How Desmond Tutu was given the real facts on Sri Lanka- LIFE ABROAD – Part 100
Posted on October 16th, 2014

 Dr. Tilak Fernando

During the early part of 2008, Archbishop Dr. Desmond Tutu made reference to Human Right Violations in Sri Lanka and campaigned fiercely to oust Sri Lanka from the Council and Bar-election from the United Nations Human Rights Council. His stance being ‘Sri Lanka did not deserve a seat in the assembly”!

The most Reverend Bishop visited London on Tuesday, July 10, 2008, to deliver a lecture at the MCC Indoor Cricket School at Lords Cricket Grounds. The highlight of the lecture was the Worship’s reference to human conduct and fair play, in accordance with the spirit of cricket, in promoting means of togetherness and harmony.

The lecture was restricted only to members of The Lords. A patriotic Sri Lankan expatriate, who was a member of ‘Lords’ (at the meeting) plucked courage to approach the Archbishop to ‘educate’ him on the human rights situation in Sri Lanka and followed it by dispatching a comprehensive document by post to the Human Rights Pundit using the pseudonym Herman Pathige, giving his reasons for using an alias to avoid being targeted by the LTTE agents in the UK at the time, whose violent tactics against those who opposed their sinister activities were well known.

Reproduced below is the full text of his letter to Archbishop of South Africa, Dr. Desmond Tutu dated 15th July 2008.

Most Reverend Dr. Desmond Tutu

Archbishop of South Africa

Desmond Tutu Peace Trust

P.O.Box.8428

Roggebai, 8012, Cape Town

South Africa

Dear Reverend Sir

On Tuesday 10th June, 2008 I attended the Colin Cowdrey lecture (2008) delivered by your Worship at the MCC Indoor Cricket School in London, at Lords. The highlight of the lecture was your Worship’s reference to human conduct and fair play, which accord with the spirit of cricket, in promoting means of togetherness and harmony. I enjoyed the evening and was privileged to meet with you. At that moment you very kindly gave me your autograph etched on my invitation for the lecture received as a member of Lords (MCC Cricket Club).

You may recall, Sir, I introduced myself to you as a Sri Lankan and intimated that I would be writing in detail on your views about my country at a later date – vis-a-vis human rights, as the London venue was not the ideal atmosphere to discuss such matters.

Campaign against Sri Lanka

According to your Worship, Sri Lanka does not deserve a seat in the United Nations Human Rights Council and your Worship campaigned vigorously to oust my land of birth from the Council and bar re-election.

Certainly, you have been influenced and misinformed by the Tamil expatriates living in South Africa, who are ardent supporters of the separatist Tamil Tiger Movement in Sri Lanka, described by the international media as the most venomous terrorist outfit in the world with links to Al Qaeda; your assessment of the actual situation in Sri Lanka, if I may say so, is flawed in that distorted facts have been conveyed to you regarding the terrorist conflict in Sri Lanka calling it as a ‘violation of human rights’!

The stance you have taken in campaigning to reject Sri Lanka’s bid to seek membership of the UN Human Rights Council arises as no surprise, since it is well known that you are, and have been an avid supporter of the separatist Tamil movement represented by the LTTE. As you may recollect, you made a statement on December 8, 1997, under the symbolic title, Let my people go; freedom and peace for Tamils in Sri Lanka.

This statement was made after you met a Tamil Churchman, Rev. Dr. Father Emmanuel and discussed the Tamil issue with him. You may not have been aware of the fact that the late Rev. Emmanuel was the spokesman for the LTTE based in London and canvassed to raise funds and lobbied some of the UK politicians with misinformation on the premise that the Sri Lankan issue is an ethnic conflict! I have already given you a copy of the news item in London relating to your meeting with father Emmanuel (a further copy is enclosed for ease of reference).

Sacred facts

The Sri Lankan Government Forces are fighting a vicious terrorist organisation, which is banned in the UK, USA, Canada, Australia and India. It is not a liberation movement representing the Tamil community in Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan government has adopted a hard line position to fight this force. Even the UK government, after realising the gravity of the terrorist threat, from Al Qaeda and its agents, has sought a covenant with the European Convention on human rights to allow detention without charge or trial of ‘non-nationals and others’ for terrorist offences.

A threat from terrorism needs to be addressed which can entail a curb on civil liberties. However a balance needs to be struck, which the Sri Lankan government has adhered to, which has not been publicised. The following facts are set out for your Worship’s information in the light of the misinformation conveyed to you by the Tamil diaspora in South Africa:

Misinformation

The Norwegian Monitoring Mission which observed the ceasefire agreement when it was in force recorded more breaches of conditions by the LTTE.

Recruitment of children as child soldiers by the LTTE – UNICEF confirms.

LTTE are killing their own people in the areas controlled by them, if taxes are not paid, or if parents do not allow their children to be recruited as child soldiers!

