Tamils at a rally in London in May 2010 the anniversary of the Sri Lankan army massacre of over 40,000 Tamils at Mullivaikkal
Tamils at a rally in London in May 2010 the anniversary of the Sri Lankan army massacre of over 40,000 Tamils at Mullivaikkal

TAMIL National Alliance (TNA) parliamentarian Suresh Premachandran has called for an international investigation into the state of Prisoners of War (POW) in Sri Lanka, according to international law.

Addressing a press conference in Jaffna on Friday, September 13, Premachandran said the latest witness declaration by the Sri Lankan military at Vavuniyaa High Court that there are no former LTTE surrendees in their custody any more, while there are still hundreds of family members looking for their kith and kin, who had been handed over personally by them to the SL military, clearly indicates that the international community should now take the initiative to bring about international investigations on both war crimes and on the state of the Prisoners of War (POW).

Premachandran said: ‘We are still having hundreds of witnesses, who had handed over their family members to the Sri Lankan Army in the hope that they would be released sooner or later.

‘But, now the Sri Lankan military has given a witness statement to the Vavuniyaa High Court claiming that no LTTE members had surrendered to the Army and that no one is under their custody any more as such.

‘This clearly leads to the demand for an international investigation on both the war crimes and on the Prisoners of War.’

Apart from the witness statement by the Sri Lankan military at the Vavuniyaa High Court, Sarath Fonseka, the former Sri Lanka Army commander who is now in political opposition to Mahinda Rajapaksa, also stated in Jaffna last week that there were no LTTE commanders or key members handed over to the SL military.

He declared that all who were in custody under his command had been accounted for and handed over to the new administration.

Sarath Fonseka has also gone on record to deny that former Trincomalee Political Head of the LTTE, Mr Elilan, had been handed over to the SL military at Vadduvaakal in Mullaiththeevu.

Elilan’s wife Ananthi Sasitharan, who also represents the kith and kin of missing persons, is contesting the provincial council elections in the North seeking a political voice for them.

‘Be it a key member of the LTTE or not, the Sri Lankan military has no right to kill the prisoners of war,’ MP Premachandran added at the press conference held in Jaffna.

Basil Rajapaksa, economic development minister and brother to the SL president, told the people of Jaffna not to bring up the issues of missing persons and the issue of land appropriation in the former High Security Zone during the election campaign.

Earlier, the Sri Lankan government claimed that more than 12,000 LTTE members had surrendered.

Apart from a known number of people still held in prisons, all the remaining were released after a so-called rehabilitation programme at the hands of the genocidal military.

But the fate of hundreds of key members, who were handed over or filtered away from the people by the SL military after the end of war, is still not known.

l A day-long international conference of youth held last Saturday in Chennai raised its voice against the Commonwealth Heads of Governments Meeting (CHOGM) scheduled to be held in Sri Lanka in November this year.

The conference denounced the Colombo government as a fascist, genocidal force that killed over 150,000 Eezham Tamils in the last phase of the 2009 war. Over 700 people took part in the conference expressing concerns over holding the Commonwealth meeting in Sri Lanka.

The conference accused that even after the war, the militarized SL government has stationed hundreds of thousands of Sinhala military personnel in the homeland of Eezham Tamils.

A resolution passed in the conference pointed out that the genocidal, fascist government in Sri Lanka is rapidly imposing Sinhalisation of the Tamil homeland and that the CHOGM is only an attempt to remove the stains of blood from the SL State.

Organised jointly by Save Tamils, a team of IT students and professionals from Tamil Nadu, and the Students’ Struggle Committee for Tamil Eelam, the conference condemned the Indian government for ignoring the sentiments of Eezham Tamils and proceeding to announce Colombo as the Commonwealth’s honorary head for the next two years.

Besides demanding that the Commonwealth meeting should not be held in the island, the conference also passed a resolution demanding that a referendum be held among Eezham Tamils living in the island and all over the world on deciding their political solution.

The conference also urged the Tamil Nadu government to pass a resolution against the participation of the Indian prime Minister in the CHOGM. The Tamil Nadu government should also take steps to implement economic sanctions against Sri Lanka by India and the Tamil Nadu state.

