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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2958

"Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day"

By Mahinda Gunasekera of Canada

This is a letter written by Mahinda Gunasekera of Canada on the Proclamation of May 18, 2019 as 'Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day' by Toronto and Brampton. He writes this letter to the Mayors John Tory and Mayor Patrick Brown, on their proclamation of the “Proclamation of “Tamil Genocide Day”

Dear Mayors John Tory and Mayor Patrick Brown,

Re: Proclamation of May 18, 2019 as "Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day"

I am writing as a Canadian of Sri Lankan Sinhalese origin to express our deep disappointment and disbelief on your proclaiming the 18th of May, 2019, as “Tamil Remembrance Genocide Day” on one sided information presented to you from extremist members of the Tamil community that extended support to the internationally designated terrorist group known as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) proscribed by the UN Security Council, USA, UK, EU, Canada, and India amongst a total of 32 countries, and without consulting the other members of the Sri Lankan community from the Sinhalese, non-political moderate Tamils, Indian Tamils, Moors, Malays, Burghers, etc. residing within your two cities.

We find that the rules governing the issue of such proclamations strictly prohibit such where it relates to: (1) Matters of political controversy; and (2)Events or organizations with no direct relationship to the City. Furthermore, this is bound to create friction among the proponents and opposition withinthe Sri Lankan community which has been striving to heal the underlying differences and come together in amity and friendship. The word 'Genocide' has been defined by the United Nations, and that august body has not considered the actions taken by the security forces of the legally and duly elected government of Sri Lanka against the internationally designated terrorist group known as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) which was engaged in an armed insurrection including suicide terrorism to break up the state of Sri Lanka, in order to establish a separate mono-ethnic Tamil separate state called "Eelam" through a continuous wave of death and destruction as coming within the scope of the term 'genocide'.

We also wish to point out the false statements presented by those requesting the issue of the proclamations which apparently have been accepted without question in your determinations:

(a (a) The Tamils are not recognized as a Nation, and form a part of the Nation of Sri Lanka which is a multi-lingual, multi-religious state. The Tamil nation exists outside Sri Lanka in the State of Tamilnadu in South India where over 75 million Tamils live. In fact, the Tamils were not even recognized as a distinct ethnic group in Sri Lanka (Ceylon) till the census of 1911, as they were previously regarded as the Malabars who had been brought as indentured labour from the Malabar coast of India for work in tobacco, coffee and tea plantations by European colonial powers.

(b (b)The Tamils arrived as peaceful settlers around the 11th and 12th centuries, whereas previously they only attempted to invade the land to pillage and plunder but were driven back every time from the small pockets they captured by the indigenous Sinhala people. In the 13th century they succeeded in establishing a small kinglet called Jaffnapatam confined to the Jaffna peninsula and a narrow strip of land extending to Mannar on the northwest coast paying tribute or taxes to the main Sinhala king whose seat was in Kotte or Kandy. This tiny kinglet lasted about 150 years till such time as the King of Kotte sent a military expedition under the command of Prince Sapumal to regain suzerainty over the terrain of Jaffnapatam. Tamils who were brought in to grow tobacco by the Portuguese and Dutch colonial regimes that held sway over the coastal areas from the 16th to the 18th centuries were settled in the northern and eastern areas where they came to form the predominant group in the region. It was never the traditional homeland of the Tamils as the Sinhalese settlements predated the entry of Tamils by over two millennia as the place names clearly establishes the Sinhalese ancestry in the region. Even today, more Tamils live outside the north and east amidst multi-ethnic communities and make up roughly 12 percent of the total population.

