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Sri Lanka: Government rounds up activists as UN fudges on inquiry - Tissainayagam

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Writing in the Asian Correspondent today on the heightened militarisation in the North-East, and the spate of recent arrests of activists, the Tamil journalist in exile J.S. Tissainayagam, warned that the international community's deletion of 'demilitarisation' from the draft UNHRC resolution text "signals to Colombo that there will be no serious opposition to it ruling northern Sri Lanka through the military."

See full article here. Extracts reproduced below:

"As the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva was discussing the clauses of its resolution on Sri Lanka, the Colombo government used troops and special laws to arrest human rights defenders (HRDs) in the northern part of the country last week. It is ironic that while the Sri Lanka Government decided to beef-up militarisation in the former warzones and arrest activists, the UNHRC agreed to delete the word “demilitarisation” from its draft resolution."

"The Government’s strategy right now is using the military and PTA to intimidate persons with strong connections with the international community for two, connected, reasons.

First, Colombo remains nervous about persons and institutions – especially civil society organisations – with extensive international connections. The reason is that international connections are, relatively, a better shield to HRDs from government intimidation to silence them. Second, with the UNHRC sessions now going on in Geneva there is concern that documented information on human rights abuses is being supplied to strengthen a resolution asking for an international investigation into past war crimes and present abuses, including militarisation.

Realising the deleterious effects of militarisation, there were concerted efforts in the past to make the international community address it. And it was seen as something of an achievement that the first draft of the resolution to be adopted later this month by the UNHRC demanded demilitarisation. Significantly, however, the most recent draft has struck out the word “demilitarisation.”

The international community’s move to delete demilitarisation from the draft signals to Colombo that there will be no serious opposition to it ruling northern Sri Lanka through the military. It also tells the Government very clearly that while the international community might pressure Colombo to release detained HRDs off and on, there will be no consequences to perpetuating the main instruments – militarisation and the PTA – that cause human rights violations to take place, and put in jeopardy the liberty of activists  like Jeyakumari, Fernando and Mahesan."