The Tamil people’s long wait for justice over the abhorrent War Crimes committed by Mahinda Rajapaksa’s brutal government, drags on with little hope that the tyrant will ever face the same kind of international judicial process as Liberian despot Charles Taylor.
Yet for those on the ground in Tamil Eelam, justice in itself is not even the key priority right now. Far more pressing is the fact that, as long as Rajapaksa and his thugs remain in power and unpunished, their violent state racism continues to threaten the safety and lives of Tamils living under their control every single day.
This persecution has continued unabated since the government’s conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) ended in 2009 amidst a plethora of massacres and human rights abuses.
As the dust settled the concentration camps emerged, where hundreds of thousands of Tamil civilians were rounded up and held in clear violation of international law as part of an attempt to ‘drain the LTTE pond’. Then came regulations under the Prevention of Terror Act (PTA) giving the President and Secretary of Defence unprecedented broad and un-scrutinised powers, whilst continuing the extra-judicial internment system established under the now-defunct State of Emergency.
Hardly a model for a so-called-democratic state.
The further round-up of one hundred and fifty Tamil men this week is just the latest sinister chapter in this on-going saga. Scores of these civilians remain un-accounted for, with neither their location or wellbeing disclosed to family members. Understandably, given the government’s track-record for torturing, executing or simply ‘disappearing’ those suspected of even vague links to the LTTE, fears for their safety are now running high.
At the same time, tensions have been stoked by a controversial display of the banned Tamil Eelam flag at a May Day rally in Jaffna City. The rally was organised by opposition United National Party (UNP) and the Tamil National Alliance (TNA). The government has seized upon the incident to publicly denounce both parties as ‘separatists’ and ‘traitors’ – yet opposition activists point out that only state television picked up pictures of the flag, leading to not-unrealistic speculation of underhand government involvement.
As the post-conflict Sri Lankan state slips further away from any vestige of liberal democracy, the need to halt Rajapaksa and his confidents has never been more urgent.