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A displaced Tamil woman holds her baby aThe dream of an independent Tamil Eelam has been crushed on 2009, buried with 140 000 innocent Tamils. In few months 4 years will be passed from then. The Tamil diaspora is convinced that justice will prevail, because the world cannot be so deaf and blind to such a tragedy. I’m wholeheartedly advocating this cause. I’m persuaded that this was a genocide and that the international community will be harmed by ignoring this carnage. What about the UN’s mission? What about the protection of innocents? What about the principle of human rights?

At the same time I’m fully aware that time is precious. Any year that passes, brings a veil on the events. In the hearts and minds of the Tamil will stay forever, not so for the international community. Other tragedies crowd the world stage, other victims, other innocents. The more distance Rajapaksa is able to put between him and the crimes, the easier will be to walk away. So far he’s doing well.

But I don’t give up to the historians, I still believe that the Sri Lanka’s massacres are open wounds, they are still bleeding and because of that, we can still hope in justice. When historians will study those events, even if they will recognize the magnitude of the carnage, they won’t bring justice. When scholars and academicians debate about the causes and the figures from a purely theoretical perspective, justice is dead.

mullivaikalIf we are not able to highlight the case until is alive, we will condemn those victims to die twice.

For this reason, time is running out.

This is an appeal to the Tamil community, especially the diaspora: give up your intrigues, give up your pride, give up all the obstacles that are impeding a real process of accountability.

If you think you have done everything, let me explain. You want to believe in an independent Eelam, you want to worship the heroism of the Tigers, you want accountability for the Sri Lankan government, you want to help the Tamil still suffering in the Northern and Eastern provinces. You want all of this and you are surprised that the world is not listening. This is the point. The Tamil diaspora never entered in a critical process. And they woke up with the entire international community against their side. Is everybody in the world a Tamil hater? Is everybody against the idea of an independent Tamil Eelam? Is everybody so happy to support Rajapaksa? Of course not, it is just the blindness of your convictions that push everybody against you.

rajapaksa godfatherWhat is your priority? Revenge against Sri Lanka?Or Justice? Independent Eelam? Or helping the Tamils in Sri Lanka?

Decide. And act. Otherwise you’ll spend the next 50 years discussing, arguing and fighting within the community. Sri Lanka and Rajapaksa will find a fragmented front, with nobody able to present a decent request. Even too easy to sweep away the question from the table.

What do you want?

Do you want to consider the Tigers a heroic army, that righteousness fought with principles? OK, the Sri Lankan government fought the same battle, with the same principles. And it won. Do you want to consider that army criminal? Then you must accept that LTTE adopted criminal means.

A-young-Sri-Lankan-refuge-001Are you fighting for the Tamil people or for your aspirations and ambitions? When you were living a pleasant, comfortable life, your brethren in Sri Lanka were fighting, often in the last years, against their will. Are they a bargain chip, expendable on the battle field as well as in current political debate? Or they are the last inhabitant of Eelam and deserve all the attention and the efforts that you can put together? Is it better to have the flag of Eelam or better, decent conditions for the Tamil people?

Decide. But do it quickly. The international community won’t wait the Tamil age of discussion. They will forget soon. And leave you with your internecine polemics. Time is running out.

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Episodes of unrest in Greece.
Courtesy BBC

In States governed by the rule of law, governments have a monopoly of violence, but it is restricted to specific occasions and circumstances. It is a failure of the rule of law when a state commits a murder. Always. There are countries which consider themselves at war; this is the case of Israel. Recently a leader of Hamas has been killed1. What is the legitimacy of actions like that? In principle, very low. A governmental entity should always bring to justice any person that is labelled an enemy. A proper tribunal will verify the charges and eventually, sentence to death. This is legitimate.

You can advance an exception when there is an immediate danger for public security: killing one man to save many. To our knowledge, this wasn’t the case. But Israel claims it is in a permanent state of war. The consequence we can draw is that Israel is in a state of suspended legality.

Osama Bin Laden

A second situation in recent history is the killing of Osama Bin Laden. This is a high profile case. Two wars have been declared on the basis of his responsibilities; he wasn’t an immediate threat. The whole event is surrounded by mystery and suspicions. The impression is that the dimension of his personality was growing completely out of control. He was an icon and the US were quite disturbed by his popularity, which was extending beyond the Middle East. His statements about his own actions but also his involvement with the US secret service would have helped a lot in understanding the recent events of world history. The killing of Osama seems very much like cleaning up an uncomfortable and disturbing presence, more than the elimination of a security threat. Legitimacy absent, but not even in discussion: it’s the case of national interest and it’s a curtain on truth and legitimacy.

Killing of Top-LTTE member Parithy in France.
Courtesy of SL Defence Ministry.

