Feature Article
2ND LEAD

Eezham Tamils and duplicity of West’s human rights campaigns

[TamilNet, Thursday, 26 June 2014, 23:28 GMT]
The progress in women security achieved through liberation movements in Asia are more substantive than any that was achieved or could be achieved by the campaigns of the West-activists. Yet, why do they ignore the former and focus only on the latter? Is it because it gives the West-activists and by implication those in the West in general the moral high ground to look down upon the “others”, asks Dr. N. Malathy, in an article sent to TamilNet. Discussing the topic through the Eezham Tamil case study, and comparing the West-activists’ campaign on child soldiers then and sexualised violence against women now, she is bringing out the duplicities and deficiencies inherent in the human rights campaigns run by West-activists.

Before 2009, the child soldier campaign of the West-activists against the LTTE shielded many ground realties and the fact that 15 was the age limit set by the Geneva convention of the 1940s, which was modified to18 in 2000 by an Optional Protocol, targeting only non-State armed actors.

The plight of the Tamils is a long series of violations including: repeated and well planned pogroms, extrajudicial killings, disappearances, rape and other sexual violence, forced evictions, land confiscations, and planned demographic changes. Yet, what was chosen for the human rights campaign prior to the destruction of the LTTE was indeed the child soldier recruitment. No other campaign by the West-activists about the Tamil plight was run as vigorously as this one.

After 2009, the campaign of the West-activists on sexualised violence against women, is careful in placing the blame on Tamil men too, in addition to Sri Lanka military, and is even more careful in not recognising the security of women achieved under the LTTE, Malathy compared in the article sent to TamilNet.

* * *


Sexualised violence against Tamil women by the Sri Lankan military was going on for decades and it had started as far back as in the 1958 pogrom against Tamils. It spiked during the 80’s and 90’s.

But, while LTTE remained a force to be reckoned with, it was the child soldier issue with the LTTE that was chosen by the West-activists for their campaign while the sexualised violence against Tamil women was ignored for decades.

Under the LTTE administration, rape and sexualised violence was extremely rare. Prostitution did not exist. Single mothers were given support through childcare, schooling, and employment. Men and women were active in the public sphere in equal numbers.

Will Tamil women achieve security through the campaigns of the West-activists and Other-activists or through the efforts of good men and women from the Victim-base, which these specialist activists have sabotaged, Malathy asks.

* * *


On the choice of themes and orientation and execution of human rights campaigns, Malathy wrote:

The victim-base has absolutely no say in this choice. Indeed it is the West-activists, the group most removed from the victim-base that makes these choices. This group and also its audience are immersed in the globalised westernised culture and thus have a common view of the world and the related sensitivities about human rights. Their campaign choices are invariably influenced by this culture.

Once the West-activists make the choice for the campaign they are still in control of the choice of data and related material they will use in their campaign. This often has the effect of disregarding the fundamental realities of the victim-base.

Other-activists are the only channel through which information from victim-base flows out. It is worth noting that the Other-activists are subordinated to West-activists culturally as well as economically. Often the Other-activists are employed by the West-activists.

Dr N Malathy
Dr N Malathy
Writing on UN human rights since 1948, Malathy said that the outfits complementing UN institutions are almost exclusively situated in the West. For the last six decades they have in cooperation with each other carried out intensive emotional campaigns on the many aspects of human rights around the world.

The recent Global Summit on Sexual Violence in Conflicts sponsored by the UK government is part of the latest era. Which Victim-base in which phase of their struggle was given priority in this summit is best used as an educational tool about the West agenda, Malathy said.

Dr. N. Malathy is a key member of the NorthEast Secretariat on Human Rights. Recently she authored a book, “A Fleeting Moment in My Country.”

* * *


Full text of the article:

Then child soldiers, now sexualised violence – N Malathy

As the old empires of the world disappeared, the global body the United Nations emerged in 1948 giving us the perception of a “one world”. UN’s Charter and its Human Rights Covenants further strengthened this “one world” perception. The institutions of the UN through its operations in and reporting from the far corners of the world brings us the reality of human existence in those far and remote corners. Complementing the UN institutions are many other ‘progressive’ outfits almost exclusively situated in the West. For the last six decades they have in cooperation with each other carried out intensive emotional campaigns on the many aspects of human rights around the world. Some writers have questioned the overall effectiveness of the six decades long human rights activism and reporting by the UN and other human rights institutions. This article will first survey some of the reasons for the ineffectiveness of these campaigns and apply this to two examples of human rights campaigns currently in vogue, the child soldier campaign and the campaign on sexualised violence against women, with particular reference to the conditions of the Eelam Tamils in their homeland.

