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Sri Lanka 'served as precursor' to Syrian tragedy

Addressing the United Nations Human Rights Council at Geneva, Tasha Manoranjan of Tamil Nadu based NGO Pasumai Thaayagam, stated that Sri Lanka has "served as a precursor for the tragedy now unfolding in Syria".

Stating that Sri Lanka's "long history of impunity is institutionalised", the speaker said  "abuses by the Sri Lankan government remain unchecked, uninvestigated and unprosecuted".

The full statement has been reproduced below.

"The ongoing human rights crisis in Syria has reached a catastrophic level with an estimated 70,000 people killed. The apathy and inaction by some in the international community has allowed the Assad regime to commit crimes against international law with impunity.

When the international community fails to respond meaningfully to governments that systematically assault the basic human dignity of their citizens, impunity for past crimes enables impunity for present crimes. This is emblematic of the humanitarian and political crisis in Sri Lanka, which in many ways served as a precursor for the tragedy now unfolding in Syria.

Impunity for the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Sri Lanka in 2009 has now led to the unconstitutional expansion of the powers of the central government, and the exacerbated deterioration of the rule of law across the country. 
According to the UN Secretary-General’s Panel of Experts report, in the final nine months of the civil war in Sri Lanka, tens of thousands of Tamil civilians were killed, overwhelmingly due to intentional shelling by the Sri Lankan armed forces.

A mere five months ago the report of the Secretary General’s Internal Review Panel on United Nations Action in Sri Lanka cited credible estimates that over 70,000 Tamil civilians were killed in 2009, and stated, “there can be no lasting peace and stability without dealing with the most serious past violations and without a political response to the aspirations of Sri Lanka’s communities.”

Paralleling this statement, High Commissioner Navi Pillay reported to this Council and identified ongoing human rights violations such as extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, detention policies that lack basic procedural safeguards, and gendered violations resulting from continuing militarization.As Commissioner Pillay stated, these reports “highlight the urgency of action to combat impunity”. Yet these abuses by the
Sri Lankan government remain unchecked, uninvestigated and unprosecuted.

Sri Lanka’s long history of impunity is structurally institutionalized. Thus, an independent, international Commission of Inquiry is urgently needed to combat Sri Lanka’s cycle of impunity and lay the foundation for a genuine peace."

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