The resolution proposed by America at the Human Rights Council related to Sri Lanka was passed by a majority of 13 votes. Out of the Human Rights Council comprising of 47 member states, 26 voted for the resolution, 13 against and 8 abstained taking a neutral position.
The resolution proposed and adopted by America did not come close to Tamil people’s aspirations or expectations. We cannot consider this resolution, therefore as a victory for Tamils. However, we can definitely look at this as a defeat for Sri Lanka.
This resolution will be problematic to the family-based dynastic rule of Pres. Mahinda Rajapaksa, who continues to arbitrarily exercise power over the Tamil nation as well as other peoples in the island of Sri Lanka without any pressure from the international community. The fact that this resolution was debated and passed in the United Nations Human Rights Council will help to expose the atrocities committed against the Tamils during the closing stage of the war which the Sinhalase would prefer to hide and forget. Compared to last year, support for Sri Lanka in the Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has declined. Mention should be made of a strong backer of Sri Lanka, Japan abstaining and not taking sides during the vote. It is appropriate to mention that the countries who voted in favor of Sri Lanka are not necessarily supportive of Sri Lanka, but opposed to U.S. foreign policy. The voting record demonstrates we are living in a epoch when the world is moving from a unipolar world order under the leadership of America to a multipolar world order.The voting in the UNHRC points out to the fact that Sri Lanka is increasingly becoming isolated in the international arena in this new world.
As far as the Tamil people are concerned, it is important that any resolution submitted to the UNHRC should address two issues. First, the destruction in Mullivaikal constitutes an act of genocide by the Sinhala Government. Second, those engaged in genocide should be subject to an independent international investigation as a means for justice. The U.S.-led resolution does not address either of these crucial issues. Thus, we cannot consider this resolution acceptable or satisfactory to Tamils.
As people who know the “rationale” by which governments function in the UNHRC and the rest of the United Nations, where global powers act solely based on their own national interests, the ineffectiveness of this resolution on matters of survival for the Tamil People comes as no surprise to us.
At the very minimum, we are pained by the fact that there is no proper acknowledgment in the resolution that Tamil people have been subjected to injustice in the island of Sri Lanka. We condemn that the resolution, which notes that human rights are violated in the island of Sri Lanka on the basis of religion and belief, failed to pinpoint the fact that the most massive human rights violations have been directed against Tamils on account of their Tamil ethnicity.
At this moment, I think it is important that I share certain matters we must take cognizance of with our people. In order to secure justice for our people, we must continuously campaign through political and diplomatic means with world governments.
It is not difficult to understand that the tyranny and oppression unleashed against the Eelam Tamil people by the Sinhala government in the island of Sri Lankan borders on genocide. Yet, world governments take the position that incidents that took place during the last phase of the war in Vanni were not an act of genocide, but war crimes committed by both sides.
If what happened in Vanni is acknowledged as an act of genocide, there arises a need for a protective mechanism based on the international legal and moral principles of self-defense and self-preservation. Further, the governments of this world will have to accept the establishment of an independent state of Tamil Eelam on the basis of remedial justice. However, while knowing the truth, these governments want to confine the problem within the boundaries of their own preference.
How are we going to approach such governments? We have to design good strategy and tactics.
One of the important lessons the Tamils and their friends learnt through the slaughter at Mullivaaikkaal is the fact that, irrespective of how just our cause may be, how much sacrifice we may make and the gallantry we possess, when powerful governments join hands with our adversary we cannot win.
Thus, today our strategy should center on how we are going to widen the distance between powerful global players and our enemy the Sinhala government, and how we are going to develop our relationship with these global powers. However, we should not sacrifice our own self-interests to these global powers. At the same time, we cannot expect the global powers to give up their interests fully and support us on the basis of justice. Thus, in order to deal with powerful governments, I believe we must employ twin tactics that will produce results.
First, we have to determine how to align our interests and the interests of the powerful global powers and design necessary plans. This should happen at the diplomatic level.
Second, we as people should engage ourselves with global powers through democratic and diplomatic means.
These twin tactics should go hand in hand. Governments revolve around the axis of their own self-interests. But, political leaders play a big role in running these governments. Winning popular support is an important self-interest of political leaders. Due to this, the interests of the government machinery and the political leaders are not aligned in all instances. On many occasions, in order not to lose the support of the people, leaders are forced to make changes in the political stances of their governments.
Against this background, if we look at students rising up in Tamil Nadu, the importance of their efforts can be easily understood. The Tamil Nadu students’ uprising, launched with the support of the people, has the power to change the stance of the political leaders of Tamil Nadu and India.
The ongoing Tamil Nadu students’ uprising affirms the need for an international inquiry into the genocide inflicted on the Tamil people and of a referendum among the Tamil people for an independent Tamil Eelam. The students have launched their struggle convinced that if Eelam Tamil people are to live with security, dignity and equality, there is no alternative other than an independent Tamil Eelam.
We hold hands in solidarity with the Tamil Nadu students who have leapt into the battlefield on behalf of the Eelam Tamil people. We also join hands with the political leaders and the people of Tamil Nadu who stand in solidarity with the students struggle.
The political reality is, whether we like it or not, the victory of the Tamil Eelam liberation struggle depends largely on the success of Tamil Nadu in engaging the Indian government. International diplomatic calculations are made on the premise that India is the dominant regional power in the Indian Ocean and South Asia. It is also a growing global power. International relations are determined on these bases of power. Thus, India’s role is important in the creation of a new state of Tamil Eelam in South Asia.
Thus, in our strategy for winning the liberation struggle for Tamil Eelam, our aim should be to convince the Indian government to recognize an independent Tamil Eelam. This may not be immediately possible. However, internal conditions can make significant impact on the foreign policy of that country. As an example, Malaysia did not vote against the U.S.-led resolution, but abstained. The main reason is, though Malaysia is friendly with Sri Lanka, the Malaysian government has to give deference to the wishes of the Malaysian Tamils.
The emerging struggles and stances in Tamil Nadu in relation to the Eelam people have the ability to impact Tamil Nadu and other Indian States and thus influence the decisions of the Indian government. In this, the role of Tamil Nadu students is decisive. Students of Tamil Nadu have demonstrated their power fittingly. The call of the hour is for a plan of action to continue and widen the students’ struggle until conditions are created for India’s recognition of Tamil Eelam.
I would also like to record at this juncture that America is carefully and continuously observing what is happening in Tamil Nadu. Tamil Nadu is one of the dominant states in India. We can also understand America’s interest in Tamil Nadu through the former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent visit there. We have to take note of the fact that the ongoing struggle in Tamil Nadu has the ability to impact not only in India, but at the global stage as well.
We must not lose faith because the resolution adopted at the UNHRC is not fashioned in a way that will bring justice to our people. We need not feel frustrated either. We are progressing towards our goal.
Today we are launching – together with Human Rights and other Tamil organizations – a three month world-wide signature campaign to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon calling on him to appoint an international inquiry on the basis of his inherent power, as confirmed by his legal advisers, pursuant to Article 99 of the U.N. Charter.
Today we are also launching a global signature campaign urging Mr. AdamaDieng. Special Adviser of the Secretary General on the Prevention of Genocide, to release the 2007 annual report of his office that mentioned the likelihood of the Tamil people being victims of genocide or mass atrocities, as well as other reports related to Tamils in the island of Sri Lanka, as mentioned in the U.N. Internal Review Report. There is proverb current among us: If you beat the grinding stone again and again it will move!
The Thirst of the Tamils is Tamil Eelam.