Buddhism, Politics and the Limits of Law

The Pyrrhic Constitutionalism of Sri Lanka


AUTHOR: Benjamin Schonthal, University of Otago, New Zealand

DATE PUBLISHED: November 2016

ISBN: 9781107152236

LENGTH: 320 pages

Read the introduction at https://www.academia.edu/30783214/_Introduction_Buddhism_Politics_and_the_Limits_of_Law_

It is widely assumed that a well-designed and well-implemented constitution can help ensure religious harmony in modern states. Yet how correct is this assumption? Drawing on groundbreaking research from Sri Lanka, this book argues persuasively for another possibility: when it comes to religion, relying on constitutional law may not be helpful, but harmful; constitutional practice may give way to pyrrhic constitutionalism. Written in a lucid and direct style, and aimed at both specialists and non-specialists, Buddhism, Politics and the Limits of Law explains why constitutional law has deepened, rather than diminished, conflicts over religion in Sri Lanka. Examining the roles of Buddhist monks, civil society groups, political coalitions and more, the book provides the first extended study of the legal regulation of religion in Sri Lanka as well as the first book-length analysis of the intersections of Buddhism and contemporary constitutional law.

Reviews & endorsements

  • “There is nothing the study of law and religion needs more than deeply informed political and religious histories of postcolonial states and societies. This is exactly what this book offers. In an exhaustively researched legal ethnography of the treatment of religion in Sri Lankan constitutionalism, Benjamin Schonthal explores how Sri Lankans have wrestled with the tensions generated by a legal order that guarantees religious rights while also granting to the majority religion of Buddhism its ‘rightful place’. Is it possible for the state to protect a tradition without interfering in it? Who speaks for Buddhism in these debates? This sobering story of the limits of law is a must-read for scholars of religion and politics, Buddhist studies, and comparative constitutional law.”
  • Elizabeth Shakman Hurd, Professor of Political Science, Northwestern University, Illinois
  • “Based on field observation, interviews, and a host of multilingual documents that include court records, parliamentary debates, and media reports, this work is a rich and vivid contribution to the study of religion, law, and politics in Sri Lanka. Meticulous in its detail, and strikingly imaginative in its conception, the work shows how the top-down constitutionalist attempt to negotiate an inequality of religions alongside an equality of citizens has led to the accomplishment of neither, and, even worse, the stimulation of the very conflicts and disharmonies the constitutionalist effort was meant to adjudicate and resolve in the first place. The work also yields fresh perspectives on the idea of ‘the Buddhist State’, a concept that has a long history and ongoing importance, particularly today, in South and Southeast Asia.”
  • H. L. Seneviratne, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, University of Virginia and author of The Work of Kings: The New Buddhism in Sri Lanka
  • “Constitutions are supposed to resolve social and political cleavages, but can also exacerbate them. In this wonderfully rich and original study of Sri Lanka, Schonthal exposes how constitutional language provides new fuel for political conflict over religion, providing a cautionary tale. A great theoretical and empirical contribution to the literature on comparative constitutional law.”
  • Tom Ginsburg, Leo Spitz Professor of International Law and Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago

UN Told of Sri Lanka Military Operating “Rape Camps”

by Kithsiri Wijesinghe, Journalists for a Democratic Society, Germany, February 20, 2017

“A senior officer came into the room and was asked to take his pick, like we were meat in a meat market.  He looked around and chose me.  He took me to another room and raped me”

Shocking details of the Sri Lanka military holding women as sex slaves in rape camps have been handed over to the United Nations.

In a report made public on Monday (20),  International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP) quotes three female victims who charge of being detained alongside others for prolonged periods by the military and used as sexual slaves.

“Two of the women describe being detained in a group in one room, available for any soldier to come and chose from and take to an adjacent room or tent to be raped,” says ITJP.

“The third woman was kept in a cell alone in the pitch dark for 6 months but heard other women next door screaming.”

Camp in the capital

They had been held four distinct sites.

One near Vavuniya, one near Puttalam, one in Colombo itself and one outside Colombo but not in the North or East.

ITJP has submitted its findings to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which meets in Geneva with official delegates from  Sri Lanka this week.

