INDEPENDENT NEWS

10th Anniversary of the Sri Lankan Massacre

Published: Mon 13 May 2019 03:09 PM
As we approach the 10th anniversary of the massacre of the Tamil people at the hands of the Sri Lankan military, it is time for us to finally stand in solidarity with the tens of thousands killed in the most gruesome way during 138 days of constant shelling by the Sri Lankan forces within that government’s established “No Fire Zones”.
One documentary which helps with the understanding of the reality of the genocide in Sri Lanka is ‘No Fire Zone’ produced by Zoe Sale in 2013 and subsequently updated in 2015: https://nofirezone.org/watch
The film starts with a powerful scene of UN personnel evacuating the Tamil city of Kiillnochchi at the instruction of their bosses. The local people, knowing full well what was on the horizon for them, beg the UN to stay. The Sri Lankan government desperate to take over the Tamil Tigers controlled areas (in the north and east of the country) declared different areas as No Fire Zones. Each time an area was declared as a No Fire Zone (supposedly for the civilian population to move to and be safe), hundreds of thousands of people would be on the move to take shelter only to find out they were directly targeted, shelled and killed in these zones. Wikileaks cables are specifically pointing to the fact that the American government was fully aware of these massacres and continued supporting the Sri Lankan government by accepting their lies that no civilians were being killed.
The film contains brutal and extremely graphic scenes of civilians being murdered. Tamil women were raped and stripped naked either before or after their death by soldiers. Many hospitals were intentionally bombed after the International Red Cross had communicated their location to the Sri Lankan government supposedly to ensure they wouldn’t be bombed. Medical supplies were cut off. All the gruesome footage had been fully verified by experts. It was a genocide of the Tamil minority group in Sri Lanka by their own countrymen.
The film is of course very informative; however, it repeated over and over that what happened to the Tamils in Sri Lanka was against International Law and amounted to war crimes. Unfortunately, we live in a world where such terms as breach of ‘International Law’ or ‘War crimes’ do not mean much anymore, these terms have been normalised. Breaching ‘International Law’ and the committing of ‘War Crimes’ takes place regularly, perpetrated by different states. It’s becoming clear that those who commit such atrocities either have a lot of power at the UN themselves or have friends with Veto power. They are usually not signatories to the International Criminal Court. Therefore, there is no easy way to hold such states accountable for what they’ve done. There was a time that committing a war crime was frowned upon, but unfortunately not anymore. What happened in Sri Lanka should be called out for what it was, brutal murder of a people, a genocide. Countries whose vested interests lie in having a corrupt state in power in Sri Lanka, of course, are not going to call it a genocide. After all, many of these states are doing small or large acts of brutality against minorities within their own borders. If they come across as standing for minority groups in other countries, they may need to do the same back home. Although these killings have happened and are well documented, countries such as Australia and the United States continue supporting the Sri Lankan government in covering up what they did and remain complicit in this genocide for their own interest.
Tamil people are still systematically oppressed and hugely discriminated against by the Sri Lankan government. Monuments celebrating the Sri Lankan government’s victory over the Tamils have been erected on land which has been historically populated by the Tamils. Their land has been confiscated by the army and a large tourism industry is being run by the Sri Lankan military in the places that Tamils once lived. Many post-war actions by the Government have worked to ensure that Tamils don’t feel safe and secure in their own country now. The Australian government continues to deport Tamil refugees back to Sri Lanka when they know perfectly well that they will be in danger. It is rare that political refugees are ever welcome back in their country of origin. Usually they are heavily punished for leaving and tarnishing the reputation of the current regime by exposing their dark secrets.
The film also mentioned the failure of the international community to intervene, let’s not forget, the last time the international community intervened in a meaningful way was a very long time ago. What makes us think that the UN or the international community are suddenly going to change and step in to protect people from being killed? It’s not in the interest of the international community to prevent genocide or massacres from happening anymore. It appears that the international community is busy earning profit from wars. Many countries sold weapons to the Sri Lankan government; were complicit in covering up what that government was doing; and supported its lies.
It is time to finally question anything that the Sri Lankan government and their friends have been telling the world over the past decade. There are a lot of stories coming out of Sri Lanka that the government is tightening its grip over its people by heavily increasing its military presence across the country. They are using the Easter massacres in Sri Lanka as an excuse to restrict movement and activities. We need to question such actions of a government who has a history of oppression and violence against its minority groups. How much more will the people’s civil liberties be eroded in the name of national security?

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