Sunday May 19, 2013
'International Day in Support of Victims of Torture'
Tim King Salem-News.com
Never forget the Tamils of Sri Lanka
(SALEM / CHENNAI) - As we approach the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, it is paramount that we direct our sharp attention toward the recent Genocide in Sri Lanka.
Occurring just over two years ago, it is so recent that no accurate figures exist regarding the true number of victims.
Today, the Tamil Hindu and Christian survivors live in constant peril; occupied by Sri Lanka's Sinhalese Buddhist army. Those able to get information out say the rapes and the deathly abuse of Tamils is far from over, but continuing today at a slower pace.
This is what the world has turned its back to.
The number of Murdered civilians may actually be over 100,000, few dispute that at least 40,000 died. Sri Lankan President Majinda Rajapaksa's military commanders pressed this gruesome ethnic cleansing after indirectly threatening the safety of the handful of United Nations aid workers on the ground. So, the UN pulled its people out, and the 'games' began. Sadly they were more like a game the Romans would play than any sport in this modern society.
One year ago, one of the most potentially important men alive, the Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki-moon, held the cards and lost the hand. He even did a repeat of the Red Cross Holocaust tour scenario of the 30's, touring a place of devastation and horrific suffering but only in the places designated by the Sri Lankan government.
A year ago this world leader said:
“The International Day in Support of Victims of Torture is an occasion to underscore the internationally recognized right of all men and women to live free from torture. It is an opportunity to reaffirm our collective commitment to prohibit torture and all cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment.”
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
Message for the International Day in
Support of Victims of Torture 2010
The United Nations release about this particularly important day stated:
Torture seeks to annihilate the victim’s personality and denies the inherent dignity of the human being. The United Nations has condemned torture from the outset as one of the vilest acts perpetrated by human beings on their fellow human beings.
Torture is a crime under international law. According to all relevant instruments, it is absolutely prohibited and cannot be justified under any circumstances. This prohibition forms part of customary international law, which means that it is binding on every member of the international community, regardless of whether a State has ratified international treaties in which torture is expressly prohibited. The systematic or widespread practice of torture constitutes a crime against humanity.
Channel-4 in London premiered the long awaited Jon Snow documentary "Sri Lanka's Killing Fields" last week. It brought the Genocide together in a succinct way, tracing the early years of fighting between Tamil separatists who sought to have an autonomic region; Tamil Eelam, where their human rights would be respected, even guaranteed.
In the 1980's a resistance group was formed under military and political lines, known as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and a revolution was on. This civil war led to much strife but a balance of peace had been reached. It existed until Rajapaksa took office in 2005. His Sinhalese Buddhist regime wants to have a religious nation like Israel's and Afghanistan's and there is no possible way to have this and also maintain human rights.
One example of the moves of the Sri Lankan Sinhalese majority had been to make their language; Sinhala, also known as Helabasa, the country's official language, thus continuing the erosion of rights of the Tamil minority. It truly had become an apartheid state in terms of cultural acceptance.
Many people are familiar with the state of Tamil Nadu in India. This in fact is where Salem, India, a sister city of Salem, Oregon that we have written about in the past, is located. Sri Lankan Tamils have lived on the island for a long time, since around the 2nd century BCE.
Wikipedia explains that most modern Sri Lankan Tamils believe they are descended from residents of Jaffna Kingdom, a former kingdom in the north of the island and Vannimai chieftaincies from the east.
On the island nation of Sri Lanka, Tamils constitute a majority of residents in the Northern Province, and also significant in numbers in the Eastern Province. In fact Tamil country includes both of Sri Lanka's northern coastlines. Tamils also live in other parts of Sri Lanka as a minority population.
It is interesting that Sri Lankan Tamils have a distinct culture and language unlike the other two Tamil-speaking minorities in Sri Lanka; the Indian Tamils and the Moors.
As we have related before, Sri Lanka's Tamils are mostly Hindus but there is also a significant Christian population.
According to Wikipedia:
Sri Lankan Tamil literature on topics including religion and the sciences flourished during the medieval period in the court of the Jaffna Kingdom. Since the 1980s, it is distinguished by an emphasis on themes relating to the Sri Lankan Civil War. Sri Lankan Tamil dialects are noted for their archaism and retention of words not in everyday use in the Tamil Nadu state in India.
The online world encyclopedia also explains how relations between Sinhalese and Tamils have been on a path of deterioration since 1948, when Sri Lanka gained independence from Britain.
