Home » BTF observes “14th Anniversary of SL’s Mullivaikkal Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day”

BTF observes “14th Anniversary of SL’s Mullivaikkal Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day”

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British Tamils Forum (BTF) observed the 14th year of Mullivaikkal Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day on Thursday, 18 May 2023 in Trafalgar Square, London. This was the day of mourning of indiscriminate killing of more than 70,000 innocent Tamil people in May 2009, and other genocidal crimes since 1948 orchestrated by the Sri Lankan state with the cooperation of its allied countries under the guiseof wiping out terrorism from the island. The enduring efforts of the BTF by exposing Sri Lankan state’s underlying intention of making Sri Lanka a mono-ethnic (Sinhalese), mono-religious (Buddhist), and mono-linguistic (Sinhala) country by exterminating indigenous Tamil people with facts and figures at the UNHRC is an on-going process. The cycles of violence inflicted on Tamil people since Sri Lanka became independent are self-explanatory of the Sri Lankan state. Sri Lanka Accountability Project (SLAP) & Significance of Evidence Collection The milestones of the BTF’S advocacy process at the UNHRC have been strengthening the evidence collection mechanism with a view to advancing accountability and developing possible strategies for future accountability processes for gross violations of human rights or serious violations of international humanitarian law in Sri Lanka, to advocate for victims and survivors, and to support relevant judicial and other proceedings, including in Member States, with competent jurisdiction. The collection of such evidence is not time barred and can go up to 1948 or beyond. The BTF’s significant achievement as mentioned in the preceding paragraph wide opens an opportunity for the witnesses and victims of the Sri Lankan state’s atrocity crimes to come forward and lodge their witness statements to the UNHRC Evidence Collection team responsible for the Sri Lanka Accountability Project (SLAP). To facilitate the victims to register their details for collecting evidence for onward submission to the UNHRC Evidence Collection team (SLAP), the BTF had a stall at the event.  It was overwhelmed with enthusiastic responses on that day. The BTF invites those who missed the opportunity and/or could not attend the event, to come forward and provide their witness statements and credible documents with no further delay. Your witness statement is of paramount importance as it could be the last straw capable of convincing the UN mechanisms of Sri Lanka’s genocide. Exhibition & Historical Data strengthened Tamils’ claim for Traditional Homeland The BTF also exhibited displays of up-to-date historical data showing the cycles of violence inflicted on Tamil people by the Sri Lankan state since the country became independent in 1948. This exhibition drew several peoples’ attention to the atrocity crimes perpetrated on Tamil people over the period of the past 75 years. The viewers were stunned when they saw the plights of Tamil people in photographs and the statistical information highlighted therein. The noteworthiness of the exhibition was the display of the pictorial and statistical information obtained from the 1901 and 1911 Census Reports of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) produced during the British Colonial Period. According to the British colonial reports, Ceylon had prominent five races, and they were Ceylon Tamils, Indian Tamils, Moors, Kandyan Sinhalese, and Low Country Sinhalese. Ceylon Tamils (indigenous Tamils) were predominantly occupying the Mannar District, Jaffna District, Mullaitivu District (including Vavuniya District), Trincomalee District, and Batticaloa District, which included the whole of Amparai, while Kandyan Sinhalese and Low Country Sinhalese were predominantly occupying the rest of the country. Those official documents of the British colonial period strengthen the fact that the northern and eastern provinces of ‘Ceylon’ are the traditional homeland of Tamils. The state-aided Sinhala colonization in the areas of the Tamil homeland has encroached the demarcation lines and, in the process has almost devoured Amparai and several parts of Batticaloa, Trincomalee, Mulliativu, and Mannar districts. Since became independent in 1948, the Sri Lankan State continues with its insolent colonisations with the idea of cutting off the territorial contiguity of the Tamil homeland of the North and East of Sri Lanka. Most of the visitors to the exhibition were tourists from different parts of the world who expressed their grave concerns about the plight of Tamil people in Sri Lanka. Main Stage Event The event started at 5:30 pm with two minutes of silence to respect those who lost their lives in the genocidal war caused by the Sri Lankan state and its allies. Floral tributes to the innocent victims killed, lighting at 6:18 PM (18:18:18) and sharing of Kanjee (porridge) to reminisce the war-time life at Mullivaikkal also took place at the event. The highlight of the event was the speeches and messages of the Parliamentarians, Councillors, and members of Civil Society Organisations. They were: 1.       