Posts Categorized: Human Rights

Sri Lanka: Picturing Genocide and War Crimes

Sri Lanka may have given evidence against itself in the larger context of the “genocide” of Tamils in 2009, a widely accepted phrase in the legal community for what happened when the Sri Lankan Armed Forces bombed a “No Fire Zone” killing up to 75,000 Tamil civilians including children, women, and the elderly in just… Read more »

Sri Lanka’s Intransigence

Sri Lanka’s president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, said Tuesday that his government would not cooperate with the United Nations investigation begun last month into suspected human rights abuses, including possible war crimes, committed during Sri Lanka’s civil war. Mr. Rajapaksa’s intransigence puts Sri Lanka in the company of North Korea and Syria, two countries that also barred… Read more »

Joint NPC/EPC Letter to UNHCHR

NpcEpc_JointLetterTo_OHCHR_17August2014 Joint Letter from the Members of the Northern Provincial Council and the Eastern Provincial Council, Sri Lanka August 17, 2014 The Hon. Navanethem Pillay United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Palais Wilson, 52 rue des Pâquis CH-1201 Geneva, Switzerland Dear Honorable Madam High Commissioner… Read more »

Livelihoods Lost while Military has Land says NPC Member

Northern Provincial Council member Thurairasa Ravikaran said Tamils in Mullaitivu have lost their livelihoods without access to their land, which remains under Sri Lankan military control. The people of Mullaitivu have faced continuous difficulties in temporary settlements, despite Sri Lankan government claims that they were resettled 4 years ago, the Uthayan reported him as saying. Without the… Read more »

On Illegal Possession Of Land By The Military And Demographic Change In North & East

Sir, land is the most complex problem in the North and the East and this relates to both private land and state land. The provisions of this Bill will of course relate to private land. But our problems in regard to state land are very many… I would like to use this Debate to identify some of those problems…

There are not just a few people. There are tens of thousands of Tamil families in this position…Lands have been taken over on various pretexts: security, development, occupation, cultivation, tourism and recreation. This is all for the benefit of the majority community. At the expense of tens of thousands of Tamil families, persons of the majority community are being settled on these lands. Who are the members of the armed forces? The armed forces are almost exclusively Sinhalese. When they come into possession of these lands and when the Tamil civilians are permanently kept out, what will happen? These Armed forces will continue to occupy these lands, they will cultivate these lands, they will derive their livelihood from these lands and they will continue to live in the North and the East. Is this not yet another way of settling the majority community people on lands which have belonged to Tamil civilians for generations and centuries on which they have lived, on which they have farmed, which they have cultivated, and making these lands available to the majority community?…

All this is being done because you want to change the demographic composition of the North and the East and you want to change the cultural and linguistic identity of the districts in the North and the East. These things are being done with a definite purpose, the purpose being to change the demographic composition of the Northern and Eastern Provinces and the cultural and linguistic identity of the Northern and Eastern Provinces so as to make a political resolution, a political solution irrelevant and unnecessary. That is the objective with which you are pursuing this agenda. This is not good for the country…

All these actions of the Government and persons who are working with the Government are concentrated largely in Mullaitivu and Trincomalee because you want to break the linguistic contiguity of the Northern and the Eastern Provinces. That clearly shows that you are pursuing a definite sinister objective which cannot be permitted and this is why I say that these actions of yours have geopolitical and geo-strategic dimensions and there can be consequences which will not be to the benefit of this country. As a Sri Lankan, I have a right to ask that this country be not placed in jeopardy by reason of such actions…

The Tamil Members of Parliament, except for those few who are with the Government, were given Rs. 5 million each under the Decentralized Budget. All the other Members of Parliament have been given Rs. 30 million – Rs. 5 million plus another Rs. 25 million… You are mere trustees of Government money; you are mere trustees of Government property having been elected by the voters. We also have been elected by the voters. Are our people not sovereign? Are our people not equal? Are our people second-class citizens?

Apart from that, Sir, persons of the majority community are being settled in various areas in the North and the East. This is particularly intensive in the Trincomalee District, the northernmost district in the Eastern Province and in the Mullaitivu District, the southernmost district of the Northern Province. Around 4,000 to 5,000 new voters of the majority community have been registered in the Mullaitivu District since 2009.

Losing Battles but Winning Wars

by Fred Carver, Independent Policy Digest, Washington, August 9, 2014 Jean-Marc Ferré/UN Photo To many external observers the Government of Sri Lanka appeared to lose the plot somewhat during the recent UN Human Rights Council (HRC) session. A series of overt and heavy handed attempts to silence dissent, even as the session was discussing a… Read more »

Where Have All the Young Men Gone?

