Over 250 British Tamil organisations have called on the British government to sponsor a resolution at the 46th UN Human Rights Council session, this March, which established an “International Independent Investigative Mechanism” to investigate war crimes committed by the Sri Lankan military including the charge of genocide against the Tamil people.
The cosponsored letter highlighted that almost 12 years have passed since the end of the armed conflict and “successive governments of Sri Lanka […] continue to deny that any crimes were committed on the part of the Sri Lankan state and prevent any investigations from taking place”.
Sponsors of the letter include;
Tamil Youth Organization (TYO), Tamil Information Centre (TIC), British Tamil Chamber of Commerce (BTCC), Tamils Against Genocide (TAG), International Centre for Prevention and Prosecution of Genocide (ICPPG), International Centre for Eelam Tamils Rights (ICETR), Tamil Solidarity (TS), British Tamil Conservatives (BTC), Tamils for Labour, Tamil Friends of Lib Democrats, TNA-UK, TELO-UK, Naam Thamilar Brithania, Veerathamilar Munnani-UK, Tamils for NLP, Nation Without States (NWS), Refugee Rights Campaign as well as a number of university student organisations.
In October UK Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Nigel Adams, reemphasised his concern over Sri Lanka’s withdrawal from the co-sponsored resolution. Last week Sri Lanka’s Defence Secretary and alleged war criminal, Kamal Gunaratne, any charges of war crimes claiming that army was conducting a “humanitarian operation”.
Gunaratne, former commander of the notorious 53 Division of Sri Lanka’s army, stands accused of leading campaigns which slaughtered tens of thousands of Tamil civilians. His unit is further accused of engaging in sexual violence, summary executions, and the disappearance of those who surrendered to the military.
Sri Lanka's former Human Rights Commissioner has admitted that Sri Lanka's Human Rights Commission lacks independence.
This statement follows Rajapaksa’s establishment of an all Sinhalese board to the Human Rights Commission in November under provisions of the recently passed 20th Amendment. Ambika Satkunanathan, said that,
“Our track record, not just in relation to prison rights, but in relation to many human rights violations, is that we either have not inquired into violations or if we have inquired into them the reports have not been impartial and objective or the reports have not been released or if the reports have been released no action has been taken to hold those responsible accountable for the violations”.
In response to Sri Lanka’s perpetual failure to hold the military accountable for war crimes, Tamil parliamentarians in Sri Lanka have called for Sri Lanka to be referred to the International Criminal Court.
TNPF leader Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam and TMTK leader C. V. Wigneswaran have both called for Sri Lanka to be referred to the ICC noting that the UN-sponsored human rights resolution, which has now been abandoned by the government, has already been rolled back twice. They further highlight a persistent failure for Sri Lanka to deal with issues of accountability.
Read the full joint statement by British Tamil organisations here.