TNA’s GENOCIDE claim: Violates Section 120 of Penal Code. Sri Lankans are hurt by attempts to create ill-feeling amongst communities
For too long TNA and other remnants of the LTTE propaganda machine have escaped public indignation for irresponsibly using their political privileges to make public statements and attempt to create ill-will and excite hatred amongst communities. The letter signed by 33 members of the Tamil National Alliance representing the Northern and Eastern provincial council to outgoing human rights head Navi Pillai claiming that “the Tamil people strongly believe that they have been, and continue to be subjected to Genocide by Sri Lanka’ is totally unwarranted and legal action should be taken against the TNA in view of the dangerous path it has opted to take. Legal action should ensure that TNA does not use its political privilege to steer Tamil people and the rest of the Sri Lankan populace towards another era of death, destruction and animosity.
Genocide : Origin of Term
In 1944, Raphael Lemkin, a Police-Jewish lawyer to describe Nazi policies of systematic murder of Jewish people created the word ‘genocide’ by combining the ancient Greek word genos (race, tribe) and the Latin word cide (killing).
The term genocide was used by the UN after the Holocaust and was defined as any of the following actions committed with intent to destroy a national, ethnic, racial or religious group.
Killing members of the group; Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group, or forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
In 1946, the UN General Assembly Resolution ‘affirmed’ that genocide was a crime under international law though a legal definition of the crime was not provided. In 1948, the UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide giving the legal definition of genocide.
In 2006, the UN Security Council Resolution 1674 committed itself to protect civilians in armed conflicts against acts of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.
In 2008, the UN Security Council expanded the definition of genocide with Resolution 1820 and included ‘rape and other forms of sexual violence to constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity or a constitutive act with respect to genocide’.
The TNA’s ridiculous and total lack of responsibility of position and total disregard and respect for the rest of the communities in Sri Lanka is revealed in looking at the history of examples that have constituted and belonged under the purview of genocide.
- Armenia (1915) – More than 1million ethnic Armenians massacred
- Jews (1945) – Nazi policy against German Jews led to millions of Jews being forced into concentration camps and killed.
- Cambodia (1975) – Khmer Rouge executions is said to have killed 1.7 to 2million Cambodians.
- Rwanda (1990) – Hutus are accused of killing upto 1million Tutsi’s in 100 days.
- Darfur (2003) – Since 2003, an estimated 300,000 people have died and as many as 2.7 million people have been displaced within Darfur, with several hundred thousand more fleeing into neighboring countries. In September 2004, President George W. Bush declared the crisis in Darfur “genocide” — the first time a sitting American president had made such a declaration regarding an ongoing conflict.
The pre-1948 examples of genocide (by England, France, Spain, Netherlands, Portugal, German) remain uninvestigated and were as a result of European empire expansions conquering and taking over lands belonging to indigenous races in Americas, Africa, Australasia and Asia.
- Pre-colonial Americas (16th, 17th, 18th and 19th centuries) – estimated population varying between 8.4m – 112m had declined by more than 80% after arrival of colonizers. These genocidal acts (Indian Removal Act 1830, Trail of Tears, Sand Creek Massacre, Mendocino War) against the indigenous populations have yet to be admonished.
- Spanish conquest of the Americas – 8m indigenous people dead. Encomienda policy that converted to Christianity and fostered cultural assimilation, forced labor and exploitation of natural resources.
- Portuguese colonial expansion in Africa/Brazil – Over 80 indigenous tribes had disappeared between 1900-1957. A population of 1m was reduced by 80% through deculturalization, disease and murder.
- British Empire expansion – Doctrine of terra nullius used by British to justify seizure of territory in Australia and Tasmania killing thousands of Aboriginal Tasmanians.
- Belgium genocide of Congo – Under Leopold II of Belgium 60% of Congo’s population was reduced.
The question is where has there been genocide in Sri Lanka to fit into the internationally and legally accepted terminology accepted and endorsed by the UN?
Were the deaths in Sri Lanka ONLY those of Tamils to warrant claim for genocide?
Who throughout the 3 decades of terror died in Sri Lanka?
Did the campaign on terror unleashed in the early 1980s first target villages hacking to death scores of Sinhalese villagers including children and pregnant women?
