Monthly Archives: November 2015



The Srisena regime has announced that it will not release most of the Tamil political prisoners who have been languishing in the jails and detention centres in Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe announced on Friday only 32 prisoners will be released by 9th November.

Reacting to the announcement from Colombo, Tamil political prisoners said to Ceylon Today:

“We shall launch another ‘fast unto death’ if the President fails to adhere to his promises, as mentioned in the letter, before 7 November. This is the only way we have chosen to find a solution to our burning problem. President Sirisena will be held accountable for our deaths during the hunger strike. President Sirisena will be responsible for our vital organs. He should take responsibility to donate our organs.” prisoners

A large number of the Tamil political prisoners have been kept in prison for over two decades without charge or trial by the Sri Lankan state through emergency powers granted to its security forces in the Prevention of Terrorist Act ( PTA) and Emergency Regulation Laws. Majority of the prisoners have experienced torture and been subjected to human rights violations by the Sri Lankan police and intelligence. Some of the prisoners have revealed their stories of sexual torture.

The Tamil Chief Minister of the Northern Provincial Council, C.V. Vigneswaran, in a press release, emphasized that good governance cannot be implanted from the outside; the government has to prove it by actions. He also said that the release of Tamil political prisoners has proven to involve no risk for the state as those released under the previous regime caused no violence. He also pointed out the discriminatory logic of the government, which provided amnesty to the Sinhalese insurgents of the JVP during the 1970’s and 1990’s while refusing it to Tamil political prisoners:

“In the time of the JVP, everyone was given unconditional general amnesty. To say that there are obstacles and delays is surprising for us. It is only by accommodating such small requests that the rhetoric of good governance can have some use, but to maintain such policies, and chanting ‘good governance’ is obsolete.”

The Srisena Government’s reluctance to release Tamil political prisoners and maintain war-time emergency laws exposes their intent to continue with the genocidal agenda of the successive Sri Lankan Governments, Tamil Refugee Council said today.

“We demand the immediate and unconditional release of all the Tamil political prisoners, unlawfully incarcerated by the occupying Sri Lankan forces and its state in official and undisclosed detention camps and prisons.” Said Tamil Refugee Spokesperson Aran Mylvaganam.aran

“We demand the Australian government and it’s allies, who proved their influence in the island by instigating a regime change earlier this year, to wield the same power in pressing the Colombo government to immediately grant general amnesty to all Tamil political prisoners. The incarcerated Tamils are not criminals, and cannot be subjected to the criminal jurisdiction of the Sri Lankan state. They are rather political prisoners and Prisoners of War.”

“The western governments cannot conceive or expect a cessation to the refugee crisis, involving Tamils, without solving the political situation in their homeland. It is the Sri Lankan state terror and military occupation of their traditional homelands leads to Tamils fleeing persecution and impoverished lives towards countries like Australia”


The 30 years of armed conflict between primarily the Sri Lankan state and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, is not of a criminal nature, contrary it carries rather with it dimensions of genocide and national oppression, in which the Sri Lankan state and its national elites waged a war of subjugation and attrition towards the oppressed Eelam Tamil nation.

The armed insurgency or war against the unitary Sri Lankan state was a resolute and collective reaction of the Eelam Tamil people and their youth, and an inevitable historical response to the systematic and institutionalized oppression, and structural genocide orchestrated by the state towards the Tamils.

The democratic venues to address the Tamil national grievances and aspirations were systematically dismantled and silenced by the Sri Lankan state, which orchestrated repression and pogroms against the Tamils from 1948 till 1977, during the course of their non-violent struggles for national emancipation. The Sri Lankan state denies the national existence of the Tamils as well as it deprives them of the right to self-determination.

The 6thamendment of the constitution of Sri Lanka, criminalizes anyone who espouses the democratic will of the Tamil people towards self-determination and independence, as it is deemed a threat to the ‘territorial integrity, unity and sovereignty’ of the Sri lankan state.

Hence Tamils incarcerated by the judicial system of the state and its armed forces through the use of emergency laws, are not criminals threatening the state, but political prisoners and Prisoners of War (POW) who advocated the political rights and aspirations as well as the security and liberty of the Tamil people in the island of Sri Lanka.

For further information contact the Tamil Refugee Council on 0410 197 814.



When the eminent international jurist Raphael Lemkin introduced the word ‘genocide’ to the world in the aftermath of World War Two, his definition was clear and unequivocal.

