by Visuvanathan Rudrakumaran
( May 19, 2014, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The Government of Sri Lanka is in retreat, with its tail well between its legs. The international civil society has acknowledged the extent of the atrocities on the Tamil people leading to genocide. The Human Rights Council has called for an international investigation. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has placed Sri Lanka on a watch list for four years. Instead of pursuing remedial justice, the chauvinist mindset of the Sri Lankan Government has sought to create smokescreens to hide its multitude of sins. Its campaign against the Tamil Diaspora which it brands as consisting of “terrorists” is misplaced. The Diaspora entities, including the TGTE, operate in accordance with the laws of the states in which they function. They consist of citizens in those states who are committed to pursue their political objectives in accordance with the laws of their home states. The Sri Lankan Government commits an illegality in branding them as “terrorists” without any proof that their activities are illegal.
When the TGTE’s Centre for the Study of Genocide releases the names of those it asserts are guilty of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, it makes no transgression of the law. Instead, it grounds its assertions built on credible evidence. Those who commit genocide are guilty under the domestic laws of many states. In addition, Genocide is a crime of universal jurisdiction. Every court of every state has a right to prosecute them. They are guilty under international law of the most heinous of crimes known to mankind, the killing of people on the basis of their ethnicity. They can be prosecuted before both domestic courts and international tribunals.
The TGTE is committed to ensuring that those guilty of genocide are punished. Though it focuses on the genocide of the Tamils in the island of Sri Lanka, it is mindful that the struggle involves other people in other lands. It fights their causes as well, so that they could live without fear of being persecuted on the basis of their ethnicity or religion.
Successive Governments of Sri Lanka have brought grief to Tamils through persecution from 1958 onwards. Brutality against the Tamils has spilled over into callous disregard of Muslims and Christians as well with their places of worship being targeted for attack and destruction.
The project of finding those guilty of Tamil genocide is being pursued by the TGTE and through lawful means. Today, we are releasing the names of the “Dirty Dozen,” the first batch of the lot. More names of perpetrators will follow.
The purpose of releasing these names is not for simply “naming and shaming” and the Sri Lankan perpetrators seem to enjoy immunity to such naming and shaming. As former US Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson said in the opening statement for the Nuremberg Prosecution that the International Justice should be even handed. The clutches of the justice should target not only non-state entities but also the states. We believe that domestic prosecutions should be initiated in the various countries where they live and function. As a first step, we hope that this list will be the basis for smart sanctions in the form of travel bans and asset freezes of the individuals mentioned in the list. The list provides “reasonable grounds to believe”, as the standard required for inadmissibility to various countries, that the individuals whose names are on the list either committed or aided and abetted the commitment of international crimes.
The TGTE strongly believes that such actions constitute the necessary catharsis for change towards remedial justice, peace and accountability for all living in the island of Sri Lanka.
Under domestic and international law, accountability for serious violations of international humanitarian or human rights law is an obligation and a duty for every state. The credibly alleged violations that have been repeatedly shown on every media outlet and they demand a serious investigation and the prosecution of those responsible. If proven, those who are accountable, including Sri Lanka Army commanders and senior Government officials, as well as military and civilian individuals acting under their control, should bear criminal liability for international crimes.
International Criminal Law (ICL) deals with individual criminal responsibility for the most serious violations of human rights (IHRL) and international humanitarian law (IHL) violations. International crimes are defined by a certain criteria that when found will be the basis to establish individual responsibility for these crimes. What constitutes an international crime is a matter defined by treaties and customary international law (CIL). Under customary international law, torture, enforced disappearances, war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and aggression are all international crimes. International, internationalized and domestic tribunals can, and ben empowered to try individuals suspected of having committed war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
The purpose of this list is to inform, educate and motivate concerned citizens and humanitarians about serious and egregious violations of domestic and international law that occurred, and are occurring presently, in Sri Lanka. This list is meant to urge you to remember the victims and survivors of Sri Lanka’s genocide by participating in a process that is committed to justice and accountability for the human rights abuses that so many have and continue to endure. This list will be supplemented periodically with the names of other violators and persecutors of human rights. Hopefully, participation in this process will inspire you and others to remain vigilant and cognizant. At this very moment all concerned people must help stop the violations and assist the victims and survivors in accessing justice and the protections of human rights laws.