Protest Demonstration Against the Massacre of Adivasis of Bijapur

Join Joint Protest Demonstration Against the Massacre of Adivasis of Bijapur

Date: 17th July (Tuesday) 2012, Time: 11 AM
Place: Chhattisgarh Bhavan, Chanakyapuri, Delhi

Recently the Indian state has intensified its eviction and extermination campaign against the adivasis of central and eastern India under the rubric of Operation Green Hunt. On the night of 28 June 2012 when the adivasi peasants of Sarkeguda, Kottaguda and Rajpenta (Bijapur district of south Chhattisgarh) gathered to plan the performance of the traditional festival Beej Pandum (seed festival), they were surrounded by hundreds of Police and Para-military forces of the Indian state. The armed forces resorted to indiscriminate firing killing 17 adivasis (including 6 minors) cold-blooded. Two other villagers were likewise killed near Jagargunda village of Sukma district in the same night, and predictably, were shown as casualties of an ‘encounter’ between the Maoists and the armed forces.

As the testimonies of the eyewitnesses coming through the Media, Fact Finding Reports of different Civil / Democratic Right Teams and the statements of different social-political forces (including the Congress Party of Chhattisgarh) now confirm that the killing of the adivasis was a heinous massacre committed by the Cobra battalion of the CRPF and the Chhattisgarh Police, under the command of top police officials. Even the Union Tribal Minister Mr. K C Deo has said that ‘17 innocent citizens, who were unarmed, who were wearing just a dhoti or a baniyan and who did not even have a sickle or a knife’ had been killed by the CRPF.

But still the central Home Minister and the top officials of CRPF are claiming that these adivasis have been killed in a “fierce” gunfight in the dense jungles of Dantewada on June 27-28 in a joint anti-Maoist operation by the CRPF and state police. This is really a matter of grave concern for all the justice loving progressive and democratic forces of our country.

We, the under signed progressive, democratic and civil rights organizations working in Delhi have decided to show our anguish and concern in front of Chhattisgarh Bhavan, Chanakyapuri on 17th July 2012 at 11 AM, in the form of a Protest Demonstration.

We earnestly appeal to you / your organization to join us at Chhattisgarh Bhavan to make the protest programme successful. Hope your positive responses.

All India Federation of Trade Unions (New), Inquilabi Mazdoor Kendra, Krantikari Naujawan Sabha, Krantikari Yuva Sangathan, Mazdoor Patrika, National Confederation of Human Rights Organisations (NCHRO), Peoples’ Democratic Front of India (PDFI), People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR), Radical Notes, Sanhati-Delhi, Students For Resistance, Vidyarthi Yuvjan Sabha

KMSS Hunger Strike in Assam, Akhil Gogoi Arrested

Campaign for Survival and Dignity

After sending the below, we received information that Akhil Gogoi was arrested at around 3 am this morning from the site of the hunger strike and many KMSS supporters were lathi charged. He has been forcibly hospitalised but is resisting forcefeeding. Meanwhile when KMSS members protesting in Guwahati were lathi charged, and more than 20 people have been seriously injured. Road blockades and other protests are now taking place across the state.

Today, in Assam, the indefinite hunger strike of Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti leader Akhil Gogoi entered its fifth day. This marks a key moment in one of the largest mass struggles for people’s rights in the country today. Till date there is no reaction whatsoever from the government to the KMSS’ democratic demand for a halt to the construction of dams in the State and to atrocities on those protesting against them. Most of these dams are coming up in total violation of law, without compliance with the procedures for forest clearance, environmental clearance and without respecting people’s rights over forest land. The dams threaten the livelihoods of lakhs of people and pose a serious risk of future natural disasters that could claim the lives of tens of thousands more. When people have opposed the construction of these dams, they have faced beatings, tear gas and police firings. The KMSS’ decision to call the indefinite hunger strike was also driven by opposition to these atrocities.

The KMSS’ peaceful struggle for people’s resource rights has mobilised lakhs of people. In the last few years their protests have engulfed the entire State. But for our state machinery these things matter little. Indeed, in Maharashtra, the same system and the same forest officials who (among others) broke the law in Assam have now given themselves the power to kill people with impunity (in the name of “shoot on sight orders” against “poachers”). This blatantly unconstitutional order will lead to killings of local adivasis and forest dwellers, who will never even be given the basic right to a trial. Whether it is in the name of sham “development” or in the name of dictatorial “conservation”, the same bureaucracy and ruling class seizes power and resources, trampling roughshod over the rights of the people. The struggle is on for real democracy in this country.


CDRO Fact-finding: Saranda, Poraiyahat (Jharkhand)

Interim report/Press release
23rd May 2012

Jharkhand is fast becoming a military state. Similar to operation green hunt which was started three years ago in mineral rich forest areas resided by adivasis, brutal operations are being carried out continuously in Jharkhand as well. ‘Operation Anaconda’ was launched as a special operation in August 2011 in Saranda forest area of West Singhbhum district of Jharkhand. Reasons for speeding up of such military operations by the state can be viewed in a twofold context. One the one hand mining activity in Saranda has been on the rise. Saranda is Asia’s largest mineral reserve and holds immense economic importance. On the other hand, contrary to the government claim that the area has been cleared of Maoist activity, infact it is far from being crushed.

In order to gather first hand details of the manner in which the state has reacted to the changing conditions on ground, an all-India team from the Coordination for Democratic Rights Organisations(CDRO) was set up constituting members from human rights organisations of Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Punjab, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand. The team conducted an investigation in Saranda and the adjoining areas between 20th and 22rd May 2012.

What follows is a brief summary of the observations made by the team. In Puraiyahaat, in January 2011, hundreds security forces entered Kamaay village. They beat up people and arrested four of them called Marshall Bhuiyaan, Nelson Bhuiyaan, Premanad Bhuiyaan and Pinky Bhuiyaan. The first two are still imprisoned while the other two have to appear regularly at the Thana. They are all falsely implicated in helping the Maoists. The CRPF also destroyed property, and mixed food grains in this village.

On the 20th of May itself, a security operation was conducted in Pandua village. Around 500 jawans entered the village at around 5.30 in the morning. Hallan Huttar was taken away blindfolded and handcuffed by the forces. Villagers now fear his death. Abraham Munda’s property was destroyed, and 3500 rupees were taken away. 15 year old Mithun Bhuiyaan was beaten black and blue. Munda’s wife and her year and half old son were also beaten up by a high rank police official. One villager was looted of Rs. 10,000 which she had kept aside for buying ox for her fields. Also, a para-doctor here is frequently oppressed with the accusation of treating Maoists. According to the villagers this destruction continued in the village for almost three hours during which the forces also consumed liquor and marijuana. Few villagers were even forced to flee from their village on that day. In the same village, on the 10th of this month when the forces attacked the village, they also misbehaved with the women here. It was shocking to know that there were no women in the force while women were tortured brutally.

