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Tamil Genocide in Sri Lanka Emerges Into Public ViewTim King Salem-News.com
UN urges war crime investigations; Warning- Genocidal death photos beyond graphic.
(SALEM, Ore.) - Our report on Sri Lanka's genocide of the Tamil people and war crimes against Liberation Tigers of Tamileelam (LTTE), came at a time when the wagons of the Sri Lankan government are tilting over on their sides. The response to that story has been almost overwhelming as evidenced by the associated comments. (see: World Ignores Genocide of Sri Lanka's Tamil Population)
The response tells us what we feared; that these events of wanton slaughter were on the verge of sliding out of sight forever. When the story was published, it soared to the top of the lineup on Google under Sri Lanka Genocide where it remains at the time of this writing.
It is time for other news agencies to increase the tempo with regard to genocidal events and bring them into world view. There is no other way. The images are horrific but they are real and moving and must be seen.
The brand new United Nations report is leading to serious issues for Sri Lanka, as detailed in the UN release in the sidebar below.
It carries with it a potential to reveal the truth about the Tamil people and their tragedy in seeking independence from the Sri Lankan government. Interestingly, and importantly, the Tamil people represent different nationalities and religions; they are diverse and not easily categorized. They have experienced grave suffering as a result of their ambitions to seek political independence in Sri Lanka since 1983, the year the 16-year long Civil War began.
(Note: This article contains images of human corpses in terrible states; likely something that most people have never seen. Rather than scrolling downward, if you want to avoid seeing the images referenced, simply go to the top of the story and hit the printer icon and the story will open without images.)
'Terrorists' and Genocide
The story of the Tamil Tigers LTTE may the most overblown in the usage of the word 'terrorism' ever, and that is really saying something.
This is used by the Israelis against the Palestinians they displace; the Americans describe Arab freedom fighters trying to repel an occupation that has claimed over a million civilians on their soil with this word; it is the term China uses when describing Muslim ethnic minority Uyghurs seeking equal rights, and the list goes on. It is high time we stop describing those who fight for human freedom; against military occupations that violate international law, with this ugly, branding word.
The UN report acknowledges this, if not in so many words, while also pointing to the fact that several contemporary issues in Sri Lanka, if left unaddressed, will deter effort towards genuine accountability and may undermine prospects for durable peace in consequence.
"Most notably, this includes:
Regarding the images with this article, they came from Athirvu.com, which received photos of 134 persons killed in the final war. The purpose of publishing these photos is to help relatives identify the dead. The photos clearly show that some of them were shot in the head, likely execution style. Some photos show fire bombs used by GOSL.
The images of Tamil Tiger corpses being handled by government forces, the close up shots of of people who are clearly civilians who were shot in the head, bludgeoned to death, the government uniforms; these tell the story that no words can convey.
But the most disturbing scenes yet, (of course this point is debatable) are contained in a YouTube video. We are told these are the victims of female Tamil rape victims. It appears that they were sexually brutalized before being murdered and left lying on the ground without a shred of dignity.
This is beyond disturbing. These are the people who the government says died because they were 'human shields' which is the pat line these days when governments behind state sponsored terrorism are accused of murderous crimes against their own citizens. I don't know how a woman can be a shield for humans when she is being held down on the ground and raped.
The same day our report was published, Sri Lanka's president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, was booted from the Time Magazine Top 100 Poll.
According to The Associated Press:
The Tamil people writing to Salem-News.com cheered.
Then more tables turned on the Sri Lankan president and government, when the U.N.-appointed panel found that allegations of war crimes committed by the Sri Lanka government and the Tamil Tigers during the final battles of their 27-year war are credible and could lead to formal charges if investigated.
The panel's report also criticized the U.N. for not revealing casualty figures at the time. Doing so, it said, "would have strengthened the call for protection of civilians."
