Sri Lanka guilty of continued crime of genocide : PPT

Ruling that Sri Lanka is guilty of the crime of genocide against the Eelam Tamils and that UK and USA, are guilty of complicity to this crime, the Rome-based Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT) Wednesday said in Geneva that the campaign of “genocide against the Eelam Tamil group is a continuing process, one that has not yet accomplished the total destruction of their identity.”

Releasing a 64-page detailed judgement in Geneva on its probe into the allegations of genocide in Sri Lanka, it said that Sri Lankan government’s “genocidal coordinated plan of actions reached a climax in May 2009”, clearly to erase the Eelam Tamil identity.

“On the strength of the evidence presented, the Tribunal reached the consensus ruling that the state of Sri Lanka is guilty of the crime of genocide against Eelam Tamils and that the consequences of the genocide continue to the present day with ongoing acts of genocide against Eelam Tamils,” the detailed judgement of the PPT said.

It said although Colombo’s genocidal strategy has changed with killings “being transformed into other forms of conduct”, its intention “to destroy the group and its identity remains and continues, through causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the Eelam Tamil group”.

Internationally renowned jury of eleven genocide experts, experts on international law and human rights defenders last month examined several studies and background papers on the charges and heard evidence from more than 30 witnesses and analysts, before reaching the verdict into its probe against the Sri Lankan State and its accomplices on the charge of genocide against the Tamil people. 

It said that the notification of the procedures and invitations to participate in the session of the PPT in Bremen, Germany were submitted to the representatives of the Governments of Sri Lanka, India, the United States of America and the United Kingdom through their embassies in Berlin and Rome in letters sent on 12 November 2013.

“According to the Statutes of the PPT and as specified in the notification, in the absence of a positive response to the request for formal representation of their positions, the PPT mandated a Rapporteur to present the views of the four accused governments,” it said.

Regarding the characterization of the victims as belonging to a particular national, ethnical, racial or religious group population, the Tribunal specifies that the victims are in this case the Eelam Tamils as a national group. The ruling said that the Tribunal has considered carefully whether to determine the target group as “part of the Tamil national group” (as proposed in the Accusation) or, as eventually decided, to find that genocide had been committed against the “Eelam Tamils as a national group”.

Overt UK complicity

Recognizing that the Sri Lankan state alone did not have the capacity to achieve its genocidal ambitions, and given the evidence presented, the Tribunal ruled that “the UK and the USA are clearly accomplices in the genocidal process”.

The PPT ruling said that Britain’s assistance to the Government of Sri Lanka in the latter’s attempts to build up its security, military, intelligence and police capacity vis-à-vis the LTTE “continued right up to the final phase of the war against the Eelam Tamils in May 2009”.

“The Tribunal found that UK complicity in the genocide against the Eelam Tamils during the period of the armed struggle and its repression was overt and explicit and qualifies as ‘aid or assistance’ furnished by one State for the commission of a wrongful act by another State", under Article 16 of the International Law Commission’s Articles on State Responsibility”.

“Further, the Tribunal views the events of 2009 as the logical manifestation of the structural genocide that had been put in place during the colonial period and in the construction of the newly independent unitary Sri Lankan state,” the detailed PPT ruling released in Geneva said Wednesday.

Active US complicity

Coming hard on the role of the US in the crime, the PPT ruling said that “active US complicity in the genocide arises not only from its sustained efforts to increase the power and effectiveness of the Sri Lankan military, the direct perpetrator of the genocidal acts taking place in the last months of the war, but perhaps even more significantly from its role in blocking and even reversing political and diplomatic initiatives to implement the peace process and in blacking out information on the unfolding critical situation and the unprecedented worldwide protests by Tamil communities in the diaspora.”

These military and non-military actions constitute “the provision of means to enable or facilitate the commission of the crime”, as determined to be included in “complicity” in genocide by the International Court of Justice in February 2007, it said.

Despite knowing that “the success of the entire peace process depended on upholding the parity of status” between the two negotiating parties as stipulated in the Norwegian-brokered Cease Fire Agreement, “the US continuously worked to destabilise the balance by not only itself favouring the Government of Sri Lanka, but also demanding that others, such as the EU, do the same”, it said, adding that the move set in motion the demise of the peace process.

Decision on India’s role withheld

It said although the Tribunal was asked to consider the accusation that the Indian state is guilty of being complicit in the same crime, “owing to the complexity of India’s shifting role within the conflict in Sri Lanka and, as there was neither sufficient material evidence nor time for the Tribunal to consider properly the afore-stated accusation, the panel of judges decided to postpone deliberations of the question”

“Regarding the charge against India, the Tribunal has decided to withhold its final decision pending the consideration of additional evidence, which could include examination of the potential responsibility of other States, such as China,” it said.

Making scores of recommendations, the PPT said that the specific role and aim of the judgements of the Permanent People’s Tribunal “cannot be confined to the condemnation of entities and persons who must be accountable”.

“The permanent validity of the personal and collective rights which have been violated needs to be declared and hence directed to create space and obligations for the present and the future, when peoples who have been transformed into victims, can decide on their lives in dignity,” it said.

UN led international commission of inquiry

It recommended the United Nations, “whose failure to take action, which they officially describe as 'systemic', had a decisive role in the failure to prevent as well as in the enactment of the genocidal process against the Eelam Tamils”; to provide within the shortest delay a credible account of the determinants of the decisions which led to the interruption of the peace process and to the order for UN officials and staff to withdraw.

The PPT also urged the UN “to give maximum priority to the establishment of a strategy aimed primarily at stopping the ongoing genocide, and also at creating concrete conditions for the Eelam Tamils to exercise their rights to peace and self-determination”.

It has also recommended for the creation of “an international commission of inquiry – which excludes the states which have been directly and/or indirectly linked to the genocidal process – could be a first step in this direction”.

It has also recommended the European Union, which had played a positive role with the promotion of the peace process, but later contributed to the implementation of the genocidal process with its acceptance of the US government position on the ‘terrorist nature of the Eelam Tamils….to assume the responsibility of providing a transparent report on the reasons that led to the failure of the peace process”.

EU has also been urged “to review its external policy, in order to assure that the political, economic, and cultural rights of the Eelam Tamils are respected and promoted with specific attention to the difficult situation of denial and repression created by the Sri Lankan government.

The EU has also been asked to “reconsider with high priority its security policy, so strictly dependent on classifications imposed by the US government without regard for due process and irrespective of the evolving nature of liberation and resistance movements”.

Photos: © Indika Gamage / JDS



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