The team also visited 4 villages of Manoharpur block: Tirilposi, Raatamaati, Deegha, Tholkobaad. In all of these villages, forces converted whole villages into their base camp for an entire month. Villagers had to hide in the jungles and many ran away to their relatives in nearby villages to escape oppression. Of those who were left in the village, men were held captive separating them from the women. They were tortured and even had to relieve themselves wherever they were locked up. Old people who couldn’t run away were beaten up so badly that some of them even died. Houses were burnt and people jailed. Most of them are still in Chaybaasa jail, and according to their families they are not even sure of the offense of which they are accused. In Tirilposi alone 17 people have been imprisoned. Economically dented, these villagers are totally unable to follow legal proceedings to get relief. In one of the copies of charge sheets observed by the team, a villager was implicated in UAPA, CLA, and in addition also blamed of sedition and waging war against the state.

Additionally, it was observed that under the IAP, contractors from outside were given work which is against the rules of IAP.

Right after operation Anaconda was completed, the government started a development project in the name of Saranda Action Plan(SAP) under which villagers have been given solar panels, clothes, utensils, and sewing machines as short term trust building measures. The government also plans to introduce long term measures like livelihood options, building of check dams, and training for employment among others. Simultaneously, in and around these villages security forces are also in the process of constructing permanent camps. Saranda will be home to 20-25 camps soon.

Certain questions come to the fore. How has the state suddenly woken up to the development needs of the tribals here after so long? Is it only a coincidence that Operation Anaconda, the SAP, and private mining project leases are falling in line together here in Saranda? Why has the government cracked down so hard all of a sudden on the people of Saranda?

A trajectory can be spotted in the actions of the government in Saranda. It is clear that the government has failed to estimate the real needs of the people. And with the maoist activity refusing to fade away, the government with the fear of losing ground has reacted frantically by launching brutal operations on the people. By terrorizing the tribals, the state is simply trying alternatives to sustain a larger foothold over them.

It is therefore that we demand, the following:

1. All CRPF, military and para-military camps be removed from the state
2. In the context of mining and SAP implementation, PESA and the 5th Schedule be implemented according to which decision making rests on the tribal communities.
3. All private mining activity be stopped immediately.
4. Justice for those who have been beaten up and exploited, and release of all those people who have been imprisoned and implicated in false cases. The perpetrators, the CRPF instead must be booked for the oppression meted out by them.
5. After this attack on their identity and existence, the autonomy of tribals should be left unaffected.

Shashi Bhushan Pathak, Aloka Kujur, Mithilesh Kumar, Santosh (PUCL Jharkhand); Puneet, Social Activist, Naushad, Journalist (Jharkhand)
Gautum Navalakha, Shruti Jain, Megha Bahl(PUDR, Delhi)
Chandrashekhar, Narayan Rao, Rajavindam, APCLC, Andhra Pradesh)
Pritpal Singh, Narbhinder (AFDR, Punjab)
Rajeev Yadav, Shahnawaz Alam (PUCL, Uttar Pradesh)
Chandrika, Prashant Rahi (Independent journalists)

Press Conference: Against Evictions and Repression in West Bengal (April 23, New Delhi)

April 23, 11 am at the Indian Women’s Press Corps,

On March 30, 2012, the Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA), with the full support of the Trinamool Congress-led West Bengal government and its police force, bulldozed and burnt down the houses of over 200 families in the shantytown of Nonadanga in the name of ‘development’ and ‘beautification’. The dictatorial Trinamool government has unleashed police and ‘legal’ repression, on an everyday basis, on all those who have been trying to resist this. A march of residents, under the banner of Ucched Pratirodh Committee (Resistance to Eviction Committee), was brutally lathicharged by the police on April 4, and again a sit-in demonstration four days later (April 8th) was violently broken up and 67 people arrested. Subsequent meetings and rallies held in solidarity with the movement on April 9 and 12 were attacked by goons, and hundreds of activists were arrested by the police. Cases under Sections 353, 332, 141, 143, 148 and 149 of the IPC have been slapped on seven activists of various mass and democratic rights organisations, which stood in support of the Nonadanga movement. Six of them are either in jail or police remand till April 26, while Partho Sarathi Ray was released on bail on April 18. Debolina Chakrabarti has even been charged under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for ‘anti-national activities’. During a court hearing on April 12 a prosecution team of 40 lawyers made a concerted bid to implicate them in a slew of false cases and paint them as ‘anti-national’, even going so far as to claim that Nonadanga was used for “stockpiling arms and ammunition”. In spite of such unrelenting and brutal repression by the state, the people of Nonadanga have continued to resist.

The sword of eviction hangs not just on a Nonadanga, or for that matter a Bhalaswa (Delhi). Today in India, 256 lakh people are homeless or live in abject conditions in slums, and this number is progressively on the rise. Forget jobs or providing decent education, the state is retreating from all its responsibilities of providing working masses with the cost of living and reproduction. Evicting them from their homes has become the norm, as the cities are restructured according to the needs of the ruling classes.

In Delhi, more than two dozen left and progressive organisations have come together not just in solidarity with the Nonadanga struggle and the arrested activists, but, more importantly, to leverage this opportunity to link up the everyday struggles of their respective mass bases with one another. That, we think, is crucial in order to build a larger, countrywide urban resistance of the working people against the depredations of neo-liberal capital.

We invite members of the press to a press conference on April 23, 11 am at the Indian Women’s Press Corps, 5, WINDSOR PLACE, NEW DELHI-110001 to announce our future course of action and to express our solidarity with the Nonadanga struggle.

Nayanjyoti & Sunil – Coordinators
Contact: 8130589127

Nonadanga: Political Profiles of the Arrested Activists


The dispossessed of Nonadanga are now on hunger strike, staying in an open field while facing constant police harassment. The demand is two-fold: rehabilitation, and the release of seven arrested activists. In view of the situation, Sanhati is publishing political profiles of the arrested activists.


Debalina Chakrabarty, secretary of Kolkata based women’s organization Matangini Mahila Samiti, has participated in the people’s movements of Singur, Nandigram and Lalgarh. She has been a member on many fora, such as the SEZ Birodhi Prachar Mancha, resisting the aggression of neoliberal capital in West Bengal. She has also participated on various fact-finding teams, including one of the first reports to probe the socioeconomic effects of the purported Jindal SEZ in Salboni, West Midnapur district, West Bengal.

Samik Chakraborty is an activist with the Mazdur Kranti Parishad and is also a documentary filmmaker with the activist cinema group Canvas. Earlier, Samik was the state secretary and president of the Progressive Democratic Students’ Federation. Samik is currently a fulltime activist, being involved in many of the peoples’ movements in the past decade ranging from the movements in Singur, Laalgarh, lockedout factory workers’ movements in the Hooghly and 24 Parganas industrial belt, union struggles of Hindusthan Motors, Gorkhaland agitations, relief and rehabilitation demands for Aila affected people of the Sundarbans and more recently the struggle of the slum evictees of Nonadanga. As a member of Canvas, he was involved in shooting and producing a host of documentaries. Samik is also an activist of the Sanhati Collective.

Manas Chatterjee is a full time activist of CPIML Liberation. He is a member of the Party’s Kolkata District Committee, and Secretary of the Jadavpur local Committee. He is a veteran of many anti-eviction movements in the past, and has been at the forefront of the organisation of rickshaw workers in the Jadavpur region, as well as the organisation of workers in the industrial complexes of the region. He is a district committee member of Kolkata AICCTU.