The report also has documented other forms of torture including sexual violence allegedly committed by the military and police.

ITJP says that its submission is based on detailed testimony from 55 women describing torture and horrific sexual assaults while held in state custody.

Details of perpetrators

48 of the victims had been detained under the Government of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and 7 of them under the new Government of President Maithripala Sirisena.

ITJP has also provided details of six military men including a major and a leiutenant colonel who are alleged perpetrators of rape and torture in the military.

“When it meets on 22nd February in Geneva, we expect CEDAW to share this information with the Sri Lankan Government and request that they immediately suspend the six officers pending a credible investigation,” said ITJP’s Executive Director, Yasmin Sooka.

“This Government keep on asking us for the names and addresses of the victims; through CEDAW we are passing on information regarding alleged perpetrators so let’s see if the Government is really serious about justice. Our report sets out all the steps they should take; CEDAW can monitor their progress”.

However, impunity is systemic and entrenched in Sri Lanka as the government lacks the political will to bring these individuals to account says ITJP in its submission to CEDAW.

‘Only 18 incidents’ GoSL

Sri Lanka denies that its armed forces are engaged in systematic sexual violence.

It has told the UN that only 18 incidents of sexual violence by security forces  have been reported from the war affected region since 2007.

“During the conflict period (January 2007-May 2009), 7 Security Forces personnel were reported to have been involved in 12 incidents of sexual violence in North and East areas. In the post conflict period (May 2009-May 2012), 10 Security Forces personnel were reported to have been involved in 6 incidents of sexual violence in the North,”  says the government report to CEDAW.

However,  the report does not clarify whether any investigation has been conducted and the perpetrators have been punished.

Nevertheless, ITJP says that it has recorded ongoing sexual violence by Sri Lanka Armed forces as recent as 2016.

ITJP report here: ITJP Public-Submission-to-CEDAW-2017 Part 1

Other reports to CEDAW available at http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/SessionDetails1.aspx?SessionID=1071&Lang=en

Webcast of Feb. 22, 2017 at http://webtv.un.org/

Justice Denied to Survivors of the Kumarapuram Massacre

“His name is Kamaleswaran”

by Marisa de Silva, ‘Groundviews,’ Colombo, February 11, 2017

[more information at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kumarapuram_massacre]

“Shoot me but, please don’t kill my children,” pleaded Kanthappoody Kamaladevi with her arms outstretched over her head, just before she was shot dead outside her home in Kumarapuram, Killiveddy, by the Sri Lanka Army (SLA).

L-R (first row): Alakuthurai Parameshwari, Ananthan  Annamam, Arumaiththurau  Vallippillai, Arumaithura  Thanaledsumi, Kanthappodi  Kamalathevi 
L-R: (second row): Pakkiyarasa  Vasanthini, Ramajeyam  Kamaleshwaran, Rasenthiram Karunakaran, Sanmuganathan  Nithanthan, Sellaththurai  Pakkiyarasa
L-R: (third row): Sivakolunthu  Sinnaththurai, Vadivel  Nadarasa, Vinayagamoorthi  Suthakaran, Thangavel  Kalathevi, Kanagarasa  Subathirasa

February 11th, 2017, marks the 21st year commemoration of the brutal Kumarapuram massacre of 26 Tamil villagers, by army personnel belonging to the 58th and Dehiwatte Camps, and the Kiliveddy check point. Of those killed, six were women, five men and 13 children (below the age of 18). Also amongst those killed was 1 pregnant mother and a 15 year old girl, who was allegedly gang-raped by a group of army personnel before she was killed. Twenty six other villagers were also severely injured.

It was about 5pm on the 11th of February, 1996, when villagers had heard gun-shots approaching their homes in Kumarapuram. “At first we weren’t afraid, because at a meeting with the military a few days before, they had told us not to worry if we heard gun shots, that they were shooting at birds, so to just stay put, and that no harm would come to us,” said Kanthappoody Piraparani (36). When the shooting sounds had started to get closer, her mother had shouted to her to run inside their house, where other villagers too had sought refuge. When they had peeped through a crack in the wall, they had seen a large group of army personnel in uniform coming towards their home. When the army had shouted from outside their house for them to come outside, Piraparani’s mother had run out to try and save the lives of her children. After killing her mother, the army opened fire at their house and injured many of those inside, including a 1 year old infant.

