankan government’s decision to terminate the CFA. He urged “all concerned to ensure the protection of civilians and enable humanitarian assistance to be provided to affected areas and underlined the urgent need to end the bloodshed in Sri Lanka through a political solution.” The European Union, the United States, Japan and Canada also expressed deep concerns over the GSL decision.

On 06-01-2008 Paul Willms, Ex- MP Third Chamber of The Netherlands [TAMILS FOR JUSTICE] announced that he strongly regrets the unilateral decision by the Sri Lankan government to abrogate the cease fire agreement of 2002. The international community with special regard to the European Union (except Finland, Sweden and Denmark) are to blame for the break down of the cease fire agreement. The decision to ban one of the parties of this agreement had led to the foundation of the current friction in the military balance that affects the process to facilitate a durable solution to the conflict”.

Sri-Lankan Cloak and Dagger approach:

The surreptitious move by the GSL to execute a quick, dirty war as planned in Project Beacon, has already been judged by the whole world, as a treacherous and clandestine move to annihilate the ethnic Tamils in the N&E. Project Beacon was presented to the Chairs of the Sri-Lanka aid giving nations in a closed-door session held in the Norwegian capital Oslo in December 2005. This war is against all the accepted principles of the UN and EU. The Sri-lankan armed forces hope to storm Wanni with all its might without paying any heed to human rights and the massive death toll that will ensue in the military assault. They hope to do this within a week after January 16 so that the world will not feel the impact of it and react over it. They hope to finish the LTTE leader within that period and then go in for a settlement with the remaining stooges of the government who bury the carrion. No one can predict what lies ahead. LTTE leader Prabaharan is reputed for pre-emptive strikes and if he fails then TH will be a grave of devastation and death. I am neither a prophet of doom nor a pessimist. But I could see from previous war records what is in the minds of a racist chauvinist armed with all weaponry from the rapacious West. Will the UN and EU act before the tyrant go for the kill to save the Tamils who are an endangered species in the island but an intelligent race whose Diaspora amounts to over a million? Failure by you two to stop this military massacre will remain a blemish on record that take a long time to be erased.

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Comments (1)
Thaigarajah Thanks for the tremendous work you have put in.

Folks Don't wait a minute to take a copy of this letter to your MPs.

punitham from United Kingdom on Jan 14, 2008 6:45:11 GMT