Tamils Allege 'Historical Genocide'

February 11, 2015

Ethnic Tamil leaders on Tuesday accused successive Sri Lankan governments of systematic acts of genocide against the minority Tamil community and called on the United Nations to investigate. 

The Tamil-controlled Northern Provincial Council called on the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to investigate what it claims are historic violations intended "to destroy the Tamil people".

The resolution comes amid suspicion among Tamil leaders that the UN rights council may not release an investigative report on allegations of war crimes against the Sri Lankan government and Tamil Tiger rebels during the final phase of the country's civil war in 2009.

The UN council is scheduled to release its report in March but with improving relations between Sri Lanka's newly-elected government and the United States — the main proponent of the investigation — it is believed that the report may be postponed.

The council resolution says majority ethnic Sinhalese-controlled governments in Colombo since the country became independent from Britain in 1948 have carried out state sponsored pogroms, sexual violence, cultural and linguistic destruction.

The council's resolution says the UN investigation must extend to its charge of genocide. "The UN Security Council should refer the situation in Sri Lanka to the International Criminal Court for prosecutions based on war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide."

The government spokesman could not be immediately reached for comment.

Sri Lankan troops crushed the Tamil Tigers in May 2009 ending a 26-year campaign for an independent homeland for Tamils in the country's north and east.

There is no accurate estimate as to how many people were killed in the violence. A UN report has said up to 40,000 civilians may have been killed in just the final months of the fighting.

Sri Lankan soldiers have been accused of deliberately shelling civilians, blocking food and medical convoys for civilians and undercounting the number of civilians who were trapped in the small strip of land where the rebels had been cornered.

The rebels recruited child soldiers and were accused of holding civilians as human shields and killing those trying to escape.

The new government of President Maithripala Sirisena elected last month has moved fast to mend relations with the US strained under his predecessor Mahinda Rajapaksa largely due to his unwillingness to probe wartime abuses.

(Bangkok post)

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