Genocide ’95 to ’01


Sri Lanka’s Genocidal War  -’95 to ’01

1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999 2000 | 2001



Under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, acts of murder committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group as such are considered as acts of genocide. The evidence presented here serves to prove that during the period commencing May 1995 and continuing 2001, the actions of the Sri Lanka authorities in their war on the Tamil people in the North-East of the island of Sri Lanka constitute genocide.

Furthermore, Sri Lanka has consistently refused to acknowledge the applicability of the Geneva Conventions to the conflict in the island and has sought to categorise the lawful armed resistance of the Tamil people as an ‘internal disturbance’. It has consistently refused to take prisoners of war and insists on incarcerating them under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, which was described by Paul Sieghart in the following terms:

“…No legislation conferring even remotely comparable powers is in force in any other free democracy operating under the Rule of Law, however troubled it may be by politically motivated violence…”                                                   (Sri Lanka: A Mounting Tragedy of Errors – Report of International Commission of Jurists 1984)

The record shows that under cover of this refusal to acknowledge the law, the Sri Lanka security forces (acting on the implicit or explicit authorisation of its commander in chief, President Chandrika Kumaratunga) have with impunity committed gross violations of the international humanitarian law relating to armed conflict which law demands that –


  • the civilian population shall enjoy general protection against the dangers arising from military operations;
  • the civilian population shall not be the object of attack;
  • acts or threats of violence the primary purpose of which is to spread terror among the civilian population shall be prohibited;
  • starvation of civilians as a method of combat shall be prohibited;
  • hospitals shall not be object of attack;
  • it shall be prohibited to attack, or destroy objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population, such as food stuffs, crops, livestock, drinking water installations and supplies and irrigation works; and
  • it shall be prohibited to commit any acts of hostility against places of worship.

The genocidal intent of the Sri Lanka government is proved by –

Genocide is a crime which transcends national frontiers. The Sri Lanka authorities, and the  security forces under their command, are guilty of crimes against humanity and should be charged and punished according to law.



Poem by Swarnan

 “…Against partisans backed by the entire population, colonial armies are helpless. They have only one way of escaping from the harassment which demoralizes them …. This is to eliminate the civilian population. As it is the unity of a whole people that is containing the conventional army, the only  anti-guerrilla strategy which will be effective is the destruction of that people, in other words, the civilians, women and children…” Jean Paul Sartre’s Statement ‘On Genocide’ at the Second Session of the Bertrand Russell International War Crimes Tribunal on Vietnam, held in Denmark in November 1967“…. the sovereign territorial state claims, as an integral part of its sovereignty, the right to commit genocide, or engage in genocidal massacres, against peoples under its rule, and that the United Nations, for all practical purposes, defends this right. To be sure, no state explicitly claims the right to commit genocide – this would not be morally acceptable even in international circles – but the right is exercised under other more acceptable rubrics, notably the duty to maintain law and order, or the seemingly sacred mission to preserve the territorial integrity of the state. And though the norm for the United Nations is to sit by, and watch, like a grandstand spectator, the unfolding of the genocidal conflict in the domestic arena right through to the final massacres, there would generally be concern, and action, to provide humanitarian relief for the refugees, and direct intercession by the Secretary-General. Moreover, some of the steps presently taken by the United Nations in the field of human rights may have the effect of inhibiting the resort to massacre; and there are indications of changing attitudes in the United Nations, though this may be too optimistic an assessment. In the past, however, there was small comfort to be derived from the Genocide Convention, or from the commitments of the United Nations, by peoples whose own rulers threatened them with extermination or massacre. The almost perennial complaint is that the world remains indifferent to the genocide or the genocidal massacres, and that the United Nations turns a deaf ear…” Leo Kuper  in Genocide: Its Political Use in the 20th Century, 1983
Genocide Convention 1948
Geneva Conventions 1949 and Additional Protocols 1977

Related Off Site Links

Genocide Research Project, University of Memphis
Prevent Genocide International
States which are NOT party to the Genocide Convention 
Campaign to End Genocide

A poem by Thaya Thiagarajah 24 September 2000 – ‘I wrote this poem to let people know the agony of the prison life our people face here.’


Tied Up
Tried out
Dusty ground
Walls around
No window panes
Firm steel gates
Stinking toilet
Electric shocks
Tight padlock
What a habitat!

Empty stomach
Sore buttock
Broken limbs
Swollen lips
Unquenched thirst
Uncovered breast
Clothing minimum
Torture the maximum
Head bloody
What a body!

Nocturnal nightmares
Diurnal Flashbacks
Darkest despair
Speechless ‘aphasia’
Immeasurable oppression
Unattended depression
Unrevealed dreams
Unspoken wants
Aimless goal!
What a soul!

Innocent imprisoned
Under laws unwritten
Charges unproved
Trials unheard
Plight of a prisoner
Beckons you for ever
Compassionate hearts
Make haste
Pay heed

Let her be free.


Poem by Swarnan

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