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Sri Lanka guilty

By Bruce Haigh - posted Monday, 6 January 2014

A tribunal of eleven eminent judges has unanimously found the Sri Lankan Government guilty of the crime of genocide against ethnic Tamil people.

Sitting in Bremen, from 7 – 10 December, 2013, the Second Session of the Peoples' Tribunal on Sri Lanka found that the crime of genocide has been and is being committed against the Eelam Tamils as a national group.

I was invited to appear before the Tribunal as an expert witness on the treatment of Tamils from Sri Lanka by the Australian Government.


The Second Session in Bremen was convened in response to the determination of the First Session, held in January 2010 in Dublin, that war crimes and crimes against humanity had taken place against the Tamil population in the final months of the war in early 2009, and that further investigation be undertaken regarding the question of genocide.

The two sessions of the Permanent Peoples' Tribunal were established in response to submissions made by the International Human Rights Association, Bremen, and the Irish Forum for Peace in Sri Lanka. The Permanent Peoples' Tribunal is based in Rome under the auspices of the General Secretary, Gianni Tognoni.

Thirty eye-witnesses and other experts appeared before the Second Tribunal, some at great personal risk.

The panel of eminent judges included, Daniel Feierstein, Professor, Faculty of Genocide, University of Buenos Aires and President of the International Association of Genocide Scholars and his Co-Chair, Dr. Denis Halliday, former Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations; Gabriele Della Morte, Professor of International Law, Catholic University of Milan; Jose Molto, Professor of International Law, University of Valencia; Javier Moreno, Colombian Theologian based in Bagota; Manfred Hinz, Professor of Public Law, Political Sociology and Sociology of Law, University of Bremen; Helen Jarvis, an Australian, working with Yale University's Cambodian Genocide Program; Oystein Tveter , former Norwegian diplomat and international legal academic and Maung Zarni, Burmese academic and founder of the Free Burma Coalition in 1995.

The Tribunal found that genocide against the Eelam Tamil group has not yet reached the total destruction of their identity, however the genocide is a process and the process is ongoing; the military killings of May 2009 have been transformed into other forms of conduct causing serious bodily and mental harm to members of the group.

The Tribunal considered that the proof established beyond any reasonable doubt that the following acts were committed by the government of Sri Lanka:


(a) Killing members of the group, which includes massacres, indiscriminate shelling, the strategy of herding civilians into so-called "No Fire Zones" for the purpose of massive killings, targeted assassinations of outspoken Eelam Tamil civil leaders who were capable of articulating the Sri Lankan genocide project to the outside world

(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group, including acts of torture, inhumane or degrading treatment, sexual violence including rape, interrogations combined with beatings, threats of death, and harm that damages health or causes disfigurement or injury

(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or part, including

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About the Author

Bruce Haigh is a political commentator and retired diplomat who served in Pakistan and Afghanistan in 1972-73 and 1986-88, and in South Africa from 1976-1979

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