These blog postings do not necessarily represent the views of all members of the Advisory Council.
We, concerned individuals and organizations from around the world, urge the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to use their March 2014 session to pass a resolution that will include a commitment to an Independent International investigation in the form of a Commission of Inquiry. Only this will help to put the country on the path to justice and reconciliation.
Although the long-running civil war ended in May 2009, a lasting peace is not in sight and we remain gravely concerned for the future of the people of Sri Lanka. A fear and sense of injustice persists, not just among minorities and political activists, but among ordinary people desperately trying to rebuild their lives. A number of unresolved issues remain, including ongoing human rights violations, credible allegations of crimes against humanity and war crimes, and the lack of progress towards longer-term political solutions and reconciliation. Left unaddressed, these issues could lead to renewed conflict.
Post-conflict processes do take time, but what matters is getting on the right path. Nearly five years after the war ended, the situation appears to be getting worse, not better.
The biggest issue Sri Lanka faces is a systemic lack of respect for the rights of its citizens, particularly - but not exclusively - its minority citizens. This is rooted in a culture of impunity which is in turn rooted in a failure to hold to account those, on both sides, who committed some of the worst atrocities this century.
Only an independent international investigation of these atrocities will end this culture of impunity and give the people of Sri Lanka a chance to climb out of the cycle of violence towards a lasting peace. For these reasons, there have been numerous calls over the years for such an investigation: from a renowned panel of experts appointed by UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon, from UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, from a host of Sri Lankan and international individuals, Non Governmental Organisations, and politicians, and from many thousands of petitioners all over the world.
We represent organisations and individuals in many countries. The Sri Lankan Government claims that attempts to set up an international inquiry in Sri Lanka come exclusively from the west, and represent a form of imperialism. Not so. Many of us come from countries that have also seen conflict, and attempts at reconciliation after it. We know Sri Lanka is going to need help from the international community to get back on track. Standing in solidarity with the many Sri Lankans who feel their government is making a mistake, we urge the United Nations to establish a Commission of Inquiry.
1 Archbishop Desmond Tutu, South Africa
2 Yasmin Sooka, Executive Director, Foundation for Human Rights, South Africa
3 Rt Rev Rayappu Joseph, Bishop of Mannar and President of Tamil Civil Society in Sri Lanka
4 Hon. Rajavarothayam Sampanthan - Leader of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and Member of Parliament of Sri Lanka
5 Hon. C.V.Wigneswaran - Chief Minister of Northern Provincial Council (NPC) and former Supreme Court Judge (Sri Lanka)
6 Danny Sriskandarajah, Secretary General, CIVICUS, the world Alliance for Civilian Participation, South Africa
7 Dr. Irene Fernandez, Right Livelihood Award, Malaysia
8 Bashana Abeywardane, Exiled Sinhalese Journalist, Co-ordinator Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka
9 Maggie Ndagire, Program Director, on behalf of Women And Children's Empowerment Network in Africa (WACENA), Uganda
10 Flavia Piovesan, Professor of Human Rights and Constitutional Law, Catholic University of Sao Paulo, Brazil
11 Arul Prakkash, Executive Director, Pusat KOMAS
12 Chibli Mallat. chair, Right to Nonviolence, Lebanon
13 Dr. Nezamuddin Katawazi, Director of Peace and Human Rights Organization (PHRO), Pakistan/Afghanistan
14 Dr. Bruce White Director, Organization for Intra-Cultural Development (OICD), Japan
15 Francis Paul Siah, Leader, Movement for Change, Sarawak, Malaysia (MoCS)
16 James Offuh, President and Founder, ONG UFPACI, Ivory Coast
17 Jerald Joseph, Human Rights Activist, Malaysia
18 Kannan Ramasamy, President of RARE Msia (Respect All Race & Religion of Msia), Secretary of Tamilar Action Force Malaysia, Malaysia
19 Lena Hendry, Programme Co-ordinator, Pusat Komas Human Rights organisation, Malaysia
20 Ng Yap Hwa, Coordinator of Malaysians for Beng Hock movement, Malaysia
21 Nora Ahmetaj, Executive Director, Centre for Research, Documentation and Publication (CRDP), Kosovo
22 PY Wong, Tindak Malaysia, Malaysia
23 Ratna Osman, Executive Director of Sisters of Islam, Malaysia
24 Richard Obedi, Executive Director, The Populace Foundation International, Uganda
25 S. Gobi Krishnan, Founder & Secretary General of NewGen Party Malaysia
26 Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice, on behalf of 15000 supporters in 66 countries around the world
27 Tan Jo Hann, President of Persatuan Masyarakat Selangor & Wilayah Persekutuan (PERMAS Movement of the Urban Poor. ), Malaysia
28 Yu Ren Chung, Human Rights Activist, Malaysia
29 As an organisation, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development, Thailand
30 As an organisation, Association for Democratic Initiatives in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosnia and Herzegovina
