Amarantha for Latin American Friendship Association (Erode, Tamil Nadu)
“Humanity is Homeland” said Jose Marti, poet, philosopher and Father of the Cuban Revolutionary war.
“The exploited, all over the world, are our compatriots; and exploiters all over the world our enemies… our country is really the whole world and all Revolutionaries of the world are our brothers” said Fidel Castro, Hero of the Cuban revolution who realized Marti’s dreams.
Cuban doctors are at work among less fortunate people in many parts of the world. Cuban medical teams are engaged in relief and rehabilitation work in various countries devastated by natural disasters. More than 26,000 students from across the world study medicine free of cost at the Latin American School of Medicine in Havana promising to serve the poor and needy back home.
But why did the present leaders of Cuba hail Sri Lanka for killing Eelam Tamils? Why did they tow behind India in praising the Sri Lankan state at the UN Human Rights Council when tens of thousands of Eelam Tamils were killed in the gruesome war? Are Eelam Tamils excluded from the Internationalism unique to Cuba?
We at the Latin American Friendship Association consisting of Tamils of Tamil Nadu, India, were shocked and disheartened when the ALBA countries, at the insistence of Cuba, voted in favor of the Sri Lankan State at the UNHRC on 27 May, 2009. It is now time for Cuba and other Latin American countries to correct their stand about Eelam Tamils in the light of the UN Advisory Panel Report on Sri Lanka, released on 25 April, 2011.
Members of the U.N. Advisory Panel on Sri Lanka constituted by the Secretary General of U.N. Mr. Ban-ki-Moon, have confirmed the allegations of Tamils living across the world. The report confirms that more than 40,000 civilians were killed by heavy artillery and widespread shelling by Sri Lankan govt. forces; that there was systematic shelling on “No fire zones” including hospitals, schools, etc…. It strongly denies the Govt. of Sri Lanka’s claims of “Humanitarian…. Operation” with a policy of “zero civilian causalities” and indicates that a wide range of serious violations of International Humanitarian Laws and International Human Rights Laws were committed by the Govt. of Sri Lanka. Though it has been alleged that the LTTE had used civilians as human shields, recruited children in its cadre and stored weapons in civilian areas, the panel report accuses the Govt. of Sri Lanka of trampling on all International Humanitarian Laws. Therefore, the panel has called upon the UN Security council to “reconsider the resolution passed by the UNHRC on 27 May 2009 in light of the Panel Report”.
One may recall that the permanent People’s Tribunal, an international body independent of any state authority, after examining evidences and hearing eye-witnesses in Dublin in January 2010, concluded that the Sri Lankan government is guilty of War crimes and Crimes against Humanity and that the International community, particularly the U.K. and U.S.A., share responsibility for the breakdown of the peace process during 2002-2006. The tribunal comprised of renowned jurists, Nobel laureates including Rajinder Sachar, former chief justice of New Delhi High Court, Sulak Sivaraksa- a Buddhist Peace campaigner, writer, etc… This People’s Tribunal was set up by the continuous efforts of the Tamil Diaspora, Tamils in Tamil Nadu and some Sinhala democrats.
The Tribunal termed the civil war a “war without witnesses” because, the GoSL prevented entry of both National and International media into the war zone. In fact, some of the early victims were journalists who were murdered by unknown assassins. The atrocities carried out by the military relate particularly to civilians and there are evidences of cluster bombs being dropped by warplanes. Sexual abuse and rape of women by government troops was yet another atrocity repeated throughout the civil war by govt. military in destroyed villages and in the “welfare villages”. This led to tragedies such as abortions and suicide by victims unable to live with family shame and mental trauma. This policy of targeting also applied to Tamils living outside the conflict zone. Apart from mass deportations, selective terror campaigns were carried out by means of abductions, assassinations, arbitrary arrests, detention, sexual assault and torture.
The tribunal insists that the charges of genocide require further investigation, whereas the U.N. Panel on Sri Lanka restricts itself to allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The U.N. fails to view the conflict in Sri Lanka as an ethnic issue as it does not recognize the Tamils’ struggle for statehood or the Tamils as a nationality with a genuine need to protect itself from extermination. Sri Lanka’s war crimes are only a part of ethnic cleansing of Tamils over the last 60 years.
