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Tamils: What Price the Moral High Ground?

by Dravidan

“He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her” - John 8: 7

Christians all over the world are observing holy week of the lent season. The holy season will end with the Good Friday and Easter Celebrations. One of the more famous stories in the Holy Bible relates to the woman who had been caught in adultery. The Scribes and the Pharisees brought the woman and made her stand before Jesus Christ. They said to him, 'Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery.

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Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?' Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her”

This story came to mind when I read the statements issued by the Tamil Diaspora organisations welcoming the UNSG Panel report on Sri Lanka. For example, the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE) urged United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to refer the ruling class and the armed forces officers of Sri Lanka to the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor.

Interestingly the former UN spokesman in Sri Lanka Gordon Weiss told Channel 4 News that "I bare my portion of the responsibility and blame for that.", when asked about why UN didn’t divulge the casualty figures during the last phase of the war, which could have brought sufficient international pressure to stop the war.

In my view the partially leaked executive summary of the UNSG Panel report has captured the last phase of the war accurately and without bias. The report was based on eye witnesses’accounts and representations made by NGO’s. The contents of the leaked report are consistent with the reports issued by ICG, UTHR (J), HRW and Amnesty.

Whilst emphasising that the UN and the International community need to act on the recommendations of the Panel to investigate and prosecute the culprits, the purpose of this article is to urge the Tamil community to use this historic opportunity to critically self-assess itself, with the motive of moving forward and not to be bogged down in the past.

According to the leaked report which was published in The Island, the Panel found credible allegations that comprise five core categories of potential serious violations committed by the Government of Sri Lanka:

(i) killing of civilians through widespread shelling;
(ii) shelling of hospitals and humanitarian objects;
(iii) denial of humanitarian assistance;
(iv) human rights violations suffered by victims and survivors of the conflict, including both IDPs and suspected LTTE cadre; and
(v) human rights violations outside the conflict zone, including against the media and other critics of the Government.
The above segment of the report has been given wide publicity in the Tamil media and highlighted in the statements released by various Tamil Diaspora organisations.

However, the following segment of the Panel’s report has been blacked out in many Tamil organs and the Diaspora organisations have turned a blind eye to its contents. The Panel’s determination of credible allegations against the LTTE associated with the final stages of the war reveal six core categories of potential serious violations:

i) using civilians as a human buffer;
(ii) killing civilians attempting to flee LTTE control;
(iii) using military equipment in the proximity of civilians;
(iv) forced recruitment of children;
(v) forced labour; and
(vi) killing of civilians through suicide attacks.

Tamils in Sri Lanka waged an armed liberation struggle for their legitimate political rights. That armed struggle was termed as “Terrorism” by the international community with the LTTE being banned in many countries. The Tamil diaspora supported the struggle financially and through political lobbying believing that the armed liberation struggle will restore peace, prosperity and justice to their brethren who live in their traditional home lands in Northern and Eastern provinces of Sri Lanka. The Tamil Tigers were fondly called “our boys” in the early stages of the struggle and that affinity continued until the end.

The leaders and cadres of the LTTE were Tamils. They were our brothers and sisters, friends and class mates, neighbours and relatives. Tamil Tigers waged a war for the Tamils, with Tamil soldiers and with arms bought from Tamil diaspora funds. The Tamil Tigers and the cause of the Tamils were not supported by a single country in the world. The Tamils were all alone in their struggle for independence.

The victims of the atrocities committed by both the Government and the Tamil Tigers are our fellow brethren, Tamils. The wound, death and destruction inflicted on our people, Tamil people, didn’t differentiate between the bullets fired from a Liberation fighter to that of the Government soldier. Acts committed by the warring parties caused loss of lives, limbs, mental trauma and destruction of an entire society. UNSG report clearly articulates that both parties have not conformed to the norms of the civilised world. It doesn’t matter that one party’s non-conformance is greater than the other, the fact remains that both parties committed crimes against humanity. At the end of the day the victims were Tamils, for whose betterment a liberation struggle was waged.

In my view, the Tamil community at large needs to seek reconciliation with itself. The Tamil community, particularly the Diaspora, need to come to terms with the current reality and the events of the past. The Tamil community need to acknowledge that members of its community have committed crimes against humanity and as a community we take moral responsibility for those actions. I do not foresee any member of the Tamil community being prosecuted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) formaking the above statement and taking a moral high ground for the betterment of the community.

This act of solidarity with the Tamil Tigers and their leadership will be a genuine tribute the Tamil community could offer to more than 30,000 young lives, who sacrificed their life for the liberation struggle. The collective ownership by the Tamil community will also allow us to take the moral high ground compared to the Government of Sri Lanka which has rejected the report. The act of collective responsibility will also generate the sympathy we lost in the International community.

The victims of the war needs reconciliation, they need healing. Before expecting reconciliation from our enemy it is prudent that the Tamil community seeks reconciliation within itself and heals the wounds created within. This process of intra community reconciliation and healing will unite the community both in Sri Lanka and abroad.Holding the moral high ground can be used to legitimise Tamil’s political aspirations as well.It will allow the Tamil leadership in Sri Lanka and in the Diaspora to take the struggle for peace with justice, forward with renewed vigour.

"Forgiving is not forgetting; its actually remembering--
remembering and not using your right to hit back.
Its a second chance for a new beginning.
And the remembering part is particularly important.
Especially if you don’t want to repeat what happened."
— Desmond Tutu

8 Comments

Good post.

