Tamil crimes against peace | Sunday Observer

Tamil crimes against peace

31 May, 2020

Despite all the convoluted threads of history and politics running through the Vadukoddai Resolution there is only one simple meaning in it: it is a classic case of a crime against peace, the first crime listed in the Nuremberg Charter on which the Nazi war criminals were tried by an international court. The central argument in the Vadukoddai Resolution was worked tendentiously to conclude that they had no alternative but to go to war. History, however, is open-ended and there are always options available for those who want to prefer the lesser evil. And in deciding to declare the Vadukoddai War they committed one of the serious crimes in international law: crime against peace.

According to the Nuremberg Charter, this declaration of war by the Tamils assembled in Vadukoddai, the parliamentary constituency of their leader, S. J. V. Chelvanayakam, constituted “a crime against peace”. The Charter listed three categories of crimes: “(1) crimes against peace, which involved the preparation and initiation of a war of aggression, (2) war crimes (or “conventional war crimes”), which included murder, ill treatment, and deportation, and (3) crimes against humanity, which included political, racial, and religious persecution of civilians.“ – British Encyclopaedia.

Vadukoddai Resolution

The Vietnamese Criminal Code was more specific. In Chapter XXIV: Crimes of Undermining Peace, against Humanity and War Crimes, Article 341, referring to undermining peace, provoking aggressive wars, says: “Those who propagate and/or incite wars of aggression, or prepare, carry out or participate in wars of aggression against the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of another country, shall be sentenced to between 12 and 20 years of imprisonment, life imprisonment or capital punishment.”

Ignoring the convictions of the Nazi war criminals at the Nuremberg trials, the Tamil leadership arrogantly declared war against an elected state that was not at war with any community. The politically charged declarations in the Vadukoddai Resolution were to define themselves as citizens of their “homeland” of Eelam who were committed to wage a war, or participate in a war of aggression against the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka.

The Vadukoddai Resolution was their justification for going to war. But it was a futile war that did not bring the Tamils any good. It did not take them anywhere. This poses serious questions which the Tamil leadership has to answer to their own people:

1. Who is responsible for a futile war that did not achieve anything for the Tamil people?

2. Why did the Tamil leadership – not to mention the theorising intellectuals – covertly or overtly, directly or indirectly, go along with a gang of fascist Tamil terrorists (“the deadliest” - FBI) that were killing their own people more than all the others put together, according to S. C. Chandrahasan and V. Anandasangaree?

3. Having betrayed and abandoned their own people without lifting a single finger to protect them against the worst killer of Tamils next to Sankili (massacre of Tamils in 1544) for 33 years why is the Tamil leadership pretending to be the saviours of the Tamils now by pointing an accusing finger at the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) which liberated them from the fascist tyranny of their “Suriya Devan”? Is this not a blatant and hypocritical attempt to deflect their guilt and responsibilities of protecting their own people to the GOSL?

4. Why didn’t they go to UNHRC to protect the Tamil people from the Tamil predators? Isn’t it because it is politically disadvantageous to expose Tamils committing crimes against Tamils?

5. Why did they cover-up the genocidal killing of Tamils by Tamils by hiding behind the Vadukoddai ideology, particularly that of blaming the Sinhala bogeyman?

6. Why do they keep blaming ‘the Sinhala state’ when the first Tamil de facto state that came out of the Vadukoddai Resolution under the leadership of Velupillai Prabhakaran ran a one-man dictatorship with the blessings of the Tamil leadership, both at home and in the Diaspora, obeying and backing every wish and command of the genocidal killer of Tamils ever in the history of Jaffna?

7. When will the Tamil leadership apologise to the Tamil people for misleading them in the post-independent era and re-position themselves into the real world of political possibilities, abandoning their unrealisable illusions?

In the post-independent period the Tamil leadership has survived in electoral politics essentially by blaming ‘the Sinhala state’. They had never accepted responsibility for their inhuman crimes against their own people throughout their history till the end of Prabhakaran. And our pseudo-intellectuals in NGOs, Friday Freaks, academics and journalists in the pay of cash-strapped NGOs have gone along with their fake narrative of blaming ‘the Sinhala state’ for discrimination, etc. The final historical verdict at Nandikadal has proved that their narrative, based on selected events and interpretations of those events, was not only misleading but self-destructive. It caused so much pain without any gain. The Tamil leadership chose violence knowing the consequences, knowing the risks and knowing that the end result could not be guaranteed.

Violence is not a force that can be managed or directed to serve the ends prescribed by political activists all the time. Nor is it a remedy for all ills. It is a gamble that can bounce back and knock the best laid plans of political and military strategists. Once released violence can rise menacingly as the genie in the bottle. The power of violence can slip out of the hands of those who generated it and fall into the immature and untested hands of those who can rise on it and use it to destroy even the fathers of political violence who launched it. That is what happened in Vadukoddai. The children of the Vadukoddai Resolution turned their guns on the fathers who drafted it and read it aloud in Vadukoddai on May 14, 1976.

