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The world must save Sri Lanka from a greater tragedy

Speech at a meeting on "Voice Against State Terrorism"
by M. Kula Segaran   

(Ipoh, Saturday) : Sri Lanka formerly known as Ceylon consist of two distinct etho-national formations with different languages traditions, cultures, territories, and histories. The British for administrative convenience brought both these ancient civilization under one umbrella. The Tamils in Sri Lanka are a minority people consisting of nearly 20% of the population. Almost all the minority people reside at the north and east of Sri Lanka.

The Ceasefire Agreement brokered by the Norwegian in 2002 and signed by the Sri Lanka government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is almost as good as destroyed, thanks to the insincerity of the Sri Lanka state.

President Rajapaksa is now even against the proposal to have a federal system of governance in Sri Lanka. While he calls for fresh peace talks with the LTTE, he is adamant about military victory, not a politically negotiated peace based on justice.

Only a week ago, Rajapaksa invited the LTTE 'to return to the negotiating table, but insisted that the Tigers must lay down their arms – 'a demand that the rebels consistently reject,' or pointed out by news agencies.

That itself shows that Rajapaksa is not sincere about peace talks. If one side has to lay down their arms, then where is the necessity for talks? His call for surrender is proof that he is utterly insincere about peace.

Why? Because Rajapaksa and his closest associates want a military solution, not a peaceful solution based on justice. This means that because of Rajapaksa's position, the war will go on, with more people soon to be killed or injured.

Rajapaksa prefers to play the politics of race, rather than the politics of sincere pace talks for a lasting peace in Sri Lanka that will not hold and be of benefit to the Sinhalese, the Tamils and the Muslims. Rajapaksa is a prisoner of the Sinhalese extremists that surround him.

Also, there are elements in the Sri Lankan government and the Sri Lankan military who want a military solution so that they could benefit directly from increased arms procurement. For their own selfish reason, they choose war rather than peace. They want war profit from killed and maimed Sinhalese and Tamil civilians.

And because they want war rather than peace, a grave humanitarian crisis has developed in Sri Lanka today.

Current Predicament

Their war crimes, crimes against peace and crimes against humanity include the following facts:

  • Sri Lanka state terrorism had created more than half a million Internally Displaced People.
  • More than 16,000 civilians have made the dangerous journey across the Palk Straits into India. Many have perished before reaching the shore.
  • Many more have migrated from their home land. It is said more of this minority race lives overseas then in Sri Lanka.
  • the ongoing conflict has killed nearly over 70,000 innocent people
  • The Sri Lankan state had cornered civilians in the Jaffna peninsula creating a Humanitarian disaster
  • They are bombing the civilian dwellings hospitals refugee camps and orphanages indiscriminately even wells are targeted!
  • The Sri Lankan state is refusing to allow any medical supplies food or humanitarian aid to reach the north where the population are at the brink of starvation.

Mankind cannot and should not endorse the sufferings of the minority. Emergency food, medicine and related aid need to reach the affected areas fast.

International Law is in tandem and supports minority demands

Chelvanayakam an Ipoh born MP of Sri Lanka after winning the bye-election in 1974 declared " Sinhalese and Tamil(minority) in this country lived as distinct sovereign people till they were brought under one foreign domination. It should be remembered that the Tamils were in the vanguard of the struggle for independence in the full confidence that they also will regain their freedom. We have waited for the last 25 years made every effort to secure our political rights on the basis of equality in a united Ceylon. It is regrettable fact that successive governments have used the power that flows from independence to deny us our fundamental rights and reduce us to the position of a subject people. Theses Governments have been able to do so only by using against the Tamils….I wish to announce to my people and to the country that consider the verdict at this election as a mandate that the Tamil Eelam nation should exercise the sovereignty already vested in the Tamil people and become free. ..I give you my solemn assurance that we will carry out this mandate"

Thus the minority were forced to agitate the movement for self determination. Due to continuous oppression of the minority in their political, economic and cultural interest the minority have no statehood but to seek to create their own sovereign state of Eelam.

Many UN conventions are in tandem with the just aspirations of the minority people of Sri Lanka. Conventions like On the Elimination of all forms of Racial discrimination (resolution 2106 of 1966), resolution 1514 of 1960 namely the Granting of Colonial Countries and Peoples

International community must intervene

The world community cannot and should not stay aloof and be pretentious of the killings, rape, torture and the starvation of the minority people in Sri Lanka. The on goings in Sri Lanka is nothing different to what happened in Bosnia and now in Dafor.

The World at large must save Sri Lanka and its multiracial people from further devastation. The World, especially the almost 60 international donor countries, should exert urgent and great pressure on the Sri Lankan authorities to return to the peace table and sincerely hammer out a just and lasting peace for all communities.

Last but not least, India, by virtue of her close proximity to Sri Lanka, and Tamil Nadu, by virtue of her being the second most industrial Indian State, must do all they can to help facilitate the peace process in Sri Lanka.

Malaysian Media

A final appeal: the Malaysian Media, particularly the English, Bahasa Malaysia and Chinese print and electronic media, could also play a positive role to contribute towards the peace process on that tragic Island. Like what happened in Bosnia a dozen years ago, or what is happening in Palestine and Iraq today, the tragedy of Sri Lanka is a universal human rights issue that concerns our fellow human beings.


*M. Kula Segaran, MP for Ipoh Barat and DAP National Vice Chairman

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