Rising ethnic and political tensions, along with ethnic riots and pogroms in 1956, 1958, 1977, 1981 and 1983, led to the formation and strengthening of militant groups advocating independence for Tamils. The ensuing Sri Lankan Civil War has resulted in the deaths of more than 70,000 people and the forced disappearance of thousands of others.
1948 was a very bad year for the earth in many respects. It is significant with the beginning of the Palestinian Nakba; the day their Diaspora began, from where so many families have never been able to rise of out of refugee status in all of these last 63 years of Israeli occupation.
It is also the same year that the U.S. decided to fund the French re-colonization of Viet Nam; thus starting not one or two, but four concurrent wars as a result. They were the French Indo-China War, the U.S. War in Vietnam, the ensuing war between Vietnam and the Khmer Rouge fighters who had overtaken Cambodia and carried out a horrific Genocide campaign, and finally, the Sino-Vietnam War, (Vietnamese: Chiến tranh biên giới Việt-Trung), also known as the Third Indochina War, known in the PRC as 对越自卫反击战 (duì yuè zìwèi fǎnjī zhàn) (Counterattack against Vietnam in Self-Defense) and in Vietnam as Chiến tranh chống bành trướng Trung Hoa (War against Chinese expansionism), when Vietnam defeated invading Chinese and sent them packing back home.
All of those terrible conflicts that happened in SE Asia between 1948 and 1980 were a result of colonialism in one form or another. All of the wars affecting Vietnam were a result of decisions from the office of U.S. President Harry Truman.
As we consider the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, we should consider the brutal treatment of all the world's gentle populations that have been assaulted in ways that defy the senses. Regard for humans that was insane, barbaric, unforgivable, is considered on this day, as we have done a poor job of recalling all but one of these events, and that is the Holocaust of the 1930's. The Germans, Sri Lankans, Khmer Rouge, they went too far. When Serbia's leader Slobodan Milošević was arrested, bound for trial to face charges of Crimes Against Humanity, and then died in a jail cell.
The problem is that his crimes are no worse than those of George W. Bush, Tony Blair, Majinda Rajapaksa, and Benjamin Netanyahu. How about the leadership of most countries that aren't located in South America? The United Nations seems powerless to bring change, we need to find our own mechanisms and force peace. This leads back to Sri Lanka; we live in a world full of drones and spy cameras and satellites, and it seems hard to believe that so many thousands were killed in bombing campaigns and in hands-on human slaughter, without the world's leaders knowing about it.
We are always quick to cite the removal of observers on the ground as a primary ingredient behind th Sri Lanka Tamil tragedy, but are we really so limited today that the removal of 14 UN observers causes the Genocide of 100,000?
The actions of these killers are caught as the Channel-4 documentary clearly shows. And it is important to note that there are many Sinhalese people working on the right side of this argument and they lament and bemoan the magnitude of the suffering and we must remember that we are all humans first. It is now up to the world to decide what to do and that may be exactly nothing, because the world's concerns center around business and war, instead of humanity, which is where priority and emphasis should be.
Still, by resolution 52/149, on 12 December 1997, the UN General Assembly proclaimed 26 June the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, with a view to the total eradication of torture and the effective functioning of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, (resolution 39/46), annex, which entered into force on 26 June 1987.
I want to offer special thanks to Muthamizh Vendhan in Chennai who is so helpful keeping me up to date on these developments. Readers in India, please mark your calendars and join Muthamizh and many others at Marina Beach in Chennai on 26 June, Sunday at 5:00 p.m. and light a candle at this special day of observation. The event will take place near Kannagi Statue, it is sponsored by the May 17 movement. More information is available in the links below.
(International Day in Support of Victims of Torture - 26 June)
Tim King: Salem-News.com Editor and Writer
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 awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing, including the Silver Spoke Award by the National Coalition of Motorcyclists (2011), Excellence in Journalism Award by the Oregon Confederation of Motorcycle Clubs (2010), 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. Tim was a member of the National Press Photographer's Association for several years and is a current member of the Orange County Press Club.
Serving the community in very real terms, Salem-News.com is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website. As News Editor, Tim among other things, is responsible for publishing the original content of 88 Salem-News.com writers. He reminds viewers that emails are easily missed and urges those trying to reach him, to please send a second email if the first goes unanswered. You can write to Tim at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org