‘BREAK THE INTERNATIONAL SILENCE ON TAMIL GENOCIDE’ – urges British Tamils Forum

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Tamil protestors filled London streets on January 31 2009
Tamil protestors filled London streets on January 31 2009

THE Colombo High Court allowed on Wednesday an application by the accused Sarath Fonseka, retired Commander of the Sri Lanka Army (SLA), to reconsider his decision to give evidence on behalf of the defence in the controversial ‘white flag’ case.

This was due to the current tense situation in the island following the release of a portion of the UN Experts Panel report to the UN Secretary General, legal sources in Colombo said.

Fonseka has been indicted by the Attorney General for causing disrepute to the Government of Sri Lanka in an interview to the English weekly the Sunday Leader alleging that the Defence Secretary Gotabahaya Rajapakse had ordered the Sri Lanka Army to shoot dead all LTTE cadres who waved white flags to surrender during the last leg of war.

Further hearing was held before a three-member bench of the Colombo High Court comprising Judges Deepali Wijesundera, (President), W.T.M.P.B Warawewa and M.Z.Razeen on Wednesday.

The defence was scheduled to lead evidence including of the accused Sarath Fonseka.

The Defence Counsel Nalin Ladduwahetty told court that his client Fonseka is prepared to give evidence but due to the current tense situation following the release of a portion of the UN Experts Panel report to the UN Secretary General his client needs time to reconsider his decision to give evidence.

Deputy Solicitor General Buvaneka Aluvihare said he will not object to the defence application if the defence is making a genuine request on taking into account the present state of affairs in Sri Lanka.

Having considered the submissions of the both parties the Court allowed to give time till May 4 for the defence to decide in leading evidence in the case.

l The British Tamils Forum (BTF) has called upon global Tamils to come together in breaking the international silence on Tamil genocide while marking the remembrance this year of those who perished in Mu’l’livaaykkaal in May 2009.

‘The British Tamils Forum welcomes the report by the UN advisory panel on Sri Lanka, submitted to the UN Secretary General Ban-Ki-Moon on 13th April 2011.

‘The report appears to have restored by a small measure the faith in the UN that the Tamil people had lost in 2009 when their cry for intervention fell on deaf ears – resulting in the genocide of Tamils.

‘We call upon the UN to make the report public, especially as it has already been leaked to the press.

‘The extracts of the report leaked to Sri Lankan media indicate that there is credible evidence against the Sri Lankan military and the political leadership to be subjected to an independent international investigation for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

‘The report also completely dismisses the Sri Lankan regime’s claim that there were “zero civilian casualties”.

‘On the number of people killed, the report makes reference to different methodologies, which would give figures ranging from 75,000 (330,000+35,000–290,000) to 135,000 (3x[40,000+5,000]).

‘Since the compilation of this report, new evidence has emerged, placing the number of people who were holed up in the war zone, at around 430,000, as opposed to the 365,000 (330,000+35,000) quoted in the report.

‘Based on information from the Kacheris (Local Government Office) of Mullativu and Killinochi about the population in Vanni in early October 2008 and number of people who came to government controlled areas after that, 146,679 people seem to be unaccounted for.

‘According to the Kacheri, the population in Vanni was 429,059 in early part of October 2008.

According to UN OCHA update as of 10th July 2009, the total number of people who came out of the Vanni to government controlled areas after this is estimated to be 282,380.

‘The above numbers have been verified and confirmed by the British TV Channel 4’s own investigators who had exposed the extrajudicial executions of prisoners of war, by the Sri Lankan military.

‘The fact that nearly 147,000 human lives are still unaccounted for dictates that there should be an immediate, independent, international investigation, to establish the true extent of the genocide.

‘It should be noted here, that in February 2009, the military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara announced at a press briefing, that there were only 70,000 people in the war zone, when in fact the government had known the numbers to be nearly 430,000.

‘This deliberate understatement of numbers by the Sri Lankan government, acknowledged in the report, had two primary motives:

‘1. To limit the humanitarian supplies, so that people died of starvation and lack of medicine.

‘2. To hide the genocide of the Tamil people, once it had completed its planned all out assault.

‘The Sri Lankan government, having banned independent international media agencies from the war zone during its military onslaught still continues to restrict international humanitarian, human rights and media agencies from reaching the Tamil people in the hope that it could bury the truth forever.

‘We believe that truth will prevail eventually although it did not in time to save the 146,679 presumed dead.

‘The Tamil people who lost their loved ones are outraged that the UNSG had allowed time for the Sri Lankan government to respond to the report, before making it available to the public.

‘The Sri Lankan regime on the other hand, having realised the futility in hiding the truth, has engineered a leak to the local media, to provoke a Sinhala uprising against the UN.

‘The Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse has appealed to his Sinhala constituency to demonstrate against the UN report during the annual Mayday rally . . .

‘We therefore demand that an independent international investigation is conducted, supported by comprehensive witness protection afforded to the Tamil community by a UN task force.

‘We appeal to the UN to release the full report without further delay and implement with vigour the recommendations made by the advisory panel so as to restore the Tamil people’s faith in the international body to deliver justice.

‘In addition to the recommendations by the panel we the Tamil people demand that the UN demands from its members to reject the appointment of Sri Lankan emissaries who had served in the Sri Lankan armed forces during the war as well as political leaders who stand implicated in the war crimes and crimes against humanity in the genocidal war against the Tamil people.

‘We urge the international community to ensure that justice is served.’