Practice Relating to Rule 129. The Act of Displacement
Section A. Forced displacement
Sri Lanka’s Geneva Conventions Act (2006) includes the following grave breach as an indictable offence: “unlawful deportation or transfer”.
In 2011, in its Humanitarian Operation Factual Analysis July 2006–May 2009, Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Defence stated:
33. To further its ambition of creating a mono-ethnic separate state for the Tamils, the LTTE [Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam] systematically attacked Sinhalese and Muslim civilians and attempted to drive them out of the areas it dominated.
34. Starting in the early 1980s, the LTTE drove out the Sinhala residents from the Jaffna peninsula. Attacks carried out on Sinhala civilians in the North and East during the 1980s accounted for close to 500 deaths, while over 150 more Sinhala civilians were killed in vulnerable villages near LTTE dominated areas during the same period. The brutal impact of the LTTE’s ethnic cleansing programme can be gauged from the fact that, of the 19,334 Sinhala civilians recorded in the census of 1981 as residents of the Northern Province, virtually none remained a few years later.
35. The LTTE was also determined to drive out the Muslims from the North. The most blatant example of this was in October 1990, when it expelled 75,000 Muslim residents of the Jaffna peninsula, ordering them to leave their homes within 48 hours. The LTTE carried out several brutal attacks on Muslim villages in the North and East, massacring almost 600 civilians.
The Ministry of Defence further stated: “On 18 May 2009, Sri Lanka defeated the LTTE, bringing to an end three decades of conflict and suffering.”