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HRW calls for UNHRC members to heed victims demands and push for accountability

Responding to the thousands of Tamils marching from Puttvil to Polikandy, Human Rights Watch has called on UNHRC council members to heed victim demands and “pass a strong resolution to advance accountability and deter the government from committing further abuses”.

HRW highlights that amongst the demonstrators are Families of the Disappeared, who in defiance of court bans, have launched protests and hunger strikes demanding to know what happened to their loved ones. 

“We need the international community and the United Nations to deliver justice for us”, a family member of the disappeared told reporters.

Read more here: From Pottuvil to Polikandy: Why are Tamils marching?

HRW notes that these protests come as Sri Lanka’s president has “denounced international efforts for justice, adopted discriminatory measures against Tamils, and harassed victims’ groups”.

They further highlighted that for a second year, the singing of the national anthem in Tamil was dropped. During the Independence Day protests, Rajapaksa also claimed himself to be a “Sinhala Buddhist leader”.

Read more here:  'I am a Sinhala Buddhist leader and will never hesitate to say so' - Rajapaksa addresses Sri Lanka's independence day

Responding to the protest, HRW notes that Sri Lanka's public security minister, Sarath Weerasekara, has issued a "sinister threat" warning that tens of thousands of protesters will be arrested.

“Now we have their photographs and we have their vehicle numbers, we know who these individuals are”.

Weerasekara has further called for tear-gassing and attacking of Tamil politicians.

 

“If we had attacked this or tear-gassed and arrested them, that’s what people like Sumanthiran needs," Weerasekara responded referring to the Tamil politician. "That’s what Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam needs”.

 

HRW further highlighted the UN Human Rights High Commissioner’s latest damning report which warned that Sri Lanka’s deteriorating human rights situation laid the  “seeds of future violence”.

The government has rejected the report and denounced the UNHRC as a “tool for vanquished terrorists”.

Read the full statement here.

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