The Rt Hon Sir Ed Davey MP (Vice Chair of APPGT) and Leader of Liberal Democratic Party 2.       Sarah Olney MP (Vice Chair of APPGT) 3.       Janet Daby MP (Vice Chair of APPGT) 4.       Mr Steve Baker MP Member of APPGT 5.       Mr Bob Blackman MP (Vice Chair of APPGT) 6.       Mr Sam Tarry MP 7.       Mr Martyn Day MP 8.       Mr Gary Anandasangaree – Canadian MP & Human Rights Defender 9.       The Rt Hon Theresa Villiers MP (Vice Chair of APPGT) 10.   The Rt Hon David Lammy MP 11.   Mr S V Kirupaharan  – Tamil Centre for Human Rights 12.   British Tamils Forum (BTF) 13.   Deputy Mayor Sarmila Varatharajan (BTF – Deputy Human Rights Coordinator) 14.   Cllr Jo White Deputy Leader of Bassetlaw CC 15.   Councillor Paul, Chair for Wandsworth Council 16.   Cllr Shanika Mahendran, Milton Keynes 17.   Cllr Kamala Kuhan, Kingston 18.   Tamils for Labour (TfL) 19.   Conservative Friends of Tamils (CFT) 20.   Tamil Friends of Liberal Democrats (TFLib) The emphases of most of the speakers were focused on: ●        Sri Lanka must be held responsible for the genocide of Tamil people. ●        Horrific Mullivaikkal massacres was the worst 21st century genocide unleashed against Tamil people by the Sri Lankan state and its security forces. ●        Praising BTF’s commitment and dedication for ensuring that the perpetrators are brought to justice. ●        Justice for the victims and wider recognition of what happened to Tamil people in Sri Lanka. ●        Standing in solidarity by the BTF and those people who were affected by the atrocities committed on them for achieving their cause. ●        Expressing confidently that the BTF’s continuation of its advocacy process will pave pathway for a long-term political solution for Tamil people to live in peace and harmony in Sr Lanka. ●         Insisting on the UNHRC’s Evidence Collecting Mechanism (SLAP) and advising the victims to lodge their witness statements. ●        Although the road to accountability is long and slow, a steady progress would lead towards the goal. ●        The United Kingdom must impose sanction against the Sri Lankan perpetrators identified by the United Nations, similar to what the United States and Canada have so far done. The events included singing by Kathryn with Bandura – Ukrainian national instrument organised by the Ukrainian Cultural Association in the UK, Tamil Cultural Play showing agony of Tamil mothers of disappeared people organised by female members of Waltham Forest Tamil Sangam & female members and youth team of the British Tamils forum , Dance by Niruthiya Kalalayam Dance School and songs by Voice Arts Academy students. At the end of the event a young student who was born in 2009 shared her feelings. In conclusion, Mr. V Ravikumar, the General Secretary of the BTF, made a speech by inviting the Tamil community to unite together and participate the process of gaining international recognition for the legitimate aspirations of Tamils in Sri Lanka. MESSAGES 1.      The Rt Hon Sir Ed Davey MP (Vice Chair of APPGT) and Leader of Liberal Democratic Party It is good to be with you today, even though it is yet another commemoration of one of the most tragic events in modern times. We remember the fallen, we remember the people who have lost loved ones on this day. We resolve, and as Leader of the Democrats, I resolve on behalf of my party, to continue the struggle for justice. We all know with the evidence that we have seen from the films and the witnesses, that there were war crimes over the months, weeks, and days up until the 18th of May 2009. We know that how some of the Sri Lankan government have behaved is a genocide against the Tamil people. We will never rest until there is justice both on the island of Sri Lanka and in the international community. So, I have spoken to you many times and we need to reflect on what is happening and what has happened over the last 12 months. At the United Nations, there is now a collective international effort to collect the evidence as an evidence collection mechanism, under the United Nations, so the guilty people can eventually be held to account. There is a stall here today to enable you and your friends and family to be part of that process. We must collect the evidence in a detailed way to bring these perpetrators to account, hopefully as soon as we can. But we also in the UK parliament, in our UK politics, need to do far more to put pressure on the Sri Lankan government. One area where we have seen real leadership from the United States and from Canada, is the use of sanctions against individuals who are guilty of behaving in the most appalling ways. We think particularly of the President and Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, or frankly the whole Rajapaksa family, the people who have kept him and them in power. We need our government to follow the lead of Canada and the United States of America with those sanctions. But I think we also need to go further; we need to look at our relationship with the Sri Lankan government. I frankly think we have not given them the hard time they deserve, and I wish our government would step up and show that leadership working across other countries. I hope that as we continue to campaign for justice, we try to do our best to help the people living in Sri Lanka at the moment, particularly in the Northeast of the country. Many of them are suffering. They are having their land taken away from them. There is a mechanism that can be used because of the appalling way that the Sri Lankan economy has been governed by the Rajapaksa family, that see the economic crisis of Sri Lankans, the massive expansion defence, the unfunded tax cuts and the corruption, that has led to the Sri Lankan government having to bring in the international monetary fund, who are now there, trying to sort out the mess. They have powers because the Rajapaksa Government were so corrupt to push for action that would support the democratic struggle of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka and the wider struggle for justice, and our country who has the pen at the IMF, needs to do far more to support those rights of those struggles of Tamil people. So, I hope you will keep working together, as we come together on days like this to remember what happened because we must never forget. But I hope you will continue to work together inside Parliament cross-party to achieve these goals that we all share in common. Thank you for what you do, week in, week out, month in, month out and my party, the Liberal Democrats, will be with you all the way. 2.       Sarah Olney MP (Vice Chair of APPGT) I’m sorry I can’t be there to join you in your commemoration of the Mullivaikkal massacre 14 years ago, but I continue to represent my Tamil community at Richmond Park in Parliament. I’m very very proud to do so and I continue to push for justice for the victims and for wider recognition of what has happened to the Tamils in Sri Lanka. 3.       Janet Daby MP (Vice Chair of APPGT) The situation in Sri Lanka is not good enough. There are so many Tamils that have experienced Genocide, and the Sri Lankan government need to be responsible and be held responsible for this, and that needs to be acknowledged. We also need to make sure that Sri Lankan War Criminals, are sanctioned and the British government need to respond to this. 4.       Mr Steve Baker MP Member of APPGT Today I want to send my sympathy to Tamils in Wycombe, across the UK and the world, as we remember Mullivaikkal. Towards the end of the civil war in Sri Lanka, a ‘No Fire Zone’ was established and yet perhaps 40,000 people were killed in that ‘No Fire Zone’. It’s an atrocity, and I stand with those people in Wycombe and across the UK, those Tamils who lost people will have been profoundly affected by the civil war. I stand with you in solidarity. You need justice. 5.       Mr Bob Blackman (Vice Chair of APPGT) This event rightly marks the 21st century’s worst genocidal war unleashed against Sri Lankan Tamils at Mullivaikkal by the Sri Lankan state and its security forces. We continue to keep those affected in our thoughts and prayers. We must work together to ensure that no genocide has an opportunity to take place in future, harming innocent lives unjustly. I welcome the British Tamils Forum‘s commitment and dedication to ensure that the perpetrators of these hideous crimes are trialled in front of an international criminal prosecution board and justice is served. It is only right that accountability is taken by those who have harmed others, as well as an opportunity for it to serve as a reminder that such actions will always be punished and justice will prevail. I have every confidence that with your continued work, we will find a long-term political solution in Sri Lanka for Tamil people to live in peace and harmony. I look forward to continue working closely with The British Tamils Forum going forward. Today is 14 years to the day since Mullivaikal massacres. A day that’s remembered globally by the Tamil community and the Tamil community right here in London and of course, in my constituency in Ilford South. Today there will be a huge commemoration in Trafalgar Square Tamils coming from across London to recognise that their struggle is still a struggle that continues to this day. I myself have called on many occasions for the UNHRC recommendations to be brought forward for Magnitsky sanctions to be taken against some of the horrific leaders of the persecution of the Tamils. Because the truth is on all of the people of the island of Sri Lanka to live in peace, their country to prosper after such a difficult economic period and beyond that in my view, that has to be through upholding the Constitution of Sri Lanka and allowing self-determination for the Tamil people of NE Sri Lanka that I believe can really lead to a long lasting and economically prosperous peace on the island of Sri Lanka. And it’s important that we call out those who oppress the Tamil people and that those in government still who do not allow the Tamil people to go and commemorate the deaths of so many 10s of thousands of Tamils. The Tamil people will always have my support in Ilford in London and globally in their struggle for freedom. 