History of Tamils in Sri Lanka:
The shortest distance between India and the Island of Sri Lanka is about sixteen miles. It is a distance that can be easily navigated by the catamarans that Tamils on both sides of the straight used.
Some researchers have concluded that it was during the period 6000 B.C. to 3000 B.C. that the island separated from the Indian sub continent and the narrow strip of shallow water known today as the Palk Straits came into existence after a powerful Tsunami or Earth quake.
Who are these Tamils, also known as Dravidians? Clyde Ahmad Winters, who has written extensively on Dravidian origins commented:
"Archaeological and linguistic evidence indicates that the Dravidians were the founders of the Harappan culture which extended from the Indus Valley through northeastern Afghanistan, on into Turkestan. The Harappan civilization existed from 2600-1700 BC. The Harappan civilization was twice the size the Old Kingdom of Egypt. In addition to trade relations with Mesopotamia and Iran, the Harappan city states also had active trade relations with the Central Asian peoples.
Singhalese in Sri Lanka first appeared in about 486 BC, when Prince Vijaya, the eldest son of Sinha Bahu, King of Sinhapura, landed at the Island of Sri Lanka with seven hundred companions from his father's kingdom in North India. (The government of Sri Lanka sometimes states that the Tamils are recent migrants to the Island. In fact, Tamils inhabited Sri Lanka for millennia before the Singhalese arrived.)
The Sri Lankan government also claims that the island is not visible from the Indian sub continent. Others disagree. From a fishing boat in the Palk Straight, sailors can see both lands simultaneously. Indians and residents in Sri Lanka have certainly known about the land on the other side of the straight for as long as humans lived in India and Sri Lanka.
There were wars from time to time between the Tamil Kingdom on Sri Lanka and the Singhalese kingdom started after the arrival of Prince Vijaya from north India
The Portuguese arrived in Ceylon in 1505. The Portuguese were displaced in 1638 by the Dutch.
Dutch rule lasted until 1796, when they were forced out by the British.
British rule lasted until 1948. What had been separate kingdoms of Tamils and Singhalese were united in a single country under British rule.. Independence came with no recognition of the different languages, cultures, and national aspirations of the two races. In Sri Lanka since independence, the majority Singhalese population has controlled the government and all national institutions. The British government, which had helped India to find a political solution that recognized various cultures and languages in India, showed no such foresight in Sri Lanka.
The First Prime Minister of Ceylon, elected by the majority Singhalese, started a land grabbing program which benefited Singhalese. The government resettled Singhalese in areas that had been inhabited by Tamils. They changed the names of theses places from Tamil to Singhalese names. It was the start of ethnic cleansing and mistrust of the Singhalese majority among Tamils.
Tamil leaders began to seek a federal state for Tamils in Sri Lanka as the hostility of the national Singhalese government became clear. The boundaries of this Tamil State roughly matched those of the former Tamil Kingdom. To achieve this political solution, Tamil leaders became “kingmakers”, holding the balance of power between the two major Ceylon Singhalese parties. When these methods failed to produce a political settlement, Tamils attempted a path of Gandhian nonviolent disobedience.
All efforts to achieve the federal state for Tamils failed. In the meantime, Ceylon’s Singhalese leaders forced their language on Tamils and made Singhalese the country’s official language. They discriminated against Tamils in government employment, blocked all economical development in Tamil areas, and discriminated against Tamils in higher education.
In 1972, the Ceylonese constitution was changed. It revoked protections for religious and ethnic minorities. Specifically, Buddhism was given favored position, at the expense of Hinduism, Christianity, or any other religion. Most Singhalese are Buddhist. Most Tamils are Hindus or Christians. The Constitution also changed the name of the country to the Singhalese term Sri Lanka.
In 1977, the Sri Lankan constitution introduced a Gaullist system, giving the president much greater power. In the previous parliament, the Tamil party had gained enough seats to become the official opposition party. The constitution was changed to minimize Tamil representation so that the Tamil party would never be the official opposition again. Also, advocating self-rule for a minority – a Tamil goal for years – became a crime.
Sri Lanka government-inspired race riots took place in 1958, 1977, and 1983. During the riots many Tamils were killed, Tamil businesses were destroyed, and Tamils’ houses were burned. Tamils were forced to leave the Island for India and other countries.
Tamils suffered from subjugation, atrocities, absence of educational opportunity, and employment discrimination. Tamil youths started a political campaign against the Singhalese government by distributing leaflets and posters. The Singhalese government responded with “disappearances” of Tamil youths by Sri Lankan armed forces. Many Tamils were imprisoned with severe punishment.