Debjani Ghosh is one of the leaders of the student organisation USDF at Jadavpur University, and has been actively involved in many political struggles in and around Kolkata. She was one of the many students injured during the lathicharge by police inside JU campus in 2010 November. She has participated in the solidarity struggle for labourers at the Naihati Jute Mill in 2010. Recently, she had been arrested during the protests against the TMC government’s failure to release political prisoners and withdrawal of joint forces from Jangalmahal. She was also was one the 12 USDF activists arrested while setting up a commemorative dais on Sidhu Soren’s martyr day. She has been part of the protests against the arrest of PCAPA leaders and is also part of the efforts to bring the land deal in Singur back in focus, as recently as August 2011.

Siddhartha Gupta has been active in the anti-land acquisition movement of Bengal since 2006, as part of Gana Pratirodh Mancha. Earlier he had been a member of the Revolutionary Youth League. At the time of this arrest he was employed as a physician at a hospital in Calcutta. He has been actively involved in organizing several free medical camps and had also visited Lalgarh for providing medical care to the people there. On one such visit in 2011 August he along with Abhijnan Sarkar was arrested. Siddhartha was also associated with Shramjibi Swasthya Udyog and has been one of the few doctors who visited the POSCO resistance area on health mission.

Partho Sarathi Ray has been active in various democratic rights struggles for a number of years, as a member of various solidarity fora, both in West Bengal and across India. He has reported on a wide variety of peoples movements, from Lalgarh to POSCO. He has also written a number of fact-finding reports, e.g. on Falta SEZ and South City Mall. He has also written a large number of analytical articles, on the political geography of SEZs, the Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India, the penetration of corporations in retail and the middle class of India. He has also contributed to various other magazines and journals, on similar issues. Partho is an activist of the Sanhati Collective.

Abhijnan Sarkar has been a member of the student group USDF and has actively participated in peoples movements in West Bengal for many years, as part of different solidarity fora. He is the editor of the periodical “Towards a New Dawn” in Kolkata. Abhijnan is also associated with the Sanhati Collective and has reported on the police repression on the Nari Ijjat Bachao Committee in Lalgarh.

Protest Demonstration in Delhi (April 12, 11:00 am)

12th April @11.30 am, in front of Banga Bhavan, Hailey Road
We will assemble at Mandi House Metro Station at 11a.m.

We find that the anti-people character of the West Bengal government is getting exposed daily. The police and bulldozers of Trinamool-led West Bengal government has not only evicted slum-dwellers of Nonadanga in South Kolkata, but lathicharged and then arrested residents in a continuous spate of its developmental terrorism. It has sent into police custody 7 activists of various mass and democratic rights organisations, who are kept in isolation, and allegations of ‘arms and ammunition found’ etc are doing the rounds.

We strongly condemn this anti-people development model and the eviction of slumdwellers and hawkers in Nonadanga and all over Kolkata, and demand that this be brought to a halt and the question of housing and rehabilitation of the residents be addressed. We also demand that the arrested activists be released and the the false charges dropped immediately.

AISA, AIRSO, Bigul Mazdoor Dasta, Disha Students Organisation, Inquilabi Mazdoor Kendra, Krantikari Naujawan Sabha, Krantikari Yuva Sangathan, Mehnatkash Mazdoor Morcha, Mazdoor Patrika, P.D.F.I., P.U.D.R., Students for Resistance, Vidyarthi Yuvajan Sabha and others.

Joint Statement from Delhi organisations on Nonadanga

The Trinamool Congress-led Government of West Bengal is daily showing its anti-people character. Its Police and the bulldozers of the KMDA (Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority) razed to the ground and burnt the slums and homes of more than 800 people in Nonadanga, Kolkata on 30th March 2012. These are the same people who were resettled after evictions from various canal banks across Kolkata, and from the dispossessed from the hurricane Aila in 2009. A protest march called against the forceful eviction by residents and progressive organisations and individuals on 4th April was also brutally lathicharged by the Police, critically injuring many. Yesterday on 8th April, a sit-in demonstration was violently broken and 67 people were arrested, with false cases pressed on seven activists of various democratic mass organisations supporting the struggle. They have been remanded in police custody till 12th April, and there is an attempt by the state to frame these democratic rights activists, falsely alleging that arms and ammunitions have been found on them. Also on 9th April, 114 demonstrators who were protesting against these moves by the government were arrested from College Street. On 10th April, a huge consignment of police has cordoned off the entire area and the threat of imminent demolition even of the temporary tents and community kitchen looms large, reminding us of the situation in Singur in 2006.

The government had earlier refused to provide even basic amenities like water, school, drainage system and proper housing in these resettlement colonies and pushed them into an `illegal’ existence, and made them dependent on the networks of local Trinamool and CPI(M) goons. And now in the name of beautification, this violent eviction drive is set on the roll on these supposed `illegal encroachers’ whose cheap labour is `legally exploited’ to run the city’s economy. Anyone opposing this kind of violent `development’ of the ruling classes, has been declared to be `Maoists’ and `inciting outsiders’ conveniently by the Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee again in her press statements to delegitimize the struggle, while the common lands of Kolkata are handed over to the corporate land sharks in the best traditions set up by the previous CPI(M)-led government.

We, the undersigned organisations, condemn the arrests made on 8th April of protestors sitting in a demonstration in Ruby Junction, and demand that the 7 activists of various mass organisations who continue to be arrested be released and the false charges against them be dropped immediately, as the government is acting against the democratic right to organize and dissent.

We condemn the action of the Trinamool-led West Bengal Government and the brutal lathicharge on 4th April, and continued harassment by the Kolkata Police on the residents of Nonadanga and those protesting against the ongoing eviction process in the name of `beautification’ of the city, and demand action against the police officers involved.

We stand with the struggle of the residents of Nonadanga and demand an immediate halt to the eviction drive in the city and the anti-people development, and proper compensation and rehabilitation for all the slum dwellers and hawkers in Nonadanga and in the evictions all over Kolkata.

AIFTU (New), AIRSO, AISA, Bigul Mazdoor Dasta, Delhi Metro Kamgar Union, Democratic Students Union, Disha Students Organisation, Inquilabi Mazdoor Kendra, Jamia Teachers Solidarity Forum, Krantikari Naujawan Sabha, Krantikari Yuva Sangathan, Pragatishil Mehnatkash Mazdoor Morcha, Mehnatkash Patrika, Mazdoor Patrika, Mehnatkash Mazdoor Morcha, New Socialist Initiative, Peoples Democratic Front of India, People’s Union for Democratic Rights, Posco Pratirodh Solidarity Delhi, Sanhati-Delhi, Students for Resistance, Vidyarthi Yuvajan Sabha

Nonadanga: Against Repression and Arrest

Krantikari Naujawan Sabha

Condemn Repression in the name of ‘Development’ of the ‘Beautiful’ !
Demand Immediate Release of Arrested Dissenters !!