(c (c) The British took over the Dutch possessions in 1796 and the Sinhalese ceded power in terms of the Treaty called the ‘Kandyan Convention’ of 1815. The Sinhalese began to resist the British who disregarded their treaty obligations and took over the lands of the Sinhalese without a penny in compensation. At this point, the British colonial ruler commenced discriminatory treatment of the Sinhalese and favored treatment of the minority Tamils under their divide and rule policy. The colonial administration encouraged Christian missionaries to establish schools in Jaffna and other Tamil areas with few and far between for the others. At the time the British left granting independence to Ceylon (Sri Lanka) in 1948, the number of First Grade schools with libraries and science laboratories in the Tamil areas exceeded that in the rest of the country, as a result of which the Tamils came to dominate the public service and professions. Following independence and transfer of political power through the exercise of universal franchise to the Sinhalese who comprised 78 percent of the population, and steps taken by the national governments to open more schools and bring about some equity affected their level of domination which was regarded as discrimination by the Tamil community.

(d (d) It is to the credit of the Tamil community that they have continued to hold leading positions even after independence. The first Ceylonese Army Commander was Anton Mutukumaru who was a Tamil, six of the twelve Deputy Inspectors General of Police, several Judges of the Supreme Court, Heads of Government Departments, senior Diplomats, leading members of every profession were from the Tamil community. Every single government formed after independence have had Tamils holding cabinet positions. Even today, Tamils hold key positions in the government, supreme court, central bank and other key institutions, making the allegation of discrimination highly questionable.

(e (e) Even many of those Tamils who destroyed their passports enroute to seek refugee status in Canada, bypassing their original homeland of Tamilnadu separated by just 25 kilometers of ocean to which they are linguistically and culturally linked, approached the Sri Lankan High Commission office in Ottawa to obtain travel documents by the thousands to visit Sri Lanka the land which they claimed had persecuted them.

(f (f) The Tamils who loudly claim discrimination at the hands of the Sinhalese mounted a massive campaign against the ‘Prevention of Social Disabilities Act’ of 1957, as it would prevent the high caste Vellalas from blocking the entry of so called low caste Hindus (designated as untouchables) from entering their temples or kovils to exercise their fundamental right of freedom of worship and entering schools to gain education. One of the key leaders heading this campaign was Mathematics Professor and Tamil separatist politician C.Suntharalingam.

Influenced by the ‘We Tamil Movement’ of Southern India of the 1920’s to fight for an independent Tamil state in India from the British, the Tamils in then Ceylon withdrew from the Tamil Congress which was part of the National Government formed immediately after independence to form the new separatist party called the Illankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi (Tamil State Party) in the year 1949 just one year after gaining independence. The Tamil separatist movement continued to grow building antagonism towards the Sinhalese and later formed the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) which adopted the infamous Vadukkodai Resolution in 1976 to form a Mono-Ethnic Tamil Separate State called “Eelam” encompassing the northern and eastern provinces comprising 1/3rd of the land area and 2/3rdof the nation’s coastline and oceanic economic zone exclusively as a Tamil dominated state. The resolution envisaged the use of armed force to establish the separate state leading to the formation of a number of armed Tamil militant groups to whom India provided military training, funds and weapons to destabilize her small neighbor of Sri Lanka.

The LTTE launched attacks on the other Tamil militant groups to gain ascendancy and later became the leading terrorist group employing suicide terrorism and coming to be recognized as the ‘Sole Representative’ of the Tamil community including by the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) elected to represent Tamils in the National Parliament. Contrary to what has been stated, it was the LTTE that carried out attacks against Tamil political leaders, Tamil academics and school principals, Tamil police officers including reputed Tamils such as Mayor Duraiappa, TULF leader Hon. Amirthalingam, Rajini Thiranagama university professor, Neelan Tiruchelvam leading intellectual, the Hon. Lakshman Kadirgamar, distinguished Minister of Foreign Affairs and a host of other Tamils deemed dissidents to their cause. They have been described as the most ruthless terrorist group by the FBI in their website.

