Feature Article

UK not prepared to push for ICC option in new UNHRC Resolution

[TamilNet, Friday, 19 February 2021, 14:02 GMT]
The South Asia Department of the Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office of the UK has stated that it still believed that the UNHRC framework is “the best way” to establish the truth and achieve justice and lasting reconciliation for “all communities in Sri Lanka”. The Tamil organisations demanded both ICC referral and investigations on genocide in their letters to the British Foreign Secretary. However, the FCO was dodging any reference to genocide in its reply. On the ICC option, it said: “The ICC could only exercise jurisdiction if the situation is referred to it by a UN Security Council Resolution, or if Sri Lanka accepts the Court’s jurisdiction. Our assessment is that this step would not have the support of the required Security Council members and that it would not advance the cause of accountability for an ICC referral to fail to win Security Council support or to be vetoed.”

British reply on genocide investigation and ICC referral
Reply from UK to Tamil organisations in UK that urged genocide investigation as well as ICC referral
The Tamil organisations that received the reply are silent without reacting against the continuing injustices committed by the “Core Group on Sri Lanka”.

However, an activist forwarded the reply to TamilNet for the edification of the wider audience.

The strategic powers in London, Washington DC, and New Delhi are only interested in bringing Colombo under their strategic fold according to their “Indo-Pacific” interests.

The Eezham Tamils have long witnessed the interest-based approaches of these powers for decades. However, their organisations still succumb to London’s manipulations and the “back-door” designs of New Delhi.

Despite China’s “Belt and Road Initiative” gaining prominence in the region since 2013, the Western and Indian outlook continues to be the same.

The proxy advisors of these powers have been prodding Tamils to wage a “Gandhiyan-style” protest against the Sri Lankan State.

That mode of protest against the SL State was a futile exercise against the genocidal state as far as the Eezham Tamils were concerned.

But, it is time for Eezham Tamils to consider Gandhiyan-mode of struggle against the historical and geopolitical injustices committed by the same powers, mainly the UK, commented the activist who forwarded the FCO reply to TamilNet.

The activist maintained that the “Core Group on Sri Lanka” was engaged in sophisticated genocide denial.

Currently, the “Core Group” consists of six countries, Canada, Germany, North Macedonia, Malawi, Montenegro and the UK. Three of these countries, Germany, Malawi and the UK, have direct representation at the forty-sixth session of the UNHRC.

* * *

Eezham Tamils have been demanding the UK and the other UN Member States to make a specific reference in their UNHRC resolutions to investigate the protracted genocide inflicted upon Eelam Tamils since 1956 in the Dominion of Ceylon (1948-1972) and later the Republic of Sri Lanka since 1972.

In 1947, the British introduced the Constitution continuing the centralised and unitary government structure, which had existed in the crown colony of Ceylon since 1833. The centralisation was done amidst sharp opposition from Tamils, who were seeking balanced representation and parity of status to avoid future discrimination.

Even the few Tamil leaders, who succumbed to the British and the Sinhala leaders’ designs, did it so primarily because the British-produced Constitution contained a protective clause [Section 29(2)]. The Soulbury Constitution also provided recourse to the Privy Council if the Constitution’s protections were violated. The Privy Council and the British Crown were thus the guardians of this covenant.

However, the successive governments in Sri Lanka systematically violated Section 29 of the Constitution. The Citizenship Laws (1948 and 1949) and the Official Language Act of 1956 (among many other Acts) were express violations of the UK drafted Constitution of Ceylon.

The Privy Council also made a specific reference in a 1963 ruling that Section 29 represented the “solemn balance of rights between the citizens of Ceylon”.

“There follow (b), (c) and (d) which set out further entrenched religious and racial matters, which shall not be the subject of legislation,” the ruling stated (Privy Council Appeal No. 20 of 1963).

The Privy Council ruling made it clear that Section 29 could not be amended even with a two-thirds majority.

Again, in 1969, when S. Kodeeswaran (a Tamil) appealed to the Privy Council, it set aside the Ceylon Supreme Court’s decision and directed the Ceylon Court to rule on the constitutional question (Privy Council Appeal No. 38 of 1968).

Kodeeswaran’s case never came before the Ceylon Supreme Court again. Instead, Mrs Bandaranaike’s government, which came to power in 1970, nullified appeals to the Privy Council (Act No.44 of 1971).

With the unlawful enactment of the so-called Republican Constitution, Colombo entirely abolished Section 29 in 1972.

The United Kingdom not only failed to intervene to protect the rule of law when these events occurred, but it assisted the genocidal state in its war against the Tamils up to 2009.

The role played by the UK in the Tokyo Co-chair group before 2009 and its Core-group role in the UNHRC after 2009 need careful perusal.

The Tamil groups that remain silent about this injustice by the UK are equally obnoxious as India’s “back-door” collaborators.

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