The Sinhala rulers on assuming power from the British in 1948 began the systematic oppression of Tamils in all aspects of life.
(1) One million Tamils were excluded from citizenship and rendered stateless by the citizenship Act 18 of 1948. Act 48 of 1949 denied the right to vote enjoyed by the Tamils until then.
(2) Tamil homelands in the North and East were deliberately colonized by Sinhalese with state funds, but were excluded from all development projects.
(3) The Sinhala Only Act of 1958 and Standardization Act of the same year deprived Tamils of higher education, employment opportunities, professional opportunities and all public office thereby consolidating the racial discrimination.
(4) Thousands of Tamils were killed in racial violence let loose by the Sinhala rulers in 1956, 1958, 1974, 1976, and 1977 against innocent Tamils. There was widespread looting, arson, rape, torture, burning people alive, destroying property and centers of cultural importance – all planned and executed by racist Sinhala Governments.
(5) The state sponsored violence against Tamils in August 1977 forced more than 50,000 Tamils to migrate to northern part of Eelam and to several other countries including India.
(6) Burning of Jaffna Library in 1981 and the massacre of Tamils detained in Welikkede Prison determined armed struggle as the only course available for the Tamils for their liberation.
Is Sri Lanka an anti-imperialist state? :
Sri Lanka, which calls itself as a ‘Socialist Democratic Republic’, was the first country in South Asia to open itself for globalization in 1976, and amended its economic policy accordingly. Recently, the Sri Lanka Govt. has evacuated poor people from neighborhoods around Colombo to offer lands for multi-national companies.
Active military collobaration between the ‘anti-imperialist’ Sri Lanka and United States has been going on for more than two decades. The United States of America has been arming and financing Sri Lanka for most of the civil war period. [http://cdi.org/PDFs/CSBillCharts.pdf] From at least the 1990s, the US has provided military training, financing, logistic supplies and weapons sales worth millions annually. A Voice of America installation was set up in the northwestern part of the country.
The Acquisition and Cross Servicing Agreement (ACSA ) was signed soon after Rajapaksa assumed power. It was U.S. citizen Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, Defense Minister, and brother to President Rajapaksa, who signed the agreement, March 5, 2007. Their younger brother, also a minister, is a US citizen too.) . ACSA will enable the United States to utilize Sri Lanka’s ports, airports and air space. As a prelude to the signing of the agreement scheduled for July, this year, United States Naval ships have been calling at the Colombo Port for bunkering as well as to enable sailors to go on shore leave.
In return for the facilities offered, Sri Lanka is to receive military assistance from the United States including increased training facilities and equipment. The training, which will encompass joint exercises with United States Armed Forces, will focus on counter terrorism and related activity. The agreement will be worked out on the basis of the use of Sri Lanka’s ports, airports, and air space to be considered hire-charges that will be converted for military hardware.
Today, lands in the war-torn North and Eastern parts of the Island are shared among Indian and Chinese corporate companies.
Sri Lanka is not a secular state as the constitution itself states that Buddhism is the foremost religion in the Island though there are people belonging to various other religions.
“War on Terror” is a slogan borrowed by Sri Lanka from the U.S. to justify the genocidal war on Tamils, using sophisticated weapons of mass destruction supplied by the U.S., Israel, Japan, Italy, China and India.
Truth and the UNHRC Resolution dated 27 May 2009; The Current Situation:
The U.N. Panel Report of 25 April 2011 is more than enough evidence to conclude that the UNHRC Resolution of 27 May 2009 is far removed from truth. The magnitude of physical torture, psychological torture, disease, starvation and abuse of the Tamils survivors has few precedents in history. It will be several generations before the Tamils recover from the horror of this war. As with any war, women have borne the brunt – there are about 89,000 war widows in Eelam. Tamil women have been molested, sexually harassed and raped as part of the genocidal program so that they never return to normal life. The Sri Lankan army has taken upon itself the duty of not letting any humanitarian aid reach the Tamil survivors. Deprived of food, water, medicine, medical services and other basic necessities, Tamils have been subject to several epidemics in the camps, leading to steady rise in death toll. There were an estimated three hundred thousand Tamils in these modern day “concentration camps” immediately after the war. The number has been dwindling by the day and two years after the war, though the govt. of Sri Lanka claims to have “let free” and “rehabilitated” Tamils, there is no evidence of resettlement; there is no information as to where these people were “resettled”. A state of emergency is still in vogue and the fear-gripped, psychologically tortured people in camps are still under the wrath of the Sri Lankan Army.
