Former UK Foreign Secretaries urge states to back resolution

Writing in The Guardian on Tuesday, UK MPs, including former UK foreign secretaries, Douglas Alexander MP, David Miliband MP, Jack Straw MP and Margaret Beckett MP, urged member states to back a resolution tabled at the UNHRC. Extracts reproduced below: "Establishment of military, rather than independent, courts of inquiry to investigate some army and navy actions suggests true accountability will not be forthcoming from within Sri Lanka." "In November 2011 the UN Committee Against Torture published a damning report on Sri Lanka, revealing the extent of allegations of human rights violations...

New evidence on killing of Colonel Ramesh in custody

New evidence has emerged detailing the sequence of events that led to the killing of the senior LTTE commander, Colonel Ramesh, after in the custody of the Sri Lankan army, The Global Mail reports. "Of the mass of available evidence, the most compelling trail is that of Colonel Ramesh. His death provides a crack of light that illuminates the deaths of thousands of others, and the motives of the probable perpetrators ." "The Global Mail has examined these images with lawyers and senior police investigators. In the words of one investigator, a former police officer, these images leave "no doubt...

Risk of renewed violence if failure to take 'real concrete action' - US

In an interview to the Debrief news channel, Robert O'Blake, the US Assistant Secretary of State for Central and South Asia, warned of renewed violence in Sri Lanka if the government failed to take "real concrete action". Asked by the presenter why the US was tabling a resolution at the UN Human Rights Council, despite Sri Lanka giving assurances, as a sovereign country, that it will act towards reconciliation, Blake said, " Well you know , the government has made many assurances , and again I think it's important now for there to be an action plan and for the government to take real action...

UN resolution on Sri Lanka adopted by Human Rights Council

The UN Human Rights Council has passed a resolution calling on Sri Lanka to investigate alleged human rights violations. The resolution, sponsored by the US and co-sponsored by 40 other nations, was passed by 24 votes to 15, with 8 abstentions. The resolution calls on Sri Lanka to implement its own recommendations in addressing allegations of violations of international law. The text also encourages the UN human rights office to assist Sri Lanka in implementing the steps recommended by the reolution. “Sri Lanka has had the time and space to develop its own roadmap for lasting national...

Just a start …

“ This is a very good start, but it is just a start . We need to keep up the pressure to make sure there is real change. The call for an independent international investigation remains, and will until it is answered . “Many of the nations that supported Sri Lanka in 2009, such as Nigeria, Cameroon, and India, have realised that they were lied to and today took the courageous step of supporting the resolution. We particularly thank them. “The [Sri Lankan] Government has tried to paint this issue as one of east vs west - whereas in reality it has been the Sri Lankan regime vs its own people...

We fear Sri Lanka may fail to take credible steps - US

Speaking to journalists on the resolution tabled at the UNHRC, the US ambassador, Eileen Donahue, said , "We don't think of this as a symbolic vote," "We see this as a meaningful effort to encourage the Sri Lankan government to take credible steps. We fear the government of Sri Lanka might fail to take those credible steps ." Whilst Robert Blake, U.S. assistant secretary of state for South Asia and Central Asia, said, " We think they've had quite a lot of time to develop an action plan and we're disappointed they haven't done so ," "Much remains to be done to ensure that Tamils, especially in...

Indian activists urge government to follow through support for resolution

In a joint statement , a large coalition of activists and civil society actors in India have urged the Indian government to follow through on its recent statements expressing an inclination to support the resolution. "Our communications with activists and community leaders in Sri Lanka have confirmed need for significant improvements , including efforts to help trace the missing, to devise and implement a political solution, to widen space for civil society groups and to address land conflicts, remain pressing issues, which if left unaddressed can undermine the existing situation in Sri Lanka , where there is a real opportunity for lasting peace." “ The unwillingness of Sri Lanka to make progress on the LLRC and other measures such as the talks with the Tamil National Alliance is the fundamental obstacle to move forward . " It is thus incumbent for other governments, such as ours, to encourage the Sri Lankan government to do so ." “The U.S.-sponsored resolution calls for Sri Lanka to report back to the UNHRC on the implementation of the LLRC and to accept technical support from the U.N. to implement it. We sincerely hope that the Government of India will follow through on its own statement by supporting this resolution, and strongly urge it to do so ."

Sri Lanka’s patriotic corporations rally

Giving the term ‘public-private partnership’ a new twist, Sri Lanka’s leading corporations staged their own demonstration Tuesday against growing international pressure over accountability for mass atrocities in the final months of the island’s war. See The Island’s report here . “The cream of Sri Lanka’s private sector last evening thronged in their numbers, … around 5,000 people gathered … expressing solidarity in their clarion call for the United States to leave Sri Lanka alone,” the paper said. The representatives of the corporations which gathered included: John Keells Holdings , Aitken...

SL Minister: ‘Americans are trying to kill me’

Following his call to boycott all American goods and products last week, Sri Lankan Government Minister Wimal Weerawansa has claimed that “local Americans” have been trying to assassinate him. The minister said , “Yes, I made a request from our patriotic Sri Lankans to boycott America and American products to show our protest to the American sponsored resolution against Sri Lanka at the UNHRC sessions in Geneva and express our solidarity with the government. Surprisingly, the local Americans are attempting to kill me for making this statement. ” Weerawansa went on to say, “ It seems President...

Witness testimonies from the front line

The Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice has released a series of witness stories from the final war zone in Sri Lanka during the past week, marking the run up to a vote on a resolution regarding Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council. The stories have been released under the pseudonym "The Social Architects", who compose of a group of writers that have collected witness testimonies. Extracts from the stories have been reproduced below. See all eight stories on their blog here . Rasadurai’s story: “They used phosphorous bombs in Udaiyarkaddu... It melted tarpaulins and the pieces fell onto the people below and burned them. It keeps burning once it gets on the skin. I saw one man badly burned by phosphorous lying on banana leaves.” “They used a variety of types of cluster bombs . The main bomb explodes in the air and splits into many pieces. One kind of cluster bomb, used in Iranaipalai, produced colorful ribbons . Children were attracted and picked pieces up; as they handled the pieces they exploded .” “The Army soldiers were throwing grenades into the bunkers and killing the people all night.” “One soldier said in Sinhala, “The commander has given the order to kill everyone.” They ordered us to remove our upper clothes. Then we argued, “We are priests. These are children.”... They had black cloths tied around their faces and they were like animals ready to kill .” “We walked on the road past burning vehicles with charred corpses under them. It was a scene like hell. The soldiers were laughing, saying, “We have killed Pirapakaran, Pottu Amman, and all the leaders, and now you are our slaves.” ” “There were about fifty soldiers who had piled up about three hundred naked corpses. They had placed tube lights to show off all the bodies, and they were laughing and taking photos of them. It was like a celebration. “ “The first week of internment at Menik Farm we had no food or water and no toilet... We felt our lives were in danger there... They treated us like animals. ” Shamanthi's story: “ I don’t know if my husband was killed or if he is alive. This is why for two years I have refused to go to Canada where my father is living. Until I know more about my husband, I don’t want to go there. On Maveera Nal (Heroes Day), my daughter wished to light the lamp of her own accord. I didn’t stop her because she is used to this culture as a Tamil. She can follow our traditions. I should raise my children with good education, then they can decide for themselves. We will support the Tamil people.”

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