Unrecognized Genocide

Unrecognized Genocide: The Case of Sri Lanka

Intergenerational Trauma, Legitimate Violence, and Selective Memory

Written by Rebecca Devika Eliza Dharmapalan

Photography by Shavonne Bryant

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My research will be investigating the case of Sri Lanka to explore the theory of genocide, critically analyzing scholarship surrounding mass atrocities and mass violence. It is my contention that when genocide goes unrecognized, it incites anomic conditions. Residual war trauma is externalized within the affected diaspora through intergenerational trauma, abuse, and selective memory. The goal of this article is to clarify and provide specific cases of post war trauma manifesting in Sri Lankan Tamil youth refugees living in California. By mapping the colonial history of Sri Lanka that led to the conditions of civil war, and speaking on the forced migration of civilians both internally and abroad, I will provide context for narrating my observational research with three Sri Lankan asylum seekers that attend high school in California. This investigation poses several questions: How does the definition of genocide function to scale war crimes, violence, and trauma and reproduce inequities of classification? More specifically, in what ways does its definition confirm historically identified genocides while overlooking and condemning other episodes of mass violence? How does selective memory prevail within a post- war, post-genocide diaspora? How is trauma from Sri Lanka intergenerational?


“Vachan, do you see yourself as Eelam Tamil or Sri Lankan Tamil?” I asked. Vachan responded, “Eelam Tamil I don’t know- what is the meaning of Eelam Tamil?” I was confused. If he grew up in Jaffna during the peak of civil war, how was he unaware of the Liberation Tamil Tigers Eelam? Noticing that I was perplexed, he continued- “in Sri Lanka, if I said those words ‘Eelam Tamil’, you would never see me again. So I don’t know those words. I don’t know them.”

This was the most astringent moment for me. At this point, I realized that my fears are Vachan’s reality. I quite literally had to grasp the subject matter of my research. The extent to which his experiences affected his identity symbolized the gravity of geographical and cultural displacement, as well as the trauma and selective memory of displaced Sri Lankan Tamils. My ethnographic research started in Fall 2017 when I first visited California International School. with the hopes of meeting one student from Sri Lanka to inquire about the state of post-war asylum seekers. I was pleasantly surprised to meet not one, but three students who have migrated from Sri Lanka to California within the past five years. I first met with “Jaya” [1] , a 16-year- old young woman who was born in Sri Lanka and later moved to Thailand after the war had ended. After living in Thailand for four years, her mother and siblings relocated to California. Later on, I met “Panita” and “Vachan”, who are sister and brother. They both migrated from Sri Lanka to California one year ago and live with their family of six in a small two-bedroom duplex: Mother, Father, Panita, Vachan, their younger sister, and new born baby. Panita, Vachan and their family lived through arguably the worst chapter of civil war in Sri Lanka, including the moments after the war had officially ended. I was lucky to have spent most of my time with Panita, shadowing her classes, attending to her soccer practices, and her birthday party at her house. She shared with me her story and the story of many young Tamil women still living in Sri Lanka.

As I gained her trust and she gained mine, together we have become able to reveal the untold narratives of Tamil women and girls still experiencing war trauma and violence in Sri Lanka and across the diaspora. Jaya, Panita, and Vachan illuminate trauma that manifests within survivors of war and unrecognized genocide.



Genocide is usually viewed as a numbers game: the more deaths, the more recognition. When researchers focus on quantity we often overlook critical issues that are experienced on a very visceral micro level. Because of the nuanced nature of genocide, it is critical that we prioritize individualized stories over the quantity of death counts. The tendency of scholarship- to prioritize quantity over diacritical experiences- compels me to embark on a more qualitative methodological approach. In this thesis, I seek to use theoretical analysis, historical document review, ethnographic participant observation, and in-depth interviews to approach my research questions.

This thesis explores the theory of genocide and interacts with scholars who are currently debating its relationship to war crimes that took place in Sri Lanka. This theory works to provide context for larger conversations within the diaspora regarding justice for Tamils and possible reparations. The inclusion of genocide theory also speaks to the origins of its terminology, and the tendencies of international bodies to prioritize certain episodes of mass violence over others.

Certain experiences should be named and not counted. By using ethnography, this research highlights nuance and humanizes the realities of genocide. I interviewed several survivors of the Sri Lankan genocide and used these as primary case studies to examine the effects of selective memory and how macro level classifications have effected their own legitimization and denial of their experiences. These interviews have given me a perspective on the experience of Tamil refugees in the Bay Area, specifically how they remember the war and seek their agency when the genocide has, so far, gone unrecognized. These interviews will help me specify selective memory within this strata of survivors of genocide.

Because there is a lack of intellectual scholarship on this issue, I will rely heavily on these interviews to gain perspective on the case of Sri Lanka and the theory of genocide. I have interviewed Lorenzo Fiorito, the Permanent Representative of the Association Culturelle des Tamouls en France to the UN Office, who is at the international legal forefront of seeking reparations for the case of genocide in Sri Lanka. Fiorito has clarified specific questions regarding the actual legal agency that the international community has to prosecute the Sri Lankan government for war crimes and genocide.

Genocide: The Threshold

Finding Truth in Definitions

Coined by Raphael Lemkin in 1945, the term genocide has come to carry a weight that surpasses most- if not all - crimes against humanity. [2] Genocide: the crime of all crimes. From the Armenian Genocide and collapse of the Ottoman empire; to the Holocaust and the extermination of 6 million Jewish people, poor individuals, Romas, and Gay people; to the 3 million citizens who died in the hands of the Khmer Rouge in the name of communism; and the near one million who perished in Rwanda- the term Genocide has taken on selective meaning despite its varying instances.

We must define the term genocide before delving into the details of the Sri Lankan Tamil conflict for several reasons. First and foremost, readers will recognize the initial gravity of the term itself. I also want to explore the reasons that international communities, states, and even scholars possess difficulty calling genocide by its name.

Rather than convincing readers that what happened in Sri Lanka is genocide, I instead seek to present unbiased evidence, the psychosocial effects of denial, and ultimately make a case for reparations. It is my understanding that while political science and human rights have had a tendency of interpreting the law as stable fact, Sociology as a discipline observes the law as malleable with the ability to transform itself based on power, intersectional realities, and the social factors of place and time. The latter, is how I have approached this paper. Understanding that while genocide is technically defined, those that define it poses their own biases and motivations that incite preferences to particular groups. This goes back to the age old question: whose lives are valued, and whose deaths are remembered?

In 1959 Peter Drost argued that “genocide is the deliberate destruction of physical life of individual human beings by reason of their membership of any human collectivity as such.” [3] In 1984 Yehuda Bauer who distinguished between “genocide” and “holocaust,” writing:

[Genocide is] the planned destruction, since the mid-nineteenth century, of a racial, national, or ethnic group as such, by the following means: (a) selective mass murder of elites or parts of the population; (b) elimination of national (racial, ethnic) culture and religious life with the intent of "denationalization"; (c) enslavement, with the same intent; (d) destruction of national (racial, ethnic) economic life, with the same intent; (e) biological decimation through the kidnapping of children, or the prevention of normal family life, with the same intent. [4]

Bauer specifies that holocaust is rather “the planned annihilation, for ideological or pseudo-religious reasons, of all the members of a national, ethnic, or racial group.” Mentioning warfare in their definition, John L. Thompson and Gail A. Quets wrote that “genocide is the extent of destruction of a social collectivity by whatever agents, with whatever intentions, by purposive actions which fall outside the recognized conventions of legitimate warfare” (UN.org, 2018).