For the first time in Tamil Nadu, students from London, Kharagpur and also from various districts of the state participated in the conference extending their solidarity towards the cause of Tamils in Sri Lanka, calling on the Indian government to boycott the Commonwealth Summit to be held in Sri Lanka, the organisers of the event said in a press statement issued last Tuesday.

The conference press statement said: ‘Mr Vaiko, the general secretary of MDMK, recapped the history of countries that have been expelled from the Commonwealth for committing human rights violations that were many times lesser than the massive structural genocide committed by the Rajapaksa government.

‘He named India as a “co-accused” nation which tries to suppress voices rising against it for the guardian role it played in the genocide by lobbying to enthrone Rajapaksa as the Common wealth head. On a final note he warned that if India wants to preserve its unity with Sri Lanka, it will be only at the cost of shattering the unity within India.

‘Parimala, Save Tamils Movement, explained about how India betrayed Eezham Tamils since the independence of Sri Lanka’ he said.

‘Comrades K Venkatraman, the general secretary of Tamil National Communist Party, and Thiyagu, general secretary of Tamil National Liberation Movement, clearly explained about the principles and various charters of the Commonwealth Council and how Sri Lanka violated all those principles.

‘Comrade Thiyagu explained to the audience about the significance of the boycott CHOGM demand and how it would impact on the justice for Eezham Tamils if we fail in this demand.

‘Thiyagu had earlier announced his fast unto death protest to demand the boycott of CHOGM in Sri Lanka, starting from September 26, 2013 – the remembrance day of Martyr Dhileepan.’

Prabhakaran, a student of IIT-Kharagpur, said: ‘The Sri Lankan government has dismissed the Chief Justice Shivani Bhandaranayake, jeopardizing the independence of judiciary.

‘When Fiji, Nigeria, Pakistan and South Africa can be suspended from the Commonwealth of Nations, why not Sri Lanka, which continues with its structural genocide by destroying temples, churches and mosques?’ he asked.

Writer Jeyaprakasam said that Sri Lanka has never been a friendly nation to India. Whereas India sees Pakistan and China as a threat, it refuses to recognize Sri Lanka as a potential threat in the south. He stated that India should not participate in the Commonwealth of Nations.

The seven point resolutions passed by the conference are:

‘1. The Sinhala-Buddhist Supremacist Sri Lankan government has violated the 1971 Singapore Declaration of Commonwealth principles of equal rights for all regardless of race, colour, creed or political belief. Hence, this conference urges Commonwealth Nations, specifically India, not to conduct CHOGM summit in Colombo.

‘2. This conference urges the Commonwealth Council to expel Sri Lanka from Commonwealth foundation as it has killed more than 150,000 Tamil civilians in the war, and for continuing the structural and cultural genocide of Tamils.

‘3. This conference urges the Indian government to heed the democratic appeal of 70 million people of Tamil Nadu to change the venue of the CHOGM summit out of Sri Lanka. If the summit is held in Colombo, India should boycott the CHOGM.

‘The conference congratulates the Canadian Prime Minister’s decision to boycott CHOGM in Colombo. Likewise,this conference urges the Prime Minister of India to boycott the Commonwealth summit if it is held in Sri Lanka.

‘4. This conference appeals to the Commonwealth council to pass a resolution in the council demanding an independent international investigation into war crimes and genocidal crimes committed against Tamils in Sri Lanka.

‘5. In order to safeguard Tamils in Sri Lanka being subjected to ethnic cleansing even today by means of militarization and Sinhalisation, this conference appeals to the international community to work to install a transitional civil administration under the aegis of the international community in the north eastern part of the island, the homeland of Tamils, as a temporary measure.

‘6. This conference demands a public referendum among Eezham Tamils in Sri Lanka and diaspora countries as a means for Eezham Tamils, being subjected to ethnic cleansing by Sinhala Supremacist Sri Lankan state for the past 60 years, to choose their political solution in a democratic manner.

‘7. This conference appeals to the government of Tamil Nadu to pass a resolution in Tamil Nadu State Assembly urging the Prime Minister of India to boycott CHOGM if it is held in Sri Lanka.

Further, the conference urges the government of Tamil Nadu to implement the earlier passed resolution seeking economic embargo against Sri Lanka in Tamil Nadu and India.’