by Human Rights Watch, New York, February 1, 2013 RELATED MATERIALS: World Report 2013: Sri Lanka JANUARY, 2013 The Sri Lankan government needs to address the many problems that undermine basic rights for people in the war-torn North and East. Justice and accountability for abuses, an end to torture in detention, and ending constraints on… Read more »
Posts Categorized: Human Rights
Accountability is a necessary precursor to reconciliation and a stable democracy in Sri Lanka. It is clear to us that the LLRC process is mired in bias and delays, and only an independent, international investigation will achieve real accountability.
Thousands of civilians died in the final months of the war when the Sri Lankan military launched a decisive offensive against ethnic Tamil rebels. Sri Lanka set up a commission to investigate alleged abuses, but rights groups say the military is not being held to account.
The Obama administration has called for steps toward accountability but has not called for an international investigation.
Speaking at a ceremony of Sri Lanka’s National Chamber of Commerce held at Hotel Hilton in Colombo, the SL Defence Secretary and presidential sibling, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa was cited saying, “The biggest threat the US can pose to Sri Lanka’s military is to take away their defence scholarships”
“We can send our soldiers to China for training,” Gotabhaya added.
“The casualty figure issue is just one factor – which we have highlighted to emphasise our point. Various other factors – such as an examination of the historical background which had laid the basis to the events that led to the military operations in 2009, as well as, whether or not the continuing issues that the Tamil people in the area concerned are facing at the moment are related to this history, needs to be carried out properly to deal with the overall reality.
“Due to the fact that substantial, quantitative and qualitative new evidence has become available, we believe that there are compelling reasons to organize a follow up to the ‘People’s Tribunal on Sri Lanka’ to examine the case of Genocide against the Tamil people.”
This follow up session will be held in Germany.
Indeed, the two issues – this assault on the independence of the judiciary and the accusations of war crimes – are interlinked and must be seen as such. The Sri Lankan government’s insistence that Sri Lanka should be left to investigate and remedy its own shortcomings with regard to the latter looks increasingly (if more evidence were required) implausible as one of the last remaining independent institutions – the court – is so openly dismantled.
Subject: Memorandum given by the Jaffna diocesan clergy to the CBCSL The Catholic Bishop’s Conference of Sri Lanka made an official good will visit to the North of Sri Lanka. They limited their visit to the Vanni regions. A meeting was organized with the Jaffna diocesan clergy at Kilinochchi. A memorandum was handed over to the CBCSL… Read more »
by ‘The Sunday Times,’ Colombo, January 6, 2013 The life and times of the people of Kepapilavu should make for a study in endless suffering. After witnessing the war at its cruellest, experiencing multiple displacements and spending the longest interval of time confined in Menik Farm, one would expect that life can hardly get any… Read more »
Many of those displaced during the war are now gradually being resettled at their original residences by the Vanni security forces headquarters. Residents are pictured acclimatizing themselves to their old abodes and environment after a lapse of several years. Pix by Romesh Madushanka
Nonetheless, in modern warfare, the need to protect civilians is in constant tension with the desire to destroy the enemy. Getting that balance right has been a rocky process, with one mistake after another jolting U.S. policymakers into improving the way the military deals with civilian harm…
If American leaders abandon the war-fighting model they ultimately adopted in Afghanistan and Iraq, they may find it harder to counter a more brutal and cynical narrative about the best way to win a war — one that treats civilians as irrelevant.
In 2009, the Sri Lankan military cornered an estimated 5,000 or more Tamil Tiger insurgents on a narrow strip of land, alongside hundreds of thousands of uprooted civilians. By shelling the area indiscriminately and summarily executing the group’s escaping leaders, the government wiped out the insurgents — and killed tens of thousands of civilians in the process. Just like Russia’s brutal war in Chechnya during the first decade of this century, Sri Lanka’s campaign proved that if a government is willing to expel aid groups and journalists and employ indiscriminate force, it can defeat insurgents.
