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NGOs call upon UNHRC to back international inquiry into Sri Lanka
Tamil Guardian 26 March 2014 Print ArticleE-mail ArticleFeedback On Article

Non-governmental organisations from across the world called upon the UN Human Rights Council to back an international investigation into human rights violations in Sri Lanka, as the council met to discuss the country earlier today.

NGOs including the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, the International Commission of Jurists, Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada, Pasumai Thaayagam, the International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism, Liberation, Action Contre la Faim, Human Rights Watch, France Libertes, CIVICUS, International Education Development, Amnesty International, UN Watch, the Human Rights Law Centre, Le Collectif des Femmes Africaines du Hainaut, were amongst the many groups that addressed the council, urging it to back an independent international investigation in Sri Lanka.

The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative slammed the Sri Lankan government’s recent arrests of human rights activists, stating, “The fact that a recent spate of civil society arrests occurred while this Council was in session, and discussing Sri Lanka, demonstrates the Government’s absolute disregard for its international obligations.”

See the full statement here.

The International Commission of Jurists said that “this Council in particular, cannot depend on domestic mechanisms alone to deliver reconciliation, accountability and protection for human rights”, urging the Council to establish an “international independent and impartial investigation mechanism”.

See the full statement here.

Supporting the UN High Commissioner’s report on Sri Lanka, Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada told the council that “the continuous failure to act on Sri Lanka, even in the midst of mass killings and gross violations of international law, and to take meaningful steps towards accountability thereafter, has given the Sri Lankan state the time and space to continue to violate the residents of the island”.

See the full statement here.

Indian NGO Pasumai Thaayagam made reference to the Prevention of Terrorism Act in their address, noting that since 2009, “Sri Lanka has capitalised on this law to arbitrarily detain suspects, leading to the escalation of enforced disappearances, torture, rape and summary executions of suspects under custody.”

See the full statement here.

Liberation highlighted the “undeniable ethnic dimension to this conflict” stating that “the lived experience of the Tamil people is that they have faced, and continue to face, genocide – the elimination of their race and identity from the island of Sri Lanka”.

See the full statement here.

Referring to the murder of aid workers in Muttur in 2006, Action Contre la Faim told the Council that “we have the opportunity and responsibility today in the absence of genuine action by Sri Lanka to hold all parties to the conflict – including state security forces – to account, to refuse that the murders of humanitarian workers walk free, in total impunity”.

See the full statement here.

Human Rights Watch stated that “UN member states have been patient, waiting for fiver years for Sri Lanka to deliver justice… It is time for concerned states at the Council not to be put on hold any longer”, and urged members to back an international investigation.

See the full statement here.

Speaking on behalf of International Education Development, TNPF President Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam said that “any reconciliation project has to include the Tamil nation – numerically smaller in number on the island – and the Sinhala nation – a majority within the current configuration on the Sri Lankan state”, calling for a judicial process through the International Criminal court or Ad Hoc epical tribunal.

See the full statement here.

South African based NGO CIVICUS highlighted the arrest of Balendran Jeyakumari under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, calling it “continuing escalation of the government’s ongoing attempt to silence independent reporting on human rights abuses in Sri Lanka” adding that if the Council does not set up an international inquiry mechanism “it will amount to lowering a threshold the body has set for itself”.

See the full statement here.

IMADR said it was “critical that the Council acts now to deliver a clear message to the GOSL” calling on it to “take the next step mandated by the High Commissioner”.

See the full statement here.

France Libertes told the Council that the “time has come to dispel lies and mandatorily demand the appointment of an independent Commission of Inquiry” noting that the crimes that had been committed were “tantamount to genocide”.

See the full statement here.

Vivekananda Sevakendra O Sishu Uddyan's representative, V. Manivannan, also the National Organiser of the TNPF, said the “most pressing concern is that the High Commissioner's report or the draft resolution say nothing to halt the ongoing genocide against the Tamil Nation”.

See the full statement here.

Speaking during the next session, also representing Vivekananda Sevakendra O Sishu Uddyan, S. Kajendran of the TNPF, said,

"The language of reconciliation for the Tamils sounds hegemonic. The only way in which normalcy can return to the lives of the Tamils is by recognizing their right to self determination and by establishing self-government wherein they can take control of their own affairs."

See the full statement here.

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