“My husband had just returned from work, and I was preparing him tea, when a well-known army officer from the nearby camp by the name of Corporal Kapila, and another officer, called for my husband from outside our house. As my husband was a carpenter, Kapila would often come and get things repaired, or made by him, so we knew him well,” said Thankavel Maruthayi (71). When she went outside and asked them why they were calling for her husband, they shouted at her and opened fire at the house. Her husband who was inside, got shot and succumbed to his injuries about 15 days later whilst in hospital. Many others hiding in her house too were injured, whilst a father and 10 year old were also shot and killed on the spot, she recalled.

Arasaratham Nagarasa, a daily-wage earner, had returned from working on the fields, and gone for his bath near the 58thmile post, when he heard gun shots coming from his village. He had promptly run home and found his house full of other villagers. He was told later that there had been about 18 people taking shelter in his home. “We continued to hear gun-shots pelting down like rain, and so we were all terrified to step outside. Through a crack in the wall we saw four army personnel come towards our house. When they got to our house, they shouted from outside “para demalu[1][2], eliyata wareng!” (*expletive (refer footnote) Tamils, get out here now!”) When none of them went outside, the military shot through the house wall which was made of tin sheets. “A bullet went through my left eye and out the right. My neighbours tried to take me to the nearby dispensary, but, while going, we heard shooting again, so we ran into another nearby house. There I heard that my wife and son had been shot, but, as I was in and out of consciousness at the time, I didn’t fully understand what they were telling me,” he reminisced.

“I heard shooting from about 1km away, but, as we heard shooting often, I didn’t take too much notice at the time. When the sound of shooting seemed to be getting closer, I ran to a nearby house. The military came outside the house and shouted at us to come outside. When none of us did, they kicked open the door and opened fire on us. A woman was shot dead, my husband was shot in the stomach and another was badly injured. By the time they came back to check, we all lay motionless on the ground, so they would assume that we too were dead,” said Nadarasa Thavamani (50) of her horrifying experience.

Thavamani’s brother ran a shop by the road. When the people in the shop were told to run, her brother ran to her house with his children. “My husband who lay on the floor bleeding from his stomach, pleaded with my brother to take him to hospital and save him. As there was still shooting outside, my brother couldn’t take him. My husband died two hours later,” she recalled with a glazed look in her eyes.

Arumaiththurai Puwendini (who was only 3 in ‘96,) and her elder sister Priya, (7 at the time), shared their devastating story of how their pregnant mother was killed. When the soldiers had broken down their house door and opened fire, their mother had stood up with Puwendini in her arms. “Our mother who was 9 months pregnant at the time, was shot in the stomach and killed, and my sister who was in her arms, had her two toes and part of her foot blown off. Seven villagers were killed in the room we were hiding in; our pregnant mother and her sister, three neighbourhood children and their mother, and another young boy. Only my sister, brother and I survived, but, the shooting permanently mutilated my sister’s foot and my brother’s leg, which was split open from the knee downward along the bone,” said Priya angrily. “Doctors have said that I need to undergo a heart bypass surgery, but, we barely have enough money to survive, so how can we afford a surgery,” added Priya hopelessly.

However, many of the villagers spoke well of one particular soldier named Corporal Kumara, who was also one of the eight indicted, who they claimed had helped save the lives of many villagers. For instance, when Corporal Kapila (another soldier), had pulled out a dagger to kill a woman, Kumara had pulled him back, resulting in his dagger breaking through a mirror hanging on the wall. At that point a shot had been fired through a hole in the wall, killing an 11 year old girl on the spot.

Kumara had also told the villagers at courts, how he witnessed the gang-rape of the 15 year old girl by a group of military personnel. He added that by the time they were done with her, she had been barely alive, so he had shot and killed her as he couldn’t bear to see her that way. The villagers had found her body the following morning.

