Ilankai Tamil Sangam

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Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

The Aftermath of the March 2007 UN Human Rights Council Meetings

by Victor Cherubim, March 14, 2006

The Human Rights Council meetings take place from March 12 - 30 in Geneva, yet the writer is correct not to expect miracles from these proceedings and to advocate for self-help rather than expecting outside intervention. -- Editorial Committee

Many, I am sure, have followed the proceedings of the Geneva meetings. I also am sure you would have read the Tamil Information Centre's Campaign Document:"TIC Note to Members of the UN Human Rights Council Dateline 11 March 07 " which highlights 15 pages of details including the extrajudicial killings of named individuals in the NorthEast of Sri Lanka (available by email from admin.tic@sangu.org).  

With all this heavy documentation, TWG campaign work, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International campaign, nothing appreciable seems to have been achieved to shift the Government position toward respecting the human rights of the island's inhabitants. The SL Foreign Minister, meeting the UN Secretary General in NY yesterday, has assured him that everything is 'under control.' Minister Samarasinghe stated in Geneva  on 13.03.07

"The Government will hope to implement the constructive recommendations that would stem from the visit of two UN Envoys to Sri Lanka later this year."  

Whilst 15,000 Tmails, including Up Country Tamils, have fled to neighbouring India, over 200,000 persons are internally displaced, refugee camps are militarised by pro-government paramilitaries, featured on the front page of an article in the government-run Sri Lanka Daily News of Wednesday 14 March 2007 by Easwaran Rutnam is the statement that no action is forthcoming to this human rights and humanitarian crisis.

Ordinary Tamils the world over openly plead for sanity and ordinary Sinhalese citizens know of the seriousness of the abuses, but are afraid to speak or write, because of possible fear of abduction, yet the government will continue its abuses without international monitoring.

Where is the 'responsibility to protect?'  

Most NGO's admit they are having to work with a certain fear of what might happen today, tomorrow, or the day after. With this volatile situation, they state they are having to the best of their ability having to take care of the basic needs of the people in the NorthEast for basic food and shelter.  

There appears to me, need for fresh thinking on this whole situation.  

I state this as I have contact with a message feeding from the Northern war zone, in the last few days, stating as follows:

"1. Some of the big problems of Vavuniya district are Suicide and Alcoholism, the biproducts of the war. We get quite of a number of attempted suicides, suicides, alcoholism, domestic violence from the welfare centres/refugee centres, as displacement is part of this Tamil society.

2. People are living in a panic situation, hardly able to relax or group share. At the same time many are suffering bereavement. Group therapy or approach suitable for this people is absent. Psychological First Aid is essential."  

I feel tackling the micro rather than the macro problem of the community back home should be our immediate concern. I also feel empowering our people through self-help techniques has to take on a prominent role in today's scenario, which literally means more contact with the grassroots helpers at point of delivery. 

On the basis of risk assessment, I believe, the problem is not outside help, though necessary, but inside self-assurance that the war is here to stay, the world may come to our aid someday, but grief therapy which allows the victims to become empowered through self-confidence techniques, need our attention today. In simple words it is Psychological First Aid. Any volunteers please!  

victorcherubim@aol.com