"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
 
- Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

Home

 Whats New

Trans State Nation Tamil Eelam Beyond Tamil Nation Comments Search
Home > Truth is a Pathless Land > Selected Writings by Nadesan Satyendra  >


Selected Writings by Nadesan Satyendra
- நடேசன் சத்தியேந்திரா

The Cynicism of Real Politick

March 1994

''When governments pretend not to notice suffering, to whom can peoples.. turn for help? The United Nations? Alas, the deeper you delve, the redder the faces. The cynicism of realpolitik extends even to the UN Commission on Human Rights..." Amnesty International Advertisement, 12 March 1994


Arulappu Jude Arulrajah was arrested on 2 October 1993 at about 1.30 a.m. from his lodge at Bambalapitiya, Colombo by armed men in civilian dress.

Arulrajah was never told the reason for the detention nor was he brought before a court or accused of having committed any crime - because the only 'crime' that he had committed was that he was a Tamil. During most of the two months he was held at this first place of detention, Arulrajah was blindfolded, with his hands and feet chained and he was kept in a darkened room usually naked. He was regularly beaten and on one occasion he was hung from a wooden pole suspended between two tables and his genitals cut, possibly with a hacksaw.

Arulappu Jude Arulrajah was, ofcourse, not the only Tamil to suffer in this way at the hands of the Sri Lanka authorities. Amnesty reported last month that

''thousands of Tamils are being arrested every month in Colombo, most without any valid reason...The way in which people have been recently abducted in Colombo by army in civilian dress, blindfolded with their own shirts and taken away in unmarked vehicles to secret locations where they have been tortured is a particularly chilling echo of the past...''

But then again, recent events in Colombo are nothing new. As long ago as June 1983, Mr.Timothy J.Moore of the Australian Section of the International Commission of Jurists wrote:

''The author accepts that it is the almost universal practice of the (Sri Lanka) military authorities to physically assault and mistreat those persons who have been in their custody... (and) that this treatment is.. carried out on a systematic basis...''

Today, whilst Tamils in Colombo and other Sinhala areas are arbitrarily arrested and tortured, Sinhala forces who dare not set foot on the Tamil homeland in the North, have taken to the skies to rain terror on the Tamil people. Here again, there is no lack of reports and statements by Amnesty and other independent observers.

On 7 November 1990, Deanna Hodgin, a journalist from Insight Magazine wrote to Congressman Gus Yatron, Subcommittee on Human Rights, Washington:

''I attended a press conference where (Sri Lanka) Defence Minister Ranjan Wijeratne told the press that there had been no civilian casualties despite heavy bombing. When I volunteered that I had seen many bomb-blasted bodies, and many hundreds of people injured by helicopter strafing and more, the Defence Minister told me it was a pity I had not been shot. That's the mentality you are dealing with - human rights is not an idea with much currency for the Sri Lankan government. Quiet diplomacy is not an option for our policy in Sri Lanka...''

The British Refugee Council publication Sri Lanka Monitor commented in July 1993:

''Over 1,000 civilians have been killed in the three years bombing of Jaffna.. Daily life in Jaffna is conditioned by the distant drone of aircraft engines and the run to the bunkers behind almost every house. There were no warnings, no air-dropped leaflets announcing operations. Why should there be? After all no one is watching ... There will be no international protest or outcry''

This year on February 28 at the 50th Sessions of the UN Commission on Human Rights 18 Non Governmental Organisations including International Educational Development, Pax Romana, Centre Europe Tiers Monde, Survival International,and Organisation Mondiale Contra la Torture, declared in a joint statement:

''For the past ten years this Commission has heard hundreds of statements raising grave concern... During recent months the Sri Lanka government has intensified its indiscriminate aerial bombardment of the North of the Tamil homeland and the three year old economic blockade continues.''

Hundreds of reports by human rights organisations and hundreds of expressions of concern - but to what end? More reports and more expressions of grave concern?

Amnesty in a full page advertisement in the London based Guardian on 12 March 1994 commented on the cynicism of real politick in the context of East Timor - comments which are equally applicable to the situation of the Tamil people in the island of Sri Lanka:

''When governments pretend not to notice suffering, to whom can peoples.. turn for help?

The United Nations? Alas, the deeper you delve, the redder the faces. The cynicism of realpolitik extends even to the UN Commission on Human Rights...

When Amnesty attended the Commission in Geneva last month to urge action on Indonesia and East Timor, we met only embarrassment. The governments to which we spoke repeated what they have been promising us for thirty years: they will pursue a policy of 'quiet diplomacy'''

To Amnesty's question, to whom can a people turn when governments (around the world) pretend not to notice their suffering, Tamil Eelam leader Velupillai Pirabaharan provided the answer on Maha Veerar Naal in November 1993 when he said that they can only turn to themselves. His words bear repetition yet again:

''...we are fully aware that the world is not rotating on the axis of human justice. ...International relations and diplomacy between countries are determined by the self interest of each country. Therefore we cannot expect an immediate recognition of the legitimacy of our cause by the international community. But at the same time we must agitate for that recognition... In reality, the success of our struggle depends on our own efforts, on our own strength, on our own determination...''

And we are reminded of the late Sathasivam Krishnakumar, the charismatic intellectual and man of action of the LTTE, who sometimes quoted the words of his leader with a smile:

''You know, you can wake up someone who is asleep, but it is much more difficult to wake up someone who is pretending to be asleep.''

The Tamil people, by their untiring efforts, by their strength born from their suffering, and by their steadfast determination, can (and will) make it more and more difficult, for those who pretend not to see, to persist in their pretence with any degree of credibility. And there will come a time when the same real politik that renders some 'blind' today, will press upon them the need to 'wake up' to the justice of the Tamil cause.

0upS.gif (883 bytes)


Background

''Arulappu Jude Arulrajah was arrested on 2 October 1993 at about 1.30 a.m. from his lodge at Bambalapitiya, Colombo by armed men in civilian dress... Amnesty International interviewed him during a recent visit to Sri Lanka and collected evidence suggesting that he had been held in two unauthorised places of detention in Colombo until he was transferred to the custody of the CID on 15 December 1993.

It also found that he had been tortured and ill treated at his first place of detention which is thought to be an army camp by the sea, off Galle Road, Kollupitiya, Colombo. During most of the two months he was held at this first place of detention, Arulrajah was blindfolded, with his hands and feet chained and he was kept in a darkened room usually naked.

He was regularly beaten and on one occasion he was hung from a wooden pole suspended between two tables and his genitals cut, possibly with a hacksaw... Arulrajah was never told the reason for the detention nor was he brought before a court or accused of having committed any crime.''

''Amnesty International is calling for an end to secret and illegal detention of people in Sri Lanka. To date, the Government has not responded to reports received by Amnesty International that people have been held at a secret place of detention located by the sea off Galle Road, Kollupitiya, behind the Indian High Commission and the American Information Centre, thought to be an army camp. Nor has it responded to reports that he was tortured in military custody during his period of illegal detention.'' (Amnesty Report, ASA 37/13/94, February 1994)

Mail Us Copyright 1998/2007 All Rights Reserved Home