In 1983, widespread violent ethnic riots against Tamils led the Tamil youths to form a resistance force against the Sri Lankan armed forces. It was the start of the Tamil Tigers.
The Tamil Tigers (LTTE, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) was designated as a terrorist organization by the Clinton Administration in 1994. During this civil war there was a hope that the Clinton administration would be able to bring about a political solution. But again the Sri Lankan Singhalese leaders failed or refused to find a solution.
In the meantime, the Tamil Tigers have become a more widely accepted resistance and offensive force among Tamils.
Starting in 2002, there was a ceasefire that was initiated by the US, UK, EU, Japan, and Norway. It was called the Norwegian initiated ceasefire. During the ceasefire, Tamils asked for a federal solution. It was accepted by the Singhalese and International Communities. The Tamil Tigers proposed an interim federal administration for Tamil areas, so that they could improve the life of Tamils after the vicious civil war. The political solution was then rejected by the Sri Lankan Singhalese leader, the president, Ms. Kumaratunga.
This refusal came when the president, Ms. Kumaratunga, dissolved the parliament and thereby dismissed the prime minister, who was negotiating with the Tamils.
The 2004 Tsunami that hit the Island was the worst catastrophe to strike Sri Lanka in modern history. It took over 17,000 lives. The Tamil areas were affected heavily. The world was ready to help. The UN envoy on the tsunami, former president Clinton, asked both Tamils and Singhalese to share the tsunami fund that was allocated by the UN and international donors. However, the Sri Lankan Singhalese leaders refused to share the resources with Tamils to rehabilitate the tsunami-hit areas. The Colombo government refused to allow UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and Bill Clinton to visit Tamil Areas when they were in Sri Lanka. Most of the Tamil areas hit by the tsunami are still not rehabilitated. Bill Clinton was so frustrated by the Sri Lankan government’s refusal to share the funds that he skipped his last scheduled trip to Sri Lanka. He did visit other countries that had tsunami damage.
This refusal to share international aid hardened mistrust among Tamils for the Singhalese-dominated government. There were witnesses to these abuses among the international community, which is not always the case.
Ms. Kumaratunga was replaced after two terms by Mr. Rajapaksa, who was elected in November, 2005. He also rejected the federal political solution for Tamils. After initial peace talks with the Tamil Tigers failed, the civil war resumed, this time with the government using more highly sophisticated and damaging weapons. These weapons were purchased from Pakistan and China.
The government pressed the war in other ways. The main highway (the A-9) to Tamil Areas was blocked. Abductions increased. Tamil journalists were murdered. Tamil Academics were also killed. Tamil businessmen and upper-class Tamils were “disappeared”: they were abducted and never seen again. Tamils were forced from their homes by bombing and shelling. Make-shift refugee camps began to appear filled with Tamil middle-class refugees. Tamil elected members of the national legislature were killed, apparently by government surrogates. These measures all were meant to suppress the Tamils’ voice. All these things happened during the Norwegian initiated cease-fire. Finally, the cease-fire agreement that was mutually agreed upon was officially aborted by the Sri Lanka Singhalese Leader, Mr. Rajapaksa.
Refusal of any political solution by the Sri Lankan government has led to the killing of an estimated 3,00,000 Tamils, so far.
Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, New York, 9 December 1948
The Convention, a major pillar in the evolving framework of international humanitarian rules, declares genocide a crime under international law. It condemns genocide, whether committed in time of peace or in time of war, and provides a definition of this crime. Moreover, the prescribed punishment is not subject to the limitations of time and place.
The Convention defines genocide as any of a number of acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, 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, and forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
The Convention also declares that there shall be no immunity. Persons committing this crime shall be punished, whether they are constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials or private individuals.
Furthermore, the Convention stipulates that persons charged with genocide shall be tried by a competent tribunal of the State in the territory in which the act was committed or by such international penal tribunal as may have jurisdiction with respect to the Contracting Parties. The crime of genocide is a justiciable offence under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (17 July 1998, not yet in force).
Likewise, genocide shall not be considered as a political crime for the purpose of extradition. In such cases, Contracting Parties pledge themselves to grant extradition.
Unlike other human rights treaties, the Genocide Convention does not establish a specific monitoring body or expert committee. It stipulates that any Contracting Party may call upon the competent organs of the United Nations to take such action under the United Nations Charter, which they consider appropriate for the prevention and suppression of acts of genocide. Thus, the matter may be brought before the International Court of Justice which may order interim measures of protection. At present, one such case is pending before the International Court of Justice.
The Genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka:
Organized Killing of Tamils. This US State Department report notes that while ethnic Tamils comprise approximately 16 percent of the overall population of Sri Lanka, the overwhelming majority of victims of human rights violations, such as killings and disappearances, were young male Tamils. The report states “Credible reports cited unlawful killings by government agents, assassinations by unknown perpetrators, politically motivated killings, child soldier recruitment by paramilitary forces associated with the government, disappearances, arbitrary arrests and detention, poor prison conditions, denial of fair public trial, government corruption and lack of transparency, infringement of religious freedom, infringement of freedom of movement, and discrimination against minorities. There were numerous reports that the army, police, and pro-government paramilitary groups participated in armed attacks against civilians and practiced torture, kidnapping, hostage-taking, and extortion with impunity.” The State Department report continued: “The situation deteriorated particularly in the government-controlled Jaffna peninsula. By year's end extra-judicial killings occurred in Jaffna nearly on a daily basis and were allegedly perpetrated by military intelligence units or associated paramilitaries.”
Land grabbing from Tamils. Land grabbing has been done by ”Mass displacement of minorities,” forced Removal of Tamils from Tamil areas, and their replacement with Singhalese settlers. The government has used security zone to effect forced removals.
Genocidal war. An Australian publication cites the “’Genocidal war’ against the Tamils” and says that it “has resulted in 75,000 civilians being killed and 400,000 made refugees.
Since the commencement of the “cease-fire” in February 2002, 7000 people had been killed — including 1200 children — up to November 2005. The Sri Lankan air force had bombed 52 schools, 1607 Hindu temples, 32 hospitals and the public library of Jaffna, the repository of much Tamil cultural history.”
Discrimination against Tamils by Sri Lankan Singhalese majority. The government has made a declaration that Singhalese is the official language of Sri Lanka and that Sri Lankan Buddhism is the state religion. Of course, Tamils have their own ancient culture and language. Most of the majority Singhalese are Buddhist, while minority Tamils are Hindu, Christian, or of other religions.
Continuous refusal of a political solution by Sri Lankan Singhalese leaders since independence from Britain (1947). Tamils want devolution of power to the Tamils in the north and east of Sri Lanka where the Tamils live. This has been rejected by Singhalese rulers, who seek an ethnically and religiously pure Buddhist nation. The leaders who have rejected devolution include Mr. Bandaranaike, JR Jayewardene, Ms. Kumaratunga, and Mr. Rajapaksa.
No Religious freedom. Singhalese Buddhists show no tolerance for Hindus, Christians, Muslims, or any other non-Buddhist faith. Recently, the Sri Lankan army shelled the Madu church and forced the church’s priest to take the statue of the Virgin Mary to shelter. The statue has been an object of veneration for more than 400 years.
Cancellation of the Cease Fire Agreement. This agreement, which was initiated by the international community (including the U.S.) and supervised by the Scandinavian countries, was unilaterally cancelled by the Sri Lankan Singhalese leader, Mr. Rajapaksa, in January 2008. The SLMM (Sri Lankan Monitoring Mission) left the island, and allowed the Sri Lankan government to continue their ethnic cleansing free of international observers. Cancellation of the Cease Fire Agreement was condemned by the U.S., by the UN, and by other international authorities.
Iranian money and weapons. After canceling the CFA (Cease Fire Agreement), the Sri Lankan leader, Mr. Rajapaksa, went to Iran to borrow 1.9 billion dollars. This money was used to buy more weapon and ammunition, which are being used to destroy the Tamil areas of the island of Sri Lanka.
President. Rajapaksa shaking hands with Iranian President Mahmoud. Ahmedinejad. The meeting was a success, as Sri Lanka came away with 1.9 billion dollars in weapons and ammunition to carry on their viscous civil war.
NGO disappearances. People from NGOs that help Tamils in the island of Sri Lanka regularly disappear or are murdered. These NGOs include the Red Cross, UNOPS, the Danish Deming Organization, Action Contre la Faim, and many more. The killings, when they can be traced, are usually traced to the Sri Lankan armed forces.
Rape as a tool of oppression. The Sri Lankan armed forces use rape as well as murder to terrorize innocents. They have been doing it to Tamils in Sri Lanka for years. As their behavior in Haiti has shown, this appears to be their habit even when they are not in Sri Lanka.
Media suppression. Tamil journalists who work with Tamil-language daily newspapers and Tamil web bloggers have been targeted by the Sri Lankan government and their surrogates, with the aim of suppressing news about Sri Lankan atrocities in Tamil areas. Tamil journalists have been killed, and the killings were condemned by Reporters without Borders and by former US ambassador to Sri Lanka Ms. Teresita Schaffer. Recently, a Sri Lankan Journalists group said that 14 journalists and media workers have been killed in Sri Lanka in the past two years; eight others have been abducted, and four others imprisoned. The group says licenses for some radio stations have been revoked by the government.
