Today Sri Lanka’s President Rajapaksa spoke before the United Nations General Assembly on the status and future of Sri Lanka, yet overtly neglected to address the ongoing human rights abuses and limitation of democratic freedoms.
USTPAC joins with others committed to human rights and calls on President Rajapaksa to honor Sri Lanka’s commitments to the United Nations and cooperate with the UN-mandated investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity.
President Rajapaksa demonstrates a double standard in his relationship with the United Nations. The President respects the UN enough to travel to address the General Assembly while at the same time rejects an important UN body – the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Investigation on Sri Lanka – which was established to look into human rights violations committed towards the end of the Sri Lankan conflict.
Sri Lanka has benefited from the end of the war, as evidenced by rapid improvement of infrastructure. However, the benefits of peace have not been equitably distributed. Without a climate of justice, consultation and dignity for all, real peace cannot be attained. Tamils face discrimination and abuse on a regular basis: the Tamil language is rarely used in government and commerce; Tamils of the North East have little to no control over local affairs; and the appropriation of land in the traditional Tamil areas is changing the demography of these areas. There lies the real potential of a marginalized underclass in Sri Lanka.
Accountability, justice and dignity for all are vital to building a sustainable, democratic and peaceful island where the different ethnicities coexist in harmony. In the spirit of the United Nations and the principles upon which it was founded, we urge President Rajapaksa and all leaders who follow him to uphold these universal ideals and govern accordingly.
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