Partisan politics undermine neutrality and credibility of human rights
Posted on March 1st, 2020

BY H. L. D. MAHINDAPALA

Of all the community leaders in Sri Lanka only the Tamil leadership has officially declared war against another community (i.e., the Sinhalese) and led their people to commit the crime against peace. On May 14, 1976 they collectively passed the Vadukoddai Resolution urging the Tamil youth to take up arms and never cease until they achieve Eelam. They unleashed the longest war in Sri Lanka which has led to the violation of human rights on an unprecedented scale. Having laid the foundation for the violations of human rights and perpetuated the violations through a brutal war which the Tamil leadership never wanted to end for 33 years, despite several peace offers, the Tamil leadership go around the world claiming to be the victims of the violations of human rights by the ‘Sinhala State.’ Sri Lankan politics is full of ironies and this one beats them all.

When the Tamil leadership adopted the Vadukoddai Resolution they abandoned the non-violent democratic mainstream and opted deliberately for violence which inevitably leads to violations of human rights. In endorsing Vadukoddai violence the Tamil leadership abandoned the higher principle of upholding, defending and protecting the human rights of others as well as their own Tamil people. Aggressive wars pursuing territorial gains are not launched to protect human rights. In international law, it is considered to be a crime against peace. Such war will grind its way invariably violating human rights. Only counter wars launched to end wars that violate human rights have the moral right to pursue violence in defence of human rights.

The contradiction in declaring war against a neighbour and then proceeding to parade as the victims of the counter violence organized to end the violations of human rights is obvious. It is also hypocritical and hilarious, to say the least. The Tamil leadership committed themselves to war knowing very well that it leads to the violations of human rights. But they refuse to categorize their violence as war crimes, or violations of human rights. They assume that their violence has a superior moral purity / force that elevates their brutalities above the level of crimes against humanity or war crimes. They assume that there is nothing higher than Tamil rights and everyone else must surrender their rights to enthrone Tamil rights as the ultimate human right. In fact, in their political equation they believe that Tamil political rights equals human rights. And that any other counter force — moral or military – should be condemned as violations of human rights.

This was demonstrated amply by Pakiasothy Saravanamuttu, the foreign-funded multi-millionaire circulating in the American cocktail circuit with a glass of whiskey in hand. In the dying days of the Tamil Tiger terrorists he jumped from Western city to city posing as the great champion of human rights engaged in saving the Tamils from the advancing Security Forces who were on the verge of ending the war. His self-appointed mission then was to mobilise international opinion to halt the Security Forces advancing to end the war – the only means of saving human rights from the merciless brutalities of ‘the world’s deadliest terrorist’ (FBI). He argued that the advance of the Security Forces would lead to a great humanitarian disaster. It didn’t. On the contrary, it released 290,00 Tamils held forcibly by Prabhakaran to impress the world that the Tamil people were with him. While the Tamil people were marching out of Prabhakaran’s prison camp into the arms of the Security Forces Saravanamuttu was doing his damnedest to stop the advance of the Security Forces bleating that stopping the war (meaning: saving Prabhakaran) was the only way to save a humanitarian disaster. He was operating on the premise that Prabhakaran had the moral right to wage his war until his demands were granted and the Sri Lankan Forces had no right to end his violence.

This cock-and-bull story of Saravanamuttu was rejected by the triumphant events that ended the Vadukoddai War on the banks of Nandikadal. The commonly accepted wisdom of the day too concluded that removing Prabhakaran from the prevailing political equation was the only way to regain peace. Keeping Prabhakaran alive for another day would have meant the perpetuation of the violations of human rights. Knowing this Saravanamuttu kept on chanting his mantra which like all other NGO mantras only aided and abetted Prabhakaran to ruthlessly perpetuate violations of human rights. Under the cover of protecting human rights Saravanamuttu’s hidden agenda was to save Prabhakaran from annihilation. He had tacitly accepted Prabhakaran as the defender of the Tamil rights which he had equated with the human rights of the Tamils.

His efforts in Western capitals was to keep Prabhakaran alive and kicking. It was the humiliating defeat of Prabhakaran that was hawked by Saravanamuttu as ‘triumphalism’ of the Sinhala-Buddhist forces. Saravanamuttu’s theories, strategies and policies were smashed to smithereens by the Security Forces who restored peace, human rights and the dignity of the Tamils. After Nandikadal Saravanamuttu was forced to live on a diet of sour grapes.

In his political calculations the ‘Sinhala State’ was on the wrong side of human rights even though it saved the Tamils from the Tamil Pol Pot and restored their dignity to live as free individuals. But Prabhakaran’s one-man state was categorised to be on the right side of human rights even though he fought his futile war by recruiting under-aged children and liquidating Tamil dissidents and those who posed a threat to his claim to be ‘the sole representative of the Tamils’. Even the American policy-makers kicked into this debate. Their kind of human rights led them to grant full citizenship to Prabhakaran’s lawyer, V. Rudrakumaran, who was a committed and willing partner in the war crimes and the crimes against humanity committed by his leader while denying even a visa to Lt. Gen. Silva – the General whose military strategies led to the triumph of democracy and the restoration of peace in Jaffna.

