The Great Genocide Game - Part III
LTTE child soldiers
Perhaps the most astonishing of the interlocking networks used to
denigrate Sri Lanka as part of the Great Kiplingesque Genocide Game is
The Genocide Intervention Network (one that leaves out Israel
altogether), which it seems was set up a few years ago by a couple of
peace studies undergraduates from an American college. Their logic
however does no credit to American university education.
They claim that ‘Government victories forced the LTTE to resume
guerrilla tactics, with deadly implications for civilians,’, ‘LTTE
concessions at talks led Karuna to break away,’ and, ‘When Mahinda
Rajapaksa came to power, hardline militants assumed high level Defence
Ministry positions. With policies such as the incorporation of the
national police into the defence establishment, LTTE wariness of the new
government increased. This provoked a belligerent government response,
causing fighting to resume.’
LTTE concessions? Wariness provoking belligerence? Clearly these
American undergraduates have no understanding of the English language.
No mention here of the fact that, while the Rajapakse Government
scrupulously observed the Ceasefire for nine months from the time it
took office, the LTTE began violent attacks on servicemen almost
immediately, leading the Scandinavian monitors to question whether,
given their actions, the CFA was still in force.
The peace studies undergraduates also obviously did not know that it
was the LTTE’s authoritarian leader Prabhakaran who repudiated the
minimal concession made by his negotiators (and then withdrew from talks
long before President Rajapakse’s election), and that amongst the
reasons Karuna has given for splitting away was his realisation that
Prabhakaran would not compromise.
The Genocide Intervention Network describes the LTTE as ‘the
predominant Tamil rebel group fighting against the Sinhalese government
for Tamil rights and an autonomous Tamil state’, while the Karuna group
are ‘a breakaway faction that garnered support from the Security Forces
to attack the LTTE.
They forcibly recruit child soldiers and regularly abduct and murder
suspected LTTE members and supporters.’ Such a description, ignoring
even UN figures, suggests that The Genocide Intervention Network is some
sort of synonym for the LTTE.
The Genocide Watch List meanwhile claims that mass killings of
ordinary people are already going on in Sri Lanka, although curiously it
blames anti-Tamil mobs and the LTTE. This is clearly just ignorance
rather than strategy but, even if for once Government is not blamed, the
idea that anti-Tamil mobs are loose suggests someone stuck in a time
warp a quarter of a century ago.
Taken altogether, Sri Lanka does not come out too badly in four of
the five indices used, but somehow the overall conclusion of what is
termed the Genocide Project, heavily influenced by the undergraduate
pronouncement, placed Sri Lanka amongst the eight countries on Red
This may not seem too important, given that the Genocide Project
itself does not seem to have any great standing, but the timing of the
outburst is suspicious. It coincides with the presentation to the Obama
administration of a policy report on genocide, by a team headed by a
much more respectable figure, former Secretary of State Madeleine
That report makes no mention of Sri Lanka, but naturally TamilNet and
related instruments of what Donald Reed describes as Fifth Generation
Warfare made good use of the coincidence.
So did Bruce Fein, hired as he has been by a group that calls itself
Tamils against Genocide to denigrate Sri Lankan government officials.Is
all this simple coincidence? We might know more if we knew who funded
the Genocide Project or the various indices it employs - and in
particular the most arbitrary of them - but no one thinks accountability
and transparency are essential for organisations that sit in judgment on
sovereign democratic states.
Sri Lanka has recently had stunning examples of the irresponsibility
if not downright dishonesty of such Non-Governmental Organisations.
The financial scandal at the Free Media Movement is perhaps outdone
by the revelation that ICES had, under the distinguished leadership of
Radhika Coomaraswamy and Bradman Weerakoon and Rama Mani, run up huge
deficits which it has met from its investment.
It has now failed to pay their dues to the Kandy officials who first
drew attention to the financial mess, furious as ICES funders were that
their attempts to invoke R2P in Sri Lanka were stymied.
Those who challenged the orthodoxies had therefore to be thrown out,
and their questions ignored, by the new Board which still pays obeisance
to Sithy Tiruchelvam who continues to dominate ICES, and the Law and
Society Trust, and the other various Trusts associated with Neelan, like
a grand spider in the midst of a web that seems designed primarily to
entrap the Sri Lankan state.
This was not the way Neelan behaved, but Neelan himself is now almost
forgotten. After he was killed by the LTTE, ICES adopted an approach
that basically assumed appeasement of the LTTE was in order, to the
extent of inviting Gareth Evans to commemorate Neelan by making waves
against the Sri Lankan state, with nary a mention of who killed Neelan.
That Mrs Tiruchelvam should have been part of this betrayal of the
ideals for which Neelan stood is utterly depressing.
But we are a microcosm of the larger world. A distinguished Indian
diplomat told me, when we were discussing the transformation of the
United Nations into essentially a body of white officials, that that was
not the whole story.
Unlike in the old days, when UN officials came from government
service and hoped to go back to that, now they came from NGOs and saw
their future therein. We have seen the effects of this in the
irresponsibility of people such as Benjamin Dix, who had first worked
with Solidar before moving on to UNOPS, and there are plenty of other
In short, we have people who claim that their idealism justifies
anything, including denigration of any who disagree with them. They get
used to working without any sense of accountability to any institution
except their own, and unfortunately this approach is accepted by other
such institutions. So the Genocide Project does not check on the
credentials of those whose effusions it privileges, and in time the
Genocide Project will be cited as gospel by others.
But at some stage in this game what could be considered naivete gets
taken over by particular political agendas. It is not difficult, for
those with a strong sense of purpose, to use the na‹ve, sometimes
through funding, sometimes through carefully chosen feeding in of
information. The result is value judgments that can then be used at
Perhaps at present we have little to fear. But we have to remember
that, as Asia increases in importance, economically as well as
politically, outsiders will want to have outposts of what they think of
as their own special civilisation in the midst of an alien other world.
I do not think we have to worry too much about the United States in
this regard since it is confident enough in its relations with India not
to feel threatened by Indian prosperity - just as way back in 1948 it
did not push as a nation for the creation of Israel.
But the Jews within the States were a powerful lobby, and LTTE
surrogates are now trying to play a similar role. Americans sadly are
not able easily to register the distinction between the totalitarian
Tigers and those who made up Israel who had developed solid democratic
traditions over the years, at least for their own kind.
The recent chauvinistic critique by LTTE surrogates of American
assistance to open up the East economically may alert them, but the
Feins of this world will do their best to convince them that all will be
well, and all manner of things too.
And then there others, who must fear the emergence of India, and feel
that continuing tensions in the region will be the best hope of slowing
things down, to ensure continuing economic domination by the West, at
least of the service sector.
If keeping the LTTE going is the only way to achieve this, then it
has to be done. But for justification for assistance to the LTTE, it is
necessary to suggest that the Sri Lankan state is worse.
All this may sound far-fetched but, when too many coincidences occur,
it is necessary to be wary. None of this may be connected to official
policies, but often statecraft can be developed by individual
adventurers who, because their governments will not repudiate them,
drive more principled people along the road they have marked out. It has
happened before, we need to be careful it will not happen again.