Lemkin was a Polish Jew who fought in the resistance movement against the Nazis in the 1930s and then, as a lawyer, was responsible for framing the first UN Treaty, the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

Lemkin said that genocide – a hybrid word formed from the Greek ‘geno’, which means race or culture, and the Latin for killing ,‘cide’ – was a premeditated plan, through mass killings and other means, to destroy a group’s identity and culture and then impose the identity and culture of the oppressor. (A group could be defined as national, ethnic, racial or religious.)

There is nothing fuzzy or imprecise about this definition. It makes it relatively easy to detect and call out acts of genocide, which are regarded as the worst crimes on the UN books. Yet decades later, while these words resound with clarity in the UN charter, sovereign states across the globe continue to commit genocide with impunity, knowing they have a free pass from those countries with the power to do something about it.

1There’s no better example right now than Sri Lanka, where, with the full support of western powers as well as China and Russia, the chauvinist leaders of the Sinhalese majority have been running a genocide against the Tamil population in the north and east since the British colonisers departed in 1947.

The determination to wipe out the Tamil identity in the regions where they are predominant, and have lived as a majority for thousands of years, has never stopped. It is an unrelenting, unforgiving project that today can be defined by any number of Sinhalese government actions, the most prominent of which is the continued military occupation of the north and east six years after the end of the war that saw the disintegration of a 30-year Tamil resistance movement.

This renders laughable the election promise of the new president Maithripala Sirisena to provide a more open and free society. Indeed, when you live with military checkpoints every 500 metres down the road and endure constant observation by armed soldiers, as well as regular home visits, it’s a bit difficult to believe you live in a free and open society. Even Tamil school-kids aren’t exempt from this suffocating authoritarianism, with military commanders regularly coming to their classrooms to deliver government propaganda. And, of course, they are required to bow these great men, under threat of punishment.

SIRISENA-MILITARY-WAR-HEROES-DAY-MAY-18-20152Sadly, there is no end in sight to this tyranny, given that Sirisena has vowed to maintain the military presence in the Tamil homelands, a predictable pledge from an acting defence minister in the Rajapaksa regime who boasted during the election campaign about his time spent overseeing the forces that were in the process of slaughtering up to 70,000 innocent Tamil civilians in early 2009.

Military occupations spawn all kinds of hellish outcomes for innocent civilians. And this one, which deploys one soldier for every five residents, is no different. Young Tamil men disappear into prisons, where they face torture, permanent disfigurement, physically and mentally, and often death. Hundreds of political prisoners also remain locked away in secret jails across the country. Some have been disappeared into the prison system for decades.

pp-children-protest3The Sirisena regime says in one forum they are going to release all prisoners, then, in another, denies there are any political detainees. The end result is preservation of the status quo, except for a few token releases designed to silence continued demands from Amnesty International and other well-informed, respected human rights groups to free these people and investigate the 146,000 reported Tamil disappearances, along with the many mass graves that have been uncovered in recent times.

Rape has also been commonplace for years. Today women still do not walk the streets late in the day or evening. The immunity from consequences granted to all military personnel for any criminal act sharply increases this threat to the population.

The military commander of the entire Jaffna region, Major-General Mahinda Hathurusinghe, had listed in his mobile phone the names of several Tamil women he used to sate his sexual appetite. Whenever he felt like fornicating with someone other than his wife, he would summon one of them by text message and rape her. They always submitted to this beast because they knew the consequences for their families if they didn’t. This became public in 2013, yet there was no inquiry, let alone a penalty.

Another sickening case, this time of gang-rape of an 11 year-old and nine year-old girl by seven sailors in the north in 2014, was quickly hidden from public view after the government intervened and ordered a magistrate to delete the names of the sailors from the court record. They were immediately re-deployed in the south, and the families of the girls who had been protesting for justice were silenced by threats to their lives from the army and police.

All genocides are multi-pronged projects, which is seen today by the gradual obliteration of Tamil identity through the destruction of their religious icons and the imposition of a foreign religion.

Only this week Tamils on an islet in the Jaffna peninsula, who are mostly Hindu, had to stand by, silently and sadly, as they witnessed the Sri Lankan Navy participate in a Buddhist ceremony, which included all-night chanting and then a senior commander laying a foundation stone for a massive statue of the Buddha. To make perfectly clear what they were all about, the government recently issued a gazette notification, changing the name of the island from the Tamil name, Nainathivu, to the Sinhala name, Nagadeepaya.

image-e14472527436494It is a weird thing to see all these Buddhist icons being built across the north and east, where no Buddhists live. The local media has estimated at least 250 Hindu temples have been knocked down and replaced by Buddhist stupas since the war ended.

