Sri Lanka guilty of Genocide - Prof. Sornarajah

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 24 March 2009, 11:20 GMT]
"Every indicia of genocide is satisfied by the conduct of successive Sri Lankan governments, the oppression accentuated in intensity by the present government which has unleashed immense terror through its armed forces on a people in the name of suppression of terrorism. The chauvinism of successive Sri Lankan governments since independence targeted the Tamil people for oppression. These acts supply the objective factors necessary for the satisfaction of the crime of genocide," says Professor Sornarajah, Pierre Genest Visiting Professor, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, Toronto, in a position statement released this week, adding "there is a duty incumbent on every state to ensure the protection of the Tamil people. It is important that this duty be taken seriously so that such scourges on humanity are not repeated elsewhere."

"The early discrimination was not violent but they set the prelude of hateful propaganda that was to lead to violence directed against the Tamils as a group targeted on the basis of their linguistic identity. The denial of citizenship to Indian Tamils, the establishment of Sinhalese as the only official language to the exclusion of Tamil, the making of Buddhism the state religion by the constitution are events that are the setting for the chauvinistic racial superiority that the Sri Lankan governments based their politics on," prof. Sornarajah adds.

Prof. Muthucumaraswamy Sornarajah
Prof. Muthucumaraswamy Sornarajah
On the objective element required to satisfy crime of genocide, Sornarajah states, "[u]nder the present government, this oppression has continued. Tamils have disappeared and then been found dead. These disappearances are widely attributed to government forces, for which the leaders of the state must bear command responsibility. Tamil schools, temples and churches have been destroyed by bombings, often with those present in them. Tamils have been rounded up and required to leave capital cities or been transported out of these cities. More recently, these acts have increased both in their atrocity as well as in their frequency with civilian targets being routinely bombed. Hospitals and schools have been destroyed in recent days. There is more than sufficient evidence which is available in great detail as to the objective criteria necessary to satisfy the charge of genocide.

"Equally, the subjective element is also easy to prove. The subjective element is usually inferred from the nature of the objective conduct. As such, the instances listed give rise to a clear inference that the subjective intention to commit genocide of the Tamils exists in the state of Sri Lanka and its leaders. But, in the case of Sri Lanka, since ethnic chauvinism has been the basis on which successive political leaders have kept themselves in power, there are several overt expressions of genocidal intention. These again is listed in the dossier that is compiled. A recent instance is the statement made in Canada by the army commander that Sri Lanka belongs to the Sinhalese and that other races may live in the island only at the tolerance of the Sinhalese. The record is replete with statements of a similar nature made by the leaders of the state," Sornarajah says on the subjective elements required to satisfy the crime of genocide.

Agreeing further with Professor Francis Boyle, Sornarajah states, "[i]n view of these circumstances, as the International Court of Justice declared in Bosnia v. Serbia, there is a duty incumbent on every state to ensure the protection of the Tamil people. It is important that this duty be taken seriously so that such scourges on humanity are not repeated elsewhere. More importantly, it is necessary to intercede and ensure that the genocide of the Tamil people ceases immediately."

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