March 27, 2018
The International Council of Eelam Tamils (ICET) welcomes the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights for urging UN member states to exercise universal jurisdiction to foster accountability by Sri Lanka
The UNHRC session started on February 26, 2018, with the High Commissioner delivering a scathing interim report on the intransigence of Sri Lanka on accountability and urging UN member states to exercise universal jurisdiction to promote accountability. Despite many debates during the session, the High Commissioner was conspicuous by his absence towards the end on March 22, 2018. In New York, High Commissioner Prince Zeid Al Hussein expressed disappointment with the UNHRC’s inability to protect human rights and expressed his desire not to continue for a second term in the office.
Since Sri Lanka was granted two more years to implement what it promised to do in 2015, no additional resolutions were passed, except for a debate which exposed the lack of tangible progress on commitments made by Sri Lanka on the Resolution 34/1 it co-sponsored.
In her oral report on Sri Lanka to the 37th Session, the Assistant Commissioner for Human Rights citing the lack of progress by Sri Lanka on the investigation of human rights violations and human rights law, expressed a stronger case for the creation of a special court composed of international experts. If this did not happen, she urged member nations to explore alternative judicial mechanisms to investigate the horrendous crimes committed. She further urged the international community to prevail upon Sri Lanka for its lack of accountability.
Although these statements cannot be viewed as milestones, especially after waiting nine years for justice, the Eelam Tamils see a ray of hope for justice and reparations. However, we are still very disappointed by the very conspicuous omission in identifying the vast majority of the victims as Eelam Tamils in any of the reports and resolutions by the UNHRC. This is very disconcerting when the High Commissioner for UNHRC rightfully characterized the attack on the Rohingya people as genocide by the Myanmar government and strongly urged that it should be brought before the International Criminal Court. The Eelam Tamils have endured seven decades long genocide with many pogroms culminating in the well-documented massacre at Mullivaaikkaal and the UNHRC is yet to identify the victims as Eelam Tamils. It should be noted that, when resolution 34/1 was passed in 2015, the International Council of Eelam Tamils strongly protested the failure to identify Eelam Tamils as the major victims, in the press conference held by them at the Geneva Press Club.
Given the lack progress in commitments made by Sri Lanka, we urge the international community to bring Sri Lanka before an international independent tribunal or the International Criminal Court. In the mean time, the UNHRC should continue to monitor progress on commitments already made. The continuing violations of human rights and the recent pogrom against the Muslim community should be monitored by UNHRC officials maintaining their presence in UNHRC offices established in the affected areas. This will serve as a deterrent against recurrence.
Many Tamil organizations hosted numerous side events in the UNHRC session. Many relatives of those who were made to disappear were present at these events providing heart wrenching testimony. Over the years, these numbers have increased indicating the lack of accountability on the part of the UNHRC to the victims.
It is amply clear that the Eelam Tamils are caught in a vicious maelstrom of geopolitics and selfish interests of hegemonic nations. To aid this process, some of these powerful nations have co-opted bogus “Tamil Organizations” which lack Tamil representation to fool other nations who have shown genuine interest in working towards delivering justice to the victims. The Eelam Tamils should identify these spurious organizations and expose their actions which has delayed justice to the Tamils.
We thank all the countries and INGOs that continue to steadfastly demand accountability based on the four principles agreed upon in resolution 34/1. Looking at the recent pogroms against Muslim, it is clear that the Government of Sri Lanka does not respect the commitments it made on non-recurrence. Therefore, the Tamils will only get justice through the International Criminal Court.
The suppression of Tamil sovereignty by the colonial rulers (Portuguese, Dutch, and British) continued when the powers were handed over to the English speaking Sinhala elite. The Sinhala nation continues to suppress the Tamil nation as a means to establish the primacy of their Sinhala Buddhist identity in the island. The Eelam Tamils should break free and march towards their freedom by asserting their birth right of self-determination and establish their nationhood and self-governance in their homeland.’