A Historical Step Forward by Tamil Diaspora
| by Ramu Manivannan
( March 26,, 2014, Chennai, Sri Lanka Guardian) Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam(TGTE) has taken a historical initiative through making submissions towards seeking the intervention of the Human Rights Committee-International Judicial Tribunal on 25th March 2014 in Geneva, Switzerland with regard to violations of human rights and humanitarian laws by the Government of Sri Lanka. The First President of the UN War Crimes Court in Sierra Leone Mr. Geoffrey Robertson QC addressed the need for building confidence in international mechanism and did acknowledge that international law does have last resort. Therefore filing of correct and appropriate allegations at this stage before international body does make a significant beginning.
Geoffrey Robertson outlined the grounds for initiating action against for the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the Sri Lankan armed forces and the government authorities during and after the war including the allegations of genocide. This process would involve drawing Sri Lanka to the International Criminal Court(ICC) by making available of prosecutor to the ICC and establish an adhoc court. it is important to recognize that Sri Lanka does not acknowledge ICC, then Sri Lanka should be involved through Security Council. This should mean establishment of a credible international investigation of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the Sri Lankan armed forces and the government authorities. Thus enabling the prospects of a Security Council reference or adhoc court. An obvious question before us is that whether Sri Lanka can resist? The answer is YES and it will. If it does, then sanctions must be seriously considered. It is relevant to mention here that Sri Lanka is a party to the Genocide Convention. If Sri Lanka refuses to co-operate with the international mechanism, other states may take steps, according to Article 9, to consider whether actions of the Sri Lankan government are genocidal given the nature of allegations of violations committed against the minority ethnic Tamils in Sri Lanka. The genocidal intent of the Sri Lankan government is emerging clear with the growing revelations of war crimes, crimes against humanity, rapes of helpless Tamil women, atrocities committed against innocent civilians, application of food and medicine as instruments of war through denial to the victims and survivors and the nature of post war militarization and colonization are also clear indicators of the genocidal intent of the Sri Lankan armed forces and the government.
Geoffrey Robertson also outlined the state of justice in Sri Lanka with the complete subordination of the courts and the judicial system. The Sri Lankan government has killed the independent judiciary. The judicial independence is absent today in Sri Lanka with the successive governments undermining the judicial process and finally the brutal attacks of Mahinda Rajapaksa and his family upon the judiciary has sealed the prospects of an independent judiciary in Sri Lanka. The unceremonious sacking of Chief Justice Bandaranaike and the celebrations that followed within the government and armed forces including the fireworks by the Navy speaks volumes about the state of affairs in Sri Lanka. How can the minority ethnic Tamils expect justice from the Sri Lankan government? There is no possibility for ethnic Tamils in Sri Lanka affected by the war, torture, disappearances, rapes, human rights abuses, and violations of humanitarian laws committed by the Sri Lankan armed forces and the government authorities.
The international governments and the global institutions should acknowledge and recognize the pressure point that the minority ethnic Tamils of Sri Lanka with geographical classification must bear and survive. it is high time to explore the scope for international mechanism to address the extraordinary situation of violations of human rights and humanitarian laws including the emergence of revelations indicating the genocidal intent of the Sri Lankan government. Tamils have explored and exercised all means to seek justice and have in the process suffered enormously without exception even for peaceful protests and nonviolent struggles. There is HOPE even today that international law does have last resort. TGTE has made the first step in the right direction by demonstrating confidence in international mechanism through taking the subject to Human Rights Committee-International Judicial Tribunal.
Ramu Manivannan, Professor & Chair – Department of Politics & Public Administration , School of Politics & International Studies , University of Madras, India