Did the LTTE not thereafter carry out 384 attacks that killed thousands of Sinhalese, Muslims and even Tamils as well as foreigners?
Did the LTTE not kill over 250 Tamil politicians, public servants, clergy, academics, civil servants, Tamil policemen etc – this list excludes scores of leaders of other Tamil groups who were gunned down so that LTTE could reign supreme as well as killings of scores of LTTE cadres who did not follow Prabakaran’s law. The list also omits scores of Tamils living abroad who have died or were bumped off for not subscribing to LTTE’s fund raising kitty.
Have the signatories forgotten that only hours was given for all Sinhalese and Muslims to leave the North in what can easily be charged as ‘ethnic cleansing’ to create a fictitious ‘Only Tamils live in North’ propaganda that continues to this day by the very political party that has signed the present letter.
Have these signatories forgotten that LTTE’s attacks on civilians were all outside of any military zone and was specifically targeted on innocent civilians and civilian installations resulting in a country not knowing when they would return home. This fear that grappled an entire nation for 3 decades exists no more and for 5 years not a single bomb or suicide attack has occurred.
Have these signatories forgotten that most of them reside amongst the Sinhalese and their official addresses are all outside the North and East though they claim to represent the ‘Tamil Eelam Nation’.
Have these signatories not wondered if there is any claims to genocide why majority of Tamils are living by choice amongst the Sinhalese and not a single has been killed for living with the Sinhalese while the Northern Provincial Chief Minister is on record for saying that Sinhalese are not welcome in the North.
It is ok for these Sinhalese to rebuild for Tamils the homes, roads and other infrastructure that the LTTE destroyed but it is not ok for the Sinhalese to purchase lands and live in the North where historically Sinhalese also once lived. If Tamils claim a right to the North the Sinhalese have every right to make that same claim too and they should.
Right of Freedom of Movement and Right to Residence wherever one likes is another legal action to be filed against the TNA’s public statements.
The TNA’s irresponsible actions of claiming genocide when facts speak for themselves depicts the mentality of those that serve this very narrow-minded group of politicians claiming to again be the SOLE representatives of the Tamil people.
Their insular thinking fueled by the fact that they are being funded and promoted to carry out a diabolical post-conflict agenda necessitates immediate address through the legal structures in Sri Lanka so that legal due process is taken to ensure that no group or individuals impede the peace in place or attempt to cause ill-will and hatred amongst the communities.
It is for this reason that Legal Action citing section 120 of the Penal Code should be adopted against the TNA immediately.
“Whoever by words, spoken or intended to be read, or by signs; or by visible representations, or otherwise, excites or attempts to excite feeling of dissatisfaction to the President or to the Government of the Republic, or excites or attempts to excite hatred to or contempt of the administration of justice, or excites or attempts to excite the People of Sri Lanka to procure, other than by lawful means, the alteration of any matter by law established, or attempts to raise discontent or dissatisfaction amongst the People of Sri Lanka, or to promote feeling of ill-will and hostility between different classes of such People, shall be punished with the simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years”.
The accusations of genocide against Sri Lanka by the TNA is not the first time. Its 2004 election manifesto spoke of ‘genocidal acts’ against Tamils. Reference to genocide is made in political speeches. Tamil legal luminaries including the present Chief Minister of the Northern Province has requested that the Tamil politicians desist from using the word ‘genocide’ in view of the legal ramifications and international scope the word incites and it is for this reason that legal action against TNA must be taken.
33 Signatories to the letter sent to Navi Pillai
NPC Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Environment Ponnuthurai Ayngaranesan
NPC Minister of Fisheries, Transport, Trade and Commerce B. Deniswaran
NPC Minister of Education, Cultural Affairs and Youth Affairs T. Gurukularajah
NPC Minister of Health and Indigenous Medicine P. Sathiyalingam
NPC Deputy Chairman Antony Jeyanathan
NPC Councillor and former MP M. K. Shivajilingam
NPC Councillor and former MP Dharmalingam Sithadthan
Eastern Provincial Council members
Former MP and Councillor Gnanamuththu Krishnapillai
– by Shenali D Waduge