The UNHRC which passed three successive resolutions on the need to investigate war crimes has prescribed an international hybrid court.
Sri Lanka has blamed the pro-LTTE Tamil diaspora for backing the genocide charge against the government as the country prepares to celebrate the eighth anniversary of the end of the three-decade long civil war. On May 12, the Tamil nationalists started a week long commemoration of what they termed the genocide of Tamils.
Northern Provincial Council members held events in parts of the North to remember the victims of the bitter conflict by lighting oil lamps. “We want to commemorate the genocide of over 100,000 Tamils in 2009,” MK Shivajilingam a northern provincial councilor and a hardline Tamil representative had said. “We need an international investigation into genocide,” he said.
Meanwhile, Deputy Defence Minister Ruwan Wijewardene dismissed the genocide charge as an accusation by Shivajilingam at the behest of the pro-LTTE diaspora.
He is seeking support from the diaspora to carry out false propaganda, Wijewardene said adding that government troops had not carried out any genocide of Tamils. Both Sri Lankan troops and the LTTE were accused of grave human rights abuses during the final phase of the conflict which ended in May 2009.
The UN Human Rights Council which passed three successive resolutions on the need to investigate war crimes has prescribed an international hybrid court.
Sri Lankan is refusing to allow an international probe citing the lack of constitutional provisions for foreign judges to operate in the country but it is known truth that the Sri Lankan judges will never punish the members of the forces who are Sinhalese.
Sri Lanka gained independence from Britain in 1948, but colonial strategies of divide and rule had left a cancerous legacy. When the British left, power fell to the island’s Sinhalese majority. The minority Tamils confronted institutional discrimination with nonviolent resistance, and the state responded by ramping up the attacks on them. Employment discrimination increased, restrictions were imposed on their access to further education, and new laws made Sinhala—which few Tamils spoke—the official language. Violent anti-Tamil attacks followed, the worst of which, in May 1958, cost more than 200 Tamil lives. A series of armed Tamil nationalist groups emerged.
On July 23, 1983, an ambush by a small guerrilla group known as the LTTE resulted in the death of 13 Sri Lankan soldiers. Pro-government supporters exploited the event to trigger the worst anti-Tamil riots in the country’s history, a period now known as Black July. As many as 3,000 Tamil civilians were massacred in just one week, and tens of thousands fled to the traditional Tamil heartlands in the northeast.
Many young Tamils joined the insurrection, dedicating their lives to the fight for an independent Tamil state, Tamil Eelam. Control of that insurrection was swiftly seized by the LTTE, which, under its enigmatic young commander, Velupillai Prabhakaran, ruthlessly eliminated or subsumed its many rivals for Tamil loyalty. The war had begun.
The Tigers were brutal but effective. Over the next quarter-century, Prabhakaran built an army prepared to use conscripted child soldiers and suicide bombers against civilian targets, as well as traditional methods of guerrilla warfare. His movement, full of contradictions, confronted caste restrictions and encouraged women to fight as equals, yet allowed no political freedom, eliminated rivals, and demanded absolute loyalty—down to the cyanide capsules worn by each fighter to be swallowed in the event of capture. By 2008, the LTTE had constructed a functioning state in the north of the country, with its own banks, police, civil service, and armed forces. It even had its own TV station—with Isaipriya as its star. But things were about to change.
By the middle of January 2009, with the Tigers in hopeless retreat, the Rajapaksa government declared the first of a series of what they called no-fire zones, into which they encouraged as many as 400,000 Tamil civilians to gather “for their own safety.” But instead of protecting these no-fire zones, government forces relentlessly shelled them, all the while insisting, implausibly, they had a policy of “zero civilian casualties.”
Innocent Tamil civilians died by the thousands, in what some regard as nothing less than a genocide. Episodes from that massacre were preserved like scenes from a nightmare in short video sequences, uploaded at necessarily low resolution on satellite phones during brief breaks in the shelling.
By May 17, 2009, the final no-fire zone had been overrun. It was smaller than Central Park in New York, but crammed with tens of thousands of civilians. Triumphant Sri Lankan soldiers, battle-weary and brutalized but fired up by the chauvinistic rhetoric of their commanders and political leaders, went on a grotesque rape and murder spree.
A UN report concluded that the government deliberately and illegally denied humanitarian supplies like anesthetics. At the same time, government forces targeted and shelled these hospitals, killing hundreds.