31 As an organisation, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), India
32 As an organisation, Destination Justice, Cambodia
33 As an organisation, Globe International Center, Mongolia
34 As an organisation, INSEC, Nepal
35 As an organisation, Life Watch Manipur, India
36 As an organisation, Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity (PACTI), India
37 As an organisation, Redress, UK (representing victims from all over the world)
38 As an organisation, SDO ( Sanayee Development Organization), Afghanistan
39 As an organisation, UNA Sweden, Sweden.
“These documented allegations of torture, rape, sexual violence, enforced disappearance, murder, and other inhumane acts against Tamil civilians are troubling in any context and they elicit an affirmative obligation on the State to investigate, prosecute and punish those responsible. This report raises the disturbing possibility that they have been committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack on the civilian population, which would make them international crimes that should trigger the jurisdiction of international courts if the Sri Lankan judiciary proves unable or unwilling to prosecute them.”We are releasing the report now in the hope of influencing the Human Rights Council to mandate the international Commission of Inquiry that Sri Lanka so desperately needs. But the report also has the longer term objective of changing the way we talk about the situation in Sri Lanka. Crimes Against Humanity did not just take place during the final stages of the war in 2009, they appear to have taken place since, and right up to the present.
In 2013, a Tamil woman from the Northern Province was picked up at home by five or six men and taken into a white van. She was blindfolded and taken to an unknown destination. She was tortured. The first night, she was raped by men in military uniforms who took turns raping her. They continued raping her the following morning. She was tortured including by cigarettes burns all over her body and her genitals.
On 6 February 2013, in Jaffna, a distributor of another Tamil daily, Thinakkural, was assaulted with metal rods at Point Pedro. The attackers burned his motor bicycle and the newspapers. As a result of his serious injuries, he was rushed to the Jaffna Base hospital
In January 2013, in Kilinochchi, TID officers searched the office of a TNA MP twice, and claim to have found explosives, pornographic material and condoms in his office. The TID officers arrived at the MP’s office alongside journalists, who took pictures of the TNA MP’s private secretary and assistant posing with the pornographic material and explosive purportedly found at the office. These images appeared in leaflets that were distributed in and around Kilinochchi town shortly thereafter. The TID officers detained The MP private secretary and assistant. The two were later transferred to Boosa detention camp, in terms of an administrative detention order issued under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. They challenged their detention in a fundamental rights application to the Supreme Court. They were later released in November 2013. No charge was filed against them at any point, nor was the TNA MP even questioned regarding the alleged discovery of explosives at his office
On 26 November 2010, the Deputy Director of Education of Jaffna District, Markandu Sivalingam, was shot dead by armed men in Urumpiai, Jaffna. He had reportedly refused to instruct schools in his educational zone to sing the national anthem in the Sinhala language.This provides further proof of the pressing need for an independent international investigation in Sri Lanka. If you haven't already please sign our petition demanding just that.
|The UN Human Rights Council|
"The Government has not responded to the offers of technical assistance made by the High Commissioner and the special procedures. Meanwhile, new evidence continues to emerge on the events that took place in the final stages of the armed conflict. Against this background, the High Commissioner recommends the establishment of an independent, international inquiry mechanism, which would contribute to establishing the truth where domestic inquiry mechanisms have failed."Coupled with this is the stated objective of the United States to bring a resolution before this next Human Rights Council, the promise by the British Prime Minister that he too would push for an international investigation if there is not any progress by March (it is three days until March and there hasn't been), and the Indian General Election meaning that India will be under increased scrutiny for its actions. All these things mean that there is renewed hope for an international investigation in Sri Lanka.
Labels: United Nations
|The E03 Colombo-Katunayake Expressway over Peliyagoda, photo CC by Nazly Ahmed|
|Photograph courtesy of news.lk.|
Labels: Mahinda Rajapaksa
The House of Sunesh, in Mannar, a full time member of NAFSO and an activist against disappearances, was visited by people claiming to be CID at 0130am today.
Sunesh received a call at 0130, asking to come out from the house, in a rude manner. He was not at home but he pretended that he was there.They were banging on the door.
When Sunesh asked who they were, one said " Rishwarn". He was speaking in Tamil and had a Sinhala accent.
They said "you went with Fr. Sebamalei, Fr. Neru, and Sahayam campaigning against the Government, recently in Jaffna.We should have abducted you at the first time (there was another visit some time ago). Do you want to be alive? Do you want any harm on your family?"
Then Sunesh said he would inform the Bishop and other priests about this harassment and they said they are not afraid of anyone.
They were there banging on the door for about half an hour. Sunesh's wife and the children were the only other people there.
Sunesh was in the forefront in the campaigns against disappearances and on the rights of fishermen, land grabbing and IDP Issues. He was also in the front of the recent campaign held in Jaffna with the family members of the disappeared when the British Prime Minister and New Zealand Foreign Minister visited Jaffna.
During that demonstration three people who was there in civilian attire (suspected to be CID) were heard saying pointing at Sunesh, "that bugger is too much. We must do something."
|Attendance at Commonwealth Summits by Heads of Government|
(it has not been possible to determine Heads of Government in attendance between 1977 and 1983)
|Families of the disappeared demonstrate in the road|
|A Sri Lankan victim of sexual violence (in this case |
from HRW's report not the BBC documentary)
|Demonstration in Colombo - photo by Dushi|
Labels: Rule of law