Posts Categorized: Human Rights

Insider Account of Government Forces Torturing Civilians

[T]he captain… was transferred to Colombo, where he helped with search and cordon operations that rounded up ethnic Tamils. He said he knew the army was torturing, beating and raping civilians.

“I admit that it is a harassment of these people,” he said. “I admit that.”…
[T]he board ruled in February he was not eligible for refugee protection because he was complicit in crimes against humanity.

Amnesty UCLU panel asks ‘Sri Lanka: Genocide?’

Madurika Rasaratnam of TAG argued…”The idea of genocide is useful to understand the past, the present and the future of Sri Lanka. The label of genocide captures the process that has occurred in the post-independence Sri Lanka…”
Outlining his own personal view – “I think there is a possibility it is genocide”, Carver said that nonetheless it should not be activists that call it a genocide first, but academics.

“I Remain a Friend of the Sinhala People and of Buddhism”

But on a lighter vein, I recall what I wrote to President Premadasa:-Sir, please turn the lion on the National flag the other way, so as not to threaten the two minorities with the sword!

To His Excellency President Rajapakse, I may quote a Chinese proverb from Wang Suo of Hans dynasty: –Nothing brings greater misfortune than killing those who have already surrendered…
Mr. D.S. Senanayake, the first Prime Minister, who knew the birth pangs and fears of the non-Sinhalese on the eve of Independence, loudly proclaimed to the world: United we stand, divided we fall!

Vanni : a Personal Journey

Heinrich Böll said of the Second World War: as long as the pus continues to drain from the wound of war, you cannot say the nation is free from war. I saw that, in Sri Lanka, an unseen war is still being waged, one that seeks to destroy the spirit of a people.

The UN Failed Sri Lanka’s Tamils, and Innocents Paid the Price

“Instead, the Security Council and UN Secretariat were cowed by the Sri Lankan authorities, who enjoyed “the effective acquiescence of a post-9/11 world order” to defeat an enemy regarded by many as terrorists, says an executive summary that was deleted before the report was made public last week. UN officials pulled their punches, downplayed death tolls and allegations of government crimes, left the world in the dark, and generally fell short in helping the victims.”

Internal Probe Finds UN Culpable of Inaction in Preventing Mass Atrocities in Sri Lanka

The last phase of the war claimed up to 70,000 lives according to the UN report, and 146,000 are estimated to be missing. In the aftermath of the war, 300,000 Tamils were interned in Manik Farm, described by many as the largest concentration camp the world has ever seen. In sheer magnitude and intent to extinguish a people, this event is the worst mass atrocity of the 21st century and appears to constitute genocide…
The UN must respond by establishing an independent international investigation into allegations of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed against the Tamils in Sri Lanka.

UN Internal Review Reinforces the Need for an International Commission

Given the constraint mandate of the LLRC coupled with the “lack of an enabling environment for a judicial follow up” as stated in the UN Internal Review Report, the Secretary-General need not wait till the exhaustion of the domestic remedies. Justice delayed is justice denied.

NCCT on UN Internal Report

Canadians demand UN and the world act swiftly to address the human rights of Tamils in Sri Lanka; urge Commonwealth countries to follow Canada’s lead. by National Council of Canadian Tamils, November 16, 2012 NCCT Press Release – Canadians demand UN and world act swiftly Nov 16 2012 PDF The world and United Nations failed… Read more »

UN Has a Second Chance to Right Wrongs on Sri Lanka

THERE is little doubt that in 2009 the government of Sri Lanka pulled off one of the nastiest episodes of mass killing since the Rwandan genocide – and got away with it…
[T]hese efforts morphed into the International Crimes Evidence Project, which is now led by the Sydney-based Public Interest Advocacy Centre. ICEP is probably now the single largest repository of evidence related to war crimes in Sri Lanka in the world. ICEP’s personnel includes veterans from the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.

Next month, ICEP will hand a brief of evidence to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, with evidence gathered and attested using the highest standards of international criminal law. While Sri Lanka is certain to argue next March that it has given a true account of the end of the war, ICEP’s brief will demonstrate otherwise.

What if the UN Had Spoken Out on Sri Lanka?

The only way for the UN to set the record straight on Sri Lanka now is for Ban ki Moon to set up an international investigation into war crimes in Sri Lanka. It was the recommendation of a panel of experts he commissioned to write a report last year but the Secretary General hesitated to take such a step without strong international backing. We now know from this internal review that his own legal department advised him he had the power to do it, but backed off. After the revelations of this inquiry it’s an essential step to restore the UN’s tattered credibility on Sri Lanka.

UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention

Note that as the years go by, individuals are no longer identified as ‘Tamil,’ although all cases refered to the Working Group are indisputably of one ethnic group, part of the wider effort to forget that Sri Lanka’s is a language, religion & geography-based conflict. — Ed/

What the U.N. is (badly) Hiding on Sri Lanka

Nearly 2 and a half years later, and despite Sri Lanka’s commitment to a credible investigation into war-time abuses, the U.N. has yet to issue a firm public call for an independent inquiry into the war.

Is Ban’s Legacy Tarnished by Sri Lanka?

But it is his response to the final, bloody months of Sri Lanka’s decades-long civil war — a human rights calamity that has largely fallen below the radar of most global policymakers — that may ultimately do more to shape his legacy, and that of the United Nations, as a defender of human rights…
“Events in Sri Lanka mark a grave failure of the UN,” the report concluded…
The U.N. chief has never authorized an independent investigation, arguing that only an intergovernmental organization like the U.N. Security Council or the Human Rights Council has the power to do it. (That hasn’t happened)…
“You had a crisis that unfolded before the eyes of the United Nations and the major powers and no action was taken,” [Steven Ratner] said. “Everything was done in a very quiet way. I think it’s a terrible defeat and setback for the whole commitment to R2P.”

Leaked Report on Sri Lanka Critical of U.N.

“The U.N. struggled to exert influence on the Government which, with the effective acquiescence of a post-9/11 world order, was determined to defeat militarily an organization designated as terrorist. Some have argued that many deaths could have been averted had the Security Council and the Secretariat, backed by the U.N. country team, spoken out loudly early on, notably by publicizing the casualty numbers. Others say that the question is less whether the U.N. should assume responsibility for the tragedy, but more whether it did everything it could to assist the victims.”

The World Failed Sri Lanka. And Continues to Do So.

Failure to respond to this crisis happened in Washington, DC, too. Anti-genocide groups that formed in the wake of the Darfur genocide did not rouse their constituencies around the mass atrocity in Sri Lanka. You barely heard from these groups, let alone see the kind of public awareness raising campaign that has made organizations like the Enough Project so effective in moving public opinion and shaping policy…The institutional standard bearers of the anti-genocide movement failed to respond to the singly worst atrocity since Darfur.

UN ‘Failed SL Civilians’ Says Internal Probe

“Events in Sri Lanka mark a grave failure of the UN to adequately respond… during the final stages of the conflict and its aftermath, to the detriment of hundreds of thousands of civilians.”

Army Inquiry On ‘War Crimes’ No Longer Credible

According to what the former Attorney-General Mohan Peiris told Xinhua newsagency on the same day (5 November), the Army Court of Inquiry has had only 50 sittings for the whole of last ten months. That is little more than one sitting per week. It has only recorded statements from only 20 witnesses. These statistics speak very poorly of the so-called investigations now going on or claimed to be going on. It is not clear how many cases or incidents that they have been investigating. All these are kept as guarded secrets. That is why these investigations are considered like ‘asking evidence from robber’s mother’ (horage ammagen sakki aheema). It should be kept in mind that these are only preliminary inquiries. For any military prosecution, the cases have to be filed before the General Court Martial.

Sri Lanka Must Abide By International Human Rights Standards

Of 26 voluntary commitments maden i 2008, Sri Lanka has fulfilled just two. Similarly,
out of 45 accepted recommendations, only 5 have been implemented. Continuing its
deteriorating human rights record, as of May 2009 Sri Lanka stands accused of war
crimes, crimes against humanity, and gross violations of human rights.

Amnesty: Continuing Impunity, Arbitrary Detentions

AI Enforced Disappearances Oct 30 2012 AI index: ASA 37/011/2012 30 October 2012 Sri Lanka: Continuing impunity, arbitrary detentions, torture and enforced disappearances On Thursday 1 November, the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the human rights situation in Sri Lanka will take place – the first such review since May 2008, when the government… Read more »

Remembering Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields

An internal review panel studying what went wrong in the UN system’s response to Sri Lanka, commissioned by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and headed by the distinguished diplomat Charles Petrie, is due to report to Ban next month. All indications are that it will not be a pretty story. It is crucial that its findings be made public and acted upon.