The Mahinda Rajapaksa Government of Sri Lanka has announced victory against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eeelam and the end of the so called Eelam War IV and has claimed to have completely decimated the LTTE and
reunited the country. Independent observers have been pointing out that activities of the Sri Lankan Army, Air Force and the Navy in their use of indiscriminate fire power against a hapless civilian population caught between the military and the LTTE is in contravention of all international law and could potentially be considered as war crimes. Indeed, in the final phase several unarmed and surrendering officials of the LTTE were simply rounded up and killed. As though to cock a snook at all international law, the President has promoted the top brass of the armed forces to higher ranks. There have been repeated claims that it was the LTTE that was using `human shields’ and EU observers as well as President Obama of the USA had denounced such an action. Reports that the LTTE was using human shields were used to absolve the Sri Lankan Government and Armed Forces of their deliberate policy to continue the war despite the fact that civilian casualty count kept mounting. Therefore, there is likely to be significant merit in a case for filing charges of crimes against humanity against the architects of the war such as Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Sarath Fonseka and indeed Mahinda Rajapaksa.
For the Tamil people of Sri Lanka, this has proved to be a bitter season of war and destruction, with countless lives lost, limbs maimed, families orphaned. Also lost are the lives of hundreds of young soldiers of the Sri Lankan Armed Forces called upon to wage a fratricidal war to establish an unjust union based on the most dictatorial and chauvinistic basis. Several statements have cautiously emanated from the Governments of Big Powers all of which have a history of meddling in the affairs of Sri Lanka. Japan has promised aid to the Government to be directed at aid and rehabilitation in the North and the East.
The Indian Government having to pay attention to the sentiment of the people of Tamil Nadu has been relatively mute, while it is a fact that Mr. Rajapaksa has made visits to India during the height of the operations, and undoubtedly received diplomatic and logistical support from India. Reports say that Pakistan and China have been suppliers of arms to the Sri Lankan Armed Forces, while the leaders of the traditional Big Powers with a history of interference in the internal affairs of Sri Lanka, namely the UK and the USA have given tacit approval to the activities of the Rajapaksa Government. It is also a fact that it is precisely these powers that are likely to be the first to fix all these players on human rights violations and war crimes should the honeymoon period run out. All these features needs to be kept in mind while recognizing that Sri Lanka is a country of great strategic important in the Indian Ocean.
It is of great consequence to maritime trade and control of the seas. It is likely to be the epicentre of the collision of imperialist blocs led by the USA, China, India and Japan. The present period of jubilation will persist until each of these Big Powers tries to turn the impasse into its own favour. Such being the case, the people of the region must deliberate on the question of human rights in such an era. They must realize that the matter is too important to be left to their Governments which articulate only the interests of the strongest and richest sections of their respective countries. Whatever disasters these spell for the peoples of the countries is of least interest to them. The people of the region must work out a modern theory of human rights, which must begin with rejecting violence and war as a means of settling differences and disputes. The seeds of a new tomorrow will be sown only when a movement that affirms human rights based on modern definitions, which places at the centre the value of human life, takes birth. The negation of such definitions is at the heart of the disasters that have just visited Sri Lanka and will undoubtedly visit other lands unless urgent steps are taken right away.