Sri Lankan Government massacre of 40,000 to 70,000 Tamil Civilians


The Sri Lankan government will eventually be held accountable for the massacre of between 40,000 and 70,000 Tamil men, women and children in the first five months of 2009 < http://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=79&artid=32247 >. Crimes that fall under the category of jus
cogens
are a ‘category’ or legal status of a crime that rises to the level
of internationally recognizable as a crime that cannot be violated by any
country in the world. These are war crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity
and prohibitions on slavery. This “Higher law” may not be violated by any country and its complicity is a duty, not an optional right. That duty is to prosecute or extradite to a jurisdiction that has the capacity to do so. The duty is known as obligatio erga omnes, which means obligations or rights toward all. This is a legal implication as a result of a jus cogens crime.

There is a United Nations Rome Statute, the principle of complementarity, is a safeguard to protect a nation’s sovereignty. This renders a case inadmissible to the International Criminal Court if the case is under investigation by the state with jurisdiction for this particular case. Complementarity allows for jurisdiction
by the International Criminal Court in cases where the state with jurisdiction
fails in their duty, e.g. unable or unwilling to proceed with an investigation,
or when the investigation is conducted in bad faith; which is what I have been
arguing in blogs regarding the Amanda Knox case in Italy.

Jurisprudence excludes ‘moral right’s in countries like the United States and South Asian Countries, but moral rights are a part of jurisprudence in Germany, France and other European countries. These statutes, which incorporate moral rights, give additional legal opportunities to bring to justice, violators of human rights.

Many scholars believe the Sri Lankan government will eventually be held accountable as they have had high ranking officials going on record stating they would not proceed with an investigation, which presumes the likelihood of an investigation in bad faith, should they acquiesce to fend off public pressure, as a result of these statements.

There have been so many opportunities to implement International Human Rights Law and bring justice to the so many who have perished because of its breech. I am sickened by reading of the scale of evil that continues to exist in our world and the unbelievably slow pace at rescuing those in harms way.  When will the collective body of the citizens of th world finally say enough is enough and demand that EVERY nation be held accountable, swiftly, for breeches in crimes categorized as a jus cogens, at the very least?

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13 responses to “Sri Lankan Government massacre of 40,000 to 70,000 Tamil Civilians

  1. It was all going so well until you quoted from Tamilnut, the well-known propaganda site of the LTTE. Only 40,000? No, genocide inflation has now created a figure of 120,000 or perhaps even 1.3 million.

    You really should find out a bit more about our war before displaying your ignorance for the entire world to see. Here’s a good starting point.

    http://thecarthaginiansolution.wordpress.com/2011/02/13/sri-lanka-can-never-beat-the-west/

    • I appreciate your comments Mango, but my quote was 40,000-70,000. If the number is higher, I will continue to look for the other numbers. As I stated in the blog, this is something I have just come across. The fact that I am attempting to disclose what is happening out there should be a sign to you to constructively criticize and add your input, not an attempt to shut me up by calling me, “ignorant”. I know about war, I have serbed in the United States Marines and the United States Army. The question should not be about calling me ignorant to war, but about finding more updated numbers. One way to do that is to provide me a link to such numbers and not to criicize and then go away. Hand some love this way and hare where these figures are and I’ll update, we’re on the same side in this matter.

  2. Dear First Listen,

    I’m sorry if I seemed a bit off-handed. It was rude and I apologise.

    You’re absolutely correct, in that no really accurate, commonly agreed figures for innocent civilian deaths at the final stages of the conflict. The SL govt wanted to maintain a fiction of zero casualties (totally ridiculous) and the LTTE wanted to maximise the numbers to initiate international action to save their miserable skins. The UN’s own figures are around 5,000 – 7,000 – a terrible number.

    Start from here to understand how the 40,000 figure ‘big lie’ came into existence.
    http://tinyurl.com/44d3nx7

    And these two articles from an ex-SLA infantryman’s blog gives an excellent overview of the final months and about the pro-LTTE diaspora who are now trying to keep the conflict alive.

    http://tinyurl.com/cn4zaz
    http://tinyurl.com/nrbps2

    What you must understand about the SL war is that everyone lies. The GoSL lies, AI lies, Tamilnut lies, the TGTE lies, the UN lies, HRW & ICG lies and the EU lies.

