What beats me, amidst very little neutral information about the grim humanitarian situation in Srilanka, is that the Srilankan-Tamil diaspora still hold Mr.Prabhakaran as their poster-man. This, after years of human rights violations by the LTTE, including against their own people. Ofcourse, once the path of terrorism is chosen, being a human rights violator is inevitable. But the LTTE’s desperation to survive has led to a heightened selfishness, which is not new for them. This is one more case of the state putting itself above its people. Questions must be asked (to themselves) by the diaspora as to whether their only hope lies in the path of the LTTE – a path that has put their own people in peril, both indirectly and directly. Which is more important? The people or the LTTE?
Cries of genocide have been heard. Intent is a crucial component in declaring a genocide. Sure, the current Srilankan government with its strongly nationalist coalition, may be perpetrating this highest of crimes against humanity. Extent is also a question. Definitions vary and are driven by eventual actualities. We don’t know yet. This is why the international community must put great pressure on the Srilankan government to pre-empt this distinct possibility. What we know for sure though, is the LTTE’s willful neglect of its own people, which amounts to intent, in my book. Precisely, whose side is the LTTE on, besides its own? If genocide is indeed happening, the LTTE is a significant actor, creating a strange case of genocide.
The international community has missed quite a few opportunities to intervene and to put greater pressure on the Srilankan government, which while being the less evil actor of the two, has a record of suppressing media freedom with shadows over its intent, given the mandate with which it came into power. The Srilankan government has repeatedly rejected calls by other countries and aid agencies for a temporary ceasefire so that a humanitarian crisis can be averted. By its own reports, its conducting the world’s largest rescue operation. Independent agencies have not been able to verify much of the government’s reports. Once more, one is left wondering what the UN Security council is really upto. With 7 member countries reportedly denying even an ‘informal’ meeting on the matter, including 2 veto-holding members, China and Russia, an intervention seems unlikely. China having said, ‘Its an internal matter’. Recent reports by Reporters Sans Frontiers and Human Rights Watch indicating and advising otherwise, the international community must act, atleast now. Trust and hope, for a just and peaceful future for the Tamils in a post-LTTE Srilanka depend on it.
Amnesty International’s 27th March Report [PDF]
And… a 2-day truce!