2 Comments All photos by the author. See full set of photos here.Snippets from hearings of the Presidential Commission to investigate into complaints regarding missing persons  Sathurukondan, 09/09/1990 Q: Who is the missing person? A: Father, mother, brother, grandmother, grandfather, younger sister, older sister and her three children.  An eerie silence followed these words that was only broken… Read more »

Sri Lanka’s NGO Clampdown

The shrinking space for NGOs can be viewed as a microcosm of broader trends on the island. Peoples’ freedom of movement and freedom of association are consistently curtailed, especially in the north. A restrictive media environment illustrates the fact that the freedom of expression is limited. The government’s unwillingness to promote human rights, reconciliation, or accountability has made a complex post-war environment even more unsustainable. And continued (and unnecessary) militarization has only made things worse. The regime’s recent crackdown on NGOs is another example of the government’s relentless effort to further centralize power and stifle dissent.

Civilians as Human Shields? Gaza War Revives Debate

GAZA CITY — Militant rockets can be seen launching from crowded neighborhoods, near apartment buildings, schools and hotels. Hamas fighters have set traps for Israeli soldiers in civilian homes and stored weapons in mosques and schools. Tunnels have been dug beneath private property. With international condemnation rising over the death toll in Gaza exceeding 650… Read more »

Sri Lanka: Was It a Genocide

“The credible allegations support the finding of the crime against humanity in so far as the conditions imposed on civilians in the final months in the NFZ’s (No Fire Zones) were calculated to bring about the destruction of a significant part of the civilian population.”…

Whether the victims can expect any “remedial justice” might be speculative at this stage but it is clear from the facts given to us by the U.N. and relevant international laws that the government of Sri Lanka can be found guilty of genocide and war crimes.

Black July After 31 Years

by Velupillai Thangavelu, ‘Colombo Telegraph,’ July 19, 2014 Thirty one (31) years ago on July 24, 1983 Sinhalese mobs executed an orgy of violence that surpassed all other previous pogroms executed in 1956, 1958, 1977, 1979 and 1981. The events of July 1983 are poignant for the entire Thamil population around the world. Between July 24 and 29, Thamils… Read more »

Sri Lanka’s Downward Spiral

The government continues to use international pressure to rally its Sinhalese base (Sinhalese people are the overwhelming ethnic majority in Sri Lanka), and the recent rise in repression in the country’s Northern Province, coupled with baseless claims that the LTTE is regrouping within Sri Lanka, are designed to serve those ends.

Sri Lanka Moves to Silence NGOs, Press Groups

The Sri Lankan government has taken yet another step to silence critical media coverage, banning non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from holding press conferences and issuing press releases, as well as running workshops or training sessions. The action, announced Sunday by Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Defense, left the country’s many press groups wondering whether they are even… Read more »

Written Evidence to FASC

  Written evidence from Global Tamil Forum (GTF) (HRS0020)   Introduction Global Tamil Forum (GTF) was established in 2009 by a number of grass-roots Tamil groups, following the end of the armed conflict in Sri Lanka. It is the largest Tamil diaspora organisation with members drawn from across five continents. GTF is committed to non-violence and… Read more »

UN’s Chase of Sri Lanka and Sri Lanka’s Search for an Escape Route

On March 27th, the Human Rights Council passed a US-UK originated resolution against Sri Lanka: Various opinions and concerns have been expressed by organizations and countries like US, UK, India, China, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, including Tamil groups and members. The contents of the resolution including the powers of the Human Rights Council and the… Read more »

UN Human Rights Chief Announces Details of Sri Lanka Conflict Investigation

GENEVA (25 June 2014) – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay announced Wednesday that three distinguished experts have agreed to advise and support the team set up to conduct a comprehensive investigation of alleged human rights violations in Sri Lanka, as mandated by the Human Rights Council in March. The investigation will look… Read more »

Aluthgama Matter Cannot Rest There

We are very concerned because this surely should not happen to any citizen in this country, irrespective of whether he is a Sinhalese, a Muslim, a Tamil, a Burgher, a Malay or whatever.

In the Land of Mass Graves

Third, power has been decentralized. If Iraq survives, it will probably be as a loose federation, with the national government controlling the foreign policy and the army, but the ethnic regions dominating the parts of government that touch people day to day. Rwanda hasn’t gone that far, but it has made some moves in a federalist direction. Local leaders often follow a tradition of imihigo — in which they publicly vow to meet certain concrete performance goals within, say, three years: building a certain number of schools or staffing a certain number of health centers. If they don’t meet the goals, they are humiliated and presumably replaced. The process emphasizes local accountability.