"The Panel's determination of credible allegations reveals a very different version of the final stages of the war than that maintained to this day by the Givernment of Sri Lanka. The Givernment says it pursued a 'humanirarian rescue operation' with a policy of 'zero civilian casualties.' In stark contrast, the Panel found credible allegations, which if proven, indicate that a wide rage of serious violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law was committed both by the Government of ri Lanka and the LTTE, some of which would amount to war crimes and crimes against himanity. Indeed, the conduct of the war represented a grave assault on the entire regume of international law designed to protedt individual dignity during both war and peace."
"Specifically the Panel found credible allegations associated with the final stages of the war. Between September 2008 and 19 May 2009, the Sri Lanka Army advanced its military campaign into the Vanni using large-scale and widespread shelling, causing large numbers of civilian deaths. This campaign constituted persecution of the population of the Vanni. Around 330,000 civilians were trapped into an ever decreasing area, fleeing the shelling but kept hostage by the LTTE. The Government sought to intimidate and silence the media and other critics of war through a variety of threats and actions, including the use of white vans to abduct and to make people disappear."
As in the case of Israel's 'Operation Cast Lead' against the civilian population of Gaza which happened in 2008 and 2009, the Sri Lanka's army shelled hospitals on the front lines.
The UN report states that, "All hospitals in the Vanni were hit by mortars and artillery, some of them were hit repeatedly, despite the fact that their locations were well-known to the Government".
Tens of thousands are said to have lost their lives from January to May 2009, many of whom the Panel says, died anonymously in the carnage of the final few days.
And there were other atrocities. Later in the report it is stated that: "The Government subjected victims and survivors of the conflict to further deprivation and suffering after they left the conflict zone. Screening for suspected LTTE took place without any transparency or external scrituny. Some of those who were separated were summarily executed, and some of the women may have been raped. Others disappeared, as recounted by their wives and relatives during the LLRC hearings. All IDP's were detained in closed camps. Massive overcrowding led to terrible conditions, breaching the basic and social and economic rights of the detainees, and many lives were lost unnecessarily. Some persons in the camps were interrogated and subjected to torture. Suspected LTTE were removed to other facilities, with no contact with the outside world, under conditions that made them vulnerable to further abuses."
There are few secrets about Mahinda Rajapaksa, president of Sri Lanka. Media groups allege that press freedom was greatly reduced in Sri Lanka after Rajapaksa's became President. In 2008, Reporters Sans Frontières / 'Reporters Without Borders' (RSF) ranked Sri Lanka 165th among 173 countries in its annual Worldwide Press Freedom Index. Then the number squeaked to number 158.
"RSF’s 2010 Press Freedom Index has Sri Lanka at number 158, nearly tied with Saudi Arabia. This makes the rankings somewhat suspect. In Saudi Arabia, all newspapers are owned by the royal family or their associates. All TV and radio stations are government owned. Saudi journalists are forbidden by law to criticise the royal family or religious authorities and writers and bloggers are routinely arrested. Sri Lanka is obviously not this bad." - Indi Samarajiva, The Sunday Leader
WikiLeaks released secret US cables in 2009, stating that American diplomats including Patricia Butenis believe that Mahinda Rajapaksa was responsible for the massacre towards the end of the end of the war with the LTTE. It was relayed that the country's senior civilian and military leadership, including President Rajapaksa and his brothers and opposition candidate General Fonsek, are responsibile for many of the alleged crimes, which they deny.
Wikipedia explains that Rajapaksa was chosen by the Sri Lanka Freedom Party to run against former Prime Minister and Opposition Leader, Ranil Wickremasinghe, the leader of the United National Party, in the 2005 presidential election. Mahinda Rajapaksa gained a narrow victory, winning by 190,000 votes.
Many Tamil voters were forcibly restrained from voting, according to reports, and many did favor Ranil Wickremasignhe and his UNP party in the election. Rajapaksa won the election with 50.3% of the vote.
The complaints against this man and his politics are wide ranging, and they include corruption prior to the election, particularly through what became known as the Helping Hambantota case, and for having ordered the violence against civilians that puts him on a level where he can be compared with Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot.