7.       Mr Martyn Day MP This event rightly marks the 21st century’s worst genocidal war, unleashed against Sri Lankan Tamils at Mullivaikkal by the Sri Lankan state and it’s security forces. It is important to keep those affected in our thoughts and prayers. We must work together to ensure that no genocide has an opportunity to take place in future, harming innocent lives unjustly. I welcome the British Tamil Forum’s commitment and dedication to ensure that the perpetrators of these hideous crimes are trialed in front of an international criminal prosecution board, and justice must be served. It is only right that accountability is taken by those who have harmed others, as well as an opportunity for it to serve as a reminder that such actions will always be punished, and justice will prevail. I have every confidence that with your continued work, we will find a long-term political solution in Sri Lanka for Tamil people to live in peace and harmony. I support the United Nations Human Rights Council’s evidence collection mechanism and call upon the victims and witnesses to come forward, to give evidence to prove the genocide against the Tamil nation in Sri Lanka. I look forward to working closely with the British Tamils Forum going forward. 8.       Mr GaryAnandasangaree – Canadian MP & Human Rights Activist As we commemorate another Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day, we reflect on the enormous history of the Tamil people. 14 years ago this year, on May 18th, the armed conflict ended the tens and thousands of Tamils killed or 300,000 people displaced, and a nation in mourning. The Tamil Genocide that took place has led to the Tamil community being united in our resolve to seek accountability for crimes committed against our people. This past year in 2022, the Canadian parliament recognised what happened in Sri Lanka as Genocide against Tamils and declared May 18th of each year, as Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day. This past January, our government sanctioned three Sri Lankan officials, including former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Mahinda Rajapaksa. We know that the road ahead for accountability is long, but we are slowly but steadily progressing towards that goal. You see you cannot kill so many people and break so many international laws and think that you can live in peace. For the Rajapaksa brothers and for others, who were involved and responsible for the atrocities committed against the Tamils, we will continue to seek justice. Peace on the island will not come without justice and accountability taking shape. As a Canadian Parliamentarian, I invite all Tamils to join us and work together towards a path that will result in accountability for Tamils, as well as long term peace and stability on the island, where Tamils can live in peace. This week around the world, Tamils are remembering the atrocity at Mullivaikal. Because the anniversary has come around once again and still the victims of that atrocity are waiting for justice. I will continue to campaign for accountability for war crimes committed during the Sri Lankan civil war because I support my Tamil constituents. 10.   The Rt Hon David Lammy MP Today is Mullivaikal Remembrance Day, a time to pause, reflect, and remember the human rights injustice that took place 14 years ago against the Tamil people in Sri Lanka. Mullivaikal serves as a reminder that the quest for Truth, Accountability and reconciliation for the victims of this crime must be brought forward together with communities here in the UK and across the world, we can help build peace and political stability for Tamil communities in Sri Lanka. Our party, the Labour Party, remains committed to securing justice for those victims who lost their lives, as well as survivors and their families. We urge the British Government to stand shoulder to shoulder with Tamils and consider the recommendations of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to refer perpetrators of these crimes to the International Criminal Court. 11.   Mr S V Kirupaharan – Tamil Centre for Human Rights Today we mark the 14th anniversary of Mullivaikkal, the day of the genocide of Eelam Tamils known around the world. We ‘Tamil Centre for Human Rights’, in solidarity with British Tamils Forum are working hard internationally to find justice and political solution to Eelam Tamils.

