Sri Lanka’s extent of compliance with the Recommendations of UNHRC Resolutions passed against it since 2012 particularly No. 30/1 of October 01, 2015 to 46/1 of March 23, 2021 raises concerns to the affected Tamils in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka has abysmally failed to implement the core Recommendations and has ignored the pivotal Recommendations dealing with accountability, justice, reconciliation and rule of law as they are the fundamental concepts and practices to be observed by a democratic country.
Accountability for the war crimes, crimes against humanity etc. allegedly committed by the war criminals has been totally ignored and discarded allowing the alleged war criminals to roam free and travel without any restraint except for a few security personnel who have been banned from visiting the USA and UK.
In this respect, the latest move to initiate prosecution against 58 human rights violators in Sri Lanka by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights is timely and highly commendable.
In this respect, the current President of Sri Lanka Ranil Wickremasinghe’s throne speech bodes ill for human rights as he has “Pledged to do more work to protect Buddhism” and also assured Buddhism’s foremost place in Sri Lanka. He has also promised to embark on a speedy spread of Buddhism making it “as his governments’ major responsibility”.
The above steep statements reek with racial and religious discriminatory postures which have infused fears and uncertainties among the non-Buddhists and other communities particularly the Tamils and Muslims who practice different religions.
By this far-reaching statement, the President has openly exposed and admitted his pursuit and spread of Buddhisisation which is culpably discriminatory and a fragrant violation of human rights prescribed in UN and UNHRC Charters. It should be noted that Sri Lanka is a multi-Cultural, multi-lingual, multi-religious and multi-racial nation.
As UNHRC High Commissioner earlier stated “There has been a further drift towards militarization and emphasis of Sinhala nationalism and Buddhism in state institutions becoming more visible, increasing the marginalization and uncertainty of minority communities and undermining reconciliation”.
It will be interesting to recall the incident in parliament on August 03, 2000 when the present President Ranil Wickramasinghe then opposition leader along with his party members walked out of parliament after tearing and burning the peace proposal of the then President Chandrika Kumaratunge which proposed an Interim Self-Governing Rule to Tamils included in the constitutional proposals. This action of Ranil Wickramasinghe exposed his apathy and aversion to settle the ethnic question with a permanent and acceptable political settlement.
Sri Lanka is a beautiful Island country in the Indian Ocean and full of resources, rain forests, long rivers, tea, rubber, coconut estates, vegetation, vast amounts of rice fields, mountains and surrounded by sea beaches and has become a popular place for tourists. Everything were ruined by the indiscriminate policies adopted by the Sinhala majority governments against the ethnic Tamil and Muslim population living in the North and East of Sri Lanka on their ancestral home lands where they are the majority in number. This country’s natural wealth has been abandoned, destroyed and misused without developing properly by the successive corrupted governments who spent their full energy on warring with the ethnic minority Tamils from the time of Independence dating back from 1948 up to date,(74 years) and still continuing in the form of structural genocide . Now the country is bankrupt and unable to pay the loans obtained mostly from China. The former Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapakse who was thrown out of power by the people’s uprising on July 09, 2022 and is now staying in Thailand as a tourist. He and his brother Mahinda Rajapakse are the brains behind the war crimes, crimes against humanity etc. allegedly committed against Tamils. They are still not brought to justice and accountability as in Sri Lanka accountability prevails over justice as accountability and impunity are always remaining as anathema.
The period of Mahinda Rajapakse’s rule in Sri Lanka was:-
From 2004 to 2005 (2 years) as Prime Minister.
From 2005 to 2015 (10 years) as President.
From 2019 November to 2022 June 09 (3 years as Prime Minister) thrown out of power by the people uprising on June 09, 2022.
His brother Gotabaya Rajapakse’s rule:-
From 2019 November to 2022 July 09 (3years as President) thrown out of power by the people uprising on July 09, 2022.
Under their brutal rules, the Tamils have lost thousands of enormous lives and shed blood in this period of their history.
This big lapse and failure shown by the UN and its agencies including International Community encouraged even the smaller nations (like Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Rwanda, Serbia, Sudan) and their leaders being encouraged to commit human rights violations and structural genocide.
As the affected victims of this genocide, the Tamils of Sri Lanka have seen, lived and suffered the agony and miseries which are still continuing, and this sad experience proves very clearly that there is little hope from the UN to prevent and stop the genocidal crimes. These lapses call for appropriate changes and restructure in the UN system to prevent any further genocide in the future.
Thambu Kanagasabai, Former Lecturer in Law, University of Colombo,