In other words, the Tamil leadership was hoisted on their own petard. The violence they released to kill their hated bogeyman, the Sinhalese, boomeranged and blasted their own kith and kin and their bravado, rhetoric, arrogance, and politics of the impossible. In their folly, they had to go through a futile war to realise that they can co-exist in peace with all other communities in a united and indivisible Sri Lanka, if we are to believe now the statements of R. Sampanthan, the outstanding leader of the Tamils.

Ethnic cleansing

They were not babes in the woods when they declared war in Vadukoddai. They knew that if they went for violence demanding separation the cost was going to be heavy. No one was going to give them their Eelam on a platter as they discovered after 33 years filled with tears. Drawn from the Sri Lankan experience, creating an exclusive ethnic enclave means ethnic cleansing, killing the ‘other’, hunting and eliminating Tamil dissidents and rivals, recruiting forcibly even under-aged children when they run out of cadres, suppressing freedom of expression, association, independent judiciary and legislature, running a one-man state, reneging on peace deals, and generally allocating more land for graveyards than agriculture or even the growth of Tamil culture.

In short, separatism means the total annihilation of democracy, liberty, freedom, denial of human dignity, respect for individual rights and, above all human rights. The only culture it facilitates is the gun culture and celebration of the enemies killed. Slaughtering the ‘other’ is raised to the highest level in the list of political honours. Receiving an honour from this killing machine was also valued highly by its loyalists. The glorification of the culture of violence came, in recent times, from the Vadukoddai Resolution.

Sampanthan was a very young and aspiring political leader in the making at Vadkoddai. He had traversed the distance from Vadukoddai to Nandikadal following the Vadukoddian ideology and its consequences without batting an eyelid. He is the most qualified and experienced Tamil leader to explain why the Vadukoddian ideology failed. Or why it turned into Tamil fascism, death and destruction. He had seen it rise and fall. As the last of the Tamil Mohicans, should he not explain to the Tamil people what went wrong with the Tamil leadership of which he was a part? Or is he shy to admit the underlining veracity of Prof. Kumar David’s assertion that the Tamil leadership consists of ‘congenital idiots’?

Even though the Vadukoddai ideology gave them a political peg to hang their hopes initially, they continued to hang on to it even when they knew it was not taking their people anywhere. They hung on to it even when the first-born child that came out of it were humiliating, suppressing, oppressing and destroying their people. In the eyes of the Tamil separatists Vadukoddai Resolution became their Bible that legitimised Tamil political violence, abandoning of the non-violent democratic stream. The war they launched, backed with all their local and international resources, ran, with intermittent breaks, for 33 years (from May 14, 1976 to May 19, 2009) until it was finally crushed on the banks of Nandikadal. Though Sri Lanka was recognised by the international community as a sovereign state from February 4, 1948 ambiguities began to creep in after the Tamil leadership declared war on the sovereign state of Sri Lanka from May 14, 1976 with the sole intention of establishing the separate state of Eelam.

Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam

The Vadukoddai Resolution was a hand-made, home-made political declaration of the elitist Tamil leaders who narrated in it their version of history for declaring war. Their narrative was primarily aimed at justifying their declaration of war to establish a Tamil state, abandoning their cosmetic Gandhian non-violence that was hardly skin-deep. Prof. A. J. Wilson, the son-in-law of S. J. V. Chelvanayakam, the father of Tamil separatism, states that his father-in-law went through every word of the Vadukoddai declaration of war before it was presented to the Tamil leadership. In hindsight, it can be seen that it was the most irresponsible, ill-conceived criminal act that brought nobody –the Tamils in particular in whose name the war was launched – any good.

Coincidentally, a parallel movement to that of the Vadukoddai Convention of May 14, 1976 – a movement that took on the militarised mission of establishing Eelam promised in the Vadukoddai Resolution – also surfaced in the same year and the same month. On May 5, 1976, nine days before the Vadukoddai Resolution, the Tamil New Tigers (TNT), one of the numerous Tamil militant groups, changed its name and was rechristened as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). It was a fateful month in which the Vadukoddai ideology of separatism found its juggernaut to take the Tamils to their elusive destination – an expectation that never materialised.

The Tamil leadership had also changed the name of their Tamil United Front (TUF) into Tamil United Liberation Front. (TULF). They endearingly embraced the Tamil militants as their ‘boys’. They condoned, or justified, or covered up the crimes committed by the children of the Vadukoddai Resolution.

The Tamil leadership, of course, stayed at a safe distance, still ensconced in the parliamentary seats of the state on which they had declared war. In their preparations for war, the Tamil leadership was behind the front row allowing the Tamil youth to pull their chestnuts out of the fire. Their political objective and tactics to achieve a state of their own in the non-violent stream had failed. The anti-Sinhala forces on which they had survived were pushing them to take the next inevitable step and go to war.

