The Director of Project Pericles and Professor of Psychology offered commentary along with other civic and governmental leaders from Sri Lanka, Canada, and the United States.
Professor of Psychology Mathew Gendle, who is director of Project Pericles, participated in a May 18 Zoom webinar on May 18, 2020, that solemnly commemorated the eleventh anniversary of the Tamil Genocide in Sri Lanka. Hosted by North Carolinians for Peace, this event was publicly streamed and recorded on YouTube, and can be viewed at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-18xAXWWdk&feature=youtu.be.
This annual remembrance (traditionally held in-person, but moved online for 2020 due to COVID-19) serves as a poignant moment of mourning for the genocide’s more than 140,000 Tamil victims, as well as a continued call for accountability and restorative justice for the victims and survivors of the genocide.
Along with multiple civic and governmental leaders from Sri Lanka, Canada, and the United States, Gendle offered commentary that promoted authentic and peaceful ethnic, political and social reconciliation in Sri Lanka. Other speakers included:
- Justice C. V. Vigneswaran: Former Chief Minister of the Northern Province of Sri Lanka, Former Justice of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka, Leader of the Tamil People’s Alliance
- Deborah K. Ross: Attorney at Law, Candidate for U.S. Congress from North Carolina, Former North Carolina House Representative, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina
- Wiley Nickel: Attorney at Law, N.C. State Senator
- Dr. P. Sathiyalingam: Physician, Former Minister of Health of the Northern Province of Sri Lanka, Tamil National Alliance
- N. Kandeepan: Attorney at Law, Human Rights Activist, Legal Advisor to the Tamil National People’s Front
- Thani Kumar Cheran: Founder, Tamil Sangam of Carolina and Founding President, World Tamil Organization (WTO)
- Elias Jeyarajah: Founder and Former President of North Carolinians for Peace, Founding President, United States Tamil Action Group (USTAG)
- Saba Kugathas: Witness to the Mullivaikkaal genocide, Former member of the Northern Provincial Council of Sri Lanka
North Carolinians for Peace is an organization that promotes human rights, social justice, world peace, and the alleviation of human suffering. The events leading to the end of the Sri Lankan civil war in May 2009 received little media coverage in the United States and around the world due to the Sri Lankan government’s ban of war zone access to the international media. Following the war, investigations by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) concluded that there are reasonable grounds to believe that serious violations of international humanitarian law, including war crimes and crimes against humanity, were committed by the Sri Lankan government.
These war crimes and crimes against humanity are well-documented, and the Sri Lankan military’s intentional shelling and bombing of government-designated “no fire zones” including hospitals resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent Tamil civilian non-combatants in the last few months of the war.
The Sri Lankan Government has failed to fulfill its obligations under UNHRC Resolution 30/1 promoting reconciliation, accountability, and human rights. In March 2020, the government of Sri Lanka withdrew from the process of implementing UNHRC resolution 30/1, which it had initially co-sponsored.