Once again, it reveals the long-term genocidal plan to populate the Tamil regions with Sinhalese settlers, including soldiers. In one week alone, about 700 Sinhalese families were deposited into homes in the north – on land owned by Tamils.

Soldiers stationed in the north have been encouraged take up permanent residence there through land grants. Also, a special bonus of 100,000 rupees ($US650) is also on offer to Sinhalese military and police personnel to have a third child. Meanwhile, in Mannar region, it was revealed about 30 Tamil mothers of small children were escorted to a major regional hospital, where they were forced to have contraceptive devices sewn into their arms. If ever you needed evidence of genocide, as defined by Lemkin, it is these two stories – Tamil mothers undergoing forced contraception and wives of Sinhalese soldiers receiving financial incentives to reproduce in bigger numbers.

The property theft continues, as the military refuses to leave Tamil-owned land, claiming it is needed for high security bases yet, at the same time, using much of it to build scores of lavish resorts that are owned and run by the military. This week an expansion to the Thalsevana resort was opened by the army in its high security zone on the north coast of Jaffna, on land stolen from Tamils and seemingly never to be returned.

IMG_7710-15While Sirisena attempts to persuade the international community of his good intentions towards Tamils by handing back to the rightful owners a few small portions of military-controlled land, his duplicity is often quickly exposed by Tamil media. A good example is this week’s story about the military’s attempt to confiscate permanently 3524 acres of land that belongs to Tamil farmers in a village in Mannar province. The Jaffna District Secretariat found that 7393 acres of Tamil-owned land in its region was under military occupation, keeping 10,495 people off their land and houses and living in appalling makeshift accommodation.

6You can pick any date, any decade, since the Sinhalese, who represent 75 per cent of the population, assumed power in 1947, and you will find evidence that equates with the definition of genocide. Every government, from the first, under D.S Senanayake in 1947 to the current one under Sirisena, has bristled with the same ingrained superiority complex that sees Tamils as unwanted tenants on an island that belongs only to the Sinhalese. (Of course, the undeniable fact that Tamils have been there since pre-historic times is conveniently written out of official Sinhalese history to allow the myth to prosper.)

The first obvious genocidal act came in 1948 when one million Tamils were immediately disenfranchised, and many deported, in order to silence any effective Tamil voice in parliament.

planta18That done, they then wiped out the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of Tamils worked in the public service in 1956 by declaring Sinhala as the only language permitted in government jobs, supplanting English, which the Tamils had spoken for generations. It was impossible to learn quickly enough what was a foreign language to Tamils and they were thrown out of work en masse.

When Tamils began non-violent demonstrations outside parliament and other prominent places, they were viciously assaulted by the military and the police acting under government orders.

JaffnaPublicLibraryguttedJune19819Government involvement in violence against Tamils continued, with the burning down of the Jaffna library in 1981, in which 95,000 books and invaluable ancient palm leaf manuscripts were lost. Then came the mother of all pogroms, in 1983, when thousands of Tamils were murdered, some being burned to death in the streets while their Sinhalese attackers danced around them. History now records that government officials were up to their necks in both outrages.

1983_rioters-_210History also shows that foreign governments, such as the UK, the US and Australia, have been up to their necks in supporting the worst actions of successive oppressive regimes during the 27-year war against the Tamil Tigers, and well after it.

The UK supplied arms and advisers who were involved in civilian killings in the 1980s that amount to war crimes, the US supplied arms that included illegal cluster bombs and white phosphorous for many years during the war, and since the war ended in May, 2009, Australia has been supplying naval patrol boats and intelligence co-operation to help Sri Lanka stop Tamils, who have suffered torture, rape and beatings in filthy jails, fleeing the island to save their lives and seek asylum in places such as Australia.

Only two years ago, at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Colombo, the former Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, enlightened the world about Australia’s approach to the evil practices of the Sinhalese supremacists who run Sri Lanka. Asked about the well-documented torture of Tamils in Sri Lankan jails, Abbott said: “….In difficult circumstances, difficult things happen.”

Abbott had broken new ground as the first Australian Prime Minister to condone torture. It was a startling comment that reflected the current decline in decent, human values amongst our rulers. Just as shocking is the continued support for the Sri Lankan regime by Australia and the major western powers.

By doing so, these governments are not just denying a genocide but actively participating in its’ prosecution. As Raphael Lemkin outlined in 1948, in the very first UN charter, there is no greater state crime.