UN Probe is only one part of the solution -Paul Newman
1 – Now UN has already started Investigation about war crimes in last leg of the war. so, as a Tamil activist and intellectual what is your opinion of this new situation ?
The UN investigation is a long overdue one. It should have started as a process of fixing accountability. It is a well known fact that all International laws were violated. The massacre of thousands of civilians need to be investigated and those who suffered need to be properly compensated. The UN Panel of experts comprising Darusman Marzuki, Yasmeen Sooka and Prof.Stephen Ratner fixed the number of dead as 40,000. The Charles Petrie commission speaks of more than 70,000. The Bishop of Mannar has raised the question of 146,679 ,missing persons. The LLRC does not address these questions. All the previous Presidential Commission appointed in the past have failed miserably to address the issues raised. It is only to an impartial International Inquiry the truth can come out. The investigation is part of the solution and not a solution in itself. The Tamils need a Political solution. They have lost their men, women, children, their land, their sea, water, resources, they have been enslaved in their own land. They are being ruled by a brutal army surrounding them. Their freedom has been taken away. Thousands of civilians have disappeared, raped, killed since 1983, people living in Eelam breathe, eat and drink, but they do not have life. They will get back their life only when their political aspirations are fulfilled. The investigation is a due process of the genocide that took place during the last phase of the war.
2 – what should Eezham Tamil People Expect form IC ?
It is not just the Eelam Tamils, all those who respect human rights, feel that those who suffered were human beings expect the International community (IC) to address the political question of the Tamils. It is only with the IC that can help the Tamils in getting a political solution as successive SL regimes have failed to address the reasonable political aspirations of the Tamils starting from the domestically agreed upon B-C pact of 1957 to the DC pact of 1965, till the 2002 CFA. On the other hand they have failed to implement the only International treaty signed with India to devolve powers to the Tamils in the form of the 1987, Indo-Sri Lanka peace accord. The people all over know that they cannot trust the Sinhala regimes to give a meaningful solution to the Tamil problem. There is very little option left with the Tamils other than seeking the intervention of IC and negotiate a peaceful political solution to the Tamils living in Eelam with the intervention of the Tamils from Eelam and the diaspora.
3 I have another additional question with related to the same. why international Community still reluctant to use the word Genocide. why is that?
As a researcher I know what happened in Sl was a systematic genocide and we can find a pattern of the elimination of the Tamils. No where in the history of the world, people who came as indentured laborers were turned off and decitizenized like the Up country/estate Tamils who came from India since 1824 to work in the tea gardens. They were chased out because they were Tamils, then came the ‘Sinhala Only Act’. the standardization of education, creation of Job Banks for the Sinhalese, the anti-Tamil pogroms of 1956,57,77,79,81,83 and finally 2009. All these point out that the Tamils were subjected to these harassment as part of the larger design of Genocide which continues in a structural manner today. The world is horrified about the use of the ‘G’ word, in Albania and Greece, t took 100 years to proclaim what happened there as a Genocide. Though we know that we need to wait for a thorough investigation where in at the first stage, war crimes and crimes against humanity needs to be proved and then the investigation into genocide is taken up. The IC should prevail upon the SL regime that the Tamils ‘right to self determination’ must be respected. The Sinhalese too should understand that the Tamils are not against them, but it is their own political masters, whether it is crushing the JVP insurrection of the 1980s or the recent killings of the 13 Sinhala civilians just for urging the govt. to provide potable drinking water, it these brutal regimes which do not hesitate to kill their own people. It is here the Sinhala brethren need to understand the plight of the Tamils and empathize with them.
4 – How this will effect Tamil peoples who are living in Sri Lanka. Because GoSL has already rejected this UN process ?
After the end of the war in May 2009, the Tamils were a dejected lot as there was no ray of hope. They were shamed as losers, incarcerated in the Manik Farm camps for three years, the future remained bleak. The Tamils have lost too much and no investigation is going to give them back what they have lost. Here again the Investigation is incomplete as it would cover only the final stages of the war. The investigations should have started from genocide of 1983. This investigation will help in the people gaining confidence in the IC and the UN. The investigation will only help the IC in understanding the brutalities the Tamils have undergone. It may further help the Tamils to have a better bargaining power towards a trustful solution.
5- How it’s Effect to Tamils Who were living in the ground? Because GoSL has already rejected this UN process ?
The very fact that GoSL has rejected this investigation shows that they have something to hide. After the two UN reports it is highly unlikely that they can hide everything forever. The GoSL has shown in the past with visits of Madam Navi Pillai and Mr.David Cameroon that anyone who wants to seek the truth are not welcome. We need to understand that SL is still not a safe place for any human rights activist, journalists or advocates. The impunity enjoyed by the uniformed forces is unlimited. The whole country is in the clutches of the armed forces, more so the Tamil areas. The Tamils cannot openly come out and speak to the Investigators even if the investigators are allowed to enter SL. With every visit of a concerned truth seeking person the persecution of the Tamils increase to a new higher level. The GoSL fears the truth will emerge, hence it wants to silence the Tamils and those living in Eelam will suffer more as there is no witness protection. Everyone living in SL need to understand that the PTA is still in force. Yestereday it was the Tamils who suffered, today it the Muslims and tomorrow who will it be? It is here the Sinhala brethren need to understand that the Tamils aspirations for a separate homeland is not a demand to take away the land of the Sinhalese but to reclaim their own land lost to the Sinhala resettlers, the armed forces and the successive Sinhala regimes.
6 – Finally what is future of tamil Struggle? and what shoud they want to do for their freedom?
The settlement of the political question of the Tamils is not an option but it is the political solution that the Tamils seek. This would largely depend of the Geopolitics, UN mechanism, GoSL’s posturing, foreign policies – all these are dynamics that goes along with economic and political agenda. The states that sponsor Sri Lanka’s expanding economies are harvesting the spoils of war. Once that is over, the crude realty for Sri Lanka will be tied to greater suppression control. The Tamils survival is more important and it has to be beyond just co-existence. Let us engage in diplomacy and rebuilding. The aspirations for a Tamil homeland will take its own path varying itself with the political reality of the day. There will be sponsors for Tamil cause – for that we need to exhaust every avenue, holding on and advancing the aspiration. Today there is an awareness among the Tamils that what happened in 2009 were not just war crimes or crimes against humanity it was a cold blooded genocide. I hope the truth will prevail one day or the other. Justice needs to be given to those who have lost everything and their only crime is being born as a Tamil. The IC will wake up to understand this reality and I am optimistic that the Tamil question will be addressed meaning one day or the other, till then the struggle will go on in different forms and from different places around the globe at different forums.
Interviewed By – Krishan Rajapakshe