In 1990, Frank Chalk and Kurt Jonassohn stated that “genocide is a form of one-sided mass killing in which a state or other authority intends to destroy a group” (UN.org, 2018). They carefully specify that group membership is “defined by the perpetrator.” Irving Louis Horowitz explains that genocide is characterized by “structural and systematic destruction of innocent people by a state bureaucratic apparatus” (UN.org, 2018). Interestingly, subsequent to the 1996 Rwandan Genocide, Horowitz argued that the Holocaust should be distinguished from Genocide as an entirely separate entity.

In 2009, Donald Bloxham provided the most recent definition asserting that genocide is “the physical destruction of a large portion of a group in a limited or unlimited territory with the intention of destroying that groups collective existence” (Jones, 2006). Clearly the process of defining the term genocide continues to evolve as new incidences occur.

Political History

Because the Sri Lankan civil war can be contextualized as an ethnic conflict, understanding ethnicity in Sri Lanka is extremely critical. The historical framework and formation of today’s Sri Lankan state plays a salient role in understanding the civil war.

Sri Lanka is racially, linguistically, and religiously diverse. The Sinhalese majority (Buddhist and Christians) of Sri Lanka’s population inhabit the South, Central and Western parts of the country. The minority ethnic group are the Tamils (Hindus and Christians) who inhabit the Northern and Eastern portions of the Island. [5]

Sinhala is the primary language in Sri Lanka, spoken by the Sinhalese people. It is said that Sinhalese people migrated to Sri Lanka from North India around 500 BC and were assimilated with the Austraoloid indigenous peoples of the Island. The Tamils who are congregated in the Northern and Eastern parts of Sri Lanka can be split into two cohorts: Tamils of Sri Lanka and migrant Tamils from South India. Most Tamils in Sri Lanka live in Jaffna (Northern Sri Lanka) and are often looked at as “invaders” from South India by the Sinhalese. There has been much debate and scholarship around whether or not Tamil Sri Lankans are native to the island, or if all Tamils are descendants from South India. What we do know is that Indian Tamils were brought to the island around 1815 by the British and were plantation workers, later called Estate Tamil). [6]

Debates around the two ethnic group’s origins became most central during the civil war when the two groups argued on who was “native” and who was “foreign.” Despite hegemonic discourse, Tamils who have been living on the island for thousands of years prior to colonization.

Sri Lanka is a multiethnic and multilingual plural society with a population of around 20 million, of whom the majority community is Sinhalese (75.4%). Other ethnic groups are Sri Lankan Tamils (11.4%), Indian Tamils (4.1%), Sri Lankan Moors (8.9%), Malays (0.2%), Burghers (of Portuguese and Dutch descent, (0.2%), and others (0.1%).

The ancient empires of the island came to an end during the reign of three colonial empires: The Portuguese, Dutch, and British. Both the Portuguese and the Dutch were interested in the spice trade as well as spreading Christianity. The British were able to establish a central government in the capital city Colombo by 1833. During this period, the first formations of divide and conquer were established. From the start, the British were keen on establishing two separate states for Tamils and Sinhalese people. This divide and rule, which was imposed by the British around the world, managed to “implement a divide and rule policy in a heterogeneous but united peaceful country.” [7]

In addition to the British suggesting that Sri Lanka be split into two countries, separated by ethnicity, it is said that the British gave preferential treatment to Tamils as well. “British colonialism was invariably a cause as many Sinhalese felt that the Tamil were given preferential treatment by the British invaders as part of the “divide and conquer” strategy in Sri Lanka.”[8] Yet this argument has often been used to justify anti-Tamil racism:

Commentators all agree that these practices contributed over time to the realignment of identities. However, the British also “educated an English- speaking elite drawn from Sinhalese and Tamils alike,”9 in order to meet their needs for a number of English- educated white-collar workers who might form a polyethnic national elite, some also educated in Christian schools. Tamils from the impoverished north benefited from the British policy of educational accessibility, and this subsequently led to allegations by Sinhalese nationalists that these Tamils enjoyed an “unfair” educational advantage However, the Sinhalese of the low- country south-west gained the most benefits from plantation enterprises, as Tamils pointed out, making it necessary for Tamils to enter the professions as an avenue open to them (Tamhiah, 1983).

Considering the colonial context and the strategy of dividing and conquering people within a nation, scholarship must recognize how divisions between the Sinhalese and Tamil populations correspond with perceived legitimacy. In particular, the demographic majority of Sri Lanka, the Sinhalese, portrayed themselves as legitimate authority with the means and sheer populous substantiating and galvanizing their effective genocide of Tamil people.

When Sri Lanka gained independence in 1948, the Donoghmore Commission, a British establishment that once worked to draft a new constitution to satisfy the needs of white plantation owners as well as the islanders, endowed suffrage to all Sri Lankan citizens. “Analysts agree that, among the complex catalysts for the development of violence, the effects of the colonial bureaucratic state, which solidified and stereotyped ethnic identities and the territorial framework within which these identities were established, were considerable” (Strather and Stewart, 2002). However, upon granting independence to Sri Lanka, the British failed to universalize the two ethnic groups, and resulted in creating more conflict, discrimination, and representative discrepancy.

The newly established state of Sri Lanka was founded and its formation encouraged the Sinhalese population to take advantage of their majority status and strength in numbers:

This change made it of paramount importance that the Tamils be united to ensure that their liberties would not be infringed upon. A new cohesiveness was founded in the Tamil population as it became quickly apparent that the Sinhalese would be unwilling to recognize their basic rights. A group consciousness was formed through Tamil national conferences, associations and a growing professional class (Balasingham et. al., 1983).

The formation of the post-colonial Sri Lankan state was rooted in creating a national identity that did not include the ontological existence of Tamils. As the Sri Lankan government attempted to reclaim their roots and cultural heritage through Buddhist nationalism, they excluded and discriminated against Tamils. The Sri Lankan state exploited ontological genocide as a means of establishing uniformity. These practices formed the foundation of racist sentiments within Sinhalese nationalist discourse:

It has been conclusively established by recent scholarship that the notion that the Sinhalese are of ‘Aryan’ racial stock, and therefore somehow superior to the ‘Dravidian’ Tamils, is a racist myth that made its first appearance during the second half of the nineteenth century,” produced by Sinhalese nationalists. Remarks of this kind may serve to indicate the minefields of scholarship, myth, and propaganda that surround debates on history and identity in Sri Lanka, just as we saw earlier (Strather and Stewart, 2002).

The newly established Sinhalese government realized that they were free from colonial law and now had unlimited power. As a result, the Sinhalese Only Bill was approved, which made Sinhalese the official language of the country. This bill was one of the first discriminatory actions taken by the Sinhalese Sri Lankan Government, along with programs that subjugated and displaced Tamil people. These newfound regulations prefaced societal racism of “letting loose the Sinhalese mobs in Sinhalese dominated areas on previously disarmed Tamils. In addition, the Sri Lankan army was also dispatched to the Tamil dominated areas with full license to conduct themselves as they please – to kill, rape and pillage”. [10] This thorough historical context provides a critical framework though which we can understand the formation of the LTTE as an insurgent reaction to ontological genocide and sociocultural subjugation. This history of brutal, discriminatory state violence ultimately sets the tone for genocide of Tamil populations in Sri Lanka.

