These blog postings do not necessarily represent the views of all members of the Advisory Council.
The solutions to problems faced by the people in Mannar -- both Muslim and Tamil -- with regards to resettlement need to be attended to by giving due importance to the difficulties of both communities. The Muslims’ right to return should not be reduced to a critique of the political machinations of one representative or to a question of competition over resources for resettlement. There has to be sufficient thought, attention and resources devoted to finding solutions that reflect a minimum standard of acceptance by all affected communities.
It is possible that vested interests may subvert the amicable resolution of the fisher communities’ problems for their benefit. In the past we have seen that resource-distribution conflicts have been exacerbated into inter ethnic conflicts, we urge that the leadership of both communities learn from past experiences, and approach this with a deeper understanding and sensitivity towards the peaceful co-existence of Tamil and Muslim communities.
Labels: Ethnic tension
"Reconciliation in Sri Lanka can only be built on Truth, Justice and accountability. To date the Sri Lankan Government (GoSL) has failed to address the issues raised in the report of the Secretary General's Panel of Experts as well as to implement the recommendations of its own Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC). The March 2012 UN Resolution tabled by the United States -- on a probe of war crimes committed in the final months of the Sri Lankan civil war in 2009 asks the Sri Lankan government to explain how it will address alleged violations of international humanitarian law and how it will implement recommendations of an internal inquiry into the war.
"Sri Lanka’s report to the Universal Periodic Review of human rights in November 2012 is expected to include the progress made in implementing the LLRC’s recommendations.
"Reports of continued intimidation of media and human rights defenders amid extrajudicial killings, continued disappearances, abductions and deteriorating rule of law make the Sri Lanka Campaign’s objectives more urgent.
"I fully endorse the Campaign’s emphasis on the critical need for humanitarian relief and rehabilitation, an end to human rights violations and the culture of impunity and a repeal of draconian anti-terror regulations and a lasting peace based on justice and reconciliation.
"I believe that unless allegations of war crimes are addressed through a truth seeking mechanism and/or an independent commission or criminal investigation which places victims at the centre of the process, reconciliation will continue to elude Sri Lanka."And this was Scott's:
"The deaths and suffering in the last few months of the war described by the UN Secretary-General’s Panel of Experts are both saddening and tragic. These sorts of events can only happen in a society that has carried a burden of differences and difficulties for some time. Without true accountability and reconciliation, the challenge of which is not to be underestimated, there will be further conflict and suffering. Only in a free and fair democracy with the rule of law, can the human rights of all Sri Lankans – including the Tamil, Muslim and other minorities – be truly respected."The Advisory council is a volunteer body of influential figures that provide advice and guidance to the campaign. They come from all walks of life and regions of the world and support the Campaign's three main objectives: effective humanitarian relief, human rights for all and a lasting peace in Sri Lanka based on justice and reconciliation. Our Advisors use their links with the media and with other opinion-formers to push forward the campaign demands, as well as providing a sounding board for the Campaign's work. A full biography of all members of the advisory council can be found here.
|Sinhalese mob burn Tamil cars, homes, and business |
in Colombo, July 1983
All my life, I have been taught to see the tiger as a symbol of fear. Every bomb, every assassination, every death, whether of Tamils or non-Tamils, was blamed on the ‘Tigers’. Power cuts, bread shortages, road-blocks – all down to the Tigers. And people were only too willing to add ordinary Tamils to the equation, regardless of whether they supported the LTTE, or Eelam, or not. Were they all Tigers? Yes, I was told, Tigers or Tiger supporters. In due course, anyone who questioned the government’s actions, Tamil, Sinhalese, foreign, was called a Tiger.
Why is the government cracking down on the media and rights groups? Because of the Tigers. Even reprisal attacks were laid at their door. I remember being asked to throw away my Frosties t-shirt after a blast in Pettah market killed over a hundred people, lest Tony the Tiger proved too inflammatory. Tiger = terrorist. Such is the power of propaganda.
|The flag of Tamil Eelam - designated as such |
in 1990 by the de facto Government of Tamil Eelam
which operated in LTTE held areas
Despite grave danger in the conflict zone, the LTTE refused civilians permission to leave, using them as hostages, at times even using their presence as a strategic human buffer between themselves and the advancing Sri Lanka Army. It implemented a policy of forced recruitment throughout the war, but in the final stages greatly intensified its recruitment of people of all ages, including children as young as fourteen. The LTTE forced civilians to dig trenches and other emplacements for its own defences, thereby contributing to blurring the distinction between combatants and civilians and exposing civilians to additional harm. All of this was done in a quest to pursue a war that was clearly lost; many civilians were sacrificed on the altar of the LTTE cause and its efforts to preserve its senior leadership.
From February 2009 onwards, the LTTE started point-blank shooting of civilians who attempted to escape the conflict zone, significantly adding to the death toll in the final stages of the war. It also fired artillery in proximity to large groups of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and fired from, or stored military equipment near, IDPs or civilian installations such as hospitals. Throughout the final stages of the war, the LTTE continued its policy of suicide attacks outside the conflict zone.
|The flag of the LTTE - although many assert to |
the contrary, it bears a strong resemblance
to the Eelam flag. The resemblance has only
increased over the last decade as, in
homage to the Eelam flag, red started
to be increasingly used as a
background colour on the LTTE flag.
In 2009, I was horrified by the news seeping out through Sri Lanka's media ban: thousands dead and displaced, civilians deliberately targeted, attacks on hospitals, aid agencies expelled. A total disregard for human life by a government hell-bent on all-out war. And no action from the international community. I wanted to shout. I wanted to go out and join those protesting in London’s Parliament Square. But the tiger flags stopped me.It is not just Sinhalese people that the flag alienates: Tamils who lost loved ones to the LTTE, Tamils who were part of other groups the LTTE destroyed, Muslims the LTTE ethnically cleansed from the north, and – most importantly – the international community, view the flag with distrust. The weeks at the end of the Sri Lankan civil war rank as one of the worst civilian atrocities of the new millennium, possibly the worst since Rwanda in 1994. Yet ithey attract a mere fraction of the attention given to conflicts such as the one in Syria, where - so far at least – fewer people have been killed. Furthermore, Sri Lanka ranks is the fourth most dangerous country in the world to be a journalist, a place where 30 people can disappear in a month, and yet the world largely views it as a nice place for a beach holiday, a stable democracy, a venue for high profile arts and sports jamborees, and a good place to hold Commonwealth summits.
I know it wasn’t a rational decision. It reflects, in large part, the shame I feel on behalf of the Sinhalese people who have at worst supported and at best tolerated the slaughter and subjugation of their compatriots. And I realise that many Tamils would baulk at the idea of changing a long-standing symbol of their struggle simply because others find it hard to deal with.
But, like beauty, violence is in the eye of the beholder. The fault may well lie with us, but when a symbol begins to overshadow your message, generate negative publicity and put people off, you need to let it go. Every moment spent explaining what the tiger flag doesn’t represent is time that should be spent making people realise that the end of the war has not brought justice or restitution to Tamils in Sri Lanka, and that what has happened in the country is nothing short of a slow-motion genocide.
|The Orange revolution, Ukraine|
|Dissidents in Iran use green to defy the government|
|Simple and effective; protestors in Hyderabad|
use the black flag in a demonstration
calling for a separate Telangana state
Labels: Pattani Razeek