Some diaspora organisations are hailing the recent UNHRC resolution as a great step forward for Tamils. However, the resolution only calls on the Sri Lankan government to conduct an “independent and credible investigation into allegations of violations of international human rights law”.
This is not the first time the UN has passed a resolution regarding war crimes and human rights violations. For example, more than 50 resolutions have been passed by the UN against the Israeli state’s occupation of Palestinian land. Have the Palestinians got anything out of those resolutions?
Another UN resolution calls for a referendum in Kashmir – originally promised in 1948. Yet Kashmiris are still waiting for their national rights to be respected, and gross human rights violations are still taking place to this day.
At the end of the day, institutions like the UN are tools of the major powers – the most dominant one being the US – and represent their interests. These same governments provided weapons, intelligence, and military training to the Sri Lankan armed forces, which they used in their slaughter of the Tamils. Those governments and the UN did nothing while the genocide took place right in front of them.
Suddenly, they are telling us that they now want to defend human rights. The reality is very different – and it will not take long before people realise that this resolution is not going to solve the Tamil people’s problems. All the UNHRC resolution does, in effect is encourage the government of Sri Lanka to implement the 13th Amendment – which allows for only very limited rights through the provisional councils. Clearly, this is nowhere near enough for the Tamil people who continue to be oppressed by Mahinda Rajapaksa’s brutal regime.
To exaggerate the importance of this resolution can only undermine the struggle for Tamil self-determination. We have had enough experience of what this kind of UN resolution is worth.
Even though it does not go very far, the Sri Lankan regime has said it will not accept the resolution. So what will the UN do about that? With the US administration lead other governments to pressure Rajapaksa to accept an international investigation. Will the US, Britain and the other governments which voted for the resolution take on the states of China, India and Russia? The answer to those is in the negative.
These major powers play hide-and-seek games with the lives of thousands. And we should not have any illusions in them.
We need to reject that idea that the so-called ‘international community’ will conduct a genuine investigation into war crimes in Sri Lanka. It is an international community of governments, all of which were complicit in the slaughter of Tamils that took place. We will not get justice through their weak call for an investigation.
For any investigation to really get to the truth, it would need to be conducted by representatives accountable to the victims and oppressed communities, chosen by them and observed by international trade union and human rights organisations. They are the real allies of the oppressed Tamils – our genuine international community.
We also have to build our fight-back in solidarity with others who are also oppressed. Not by trying to make allies with oppressive governments and their agencies.
The British government’s hand has been forced by the growing anger and pressure of the Tamil community, and increasing documentary evidence, such as Channel 4’s No Fire Zone. But some Tamil organisations then fell into the trap of giving support to, or seeking alliances with, the Tory government of David Cameron. The Tamil Solidarity campaign has always warned against this Tory trap.
Cameron’s government continues to help the Sri Lankan state economically and militarily. It will not deliver justice for those in Britain or for the Tamils in Sri Lanka.
It is our fight-back on the ground which has forced the Tories to pretend they are doing something. So we must continue the struggle, linking our demand for justice to a political solution that addresses the national aspirations of the Tamils.