Launch of the ‘Forum against War Crimes and Genocide’

Following is the founding statement of the ‘Forum against War Crimes and Genocide’ that was launched in Bangalore on 2nd June, 2011. The forum, which incudes New Socialist Alternative (CWI – India), was launched in response to the reports that have been percolating on the alleged war atrocities that was carried out by the Sri Lankan Army (with blessing from the Sri Lankan government) on innocent Tamil civilians (caught in the conflict) and the captured LTTE prisoners of war with an estimated 140,000 people missing from the war zone.

A ‘Forum against War Crimes and Genocide’has been set up and launched on Thursday 02 June 2011 in Bangalore, Karnataka, India.
Representatives of various Human Rights Organizations, Academicians and Writers from Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, New Delhi and Tamil Nadu were among the participants who gathered here to launch this forum.

Karnataka: Mr. Ramesh and Mr. Nagari Babiah (Peoples Democratic Forum: PDF), Mr. Deepu (Pedestrian Pictures), Mr. Jagadesh Chandra (New socialist Alternative/Tamil Solidarity), Mr. Shivsundar (Columnist), Mr. Sivalingam (Dalit Self respect Movement), Prof Carlos, Prof Paul Newman, Mr. Mathew (Sichrem), Mr. Tamil Maravan and Mr. Rajan, Mr. Ravanan and other representatives from Karnataka Tamil Makkal Iyakkam and Thanthai Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam respectively. Andhra Pradesh (AP): Prof Haragopal (APCLC). Kerala: Mr. Pouran (PUCL). New Delhi: Mr. Karthikeyan (Delhi Tamil Students Union), TN: Members of the Save Tamils Movement Team, Prof. Manivannan(University of Madras), Mr. Gana Khurinji (PUCL), Mr. Pon Chandran (PUCL).

Objectives of the Forum:
The Forum is a platform for Human Rights Activists/Organizations, Academicians and Civil Society Organizations to share their concerns, debate and campaign against “war crimes, crimes against humanity and Genocide”.
The Forum was started with an initial discussion on “UN Expert Panel Report on Accountability in Sri Lanka” and Report of the Permanent Peoples Tribunal, Dublin(PPT). These reports confirm that more than 40,000 civilians were killed by heavy artillery and wide spread shelling including humanitarian hubs and hospitals by GOSL. The Reports also recognize targeted bombing of GOSL declared “No Fire Zones” and strongly denies GOSL claim of “Humanitarian Rescue Operation”. The PPT comprising renowned jurists in their report noted “the attempt to annihilate the Tamil population with or without the use of illegal weapons certainly constitutes one form of war crime. The question remains if the government intended genocide in respect of the Tamil people in brutally suppressing armed and political resistance”.
The introduction to the meeting was made by Mr. Senthil Kumar of Save Tamils Movement (Chennai), followed by screening of video evidences released by Channel 4. Prof Manivannan (University of Madras) gave a brief on the UN advisory panel’s report and Mr.Gana kurinji, PUCL spoke on the current situation of Tamils in Sri Lanka, Prof. Paul Newman explained about the investigation process and the report by Permanent People’s Tribunal on Sri Lanka held in Dublin, Ireland in January 2010.
The participants have registered their opinions on the on-going injustice to Tamils in Sri Lanka and the significance of the forum as below.
“Sri Lanka has committed genocide of Tamils in the name of War on Terror. The Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) had waged war against Tamils in the name of war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). It is evident that the only objective of the GoSL is to annihilate Tamils in Sri Lanka by the act of killing Tamil civilians through heavy shelling on schools, hospitals and in ‘no fire zones’.
The genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka is not an issue of Tamils alone rather it is a crisis of our times – the nature of our democracies and the challenges faced by the common humanity. The chances of applying this ‘Sri Lankan model’ in India are emerging high. It is our belief and commitment that by spreading the awareness about the genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka among the Indian public and the global civil society through this forum, we are contributing to the preservation and sustenance of cherished human values and the spirit of genuine democracy through the resurgence of civil society throughout the world. The punishments for crimes against humanity are legalized only in the Western countries. There are not many historical evidences or any organized trials for crimes against humanity in South Asia. Hence, these types of crimes have to be stopped by demanding the GoSL to be accountable to the people of Sri Lanka and the global community for its role in war crimes and crimes against humanity and made to stand for legal trials. We consider it as our moral and political duty to spread awareness of the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the Sri Lankan government and its authorities as well as bring before the world community the observations of the world bodies including the United Nations and the Civil Society such as the Dublin Tribunal on the role of Sri Lanka. The necessity of a forum against war crimes and genocide has been recognized unanimously given the current inclination of several states attempting to apply the Sri Lankan model to suppress the voice of minorities and ethnic nationalities around the world. “
This Bangalore meeting was initiated by a committee from TN comprising Save Tamils Movement (group of IT professionals & youths), Prof. Manivannan(Madras University), Gana Khurinji (PUCL) and Amarantha (Latin American Friendship Association).
The primary demands of this forum are:

To the United Nation and International Community:
United Nations(UN) and the International Civil Society(ICS) should seek and insist on an independent, impartial, international investigation into the war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed by the Sri Lankan government and its authorities.
UN and ICS should demand and ensure that the Sri Lankan state allow free access to media and international humanitarian agencies.

To the Indian government and the Democratic forces in India:
We appeal to all the democratic forces in India to pressurize the Indian government to seek and support an independent and impartial investigation into the war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed by the Sri Lankan government. We also demand the Indian government to publish a white paper on its foreign policy with Sri Lanka and the military assistance provided to Sri Lanka since UPA government sworn into power in 2004.

To the Tamil Nadu government:
The newly elected Tamil Nadu government formed by AIADMK, as committed by its leadership during election campaign, should pass a resolution in the Tamil Nadu Assembly condemning the war crimes and genocide of the Tamils in Sri Lanka. The state government should also seek and support an international legal trail against the Sri Lankan government and its authorities for their role in war crimes, crimes against humanity and the genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka.
Forum Campaign Plans: The Forum’s immediate action plan is to organize Hall Meetings sharing and debating the UN advisory panel’s report and the Permanent People’s Tribunal, Dublin report across Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh and also extending this forum in other states like West Bengal, Maharashtra and New Delhi.