The ‘beautiful’ and the ‘developed’ entwined as it is with power, must make war on its underside, the ‘ugly’, the toiling, and demolish it, hide it under the shine of corporate towers and election promises. The brutal violence of the present process of ‘development’ in India comes buttressed with State Repression. This is exposed yet again when the Trinamool-led West Bengal government with its brute police force and Kolkata Municipal Development Corporation (KMDA) bulldozed and burnt the houses of 800 slum-dwellers in Nonadanga, South Kolkata on 30th March 2012 in the name of ‘beautification’. This is backed up with continuous state repression- residents who tried to resist their homes being demolished were beaten, picked up and put into police vans. Picking up pieces from their broken homes, setting up temporary shelters with vinyl sheets and a community kitchen, the residents organized a protest march the next day, and again on 4th April. This was met with brutal Police lathicharge and abuses, male plain-clothes personnel pounced on the women, kicked twenty-one year Rita Patra in her advanced pregnancy, split the head of two-and-a-half year old Joy Paswan. A sit-in demonstration was organized on 8th April- police forcefully arrested 67 people and again on 9th April, 114 student protestors were arrested from College Street. Seven activists of various mass organizations have been sent to police custody till 12th April with non-bailable warrants and allegations of ‘stockpiling of arms and ammunitions in Nonadanga’ doing the rounds in the Chief Minister’s press statements. Yesterday and again today 11th April, a huge consignment of police has cordoned off the entire area and the threat of imminent demolition even of the temporary tents and community kitchen looms large, reminding us of the situation in Singur of 2nd December 2006. A mass hunger strike has meanwhile started in the area by various progressive organizations, activists and intellectuals, which the state machinery is readying to crush.

The build-up to this has been the spate of eviction drives going on in the city under state supervision (read: repression) to hand over land to the corporate sharks at throw-away prices. All the roadside hawkers’s huts and shops and markets along an 8 km stretch have been demolished by the side of E.M. Bypass a few days ago. For Mamata’s ‘poriborton’, the working masses have to pay a price. The threat of an imminent eviction was looming large in Nonadanga days before the eviction drive. These are the people who have earlier been evicted from canal banks across Kolkata and have been resettled here and continue to be harassed by the networks of the local Trinamool and CPI(M) goons. Apprehending the worst, the residents met the Urban Development minister, Firhad Hakim who said that there will be eviction only for the ‘newcomers’. On the day before the scheduled date of eviction, the dwellers again went to meet the Chief Minister, but were stopped and arrested by the police just as they started their journey from Nonadanga. People of the locality then formed an independent forum named Uchhed Protirodh Committee (Eviction Protest Committee), with the help of several people and organisations who are supporting the movement who are now being accused of being close to Maoists.

The Question of “Legality” that Is Looming large in the Media and Civil Society

The police, administration and a section of media is playing on the hashed argument that the evicted people were ‘illegal’ dwellers and ‘encroachers’ in the area, that they do not possess any legal ownership documents etc. The history of colony movement in West Bengal was to resettle people who have come to Kolkata from elsewhere, and the vast majority of population in the areas like Jadavpur, Baghajatin, Garia etc were once refugees. These ‘encroachers’ have arrived in the city pushed by the crisis of agriculture in the rural areas, in search of any type of employment, some have been pushed here after being evicted from one place to another, and many have come from the Sundarbans after their homes and lands have been devastated by the cyclone Aila in 2009. If the people here are ‘illegal’, it is the State’s problem, which so-called constitutionally guarantees the ‘right of livelihood’, corollary of which is the right to land and habitation. Besides, their demand of an adequate rehabilitation is also perfectly within the ambit of law. So, where is the question of being ‘illegal’?

The obvious also does not point out that what is ‘legal’ may not be necessarily ethical. In fact, as history shows us, apart the regime of law set to protect the property rights of the rulers, the coming in of any new slightly progressive law or the amendment of an old one is almost always as a result of mass movements which were fought on the premise of such demands that were deemed as ‘illegal’ previously by the legal system. The ‘law and order problem’ approach of the State backfired when the struggles in Singur and Nandigram forced the government to consider changing the British era 1894 Land Acquisition Act. Every private land ownership in the world is basically a sort of forceful occupancy, some days earlier or some days later, and the modern state has come in between to stamp some of them legal and some illegal, according to its class interest.

Eviction: Not only a Question of Residence but of Political Economy

Brutal eviction drives have become normal in the ruling class agenda to pauperise the rural areas and move the thus insecure working masses to the cities, and restructure the cities themselves. Huge ‘industrial model towns’ and cities find no mention of workers housing even in the grand ‘master plans’. This is seen everywhere from Guwahati to Bhubaneshwar to Raipur to the resettlement colonies of Bawana and Bhalaswa in Delhi, and Kolkata is no exception. For one, in Kolkata the Land Revenue Department had acquired lands around the Nonadanga region about 25 years back to distribute them among the poor homeless people of the city. Since then, while a resettlement colony has been built up for the evicted people from other places, for the last few years, the wetlands and fisheries have been filled up and the land steadily sold in phases and parts to different companies and real estate developers who work in tandem with Trinamool and CPI(M) government officials and local goons. A section from among the settlers are also bought over given their precarious condition. Nonadanga is at just a stone’s throw from the eastern metropolitan bypass behind such glitzy corporate hospitals like Fortis, Ruby and Desunand and plans are on to transfer the land at throwaway prices to big real-estate projects by ‘Urbana’ and IT hubs. Obviously, in such a strategic location in a metropolis, they will not tolerate slums and ‘all these dirty people’.

While ‘restructuring’ of spaces to suit the needs of capital goes on, we need to remember that eviction is not only a question of residence of some people but a serious question of political economy, and that is how it relates itself to the other cross sections of society. To enter into the question we have to look at the means of livelihood of these residents here. People of Nonadanga are employed in various small scale industries, in petty production and many are unemployed workers. Some in the garment industry, some in the ‘Kasba Industrial Estate’ nearby, some in other small factories of the subcontractors of big industrial houses. A large number of people work as construction workers and contract workers in various places. Many are autodrivers, ricksaw-pullers, van-pullers, drivers of personal or official cars. Many people are self-employed in small roadside shops of food, tailoring, mobile-recharge, grocery and majority of women are employed as domestic-helps.

On their cheap labour, the social economy and architecture of the entire city stands. Especially the salaried masses and the lower middle classes are in a symbiotic relationship with them. The hawkers and roadside shops of “4 kachuri plus curry at Rs.10” evicted so that there is no other option than going to their Big Bazars, Walmarts and CCDs.; and so that this population already living below subsistence wages are further pauperised into selling their labour even cheaper. The domestic-helps for washing clothes, cleaning floors at Rs.300/month with 30 working days/month in morning and evening shifts will be dealt further blows. The formal sector anyway maintains its low real wage by virtue of the informal economy which creates a condition of lesser cost of regeneration of labour power. A vast section of middle class is convinced with the logic of capital propagated by the state, power-mongering political parties and omniscient media. There is a large section of the lower middle class in Kolkata who are the strata between slum dwellers and salaried masses who will be in serious crisis, because they are the consumers in relation to the people in Nonadanga and similar locations. For the ruling classes to have their beautification and accumulation growing, these are the people who have to pay a price.