The figure below is an abstract spatial representation of the channels of campaign information flow among four groups involved in the human rights campaigns. They are marked as follows: audience of the campaign – audience for short, activists in the West – West-activists for short, activists in the rest of the globe – Other-activists for short and the actual victim base on whom the campaign is based – Victim-base for short. The two blue arrows represent the channels through which the information is collected for the campaigns. The black arrows represent the outwards information flow of the final campaigns. While it will be possible to find campaigns which deviate from this information flow diagram, the information flow of the vast majority of the campaigns fits this diagram. A lot of hidden knowledge about: the choice of campaign; the choice of information for the campaign by the West-activists and the choice of information for the campaign by the Other-activists can be gained by studying this flow diagram in some detail.

Narrative illustrated by Dr N Malathy


Choice of campaigns
The victim-base around the world provides the human rights campaigners with a never ending source of data for potential campaigns. They make a difficult choice among these never ending source of potential campaign material. It is worth reflecting on how these choices are made for a particular campaign among the never ending human rights violations faced by the victim-base. Who decides? The victim-base has absolutely no say in this choice. Indeed it is the West-activists, the group most removed from the victim-base that makes these choices. This group and also its audience are immersed in the globalised westernised culture and thus have a common view of the world and the related sensitivities about human rights. Their campaign choices are invariably influenced by this culture.

West activists’ choice of information
Once the West-activists make the choice for the campaign they are still in control of the choice of data and related material they will use in their campaign. Human existence is complex and any human rights violation has many facets especially under the conditions in which the victim-base lives. Thus there is a wealth of data that can be used for the chosen campaign. The choice of material by the West-activists further reinforces their view of the world and their sensitivities. This often has the effect of disregarding the fundamental realities of the victim-base.

Other activists’ choice of information
Yet another loss of real information results through the channel of communications used to collect the data. The cultural space occupied by each group in the diagram is different with the victim-base being culturally most distant from the other groups. Other-activists is the only channel through which information from victim-base flows out. It is worth noting that the Others-activists is subordinated to West-activists culturally as well as economically. Often Other-activists are employed by the West-activists. Through their choice of campaign and the choice of which information to use, West-activists launch a campaign with a predetermined motive. Other-activists will be well aware of this predetermined motive and they will thus modulate the information they receive from the victim-base to suit the requirements of the West-activists before passing it onto them.

Example-1: The campaign on the child soldiers in the LTTE
In May 2009 the war between the Sri Lankan government forces and the Tamil liberation movement, the LTTE, came to end with the destruction of the Tamil liberation movement in the Tamil homeland. Since then the Tamil’s plight has seen some exposure in the international circles through the campaigns of the West-activists. This same plight which existed for six decades was carefully covered up in the international circles prior to the destruction of the LTTE when it remained as a force to be reckoned. This plight of the Tamils is a long series of violations including: repeated and well planned pogroms, extrajudicial killings, disappearances, rape and other sexual violence, forced evictions, land confiscations, and planned demographic changes. Yet, what was the violation that the West-activists chose for their human rights campaign prior to the destruction of the LTTE. It was indeed the child soldier recruitment by the LTTE. No other campaign by the West-activists about the Tamil plight was run as vigorously as this one. This shows the power in the “choice of campaign” that the West-activist can exert to distort the reality of the victim-base.

It is indeed very revealing to study the social phenomenon of the child soldier in the LTTE and observe the “choice of information” about this that was exercised by the West-activists in conducting this campaign. This highly emotive campaign on child-soldiers is based on an international legal premise that remains confusing1. The minimum age of recruitment into combat forces has remained fifteen as declared in the Geneva Conventions of the 1940’s as well as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Child that became effective in 1990. Only in the year 2000 an Optional Protocol was added to the UN Convention on the Rights of Child, which raised the age of recruitment into non-state armed actors to 18. The vast majority of the audience of the campaign on child soldiers are unaware of this confusing legal premise on which the campaign is based. The West-activists choice of information for this campaign carefully covered up this essential truth.

With respect to the specific case of child soldiers within the LTTE, the campaigners also covered up the fact that the LTTE’s growth was during a period when the legal age of recruitment into combat forces remained 15. By the year 2000 when the above mentioned Optional protocol was declared the LTTE was a matured organization which signed an internationally brokered ceasefire two years later in 2002.

A further “choice of information” is practiced by the west-activists by ignoring the social dimensions of the child soldier phenomenon. This issue can be phrased follows2:
“What was happening was not a specifically child soldier phenomenon. It was the phenomenon of recruitment by the LTTE with a triangular set of forces acting at its innermost level: the LTTE with its appetite for recruitment, the young person with idealism and other conflicting pulls, and the family, who feels a sense of loss when one of their young members joins the LTTE.”


