The United Nations
Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
30 July-17 August 2001
Tamil Centre for Human Rights - TCHR
Centre Tamoul pour les droits de l'Homme - CTDH
Centro Tamil para los Derechos Humanos
(Established in 1990)
19 July 2001
Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination - CERD
We, the Tamil Centre for Human Rights - TCHR, would like to bring before you the following observations on the report (CERD/C/357/Add.3) that was submitted by Sri Lanka to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination - CERD.
We would respectfully like to draw your attention to the fact that to avoid a no-confidence motion in the government, the Sri Lankan President used her executive powers to suspend Parliament on July 10 for two months!
This is democracy in Sri Lanka!
The below observations are for your kind consideration, please.
S. V. Kirubaharan
TAMIL CENTRE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS - TCHR/CTDH
CENTRE TAMOUL POUR LES DROITS DE L'HOMME
Our observation on the report (CERD/C/357/Add.3) submitted by Sri Lanka to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination - CERD
Para No. 3
No proper census has been taken in Sri Lanka for a long time. According to the governments own claims, the last National census was taken in 1981.
When we compare this census with the previous one, it clearly indicates how quickly the Sinhalese population increased in the Tamil provinces, North and East. This was the result of a calculated plan of every government in Sri Lanka to change the demography of Sri Lanka, reducing the Tamil population especially in the North and East.
Para No. 6-7
The present President came to power in 1994 with the false promise of the abolition of the Executive presidency and respect for human rights.
The Executive Presidency remains intact and the human rights record of Sri Lankan has been deteriorating since she came to power.
The present government is reluctant to pursue any negotiated political settlement in Sri Lanka. The priority is consistently given to a military solution - the human rights record of Sri Lanka provides ample evidence of this agenda.
If the government is really interested in a negotiated political solution, they would have taken the opportunity of declaring of cease-fire, in response to the one which was declared unilaterally by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam - LTTE.
Para No. 10
According to the report of the Working group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances, Sri Lanka has ranked for many consecutive years, as the country with the second highest number in Disappearances in the world.
Arrests, rapes, killings, torture and disappearance have increased in Sri Lanka. More than 70,000 Tamils have been killed in the present bloody conflict.
Thousands of Tamil political prisoners are in many prisons without either a trial nor an inquiry! They all are detained under draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act - PTA and Emergency Regulations - ER. This law especially targets the Tamils in Sri Lanka.
Massacres of Tamil political prisoners have continued in Sri Lanka since 1983 and the latest incident was last October when more than 30 Tamil youths were massacred in a so-called Rehabilitation Centre. In fact, the youths that were detained there never underwent any legal proceedings! They were simply detained because they were Tamils.
There are about 20 different passes ONLY for the Tamils in Sri Lanka. Failure to carry these passes results either in arrest or disappearance.
As we stated earlier, the present government is not keen on any negotiated political settlement in Sri Lanka. It consistently gives priority to a military solution - the human rights record of Sri Lanka bears evidence to this fact.
If the government were really interested in negotiated political solution, they would have taken the opportunity presenting itself by the unilateral declaration of cease-fire by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam LTTE, which lasted for four months.
Even the Norwegian mediation between the Sri Lankan government and LTTE has come to a stalemate because the government has demanded the Norwegian government to change the main mediator Mr. Solheim, who was shuttling between the government and LTTE for nearly two years. The government has accused Mr. Solheim of giving too much consolation to the Tamils!
Para No. 17
The economic embargo to the Tamil hereditary regions still remains. Due to international pressure, the government smartly removed the official restriction on certain items but then instructed the Security forces to block these same items in practice.
The government allows unlimited flow of alcohol, pornographic materials, etc with the motivation of perverting the Tamil people.
DR. ANTON BALASINGHAM - ADVISOR TO THE LTTE HAS WRITTEN A BOOK ABOUT THE PEACE NEGOCIATIONS WHICH TOOK PLACE 1995. THE NAME OF THE BOOK IS "POLITCS OF DUPLICITY". THIS BOOK HAS ALL THE CORRESPONDENCE THAT HAS TAKEN PLACE BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT AND THE LTTE.
This book is highly relevant reading for people interested in the peace process in Sri Lanka.