Struggle against the evictions is ongoing in Kolkata, as in many other cities across the country. In Kolkata, slum-dwellers of different places are fighting against eviction and for housing, livelihood and the cost connected to their reproduction of their labour. These movements however have still not been able to build up solidarity among themselves and are still localised. The State and mainstream political parties are trying as always to create internal divisions among several sections of residents using their vulnerability and contradictions of their immediate interest. Advancement and generalisation of struggle can only throw out these problems from the arena of mass movements. We stand in solidarity with the struggle of people in Nonadanga for their right to housing and demand that the arrested activists be released and the false charges against them be immediately dropped.

Surprise yet uneven Human Rights Council conclusion: Sri Lanka-Tamils

Ron Ridenour

Human Rights Council voted today (March 22) to criticize the Sri Lankan government for “not adequately address[ing] serious allegations of violations of international law” when conducting its final phases of war against the liberation guerrilla army LTTE (Liberation Tigers for Tamil Eelam), which ended, May 18, 2009, with government-caused massive blood baths.

The resolution called upon Sri Lanka to implement its own findings and recommendations make in its report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), but extended that call to “initiate credible and independent actions to ensure justice, equity, accountability and reconciliation for all Sri Lankans.” (“Independent action” is not defined.)

Furthermore, the resolution with 24 in favor, 15 against and 8 abstentions, “encourages” the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to offer the government “advice and technical assistance” in implementing the LLRC recommendations, and to make a report on the provision at the 22nd HRC session, a year from now.

In an earlier draft, Sri Lanka would have had to provide a time table to show implementation was underway. To acquire India’s vote, perhaps, the final resolution was watered down. No mention of war crimes or crimes against humanity is included; instead, Sri Lanka is asked to investigate “allegations of extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances.” (See Tamilnet’s story with draft changes)

The resolution implies a lack of confidence in the Sri Lankan government to enact even its own mild investigation, while preventing any discussion of a more solid investigation into allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity that the “Report of the Secretary-General’s Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka” called for last year when it recommended an independent international investigation.

Comparison with May 2009 resolution

The resolution that US allies backed in May 2009 [the US was not on the Council then] also called upon Sri Lanka to investigate itself for possible human rights abuse, while condemning only the LTTE for terrorism and war crimes and other human rights abuses. Even though this resolution only asked the police to investigate themselves, many governments took this as an affront to sovereignty. 29 countries voted to applaud Sri Lanka and condemn only the LTTE. Nothing was stated about the suffering of hundreds of thousands of Tamil civilians. This resolution was opposed by12 votes and there were six abstentions. The pattern was clear then: nearly all the Non-Aligned Movement governments voted for Sri Lanka, and the West voted for a possible critique.

This time the geo-political voting pattern was broken, and, coincidently, disproved my prediction that Sri Lanka would come through without a slap on the face.

The changes in voting are interesting:

Latin American and Africa changed votes significantly.

In 2009, all of the African governments on the Council voted fully in favor of Sri Lanka with one abstention. This time the vote was split with five in favor of the possible criticism, three opposed and five abstentions.

In 2009, five of Latin American governments voted to fully support Sri Lanka, two voted for some critique (Chile and Mexico) and Argentine abstained. Today, six governments voted for the critique with only the two ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of our America) governments voting against any critique (Cuba and Ecuador).

The Middle Eastern governments did not change. They all voted not to criticize with one abstention, the same pattern as in 2009.

Europe, west and east, voted the same way: slight critique.

Russia and China backed Sri Lanka fully.

The countries still on the Council since 2009, which changed their votes from support of Sri Lanka to critique are: Cameroon and Nigeria; India; Uruguay.

The most significant reversal is India, given its several decades’-long-relationship supporting the Island nation so close to it. Although India changed its vote it balanced the change with sovereign state solidarity with Sri Lanka.

“While we subscribe to the broader message of this resolution and the objectives it promotes, we also underline that any assistance from the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights or visits of UN Special Procedures should be in consultation with and with the concurrence of the Sri Lankan Government,” read the Indian statement, as reported by

“Observers in Tamil Nadu said that the Indian statement contradicted the demands put forward by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Ms. J. Jayalalithaa, who had demanded India to declare SL President Mahinda Rajapaksa complicit in genocide and war-crimes and to call for economic sanctions against Sri Lanka till the country ensured equal status to Tamils,” the website reported.

Uruguay’s change is also important. Its new president, José Mujica, was a left-wing guerrilla who spent 15 years in prison, two of it at the bottom of a well. He has placed poverty as the first order of business.

Peru was not on the Council in 2009 but its new government with Ollanta Humala as president voted to criticize Sri Lanka. He has also vowed to tackle poverty as his first priority.

The fact that two African governments have reversed their vote may indicate that international agitation has had an effect. More NAM governments abstained this time as well.

Why the difference?

Although it was the greatest terrorist state in the world that introduced the critical resolution, the United States is still a partner in the war crimes and in genocide against Tamils. It always backed Sinhalese chauvinism, discrimination against Tamils, and offered no aid to Tamil civilians. But it sees an opportunity here to polish its image as a “human rights supporter” while maintaining systematic human rights abuse in its many invasions and military interventions in the world.

The current US president is at war in seven countries, all circumscribing United Nations laws against invading countries that have not invaded the propagator of war: Afghanistan, Iraq [tens of thousands of US war mercenaries still occupy Iraq], Pakistan, Somalia, Uganda, Sudan and Libya. Furthermore, without US backing the Palestinian people would have been liberated from Zionist Israel ages ago.

These are some factors in the change:

1. Indian Tamils in Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka Tamils living in the Diaspora in many countries have, since the end of the war, conducted many protests and lobbied governments for justice. A few Tamils have even committed suicide in despair and in protest.

2. Channel 4 two-part “Killing Field” series. The second one was shown during these sessions and clearly pointed an accusing finger at the Rajapaksa family regime for standing behind horrendous murders, mutilations, rape; in short, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

3. Mainstream Tamil parties in parliament in Tamil Nadu, India, were a major influence in convincing the central government to change its vote from one of applauding Sri Lanka to this critical stance.

4. The US is making it clear to Sri Lanka’s government that it is dissatisfied with it even while approving a World Bank loan of $213 million for development in the capital city, Colombo, just a week ago. The US keeps its fingers in the economy while it shows its unhappiness because Rajapaksa is offering more economic concessions to China and Russia. The US has lost its long-hoped for port in Trincomalee harbor, which China will probably acquire.

It was China, as well as Russia, Israel and Iran and Pakistan (not exactly blood brothers) that gave and sold more military hardware to Sri Lanka in the last two-three years of war to annihilate the LTTE. The US-UK and NATO offered far less in the latter period given that they were bogged down in the Middle East.


Perhaps nothing substantial for Tamils in Sri Lanka will come out of this Human Rights Geo-Political game, not simply in and of itself. But the game’s rules are changed, at least in this area of the world, when so many NAM members have not sided with a fellow member. I believe that this is the case, in large part, because the evidence of gross atrocities has come to the surface. No doubt, US+ machinations have had some effect. But we should not be fooled that these governments are interested in the human rights of any people. The current president sees an opportunity to score points by pointing a finger at a real culprit, just as he sought to do in Libya under false pretenses and as he is trying in Syria. He, like all capitalist presidents, seeks oil, profits and domination. He can afford to point a finger at Sri Lanka’s government today, because he has lost influence there and because he wants re-election votes from human rights-concerned citizens, albeit beguiled ones.

