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Officially Recognize Genocide

June 2, 2009

I am writing to urge you to recognize that the recent catastrophe in Sri Lanka has reached proportions tantamount to genocide. As up to 300,000 Tamil civilians mourn the loss of their family, friends, and basic human rights, the Government of Sri Lanka celebrates its ‘victory’ with bouquets and firecrackers. Its continued refusal to allow humanitarian aid, humans rights monitors, and journalists access to Tamil internment camps reflects more than just a callous disregard for the lives of its minority citizens; its actions are clearly genocidal. Despite its claims of having defeated terrorism, the government expresses no remorse for the 20,000 innocent lives lost in the past three months alone. Instead, it blatantly denies having any responsibility for the death of its civilians and offers no opportunity for reconciliation and rebuilding.

In December 2008, Genocide Prevention Project listed Sri Lanka among its “red alert” countries in which genocide was occurring or imminent. Since its report, British media have confirmed the deaths of over 20,000 Tamils civilians. The international community continues to remain silent as thousands more are held captive without access to food, water, or medicine. These actions constitute an ongoing genocide. Sri Lanka’s intent to destroy its ethnic minority communities is reflected in its continuous shelling of hospitals and schools, its systematic rape of Tamil women in internment camps, and its abduction of Tamil children.

As the war has found its violent end, the international community is forsaking its opportunity and responsibility to investigate and confirm human rights groups’ reports of systematic elimination of ethnic Tamils. It is time to bring justice to Tamils by labeling the Government of Sri Lanka’s actions as genocide. We must be strong enough to speak the truth. By calling Sri Lanka’s horrific treatment of Tamils ‘genocide,’ we are obligating ourselves to do all that we can to end it, and hold all parties accountable. It is no longer an issue of whether or not we want to bear this burden, but whether we can still make our claim to humanity and the rights of every man, woman, and child if we ignore it.