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1000 days of protest: No action or information on Sri Lanka’s disappeared says Tamil diaspora groups

 

In a joint statement the Australian Tamil Congress, British Tamil Forum, Canadian Tamil Congress, and US Tamil Action Group have called upon the international community to launch a “special independent investigation” to support the families of the disappeared, who have continued their protest for 1000 consecutive days.

Relatives of the disappeared have "received no new information about the fate of their loved ones and no action has been taken against the perpetrators. Since the start of the campaign, 53 mothers and fathers of the disappeared have passed away, two of them this week, without knowing the fate of their loved ones," the statement reads.

"Sri Lanka has the second-highest number of unresolved cases of enforced disappearances held by the UN’s Working Group on Enforced Disappearance, with 65,000 cases officially recorded and many more unrecorded."

The diaspora groups condemned the governments “total inaction” despite pledging in 2015 to take commit to reconciliation and establishing in September 2017 the Office of Missing Persons (OMP).

Read more here: Sri Lanka's transitional justice process has failed say international rights lawyers

Instead of seeing progress on this commitment the report details that the Office “has produced fewer results so far than the previous Paranagama Commission set up under President Rajapaksa under international pressure to investigate the same tragedies”.

They further state; 

“The OMP has no mandate to refer its findings to judicial proceedings and little authority to call on international funds or expertise”. 

The released statement also takes aim at the lack of accountability in Sri Lanka condemning the appointment of Shavendra Silva as Commander of the Armed Forces due to a number of human rights violations which occurred under his watch.

Read more here: Shavendra Silva - ‘the most wanted man in Sri Lanka’

With respect to accountability, the statement reads; 

“The vast majority of other suspects named in the OISL report continue in their careers, receive medals and are promoted to high posts with complete impunity. A candidate for presidential election, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who was Defense Secretary during and after the war, has committed to withdrawing from the HRC resolution if elected”.

They conclude by calling for the international community to establish a special court; exercise universal jurisdiction; impose sanctions; ban Sri Lankan troops from joining UN peacekeeping operations; and “all other means to demonstrate disapproval of the continued impunity for mass atrocity crimes against the Tamil people”.

Earlier this year the UN declared a ban on all “non-essential” Sri Lankan troops from its peacekeeping missions. However, in a surprise move last week, the global body said hundreds more Sri Lankan soldiers would be joining its mission in Mali, claiming they were “critical” to operations in the country.

Read more here: Accused war criminal sends off Sri Lankan peacekeepers to UN mission

Read the full joint statement here.