Cuba, which started the ALBA coalition with Venezuela in 2004, needs to reflect upon its foreign policy stance and especially in regards to Sri Lanka. It has politically backed Sri Lanka, in part, because they are both members of NAM, and Cuba often acts in a knee jerk manner when the US points its finger at other nations, especially third world countries—understandably.

Yet Cuba goes overboard in backing this most ruthless Sri Lankan regime responsible for scores of thousands of civilian deaths, incarcerating hundreds of thousands without due process, continues militarizing traditional Tamil homeland in the North and East, taking over homes, businesses, places of worship and building hotels upon Tamil graveyards.

Cuba’s has acted immorally, and in contrast to its long-time solidarity with the oppressed and exploited peoples of the world.

The evidence of war crimes, crimes against human, and even genocide, is much too vivid due to testimonies of victims, satellite photos and the excellent Channel 4 documentaries with photos and videos taken either by UN aid workers, some by victims or by Sri Lankan murdering soldiers and then sold or otherwise released to the public.

If Tamils in India and in the Diaspora keep up the pressure, if left organizations, grass roots groups, representatives of other oppressed peoples seeking liberation (such as Palestinians, Kurds in Turkey, Basques, Irish…) would join in united fronts for liberation for one and all, then we might be able to bring some real hope for Tamils in Sri Lanka.

Be not fooled: The US does not want true accountability, or a Tamil Eelam homeland for the oppressed minority, but the spotlight is turned on and peoples’ power could stoke the light bringing, at least, relief to the down-trodden Tamil people.

UN will deny Tamils justice

Ron Ridenour

Brace yourselves Tamils in and from Sri Lanka! The UN Human Rights Council will not grant you justice at its 19th session, February 27-March 23, 2012 or, perhaps, in any foreseeable future.

Until the past few weeks it looked as though the “international community” (US, UK-Europe, Canada, Australia, Japan), the east (Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Iran), the Middle East-Libya/Africa) and the progressive South (Cuba-ALBA+, South Africa)were content with ignoring Sri Lanka’s war crimes and crimes against humanity.

This tragedy was not even placed on the agenda despite the UN’s “Report of the Secretary-General’s Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka” delivered to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, March 31, 2011. The panel determined that both the Sri Lankan government-military and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE/Tigers) had most likely committed war crimes and crimes against humanity. It called for an independent international investigation into credible allegations leveled at the state. The LTTE was crushed by May 18, 2009 and no longer exists.

On the agenda for the upcoming 19th session are 80 reports and missions with 40 addendums concerning about 50 countries. None deal with Sri Lanka, not even under section E, “Combating impunity and strengthening accountability, the rule of law and democratic society.” The 18th HRC session (May-June 2011) had also avoided placing the matter on the table despite the High Commissioner for Human Rights (Navi Pillay) request while the Secretary-General was/is silent.

While there would be no accountability, the “Human Rights Game” requires a façade of concern. At the end of last January, US State Department officials Thomas Melia and Lesley Taylor met with a Tamil citizen group in Jaffna to tell them what to expect at the 19th session. Eighteen notes of the meeting were taken by participants and sent to Tamilnet.

The key points were: “There is no possibility of a resolution” [concerning the UN expert panel and war crimes issue]. This is due, partially, to the lack of “sufficient pressure” from the affected people. What can be expected is a positive reference to the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) report conducted by appointees of the Sri Lankan government. While the US may ask the Rajapaksa family government to implement the recommendations the Commission made, which it has done nothing about in the three months since its delivery, the US will do nothing to “antagonize the GOSL” (Government of Sri Lanka) nor is it interested in “instituting an accountability mechanism”.

It may be that high ranking members of the Sinhalese government were not so keen even with this minor pressure to adopt its own commission’s report.

Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission

Led by former Attorney General C.R. de Silva, the eight Rajapaksa appointees on the LLRC did not address possible war crimes and crimes against humanity by the government. The commission of inquiry into the time of ceasefire (2002) and the end of the war found no government or military entities culpable that required any process of accountability. It did, however, poke a hole in the government’s constant litany that “no civilians were killed” by it, and implied that some security forces might have caused some deaths and injuries of civilians although there had been no intent to cause harm. It stated that numerous citizens’ testimonies related to disappearances. It admitted that there may have been some “bad apples” but no systematic atrocities took place.

The LLRC report’s major significance is its recommendations that the north and east be demilitarized, that paramilitary groups be dismantled, that a degree of devolution of local power to Tamils take place, and that the police departments be made a separate institution from the military.

Regarding the last point, there are more military and police today—300,000 —than during the war and all are under the command of the Minister of Defence, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, one of President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s brothers. G. Rajapaksa uses one-fifth of the state budget, $2 billion. About 40 members of the Rajapaksa family hold government, parliamentary and key institution posts.

Following the Jaffna meeting with a Tamil civilian group, the US initiated meetings with Sri Lanka government officials with the aim of having them step in line. Three leading US officials—Marie Otero, under secretary of state for democracy and human rights; Robert Blake, assistant secretary of state for South Asian affairs and former ambassador to Sri Lanka; and Stephen Rapp, ambassador-at-large for international war crimes—traveled to Sri Lanka to let the GOSL know what was expected. Its arrogance was becoming an embarrassment to the Human Rights Game.

The Tamil coalition of political parties, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), must also pay attention. While it has long demanded that accountability of war crimes committed be addressed, some members also call for the LLRC recommendations to take precedence. One significant instance is the confusion caused by two Alliance leading MPs, R. Sampanthan and M.A. Sumanthiran, who told US’s man, Stephan J. Rapp, on February 7, that the TNA wanted an independent inquiry, accountability and “meaningful” devolution of power. One week later, Sumanthiran stated to BBC that the “TNA backs a domestic process to implement the LLRC recommendations. We ask for an international probe only after a failure at that.” (Tamilnet and

At the same time, a natural ally with the Tamils, South Africa’s government, signaled approval of the LLRC report and recommended the government implement the recommendations. It did say that the LLRC should have delved into accountability. Just the year before, the African National Congress called upon the UN to implement an investigation recommended by the panel of experts.(See

Perhaps the Rajapaksa brothers were still balking because the media reported, February 10, that Secretary of State Hiliary Clinton sent a letter explaining what the Sri Lanka government must do:

1. Submit an action plan with time frames to establish impleamentation of the LLRC;
2. Consent agreement to be signed between the government and the TNA;
3. Release General Sarath Fonseka, the key general victor over the LTTE, from prison, where Rajapaksa sent him over differences and because Fonseka challenged him in elections, something that the US might want to see happen again.

For emphasis the US threatened to reveal voice recordings of Defence Secretary G. Rajapaksa and field commanders in which he instructed them to kill all senior members of the LTTE even if they carried a white flag of surrender. (See lankanewsweb)

Under secretary Otero told Colombo journalists that the US will support a resolution calling for the government to implement its report. She spoke favorably of Sri Lanka’s government saying the US had over the years supplied it with $2 billion, much of it in military assistance to fight the Tigers and prevent a separate Tamil nation.