An old man, Kannaiah Ramajeyam, waited silently in the circle of villagers around us, each chipping in with bits and pieces of their horror story. After everyone had finished speaking and were picking up their chairs and returning home, he approached me and said in a quiet voice, “I had gone to work outside the village that day, and when I returned home, chaos had broken out here. My son hadn’t returned home from my brother’s place yet, so I went in search of him. When I got to my brother’s house, I saw my son and brother lying dead in the fields. They had both been killed. My son was just 11 years old. His name was Kamaleswaran. Please write down his name. His name is Kamaleswaran.”

Civil Society and Local Groups support

The Young Men’s Hindu Association (YMHA) gave 126 villagers fleeing Kumarapuram soon after the attack, food and refuge at the Navarathnam Hall in Trincomalee. Members of the YMHA came under heavy surveillance and intimidation by the military to make the villagers return to their homes. Regardless, the YMHA sheltered the villagers until they felt safe to return to their village. Other local civil society (CS) groups too, at much security risk to themselves, supported the villagers in their long struggle, including providing transport and related expenses for court hearings, and sustain the advocacy campaign over the decades. Further, local CS groups, also helped locate families in response to the court summons and coordinate their logistics and expenses related to the courts hearings etc., The Centre for Human Rights Development (CHRD) has provided legal assistance to the villagers over the years.

Twenty year-long struggle: Court Case details and update

The Kumarapuram Massacre court case which has been dragged on for 20 years now, has been riddled with challenges right throughout, starting from the three-day long identification parade of over 500 soldiers, to the Accused being out on bail within the first few hearings, the alleged destruction of material evidence in a fire[3], an all Sinhala jury being appointed and the case being shifted to the Sinhala majority town of Anuradhapura.

The road between the 58th mile post and Serunuwara was cordoned off by the military from 5pm till later the following day, with nobody being permitted to enter or leave the village. “We heard shooting from 5pm till about 3am the next day,” many of the villagers said.

On the following day (12) morning, the Muttur police had come and seen all the dead bodies and injured. Soon after, at about 8am, the military arrived at the scene, and took all the injured in a bus to the Serunuwara Hospital and from there to the Trincomalee Hospital. The military also loaded all the dead bodies into a tractor and armoured vehicle, and transported them to the Muttur Hospital. The families of those killed, also followed by a bus provided by the army, to the Muttur Hospital.

The villagers had been familiar with many of the soldiers from the nearby camps and check points, as they would have to go help clean out the camps and chop firewood for the military, weekly. “We would see and hear them call out to each other by name, so we also learnt some of their names,” they said. Soldiers would also ask for corn and manioc from the villagers when passing by. “We would give them whatever they wanted as we were scared of them,” said the villagers.

Three days after the attack, villagers were asked to come to the Muttur Court to identify the perpetrators. About 500 army personnel wearing caps, were paraded before the villagers, over the course of 3 days, with the perpetrators dispersed individually across the large group. The villagers had asked for their caps to be removed when on parade. Thereafter, the villagers were able to identify 8 soldiers from the 58th and Dehiwatta camps and the Killiveddy check point. “I walked up to one soldier, grabbed his arm and identified him as having killed my mother. The judge ordered that I be remanded till the end of the hearing because I grabbed the soldier by the hand. They killed our family and friends, is there no punishment for that?” questioned Piraparani angrily.

“I have gone to courts in Muttur, Trincomalee and Anuradhapura over 25 times over the past 20 years, said Thavamani.

In July, 2016, the Court summoned 108 villagers to give evidence, but, only 27 were located and able to make it. All 8 soldiers were indicted and released on bail within the first few hearings of the case, and were all suspended from duty following their indictment. This case is particularly noteworthy because the Attorney General had filed 101 separate indictments against each of these former Army personnel, in the Anuradhapura HC, making it the longest list of indictments submitted against any defendants in a criminal case, in the history of the Anuradhapura HC. There were 121 witnesses in this Case.[4]

On July 27th, 2016, 20 years following the massacre, the remaining six (as two died whilst out on bail), former soldiers were acquitted, and exonerated of all charges, by an all-Sinhala jury at the Anuradhapura High Court.

Soon after the acquittal, the victim’s families appealed[5] to the President to direct the Attorney General (AG) to appeal against the judgement and re-try the Accused before a Trial-at-Bar, and to take steps to grant a comprehensive compensation scheme to the families of the victims.

