UN system owes Sri Lankan Tamils remedial justice

January 12, 2017 OPINION/NEWS

AFP photo



Kumarathasan Rasingam


“In the end, it comes down to values, as was said so many times today. We want the world our children inherit to be defined by the values enshrined in the UN Charter: peace, justice, respect, human rights, tolerance and solidarity.”  –  António Guterres – New UN Secretary General.


It is very sad that the United Nations an international institution particularly was initiated to protect the civilians during conflicts and other matters affecting the civilians, failing its duty by ignoring the genocide in Sri Lanka. The UN failed in stopping the genocide in Rwanda and other countries and lately in Sri Lanka.

Where we’ve said ‘Never again!’ before: Halabja 1988, Rwanda 1994, Srebrenica 1995, Grozny 1999, Sri Lanka 2009.

How many never again to follow?


Once again, the Tamil people have been left alone to seek truth and justice. They are daunted by the task ahead but they do not despair. You can kill thousands of people, but you can never kill the human spirit.




It is high time for the UN to right its wrongs


Sri Lankan Governments since independence from the British in 1948 signed pacts with Tamil leaders that were never implemented:

1. On 24 March 1965, PM Dudley Senanayake signed a pact with the Tamil Leader S.J.V. Chelvanayakam promising to redress Tamil grievances, in return for Tamil support for the PM’s party to form the government. Most provisions in the pact were not implemented, and the Tamil leadership withdrew their support for the government.

2. On 25 July 1958 an agreement was signed between the PM S.W.R.D.Bandaranaike and the Tamil leader S.J.V. Chelvanayakam. In April 1958 Mr. Bandaranaike, under pressure from extremist Buddhist monks, unilaterally abrogated the pact.

3. The present government is trying its delaying tactics as usual in implementing the UNHRC recommendations fully, denying a federal system of government, unwilling to engage foreign judges and foreign involvement in the war crime investigation. It is very clear that Tamils will never get justice from the politicized judicial system viewing the latest verdicts regarding the killing of Tamil Parliamentarian and human rights activist Nadarajah Raviraj.



Under the above circumstances:

The UN can urge Sri Lanka to find a just and durable political solution to the Tamils in the North and East of Sri Lanka under a Federal System of Government with the right of self-determination. Failing which, the UN must take action to conduct a referendum in the North and East of Sri Lanka to get the people’s voice regarding their future; – [either they prefer unitary system, federal system or separation].


Tamils have waited too long for justice. Justice delayed is justice denied.

Secretary-General’s Internal Review Panel on United Nations Action in Sri Lanka


The Secretary-General’s Internal Review Panel (IRP) on United Nations Action in Sri Lanka or Independent Review Panel on Sri Lanka is an internal United Nations review panel headed by Charles Petrie. The Panel produced a report (Internal Review Panel Report or Petrie report) that describes a “systemic failure” of the United Nations’ action during the final stages of the Sri Lankan Civil War including the withdrawal of UN staff in September 2008 which removed the ‘protection by presence’ capacity of the United Nations, shortly before months of intense armed conflict that left tens of thousands of dead. The report suggested that more than 70,000 people may have been killed during the last 6 months of the conflict. The report concludes with a series of recommendations on how the United Nations can strengthen its protection of human rights in similar situations in the future. The report was presented to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon.


Charles Petrie Report

UN Action in Sri Lanka released November 14th, 2012. This internal review, undertaken by Charles Petrie, reveals UN involvement in Sri Lanka to be a “grave failure” in preventing the mass atrocities that occurred at the end of the civil war in 2009.


Book: Sri Lanka’s Secrets: by Trevor Grant – Forwarded by Geoffrey Robertson QC
Page 266 Last page

The brazen post-war triumphalism of the Sri Lankan Government makes reconciliation one of these fictional notions inked on UN documents that have little credibility in the real world.

To their eternal shame, political leaders around the world have wilfully turned away from genocide, just fifteen years after Rwanda and saying it must never happen again. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, appreciates this sentiment, having listened to four years of gut-wrenching evidence of genocide as president of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda between 1999-2003.Significantly, she said ten years later: ‘Rwanda’s lessons were not implemented in Sri Lanka.’



The War the United Nations lost

Book:  Still counting the dead by Francis Harrison

Page 13:  ‘I was so disgusted. The whole system failed. It wasn’t only the UN, but the whole international community. Tens of thousands of civilians were slaughtered by the Sri Lankan government and the world just moved on. It just passed us by.’  -UN aid worker.


Book:  The Cage:  by Gordon Weiss:  Chapter Six: Inside the cage

Pages 125 – 126 “The UN’s public position appeared muted and equivocal to the outside world. The Secretary General’s style of quiet diplomacy on Sri Lanka struck observers as a blow to international good order, at a time when the world seemed ‘ravaged by international economic, environmental and security problems, which cry out for multilateral solutions.’ Newspaper headlines decried ‘the UN’s Invisible Man and said of him “whereabouts Unknown’. The most damaging assessment, was a leaked memo from Norway’s deputy UN ambassador, Mona Juul, who accused Ban of being a ‘powerless observer’ to the humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka whose ‘passive and not very committed appeals seem to fell on deaf ears’.




Report of the Secretary-General’s Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka


Findings: Executive Summary

Page ii – last para
“The Government systematically shelled hospitals in the frontline. All hospitals in the Vanni were hit by mortars and artillery, some of them hit repeatedly”.

Page iii  1st para;
‘deprived people in the conflict zone of humanitarian aid in the form of food and medical supplies.”

Page 49:   1  Conclusion  No 176
“The Panel’s account of the allegations associated with final stages of war thus reveal five core categories of potential serious violations committed by the Government of Sri Lanka.