12.               Deputy Mayor Sarmila Varatharajan (BTF – Deputy Human Rights Coordinator)

Mullivaikkal – The final few days of the war in Sri Lanka saw the massacre and dehumanisation of tens of thousands of Tamils. May 18th, the Sri Lankan state systematically bombed ‘No Fire Zones’ and shelled hospitals, UN Hubs, Red Cross Centres, and individuals wearing medical aid symbols providing basic humanitarian aid to Tamils from Sea, Land and Air. Where is the justice for the genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed against the Tamil nation in Sri Lanka? Over 100,000 Tamils massacred, over 100,000 Tamils displaced and a million Tamils fleeing overseas. 14 years later, in the year 2023, the genocide and cycle of violence against Tamils continues in their homeland of the Northern East of Sri Lanka. The justice for Tamils lies within the hands of international community to hold the Sri Lankan state accountable for the atrocity crimes committed against Tamils. The United Nations Human Rights Council has set up the Sri Lankan accountability project, an evidence collection mechanism for victims, witnesses, and survivors to come forward to share the truth of what happened from 1948. The evidence collected must be used for criminal prosecutions of the Sri Lankan state under an appropriate international justice mechanism such as the International Criminal Court, International Court of Justice, or a special court without further delay. The Labour party today called for the referral to the International Criminal Court. This UK Government has failed the Tamils citizen in the UK and in Sri Lanka, especially as the leader of the core group at the UNHRC. The UK has failed to sanction Sri Lankan perpetrators. Is trade more important that human rights to the UK Government? What is stopping the UK Government from sanctioning perpetrators identified by the United Nations. The US and Canada have sanctioned Sri Lankan perpetrators, including two ex-Presidents on the grounds of gross and systematic violations of human rights. The UK must immediately sanction Sri Lankan perpetrators under the Global Human Rights Sanction UK and apply universal jurisdiction. I urge every citizen of this country and globally, whether you are Tamil or not, to write to your local MPs and Councillors for the justice of Tamils. The Sri Lankan state is the perpetrator, and the international community has a responsibility to hold this genocidal state to account. 13.   Cllr Jo White Deputy Leader of Bassetlaw CC I am Jo White – Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Bassetlaw. In Bassetlaw we have built a strong relationship with our Tamil community, welcoming those fleeing for their lives and witnessing their industry and hard graft in building successful businesses. But we also recognise the desire for peace, justice and reconciliation, and the big unanswered questions that the United Nations have chosen to side-line. When my husband Lord John Mann visited Sri Lanka, he met with the late Bishop of Mannar – the late and much-missed Bishop Emeritus Rayappu Joseph, a major and kind religious leader, and an honest spokesman for the Tamil people. The Bishop outlined how several thousand of his own congregation had disappeared, unaccounted for, part of the 146,000 for whose families there is no recognition, no justice, no closure. The demands for an independent international investigation into the disappearance of these family members, these neighbours, these friends, remains unanswered. I call on our government – our country, to take the lead inside the United Nations. We have been treading water for 13 years under our government, and this must end. In my community, we have congregants of the late Bishop. The friends and neighbours of the missing. Witnesses to their disappearance. We stand with our new friends and neighbours. We say – yes to justice. Yes – to peace and reconciliation. Yes to the truth emerging. 146,000 disappeared family, friends, and neighbours. Remember the number. Remember their names. It is time for justice. 14.   