Thereafter, the LTTE began to attack the apparatus of the state responsible for internal security, isolated military camps, assassination of political leaders ncluding Ranasinghe Premadasa, President of Sri Lanka, Gamini Dissanayake, Presidential candidate,cabinet ministers including Lalith Athulathmudali, C.V. Gooneratne, Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, T.Maheswaran, the Navy Commander Fernando, attempted assassination of Chandrika Kumaratunge, President of Sri Lanka, Army Commander Sarath Fonseka and Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse. In February 2002, the government of the day entered into a Ceasefire Agreement (CFA)with the LTTE appointing the Nordic countries to monitor the situation, and commenced peace talks using Norway as the facilitator and the USA, UK and Japan along with Norway as Co-Chairs of these talks. The LTTE did not negotiate in good faith as they used the talks to buy time to rearm and conscript youth including children to their fighting ranks - which is a war crime, withdrawing from the talks after six rounds to seek their goal through military means. According to the Nordic Monitors, the LTTE had violated the CFA on over 7,000 instances including the killing of more than 400 military and civil personnel without incurring any penalties, whilst the Sri Lankan Military had been in violation on about 450 occasions mostly relating to harassment of civilians at military check points.

The LTTE also attacked economic targets such as the Central Bank, Petroleum Storage facilities, The International Airport at Katunayake destroying six commercial aircraft belonging to Sri Lankan Airlines, and regularly planted bombs in public transit, shopping malls, bus terminals, rail stations, killing large numbers of civilians making the population fearful of going about their normal business. They attacked remote rural villages in the north and east to ethnically cleanse the region and drive out the resident population from areas claimed for their separate state. They even attacked the holy shrine of Buddhists at the Sri Maha Bodhi in Anuradhapura killing about 140 including monks and lay devotees who were engaged in meditation and other devotional activities. They attacked a bus carrying 33 Buddhist monks who were proceeding on pilgrimage at Aranthalawa using machine guns and machetes, and also bombed the Sri Dalada Maligawa in Kandy which houses the Tooth Relic of the Buddha in the early hours killing about 20 worshippers and causing damage to this World Heritage Site recognized by UNESCO. They attacked Muslims at prayer in Kattankudy killing nearly 180 worshippers inside their mosques. The killing rampages continued unabated until such time as the state decided to combat force with force.

By mid-2005, the LTTE had garnered a huge amount of funds through extortion of the Tamil expats (vide HRW report of March 2016), drug running, human smuggling and other illicit as well as legitimate means sufficient to buy necessary weapons for their land, sea and air forces to launch their final war of Liberation and even stockpile weapons in floating warehouses aboard ships parked off the main sea lanes out at sea. They attacked unarmed military personnel on home leave for the new year and started hostilities in earnest by shutting off the sluice gates at Mavil Aru in August 2006 stopping the flow of drinking and irrigation water to 30,000 farmers living downstream. The Sri Lankan state called on the Nordic Monitors to intervene to restore water, and as the LTTE refused to do so for over 12 days, the government ordered the military to act with force to resume the water supply. The Sri Lankan state abandoned the CFA and carried out coordinated action by its security forces to rout the LTTE by retaking the east, and then moving up the west coast evicting the LTTE military camps causing them to retreat.
As the LTTE forces retreated towards their strongholds in the northeast they forced the Tamil civilian population to move with them from west to east to exploit their labor, conscript new fighters and form a human shield. The battle progressed rapidly with the LTTE losing ground and fighting cadres till they became completely surrounded by the Sri Lankan forces in a narrow strip at Putumathalan, in Mullaitivu district beside the Nandikadal lagoon.
Contrary to what is claimed as genocidal attacks by the Sri Lankan forces, the number of genuine civilians killed is unknown as none of the published figures distinguish between combatants, LTTE Auxiliary Forces Personnel, and genuine non-combatant civilians. The UN Resident Representative’s office in Colombo reported that a total of 7,721 were killed between end August 2008 and May 13, 2009 which number the UN Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, Sir John Holmes, did not accept stating that it could not be verified as the UN was not on the ground other than lower rung Tamil employees whom the LTTE refused to release. Amnesty claimed a total of 10,000being killed, the UK Sunday Times reporter who only overflew the last battle ground when he accompanied UNSG Ban ki Moon on his inspection tour on May 25, 2009 reported that 20,000 had been killed in the last stages (i.e.January 1 to May 19, 2009), whileUNSG's so called Panel of Experts on Sri Lanka sitting in New York estimated tens of thousands of persons being killed estimated at 40,000, the same number reported on by the Int'l Crisis Group. The UNSG’s PoE received its information from some 4,000 persons, mainly Tamils living outside Sri Lanka, instructed that the data collected be locked up for the next 20 years till 2031, when a decision would be made to release same or keep these locked for a further period. Gordon Weiss who was the UN Spokesperson in Colombo later inflated the number killed to 40,000 in his book "The Cage", which number he lowered to 10,000 when he was being questioned by a Sri Lankan audience in Australia, probably with a view to profit from his book sales to members of the expat Tamil community numbering over a million. He has been described elsewhere as an Unreliable Witness. That pro-LTTE reporter Frances Harrison is still counting the dead, having stated that 70,000 to 140,000 may have been killed. Yasmin Sooka who was appointed by Ban ki-Moon asone of the three members of the Panel of Experts on Accountability on Sri Lanka, close friend of Navi Pillay, who is also a South African Tamil just like Navi P, who attends all the propaganda meetings organized by the pro-LTTE groups is on the same page as Frances Harrison claiming over110,000 persons being killed in the last stages. She certainly benefited by her openly partisan stand, receiving a grant of 25 million Euros from the EU for a South African NGO headed by her.