We would like to call upon the ALBA countries and other radical governments of Latin America to reflect upon the situation prevailing in south Asia. Countries that became independent after the Second World War including India (1947), Pakistan (1947) and Sri Lanka (1948) were under British rule for centuries. The British ruled these countries inhabited by several Nationalities speaking different languages under a single administrative unit for their own convenience. When these colonies became independent, people of different Nationalities were forced to remain under one state without recognition as separate Nationalities having separate homelands. This improper decolonization led to fighting by different Nationalities for the retrieval of their right to self-rule.
Just as the Tamils in Sri Lanka fighting for Eelam, their traditional homeland, there are other genuine Nationality struggles going on in Kashmir and the North Eastern states in India. Tamils and Punjabis are the potential Nationalities likely to rise in struggle sooner or later. With these realities in its backyard, the Indian government chose to assist the Sri Lanka Govt. in its war against the Liberation of Tamil Eelam. India let Sri Lanka use its satellites for surveillance, supplied sophisticated equipment including radars, technical assistance and billions of rupees in aid for the war against Eelam Tamils. India is well aware that a liberated Eelam state would not tolerate the dominance of the Indian state and its sway over Trincomalee, the strategically located natural port in Eelam territory. Liberation of Eelam could prove to be more than just precedence for Tamils in Tamil Nadu and other Nationalities in the Indian State. India has conveyed its message that it is capable of “nipping trouble in the bud” by deliberately taking part in the ethnic cleansing of Tamils in Sri Lanka.
In the light of the above, we urge the radical governments of Latin America to demand that:
a) The UNHRC Resolution dated 27 May 2009 be removed from the UN records.
b) The struggle of Eelam Tamils is accepted as a liberation struggle for the retrieval of their Homelands.
c) The Sri Lankan govt. under Mahinda Rajapakse is investigated for genocidal crimes in the international court of justice.
d) The planned Sinhala colonization and the land-grab by multinational corporations in Eelam be stopped immediately
e) International media and International Human Rights activists are allowed entry into Sri Lankan territory to gain access to the truth which has not happened even two years after the end of the war
f) Rehabilitation and resettlement happen under the supervision of the UN Peacekeeping Force
g) These countries join hands with Eelam Tamil support groups across the world in demanding that the Eelam Tamils languishing in camps under horrific conditions be let free to return to their homes and all humanitarian assistance rendered to restore normalcy in their lives.
We believe that the blossoming of Socialism in the Twenty First Century and its endurance will not be complete without the liberation of oppressed Nationalities of South Asia. The Eelam Tamils have paid their dues for such liberation dearly and this would no doubt go down in history as the impotence of the left and radical forces.
Imperialism has been successful in spreading the myth that ‘Communism is dead’ and ‘There Is No Alternative'(TINA) to capitalism. If we, as committed anti-imperialists fail to extend our solidarity for the democratic aspirations of the peoples, it will only become a historic blunder of joining hands with imperialism to bury the ideology of communism. And we would like to remind here the saying of the great Internationalist Che Guevera:
“The revolutionary [is] the ideological motor force of the revolution…if he forgets his proletarian internationalism, the revolution which he leads will cease to be an inspiring force and he will sink into a comfortable lethargy, which imperialism, our irreconcilable enemy, will utilize well. Proletarian internationalism is a duty, but it is also a revolutionary necessity. So we educate our people.”
The U.N. Panel Report on Sri Lanka released on April 25, 2011 gives us an opportunity to recognize the just struggle of Eelam Tamils for their self determination and to restore the dignity of International Humanitarian Laws. Cuba and the other Latin American countries should now voice their support for Eelam Tamils and demonstrate their true International spirit handed down to them by Comrade Ernesto Che Guevera.
We look forward to your cooperation in making this effort a success. A line in reply would go a long way in forging our belief in Freedom.