Since then, the AG has appealed to the Court of Appeal against the Anuradhapura High Court (HC) Jury decision to exonerate and acquit the 6 former soldiers of all charges. “While the plaintiff has proved beyond reasonable doubt that the Defendants were guilty of the accusations against them, the Anuradhapura High Court Jury verdict, exonerating them of all wrongdoing and releasing them, is complete injustice to the victims,”[6] the appeal stated.

“Three Presidents have come and gone in the last 20 years, the perpetrators have been released, but, we’re still awaiting justice. Even the Yahapalanaya government hasn’t done anything for us. We doubt they even know what has happened to us. We want justice for our family and friends who were killed, and compensation for their families, and those wounded,” said the families adamantly.

L-R: (first row) A. Puwanendini’s mutilated foot, Arasarathnam Nagarasa, Arumaiththurai Priya, Family member awaiting justice. (Second row) Kanthappoody Piraparani, Nadarasa Thavamani, Permanently scarred, Thankavel Maruthayi

UPDATED: Photos from the Kumarapuram memorial, held February 11, 2017, sent in by the author

Victim Names

  1. Subbaiya Sethurasa
  2. Alukurasa Parameshwari
  3. Arukaiththurai Vallippillai
  4. Kidnan Kovinthan
  5. Arunasalam Thankavel
  6. Sellaththurai Pakkiyarasa
  7. Vadivel Nadarasa
  8. Rasenthiram Karunakaran
  9. Sanmuganathan Nithanthan
  10. Ramajeyam Kamaleshwaran
  11. Kanthappoody Kamaladevi
  12. Sivakkolunthu Sinnaththurai
  13. Sivapakkiyam Nisanthan
  14. Pakkiyarasa Vasanthini
  15. Amirthalingam Rajanikanthy
  16. Thankavel Kaladevi
  17. Steepan Pathmini
  18. Suntharalingam Prapakaran
  19. Suntharalingam Subajini
  20. Kanakarasa Suvathirasa
  21. Subramaniyam Pakkiyam
  22. Vinayagamoorthi Suthakaran
  23. Ananthan Annamma
  24. Vijayakanth Ledsumi
  25. Arumaiththurai Thanaledsumi
  26. Unknown, as family is missing.

[1] Originating from the word pariah.

[2] A pejorative/derogatory term used to identify ethnic Tamils. The word has very negative connotations, and implies being an inferior alien/outsider.

[3] TamilNet, Kumarapuram massacre case exhibits destroyed in firehttps://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=13&artid=15154

[4] Ceylon Today, Acquittal of six soldiers in Kumarapuram massacre case AG appeals A’pura HC jury decision http://www.ceylontoday.lk/print20161101CT20161231.php?id=8507

[5] Kumarapuram Massacre Appeal – https://cl.ly/gqDe

[6] Ceylon Today, Acquittal of six soldiers in Kumarapuram massacre case AG appeals A’pura HC jury decision http://www.ceylontoday.lk/print20161101CT20161231.php?id=8507

Sri Lanka to Ask UN for More Time to Probe War Crimes

by AP on Voice of America, February 7, 2017

Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera gestures as he speaks to foreign correspondents at his residence in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Feb. 7, 2017.

Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera gestures as he speaks to foreign correspondents at his residence in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Feb. 7, 2017.


Sri Lanka says it needs more time to fulfill promises given to the U.N. human rights body to investigate war crime allegations from the nation’s long civil war, which ended nearly eight years ago.

Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera told foreign correspondents late Tuesday that the government will seek more time at the next U.N. human rights session, starting Feb. 27 in Geneva.

Samaraweera said that Sri Lanka will commit itself to going ahead as planned even though it has not been able to achieve all that it wanted.

In a joint resolution in 2015 at the U.N. Human Rights Council, Sri Lanka promised to work toward ethnic reconciliation, including investigating alleged wartime abuses.

FILE - A group of Sri Lankan Muslims shout slogans, protesting against the U.N. and U.S resolution against Sri Lankan war crimes, during a demonstration as they march toward the U.S. embassy in Colombo, March 26, 2014.

