Ilankai Tamil Sangam

24th Year on the Web

Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

Oral Presentation at the 20th Session of the UNHRC

Syria and Sri Lanka

by Karen Parker, Esq., IED, Geneva, June 28, 2012

We note that between 1987 and the end of the war in 2009 there was not a single resolution of the Commission on Human Rights or the Council on this conflict: 21 years of silence and thousands of Tamil civilian victims of war. There was no mapping of events or any assessment of casualties. There was silence about the assassination of over 60 humanitarian aid workers; silence about the blockade of food, medicine, water to the Tamil areas which constitutes elements of the crime of extermination under the Rome Statute ; silence about the refusal of the Sri Lankan authorities to allow aid to the Tamils areas stricken by the 2004 Tsunami and the refusal of the authorities to allow Kofi Annan and former American President to visit the Tamil areas affected – even those areas under government control.

UNITED NATIONS

Human Rights Council

20th session

Agenda item 4 

International Educational Development welcomes the attention paid to the situation in Syria, and the work of the Commission of Inquiry.  It is particularly useful to map the violations and to keep an assessment of the casualty figures. 

Sadly, attention to the armed conflict in Sri Lanka did not enjoy such decisive action. We note that between 1987 and the end of the war in 2009 there was not a single resolution of the Commission on Human Rights or the Council on this conflict: 21 years of silence and thousands of Tamil civilian victims of war. There was no mapping of events or any assessment of casualties. There was silence about the assassination of over 60 humanitarian aid workers; silence about the blockade of food, medicine, water to the Tamil areas which constitutes elements of the crime of extermination under the Rome Statute ; silence about the refusal of the Sri Lankan authorities to allow aid to the Tamils areas stricken by the 2004 Tsunami and the refusal of the authorities to allow Kofi Annan and former American President to visit the Tamil areas affected – even those areas under government control.

The silence encouraged the Government to carry out an all- out assault on the Tamil civilians—conservatively 30,000 died in the last months of the war-- as well as the point-blank killing of surrendering combatants of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. This produced what the Secretary-Generals Panel of Experts called “triumphalism” over the Tamil people. Finally, at its 19th session, the Council acted, but only to evaluate progress in implementing recommendations set out in the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Committee’s report. However, the Council’s process should not be a substitute for proper international action in light of humanitarian law and the standards used in reference to Syria.