[a] Killing of civilians through widespread shelling
[b] Shelling of hospitals and other humanitarian objects.
[c] Denial of humanitarian assistance
[d] Human rights violations suffered by victims and survivors of the conflict.
[E] Human rights violations outside the conflict zone. The Government sought to intimidate and silence the media and other critics through a variety of threats, including the white vans to abduct and make people disappear.”


Torture and Sexual Violence in Sri Lanka 2009—2014 by Yasmin Sooka, the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales (BHRC) and the International Truth & Justice Project, Sri Lanka.


Conclusions  Page 108:

Sri Lanka has legal institutions, laws, and mechanisms that are capable of leading to the investigation and prosecution of members of the security forces who have and continue, with impunity, to abduct, torture and sexually abuse the country’s citizens. However, the existence of the Emergency Regulations and the Prevention of Terrorism Act, and a failure and general unwillingness to use existing mechanisms to investigate and prosecute, lead to the creation of a culture of impunity.

Continuing violations since the end of the civil war are part of a pattern of widespread and systematic conduct directed against an identifiable segment of (the Tamil) population, so as to amount to crimes against humanity. The failure to investigate and punish perpetrators is not a matter of lack of political will. Because of the widespread and systematic nature of the allegations and the repeated failure of the Government of Sri Lanka to take adequate steps to prevent the continuation or repetition of these violations or to investigate properly and bring the perpetrators to justice, the only reasonable inference is that the highest levels of the Government of Sri Lanka are complicit in these abuses and the climate of impunity that has been created.

Another domestic Commission of Inquiry would only obstruct international processes which would offer realistic potential of bringing perpetrators of torture and sexual violence in state custody, and those ordering these crimes, to account, thus deterring a repetition of such violations in the future.


The UN officials knew the death toll was over 70,000 but downplayed and told diplomats that the death toll was 2683 –



UN ‘failed Sri Lanka civilians‘, says internal probe.

The United Nations failed in its mandate to protect civilians in the last months of Sri Lanka’s bloody civil war, a leaked draft of a highly critical internal UN report says.

Events in Sri Lanka mark a grave failure of the UN to adequately respond… during the final stages of the conflict and its aftermath, to the detriment of hundreds of thousands of civilians UN internal review panel

I fear this report will show the UN has not lived up to the standards we expect of it and has not behaved as the moral conscience of the world Edward Mortimer, Former senior UN official.


In Colombo, many senior UN staff did not perceive the prevention of killing of civilians as their responsibility – UN internal review panel.


68 years after the Independence from the British in 1948 – the result:


More than 150,000 Tamils killed and disappeared

More than 30,000 Tamil orphaned children

More than 45,000 Tamil widows

Hundreds of thousands of houses, schools, hospitals, Temples, Churches, villages destroyed.

The unwanted destruction of these buildings and human sacrifice, the sufferings, pain, agony cannot be explained in words.

More than 600,000 Tamils internal refugees suffered in cramped and unhygienic camps.

More than one Million Tamils made to flee the country.



Pogroms and injustice against the Tamils in Sri Lanka since independence in 1948.


1958  – The Story of the Ceylon Race Riots  – The Story of the Ceylon riots “Emergency “58
Page 11 – the Background:  “ In May and June 1958, the Island of Ceylon, the peaceful
tea garden, burst into flaming headlines in the world’s press. ‘Seven thousand Britons
ordered to quit Ceylon’, hundreds Killed in Race-Riots”

Page 117 – Conclusion: “the terror and the hate that the people of Ceylon experienced
in May and June 1958 were the outcome of that fundamental error. What are we left
with? A nation in ruins, some grim lessons which we cannot afford to forget and a
momentous question: Have the Sinhalese and Tamils reached the parting of ways.”

1977 – The 1977 anti-Tamil pogrom in Sri Lanka followed the 1977 general elections in Sri Lanka where the Sri Lankan Tamil nationalistic Tamil United Liberation Front won a plurality of minority Sri Lankan Tamil votes in which it stood for secession. Around 300 Tamils were killed in the riots and thousands of Leftists were driven from their homes. The massacres were initiated and actively backed by the Sri Lankan government in power.

1983 – State sponsored pogroms against the Tamils – Tamils were targeted and all over the Island and their properties looted and burnt: The President of Sri Lanka J.R.Jayawardene said, “The more you put pressure in the north, the happier the Sinhala people will be here. Really, if I starve the Tamils out, the Sinhala people will be happy.”

President J.R.Jayawardene, Interview with Ian Ward July 26th Daily Telegraph, July 1983
 – this utterance clearly shows the mindset of Sinhalese leaders since Independence in 1948.


Book: Black July ’83 : By I. T. Sampanthan;- Indictment – 25th Year Memories of Sri Lankan Historic Racial Riots of July 1983 – page 277

“I echo this sentiment and support a solution that grants a level of Autonomy to Ethnic Minorities like the Tamils. We have seen very similar successful situations throughout the world. Places like Quebec in Canada, Wales and Scotland in Great Briton are all part of their Federal Nations but have significant Autonomy:” [September 2006]
-Frank Pallone – US congress Parliamentarian.









Kumarathasan Rasingam


Kumarathasan Rasingam

Kumarathasan Rasingam, a Human Rights activist and former President of the Tamil Canadian Elders for Human Rights Organization, migrated to Canada from Sri Lanka in April 2011.

1 Comment

  1. Sivanadian Jeeva January 12, at 22:24

    “O SON OF JUSTICE! Whither can a lover go but to the land of his…” O SON OF JUSTICE! Whither can a lover go but to the land of his beloved? and what seeker findeth rest away from his heart’s desire? To the true lover reunion is life, and separation is death. His breast is void of patience and his heart hath no peace. A myriad lives he would forsake to hasten to the abode of his beloved...


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