Para No. 20
There is much documented evidence to prove that the present military operation undertaken by the government is totally against the Tamil people. The economic embargo, aerial bombing, shelling, landmines, massacres, the use of rape and food as weapons of war - all targeting one group of people, cannot be justified. It is totally against the Tamil people.
Para No. 21
For a long time the government was opposed to 3rd party mediation! However, due to international pressure they were compelled to accept the 3rd party - Norwegian mediation.
Here we like to point out that the Sri Lankan government refused to accept the term "Mediator" and used the term "Facilitator".
Since Norway started its mediation, all state media, government members of parliament including the present Prime Minister have been criticising the Norwegian role in the peace process.
A bomb was thrown at the Norwegian embassy in Colombo and there were many anti-Norwegian demonstrations in Colombo.
Even the Norwegian mediation has come to a stalemate because the government has demanded the Norwegian government to change the main mediator Mr. Solheim who was shuttling between the government and LTTE for nearly two years. The government has accused Mr. Solheim of giving too much consolation to the Tamils!
Para No. 24-34
If what was said in their report were true and occurred in practice, today there would not be any Ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. What they mentioned in their report is intended for the international community.
Para No. 40
The reconstruction of Jaffna Public Library is another eyewash to the International Community. Reconstruction and Rehabilitation cannot take place while there are on-going full-scale military operations.
During the last week of June there were many Aerial bombings in the Tamil areas, condemned by India and United States of America. There is no guarantee that this same library will not be targeted once more by the Security forces.
Para No. 41
THIS IS AN UTTER LIE! Tamil people never heard of such a "Peace Caravan"! Once again these are sweet words for the CERD committee.
Para No. 42
It is pure hypocrisy that Sri Lanka supported all the resolutions in the UN aimed at combating and eradicating apartheid in South Africa!
THERE IS AMPLE EVIDENCE TO PROVE THAT SRI LANKA IMPORTED MANY ARMS AND AMMUNITION FROM THE GOVERNMENT OF SOUTH AFRICA DURING THE PERIOD OF APARTHEID.
It was the Great Nelson Mandela who stopped Arms Sales to Sri Lanka - as soon as he took up office in South Africa.
Para No. 49
The draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act PTA, has no justifiable legal norms. If the government tries to claim something better out of this act, then it is trying to fool the whole world.
Para No. 52
UN reports on human rights situation in Sri Lanka have clearly indicated that impunity is widespread in Sri Lanka. As far as Sri Lanka is concerned the worst human rights violators get the best awards and promotions.
For example, an Army General who was responsible for hundreds of killings, mass-graves and considered as the worst human rights violator in Asia is appointed as the Ambassador of Australia.
Para No. 53
Tamils who are arrested in Sri Lanka undergo routine torture! The type of torture varies it sometimes ends up in killings.
The CAT report and UN Special rapporteur on Torture have covered several torture cases. The PTA and ER permit the Security forces to torture freely.
Para No. 71
It is the fashion in Sri Lanka, that every new President who comes into power forms some sort of Human Rights Commission but the flagrant human rights violations continue unabated. This how the HRC, HRTF, etc are in Sri Lanka. In addition, these commissions have no control over the Security forces.
Para No. 83-88
According to the present constitution of Sri Lanka, any constitutional reform needs a two third majority in the Parliament. Any government which has no two third majority in parliament tries to propose a devolution package - ONLY for its survival and military agenda!
The present government never had a two third majority in the Parliament! The proposed devolution package is to designed to please the IMF and obtain loans to continue their military agenda!
Furthermore, the present draft devolution of power is not considered by the Tamil political parties as the lasting solution to the Ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. It does not satisfy the aspirations of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka.
Para No. 89-91
There are about 400,000 Tamil refugees in Europe, UK, Canada, USA and Australia. Even though the Sri Lankan government signed agreements with foreign countries for repatriation of Tamils refugees, these agreements were never implemented due to deteriorating human rights violations in Sri Lanka.
Of course the host countries returned some asylum seekers to Sri Lanka and they were arrested at the Colombo airport, detained and tortured. Some are still in the prisons in Sri Lanka.
Para No. 98-100
In the Tamil hereditary regions, there are many forced marriages between the Security personal and Tamil girls. The Tamils girls get married through fear, to the Sinhalese soldiers.
In Colombo the Tamil women are not allowed to have "Pottu" a traditional identification for their marriage. If a Tamil woman walks on the street of Colombo with "Pottu", immediately she is arrested and taken into custody!