Even in the last stages the NGO millionaires refused to accept that Tamil violence had reached intolerable levels under Prabhakaran – the firstborn child of the Vadukoddai Resolution. It was a time when the best of Tamil intellectuals could not defend his brutalities. Unable to defend the inhuman violence of Prabhakaran they argued that he was created by the Sinhalese. If this is a valid argument Prabhakaran should have then targeted only the Sinhalese to get even with the violence of the Sinhalese. But he began his violence by targeting the Tamil leadership. What had Alfred Duraiyappah done to the Tamils to be slaughtered by ‘Surya Devan’ (Sun God of the Tamils)? What had Appapillai Amirthalingam and Neelan Tiruchelvam done to the Tamils to be assassinated by the Tamil hero? Then he targeted the Muslims. What had the Muslims done to harm the Tamils? So was Prabhakaran made by the Sinhalese or by the internal dynamics of Jaffna which had a political culture of unmitigated violence?

It is universally accepted that wars indiscriminately lead to violations of human rights from both sides. The moral victory, however, should go in the end to those who can end the violations of human rights swiftly, using the least violence. Obviously, what is acceptable / tolerable is the side that can successfully end violence, either through non-violent negotiations, or through the application of minimum of violence. The side that refuses to accept negotiations and insists on perpetuating violence to achieve its goals, particularly when they are facing defeat, cannot be treated / accepted / trusted as defenders of human rights. They forfeit the rights that flow from the fundamental principles of human rights because in war human rights can be protected only by ending the war. The Tamil leadership went the other way. They ripped apart peace deals repeatedly insisting on grabbing what they called their rights (mainly territory) at the expense of the others. Mulish intransigence of the Tamil leadership had never served the goals of saving human rights.

Incorrigible war criminals who insist on pursuing their self-serving goals should be condemned as the enemies of human rights. In the Vadukoddai War the Tamil tactic has been either to disregard or underplay the violations of human rights generated by Tamil violence or, simultaneously, to go under the cover of Tamil rights to pursue their violence. They believe morality is on their side even when they violate it to pursue their political goals. Morality that goes along with this double standard will lose its credibility and viability. War-mongering criminals can’t have it both ways. They can’t declare war and in the same breath claim to be victims of those fighting back to end the violations of human rights. The rights of those waging a war to end the violations of human rights are superior to those violating human rights to pursue their self-serving, narrow political ends. The highest morality must necessarily serve to end the violations of human rights. It cannot serve to perpetuate the violations of human rights. That is immoral.

It is the failure of the Tamil leadership to stand up for the human rights of their own people unequivocally that turn them into absolute political Judases. They condemn the Security Forces that restored their right to walk this earth with dignity, honour and respect. But they hero-worshipped and went on their bended knees before their ‘Surya Devan’ (Sun God) who suppressed their rights to exercise their basic rights. Tamil leadership must also take full responsibility for the violence they unleashed in Vadukoddai. In passing the Vadukoddai Resolution they not only legitimized Tamil violence as a political tool to achieve their separatist goals but also became partners, subsequently, in the crimes committed by the children of the Vadukoddai Resolution. Prabhakaran and his criminal gang were the ‘boys’ who came out of the Vadukoddai Resolution. They were urged to take up arms against the Sinhala south by the fathers who drafted and passed the Vadukoddai Resolution.

Rajavarothiam Sampanthan, who is now shedding crocodile tears for his people, not only was a founding father of the Vadukoddai Resolution but went along with Prabhakaranism without a murmur of protest. He gave his full backing to the horrendous violence unleashed by the Vadukoddai Resolution. So what right has he and his side-kick, Abraham Sumanthiram, to speak of the human rights of the Tamil people when they went on their bended knees to hero worship their ‘Suriya Devan’ (Sun God) –the political criminal who killed more Tamils than all the others put together? In every national and international forum they never failed to point a finger at the ‘Sinhala State.They never raised a voice against Prabhakaran. Accusing the Sinhalese was their theme song to divert attention from the violations of human rights committed by the Tamil leadership. Besides, they feared the loss of political sympathy from the international community if they revealed that Prabhakaran was a Tamil Pol Pot.

Their failure to resist the subhuman racist violence of Prabhakaran make them complicit partners in the crimes against humanity and the war crimes. They have no right to point an accusing finger at the generals who restored their right to walk this earth with dignity, respect and honour. They have survived on their myths of victimology long enough. The most privileged community in Sri Lanka, with the highest quality of life index, pretending to be the victims of the majority community, is a joke. They enjoyed the best of both worlds – the north and the south. As the old saying goes, the son shone in Colombo while the father reaped the harvest in Jaffna. The undeniable historical fact is that the Sinhalese had never treated the Tamils in the inhuman way the Tamil leadership treated their own people from the time they set foot in Jaffna.

It was their misguided politics that led the Tamil people to their miserable end in Nandikadal. In short, the Tamil leadership played the hideous role of the Pied Piper of Hamelin and lured their people all the way to drown in Nandikadal. The total responsibility for the failure of Tamil violence, Tamil politics and the subsequent violations of human rights rests solely on the war-mongering Tamil leadership.

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