This situation is so acute in that, most Tamils in these areas have fled to Tamil Nadu in South India and become refugees living in shanty towns and working in textile factories owned by international companies for a pittance. This very situation was highlighted in a recent BBC TV program and referred to an High Street clothes retailer in the UK, who marketed items of clothing produced by Tamil refugees, who have fled from the LTTE controlled areas in Sri Lanka.

Gandhi Aassassinaton

The leader of the LTTE is a fugitive from justice, named as the first accused in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case in India. The Jain Commission, which enquired into the case, has confirmed his involvement in planning and using a suicide bomber to blow up Mr. Gandhi. Later Prabhakaran owned up to the vile deed and showed remorse by declaring at a press conference on May 25, 1991 in Tamil stating, Thumbiyal Sambavan (a tragic incident).

Statistics

Tamils comprise 13% of the population of Sri Lanka, out of which 54% are outside the so-called Tamil homeland claimed by the LTTE! This 54% of Tamils live peacefully among the 80% of Sinhalese and 7% of Muslims and they do not wish to migrate to the LTTE controlled areas.

The Sri Lanka government has ratified 27 conventions on human rights. Members of the European Commission, who visited Sri Lanka recently, were satisfied with the action taken by the government in safeguarding human rights and have advised that such implementations should publicised outside the country. The following measures were taken to address the concerns about human rights violations.

  • Presidential Commission to investigate human rights violation.

*Passing of Laws to provide assistance and protection to victims of torture, their life and security, which has taken into account the convention against Torture Act and International Convention on Civil and Political Rights Act for which Sri Lanka is a signatory.

*Judgments of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka on rights abuses have been declared in favour of victims of torture.

*The government has encouraged Civil Society Groups and journalists to exercise vigilance and expose any violations of human rights by Police and Army personnel who act without authority and due process. 

The above measures and mechanisms are in place and Sri Lanka has fulfilled important obligation in safeguarding human rights and will continue to do so.

Tamil Diaspora support

Your Worship should appreciate that Sri Lanka is facing a ruthless enemy financed and supported by the Tamil expatriates in foreign countries. It is also a fact that the LTTE has built up a rapport with mafia style criminal gangs in the South of Sri Lanka. These gangs, who are responsible for suicide bombings, victims being innocent civilians, pass on information to the LTTE. Abductions and protection rackets are other means deployed by them. LTTE has also used ill-coordinated non-governmental organisations to feed information to them of defence plans and logistics. They are also helping the LTTE financially in the guise of providing relief to Tamils living in LTTE controlled areas.

Sri Lanka government cannot be held responsible for the activities of the ransom seeking underworld criminal gangs who have been responsible for abductions, disappearances and torture of people. The Police in Sri Lanka are adopting a zero tolerance regime in cracking down on these elements.

It is important that your worship should take note of the recent statement made by Mr. S.C. Chandrahasan, the son of the late Mr. S.J. Chelvanayakam, the founder of the Federal Party in Sri Lanka. According to him the Tamil people would be better off without a terrorist organisation in seeking a devolved political settlement within a unitary structure. This statement was made to the Indian website by Mr. Chandrahasan, who is now domiciled in India. He condemned the LTTE attacks on civilians of the three races, Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslims in contrast to the Sri Lankan Army, which does not deliberately target civilians.

This view expressed by the son of Mr. S.J. Chelvanayakam, a key figure in the Tamil Nationalist Movement and hailed as the father of Eelamism, which spawned the LTTE, as a fighting force to seek independence for the Tamil people should be taken into account. He has stressed the need for a negotiated settlement without resorting to an armed conflict which has caused untold misery to innocent people in Sri Lanka, especially the Tamils, some of whom have become refugees in their own homeland and described as internally displaced people’.

Some of them have fled to South India and most of them have found refuge in Southern Sri Lanka among the Sinhalese.

If your Worship, inspired by the Christian Spirit, would like to help Sri Lanka to end the carnage caused by the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka, there is no doubt, you are eminently suitable for the task. Please do make an overture to both parties of the conflict and offer to mediate.

Your Worship played an important role as the Chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to bring amity and peace among former enemies of the Apartheid regime, and your expertise and dedication would be useful and effective to bring peace to my war-torn homeland.

Hope this submission would assist your Worship to change your pre-conceived views, and help to evaluate the situation in Sri Lanka in an impartial manner.

Yours sincerely

Herman Pathige

 

[email protected] 

2 Responses to “How Desmond Tutu was given the real facts on Sri Lanka- LIFE ABROAD – Part 100”

  1. Vis8 Says:

    His “holiness” D. Tutu., as is well-known, would cater to any faction, be it just or terrorist, just for his own gain… No need to worry about these jokers. Thankfully, the west known well about them.

  2. callistus Says:

    Thank you Tilak for this useful information here

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