Plunged into the despair of unemployed existence, frustrated without the possibility of higher education, angered by the imposition of an alien language, the Tamil youth realized that the redemption to their plight lay in revolutionary politics, a politics that should pave the way for a radical and fundamental transformation of their miserable conditions of existence. The only alternative left to the Tamils under the conditions of mounting nation oppression, the youth rightly perceived, was none other than a revolutionary armed struggle for the total independence of their nations (Balasingham et. al., 1983).

The creation of the Liberation Tamil Tigers Eelam (LTTE) posed an immediate threat to the Sinhalese government. In 2008 the Sri Lankan government designed a massive offensive to finally defeat the LTTE. The government began by plotting an attack on Kilinochchi, the capital town first claimed and established by the LTTE in 1990 for Tamil civilians. In an interview for the
documentary Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields, Benjamin Dix, the Former UN staffer at Kilinochchi, said “There were a number of air raids every day, quite often at night.” [11] The Sri Lankan government wanted to instill fear within the international communities present in Sri Lanka, so that they would have reason to leave the island. The Sri Lankan government told the United Nations they could no longer guarantee their safety. They must leave Kilinochchi and the Tiger held areas. The UN official spokesperson in Sri Lanka, Gordon Vice, stated “the government regarded the UN as impediments to their conquest of the Tamil Tigers. By removing those organizations, there were no longer international witnesses to what was coming” (Sri Lanka's Killing Fields, 2011). The United Nation’s presence, subsequent absence, and negligence in Sri Lanka are crucial in understanding the ethnic cleansing of Tamil people during the Sri Lankan civil war.

With the international eye at bay, the Sri Lankan government was free to attack the Tamil Tigers and relocate Tamil civilians whenever and wherever they pleased. In January 2009, the Government moved into the Northern Tamil held areas and launched major attacks on Kilinochchi, managing to capture the LTTE capitol. A major trend in ethnic warfare is relocation and resettlement of the ethnic minority.

Moving hundreds of thousands of bodies isn’t an easy task; this was the case in Sri Lanka. The government “seemed to view all Tamil civilians as indistinguishable from the fighters of the Tamil Tigers. The Tigers too showed little respect for civilians [and] were increasingly prepared to use them as pawns and human shields in this battle till the end” (Sri Lanka's Killing Fields, 2011).

The Sri Lankan government was on a plot to relocate 80 percent of Tamil civilians by the end of 2009. In his 180-day plan to relocate Tamil civilians, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa partnered with the Government of India to relocate 280,000 Tamil civilians to Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps against their will (see Appendix A.)

Referring to her life in the IDP camps, Ruchi, who withstood starvation, bomb shelling, and trauma induced insomnia, commented: “We used to hide in those bunkers in fear. If they see us, they would shoot us. A lot of people have died in the war. Shot to death. Not for any other reason. Some friends died too. We escaped and came here, but some of my friends stayed in the movement and were shot dead.” [12] Many of Ruchi’s friends and family were killed during the war. Some of them were in the LTTE movement, others were bystanders. “My cousin and I chitchatted a lot during the war and we became friends. She used to tell us about the [LTTE] training and how she would keep watch in the night. We would ask her if she was scared or not. She said there was nothing to be afraid of, they just had to stay awake all night and keep watch. That is all I know. Whenever she comes, she would talk about some of her experiences. After two years, the government found her and killed her” (Interview with Tamil Refugee Ruchi, 2018).

As noted in the Forced Migration Review’s account of Sri Lanka, “It is estimated that there are over 600,000 IDPs in Sri Lanka, of whom 270,000 have been displaced in the recent military campaign between the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the Northern Province.” [13] The Sri Lankan government restricted aid from any international organizations who “have pleaded for relief workers to have better access to the tightly controlled camps which the government calls "welfare villages", but which the Tamil Tigers deem "concentration camps".” [14]

Unlike prior genocides, which used the stories, interviews, and written accounts of war crimes to gain international recognition of the atrocities, the video footage in Sri Lanka provides the United Nations with legitimate accounts of state violence. Footage captures the Sri Lankan army forces mass murdering civilians, bombing hospitals, and raping Tamil women. In her interview, Ruchi exclaimed the following regarding the rape of women and men: “The Sinhalese army would abduct the girls from the movement and then ditch them naked after killing them. Likewise, they would even abandon men in a naked state near the riverbanks. When people go in search for their missing husbands or children, they would be abandoned like this in the riverbanks...naked. That was cruel, wasn’t it? It would be horrific listening to such stories” (Interview with Tamil Refugee Ruchi, 2018).

“The standard practice with the Red Cross, throughout the world, in battlefield situations like this, is that they provide the coordinates of medical faculties, which is protected under international humanitarian law, to the opposing party so that both can avoid attacking these spaces” (Sri Lanka's Killing Fields, 2011). An hour after the Red Cross workers visited the hospital facilities in the Tamil refugee camps, a shell bomb directly hit the hospital ward. There were approximately 65 attacks on Tamil hospitals thereafter. Civilians were literally pushed to the edge of the water as the LTTE shot at the ground to prevent civilians from escaping. 130,000 Tamil civilians were trapped in the “No Fire Zone” which continued to get smaller as the government moved in.

In the final days of the war, the government claimed that government forces rescued Tamil civilians in the No Fire Zone. “The United Nations panel has now concluded that 40,000 people have died in the final weeks of the war. Others say the total was much greater” (Sri Lanka's Killing Fields, 2011). However, war crimes continued to take place even after the end of the war on May 16, 2009 and the assassination of LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran. Video footage has also been released of Sri Lankan soldiers handcuffing, blindfolding, and executing LTTE prisoners of war. The Sri Lankan government denounces these graphic videos as “fake.”

Arguably, the most horrendous video documentation is of Isaipriya, a famous LTTE television presenter, who was raped, mutilated, and mocked by soldiers. As elaborated upon by scholars Nelaeva et. al. identify how gender and ethnicity are exploited though the acts of sexual violence. They conclude that, “gender as well as ethnic identity combine to seemingly deny [...] women any sense of agency or choice in their interactions with [...] soldiers.” [15] This is exactly the case with Tamil women during and after the war in Sri Lanka.

Information continues to trickle in following the end of the Sri Lankan genocide. On December 7, 2017 an investigative report written by Vice News revealed further international involvement in the genocide of Tamil civilians. Vice discovered undercover footage of British Police trained Sri Lankan Riot-Cops that have been linked to a multitude of war crimes in Sri Lanka. Vice News correspondent Phil Miller writes:

Sri Lanka's Special Task Force (STF) is a paramilitary unit with a long history of war crimes. Its members undergo special forces training and wear camouflage uniforms. In July, they opened fire on two unarmed Tamil teenagers for stealing sand from a beach. The pair were so terrified of the STF that they jumped into a lagoon to escape. One drowned, aged 17 [16].

