Another Response to Senator Milne

Senator Christine Milne, right wing Leader of the Australian Greens Party, a critic of Sri Lanka. Mailne’s recently remarked in the Australian Senate and once again attacked on Sri Lankan security forces who wiped out the LTTE Tamil Terrorists. She was demanding an independent investigation to be conducted by called International Community lead by US and UK on the alleged human rights violations in the last phase of the war against Tamil terrorists. Mahinda Gunasekara, Sri Lankan patriotic civil society challenge this issue with Senator Christine Milne.

The full text of Mr. Gunasekara’s letter reproduced below to disclose the one sided approach of Senator Milne

84 Tambrook Drive

Agincourt, Ontario

Canada M1W 3L9

February 21, 2014

 

Senator Christine Milne

Leader of the Greens Party

Canberra, Australia

 

Dear Senator Christine Milne,

Your speech on accountability for violation of Human Rights and

International Humanitarian law on February 12, 2014 in Sri Lanka

I refer to your speech delivered in the Australian Senate on February 12th, 2014 on the subject of accountability for violations of human rights and humanitarian law, in the military action taken by Sri Lanka against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) which was concluded on May 19, 2009. The echoes of your speech have reverberated in the land of ice and snow where I live, causing me to take a closer look at the key matters raised by you.

I wish to state that I am greatly encouraged by your upright stand on the subject of human rights. However, I wish to state that I am disappointed in the very narrow time frame that you have chosen to scrutinize the alleged violations, confining such investigations to the last five months ending in May 2009. You appear to be guided by the UNSG’s Panel of Experts report which the panelists themselves admitted did not meet the standards of the UN, looked at information coming from just one side of the conflict which is obviously a prejudiced source to arrive at what they called “credible allegations” none of which were proven, and even locking away the evidence for the next twenty years.  You are no doubt aware that the conflict in Sri Lanka lasted over 33 years starting with a resolution adopted by the Tamil political parties in 1976, to seek a mono-ethnic separate state for Tamils to be carved out of the north and east of the island by whatever means including violence. There is a long list of atrocities committed by the LTTE where they targeted the civilian population by planting bombs in public transit, claymore mine attacks on highways, truck bomb attacks on public buildings, midnight machete attacks on remote villages, unleashing of 388 suicide bombers, assassination of political leaders including Tamil moderates, killing two heads of state,  killing other Tamils deemed dissidents, abducting and forcibly conscripting Tamil children, gunning down those engaged in spiritual practices in temples and mosques, and much more, dating back to 1975. Considering the horrendous list of atrocities carried out by the Tamil Tiger terrorists, focusing on the period from January 1 to May 19, 2009, is not only ridiculous, but unfairly ignores the suffering caused to the tens of thousands of persons in the 32 plus years prior to January 1, 2009.

You have also missed out on external forces that played a role in Sri Lanka’s agony.  You have failed to discuss the serious human rights violations committed by the Indian Peace Keeping Forces (IPKF) which operated in the north and east of Sri Lanka during the period 1987 to 1990.  The IPKF, during its operations in Sri Lanka, is responsible for the massacre of patients and doctors in the Jaffna hospital, and retributive killings carried out by them in an ambush they set up in the town of Valvettiturai. These have been well documented by the University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna), and further confirmed by Col. R. Hariharan, who was the head of the Intelligence Unit of the IPKF in Jaffna at the time, and by India’s former Defence Minister George Fernandez who referred to these incidents as India’s Vietnam.  It is not possible to overlook these serious violations of human rights carried out by the IPKF on Sri Lankan soil.

India has also violated other international conventions by training, arming and funding the Tamil Militants including the LTTE in several military camps within India in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, to destabilize her tiny neighbor Sri Lanka.  There are yet other INGO/NGO and pro-Tamil Tiger diaspora groups that have provided financial and other material assistance to the LTTE to build up their weapons stockpile, abduct and conscript adults and children, that was used to cause death and destruction for a period in excess of three decades.  These backers of the LTTE are equally liable for the crimes committed by the LTTE as they directly aided and abetted the terrorist actions and violence perpetrated by the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka.

The LTTE as you know was designated an international terrorist movement as per UN Security Council Resolution Number 1373 of September 2001, and proscribed by 32 countries including India, USA, UK. EU and Malaysia.  The leaders of the pro-Tamil Tiger diaspora groups that supported and encouraged the LTTE in their acts of terrorism and violence extending to over three decades too should be held responsible for the war crimes and violation of international humanitarian law on the part of the Tamil Tigers, be they domiciled in Australia or other western country.  They cannot absolve themselves from these crimes as they funded the enormous stockpile of arms of the LTTE, carried out propaganda in their respective countries of domicile to whitewash and justify their crimes, and engaged in a variety of illicit activities including extortion of the Tamil diaspora members (refer HRW report of March 15, 2006), gun running, human smuggling, and other criminal activities to raise funds to enable the LTTE to continue its violent terrorist path of destroying life and valuable property in Sri Lanka.

Whilst there is a need to determine those responsible for war crimes, violation of human rights and humanitarian law in Sri Lanka without restricting it to the actions of the Sri Lankan military in the latter five months  and the opposing LTTE including its military leadership that refused to surrender and died in battle. It will be necessary to cover the entire period of the conflict dating back to the late 1970’s including the actions of the IPKF, and also take up the roles of the pro-LTTE Tamil diaspora groups, INGO/NGO groups and others that extended support to the Tamil Tigers to carry out their carnage spread out over three decades.   If such an inquiry is to be held based on the thinking of the western powers that are proposing a resolution to be taken up at the forthcoming UNHRC sessions in March 2014, it must cover the full period of the conflict as explained.  The investigations and inquiry if any should be conducted by Sri Lanka which an independent sovereign country enjoying equal membership of the United Nations and the UNHRC, just as much as Australia or any other sovereign country would undertake inquiries in respect of matters relating to the internal affairs which comes within each country’s jurisdiction.

Sri Lanka has adopted a scheme of restorative justice as against retributive justice and taken many important steps in terms of her own Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) in bringing about a complete cessation of violence thereby ushering in an era of peace, and made significant progress on the path to healing differences, building inter-ethnic harmony and a good deal of reconciliation. She has carried out a massive program of development of the conflict affected areas spending over $3 billion and creating a platform for further investment in the region.  The north of the island which was devastated as a result of the long drawn out conflict registered a 27 % growth in the economy as against 7.2% in the rest of the country. Sri Lanka has achieved an enviable record in the areas of resettlement, rehabilitation of enemy cadres and a good deal of reconciliation which no other country in similar conflict situation could boast of. Consequently, it is necessary to ask the question as to whether an inquiry on the lines of that proposed by the USA/ UK and India becomes necessary which is bound to dig up old wounds and jeopardize the ongoing reconciliation achieved by Sri Lanka based on her own home grown solution?

Yours sincerely,

Mahinda Gunasekera

P.S.  An article covering the IPKF atrocities/war crimes in Jaffna is sent in attachment. MG (Click on read the full article)



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