Senator Christine Milne-Your speech on accountability for violation of Human Rights and International Humanitarian law
Posted on February 21st, 2014

Mahinda Gunasekera Ontario  Canada

By E-mail  

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

3 Responses to “Senator Christine Milne-Your speech on accountability for violation of Human Rights and International Humanitarian law”

  1. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    The article goes to length in covering the atrocities of the LITE. Keeping that in mind I doubt if Australia the UK, India or the US are not aware of them. What makes this treacherous is that they DELIBERATELY choose to ignore them. If they deliberately choose to ignore them then there is no method to convince these nations to factor in what the LITE did.

    They have already made up their minds to ignore what the LITE did in 30 years of war and concentrate on the last few months of the war and even in that case simply take the opinion of some regarding the number killed and who did the killing. They have made up their minds. All the supposed inquiries, visits to these places “to gather evidence” is an after thought not meant to change any opinions.

    If so then this is not an issue to address human rights violations but an all out diplomatic war against Sri Lanka. The motives could be many; support of the Tamil diaspora, to please India, to attack China’s interest in the Indian ocean etc. But what has to be made clear is that these nations will not change their minds for they have an agenda beyond human rights and in this context Colombo should stop the explanations, continue with her program of developing her own version of what happened to those nations who will be on the up and coming human rights resolution but have not committed either way in the past two resolutions and convince them of the other side of the story.

    These nations who have stayed neutral can be persuaded. But those nations including India, the US, the UK and some other European nations who turn a deaf ear to the crimes committed by LITE should not get the time and effort by Colombo to change their minds. This is a diplomatic war waged by India and the Tamil diaspora for the ultimate goal of achieving Eelam and should be treated in that manner.

  2. Lorenzo Says:

    This is going to be HELL for us.

    We MUST disrupt this somehow. On the positive at least these subhumans have a PLAN. We don’t.

    IF TN becomes the EPICENTER of power, any fool can understand it will be disastrous for SL. Already TN is influencing Endian policy without being the epicenter of power!!

    “Dropping a broad hint of her readiness to play a major role in national politics, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Friday said she has a vision for India in which Tamil Nadu will play a key role.

    The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) leader, whose name is making rounds as a possible prime ministerial candidate, revealed her vision for a “resurgent India,” at a function where she unveiled various policies besides the second part of Tamil Nadu Vision Document 2023.

    Her vision, she explained, is of a “nation with an inclusive society and open markets; a nation of enterprise and creativity driven by knowledge and shaped by family values; a nation of growth with equity; a nation with peace stability and development; [and] a modern secular and prosperous India.”

    “I want to assure you all that this day is not far,” she said. “It is my firm conviction that within India, Tamil Nadu will emerge as the epicentre of such power.” Her “government is not a government that merely talks and puts out lofty ideals and policies; it actually gets down to taking hard decisions and staying the course.”

    On the Vision Document 2023, which has set a target of 14 per cent growth in the manufacturing sector every year, she said since the launch of the first phase in March 2012, the State government had signed 33 MoUs with various companies.

    The total investment envisaged in the projects was Rs.31,706 crore, and the employment potential was for over 1.62 lakh persons.

    Documents pertaining to 16 of the MoUs, for setting up various projects at an investment of Rs.5,081 crore were signed by representatives of the companies and Principal Secretary Industries C.V.Sankar in the presence of the Chief Minister.

    Ms.Jayalalithaa also unveiled the Tamil Nadu Industrial Policy 2014; the Tamil Nadu Automobile and Auto Components Policy 2014, described as the first such; and the Tamil Nadu Biotechnology Policy 2014. She launched the website of the Tamil Nadu Infrastructure Development Board.”

    – the hindu

  3. Lorenzo Says:

    China should FORCE SL to sign or finalize a maritime DEFENCE and a free trade pact BEFORE UNHRC. Otherwise China should NOT vote against the US resolution.

    Looks like GOSL is trying to fool China – our only friend – with postponing tactics. We already have an INDO-SL peace pact, maritime pact and a free trade agreement. SL has been RUINED by these.

    We need China not Endia.

    “Chinese officials began three days of talks on economic cooperation with Sri Lanka on Saturday, as Beijing strengthens relations with the Indian Ocean island that is a focal point for its regional rivalry with India.

    “This visit will give an added impetus to opportunities accruing to Sri Lanka in the context of promoting the country as a regional ‘commercial hub’,” Sri Lanka’s external affairs ministry said in a statement.

    China has increased its investments in Sri Lanka, funding airports, roads, railways and ports, something that has unsettled India, traditionally the closest economic partner of the island of 21 million people.

    The Chinese delegation visit comes after Sri Lankan Foreign Minister G.L. Peiris, on a trip to China this month, said a feasibility study on a free trade pact “is on the verge of completion” and the deal could be sealed by the end of the year.

    Sri Lanka won China’s diplomatic support in a human right row this month when Beijing voiced support for Colombo after the United States said it would table a U.N. resolution over human rights on the island.

    Among the issues to be discussed in the February 22-25 talks is a bilateral maritime cooperation deal, dubbed a ‘21st century Maritime Silk Road’ that would cover issues such as fisheries, technology and environmental protection.” (Reuters)

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