Tamils suffer social exclusion


IDP-Cheddikulam_Manik_Farmprotocol of speech by member of parliament/parliamentary faction of DIE LINKE, Katrin Werner, 28.2.2013

It is good that we are discussing the current situation in Sri Lanka today and the colleagues of the social democratic party presented a motion on this. After the military victory of the Sri Lankan army over the Tamil rebels in spring 2009 public attention for the country has markedly decreased. The central government has militarily won the armed conflict lasting decades, but its solution is nowhere near. For this the causes had to be resolved. The cornerstone of the conflict was laid by the former colonial power Great Britain by manipulating the administrative drawing of borders under ethno-demografic aspects and economically privileging the Tamil minority against the Singhalese majority. By this the Tamil population could after decolonising Sri Lanka easily be stigmatised as perceived opponent of national independence and state unity. This justification served the Sri Lankan government for massive oppression measures and state-guided pogroms of the Tamil civil population. As a reaction armed Tamil resistance in the form of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, LTTE formed, having at its command a mass basis by which the military de-facto decession of Tamil territories of Sri Lanka could be accomplished.

The question of cause and effect can thus be answered clearly: The Sri Lankan government pointedly ethnicised this basically socio-economic distributional conflict to incite a war between population groups. The civil war came in handy for the Singhalese elites because it offered them the opportunity to shamelessly enrich themselves with the help of authoritarian methods of exercising power inwardly at the expense of the population and to abuse the Tamils as scapegoats. During the decades-long civil war on both sides serious violations of human rights were committed. According to UN and international human rights organisations the methods of warfare of both conflicting parties further brutalized during the closing phase of the civil war: Sri-Lankan military in cooperation with Singhalese paramilitary and death squats killed a high number of Tamil civilians  and performed extralegal executions of war prisoners, attacked hospitals, schools and other civil facilities and denied humanitarian aid to a suffering and traumatised civilian population.

These are without doubt serious war crimes. The LTTE for their part abused civilians as human shields, actively prevented escape attempts of the civilian population with draconic penalties as death by firing squad and recruited child soldiers by force despite an unpromising military situation. If we today discuss about the necessary reconciliation processes between Singhalese and Tamils we consequently always have to keep in mind that one has to come to terms with those terrible war events while the political and societal circumstances in Sri Lanka have to change fundamentally as well. The current human rights situation is dramatic: politically motivated contract kill and the dispersing of regime critics are daily fare. Only recently even the High Judge of Sri Lanka, Shirani Bandaranayake, was removed from office because she had suspended two motions of the government due to unconstitutionality. This example shows that in reality the division of powers is suspended in favour of the executive.

Defenders of human rights, especially campaigning for the rights of the Tamil population most times are wholesale accused of supporting seperatism and propaganda for the defeated former rebel army LTTE. In the Tamil areas of settlement the Sri Lankan government purposefully settles Singhalese military members in a high extent to overturn ethno-demographic majorities in near future. For Tamils by contrast there nearly exist any employment possibilities. It is especially hard for female Tamils who lost their husbands and sons during the war. They suffer immensely from social exclusion, often being forced to prositute themselves owing to poverty. Many of them work as sex slaves for Singhales soldiers out of mere necessity, thus hoping to get access to essential goods like food. A public accounting for the war crimes has not taken place so far. The Sri Lankan government vehemently resisted the installation of an independent UN investigative commission and instead as a token found its own commission which expectably brought to light only such findings after which exclusively the Tamil side has to bear the blame for committed human rights violations. Against this background the imminent screening procedure of the UN Human Rights Council is an appropriate tool on international level to point to the mentioned abuses and to demand improvements. The motion of the SPD (social democratic party) appropriately describes the current situation in the assessing part and its claims find our support. Since DIE LINKE alsways decides in the matter, we approve of the motion.

We would have been delighted if the SPD had itself reciprocally acted similarly constructive regarding our motion on Sri Lanka. The topic of human rights violations is far too serious as to play tactical party games at the back of the people concerned. (LNW)