Dear Ms. Jo Becker
Thank you for your e-mail dated Fri., 11 Feb 2005 on the above subject. I appreciate HRW putting out a statement on the killing of an important human rights worker and members of the political wing of the LTTE. In general your statement is commendably balanced concerning this one incident.
I agree that political killings weaken the Ceasefire, and threaten Tsunami Relief. However, I am constrained to state that Human Rights Watch has missed the crux of the problem, and is concentrating on the symptoms and not on the disease. HRW is also using different yardsticks in dealing with the parties to the ceasefire.
I wish to make the following observations and kindly request your response.
- This is not the first time that LTTE personnel and sympathizers have been killed in Sinhalese army-controlled areas since the ceasefire. The suspects are paramilitary units working with the Sri Lankan military. A condition of the ceasefire is that paramilitary units should be disarmed by the Sri Lankan government. This, the Sri Lankan government has failed to do and therefore is guilty of violating the ceasefire. HRW has failed to state this in their reports.
- It is common knowledge that the Sri Lankan government has, during the period of ceasefire, continued to pay monthly stipends to the EPDP paramilitary units and Home Guards, thereby violating the ceasefire.
- The above actions of the Sri Lankan government are aiding and abetting the political killings.
- You state that no evidence has been offered for complicity of the government forces in the killings. However, you conclude that LTTE has continued political killings during the ceasefire. What evidence do you offer for this accusation? Are you not adopting different standards ? (It has been stated by the LTTE that infighting has been the cause of the killings amongst the paramilitaries.)
- HRW have failed to demand that Sri Lankan government and armed forces end human rights violations against the Tamils during the three years of ceasefire. Armed forces are continuing to commit violations by forcibly occupying Tamil homes, hospitals, schools, temples, churches, and public places.
- HRW have failed to demand the Sri Lankan government permit the Tamil farmers to do farming freely without hindrance during the ceasefire.
- HRW have failed to demand the Sri Lankan government permit the Tamil fishermen to fish freely without hindrance during the ceasefire.
- HRW have failed to demand the Sinhalese armed forces permit Tamil children to attend schools without hindrance during the ceasefire.
- HRW have failed to demand that Sri Lankan government withdraw the all-Sinhala army of occupation of the Tamil homeland during the ceasefire..
- If you insist on identifying NESOHR as 'the LTTE human rights body,' please remember to identify the Sri Lankan Human Rights Commission as a state body set up and controlled by a government which has been warring with the Tamils for two decades and discriminating against them for many more.
- HRW have failed to condemn the Sri Lankan armed forces and the Sri Lankan government for obstructing international and NGO aid for the Tsunami disaster to inhabitants of the NorthEast who were affected and not giving Tamil refugees a fair share of the aid received.
Please let us have your response to the above lapses and prove your credentials as a neutral, independent and impartial human rights organization.
S. Makenthiran, B.A., FCCA
Chartered Certified Accountant
[Human Rights Watch statement]
Sri Lanka: Killings Highlight Weaknesses in CeasefireContinued Political Violence Threatens Tsunami Relief
(New York, February 11, 2005) -- The killings of a senior Tamil Tiger official and a former parliamentarian underscore the need for all sides to address human rights concerns in the Sri Lankan peace process, Human Rights Watch said today.
While the perpetrators of the killings are not yet known, it is widely believed that they were carried out by forces loyal to Colonel Karuna, who broke away from the LTTE in March. Some in the LTTE have accused government forces of complicity, though no evidence has been offered.
"These killings are particularly disturbing as they may signify a dangerous new round of politically motivated violence," said Brad Adams, Asia director of Human Rights Watch. "This kind of violence and intimidation undermines the ceasefire and hinders the post-tsunami relief and rehabilitation work going on right now."
Political killings have continued in Sri Lanka despite the ceasefire between the government and LTTE that has been in effect since 2002. Frequent political murders and violent clashes between LTTE members and persons loyal to Karuna pose a grave threat to civilian security in eastern Sri Lanka. The LTTE has long carried out politically motivated killings in order to strengthen its hold over the north and east of Sri Lanka, and has used violence and intimidation against perceived opponents to its claim that it is the sole representative of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka.
The February 8 killings may have been a violation of the ceasefire agreement and should be investigated by the Norwegian-led Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM), put in place to monitor the ceasefire. The monitoring mission has publicly stated that these killings do not fall within its remit.
"The Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission should urgently investigate these killings and strengthen its human rights monitoring capability," said Adams. "Failure to do so would affect its credibility and engender mistrust from the very population it is meant to protect."
In a welcome if unusual move, the Sri Lankan government has condemned the killing of LTTE leader Kaushalyan. Human Rights Watch said that the government must do more than simply condemn the killing. In light of a possible complicity by government forces, the government should immediately establish a commission of inquiry into the deaths and ensure that proceedings and conclusions are credible and transparent.
Human Rights Watch stated that while LTTE officials were the victims in this case, the Tamil Tigers have also been carrying out politically motivated killings with impunity. Since November there have been numerous murders and attempted murders of LTTE members, as well as assassinations and abductions of the rebel groupís opponents and critics.
"For the ceasefire to work, all involved parties, including the international community, must take stronger steps to ensure that human rights protection is a major part of the process," said Adams.
Posted February 12, 2005