CPJ (Committee to Protect Journalists) issues an alert whenever the Sri Lankan government suppresses the Tamil Media for war reporting that is not favorable to the Sri Lankan government.
Refusal of UN watch group. The recent downgrading of Sri Lanka’s National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) by an international committee highlights the need for independent international monitoring of the human rights situation in Sri Lanka, Human Rights Watch said. Human Rights Watch also said that a UN human rights monitor was urgently needed to stem violations in Sri Lanka. However, Sri Lanka refused to allow UN human rights monitoring. An international advisory panel said it was resigning over Sri Lanka's refusal to properly investigate alleged human rights abuses, and a new report blamed the government for the abductions of hundreds of people and other violations of Sri Lanka’s obligations under international law.
Impunity for Violators. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights found Sri Lanka’s weak rule of law and impunity for the violators alarming. Authorities conducted no searches for criminal offenders against Tamils, especially against Tamil youths, Tamil journalists, Tamil elected members of parliament, and human rights advocates.
Religious Intolerance. The radical Jathika Hela Urumaya party rose to power in Sri Lanka after a wave of church burnings across Sri Lanka in 2004. The party both exploited and fostered this explosive environment. They campaigned on a platform of Buddhist supremacy and on promises to criminalize religious conversions.
In the recent referendum in Southern Sudan, people overwhelmingly approved independence for Southern Sudan We approve and support this referendum, in which it was recommended that the southern Sudan be given sovereignty. This accomplishes two important ends: It gives the southern Sudanese safety and peace within their own homeland, and it ends a decades-long bloody civil war.
We urge that the United Nation (UN) support a similar referendum being held in Sri Lanka. Like Sudan, Sri Lanka has endured a decades-long civil war in which the government brutalized and murdered a powerless minority. As with the southern Sudanese, Sri Lankan Tamils need a sovereign homeland in which they can be safe and free.
The Report of the Secretary-General’s Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka was published Monday, April 25, 2011. The report referred to “(i) Killing of civilians through widespread shelling; (ii) Shelling of hospitals and humanitarian objects; (iii) Denial of humanitarian assistance; (iv) Human rights violations suffered by victims and survivors of the conflict, including both IDPs and suspected LTTE cadre; and (v) Human rights violations outside the conflict zone, including against the media and other critics of the Government."
The report recommends international investigations. We additionally ask for a referendum on Tamil sovereignty.
We the undersigned request that the UN support and advance a referendum in Sri Lanka asking whether the Tamils should gain sovereignty within their own region.
GENOCIDE: LIST OF EVIDENCES:
Sex Abuse and Murder in Sri Lanka- New Photos Emerge - Tim King - Salem-News.com - Be forewarned, that the photos of war crime and sex abuse victims shown below, are shocking and gruesome.
Grisly Photos Reveal Genocide by Sri Lankan Government Against Tamil People
Amnesty International Report 2010 - Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka: Human Rights Council must call for an Independent International Investigation into Allegations of War Crimes in Sri Lanka
Dublin Tribunal finds against Sri Lanka on charges of War Crimes
Permanent People's Tribunal
Sri Lanka video 'appears authentic' - Channel "4"
Sri Lanka's Killing Fields: War Crimes Unpunished - Channel 4
Photo Evidence Genocide/War Crimes committed by Government of Sri Lanka in 2009
Video Evidence Genocide/War Crimes committed by Government of Sri Lanka in 2009
Tamil Eelam independence referendums, 2009-2010:
During 2009-2010 a number of referendums were held in Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora communities to ascertain support for an independent Tamil Eelam, despite attempts by the Sri Lankan government and its supporters to prevent them. The referendums, although organised by Tamil groups, have been conducted by independent organisations with independent observers. Voters have been asked their opinion on the following statement:
"I aspire for the formation of the independent and sovereign state of Tamil Eelam in the north and east territory of the island of Sri Lanka on the basis that the Tamils in the island of Sri Lanka make a distinct nation, have a traditional homeland and have the right to self-determination."
To date referendums have been held in ten countries (Norway, France, Canada, Switzerland, Germany, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Denmark, Italy and Australia). Referendums are expected be held in other countries with significant Tamil diaspora population. More than 99% of Tamils who voted supported an independent Eelam. The referendums have no legal effect, and were not organised by any government.
Muthamizh Vendhan started this petition with a single signature, and now has 381 supporters. Start a petition today to change something you care about.