In 2012, the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) carried out a census among the residents of the north to determine the number of persons who had been killed in the final stages using Tamil school teachers and public servants as enumerators and arrived at a figure of 7,432 excluding those who had died ofnatural causes. Strangely, on adding up the monthly number of such casualties reported in the propaganda arm of the LTTE, namely the Tamilnet, the total killed for the period January 1, 2009 to May 19, 2009 was 7,398 which was below the GOSL census count.

The UNSG's PoE which claimed 40,000 had been killed also stated that half the LTTE fighters did battle in civilian attire thereby blurring the distinction between combatants and civilians. Furthermore, they had based their conclusions mainly from one sided information provided to them by pro-LTTE elements, which material they recommended be locked away for a period of 20 years till 2031. Today, Sri Lanka is being hounded by the west and the UN on the basis of this report produced by the UNSG's PoE, an internal document prepared purely for the guidance of the UNSG, which concluded there were 'credible allegations' - not credible evidence, which was apparently leaked by the UNSG's office to the UNHRC, which Navi Pillay sought to table at the UNHRC sessions although it was not a UN sanctioned document.

Another interesting statistic is thetotal number of injured persons among the Tamil IDPs according to the ICRC responsible for ferrying them by land and sea for medical attention was 18,439 which is lower than the 40,000 supposedly killed during the last stages. Normally, the injured (WIA) is between 2-3 times the number killed, which means that the number injured should have been 80,000 - 120,000.

Amnesty and HRW commissioned a report from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) to determine the number killed after analysis of the high resolution satellite imagery of the final battleground, as the latter were only able to come up with a total of 1,346 burial spots in three burial sites within the Civilian Safety Zone (CSW), which detailed report is carried in their website. As this report did not support the bogus numbers swirled around by LTTE propagandists, Amnesty and HRW did not proceed with their planned report to press for action against Sri Lanka. The AAAS report was also able to identify some 65 or so craters which they determined had been made by Mortar Shells (not artillery) along the perimeter of the CSZ close to the Nandikadal Lagoon where the LTTE fighters were concentrated and close to the coast where the Sea Tigers operated. Even the buildings without roofs initially thought to have been targeted with artillery fire turned out to have been dismantled by the LTTE to cover their bunkers or hide their long range weapons, while the building walls remained undamaged.

