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Tamil diaspora orgs urge UN human rights chief to release Sri Lanka inquiry report

A coalition of 15 key Tamil diaspora organisations worldwide have urged the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights,  Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, to ensure the report on the UN inquiry into mass atrocities against Tamils in Sri Lanka is released next month as originally intended in a resolution adopted by the UN Human Rights Council in March 2014.

In a letter sent to Mr Zeid on Sunday, the organisations - Australian Tamil Congress (ATC), British Tamil Conservatives (BTC), British Tamil Forum (BTF), Centre for War Victims and Human Rights (Canada), Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America, Global Tamil Forum (GTF), Ilankai Tamil Sangam (ITS), New Zealand Tamil Society (NZTS), People for Equality and Relief in Lanka (PEARL), South Africa Tamil Federation, Swedish Tamil Forum, Tamils Against Genocide (TAG), Tamils for Labour, US Tamil Political Action Council (USTPAC) and World Thamil Organization (WTO) - endorsed the Northern Provincial Council's resolution on genocide and its call to ensure the report is released next month.

"Our organisations representing the 1-million strong Tamil Diaspora forced out of Sri Lanka due to the conflict, and having lost tens of thousands of relatives, fully endorse the call by the Northern Provincial Council, and urge you to release the OISL report in March 2015 as originally mandated," the coalition said, adding, "President Sirisena’s election and short tenure do not negate the need for a timely release."

"The UN stands as the standard bearer of human rights. Therefore, any recommendations within the OISL report should serve as the baseline and driving force to guide a credible accountability process."

"Moreover, the victims and perpetrators are looking to the report as the first – and only – credible accounting for what happened during the final period of the war. To amend that will crush the hope and expectations for justice, as well as play into the hands of the perpetrators who will see this as an opportunity to evade justice.
The failure of the UNHCR to release its report in March would set a terrible precedent for the United Nations. The 2012 UN Internal Review Panel, chaired by Charles Petrie, concluded that, “the events in Sri Lanka mark a grave failure on the UN to adequately respond to early warnings and to the evolving situation during the final stages of the conflict and its aftermath, to the detriment of hundreds of thousands of civilians
and in contradiction with the principles and responsibilities of the UN.” Since the report, the UN has made strides to address its grave failure. A postponement of the report would be a treacherous step backwards for the organization."

"The global Tamil community welcomes President Sirisena’s progress on replacing military leadership with civilian leaders in the North, welcoming back some exiled activists and journalists, and offering to resettle internally displaced persons. However, Tamils still await the demilitarization of the North and East, the return of Tamil land acquired by the government, constitutional protections for Tamil language and culture in their traditional homeland in the NorthEast, empowering of the Tamil provincial bodies to serve its people without barriers from the Colombo government, and, most vitally, the attainment of a fair political settlement."

"We encourage you and other global leaders to welcome President Sirisena by both commending the steps he has taken and at the same time also outlining past challenges and ongoing abuses, setting assertive and credible benchmarks for domestic progress, and providing assistance and oversight to ensure these benchmarks are met. Sri Lanka cannot develop as a pluralistic, democratic and stable country if one - or any - of its communities live with substandard access to democratic institutions and without full protection of the law."

"After decades of subjugation, the Tamil community needs international leaders to ensure that Sri Lanka is truly starting a new chapter of governance, justice and truth. The timely release of the OISL report is a clear step towards both accountability and reconciliation in Sri Lanka."

See full letter here.

Related article: Jaffna Uni lecturers call for UN inquiry on Sri Lanka to release report without delay (15 Feb 2015)

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