To make matters worse, Sri Lanka has been actively promoting its model abroad: since 1999, its leaders have been traveling to other countries facing domestic insurgencies, including Myanmar (also called Burma), Pakistan, and the Philippines, to share the lessons of their victory. They have staged annual defense seminars attended by military officers from across the world. Sri Lanka’s lethal counterinsurgency strategy requires having a strong stomach for civilian bloodshed and turning a blind eye to international criticism. But there are countries willing to go this route, because it can work. As one of the world’s leading exporters of military ethos, aid, and training, the United States can and should provide a counterweight.
Tamils of Sri Lanka: The Quest for Human Dignity [PDF] “The crimes committed by the Sri Lankan state against the Tamil minority – against its physical security, citizenship rights, and political representation – are of growing gravity for the international community. Other countries across the world which have had to shelter the thousands… Read more »
The International Crime of Genocide: The Case of the Tamil People in Sri Lanka by Lutz Oette, Tamil Information Centre, London, March 1998 Dr. Lutz Oette is today Counsel at REDRESS, a human rights organisation that helps torture survivors obtain justice, www.redress.org and Lecturer in Law at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)… Read more »
Eventually, the guerrillas sued for a ceasefire that was turned down, after which they were completely wiped out. This is how living nations deal with armed insurgencies on their soil.
In sharp contrast, the insurgents in Pakistan have been treated with kid gloves during the last decades. Since they professed to be religious, they’ve acquired many admirers and supporters. Perhaps, that is one of the reasons why a national consensus on defeating the militants could not emerge.
Women-headed families: no husband, no home and no future for their children In the Eastern Province, some women head their household all alone without a job, sometimes without a home, or without doors and sanitary facilities, unable to send their children to school. Their husbands died in war or disappeared into the hands of police…. Read more »
While moderate lawmakers from both ethnic groups express willingness to reconcile, they are far outnumbered by hardliners, who enjoy strong support outside of cities, especially the rural south, which is the president’s home area. Criticism of the ruling party’s human rights record and lack of progress on ethnic reconciliation has been limited to educated urbanites in Colombo, a scant percentage of the country.
“…Against partisans backed by the entire population, colonial armies are helpless. They have only one way of escaping from the harassment which demoralizes them …. This is to eliminate the civilian population. As it is the unity of a whole people that is containing the conventional army, the only anti-guerrilla strategy which will be effective is the destruction of that people, in other words, the civilians, women and children…” Jean Paul Sartre’s Statement ‘On Genocide’
Six years after, for many, it’s a forgotten matter shrouded in the past. But for his family, the pain endures. The following article was written one month after he was abducted.
Amnesty’s appeal follows.
The leaked World Bank spreadsheets broken down by village for the north of the island estimate numbers of returnees to the former conflict area in mid 2010. The Bank also cites Statistical Handbook Numbers for population in 2007 – before the fighting intensified. The two sets of data reveal 101,748 people missing from Mullaitivu District – the area that bore the brunt of the final fighting…
Nearly four years on there is no agreed death toll, even to the nearest ten thousand lives. That’s why an international investigation is required to establish the truth about what may be one of the least reported but worst atrocities of recent decades – both in terms of the speed and the scale of the killing.
Quoting a World Bank document, she said one lakh persons were missing between 2006 and 2010 and there had to be an explanation on where these people are.
The United States will invariably look to strengthen military ties with Sri Lanka. Strategically speaking, it would be unwise for Washington to further antagonize Colombo and lose an ally in a region where it intends to maintain a significant presence in the coming decades. Sri Lanka is not a top tier foreign policy priority for the United States, but the Obama administration will be reluctant to cede all influence there–especially as China’s foreign policy agenda continues to expand…
With Obama currently looking at major shifts within his foreign policy and national security team, few decisions about Sri Lanka are likely to be made until 2013.