Is this a precedent for Sri Lankan Tamils?
| by Pearl Thevanayagam
( 02 March 2012, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) Could the massacre of well over 100,000 Tamils and the cause of exodus of another 1.5 million Tamils in a population of 21 million to the four corners of the world in a short span of 30 years amount to eugenics and more precisely genocide?
Did the ruling Sinhala government commit genocide? Starting from the 1958 structural and systematic attempt by a newly emerging Sinhala power to exert its Sinhala Buddhist hegemony after a century and a half of being subjugated by British colonialism which favoured the minority Tamils in empowering them with administration and important positions in the government, the ruling parties strove to alienate the Tamils.
If genocide is not war crimes, then refusing to accept that it amounts to war crimes as passed by France’s legislature last month is bound to set the scene in EU that denying war crimes were committed, could send the accused countries to stand trial if its recent ruling is anything to go by.
Finally France has recognised that Turkey should make amends for the genocide of its 1.5 million Armenians who were massacred in 1915-1916 when the Ottoman empire split and that it amounted to genocide.
This could set a precedent to make countries which emerged from decades long conflict such as Sri Lanka which defeated militant terror with a heavy penalty of annihilating a good proportion of ethnic Tamils to stand trial and charge the perpetrators of these heinous crimes against its own ethnic populace with genocide.
A few days ago French President Nikolas Sarkozy ordered a new draft that genocide denial is intolerable and should therefore be punished. He has asked the government to prepare a new draft taking into account the decision of the Constitutional Council. Sarkozy’s new law is focussed on punishing denial of the Armenian genocide after a top court struck down a previous bill. The Constitutional Council earlier ruled the law backed by Mr Sarkozy infringed on freedom of expression.
The history of Armenian genocide is a parallel to the ethnic Tamils who are now dispersed to the four corners of the world while Sri Lanka is bent on cleansing the island of its minority albeit indigent Tamils to preserve its Sinhala Buddhist hegemony.
The bill, which covers the mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks during World War I, was passed by both houses of the French parliament. Turkey has welcomed the ruling and the the legislation had strained relations between the two countries.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the cabinet would meet to consider whether to restart economic, political and military contacts with France which were frozen after the French parliament passed the law on 23 January.
France’s Constitutional Council said in its ruling that “by punishing anyone contesting the existence of… crimes that legislators themselves recognised or qualified as such, legislators committed an unconstitutional attack on freedom of expression”.
France already recognises the killings as an act of genocide, but the new law would have meant that anyone denying it faced up to a year in jail and a maximum fine of 45,000 euros ($57,000).
Armenia says up to 1.5 million people died in 1915-16 as the Ottoman empire split. Turkey, which rejects the term “genocide”, has said the number of deaths was much smaller.
Defenders of the bill argued it covered all acts of genocide.
Armenians are considered the most dispersed people not unlike the Tamils who were time and again driven out of their homes and made to flee for their lives while their properties where plundered by the victors who were the Sri Lankan government defence forces.
As the saying goes, the woodpecker trying its beak on hardwood and failing got caught in the pliant papaya tree. Judgment day for the genocide of Tamils is not too far off.
(The writer is Asia Pacific Journalism Fellow at UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, California and a print journalist for 21 years. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)