Councillor Paul – Chair for Wandsworth Council I am a councillor in Tooting which has a large Tamil community and I’ve got many Tamil friends. We have a Tamil councillor, Sarmila Varatharaj, who is actually the Deputy Mayor of Wandsworth and we’re very proud of her – she was elected last year and she’s done a fantastic job, she’s the youngest councillor on the council and the first Tamil to be mayor or deputy mayor in Wandsworth. I think it’s very important today that atrocities like Mullivaikkal are not forgotten. That the continued abuse of basic human rights and continued avoidance of justice by the perpetrators of Mullivaikkal Tamil Genocide, which we remember today, remain vivid in the thoughts of the general public and lawmakers that sit a short distance away from here that Steven has just mentioned. We will get justice for the Tamil people, but also send a message to the would-be murdering assassins – authoritarians – that you will inevitably face justice, and this might inform their actions. In the world today – not least Ukraine – there are examples where authoritarians have taken advantage of the world’s legal laxity, where they have been forced to think again if Rajapaksa’s government and those responsible had faced global justice. The herding of civilians into No Fire Zones only to be strafed and bombed by the military is a crime of inhumane barbarity, and the murder and sexual violence of prisoners and those who wish to surrender must not go unpunished. Today is therefore so important – we must never forget and make sure the anguish and the pain felt by the Tamil people is reflected by the actions of the UK and world governments, to empower the UN to ensure that these villains are punished for their actions and justice will be seen to be done. 15.   Cllr Shanika Mahendran, Milton Keynes Today marks 14 years since the military onslaught that massacred tens of thousands of Tamils. 14 years on and where is truth? 14 years on and where is the accountability? I saw a photo of a banner at Jaffna Hindu College, commemorating Mullivaikkal today, which read “We are not the ones who grew up listening to lullabies. We are the ones who grew up listening to the wailing of our mothers”. 14 years on, this is not a piece of history that we are simply here to remember. This is something that survivors and families of the victims, hold in their hearts each and every day that many of you hold in your hearts each and every day. Mothers of the disappeared still wail waiting for their children to come home. My Dad is from Jaffna, but I was born and raised in Milton Keynes, and I’ve spent my whole life being able to acknowledge and speak on the atrocities that happened in Sri Lanka. But today in Sri Lanka, so many people don’t have that opportunity. Gatherings, such as this to mark this day, are breaking down and memorials torn down. So, I’d like to thank not just everyone that have come here today to remember, but also those who have come to show their solidarity with the struggle of Tamil people. I’m proud to be part of the Labour party as Keir Starmer and David Lammy have today called to those who perpetrated these injustices to be held to account and be referred to the International Criminal Court. I’d like to thank British Tamils Forum for organising this event and their ongoing work. It is our duty to give the voice to those who are voiceless, and I feel privileged to be able to have that opportunity today. 16.  Cllr Kamala Kuhan, Kingston Today is both a sad day and a day of pride. Earlier you saw Ed Davey, a champion for Tamil cause for many many years, to the point he was called the ‘White Tiger’ by the Sri Lankan government. He is also born on Christmas Day and today is his Ascension Day when Christ, the voice of truth, hope and justice rise to the heavens. We will never forget our brother who sacrificed so much of their life struggling for the rest of their community. Let our voices rise to the challenge and that is a challenge for you all to also participate in the democratic process and help elect as many Tamils supporting politician as you can, as we take on this relay case and win for everybody. 17.   Tamils for Labour 18.   Conservative Friends of Tamils (CFT) 19.   Tamil Friends of Liberal Democrats (TFLib)
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