The records confirm that the Tamil leadership made all the preparations for the Vadukoddai war. They provided the ideology, the moral and material power, they internationalised it, they financed it, they manufactured propaganda to justify Tamil violence, they defended violations of international law and the rules of engagement in times of war. In fact, the Resolution assigned the specific tasks to (1) the Tamil elite at the top to prepare a plan of action and (2) the Tamil youth to implement it through the gun. But simultaneously they washed their hands off of any responsibility for the violence by blaming the Sri Lankan state and its Forces.

It was the ideological, moral and material support of the Tamil leadership that helped the children of the Vadukoddai Resolution to pave the path for the emergence of a de facto state of sorts which was labelled as Eelam. It is the children born out of the Vadukoddai Resolution that produced the de facto state of Eelam – the first state of any shape or form for the Tamils in the post-colonial period. The Tamils constitute a collective of about 70 million globally of which nearly 55 million live in Tamil Nadu – the original and only homeland of the Tamils. Since there was no possibility of Tamil Nadu forming an independent state, all hopes were focused on carving out a state from the North and the East of Sri Lanka. But the overwhelming forces of history deemed it otherwise.

In participating and passing the Vadukoddai Resolution the Tamil leadership and their partners, both silent and active, played a critical role in preparing and planning to wage war. The Vadkoddai Resolution itself is a key document that testifies to the manufacture of hate politics propagated to initiate and wage war. The Vadukoddians (meaning those who were either active or silent partners of the Vadukoddai ideology) are primarily responsible for laying the foundations of the Tamil killing machine that was refined by the LTTE – the first-born children of the Vadukoddai Resolution.

The planning, initiating and reinforcing the infrastructure of the Tiger killing machine were under the leadership of the Vadukoddians who were either directly or indirectly partners in the crimes listed in the Nuremberg Charter. They were not low-level or middle-level perpetrators of violence. They were the crème de la crème of Tamil society who authored Tamil violence. They defined, endorsed, financed and even defended in courts the crimes committed by their political children as commendable attempts of Tamil heroism. It was the force of the Vadukoddai ideology that led to the massacres of Tamil rivals, dissidents, moderates, Muslims, Sinhalese and perceived “enemies” like Rajiv Gandhi. The Vadukoddians are directly responsible for perfecting the killing machine of the Tamil Tigers. Without their financial, moral, international, political and legal support the Tigers could never have got to the place they occupied at the height of their power.

So in any analysis of the North-South armed conflict which lasted for 33 years what should be recognised first is that it is the Tamil leadership that declared war and committed ‘the crime against peace’. It is the only Sri Lankan ethnic minority community, including their Tamils MPs, that officially declared war against the democratically elected state and/or their fellow citizens, with the sole objective of breaking up an internationally recognised state. It was ironical – or was it hypocritical? – for the Tamil MPs to be signatories to a declaration of war against the state of which they were MPs. They wanted to have it both ways, with one foot in each camp. As it happened, they had to depend eventually on ‘the Sinhala state’ to find protection – a state which they stated did not give security to the Tamils – when their Tamil de facto state was hunting them to eliminate them from the political equation.

The Tamils who were elated with the establishment of a Tamil state – though only a de facto one -- were in a state of denial refusing to accept responsibility for the crimes committed by their state authorities. But it must be conceded that in going so far as a de facto state the Tamils reached the highest peak of their power. Their power not only threatened local territorial integrity but also regional stability. They were able to generate and sustain violence through the fascist grip that crushed the Tamils who were cowed down by Vadukoddian violence.

Velupillai Prabhakaran

In the latter stages, even Anton Balasingham is on record saying that he could not convince his leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran, to recognise the ground realities and settle for a peace agreement. It was too late when the Tamils realised that the monster they created at Vadukoddai had slipped out of their control. They could not manage their violence either for their own good or for their future. The cocky children of the Vadukoddai Resolution had over-extended themselves and, drunk with the arrogance of gun-power, decided to take on even India. They had installed all the key structures – a judiciary, army, navy, air force, an administration (no legislature though) – to qualify as a de facto state.

The international community too had begun to treat them with some respect, particularly as stakeholders of the peace process. But the peninsularity of the Jaffna jingoist mind blinded them. They could live only in their make-believe world of Tamil superiority. Their intransigence, arrogance and their self-destructive reliance on violence as the be-all and the end-all of politics dragged them, kicking and screaming, into the murky depths of Nandikadal.

This story ends by confirming that violence has never worked for any community. Sinhala violence of the JVP fascists, Tamil violence of the Tiger fascists and the Muslim violence of Islamic fascists have proved that terror and brutality can never provide a single solution to any community. Besides, violence, once it is released can go in many directions. It is unpredictable and the first victims can be those who released it.

That is the tragic story of the Vadukoddai Resolution.