THE RAPE IS USED AS A WEAPON OF WAR IN SRI LANKA.
According to our statistics of international Human Rights organisations:
A TAMIL WOMAN IS RAPED EVERY 16 DAYS
A TAMIL WOMAN IS GANG-RAPED AND MURDERED EVERY 2 MONTHS
Para No. 101-102
Tamil hereditary regions are colonised with Sinhalese settlers.
Since 1827 - Tamil and Sinhala populations in the Eastern province
(Table is shown on a language basis)
Year Speaking Speaking
1827 99.24% 0.53%
1881 93.82% 4.66%
1891 93.89% 5.06%
1901 91.8% 5.05%
1911 93.4% 3.76%
1921 93.95% 4.53%
1946 87.8% 9.87%
1953 85.5% 13.11%
1963 79.25% 19.9%
1971 78.61% 20.7%
1981 74.4% 24.92%
Since 1827 - Tamil and Sinhala populations in Trincomalee district
Table is shown on language basis
Year Speaking Speaking
1827 98.45% 1.53%
1881 90.72% 4.21%
1891 91.44% 4.3%
1901 89.04% 4.22%
1911 90.54% 3.82%
1921 92.13% 4.38%
1946 75.09% 20.68%
1953 78.8% 18.22%
1963 79.25% 19.9%
1971 70.2% 28.8%
1981 65.38% 33.62%
Para No. 103-104
Since 1972, Buddhism has been given the foremost place in the constitution. As far as the Sri Lankan political structure is concerned the President of Sri Lanka cannot be anyone other than a Buddhist!
All other religions except Buddhism have no constitutional protection.
Para No. 105-106
There is no freedom of opinion and expression in Sri Lanka, especially for Tamils. Those who courageously express their views have been killed in Sri Lanka.
An Attorney at law and a human rights defender Mr. G. G. Ponnambalam was killed in Colombo on 5 January 2000. He attended the UN Human rights commission several times.
A member of Parliament and an Editor of a newspaper Mr. Atputharajah Nadarajah was killed on 2 November 1999.
A journalist, Mr. Mylvaganam Nirmalarajan was killed by an unknown killer on 19 October 2000.
Despite many clues for the above killings, they have had neither inquiry nor investigation. No one was arrested because the Government sponsored these killings!
There have been many other political killings of Tamils, which have taken place during broad daylight in the capital, Colombo.
Para No. 179-180
Our organisation, the Tamil Centre for Human Rights - TCHR was the only organisation, which was rejected for accreditation for the World Conference Against Racism-WCAR! This was rejected due to the racist politics of Sri Lanka.
Our reports on Sri Lanka to the UN human rights forums highlight the facts with evidence. The members, delegates and participants of these forums see the true situation in Sri Lanka - ONLY through our organisation.
The Sri Lankan government, which is unable to disprove the facts that were raised in our reports, is, with ulterior motives, targeting the messengers.
The attitude applied by the Sri Lankan mission to our participation in the World Conference Against Racism is a total contradiction to the paragraph 73 of the Vienna declaration, adopted at the UN World Conference on Human Rights, Vienna, 14 - 25 June 1993.
(Vienna Declaration - Section II - C- Co-operation, development and strengthening of human rights - Paragraph 73).
It is true that the NGO committee did not recommend our application for consultative status with ECOSOC last year. This decision was made on the basis of accusations directed against us, which were not substantiated, with any material proof. We immediately brought this grievance to the attention of the President of the ECOSOC as well as to the General Secretary of the United Nations.
According to UN regulations - neither any organisation rejected for ECOSOC status, nor its officials, become outcasts of the United Nations! Any rejected organisation has the right to re-appeal and activists can function as usual.
Sri Lankan representatives in New York and Geneva are bent on blocking TCHR getting any sort of recognition in the UN system purely because of racial discrimination!
They have already blocked the application for ECOSOC status of TCHR and they have, so far, successfully blocked the official accreditation of the TCHR to the World Conference against Racism. The latest intervention by the Sri Lankan representative in the UN NGO committee reveals the same motive.
According to the statistics of the United Nations, Tamils rank the 17th largest linguistic population in the world but have no official status with the United Nations to place our view.
The above observations are for your kind consideration, please.