FILE – A group of Sri Lankan Muslims shout slogans, protesting against the U.N. and U.S resolution against Sri Lankan war crimes, during a demonstration as they march toward the U.S. embassy in Colombo, March 26, 2014.

It had promised the U.N., among other things, a truth-seeking mechanism, a judicial mechanism to prosecute those who are accused of human rights abuses and a new constitution that takes into account the island nation’s varied ethnicities and religions. However, little progress has been made.

According to U.N. estimates, up to 100,000 people were killed in the 26-year civil war, but many more are feared dead, including up to 40,000 civilians who are believed to have died in the final months of the fighting. Government troops and the Tamil Tiger rebels, who fought for an independent state for ethnic minority Tamils in the country’s north and east, were both accused of war crimes.

The U.N. human rights chief had called for a hybrid court with local and international judges. Sri Lanka agreed to the participation of foreign judges before backtracking and now insists on local courts investigating the allegations.

Samaraweera, however, said that Sri Lanka had agreed only to foreign participation at different levels in the judicial process, but not to have foreign judges hearing the cases.

The civil war ended in 2009 when Sri Lanka’s military crushed the Tamil Tiger rebels.

War Crimes Swept Under the Carpet

The Sri Lankan war crimes swept under the carpet

 by Bruce Haigh, ‘The Age,’ February 6, 2017

According to successive Sri Lankan governments the only war crimes committed during the country’s long civil war, from July 1983 to May 2009, were those perpetrated by the Tamils; aggressive denial has defined their response.

The alienation of the minority Tamil population from the majority Sinhalese began in colonial times, when Britain sought to accentuate rivalries by favouring Tamils in administrative positions. After independence, when the Sinhala language was declared the official language, Tamils had restrictions imposed on their access to education, jobs in the public sector and professional bodies. A state-sanctioned pogrom against Tamils occurred in in 1983, and many Tamils fled Colombo and the south for the north. The notion of a separate state was born as the means of surviving Sinhalese chauvinism. A military force was established to protect these aims.

Hit-and-run tactics and suicide bombings eventually evolved into a full-scale civil war ending in 2009 with the massacre of 80,000 Tamil civilians and fighters known as the Tamil Tigers.

There were strong and sustained calls from the international community for crimes amounting to genocide to be investigated by an international tribunal, preferably the UN. To counter the aggressive propaganda of Sinhala nationalists, the calls for international action included the inclusion of war crimes committed by the Tamil Tigers. Governments in Australia have gone along with this in order to bolster their illegal policy of turning back asylum seekers arriving by boat. Returning asylum seekers and refugees to a place of danger attracts a strong legal sanction known as sur place, and in this instance makes Australia directly complicit in the crime of genocide.

The previous Rajapaksa government received support and assistance from Australia in prosecuting its policy of genocide against the Tamil population. An Australian Federal Police contingent is posted to the Australian High Commission in Colombo to assist the local police and navy stop boats. There are allegations that the AFP contingent is aware that Tamils returned illegally from Australian custody have been tortured in detention.

Australia supplied patrol boats to the Sri Lankan navy for the express purpose of turning back boats, despite it becoming public knowledge that President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s brother, installed as minister for defence, was involved in the chain of people smuggling. On a visit to Sri Lanka in 2013, Tony Abbott, as Prime Minister, said that under certain circumstances torture could be justified, which was and remains an extraordinary statement.

As Foreign Minister, Bob Carr, referred to Tamil asylum seekers as economic migrants, despite all evidence to the contrary. His successor, Julie Bishop, has done the same. Australian governments have adopted the fiction that the minority Tamils were the aggressors in the civil war. Their position is that Sinhalese won the war, peace has been restored and the Tamils must accept it and get on with life; which consists of a military occupation of the north, confiscation of their land, desecration of their cemeteries, rape of the women and marginalisation from economic activity; all against a background of bribery, cruelty and corruption.

That is not the finding of the Peoples’ Tribunal on Sri Lanka, which met in Bremen in 2013. It found that, “On the strength of the evidence presented, the tribunal reached the consensus ruling that the state of Sri Lanka is guilty of the crime of genocide against Eelam Tamils (Tamils from the north and east) and that the consequences of the genocide continue to the present day with ongoing acts of genocide against Eelam Tamils”.