And we have a third, recent case. The killing of Parithy, a Top LTTE member in Paris2. War in Sri Lanka is over; there is more than one issue, but they are grievances of the Tamil community, not of the Sri Lankan state. On the contrary, the misconduct of the government during the final stage of the conflict is dragging down also the UN, with an internal report due to be published in weeks, highlighting the failure of the United Nations in protecting the civilian population3. So no national interest was involved, on the contrary Sri Lanka should have better adopted a low profile. If you want justice and reconciliation is always better to bring to the judiciary authority any person, who is deemed responsible for crimes. And the Sri Lankan state should have also captured the leader of LTTE, Prabhakaran, instead of murdering him. Very much like Osama, the government was uncomfortable in dealing with a personality that could have cast more than shadow on the government’s doing. The LTTE was considered a terrorist organization; the trial of its leader could have been a opportunity to come to terms with its own history for Sri Lanka. Of course this is a painful process and it was much easier to eliminate the problem.

UK and France Foreign Ministers Miliband and Kouchner in Sri Lanka, during the attacks on civilians.

I want to conclude with a small observation with regards of killing of Parithy. Sri Lanka is not the US or Israel; it doesn’t have the negotiating power to impose a killing on French sovereign territory. Parithy has been jailed for a couple of years on the accuse of terrorism; he was freed. The Sri Lankan secret service killed him with the complete consent of Paris. This was an act outside the rule of law, so France is an accomplice of the killing. The clue is important to clarify the European position with regards of Sri Lanka. The West was quite moderate and mild in condemning the massacre of 2009. More than 40 000 have been killed, but it could be a staggering 140 000, according to the respectable source of the Bishop of Mannar. Miliband and Kouchner (UK and France foreign ministers at the time) staged a consequenceless drama during the most severe moments of the killing. Europe was culpably silent. This last favour to Sri Lanka shows that they were also associate with those actions.

The last responsibility is for the civil society and for the Tamil diaspora for not being able to convey this simple message to the public opinion in the West, which sleeps in a state of oblivion with regards of justice, accountability and legitimacy.

 

Tamil civilian victims in Mullivaikal, 2009 Sri Lanka.

Rajini Thiranagama

Rajini Thiranagama was a doctor,an LTTE member and a human right activist. Her personal trajectory explains much of the Tamil independence movement and represents also a clear evidence of the derangement of such movement in the LTTE incarnation.

In the early years of the armed struggled, she was very much in tune with the aspiration of the Tigers; later on, she become increasingly critical of both the Tigers and the central government. Sge begun to collect evidence of human rights violation by the LTTE and the Indian Peace Keeping Forces (IPKF). She was one of the founder of the University Teacher for Human Rights, whose activity culminated in September 1989 with the publication of “The Broken Palmyra”, a book reporting the violence in Jaffna in the 1980s, committed by all parties involved: Sri Lankan government, LTTE and IPKF.

A week later, she was shot dead in front of her house in Jaffna.

courtesy University Teacher for Human Rights, Jaffna, Sri Lanka (uthr.org).

Her spirit is a guidance for everyone who’s committed to bring back Sri Lanka from the hell where has fallen. It is interesting that a person like Rajini in the first stage of the conflict, was aligned with the military struggle. To me it is a clear sign that the discrimination and the oppression of the Tamil community reached such a point that no other choice was available but to embark on a open warfare with the government. And with equal clarity, her condemnation of the LTTE and her subsequent assassination are the crystal evidence of the Tigers brutality. The LTTE stemmed from a natural sentiment of self-defence and justice, but very soon their ideal spiralled into a blind perpetuation of violence for the pure sake of it.

Students walk past a destroyed building in Jaffna [CC HumanityAshore]

The LTTE mutilated any attempt from the civil society to emerge as an expression of the Tamil community and the result was that no other path was available but to fight till victory or dying trying. The horrendous truth is that the leadership chose that direction intentionally: Prabhakaran eliminated such person from the political and intellectual landscape, precisely because they were representing a voice of conscience and a limit to his delirious warmongering.

The LTTE bears heavy responsibility for the way the IV Eelam War ended. Certainly the strategy on the field has been criminal; but much worst than the frantic decisions of a bunker situation, the two decades of terror imposed first of all on the Tamil people are the moral culprit of the tragic end of the conflict.

The responsibility of Sri Lankan government stands in full, despite this evil collaboration. That is why we must keep on, taking inspiration from people like Rajini Thiranagama towards a salvation of Sri Lanka. The German philosopher Heidegger said that: “where danger threatens, that which saves from it also grows”.

So I’m not surprise that in the moral devastation of the Sri Lankan war, you can find great spirit like her.