Foreign involvement in the Sri Lankan civil war and genocide look to reveal the global scale of negligence that took place on the island. From the UN turning a blind eye to human rights abuses and leaving the island altogether, to the Indian Peace Keeping Forces involvement on the ground (see Appendix B), [17] to the UK’s training of militant forces, Tamil people were left alone with no means of accountability.

Assumptions and Clarifications

Several stereotypes and assumptions dominate debates regarding the situation in Sri Lanka. The first assumption is that Tamil civilians are terrorists due to the Western understanding of the Liberation Tamil Tigers Eelam (LTTE). This assumption plays on the rhetoric of the war on terror and fails to recognize the complexity of the LTTE. As noted in Time Magazine’s 2009 article by Kate Pickert, the LTTE “invented the suicide vest and, according to the FBI, are the only terrorist group to have assassinated two world leaders.” [18] This article and many other Western news outlets fail to recognize crucial historical context: over 30 years of oppression provided the socioeconomic conditions faced by Tamil civilians and ultimately formed the LTTE. As a result, Tamil youth mistrusted the government and decided to take matters into their own hands. “Tamil youth realized that the redemption to their plight lay in revolutionary politics.” [19] Hence, existing structures of power and oppression formed the conditions that demanded Tamil youth to from their own sovereign state, militarizing and creating their own hospitals, banks, television stations and political parties. The Sinhalese government felt immediately threatened and exploited media discourse to further portray the LTTE insurgence as terrorism.

The second assumption made is that Tamils migrated and infiltrated Sri Lanka- a Buddhist majority country. Pickert again exemplifies common misconceptions when she states: “Tamils originally immigrated to Sri Lanka from southern India and make up 10 to 15% of the population, compared to the majority Sinhalese, who constitute about 75%.” This statement regurgitates a biased narrative manufactured by the Sri Lankan government- an oppressive state that spent dozens of years discursively erasing the identities of Tamil peoples. Though the British brought many Tamil immigrants, also known as estate Tamils, who worked as indentured tea farmers [20] a great proportion of Tamils had lived on the island for thousands of years prior to colonization.

A primary tactic of genocide is the denial of existence. In fact, the burning of the Jaffna Public Library on June 1, 1981 was an undeniable act of ontological genocide. As noted in Burning Books and Leveling Libraries: Extremist Violence and Cultural Destruction, “the dynamics of library destruction and devotes significant attention to the disturbing phenomenon of ethnic biblioclasm. As occurring in postcolonial countries, library destruction has tended to be the violent product of social flashpoint as well as political calculation.” [21]

Prevailing Western discourse regarding trauma fails to recognize how different cultures and communities experience trauma and what historical contexts result in insurgent behavior.22 These narratives and assumptions ultimately hinder our ability to critically analyze instances of genocides that are not traditionally recognized.


Panita’s Story

Panita looked at me with water in her eyes. “Let me tell you a story about a girl that I know.” She lamented, “a man who was known as her uncle had a disagreement with her mother. As a way to get back at her mother, he got some of his friends -a gang- to rape my friend. They jumped her on her way back from school. Her name was Vithya.” Her accounts of the continued violence of brutality and violence against women and girls in Sri Lanka caught me off guard. “Look it up on the internet,” she told me. I did. What I found shocked me.

Articles upon articles documenting the rape and murder of Panita’s friend, Vithya. [23] Protests were sparked across the Tamil segregated sections of the island. Vithya’s story is mentioned in academic articles such as The Forever Victims? Tamil Women in Post-War Sri Lanka by Nimmi Gowrinathan and Kate Cronin-Furman. They wrote the following about the case: “Vithya, an 18- year-old who was raped and murdered in May 2015, allegedly by three members of the Tamil community. Protests expressing outrage at her fate became a political flashpoint, mired in a web of competing agendas.” [24]

Panita later told me that Vithya’s case is only a snapshot of violence against women in Sri Lanka. She proclaimed, “What I’m saying is only an example, this happens every day in Jaffna. It is not safe for girls. Because it’s not safe for girls, there is no freedom there- I won’t go back unless there is freedom for girls.” She continued, “When the LTTE were in power, these kinds of things would have never happened. If anybody was caught raping, the LTTE would have shot them. When the LTTE were in power, rapists were brought to the judge, and were thus hung as a result. There was justice during the LTTE, if there was a wrongdoing they would handle it immediately. With the Sri Lankan army, they don’t pay any attention to what happens with the Tamil population. If there is a Sinhalese person involved then they care, but if it is just Tamils involved, they do not care at all.”

Once the LTTE was defeated, there became a state of political anomie in the former Eelam state. Because of this political anomie, crimes against Tamil people, in particular Tamil women go unpunished. In my interview with Legal Analyst Lorenzo Fiorito, he explained the necessity for immediate recognition of genocide, so that Tamils can finally have access to basic human rights:

There was once a de facto state of Tamil Eelam, and the Tamil people enjoyed the human right of self-determination while it existed. Effective reparations mean a return to that state, and the enjoyment of that right.” [25]

One afternoon, I visited Panita at school during lunchtime. When I arrived, I was about to ask a teacher where I could find Panita, but before I could ask she caught my attention from the corner of my eye. She looked ecstatic to see me, and waved vigorously for me to join her and her girlfriends. She gave me a huge hug and had me sit next to her at the cafeteria tables. Her friends appeared to be a mix of young Middle Eastern and Latina women. She introduced me as her sister, “Akka” in Tamil and that I was “from her country.”

As we walk around the school I begin to think of questions that I had been meaning to ask her. For example, I still felt unclear regarding her schooling and her family structure. I wanted to learn more about her life but I wanted to give her the space to open up to me if she felt like doing so. As I was thinking to myself, she lovingly grabbed my arm and placed hers in mine. With confidence, we headed through the courtyard passing her classmates. We ran into her brother, politely said hello, talked for a few moments, and left. I could tell that Panita wanted me all to herself and I was completely okay with that.

That day she revealed to me that she is getting married soon, and that she has known her fiancé her entire life. “We have known each other since we were babies He is my- cousin.”

Child Marriage, or in this case, youth marriage became a common strategy to avoid war related recruitments of women to join the LTTE. “Family relationships have destabilized. The final stages of the war saw a rash of “early marriages,” with teenage girls marrying “the next door neighbor’s son or some uncle” to prevent forced recruitment into the LTTE. Some even tried hastily to get pregnant, in order to be physically unable to fight. The post-war abandonment left young widows hurriedly looking to “re-marry to protect their reputation.” With the institution of marriage—formerly the backbone of community relationships— undermined, Tamil women have been increasingly vulnerable to teenage pregnancies, inter-family and inter- community molestation, harassment, and rape” (Gowrinathan and Cronin-Furman, 2015).

Panita suspected that her fiancé has, in fact, impregnated her aunt and she no longer wanted to marry him. Instead, she wanted to focus on learning in the United States and has no desire to return to Sri Lanka. Yet her father was determined to see her married and ignored her protests.