/*
The Tamil community need to acknowledge that members of its community have committed crimes against humanity and as a community we take moral responsibility for those actions.
*/

Tamil community must also acknowledge WAR was THEIR choice. Then it will dawn on them why it looks a bit silly to complain about war crimes.

Sinhala community must acknowledge they are RESPONSIBLE all things that has gone wrong politically, economically and socially since independence. They are responsible because majority of these policies are made with majority Sinhala influence.

Posted by: Panhinda | April 19, 2011 05:00 PM

Very well said...Dravidan!
It requires a great heart to be self-critical and objective.. and no better time than during Easter.
There is a long way to go for the Tamils in Srilanka... but every small step is vital.

Panhinda - people like you will never learn from history.... WAR was never the Choice of Tamils it was a necessity. Dravidan's article is not a sign of weakness, it the strength of forgiveness....

We fought and we lost.. we will strive even harder to get back our rights... but, for now, we are exhausted, our brethren needs basic human needs to be met.
For every Tamil in despair I say, YES WE CAN….

Posted by: Nallavan | April 20, 2011 02:14 AM

"I do not foresee any member of the Tamil community being prosecuted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) formaking the above statement and taking a moral high ground for the betterment of the community."

Moral high ground, my foot. This is just pathetic boasting of a so called Dravidayan so that they can not subject to prosecution.

Posted by: SL | April 20, 2011 10:22 AM

LET THE TRUTH PREVAIL. GO BY THIS THEORY YOU CAN NEVER GO WRONG - Peace is a gift that god entrusts to human responsibility, to cultivated through diologue, respect for the rights of all, reconciliation and forgiveness.

Also, please note for the country to prosper - Disiplin has to come from the top and law and order should prevail. This should always be remembered that no one is above the law. God bless SriLanka.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 20, 2011 09:35 PM

Is it just me or has anyone else had it up to HERE with this constant bleating of "Tamil Community...,Tamil Community...,Tamil Community...,Tamil Community...," Are there no other communities in Sri Lanka or this planet or is the (sigh) "Tamil Community" the only one worth speaking of ?

Puhleeease.... "Tamil Community" - tell the folks who presume to speak for you to GIVE IT A REST !!!

The LTTE led "Tamil Community" up the garden path and for better or worse, most of "Tamil Community" followed or stood around waiting to pick up the pieces.

All except the folks stuck in the Wanni of course - between the rock of the Diaspora-Armed LTTE and the Hard Place of a p.ssed-off government and population. Thanks a LOT, Diaspora LTTE-folks ! REALLY appreciate all the armamaments you supplied to LTTE that helped them fight on for so long)

Things didn't pan out, "Tamil Community" backed the wrong horse. Here's looking at you, Diaspora LTTE'ers..!! Cheers ! Much Appreciated !!

Trust me, most of us saw this coming many years ago ("Tamil Community" should have as well) - all it needed was a government with b@lls and for people to get tired of getting blown up at random by someone wanting to be King of All Tamil Communities Everywhere

Keep up the Good Work - After all, what do YOU care that you are making hell for us in Sri Lanka, both Tamils, Sinhalas and everyone else !

Posted by: Anonymous | April 20, 2011 09:59 PM

Nallavan............. Forgiveness and striving even harder does not rhyeme well.

Who are these brethren whom you seek basic Human Rights?? For those living outside North or North & East or to those people of tamil o0rigin living in those areas.
Did you not seek basic human rights for them during 30 year war? When so many lives of Youth and children's lives were robbed by sending them to the battle front like fodder??
Did you not seek for those suicide cardres as well?

By the way what are these basic Human Rights you seek & striving to get & my BIL nor his half sinhala children married to Sinhalese seems not to know?

Are you speaking of a Eelam War V and that you have not had enough of IV ?
I do not know about you BUT all I know is that Tamils in Sri Lanka enjoy the Peace & are weary of another War in any form.; They do not want it. EX-MP Kanagaratnam for the Vanni from 2004 - 2010 have clearly stated what it was & what he experienced during the Eelam war IV as he was embedded in the Wanni with the LTTE from 2008 to untill defeated. IS HIS STATEMENT & EXPERIENCE SUFFICE that you need to strive.
Remain where you are & don't make it difficult for the Tamils in Sri Lanka who are just overcoming the trauma of War funded by Diasspora.

Posted by: dagobert | April 21, 2011 01:28 AM

Brothers , every body is talking about human rights, why not about human responsibilities??? Now everythings is over,its too late n ther was time to stop this was so many times in the past where where prabhakaran didn t want to, and putting the needs /rights they required, now you re talking about the tamil peoples rights, Yes, all should ive in this world till the day you die, Look at the past how many of them got killed in colombo itself in suicide attacks? Who is talking about those peoples rights now? Neither UN nor US, WHY??? Where are the reports for the war crimes in M/E?? why only in SL? Of course who ever has done the wrong will pay for it in front of god here. The Judgement day is very close, Trying to talk about rights and resposibilities now ! first see whether you have done your part for your commitee/have you help them by giving a glass of water, pc of bread? some clothes,? Be reallistic, dont try to devide people all are humans, my bro....................

Posted by: jj | April 21, 2011 11:45 PM

Good write up. Thank you..

Posted by: Arunan | April 22, 2011 09:03 PM

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