The, while the Sri Lankan forces abandoned air attacks and use of Artillery/MBRL in the latter part to prevent harm to the civilian population, while they faced a continuous barrage of artillery and mortar fire from the LTTE resulting in the loss of around 2,500 soldiers and a further 5,000 or more becoming injured. The LTTE too would have lost at least an equal number of combatants due to the intensive battles at the end stages. If one takes out 2,500 from the UN number of 7,721, one is left with 5,221. Of this number, several were killed by the LTTE which ordered their cadres to fire on escaping civilians, and even unleashed suicide bombers and artillery fire on the escaping civilians who earlier formed a human shield. Some others killed would have been members of the LTTE's Auxiliary Forces that supplied ammo, removed injured and dead fighters, or were engaged in digging trenches or building defensive berms, and yet others from the Makkal Padai, their civilian fighters. Once you adjust for the LTTE's own killings, auxiliary forces personnel, Makkal Padai forces that were killed, you will be able to ascertain the number of genuine civilians who were killed in the crossfire and ongoing battles.

The LTTE was offered several chances to surrender but they did not pay any heed as they expected the international community led by the USA to intervene in the ongoing battles and rescue them and obtain asylum for them in an African country such as Eritrea from where they could continue their separatist struggle in Sri Lanka. In fact, two 48 hour ceasefires were put into effect by the Sri Lanka military in February and April 2009 to enable the civilians to get out of harms way and move into areas controlled by the army where they would be safe. However, regrettably the LTTE did not allow any of the civilians to move out and even fired on those who attempted to flee killing them, effectively blocking the safe removal of the civilians who were being used as a human shield. Despite the attempts of the LTTE to put the lives of the Tamil civilians in danger, the Sri Lankan Security Forces succeeded in eliminating the Tamil Tiger fighters and rescuing 295,873 Tamils including some 11.800 former Tiger cadres that downed their weapons to safety. They were housed in Welfare Camps, provided all meals, medical/ psychological care, education, vocational training, and resettled in their former places of residence after clearing the land of 1.5 million landmines laid by the LTTE to hamper the advance of the country’s armed forces. The former Tiger cadres were enrolled in a rehabilitation program, given new life skills that would enable them to lead independent lives and released to society. ARE THESE ACTS OF GENOCIDE AGAINST THE TAMILS?

The Justice Maxwell Paranagama Commission on Missing Persons in Sri Lanka was assisted by a team of international legal and military experts in matters relating to International Human Rights Regulations, and War Crimes issues in respect of the military operations against the LTTE, where they concluded that the Sri Lankan forces had not violated International HR or committed war crimes. These experts were internationally recognized authorities, many of whom had served as legal advisers or prosecutors in the International Criminal Courts. The team of experts was led by Right Honourable Sir Desmond de Silva, QC. (UK) who was Chairman of the Legal Advisory Council, together with Professor Sir Geoffrey Nice QC. (UK), Professor David M. Crane (USA), Mr. Rodney Dixon, QC. (UK/ South Africa), Professor Michael Newton (USA) Vanderbilt University, William Fenrick (Canada), Professor Nina Jorgensen of Harvard/ The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Mr. Paul K. Mylvaganam (UK) and Major General Sir John Holmes, DSO, OBE, MC (UK).

Given the facts as outlined above, we call on Mayor John Tory of the City of Toronto and Mayor Patrick Brown of the City of Brampton, and the Councilors’ of the respective Cities to review their decision and withdraw the subject Proclamations made based on one side and erroneous information.

Yours sincerely,

Mahinda Gunasekera

The views expressed in this open letter is exclusive that if the author. Asian Tribune does not subscribe to those views. Furthermore, Asian Tribune very strongly believes that this writer has come up with the distorted version of the history of Tami’s out of his over anxiety to establish point of views. – Editor

- Asian Tribune -

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