  3. Thank you Mango,
    I just want to get at the truth and in order to do so we all must communicate with each other. I will look at these article s and revise my figures to show what each group is saying and that sometimes information can be more exagerated than it is for political reasons, or simply to get a story in the media.
    Whatever the case may be, the killings must stop. I am sure you can agree that no number of deaths is acceptable, from either side and so we must do our part in blogging the truth, in hopes that the bloodshed can be stopped.
    The downgraded numbers you have are still quite high and have justified the attention and actions of the International Human Rights Community in the past.
    If I am in a situation where my family is being systematically slaughtered because I have spoken out against a dictorial government, if nothing else worked to get the international community’s attention to the needless terror, I am not certain I would resort to upping the figures. Apparently, these people are being slaughtered, regardless of the figure, so to say they are simply lying to save their “miserable skin” is inhumane, don’t you think?
    If it were you, would you want to be degenerated in such a way? These are human beings, who deserve the same respect as you or I, no less, no more.
    The violence must end and we must tell the truth about the numbers and about what is really going on there, because mass murder is not an acceptable action by any government body.
    A question, if I may? Why do you speak of the Tamil with such content? I really would like to know more, so that I may understand.

  4. Dear First Listen,

    The killings (by both sides) have stopped because the LTTE has been utterly and decisively militarily crushed. Since May 2009, there hasn’t been a single insurgency related death in Sri Lanka. All the LTTE remnants have been dealt with (more or less) permanently. It’s the kind of situation that the West can only dream of, as they try to extricate themselves from the AfPak quagmire.

    The international ‘HR’ community have been and remain utterly useless in combatting the LTTE. They only helped the LTTE to survive by preventing the SLA from achieving a decisive victory. The SL war was a rare case of proving Luttwak’s seminal theory of ‘Giving War a Chance’ where he stated: “AN UNPLEASANT truth often overlooked is that although war is a great evil, it does have a great virtue: it can resolve political conflicts and lead to peace. This can happen when all belligerents become exhausted or when one wins decisively. Either way the key is that the fighting must continue until a resolution is reached.”

    Your comments above show that you don’t really know about our little war, how it started and why it went on for so long. Sri Lanka has unfortunately had three insurgencies. Two by the Sinhalese youth (JVP 1 and JVP 2) and the Eelam Wars 1-4, by the Tamils. The SL govt used extremely brutal methods to crush the Pol-Pot style 2nd JVP insurgency. i.e. a mainly Sinhalese-dominated Armed forces successfully destroyed a Sinhalese insurgency. I now confidently assert that using violence to further political aims in Sri Lanka is literally a dead end.

    The SL govt is rough and brutal but nevertheless an elected government. All governments become rough and brutal when fighting an existential enemy, which the LTTE was. I don’t speak of Tamils with contempt and never have. In fact I have lauded the LTTE’s combat formations despite the warped nature of the cause on whose behalf they fought and died. After the final battle of encirclement at Aanandapuram, even SL MOD (defence.lk) were complimentary about the LTTE’s performance, when the cream of the LTTE fought to the death. But as they say, there’s nothing so tragic as dying for nothing. http://tinyurl.com/3ama3lj

    Think of the LTTE as a heavily armed, committed Aryan Nations with heavy arty, battalion sized formations, a Navy and a fledgling air force. These guys weren’t amateurs. They wrote the manual on unconventional warfare.

    My contempt is reserved for the LTTE leadership who deliberately used Tamil civilians as shrapnel sponges/hostages in a vain bid to halt the SLA offensive and for the overseas pro-LTTE diaspora who instead of being Instead of appalled and disgusted that the LTTE were forcing Tamil kids in the Vanni to fight, were quite happy to encourage and fund the combat from the safety of the West. The entire 30-year long war appeared set to continue into infinity (and beyond), until this govt decided to get its act together and deal with the LTTE.

    How the LTTE was beaten: “…So a political decision was made by President Rajapaksa to comprehensively study all previous war operations and arrive at a solution for every factor of failure or inability to win the war. For every factor we found a solution,”.

    http://www.adaderana.lk/news.php?nid=7920

    And finally, this written after Prabhakaran’s death is an excellent overview of how we got to where we got to:
    http://transcurrents.com/tc/2009/05/post_362.html

