On February Tenth, Sri Lanka’s Northern Provincial Council passed a resolution accusing subsequent governments in the nation of committing ‘genocide’ against the native Tamils. The Colombo leadership has thus far not condoned the resolution, especially since it has been involving multiple external countries in hopes to gain international support ahead of the U.N. Human Rights Council gathering in Geneva. The resolution was moved by Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran with the intent to deliver, “an overview of the evidence demonstrating successive Sri Lankan governments’ genocide against Tamils”. It appealed to the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights for the examination of the claim and hope for a reciprocated action. The eleven page document included and exemplified episodes of violence, persecution, and oppression in Sri Lankan history, especially considering the controversial Sinhala Only Act of 1956. In culmination, these acts have, according to U.N. estimates, claimed 40, 000 civilian lives. Health Minister and Cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said President Maithripala Sirisena had promised to initiate an internationally approved, domestic inquiry process saying, “This is a period of reconciliation, and both sides should engage constructively, rejecting extremism”. He says that although the Northern Provincial Council may be justified in raising concern over alleged war crimes, “they cannot call it genocide,” and that, “Choosing confrontational ways will hamper forward movement on the issue.” To complicate the dilemma, most of the issue, as the article articulates, is driven by the lack of representation of all parties and native ethnicities, pointing to apparent differences within the main political party representing the island’s northern Tamils versus the contrasting parties.
This article shows how often Genocide is committed on a domestic basis in order to establish a “pure race” nation or due to the possible discrimination and prosecution embedded in leadership. It is evident that in Sri Lanka, there is a power struggle between the two native peoples, the Tamils and the Sinhalese. Genocide is defined differently throughout languages in cultures, simply from the socially constructed association it suggests. I think once comparing this article to my previous blog, it shows how Genocide as a term may be used interchangeable as a way of describing War Crimes, no matter how accurate the description or association may be.
February 13, 2015