Sri Lanka

Currently we will publish only evidence used at the tribunal. In this section background documents are being released to structure the evidence against the Sri Lankan state. The whole list of evidence submitted to the tribunal in written or oral form is available to download as an appendix to the judgment.

In future this website will be used to compile additional evidence to further substantiate the judgement. Any updates on the sections will be announced on the frontpage.


Discriminatory Laws

submitted by International Human Rights Association Bremen

A genocidal onslaught that targets a distinct national community can always take different forms. Although, the physical extermination of a given population can be the most rapid and blunt method of implementing such a policy, there are more ‘sophisticated’ strategies of doing so. As Lemkin himself stressed, ‘genocide does not necessarily mean the immediate destruction of a nation, except when accomplished by mass killings of all members of a nation.’ While sporadic violence targeting the economic life, selective assassinations and periodically orchestrated pogroms can certainly be components of any genocidal policy, the ‘law of the land’ can also be reinforced to disguise, enhance and legitimise a protracted policy of genocide.

Any efforts to scrutinise and analyse the Sri Lankan state policy towards the Tamil community, at least since the ‘40s, can definitely provide an important window to understand the genocidal potential of seemingly ‘legitimate state policy’. This document envisage to shed light on some of the most prominent policy measures implemented in the history under the pretext of upholding the ‘law of the land’ in order to expose the extremely destructive essence of the Sri Lankan state’s genocidal policies.

The background paper can be downloaded here: Discriminatory Laws and Regulations [pdf: 51 kb]

State aided Sinhala Colonisation

submitted by International Human Rights Association Bremen

Before the armed resistance of the Tamil people took the centre stage, three major processes could be identified aimed at the marginalisation and destabilization of the Tamil nation. The first was the state sponsored colonisation schemes, which under the pretext of development, settled depressed peasants and later lumpen elements of the Sinhala nation alongside military garrisons within the traditional homeland of the Tamil people. It was aimed at disrupting the demographics and geographical contiguity of the Traditional homeland of the Tamil people. The colonization process, to a considerable extent, resembled the Israeli state aided settlements which brought pockets of Jewish majority areas and subsequently disrupted the continuity of Palestinian settlements, bringing about the disjuncture of Gaza and the West Bank.

Secondly there have been numerous laws and constitutional amendments passed, which legalised and thereby legitimized the structural violence against the Tamil nation.

Thirdly there have been major anti-tamil pogroms orchestrated by the state, mainly in 1956, 1958, 1974, 1977, 1981 and 1983 which saw thousands of Tamil civilians massacred. Besides such pogroms, the Tamil people have been slaughtered or forcibly transferred in order to set the grounds for state enacted colonization schemes.

In this paper, we will be presenting consequences of the state aided colonization schemes and their destructive impact on the collective national life of the Tamil people.

This background paper can be downloaded here: State aided Sinhala Colonisation [pdf: 396 kb]

Pogroms and Massacres

submitted by International Human Rights Association Bremen

Massacres, Pogroms, Destruction of property, Sexual violence and Assassinations of civil society leaders

Discussing Raphael Lemkin’s contribution in drafting the UN Convention on Genocide, William Schabas writes: “Lemkin’s broad view of the nature of genocide was reflected in the original draft convention, proposed by Saudi Arabia in late 1946. Article I contemplated mass killing, destruction of ‘the essential potentialities of life’, ‘planned disintegration of the political, social or economic structure’, ‘systematic moral debasement’ and ‘acts of terrorism committed for the purpose of creating a state of common danger and alarm…..with the intent of producing [the group’s] political, social , economic or moral disintegration.’1 Lemkin’s thinking on the crime of genocide demonstrates much broader understanding about the nature of the crime apart from reflecting his deep sensitivity towards the plight of the victim group. At the same time, his long and detailed formulations – which were largely left out in the final draft – clearly manifested his determination to avoid leaving any loophole that would allow perpetrators to walk free.

Lemkin’s fears seem to be well justified when we scrutinise the UN Convention’s track record in terms of practical applicability and preventive capacity since its adoption in 1948. Various state perpetrators who carried out genocidal attacks against victim groups have long enjoyed impunity as they have been always provided with legal escape routes despite the magnitude and the nature of their crimes. One reliable way is to conceal and legitimise the crimes using the argument of ‘rights of a sovereign state’ while making any atrocity appear as ‘collateral’ rather than ‘intentional’. Sri Lankan state stands out as an example of callous cruelty and ability to enjoy international impunity which re-confirms Lemkin’s fears.

This report intends to present a brief but comprehensive account on the brutalisation of the Tamil population, within the framework of the UN Convention.

The full document can be downloaded here: Massacres, Pogroms, Destruction of property, Sexual violence and Assassinations of civil society leaders [pdf: 95 kb]