Forum against War Crimes and Genocide against Tamils in Sri Lanka

After the launch of the ‘Forum against War Crimes and Genocide’ (in response to the reports of war atrocities in Sri Lanka) on 2nd June of this year in Bangalore by various civil society organizations, human rights groups and political organizations (from Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and New Delhi), which includes the New Socialist Alternative (CWI – India), the Forum conducted a public meeting on 2nd July here on the topic of war crimes in Sri Lanka.

Speakers included eminent activists and intellectuals with a key note address by Dr. G Ramakrishna (a prominent left wing intellectual and political activist). Other speakers included Nagragare Ramesh (People’s democratic Front), Prof. Paul Newman (Bangalore University) presentation on war crimes and genocide investigation by the Permanent People’s Tribunal and the UN Experts Panel Report, Prof. Haragopal (Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee) on ‘Sri Lankan Model’ of State Oppression, Jagadish Chandra (New Socialist Alternative) on the historic struggle of Tamils in Sri Lanka, and Khalid Waseem (Kashmiri Rights Activist) on Kashmir and Eelam Nationality Struggle.

The meeting was preceded by the video screening of the recent Channel 4 documentary on “Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields”. In his key note address, G. Ramakrishna called for the immediate relief to be provided for the 300,000 odd Tamil refugees of the last Eelam war held under conditions resembling concentration camps. He also called for the prosecution of the perpetrators of the horrendous war crimes committed during the war.

Prof. Paul Newman made a power point presentation based around the report by the Permanent People’s Tribunal and the UN Experts Panel Report. Findings of the report clearly estimated the number of war casualties to anywhere between 100,000 to 140,000 as against the official estimation which ranges between 10,000 (Sri Lankan govt.) to 70,000 (Indian govt.).

Prof. Hargopal spoke on the link between the current model of development under capitalism and the war against Tamils in Sri Lanka. He characterized this as an example and lessons for people across the globe to take note on the lengths that governments were willing to go to eliminate a section of the population as a warning to others on meeting the same fate if they decide to rebel against the system.

Jagadish Chandra gave a brief summary on the history of Eelam struggle with different forces shaping the character of the struggle and also the common problems shared by the oppressed Tamils in the North and the Sinhala workers down South. He particularly lay emphasis on not merely making this an issue of Tamil refugees in Sri Lanka but also to take up the issue of Sri Lankan Tamil refugees back home (in Tamil Nadu) living under pathetic conditions. He also called upon putting the scanner on the role of Indian government in helping the Rajapakse government in Sri Lanka win the war by providing military as well as strategic support and also bringing to books all the war criminals in India aiding the Sri Lankan government in its war against the Tamils. Other speakers included Kashmiri rights activist Khalid Waseem who spoke on the commonality in the problems faced by Tamils in Sri Lanka and Kashmiris in India and Pakistan on the issues ofright to self determination and nationality question.

Anand Kumar