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US Subcommittee to hear genocide charges against Sri Lanka

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 24 February 2009, 11:47 GMT]
In an invited written testimony to the hearing on "Recent Developments in Sri Lanka" before the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Middle East and Asia, at the Dirksen Senate Building Tuesday, Bruce Fein, former U.S. associate deputy attorney general, details the recent violence by the Sri Lanka Government against Tamils civilians under "impenetrable media blackout and eviction of all outside observers...has crossed the line into genocide, which justified a criminal investigation under United States laws."

Fein was contacted by Senator Robert Casey’s office (D. Pa.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Middle East and South Asia, and was invited to provide written testimony on, “Recent Violence in Sri Lanka” for the official hearing record, Fein said.

Human Rights lawyer, Karen Parker J.D., and a Group of US Tamil Associations also submitted a written testimony, and a detailed memorandum respectively to the Subcommittee hearings.

Bruce Fein
Attorney Bruce Fein
The three live witnesses had been previously selected. Senator Casey’s office also informed Fein that the Embassy of Sri Lanka had also been invited to submit a written statement.

Detailing the structural aspects of the slow genocide Fein accuses Colombo of perpertrating against Tamils, the testimony says: "All previous well-known genocides which have occurred since the end of World War II have been characterized by a massive number of murders in a small defined locality occurring in a short time period and carried out by an actor seeking the total physical extermination of a particular ethnic group. The post-1945 genocide cases often cited are: the Holocaust, the Kurds in Iraq, the Srebrenica massacre, and Rwanda.

PDF IconLive broadcast of Hearing @ 2:30 p.m. (EST)
"By contrast, Sri Lanka’s genocide against Tamils has taken place over a number of years and is more characterized by widespread, prolonged displacement and destruction of the community’s physical and cultural base than murder. For this and also wider geopolitical reasons, the destruction of the Sri Lankan Tamils is less well-understood in the world at large as a case of genocide," Fein says in the testimony.

Describing the latest violence on Tamils, Fein says "[b]est estimates from neutral persons in Sri Lanka place the death toll of innocent Tamil civilians in the predominantly Tamil northeast over the past two months at more than 2,000. The number of injured probably exceeds 10,000. The number of displaced persons most likely approximates 350,000. None of these figures, however, can be confirmed at present with direct testimony," Fein says.

"The Sinhalese Buddhist GOSL is the reason we are reduced to conjecture. It has imposed a media blackout. It has evicted all NGOs. It has evicted all humanitarian aid workers. It has evicted the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission. It has evicted the International Committee of the Red Cross. No independent news reporter or neutral witness may observe the conflict between the all Sinhalese “Tamil free” armed forces and security services of Sri Lanka and the Tamil Tigers. Neither are there outside eyewitnesses to the; nor the indiscriminate violence that rains down daily on innocent Tamil civilians whether in hospitals, temples, churches, schools, or “safe zones” - an Orwellian term to describe the forced concentration of Tamil civilians into a tiny area to increase the efficiency of their physical destruction in whole or in substantial part by the Sinhalese majority."

Fein recommends to the Subcommittee to adopt the following measures:
  • Seek an international arms embargo on Sri Lanka in the United Nations Security Council under Chapter 7 of the United Nations Charter;
  • List Sri Lanka (along with Sudan, Iran, Syria, and Cuba) as a state sponsor of terrorism under United States laws, which would trigger various sanctions;
  • Freeze the United States assets of Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and Sarath Fonseka;
  • Deny visas to the GOSL leadership, including President Mahinda Rajapaksa;
  • Vote against economic aid to the GOSL at the World Bank and IMF;
  • Deny Sri Lankan goods favorable tariff treatment;
  • List Mahinda Rajapaksa, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, and Sarath Fonseka as specially designated terrorists under Executive Order 13224.
  • Support a “One country, two systems” political solution to the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka.
  • Withdraw the United State Ambassador from Colombo until the genocide and indiscriminate killing of Tamil civilians by the Sinhalese Buddhist GOSL ceases.
and concludes, "[f]or decades, the primary horrors in Sri Lanka have been inflicted on Tamil civilians by the GOSL. Like triage, their plight should be addressed first though genocide prosecutions or otherwise.

Bruce Fein is the counsel for U.S. based legal activist group Tamils Against Genocide.


Related Articles:
15.02.09   Genocide in Sri Lanka - Boston Globe
04.02.09   "Tamils under existential threat"
03.02.09   PTK hospital, legitimate military target - Gotabhaya

External Links:
USGov: Live-broadcast of Subcommittee Hearing 2:30 p.m. (EST)
USGov: US Hearing on Sri Lanka violence
TAG: Tamils Against Genocide


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