Ilankai Tamil Sangam

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TCHR Appeal to the UN Human Rights Council 6th Session

by Tamil Centre for Human Rights, Paris, September, 2007

Impunity is a very serious problem in Sri Lanka. Many notorious human rights violators in the Security forces especially in the Army, Police and the Paramilitary have received the best promotions and appointments as Ministers and to high profile jobs in the government. The government of Sri Lanka encourages and allows the perpertrators to move freely in society - and the violations continue.

The President
Members and Delegates
Human Rights Council - 6th Session
United Nations
1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

Distinguished Sirs / Mesdames,

First of all, we extend our congratulations to you for your appointment as the Chairperson of the 6th session.

We regularly report on the human rights violations taking place in the Island of Sri Lanka. Our reporting is based on indisputable facts, the authentic details of which we receive from our sources directly from the North East and other parts of the Island. The United Nations human rights monitoring bodies have appreciated the veracity of our reporting.

In our submission to the 6th session, we will be high-lighting the human rights violations perpetrated against the people in the North East and other parts by successive governments that have ruled the island since independence in 1948.

Our report includes the history in a nutshell, colonisation & ethnic cleansing in the East, recorded figures of violations from 1956 to 2007, killing and harrassment of journalists, humanitarian workers, religious dignitaries, academics, parliamenterians - and major massacres and killings. Also the report includes details of military occupation of civilian dwellings/land, schools, places of worship and public buildings. We have also included details of cultural genocide in the North East with a list of 299 Christian churches and 1348 Hindu/Saiva temples/kovils which were fully or partially damaged by aerial bombing and shelling in the North East.

The incidents since 1956 that we have mentioned in our report have never been subject to an independent inquiry - nor have the perpetrators been arrested and punished nor have the victims been compensated. There are many more incidents to be added to those we have in this report.

Impunity is a very serious problem in Sri Lanka. Many notorious human rights violators in the Security forces especially in the Army, Police and the Paramilitary have received the best promotions and appointments as Ministers and to high profile jobs in the government. The government of Sri Lanka encourages and allows the perpertrators to move freely in society - and the violations continue.

In the Northeast the human rights situation has been deteriorating for many long years. Genocide, cultural genocide, multiple displacements are occuring and a systematic economic embargo to the North East is starving the people.

Firsthand witnesses to these Crimes against humanity - cemeteries full of murdered bodies, hospitals full of child and adult casualties, camps full of displaced people, people starving due to the economic embargo and buildings destroyed in all parts of North East. The security forces have created “High Security Zones” in the densily populated residential areas of the Northeast and are occupying large numbers of civilian homes and public buildings.

Sirs / Mesdames,

The Sinhala constitution denies fundamental and political rights to the Tamil people. The introduction of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) in 1979 and 27years of emergency rule (ER) have inflicted terror upon the Tamil people in the island. ER and the PTA permit the Sri Lanka security forces to arrest, torture, rape and kill the Tamils with impunity. Only a few cases have attracted international news coverage - and international human rights and humanitarian organisations are paying attention to these.

Press freedom and freedom of expression are in peril in Sri Lanka. Journalists are arrested, tortured, abducted, disappeared and killed over-night. Misinformation is heavily used internally and internationally by the government of Sri Lanka to distort the real picture of what is happening in the conflict areas.

Ethnic cleansing of Tamils and Singhalisation in the North East continues with foreign help. As part of the ethnic cleansing, the murdering of religious leaders and laymen inside and outside places of worship has also been taking place over the years.

So far more than 100,000 Tamils have been killed and more than 200,000 have been multiply internally displaced. Another 600,000 or more Tamils have sought asylum in foreign countries.

Sirs / Mesdames,

If we analyse respect for human rights by the government of Sri Lanka, the following truth becomes crystal clear - Sri Lanka has a regular habit of pretending to take some action on the massive human violations only a month before the beginning of the UN Human Rights' forums. These hollow promises of action are intended to avoid or counter any criticism that may be made by these forums, rather than to vigorously promote and protect human rights in real and effective terms.

Typical examples of this are the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry and an International Independent Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP) in September 2006. We predicted the fate of the IIGEP in our earlier reports.

It is well known that for the last twenty four years, the LTTE has been engaged in an armed struggle with the support of the Tamils in exercise of their right to self-determination in the Tamil hereditary regions.

After nearly a quarter century of armed conflict, there is a de-facto government in the Tamils' hereditary region under the LTTE administration. It has been in existence for more than 15 years and it has its own infrastructures - police and judiciary, Law College, Banking and Educational institutions, as well as welfare centres for children, disabled people, elders and war victims. This has been well witnessed by diplomats, dignitaries and VIPs.

Sirs / Mesdames, the reports of the UN Special rapporteurs, Special representatives of the UN Secretary General and the Working groups and furthermore the statements by international NGOs to every UN Human Rights forum clearly indicate that the human rights situation in Sri Lanka is far from improving - in fact it is rapidly deteriorating.

As Sri Lanka is a signatory to various UN covenants and conventions, it has an obligation to maintain international standards and to abide by iternational law.

In the past, UN action on various other country situations reminded us that "Naming and Shaming" is one of the preventive techniques in the protection of human rights. Therefore the reports of the UN dignitaries and other appeals, reports, joint-statements, interventions, written statements by various NGOs to the UN Human rights forums must all be taken into consideration in this period to apply UN action on Sri Lanka.

At this crucial situation, there is no doubt that International human rights law and international humanitarian law are severely and massively violated by Sri Lanka. Considering these facts, the best mechanism in hand which can be used, is to charge the President of Sri Lanka, the Commander-in-Chief of the Sri Lanka Security Forces and other Military officials with War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity.

In addition, we urge this session to take immediate steps to alleviate the humanitarian catastrophe that is being deliberately inflicted by the government of Sri Lanka on civilians in the North East.

Sir, being the President of the 6th session of the Human Rights Council, you can see that the international community is failing in its duties regarding Sri Lanka and that it is backing an aggressor which is perpetrating war crimes and crimes against humanity against a people who have been struggling for their Right to Self-determination for many decades.

We appeal to you to take immediate action during this session of the Human Rights Council.

Thank you,
Yours sincerely

S. V. Kirubaharan
General Secretary
Tamil Centre for Human Rights

Wake up call to the UN Human Rights Council