Often in genocide women exist as both receivers and pacifiers of externalized trauma. Gowrinathan, in a 2015 interview with Al Jazeera News, elaborates on violence against Tamil women taking place in post-war Sri Lanka:

Tamil women are particularly vulnerable to both violence by the state, and violence from a war traumatized community. There has been a breakdown of society in the north. There has been a rise of alcoholism [and] a rise of depression amongst young men. The community itself has fallen apart. Militarization seeps into the social fabric in a way that makes women vulnerable to violence from multiple angles. [26]

While recognition of the Tamil women’s vulnerability to sexual violence is a reality both in Sri Lanka and in the diaspora, it is also necessary to point out the pertinent involved of Tamil women in the freedom movement and in the post-war justice movement as well. Nimmi Gowrinathan, in her 2013 article Inside Camps, Outside Battlefields: Security and Survival for Tamil Women, she explains how scholarship has a propensity to hyper victimize Tamil woman. She wrote the following “An overemphasis on women’s emotional responses, coupled with a tendency to cast women as victims, has limited existing research, and has robbed women of agency in their social and political beings.” [27] Tamil women continue to stand at the forefront of the movement for reparations, as well as the recognition and return of the government kidnapped family members. [28]

Genocide... or something else?

A Review of Literature

One of the main points of contention regarding the Sri Lankan conflict has been labelling the war as a genocide or non- genocide. While the government of Sri Lanka has alienated itself from any language pertaining to war crimes, let alone genocide, many Tamil activists in the diaspora have fully recognized the conflict as a genocide. On the other hand, international organizations and NGO’s have taken a more passive stance on the topic. Often their ignorance saves them from leg work that may call in to question their own passivity during war time and possible incriminating negligence.

Several pertinent scholars are currently discussing Sri Lanka in context with genocide. Damian Kingsbury, the Personal Chair and Professor of International Politics at Deakin University in Australia, specializes in Sri Lankan Politics. Amarnath Amarasingam is a Fellow at The George Washington University’s Program on Extremism and the Co-Director of a study of Western foreign fighters based at the University of Waterloo. Christopher Powell, who coauthored scholarship with Amarasingam, is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada.

Whereas Kingsbury takes a human rights approach by contextualizing the conflict within a “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) framework that focuses on genocide, Amarasingam and Powell are interested in challenging the nuances of genocide and mass atrocities to find a medium in proto- genocide.

Nihal Jayasinghe served as the High Commissioner for Sri Lanka to the United Kingdom and Daley J. Birkett, a Research Associate for the Human Rights Law Centre at the University of Nottingham, coauthored A War Crimes Tribunal for Sri Lanka with Judge Jayasinghe. In said article, Jayasinghe and Birkett focus on the legal processes of putting to trail the government of Sri Lanka while focusing on meeting the demands for accountability and outstanding war crimes.

In Sri Lanka and the responsibility to protect29, Kingsbury focuses on the idea of a responsibility to protect (R2P) in relation to the war in Sri Lanka, questioning how the failure of R2P cost the lives of 40,000 people. Kingsbury investigates the international neglect of Sri Lanka, and also the very nature of international intervention. Kingsbury points out that R2P deals with “the very worst aspects of human behavior and the misery and profound suffering that it leaves in its wake” (Kingsbury 2012). Those who disagree with the very foundation of R2P and international intervention find it difficult to contest against crimes against humanity and genocide. In addition, Kingsbury insists that deliberate mass atrocities must be met with an equally determined “political will” to defend said persecuted peoples. There are states that actively oppose R2P, like Sri Lanka, to enforce political autonomy. These states create laws to “regulate their behavior” but these cannot be enforced by their own governments and therefore allow for massacres to take place. Kingsbury also discusses human rights framework surrounding legitimate and illegitimate violence30 committed by the state and also non-state actors (LTTE). The first chapter of Sri Lanka and the responsibility to protect focuses on the key principles of R2P. The second part discusses the development of human rights, and principles that set the global standard for International intervention. Using the case study of Sri Lanka Kingsbury engages with the UNHCR, United Nations, and UNGA. In Chapter 4 Cultural dominance genocide and crimes against humanity, Kingsbury elaborates on the theory of genocide. He starts by comparing the word “genocide” to the term “terrorism”, and the reaction that both of these terms receive because of their linguistic gravity. Kingsbury breaks down the UN convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide to contextualize the conflict in Sri Lanka:

On the question of whether genocide has been committed in Sri Lanka or whether there has been an attempt at genocide or incitement to genocide, it is clear that there have been mass killings that have been orchestrated by senior government officials. (Kingsbury, 2012).

Kingsbury also goes into detail about the human rights abuses and breaches of international law perpetuated by both the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tamil Tigers Eelam (LTTE). Relating back to the idea of international intervention, Kingsbury explains that the lack of global concern for the state of Sri Lanka interacts with the idea that Sri Lanka does not pose a direct threat to its neighbors. Despite the serious scale of human rights abuses and humanitarian concerns, its “physical isolation” renders little international concern so long as it “remains contained” (Kingsbury 2012). There is an unintentional tendency for The West to dictate which catastrophes in the Global South [31] gain recognition. In the case of Sri Lanka, the long neglected international discourse led to global ignorance, mass violence, and now a lackluster refrainment for justice and reparations. Nirmanusan Balasundaram addresses this plea of remembrance throughout his article for The Guardian.

Balasundaram’s article titled, Sri Lanka wants the world to forget about justice for war victims. Please Don’t [32] is a primary source opinion piece written regarding the ongoing struggle for reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka. This article urges readers to remember the conflict in Sri Lanka and to continue the fight for justice. Author, Balasundaram, articulates the United Nation’s attempt to hold the Sri Lankan government accountable for war crimes against Tamil people. Balasundaram also discusses the Sri Lankan government’s refusal to acknowledge their gross acts of violence against civilians. It seems as though Sri Lanka’s government is installing symbolic and internal councils in order to pacify the international community, understanding that war crimes perpetrated by their own government are not a priority for the UN nor the UNHRC.

On this note, Balasundaram writes, “Apart from visits and statements by UN representatives, little tangible action or leverage has been placed on Sri Lanka to pressure it into upholding its own promises” (Balasundaram 2018). Both state and global negligence contributed to the erasure of the Sri Lankan genocide. Along with blatant pacification and the creation of the Office of Missing Persons, the Sri Lankan government has also “explicitly ruled out” any possibilities of bringing in international judges or an international court to try any and all parties involved with war crimes. If nothing else, the redlining of the international community leads readers to question the nature of the Sri Lankan government’s sanctity and innocence. Balasundaram quoted the current Sri Lankan president, Maithripala Sirisena who said “I will not agree to get foreign judges in to any kind of investigations into human rights violations.” This succinct article is a snapshot of the current state of international inquiry into Sri Lanka’s alleged war crimes. Balasundaram points out that if we, as the global community, do not step in, survivors of war crimes will never see justice. [33]

There are parties that continue to archive reports on Sri Lanka. NGO’s such as the Human Rights Watch have essentially documented human rights abuse reports in Sri Lanka as well as urged a plan of action for the country.

Clearly, prominent global actors such as the UN as well as the Sri Lankan state itself have actively sought to hinder transparent, legitimate and unbiased investigations. If we cannot have an investigation of human rights violations, and SRI Lankan Tamils cannot have access to some measure of judicial review, how can we expect them to have any meaningful understanding of their own truth.