Wikipedia also relates the fact that the president of Sri Lanka probably never had any intention of finding real peace without a mass extermination of Tamil people.
"Although styling himself as a man of peace and a willing negotiator, Rajapaksa signaled his intention to end the peace process once in power by forging an alliance with the Sinhalese nationalist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna and the Jathika Hela Urumaya. The JVP had opposed the original 2002 peace process as treasonous."
Comments from our readers about the Tamil Genocide:
Nadarajah Balasubramaniam April 23, 2011 3:55 am (Pacific time)
Please visit www.pflt.org, the website of the 'People's Front of Liberation Tigers (PFLT-Uk), registered as another major political party in the UK.
Gowry April 22, 2011 11:00 pm (Pacific time)
Thanks a lot Tim. I thought no one in western world cares about my people (Tamils). You did!!! Thanks heaps. Please continue your remarkable service. Please don't be discouraged by Sinhalese racist comments. They think killing Tamils is an acceptable thing.
Vikruth April 22, 2011 7:35 am (Pacific time)
I am a Tamil from India. Sri Lankans are know for their diplomacy and have successfully kept this information out from the world for a long time. Every dog has its day though.
Sabratha T April 22, 2011 5:20 pm (Pacific time)
my lord...I can't watch these pictures. I knew something was going in this country. Never knew this was happening. How can a government kill their own people. Arrest all who are responsible. As someone else said why did our media ignored this issue ?. shame on them
Ahilan Sivaganesan April 22, 2011 8:33 pm (Pacific time)
Tim, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for writing this article. I am a medical student and a 2nd generation Tamil, and I have been involved in attempts to spread awareness about this genocide... however the progress is slow (as it must be for the Palestinians). When Tamils speak out on behalf of their own, they are often dismissed... so it is wonderful to see a non-Tamil shed light on the genocide. If our human rights and advocacy organizations can work with you to help raise more awareness, please let us know. Thanks!
Appapillai Rajendra April 22, 2011 10:30 pm (Pacific time)
Congratulations, Tim. You have really opened the Pandora’s Box that had been kept securely closed by the excellent management of information by the Sri Lankan Government (SLG).
The SLG had always taken a disingenuous approach of perpetrating deliberate misrepresentation of facts and floated on lies hoodwinking the world that the LTTE was the foremost Terrorist Organization in the world, blaming it for the countless killings and political assassinations which it actually was not involved. The SLG launched a well-orchestrated international propaganda campaign to convince the International Community that the Tamil struggle was nothing more than naked terrorism. Playing on the sensibilities and anxieties of western nations about global terrorism, Sri Lanka obtained global sympathy by propagating a view that she too was a victim of a similar phenomenon.
Tragedy is not erasable and the Tamil people today are and will forever be, traumatized by these events. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is rampant in the population and the existing laws in Sri Lanka that openly discriminate against Tamil people are a joke, though anything but a laughing matter. The United Nations and High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, appear to be on the verge of fulfilling their obligations as world leaders. From war criminal to Time Magazine top 100 poll, back to war criminal: Mahinda Rajapaksa needs to be arrested and tried in a war crime tribunal along with those who carried out his orders. The soldiers on the ground are far from innocent, but these matters begin with national leadership, or in this case, a distinct lack of it.
Previous Salem-News.com reports on Sri Lanka:
Mar-15-2009: Sri Lanka: Possible War Crimes - Salem-News.com
Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor. Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 covering the war in Afghanistan, and he was in Iraq over the summer of 2008, reporting from the war while embedded with both the U.S. Army and the Marines. Tim holds numerous awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing, including the Oregon AP Award for Spot News Photographer of the Year (2004), first place Electronic Media Award in Spot News, Las Vegas, (1998), Oregon AP Cooperation Award (1991); and several others including the 2005 Red Cross Good Neighborhood Award for reporting. Tim has several years of experience in network affiliate news TV stations, having worked as a reporter and photographer at NBC, ABC and FOX stations in Arizona, Nevada and Oregon. You can send Tim an email at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org
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