TNPF: Only a UN Special Tribunal can deliver justice to Sri Lanka’s genocidal criminality
During the General Debate on the United Nations Human Rights High Commissioner’s report on Sri Lanka, 26th Wednesday, the President of Tamil National People’s Front [TNPF], Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam, while concurring with the People’s Tribunal that there is on-going genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka, said that "the remedy for violations at the level of gravity that occurred ultimately, cannot be anything short of a judicial process through the ICC [International Criminal Court] or an Ad Hoc special tribunal," adding, "[a]nything less would undermine the concept of international justice and the application of humanitarian law." Selvarajah Kajendran, General Secretary, TNPF, and Visvalingam Manivannan, National Organiser, TNPF, also spoke on the other weaknesses in the UN resolution.
Full text of the speeches by the three officials of TNPF, a registered political party in Sri Lanka, follow:
International Educational Development has been involved in the situation in Sri Lanka since 1983, and has submitted many written statements – the latest of which is A/HRC/25/NGO/136 where we set out the finding of the December 2013 Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal that genocide against the Tamil people occurred during the conflict and is on-going since the end of hostilities.
We have studied with great attention the Report of the High Commissioner (A/HRC/25/23) and comment on the three main topics.
Regarding recent developments, we concur with the Permanent People’s Tribunal that there is an on-going genocide whose goal is the de- Tamilisation of Sri Lanka.
Regarding reconciliation, this issue is a non-starter. Any reconciliation project has to include the Tamil nation – numerically smaller in number on the island – and the Sinhala nation – a majority within the current configuration of the Sri Lankan state. The Sinhala nation has no intention of “reconciling” with the Tamil nation and wants it to assimilate into its vision of a Sinhala Buddhist Sri Lanka. Indeed, the only “remedy” with the Tamil people in Sri Lanka is fleeing or assimilation.
Regarding accountability, the remedy for violations at the level of gravity that occurred ultimately cannot be anything short of a credible international investigation and a judicial process through the ICC or an Ad Hoc special tribunal. Anything less would undermine the concept of international justice and the application of humanitarian law.
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We welcome the High Commissioner’s conclusion at para 72 of her report that national mechanisms have consistently failed to establish the truth and achieve justice in Sri Lanka. We further welcome the High Commissioner’s conclusion that this can no longer be explained as a function of time or technical capacity, but that it is fundamentally a question of political will.
We wish to emphasise that the lack of a political will is not just a feature of the present government but a general characteristic attributable to the Sinhala nation that forms a majority of the Sri Lankan state. We reiterate that it will be futile to expect any future Government belonging to any political formation to provide for a domestic process to achieve justice in the island.
We however express our disappointment with the High Commissioner’s report wherein she has thought it fit to continue to recommend the implementation of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission’s report as the solution to the problem of ‘reconciliation’. The current state of relationship between the Tamil and Sinhala nations is configured in a hierarchy where the Sinhala nation continues to pursue its policy of assimilation by inter alia criminalizing Tamil self determination politics, colonizing the Tamil homeland through land grab and by perpetuating a general environment of repression including through sexual violence, rape and torture.
The language of reconciliation for the Tamils sounds hegemonic. The only way in which normalcy can return to the lives of the Tamils is by recognizing their right to self determination and by establishing self-government wherein they can take control of their own affairs.
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Visvalingam Manivannan :
While welcoming the High Commissioner’s recommendation for the establishment for an international independent and credible investigative mechanism we are disappointed that this council will this week debate a resolution wherein the strongest possible mechanism that this council could establish will not be provided for.
We are concerned that the time frame work envisaged in the draft resolution does not cover the entire scope of the conflict and more importantly that it does not provide the high commissioner’s office the mandate to investigate the ongoing genocide being perpetrated against the Tamil people. We are further concerned that the relevant operative para 8 (b) in the draft resolution does not make any reference to investigate violations of international humanitarian law.
We are also concerned that operative para 6 and the High Commissioners reference to the provincial council system in her report, perpetuates the myth that the 13th amendment to the Sri Lankan constitution can provide for a starting point to a political solution. We believe that a solution that recognises the right to self determination, nationhood and the territorial homeland of the Tamils resulting in a new socio-political contract for the different constituent nations of Sri Lanka is the only means to a political solution.
Our most pressing concern is that the High Commissioner’s report or the draft resolution say nothing to halt the ongoing genocide against the Tamil Nation. We are of the opinion that this can only be achieved through the establishment of a UN sponsored transitional administration established through the aegis of the UN Security Council. This council if its serious about preventing the ongoing genocide against the tamil people should recommend the UN Secretary General to invite the UN Security Council to consider such a move.