Thus the parents of children who join the LTTE voluntarily would never accept that their child joined voluntarily and would insist that their child was forced to join. During the 80’s and 90’s even prior to the UN Optional Protocol on Children in Armed Conflict, children younger than 15 who came to the LTTE were educated in schools run by the LTTE and were not used in combat. The families were free to take away their children who had joined the LTTE provided the child went willingly with his/her family. These and many other societal factors around the child soldier issue were discarded by the West-activists.

Example-2: Sexualised violence against Tamil women
In 1979, three decades after the emergence of the UN and its Covenant on Human Rights, UN adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Since its adoption, awareness of inequality between men and women has seen a sharp increase around the world. Sadly this has not seen a comparable reduction in the actual inequality between men and women. Being a multifaceted complex subject the inequality discourse cannot provide a topic for the intensively emotional campaigns typically carried out by the West-activists. A trend in the last few years has been to focus more specifically on the “sexualised violence” against women.

As part of the West-activists campaign against the Sri Lankan government the sexualised violence against Tamil women had been taken up very vigorously3. There are two main interesting features to this campaign on sexualised violence against Tamil women. Sexualised violence against Tamil women by the Sri Lankan military was going on for decades and it had started as far back as in the 1958 pogrom against Tamils. It spiked during the 80’s and 90’s. As noted earlier during this earlier phase while LTTE remained a force to be reckoned with, it was the child soldier issue with the LTTE that was chosen by the West-activists for their campaign while the sexualised violence against Tamil women was ignored for decades.

In the post-2009 era, the West-activists have selected sexualised violence as their chosen topic. Having made the choice for the campaign, their choice of information about this topic to be used in their campaign is also revealing. Most of their reporting in addition to blaming the Sri Lankan military, is careful to also place the blame on Tamil men for the sexualised violence against Tamil women. The West-activists while taking care to place blame on Tamil men are even more careful not to expose the achievements of women under the LTTE. The following are facts that will not be denied by the West-activists but they will also never use it in their campaign. Under the LTTE administration:

  1. Rape and sexualised violence was extremely rare.
  2. Prostitution did not exist.
  3. Single mothers were given support through child care, schooling, and employment
  4. Men and women were active in the public sphere in equal numbers.


The West-activists manage to get their head around this anomaly by explaining that whatever women gain as carriers of arms will not be lasting. Under LTTE even civilian women enjoyed security. They formed an essential core that is needed to spread the effects of their achievements further. Readers should reflect on why the West-activists turn their heads away from these truths. Will Tamil women achieve security through the campaigns of the West-activists and Other-activists or through the efforts of good men and women from the Victim-base which these specialist activists have sabotaged?

Concluding remarks
This article began with the question on why the human rights campaigns by the West-activists over several decades had failed to produce real improvements in the human rights situation of the Victim-base. It then used two examples from the situation of the Tamils in the island of Sri Lanka to throw some light into the deficiencies inherent in the campaigns run by West-activists.

These days it is harder to entrap the Audience by emotional campaigns based on human-rights violations. Through 60 years of experience the Audience have become aware of its abuse by the West-activists. Thus sexualised violence is currently the preferred subject for the West-activists. For now the Audience appear willing to be entrapped by it. The recent Global Summit on Sexual Violence in Conflicts sponsored by the UK government is part of this latest era. Which Victim-base in which phase of their struggle was given priority in this summit is best used as an educational tool about the West agenda.

Similarly, the 2013 UN report on “Why Do Some Men Use Violence Against Women” about women in Asia is disconcerting in the light of the above discussion. Why did this report focus on Asia? Is the situation in the West that much better4? Is it not the case that the situation described in the report is really universal. Also, the progress in women security achieved through liberation movements in Asia are more substantive than any that was achieved or could be achieved by the campaigns of the West-activists. Yet, why do they ignore the former and focus only on the latter?

Is it because it gives the West-activists and by implication those in the West in general the moral high ground to look down upon the “others”?




1 Convention on the Rights of the Child

2 A Fleeting Moment in My Country, N Malathy, Clarity Press-USA, 2012

3 Partial list of reports on sexualised violence against Tamil women
  1. Sri Lanka: Women’s Insecurity in the North and East, ICG report on Dec 2011
  2. Living with insecurity: Marginalization and sexual violence against women in north and east Sri Lanka , MGR reprt Oct 2013
  3. Women and children in the North: Sexual harassment, grievances and challenges , Groundviews - Oct 2013
  4. Abuse, marginalization of war-affected women in Sri Lanka’s north, IRIN News
  5. Sri Lanka: Rape of Tamil Detainees, HRW - report Feb 2013
  6. Sri Lanka: Rape of Tamil Detainees , HRW Youtube
  7. How Sexualized Violence Is Used as a Weapon of War - Sri Lanka , Women Under Seige July 2013
  8. Women Battle On After Lanka War , IPS News - Nov 2013
  9. Tamils still being raped and tortured' in Sri Lanka


4Sexual assault statistics in Colleges in the USA


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