The tribunal determined that the following acts were committed by the government of Sri Lanka: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group and acting with the specific intent of destruction of a protected group. It also found that there was continuity of genocide through ongoing acts of genocide and that the state deliberately inflicted on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.

The new government of President Maithripala Sirisena undertook in 2015 to allow an internationally supervised investigation into the massacre that took place at the end of the civil war. This undertaking followed a UN Human Rights Council resolution on September 24, 2015, calling for such an investigation.

However, responding to growing pressure from within Sri Lanka, Sirisena has pulled back from implementing the decision. Visiting Sri Lanka in March 2016, the UN Human Rights Commissioner, Zeid Ra ‘ad al Hussein, said it was important the investigation took place, so that Sri Lanka could learn from its mistakes.

Australia has not pressed Sri Lanka to comply with the UN resolution, and indeed in August 2016, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton ordered the return of asylum seekers to Sri Lanka who had been trying to reach Australia by boat.

Bruce Haigh is a political commentator and former diplomat who served in Sri Lanka.

Demographic Genocide at Entrance to Jaffna

by TamilNet, 30 January 2017

Colombo proves State recognition for demographic genocide at entrance to Jaffna

The Colombo regime of Maithiripala Sirisena and Ranil Wickramasinghe has officially donated 50 houses on Monday through ‘National’ Housing Development Authority (NHDA) to the Sinhala colony, that has been created by the occupying Sinhala military and Sinhala-Buddhist extremist ‘Sinhala Ravaya’ at the strategic entrance to Jaffna at Naavat-kuzhi. The controversial move comes amidst strong opposition from provincial councillors of Northern Provincial and the position taken by the latest District Coordinating Committee (DCC) meeting, which was co-chaired by SL Deputy Minister Vijayakala Maheswaran and SL government agent to Jaffna N. Vethanayahan. The UNP has exerted pressure on ITAK, proposing a deal of 200 houses to Tamils in the same area in order to proceed with the NHDA recognition of the military-enforced colony of demographic genocide.




The unitary state mechanism in Colombo has again proved where its position by going against the sentiments of local people in the district and recognising the demographic genocide, coupled with Sinhala militarization and ‘development’, commented Tamil activists in Jaffna.

Despite Ms Vijayakala denouncing the Sinhala colony at the DCC meeting on 19 January and SL GA Mr Vethanayahan being prompted by her to register also his rejection, Sinhala colonists were given 50 houses in the ceremonial event on Monday.

Mr Vethanayahan was a chief guest along with the extremist Buddhist monk making the Sinhala settlers, who are exploited by the genocidal ‘Sri Lanka’ politics to celebrate the event.

UNP’s Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa, a son of the late SL President R. Premadasa, was also scheduled to visit the inauguration ceremony. But, his visit was cancelled as NPC Councillors had vowed to protest against the visiting southern leaders.

Sinhala colony at NaavatkuzhiThe ITAK politicians, particularly its leader Mavai Senathirajah, has been used by the Colombo Establishment to strike a ‘deal’ with the protesting Tamil politicians, informed sources said. The deal was about providing 200 houses to Tamil people in the area. All the houses are to be donated to the people and not subjected to any loan.

ITAK Leader Mavai Senthirajah has openly admitted that he had no objection to the Sinhala colony, following the deal.

The position of NPC Chief Minister Justice C.V. Wigneswaran has also been called into question on the controversial Sinhala colony at Naavatkuzhi.

Sinhala colony at NaavatkuzhiNPC Councillor Vinthan Kanagaratnam has questioned the compromising positions on the controversial matter of giving recognition to a Sinhala colony, which was a creation of extremist monks and the occupying SL military.

“No-one is rejecting that there were some Sinhalese who were living in Jaffna before the times of war. There were also government officials, who were living at different places in Jaffna. But, what we oppose is such people getting used by extremist groups, SL military and the unitary state mechanisms joining hands in giving recognition to a Sinhala colony at Naavatkuzhi,” commented NPC Councillor Vinthan Kanagaratnam in an interview to TamilNet on 28 January.

Sinhala colony at Naavatkuzhi