”The United States has long been a friend of Sri Lanka; we were one of the first countries to recognize the LTTE as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, in 1997,” she said.

Human Rights Game and the Players

1. The western US-EU-Israel-India axis
2. The eastern Russia-China-Pakistan-Iran semi-alliance
3. The Middle East/Africa parts of the Non-Aligned Movement
4. The progressive Latin American NAM area

Many of these governments, especially the western and eastern ones, have directly supported the various Sinhalese chauvinist governments with money and credits, military equipment, intelligence, military training and mercenaries. (1)

In the writing mentioned above (1), of the states materially and military supporting Sri Lanka I inadvertently left out Russia, which has sold weapons and military aircraft to Sri Lanka governments over the years. Even after the war in 2010, during which hundreds of thousands of Tamils were suffering in concentration camps, Russia offered Sri Lanka $300 million in credit to buy military aircraft and armaments, among other items. Only $500,000 was allocated for “relief”.

There has not been much or any economic or military aid from Group 3 but these governments support Sri Lanka and oppose not only the guerrilla warfare but the very demand for an independent nation within the state of Sri Lanka. That is what Tamil Eelam means and what, until the end of the war, almost all Tamils in Sri Lanka wanted, including political parties that did not take up arms. Most people in Tamil Nadu, India, and the rest of the Diaspora sought the same.

Group 4 is caught in an ideological bind—between solidarity with oppressed peoples and solidarity with third world sovereign states—but concludes in condemning the Tigers for terrorism, ignoring the victimized civilian Tamils, and politically supporting the Sri Lanka government. In the May 26, 2009 HRC resolution, the Cuba-led majority praised S.L. for its “commitment” “to the promotion and protection of all human rights”; congratulated it for freeing Tamil civilians from the terrorist Tigers; reaffirmed “respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka”.

The Western group opposed this resolution for its geo-political reasons. It asked Sri Lanka to conduct its own investigation and the LLRC is the result.

So, what I think will happen at the 19th session is that there will be no talk about the UN expert panel report or independent investigations into accountability. Some NGOs disagree with me and think that the US will press for accountability.

In my view, the Rajapaksa’s government will present a “National action plan for the protection and promotion of human rights” in conjunction with the LLRC. This will please the US-EU-India axis. Israel may not take any position believing, perhaps, that the Rajapaksan absolute arrogance and unwillingness to do anything was the best course. This course is its’ own against the Palestinians.

If for some odd reason, Sri Lanka does not add implementations into its action plan, there will then be a Group 1 resolution demanding it to do so. The session will end either with the passage of such a resolution or, if Sri Lanka still balks then its ALBA-NAM allies, being the majority on the HRC, will vote down any western approved ploy.

Either way, the Human Rights Game will conclude (for now) thusly:

Group 2 will look gray in its lack of critique of Sri Lanka, its do-nothing approach. Group 3 can contend simply that it supports all 113 NAM governments. Group 4, the socialist-communist and progressive-led governments of Latin America, and especially Cuba-ALBA, will have egg on their faces for having only praised the brutal Sinhalese chauvinist government and not played any Human Rights role in favor of the civilian Tamils. They have only played the Geo-Political Game and done so in a staid manner: the enemy of my enemy is my friend type.

However the play unfolds, I predict that the western group will come out looking like the good guys in the Human Rights Game. The eastern and southern groups will especially look like the bad guys.

This will be the view most westerners, including many progressives, will take. For many voters in the US, Obama will look like the hero on the white horse in the White House.

Sri Lanka-Tamil conflict can also be viewed in the context of the Arab Spring and the role that Group 1 plays in diverting the uprisings to suit its imperial needs. Knowing little of the reality, most liberal-progressive-left westerners think Group 1’s role in Libya was best for the Human Rights Game, and also with the tragedy in Syria where complications are similar to those in Libya.

What should be clear to thinking people, to people who seek real human rights and justice, is that almost no government wants authentic accountability judged upon a friendly government because it could be its turn next.

If there were true accountability spread around how would Group 1 look led by the US with its long history of invading weaker countries for their resources and for political control, committing war crimes including systematic torture? What about accountability for the two-three million Iraqis killed since US attacks on that sovereign nation from 1991 to the present? What about accountability of the “coalition of the willing” for mass murder and seizure of Afghanistan? What about Obama accountability for seven wars for oil-$ and global domination (Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Uganda); and Israel’s genocide of the Palestinian people? What about genocide in Rwanda where the “peacekeeping” mission of the US-UK-France played a major role? Then there is giant China and minority Tibet being overrun with Chinese just as Zionists overrun Palestine and Sinhalese do the same in Tamil’s traditional homeland in the north and east.

This appears to be the view also of at least one of the three international organizations representing Tamils rights and seeking a Tamil Eelam. The Transnational Government for Tamil Eelam issued its news release concerning the upcoming HRC session, February 17:

“This dismal failure in the position taken by the US and several other governments to address the crucial issue of justice is a source of grave disappointment to the Tamils”…”Today, again, the world’s governments are disregarding their moral and legal obligations by focusing exclusively on Sri Lanka’s own LLRC Report, which has been rejected outright not only by the Tamil people…”

“It would be a fallacy to imagine that the very power structure which stands accused of these heinous crimes will now begin a process to bring its own members to justice. Therefore, we perceive the leading governments’ choice to focus exclusively on the LLRC Report amounting to an attempt to derail the mounting international clamor for formal international investigations on Sri Lanka.”

Less clear in my eyes is what Cuba-ALBA thinks it achieves from the Human Rights Game by entirely denying Tamils’ suffering. These governments do not mistreat their own nationalities, ethnic groups or religious peoples and, unlike many governments in Groups 1-3, they are not terrorist states. It is also understandable that they are critical of any interference by Group 1, with all its hypocrisy and its subversion against almost all of Latin America. One might think that Bolivia and Venezuela could be skittish about Tamil Eelam because there are groups there that want to create their own separate nation. But these are small groups that are orchestrated by comprador capital aligned with the US and have nothing to do with discrimination against any nationality, ethnic group or religion.

I think that Che Guevara would understand the need for solidarity with the Tamil people. He would be on their side today!

In reality, Rajapaksa’s stonewalling criticism of his regime’s war crimes and his systematic denial of truth is working. Groups 1, 2 and 3 tell Rajapaksa to make a little concession and the Human Rights Game continues. The show must go on!

Out of the negative comes the positive

Although impunity for war crimes will continue, genocide be ignored, and an independent nation a pipedream, there are positive developments.

1. Media attention of the Tamils’ plight was garnered by the whistle-blowing medium Wikileaks, which began leaking correspondence between the US Department of State and hundreds of diplomatic missions around the world on November 28, 2010. Initially Wikileaks convinced five core mass media to use the raw data and produce articles. Subsequent to releases of many files about the wars against Afghanistan and Iraq, followed by “cablegate”, hundreds more media picked up revelations of massive governmental lying and corruption, and crimes of many types including war crimes, not the least committed by United States governments. 3,166 of the 251,287 cables concerning Sri Lanka war crimes and obtained by Wikileaks—perhaps through brave Bradley Manning—are from the US Embassy in Colombo.