Sri Lanka: One Step Forward, Two Back,33 published by the Human Rights Watch, reiterates the state of human rights implementations in Sri Lanka. As of January 18, 2018, this article is the most recent report from the Human Rights Watch regarding Sri Lanka. The article explains the Sri Lankan government’s continued efforts to stall investigations into human rights abuses and implement any means of post-war transitional programs. It seems as though Sri Lanka aims to avoid addressing the war for as long as possible. If international eyes are unwilling to push investigations, the Sri Lankan government may be able to avoid any sort of legal accountability or reprise. Meenakshi Ganguly, the Human Rights Watch’s director of South Asia, speaks on the momentary hope for justice:

Victims of abuses who struggled for years seeking justice finally had a moment of hope two years ago when Sri Lanka pledged to the UN to take action [...] Since then, victims have received many words but little action. The government needs to put a timetable in place for meeting its pledges to the world and to the Sri Lankan people.

As stated in the article, the Sri Lankan government promised to establish four pillars of transitional justice as well as repeal their controversial Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), which the government used to detain suspects of terrorism “without charge or access to counsel.” (Human Rights Watch, 2018). The Sri Lankan government also issued an Office on Mission Persons which unfortunately lead to “no meaningful progress.” More specifically, the actions of the Sri Lankan government suggest that the only accountable process of justice has been essentially a case of self-reviewing.

Understanding Atrocities: Atrocity and Proto-Genocide in Sri Lanka,34 by Christopher Powell and Amarnath Amarasingam, discusses the question of “proto-genocide”: a grey area between an attack of a collective identity and fully executed genocide. The authors start by distinguishing genocide from atrocities, stating that the concept of atrocities “express a traumatized response” (Amarasingam, 2017).

The authors use Raphael Lemkin who first coined the term genocide, and installed it into international law and human rights framework. Genocide can conceptually perform two things: it protects diversity and resist the “over-coupling of state power with socio-cultural identity” (Amarasingam, 2017). Secondly, the authors express their skepticism towards the ambiguity amidst genocide and cultural change. They conclude their article by stating that Tamils are not endangered, but are threatened with the “Sinhalization’35 of Tamil areas, as well as subject to over-militarization, mourning, and trauma. Legal frameworks such as, A War Crimes Tribunal for Sri Lanka, have identified a relationship between the recognition of genocide and remembrance.

A War Crimes Tribunal for Sri Lanka? Examining the Options Under International Law 36 is from the Case Western Reserve Journal in 2014 by Jayasinghe and Birkett. At the time of publishing, there was a demand for international accountability in Sri Lanka. As articulated by Balasundaram, the world is once again beginning to forget about the atrocities in Sri Lanka. However, I find it important to include this journal, as it still remains important when understanding how the Sri Lankan government and non-state actors may or may be held accountable by the international criminal court. This article points out that there were minor attempts to meet demands for accountability. On June, 22, 2010, the UN Secretary General appointed a panel of experts to advise the Sri Lankan government in acts of accountability- especially regarding the “alleged violations of international humanitarian and human rights law during the final stages of the armed conflict in Sri Lanka” (Jayasinghe, 2014). The article works to examine accountability met through the International Criminal Court (ICC). This article interacts heavily with Kingsbury’s R2P model, alluding to the Security Council’s failed attempts and negligence during the war. It is also important to understand that the ICC “does not have jurisdiction over the crime [...] committed by Sri Lankan nationals during the armed conflict” because Sri Lanka is not a state party to the Rome Statute. Finally, this article points out that the UN Secretary- General has not put in place a proper mechanism of accountability, and argues that there is little likelihood that a “domestic court outside Sri Lanka would choose to exercise universal jurisdiction over the alleged war crimes. This would raise the additional problem of discerning a coherent body of applicable law” (Jayasinghe, 2014).

My conversations with Lorenzo Fiorito revealed to me the importance of genocide recognition, for both psychosocial reasons as well as a pragmatic deterrent for future crimes against humanity. Fiorito explains: “Failure to recognize that a genocide occurred [will

have two outcomes] First, on a psychological level, Tamils will perceive justice to have been denied: not just by Sri Lanka, but also by the international community. Frustrations will build, instead of being released. [Recognition] promises greater political and social stability, and can deter future genocides, to respond to such grievances immediately by acting according to international norms and procedures[...]Secondly, if a genocide is not acknowledged, [...] it becomes more difficult to argue that the crimes committed were not simply routine domestic political violence, but were instead genuinely aimed at destroying a people. Sri Lanka's war was aimed at the Tamil people as a whole in order to deny the right of self-determination. Extrajudicial executions of combatants, targeting of civilians, torture, enforced disappearances, etc. will lose many aspects of their real meaning, unless international political and diplomatic actors understand them as crimes that served a political purpose - eliminating the aspirations of the victims to nationhood” (Fiorito Interview, 2018).


Jaya’s Story

I met “Jaya” on a Friday afternoon. Her swagger matched that of an average Californian teenager. Her hair was bleached with hints of red, star tattoos on her neck and more on her wrist. I later observed that her “tattoos” were drawn on with sharpie. She had long acrylic nails and gold necklaces and rings. I eagerly introduced myself to her, “Hi Jaya! It is so good to meet you! I heard you were Sri Lankan and I really wanted to meet you. I am also Sri Lankan.”

She could sense my innocence and immediately took advantage of it. Jaya responded cheekily. “Oh, I don’t know anything about Sri Lanka,” looking down at her cellphone. For weeks Jaya refused to engage with me in a meaningful way, she kept her personal information to herself. Her complex emotions were entangled within an ominous history, her passive aggressive jabs towards my elementary knowledge of Tamil were laced with defensive protection of her culture, her narrative, and her story.

What I didn’t see that Friday afternoon, was the hidden pain and trauma that her exterior image masked. Jaya became the epoch of my personal and complex relationship with Sri Lanka, a country that I never could call home, but yearned for. Our diaspora was always challenged: from the time of Sri Lankans independence from the British in 1948, to the burning of our Jaffna Library in 1981, to the forced migration of millions of Tamils in 1983, 1990, and 1995.37

Academia often ignores the stories of Tamil Sri Lankan refugees. The complexity of stratified identities: Sri Lankan born, Ethnically Tamil, and American Refugee take time to conceive. Jaya’s use of historically Black vernacular and her adoption of “street” attire work towards her attempt to create an identity in California, contributing to her social capital-facilitating her assimilation.

As time passed she began to reveal to me parts of her hidden transcript [38]:

“I was always with my dad since I was a little girl,” she paused. “He would take me everywhere.” She casually scrolled through her phone, and continued, “he was pretty high up in the Tamil Eelam!” I nodded. “And one day, when I was a few years old, we were in the jungle. My dad got shot in the leg by a government soldier,” she pointed to her leg. “He was shot here too,” she pointed to her chest. “And they hit me too.”

Still acting naïve, I looked at her in awe and responded, “Oh my god, they would do that to a you, a baby?” Almost angrily, and disappointed with my innocence she snapped, “what the fuck! - Of course! - They would rape a baby.” [39]

When Jaya peeled back the layers of her life, I began to understand her more. However, minor embellishments often evoked moments of speculation. Once, I asked Jaya, “I would love to get a chance to speak with your father.” She responded defensively, “Oh yeah? Well you can go see him a prison in Thailand.” Shocked, I asked her why he was in prison. “Well he thought he was being smart so he made a fake passport for himself to leave Sri Lanka. They didn’t give him asylum because they said he was a terrorist. So he made this fake passport and we all went to Thailand. When we got there, we stayed for many years until he was caught. Then he went to prison.” Jaya seemed to hold her father on a pedestal. She admired his courage and perceived him as a war hero willing to fight for his people by any means necessary.

