Now the Third Resolution

Sri Lankan Tamils have never truly come to grips with the legacy of that bloody war against Tiger rebels and it continues to haunt them today, albeit the war officially ended 20 years ago. It is unlikely for a shattered ethnic minority in that fascist outpost in the Indian ocean to come to terms to Sinahalese chauvinism and barbarism. It is not known what Prime Minister Manmohan Singh discussed with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse on the sidelines of the BIMSTEC summit in Mayanmar on March 4, 2014. No doubt Rajapakse achieved a towering stature among Sinhala chauvinists during the unequal war against the insurgents but his army under his active baton behaved like Nazis in Tamil dominated northern Sri Lanka. Certainly Mr Singh and Mr Rajapakse didn’t ponder over Colombo’s war crimes despite continuing agitation by international human rights bodies against the Sri Lanka army’s ethnic cleansing and the brutal genocide in Sri Lanka’s history. New Delhi never really reacted the way it should have done it in the event of mass slaughter of Tamil minority people in northern Sri Lanka. Nor did the National Human Rights Commission of India seriously take the issue to highlight the plight of Tamils in Sri Lanka. Given international outcry against ethnic cleansing and politics related to it of the time, they could have had to have proved that their official response demanded all-out campaign against Sri Lanka’s war crimes. No, they didn’t. Their passive attitude to the Sri Lankan episode is at worst a measure of their collective guilt over the Tamil disaster in Jaffna.

Tragically enough, major Dravidian political outfits in Tamil Nadu never pursued the issue of genocie and war crimes and stuck to that pursuit, hopefully to remain in good book of the centre. They attach great importance to what matters in their immediate electoral interests. The people of Tamil Nadu are familiar with the musical chair arrangement of governance of two Dravid parties that aspire to become national players with regional bias by indulging in sheer opportunism. Initially they tried to cash in on Tamil sentiments when Tigers were effectively resisting Sri Lanka army’s barbaric campaign against the rebels but in due course they changed their political gear when New Delhi began to actively and somewhat overtly cooperate with Colombo’s declared mission to crush Tiger insurgency.

Now a US-sponsored resolution to be tabled at the end of the month at the UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva is a reality, notwithstanding opposition by Sri Lanka and China. The draft resolution seeks for an international probe into Sri Lanka’s widely reported rights abuses during the war with Tamil insurgents. It was a calculated genocide as thousands of Civilian Tamils otherwise treated as second class citizens during peace time were butchered as if they were enemy combatants. The draft resolution actually endorses Navi Pillay’s recommendations for an external probe into the war crimes of Sri Lankan army. The latest resolution will be the third in as many years. Despite being a violator of human rights across the globe, America is trying to grill Sri Lanka to further its own vested interests. That’s really not the point at the moment. What matters to Tamil minority people in Sri Lanka is how to get back what they have lost during the three decade old war—sense of security and dignity.

On earlier occasions Sri Lankan government succeeded in halting the process of forming an international inquiry commission by continually raising the bogey of interference in Sri Lanka’s internal affairs by the West and America. This time too the Rajapakses are lobbying extensively against the US-backed UN move and they have a strong supporter in China which itself has a chequered history of resorting to authoritarianism and severe repressive measures in dealing with any kind of political dissent, peaceful or violent. As the draft resolution was making rounds China openly came forward to extend its helping hand to Sri Lanka. Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the other day that China would oppose some countries’, implying America’s interference in the internal affairs of Sri Lanka under the pretext of human rights violations.

In truth Sri Lanka became the main focus of media attention globally during the final months of the war in 2009 for the army’s Nazi-style brutality. This is not the first time China is siding with Sri Lanka in a sensitive issue that affects the interests of ordinary people. Even in early seventies China found nothing wrong, when the security establishment in Colombo massacred Janata Vimukti Perunam activists who were Sinhalese, not Tamils, because they revolted against the system in their own way. They had, perhaps, politically a Trotskyte leaning but that was not the main issue. What concerned peace and democracy loving people across the world was how Sri Lankan rivers became red with the blood of rebels. But China was busy to build the stable growth of China-Sri Lankan ties ‘as a model for friendly co-existence and win-win relations between states while emphasising more trade and commerce than humanitarian aspects of diplomacy. And today when China is very much a global power, both economically and militarily, they need Sri Lanka more than before to further its dominance in South Asian theatre. So even a genocide may go as an internal affair!

Nearer home both Congress and Opposition visibly subscribe to China’s view of not opposing Sri Lanka on this count. They are more concerned about China’s growing hegemonic clout in the region, not the plight of ethnic Tamils in Sri Lanka.

Vol. 46, No. 37, Mar 23 - 29, 2014