The “Boston Globe” reported, December 9, 2010, that, “No foreign leader fared worse in the cables released by Wikileaks than Sri Lanka’s Mahinda Rajapaksa”, referring to US Ambassador Patricia Butenis implications of his role in war crimes.

Minister of Economic Development Basil Rajapaksa, one of the President’s brothers, candidly remarked, according to Butenis’ January 15, 2010 cable, “I am not saying we are clean; we could not abide by international law—this would have gone on for centuries, an additional 60 years.”

Minister of Defence Gotabhaya Rajapaksa admitted the same to US Senate Foreign Relations staff members. Ambassador Butenis implicated all the Rajapaksa brothers in government as well as other senior civilian and military leaders in conducting war crimes.

World attention concerning the war crimes committed by the Sinhalese chauvinist government(s) has occurred because of the alternative medium Wikileaks but also due to a group of Sinhalese and Tamil journalists who escaped from Sri Lanka and formed the organization and website The Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka obtained a short video of 17 frames taken by a Sri Lanka soldier showing eight or nine naked prisoners bound and blindfolded being executed at Kilinochchi. JDS presented the film to UK’s Channel 4. After forensic verification of the film, which was taken January 2, 2009, Channel 4 broadcast it on August 25, 2009. Then in June 2011, Channel 4 broadcast the devastating documentary, “Sri Lanka Killing Fields”.

2. Despite the GOSL maintaining a “zero tolerance policy on torture,” the United Nations Committee against Torture (CAT) has determined that torture is apparently accepted and practiced by the government. In its November 28, 2011 report on Sri Lanka it was found that many allegations of torture and ill-treatment were common, also “enforced disappearances, sexual violence, unacknowledged detention” [as well as] “threats to civil society, journalists, lawyers, and other dissenting voices.”

CAT Rapporteur Ms. Felice Gaer asserted that Sri Lanka has the world’s largest number of disappearances. Sri Lankan cabinet advisor and previous Attorney General Mohan Peiris conceded that of the 6,000 people arrested annually, there were “only 400 torture allegations”.

CAT underlined “the prevailing climate of impunity” and “the apparent failure to investigate promptly and impartially wherever there is reasonable ground to believe that an act of torture has been committed.”

CAT also criticized the LLRC for its “apparent limited mandate” and “alleged lack of independence”.

While the US government has a long history of torturing people and even offers instructions about how to torture at its “School of the Americas” in Georgia, its ambassadors do sometimes inform the Department of State when other governments conduct torture. Again thanks to Wikileaks, the world can know about a May 18, 2007 cable sent by Robert Blake, then ambassador to S.L. He reported how government-connected Tamil paramilitary groups, Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal and Eelam People’s Democratic Party, “keep critics of the GSL fearful and quite”.

These anesthetized Tamils torture and/or kill many of their own people, who sympathized with the Tigers or who seek basic rights from the government. The para-militarists also kidnap and sell Tamil women into prostitution and sell children into slavery. Leaders Karuna and Douglas Devananda were former leading Tiger guerrillas who now enjoy government posts. Karuna even joined the leading government party and became a minister.

3. On September 16, 2011, sixteen NGOs asked the HRC president of the 19th session to invite both the GOSL and the UN Secretary-General to place the UN expert panel report on the agenda, as well as the LLRC. This is significant grass roots pressure as the groups include some of the best known, such as Amnesty, but also others from third world countries, such as the African Democracy Forum. Furthermore, the current HRC president is a woman from Uruguay, Laura Dupuy Lasserre.

Following the May 2009 HRC emergency session in which Uruguay voted for the Sri Lanka prepared resolution, a new president has been elected in Uruguay, José Mujica. Not only is he a socialist but he was a guerrilla in the Tupamaro liberation movement. Once captured, he spent 15 years in prison, some of it under torturous conditions, including two years confined at the bottom of a well. It might just be that Uruguay will press for a bit of justice.

4. One institutional voice asking for the UN expert panel report to be taken seriously is the European Parliament. In a “join motion for a resolution”, February 9, 2012, the parliament agreed to “support efforts to strengthen the accountability process in Sri Lanka”, including the establishment of a “UN Commission of inquiry into all crimes committed, as recommended” by the panel.

Although the EP has no binding powers, it can prod and further inform the public.

5. For the first time (to my knowledge) an internationally renowned Buddhist has spoken out publicly against fellow Buddhists’ treatment of Tamils in Sri Lanka. In an apparently undated letter (sometime in February 2012), Thai activist-economist-philosopher Sulak Sivaraksa has appealed to the “Sinhala Buddhists first of all to acknowledge the crimes that they committed against their own Tamil sisters and brothers and ask for forgiveness from the Tamils.

”Rejoicing at the war victories, when thousands have been killed, ‘disappeared’, maimed, raped and hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced and detained, is totally against the dhamma” [the way].

Sivaraksa has been nominated twice for the Nobel Peace Prize. He received the 2011 Niwano Peace Prize for furthering world peace. He is considered a “Thai institution”.

These positive points I have listed can give us some hope that more and more people are not to be fooled about who the culprits are regardless of how the world’s governments do their best not to assure accountability while maintaining impunity for their war criminals, which otherwise would mean many of their own leaders would be imprisoned.

What to do

I conclude with a few pointers about how we can go forward.

Several Tamils I have come to know tell me that Tamils from Eelam are among the “most inward looking people” while complaining that other people are not interested in their welfare.

Furthermore, most of the Tamils in the Diaspora rely on western governments, and perhaps India, to fight their battles. They ask them to have the Sri Lankan government judged, condemned and punished, and even go so far as to ask for support to create a new legal nation, that of Tamil Eelam within the state of Sri Lanka. But this political-economic world has no place for pipedreams and fairytales.

I take from the many millions of righteous rebels in the Arab Spring movement—those not doing the West’s errands—as an example of what could be done. I take also from what many of us were doing in the 1960s-70s in the US and around much of the world. I take also from what the folks are doing in the Occupy Wall Street (and beyond) movement today.

1. Drop illusions of winning through political parties’ parliamentary power. Stand up to all terrorist states.
2. Organize from the grass roots. Go door-to-door. Learn and educate.
3. Use fewer speeches, fewer rallies and connect organizing with speeches and rallies..
4. Join in with other peoples’ struggles. Engage in solidarity work especially with the Palestinians whose struggle is nearly identical to your own. Israel is to Palestine what Sri Lanka Sinhalese governments are to the Tamils.
5. We must combat the growing racism/fascism in the West against Muslims and Arabs.

We have wondered over the deserts and the seas. We have been hungry and thirsty. We have been murdered and tortured. We are of the working class, of the castes. We are many races, ethnic groups, nationalities, religions and non-religion. We share a common vision: freedom and equality; bread and water on the table; a shelter over our heads. We must fight together if we are to live in peace and equality.

1. See my “Tamil Nation in Sri Lanka” pg. 121-5 to see who financed and finances Sri Lanka’s human rights abuse. Add Russia to the long list: India, US, Israel, U.K., EU, Japan, Iran, Pakistan and the greatest war crimes contributor of them all, China.