    • Thank you Mango, this has been very educational for me. You have opened my eyes to many of the political theories I have been taught, by showing me an example in Sri Lanka’s. I do know of Edward Luttwak’s essay, “Give war a Chance”.
      I must say, at the University I had argued that the international body must step in and mediate, but now I see the other side of the argument that this leads to prolonging the war. This simply gives the side being beaten a chance to “lick their wounds” and re-supply, to go at it again. This leads to a misleading number of dead, because it’s over such a long period of time in dealing with an internal and militarily political conflict and not a massive inahilation of a minority for no other reason than to erase them from the planet. If fact, your insight into the Tamil being used as human shields in the early stages, prompting the government to finally act, proves your point more so.
      I have been ignorant to what the history had been and putting into perspective, exactly what is going on now. Now I have a clearer picture of what is happening and agree with Luttwak’s theory in this particular case.
      This must be frustrating in getting people from the west to listen and truly understand the complexities of the situation there.
      I hope my eyes being opened will give you a little more comfort in seeing that by communicating, the west can understand your voices.
      My apologies; for being self-righteous in my condemning the Sri Lanka government, before first educating myself further on the details. I should have researched the history and the players in this “civil war” before yelling for intervention and demeaning the government. I believe, every conflict requires a different political theory to define what is going on and what needs to be done. Given what you have disclosed to me, I too would agree that Luttwak’s theory best fits this particular conflict.

  5. Thank you Mango, this has been very educational for me. You have opened my eyes to many of the political theories I have been taught, by showing me an example in Sri Lanka’s. I do know of Edward Luttwak’s essay, “Give war a Chance”.
    I must say, at the University I had argued that the international body must step in and mediate, but now I see the other side of the argument that this leads to prolonging the war. This simply gives the side being beaten a chance to “lick their wounds” and re-supply, to go at it again. This leads to a misleading number of dead, because it’s over such a long period of time in dealing with an internal and militarily political conflict and not a massive inahilation of a minority for no other reason than to erase them from the planet. If fact, your insight into the Tamil being used as human shields in the early stages, prompting the government to finally act, proves your point more so.
    I have been ignorant to what the history had been and putting into perspective, exactly what is going on now. Now I have a clearer picture of what is happening and agree with Luttwak’s theory in this particular case.
    This must be frustrating in getting people from the west to listen and truly understand the complexities of the situation there.
    I hope my eyes being opened will give you a little more comfort in seeing that by communicating, the west can understand your voices.
    My apologies; for being self-righteous in my condemning the Sri Lanka government, before first educating myself further on the details. I should have researched the history and the players in this “civil war” before yelling for intervention and demeaning the government. I believe, every conflict requires a different political theory to define what is going on and what needs to be done. Given what you have disclosed to me, I too would agree that Luttwak’s theory best fits this particular conflict.

  6. Dear First Listen,
    Thank you and my apologies again for my initial dismissive sarcasm. I think Luttwak’s theory only works in rare cases, but sometimes it’s the only option. I can see why the human rights industry hates it so much 🙂

    On the civilian casualty issue, the numbers rose alarmingly only in the final months of the war, when the LTTE took the population with them. In the earlier Eastern Campaign, when the LTTE was defeated and ejected from the Eastern provinces during 2006-7, the civilian deaths were mercifully low, because the LTTE never had a chance to concentrate the civilians and use them as human shields.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_Theater_of_Eelam_War_IV

    The trick now is for the SL govt to translate the military victory into a durable and permanent peace. On that, they’ve been very, very lax. Unfortunately, (in my opinion), they’re drunk on victory and think themselves invincible and many of the worst aspects of Sinhala racism have come to the front. Various language issue incidents, small and large scale corruption, lack of magnanimity to the defeated Tamil population etc.

    So, paradoxically, international scrutiny is ‘good’ thing. But scrutiny accompanied by calls for war crimes trials are a complete non-starter. All it does is harden the GoSL’s resolve and give them an excuse to be even more paranoid and dictatorial. The Sinhalese majority won’t thank the diaspora or the HR crowd for it, either. In a still polarised and ‘ethnicity’ obsessed, the Sinhalese will be bound even more closely to their government.

    This new interview of KP (the LTTE’s last leader, who was kidnapped in Malaysia in a Mossad-style operation and who now works with the SL govt) is a real eye opener on how the LTTE operated, its attitude to peace talks, how he sees the post-war priorities.
    http://www.firstpost.com/politics/full-text-kp-interview-14180.html

    Anyway, don’t take my word for it; you can draw your own conclusions. Those from the pro-LTTE spectrum will give you a diametrically opposed viewpoint on why they still need a Tamil homeland inside Sri Lanka. If you ever find yourself in discussions about the SL war with the pro-LTTE diaspora, ask them this question.

    Why didn’t they send their youth to Sri Lanka from 2006-2009 when the LTTE needed their manpower? And if you ever get an answer, let me know. The good guys didn’t win in Sri Lanka. The least-worst guys won.

    • Thank you so much Mango. This is very powerful and important information to me as I try and understand the world. If it is alright with you, I will forward our dialogue to my former professors of international politics at the University of Washington and the UN. I have learned so much from our discourse. I only wish others would take the time and listen to what’s being said from all parties, rather than aligning themselves to one side, to media influence and then dig in their heels. This has been most rewarding. Again, I can’t thank you enough.