Still, however, I could tell that she was holding back. Jaya did not reveal to me then that her father was actually imprisoned for other reasons. Reasons that I gathered from people from the outside community that knew Jaya’s father from Thailand. Jaya’s father was actually arrested for issues regarding domestic abuse towards Jaya and her siblings. The stories that Jaya told me were symbiotic of these defense mechanisms that she had constructed over time to protect herself.

In an attempt to contextualize the psychological effects of Jaya’s experience, I stumbled across the International Handbook of Traumatic Stress Syndromes, a conglomeration of hundreds of psychological studies from around the world. Featured in this book is a chapter dedicated to Phychiatric Morbidity Due to War in Northern Sri Lanka by Daya J. Somadundaram. [40] He explains that in an attempt to cope with trauma, victims of mass atrocities externalize their pain when not in war-like settings. Somadundaram expands on Durkheim’s original observations of suicide rates dropping during war. He writes, “some have postulated that the opportunity to ‘externalize aggressive behavior’ during civilian violence reduces the incidence of suicide and depression, which is believed to be a result of aggression turning inward.” Using this dynamic psychosocial framework, one is to contextualize Jaya’s father’s abusive behavior as evidence of compounded trauma.

In an article by the Social Science and Medicine Journal, Predictors of violence against children in Tamil families in northern Sri Lanka, author Sriskandarajah explains that researchers have focused on “risk and protective factors for child mental health,” but have failed to look into maltreatment and abuse in post-war mass trauma situations. [41]

There are many reasons why Jaya’s family experienced interfamilial violence after the war. The cycle of violence theory expounds on the notion that “parents who have experienced maltreatment in their childhoods are more likely to perpetrate violence against their children [...] several findings suggest that parents’ PTSD symptoms are associated with higher levels of interfamilial stress and violence.”[42]

In one of our recent conversations, Jaya and I spoke about what recognizing genocide in Sri Lanka might mean for her life. “You know what Rebecca; I would feel happy if genocide was recognized in my country, because they finally realize that our people was dead for no reason.” I inquired, “what do you think you will gain personally Jaya?” She said with conviction, “I will have better sleep because I will know that our people have justice. I think about my family in Sri Lanka- I lost a lot of people. Recognition will help me sleep.”


This paper has given a panoramic understanding of how acts of genocide, ethnic cleansing, and civil war can induce trauma within the diaspora. Vachan, Jaya, and Panita illuminate the distinct experiences of young Sri Lankan Tamil asylum seekers attempting to gaining control of their realities and identities. In the case of Sri Lanka, ethnic cleansing and trauma was induced prior to the declaration of war, starting with the burning of the Jaffna Public Library, a complete erasure of Tamil history and existence. In Sri Lanka, women continue to experience the same forms of sexual violence in IDP camps, now within the private sphere by their trauma afflicted intimate partners. Suicide rates in Sri Lanka peaked during the war, with the addition of failed data collection and reports in the IDP camps.

It is my contention that trauma, in fact, is present in all communities that experience genocide and erasure of existence. Trauma is not just physical, but also the encompasses the emotional collective trauma of the community as a whole. As articulate by Lorenzo Fiorito,

“The recognition of the genocide is the first step toward bringing genocide charges against the perpetrators. If the international community recognizes one or several acts as genocidal, then there are people responsible for those acts, who should be tried in an impartial process, and face appropriate penalties according to international standards. This is important for the psychological aspect of the Tamil people seeing for themselves that justice has been done - according to subjective, as well as international, standards. It is also important as a deterrent for future crimes. Impunity has emboldened perpetrators to find more victims: yesterday it was Tamils, today it is Muslims, tomorrow it could be another community” (Fiorito Interview, 2018).

In order for Tamils to heal from mass atrocities, international criminal courts must address the crimes against humanity perpetrated by involved parties: Colonizers, the Sinhalese state, the United Nations, and those that stayed silent. It is imperative that the international voices of the Tamil diaspora be profiled, so that as a community we may be allowed to heal, mourn, and move forward.

It is my goal, with my art and writing, to create a continuous dialogue on the issue of the genocide of Tamil people in Sri Lanka so that some day we can have recognition and reparations for the tragic episodes of mass atrocities. If you have any feedback, questions, or concerns with my writing please feel free to leave me feedback below. Please understand that this topic is heavy and has had a personal effect on many real people in our community. If there are any major mistakes please let me know asap. My research is ongoing and this is just the beginning of my research on this topic. Thank you.

Name *

Works Cited

[1] I use pseudonyms throughout his paper to protect the confidentiality of survivors.

[2] Lemkin, R. and Jacobs, S. (2012). Lemkin on Genocide. Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books.

[3] Jones, A. (2006). Genocide: A Comprehensive Introduction. Milton: Taylor & Francis.

[4] UN.org. (2018). Teaching about the Holocaust, genocide and crimes against humanity. [online]

[5] Morland, P. (2014). Demographic Engineering: Population Strategies in Ethnic Conflict. Ashgate Publishing Group.
Sri Lanka is a multiethnic and multilingual plural society with a population of around 20 million, of whom the majority community is Sinhalese (75.4%). Other ethnic groups are Sri Lankan Tamils (11.4%), Indian Tamils (4.1%), Sri Lankan Moors (8.9%), Malays (0.2%), Burghers (of Portuguese and Dutch descent, (0.2%), and others (0.1%).

[6] Strather, Andrew and Pamela J. Stewart. 2002. “Ethnicity, Violence, and the State: Sri Lanka.” Pp. 137–51 in Violence Theory and Ethnography. London: A&C Black.

[7] Guha, M. (2015). Forced Migration of the Tamils. India Quarterly: A Journal of International Affairs, 71(1), pp.53-66.

[8] Munck, Ph.D., V. and Weerakoon, Ph.D., P. (2004). Sri Lanka: The Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. In: R. Francoeur and R. Noonan, ed., The Continuum Complete International Encyclopedia of Sexuality. New York: The Continuum International Publishing Group Inc, pp.927-982.

[9] Tambiah, S. (1983). Sri Lanka - ethnic fratricide and the dismantling of democracy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

[10] Jegapragasan, M. (2004). The Division of Sri Lankan Nationalism and Its Economic Consequences. Thesis.

[11] Sri Lanka's Killing Fields. (2011). [film] Directed by C. Macrae. UK: Channel 4.
FIGURE 1. Stokke, K. (2006). Approximate extent of territorial control in Sri Lanka as of June 2006.. [image]

[12] Interview with Tamil Refugee Ruchi. (2018). Interviewed by Dharmapalan, R. & Murugan, N.

[13] Wassel, Todd. "Human Rights Violations in Sri Lanka." Race & Class 26.1 (1984): 111-29. Forced Migration Review. University of Oxford- Refugee Studies Center. Web. 12 Dec. 2015.

[14] BBC (2009). Sri Lanka Vows to Resettle Tamils. [online]Available at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8061623.stm [Accessed 12 Dec. 2017].

[15] Marochkin, S. and Nelaeva, G. (2014). Rape and Sexual Violence as Torture and Genocide in the Decisions of International Tribunals: Transjudicial Networks and the Development of International Criminal Law. Human Rights Review, 15(4), pp.473- 488.

