Tamils, their leaders should articulate their position on genocide: Civil Society

In bid to drive the Tamil national politics in the right path in terms of truth, justice and accountability, the Tamil Civil Society Forum (TCSF) said on Friday that the Tamils and their elected representatives "have to articulate their positions" in the above areas "with clarity and with the best interests of the Tamils in mind".

Issuing a statement on the question of the appropriateness of the Northern Provincial Council (NPC) passing a resolution "identifying the crimes that were committed and those that continue to be committed against the Tamil people as amounting to the crime of Genocide", it said there are no cogent moral or legal reasons for the NPC not to do so.

Claiming to have sought adequate advice from lawyers competent to comment on International Law prior to issuing the statement TCSF said that the Tamils and their representatives have a right to ask for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights inquiry team on Sri Lanka to investigate the crime of genocide in addition to an investigation into war crimes and crime against humanity.

"Requesting an investigation into genocide serves to ensure that all possible violations of international law are appropriately identified and explored. Needless to say such a request does not prejudice OISL's investigation into other crimes including war crimes and crimes against humanity. Neither the UN Secretary General's Panel of Experts report's silence on the crime of Genocide nor the text of the UN Human Rights Council March 2014 resolution prevent the OISL from investigating the crime of genocide," the statement.

"Tamils and their representatives have the right to form a legal opinion that the atrocities that were committed (and continue to be perpetrated) against them amounts to Genocide. ..Tamils and their representatives also have a concomitant right to seek the intervention of the International Community to prevent and protect them from the commission of Genocide," the TCSF statement said.

The statement has come at a time when the leadership of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has been accused by some senior members of the party of trying to either soft-pedal or put it aside, citing that it could well undermine the ongoing investigation by the UNHRC.

Directly responding the alleged posture of the TNA, the TCSF said that the "self-characterization and identification of the crime to which they were subjected to, by the victim group, in no way prejudices an impartial inquiry into those crimes."

"Hence, the identification of the crime that befell them as constituting genocide by Tamils in no way prejudices OISL's inquiry into the same," it said, adding that there are innumerable examples of democratically elected bodies passing resolutions recognizing the commission of Genocide at a time of an ongoing probe.

"Hence, we are of the opinion that there are no cogent moral or legal reasons for the NPC to refrain from passing a resolution that: a) recognizes the past and present commission of Genocide against the Tamils, b) calls for an international investigation into Genocide, and c) requests international intervention to protect the Tamils from Genocide," the TCSF statement said.