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Community's Silence is Aiding Genocide of Tamils In Sri Lanka - AFTA

Thursday, 08 January 2009

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Australasian Federation of Tamil Associations (AFTA), the peak body representing the Tamil Australians of Sri Lankan descent, is shocked and dismayed by the absolute silence maintained by the International Community, about the Genocidal military onslaught carried out by the Sri Lankan security forces against the Tamil people living in the Wanni region, in the north of the country.

AFTA has been continuously expressing its concerns about the unilateral decision taken in early 2008 by the Sri Lankan government to abrogate the ceasefire agreement it signed in 2002 with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the liberation movement fighting to re-establish the lost sovereignty of the Tamil People in Sri Lanka. AFTA also has been highlighting the Genocidal intent of the Sri Lankan administration to the International Community from the time the present Rajapaksa regime began its military operations to occupy the Tamil Homeland.

After occupying by force, first the Jaffna Peninsula and later the eastern parts of the Tamil Homeland inflicting heavy Tamil civilian casualties, property damage and creating hundreds of thousands of Internally Displaced People (IDPs), the Sri Lankan security forces began their occupation of the northern parts of the Tamil Homeland in late 2007. Because of the indiscriminate artillery and multi barrel shelling and aerial bombardment, more than 300,000 people were forced to flee the advancing army of occupation and become IDPs in their own homeland while thousands fled across the sea to nearby India. Some of the IDPs have been on the move for nearly a year now and have been living without permanent shelters, exposed to the heavy monsoon rains.

For the past 5 months, the Sri Lankan Security forces have been locked up in fierce battle with the LTTE forces to occupy the LTTE’s administrative nerve centre, the town of Kilinochchi, where diplomats have been meeting the leadership of the LTTE during the peace negotiations. After causing substantial damage to the infrastructure and after the civilians and LTTE forces had vacated the town, the Sri Lankan security forces have now occupied a ghost town. In the month of December alone, 9 civilians (including one child) were killed and 71 civilians (including 10 children) were injured due to aerial bombing (mainly with Russian made cluster bombs) and artillery shelling.

At the moment the whole population of the Wanni region affected by the current battles are confined to adjoining Mullaitheevu district and the security forces are claiming to be moving swiftly to occupy that district too. Aerial bombing is continuing and the Sri Lankan State has also imposed stringent economic, food and medical embargos on the war affected areas in the Wanni region where around 500,000 Tamils live now.

While the Sri Lankan government is keen on occupying the Tamil Homeland, it has not even suggested a political solution to satisfy the longstanding aspirations of the Tamils. The current Rajapaksa administration has been hoodwinking the International Community citing that an All Party Committee convened by the President would come up with a political solution. Tamil people have no faith in such committees which do not have any representation from the Tamil National Alliance or the LTTE. Latest reports suggest that this committee no longer meets.

AFTA, while appreciating the efforts of the International Community to bring about a ceasefire between the Israeli security forces and the Hamas fighters of the Gaza strip, including the attempt to pass a resolution at the UN Security Council, is disappointedand dismayed by the continued silence observed for months now by the International community regarding what is happening in the Tamil Homeland of Sri Lanka. AFTA
is particularly concerned by the silence maintained by the so called Co-Chairs to the Sri Lankan peace process, namely the US, EU, Norway and Japan.

AFTA is also shocked by the intransigent attitude shown by the Indian government even after the southern Tamil State of Tamil Nadu requested the Central government to enforce a ceasefire in Sri Lanka. AFTA is also concerned by the military assistance provided by some of these countries to the Sri Lankan security forces.

AFTA would like to point out that the Sri Lankan government which barred journalists and Non Governmental Organisations, including UN agencies from entering Wanni all this time to hide the human tragedy happening there from the International Community, citing security reasons, has taken journalists to Kilinochchi to announce to the world about their recent successful occupation of the place.

AFTA does not believe that this Rajapaksa administration, under these circumstances will be in a position to offer a reasonable political solution to satisfy the Tamil people’s aspirations. Therefore AFTA appeals to the International Community including the Co-chair countries, Australia and India to bring about a ceasefire immediately in Sri Lanka to prevent the human catastrophe waiting to happen in Wanni and to restore normalcy and persuade the Sri Lankan government to enter into peace negotiations with the LTTE to find a political solution that recognises the right to self-determination of the Tamil people.

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