      Kindest regards,
      David Martin

  7. Dear David,
    Thanks for that. As I said, this was an extremely dirty war, fought with dirty methods with little or no mercy shown on either side. Think of it like the Eastern Front in Asia.

    I had exactly the same discussion with Amnesty Int’l, where they didn’t (and probably couldn’t) agree that sometimes, to improve human rights, you have to kill people and especially the top level leadership. Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Sierra Leone and Rwanda are examples of the ‘crushing’ policy working. Half way down the page…
    http://blog.amnestyusa.org/iar/sri-lanka-are-releases-of-displaced-civilians-genuine/#comments

    The verdict on Sri Lanka won’t be clear for at least another 2-3 generations. Also, that argument has been used by Bush & co in their wars of choice, post 9/11. So, its very messy..

    http://thecarthaginiansolution.wordpress.com/2011/05/03/amnesty-intl-declares-war-on-sri-lanka/

    p.s. if you have the time, visit SL and see for yourself. But go before July (expensive flights) or around Nov/Dec for cooler weather 🙂

  8. Dear David,
    Here’s something to ask your professors. You may know about the ‘white flag’ controversy. Basically, this is about did Gota (our SecDef) give unambiguous orders that surrendering top LTTE leaders were to be dispensed with – i.e. shot out of hand. I find the fuss quite incredible and betrays the naivete of those posing the question.

    Gota wouldn’t need to give such orders. Every dog in the street knew that the top level LTTE leadership would not survive the war. The front ine soldiers knew it and the LTTE knew it. After the carnage caused by the LTTE, there was absolutely no way the leadership would make it out alive.

    I made this point on a UK blog before the war ended – it didn’t need special powers of foresight on my part.
    http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/4421
    post no. 8

    Now, morally, of course this was wrong. A surrendering enemy has to be taken alive. But how is this different from the US invading Iraq, capturing Saddam, putting him on (show) trial and then executing him? Or better still, OBL’s recent execution ?

    • Forced Hypocritical Foreign Policy as a result of National Political Pressure

      This is a very good question and one that I have so naively argued as well. When exercising foreign policy, one forgets that foreign policy is often influenced by national policy, which the international community may (in US 911 revenge) or may not (earlier war crimes committed by the LTTE using civilians as human shields in war) may not know about.

      In the case of the killing of Osama Bin Laden, he was the one who was the symbol of the unprovoked massacre of so many civilian lives in the United States, which the U.S. and western world watched in horror as it played out on live television. I watched as CNN showed the damage from the first plane and then the second plane hit. It was like a dream; a nightmare (surreal). I kept waiting to wake up, I was shocked and then I was very angry and then I felt helpless to help those people. So many emotions all at one time, but I felt we should find out who did this and go after them, not a country as then President Bush did. I felt his reaction was stupid and irrational. Al Qaeda did not represent a “state,” so to punish a state for the actions of an extremist terrorist group was very stupid.

      In hindsight, this was a political move by the terrorist group to get control from Saddam Hussein. Saddam Hussein, who was an enemy of Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden was the scapegoat, whose power rose in the Islamic Community as a result of our actions against Iraq, which saw many unfortunate deaths and atrocities of civilians as well which as you know is the nature of war. I believe Bush had alternative motives because his retaliatory actions were too quick and irrational, the going to war with Iraq.

      Americans were still in shock and emotionally vulnerable. We needed leadership, which Bush took advantage of to further his own political and other ambitions. From that point on, America lived in fear and Bush capitalized on that fear in the next presidential elections, even though he was taking American’s constitutional rights away from them in order to make us feel safe. The world could not comprehend the mislead aggressiveness of America, because the world was not living in America. The west cannot comprehend the actions of the Sri Lanka government because the west does not live in Sri Lanka.

      We frown when other countries act as we have acted with torture tactics at off shore facilities to gain information to fight terrorism. We frown when other nations hold trials that are “in bad faith,” having already made up their minds on the guilt of the defendant, only having a symbolic trial to satisfy compliance with international laws. The guilty verdict was never in doubt and we justify torturous acts in soliciting information by the fact that most International laws are for peoples of a state (the majority) and not minorities, who could exploit such a status, i.e., Al Qaeda in Islamic states.

      The world is very complicated, but I am sure you will agree that there is plenty of blame of hypocritical political actions to go around and that this is unfortunately, simply a matter of real life. What we must do in these cases is also look at ourselves before judging others. We must try and better ourselves, so we can lead by example, not be coerced or forced into acting irrationally for our own personal interests.

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