[16] Miller, P. and Macnamara, L. (2017). Undercover Footage Shows British Police Are Training Riot-Cops Linked to War Crimes in Sri Lanka. Vice. [online] Available at: https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/qv338m/underc over-footage-shows-british-police-are-training-riot- cops-linked-to-war-crimes-in-sri-lanka.

[17] Appendix B: Somasundaram, D. (1997). Abandoning jaffna hospital: Ethical and moral dilemmas. Medicine, Conflict and Survival, 13(4), pp.333-347.

[18] Pickert, K. (2009). The Tamil Tigers. Time Inc.

[19] Balasingham, A. and Subramanian, S. (1983). Liberation tigers and Tamil Eelam freedom struggle. 1st ed. Chennai: Political Committee, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

[20] Haviland, C. (2012). Sri Lanka's Tea Workers Fear for Their Future. BBC.

[21] Knuth, R. (2006). Burning books and leveling libraries. Westport, Conn.: Praeger.

[22] Jeffrey C. Alexander and Ron Eyerman and Bernard Giesen and Neil J. Smelser et. al. (2004). Cultural Trauma and Collective Identity. Berkeley: University of California Press.

[23] Groundviews. (2018). The rape and murder of Vidya: Do women really matter in Sri Lanka?. [online] Available at: http://groundviews.org/2015/05/26/the- rape-and-murder-of-vidya-do-women-really-matter- in-sri-lanka/ [Accessed 28 Mar. 2018].

[24] Gowrinathan, N. and Cronin-Furman, K. The Forever Victims? Tamil Women in Post-War Sri Lanka. (2015). Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership.

[25] Fiorito, L. (2018). Interview Regarding Legal Recognition of Genocide in Sri Lanka and Reparations.

[26] The Steam: Finding peace in post-war Sri Lanka, (2015). [TV programme] Al Jazeera.

[27] Gowrinathan, N. (2018). Inside Camps, Outside Battlefields: Security and Survival for Tamil Women. The Gendered Refugee Experience.

[28] Tamil Guardian (2018). Families of the disappeared mark 1 year of protests in Kilinochchi. [online]

[29] Kingsbury, D. (2012). Sri Lanka and the responsibility to protect. New York: Routledge.

[30] Weber, M. “Bureaucracy.” From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology, edited by H.H. Gerth and C. Wright Mills. New York: Oxford University Press.

[31] This statement includes indigenous populations that have been historically excluded from genocidal recognition.

[32] Balasundaram, N. (2018). Sri Lanka wants the world to forget about justice for war victims. Please don't. [online] the Guardian.

[33] Human Rights Watch. (2018). Sri Lanka: One Step Forward, Two Back. [online] Available at: one-step-forward-two-back https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/01/18/sri-lanka- [Accessed 18 Jan. 2018].

[34] Powell, C. and Amarasingam, A. (2017). Understanding Atrocities: Atrocity and Proto- Genocide in Sri Lanka. 1st ed. Calgary, Alberta: University of Calgary Press.

[35] The assimilation of minority groups (Tamils and Muslims in Sri Lanka) to the majority group of Sinhalese Sri Lankans.

[36] Jayasinghe, N. and Birkett, D. (2014). "A War Crimes Tribunal For Sri Lanka? Examining The Options Under International Law." Case Western Reserve Journal of International Law: 567-87. Retrieved February 11, 2018

[37] Guha, M. (2015). Forced Migration of the Tamils: India versus Sri Lanka. India Quarterly: A Journal of International Affairs, 71(1), pp.53-66.
38 Scott, James C. (1990). Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts. New Haven, CN: Yale University Press.

[39] Sriskanda R. and Rajah A. (2017). Government and politics in Sri Lanka: biopolitics and security. London: Rutledge, Taylor & Francis Group.

[40] Somasundaram, D. (1993). Phychiatric Morbidity Due to War in Northern Sri Lanka. In: B. Raphael and J. Wilson, ed., International Handbook of Traumatic Stress Syndromes.. Springer Science & Business Media.

[41] Sriskandarajah, V. and Neuner, F. et. al. (2015). “Predictors of violence against children in Tamil families in northern Sri Lanka.” Social Science & Medicine 146:257–65.

[42] Brand, Sarah R. and Julia C. Schechter, Constance L. Hammen, Robyne Le Brocque, and Patricia A. Brennan. (2011). “Do adolescent offspring of women with PTSD experience higher levels of chronic and episodic stress?” Journal of Traumatic Stress 24(4):399–404.

Appendix A:

In 2004, a major Tsunami hit the South and Eastern coasts of Sri Lanka displacing one and a half million people. For the hundreds of thousands of Tamil civilians captive in IDP camps, life became exponentially more difficult. “In the East, and after the Indian Ocean tsunami, many families were left with no documented assurance that they would receive a house, or be able to remain on land for which they had no official documentation” (Wassel, 1984). In understanding the tsunami that hit Sri Lanka, it is also important to look at natural disasters in other countries that were largely affected by the humanitarian aid system and were subsequently unable to understand the legal framework of human rights. In Sri Lanka, while aid workers were supporting the victims of the Tsunami, the national disaster organizations intentionally ignored the concentration camps and the intergovernmental conflicts with the LTTE. “A humanitarian response that does not engage with legal framework of human rights may not properly define relationships between rights holders and duty bearer, may bypass the state, and may not fully enhance the ability of disaster affected persons to benefit from two of the fundamental principles of human rights.” [43]

Appendix B:

“An unforgettable tragedy, that was to recur in the memory of the medical staff during the current crisis, occurred with the intervention of the Indian Army in October 1987.5 The Indian Army, under the guise of the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF), launched a major offensive to wrest control of Jaffna from the Tamil militant group, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). In one incident, a few Tamil militants fired on the advancing army from within the hospital and then made good their escape by running through the hospital. However, when the Indian Army entered the hospital, there were no militants and no fighting. And yet, on that Deepavali day (22 October), over 70 civilians, including patients, two doctors, one pediatric consultant and three nurses, died in the massacre that followed. The pediatrician and two nurses were killed the following morning when everything was quiet and they had reported for duty in white uniforms. After entering the hospital, the senior consultant, with a visible stethoscope around his neck, identified himself as a doctor. But the Indian Jawan (soldier) gunned them down in cold blood. The Indian Army made no apology or inquiry and effectively prevented any news of the hospital massacre getting out. This horrendous crime against humanity was to remain a non-event as far as the world was concerned. Subsequently, when doctors of Jaffna Hospital tried to publish details of what happened in British medical journals, they were refused, perhaps for political reasons. The hospital slowly limped back to carrying out its functions, but it never completely recovered from this body blow to its morale. Although the morale of the institution had been gradually declining, the staff had continued to serve the patients with some dedication and sacrifice. Even when the Indian Army was advancing into the town, there had been discussions about leaving. The staff had then decided to remain with the patients, but whenever there was a hint of trouble most of the staff fled. Motivation and team spirit also declined markedly. If some international notice had been taken and sympathy expressed, the staff would have felt vindicated and the morale of the institution re-established. Initially, the Indian Army tried to run the hospital as it did much of the administration in the peninsula. However, this was gradually resisted by the staff of the hospital” (Somasundaram, 1997).