'Tweaked' UN resolution on Sri Lanka still falls short on accountability

An updated draft United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution on Sri Lanka was released this morning, showing some changes to the language of the text but still falling short on Tamil demands for an international accountability mechanism. The updated draft resolution now calls on the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to "collect" as well as "consolidate, analyse and preserve” evidence that could be used in future war crimes trials. However, it has failed to implement UN High Commissioner, Michelle Bachelet's recommendations which call on member states to consider...

‘Tamil lives depend on it’ – NGOs call for international action on Sri Lanka

Following the presentation of the damning report on Sri Lanka by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet’s damning on report on Sri Lanka, several NGO’s highlighted the prevailing impunity and lack of accountability for human rights violations in Sri Lanka and the failed domestic mechanisms; urging the council to take steps to refer Sri Lanka to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and impose sanctions on known perpetrators. Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada Ms Harini Sivalingam speaking on behalf of Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada, highlighted the “deliberate failures” of the...

Through the Fire: Families of Disappeared March for Justice in Kilinochchi

Tamil families of the disappeared marched through Kilinochchi today, calling for justice for their forcibly disappeared family members, and for Sri Lanka to be referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC). The protesters marched bearing ‘thee-chatti’ (fire-pot) - clay pots containing live coals - on their heads, performing a traditional Tamil practice of penance or vow-fulfilment. The march marked 4 years since families of the disappeared began continuous roadside protests across the North-East, demanding the whereabouts of their family members, the majority of whom had been handed over to the Sri Lankan Army at the end of the armed conflict in May 2009. "We have been fighting non-stop for four years, and we have been waiting for our children to return for twelve years. Still there is no justice," one protester said. "That is why we carry black flags."

Draft UN resolution on Sri Lanka calls for war crimes evidence collection but falls short on accountability

A draft United Nations Human Rights Council resolution on Sri Lanka has called on the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights “to consolidate, analyse and preserve” evidence that could be used in future war crimes trials, as it noted the lack of accountability for mass atrocities through domestic mechanisms and called for enhanced “monitoring and reporting on the human rights situation in Sri Lanka”. The resolution, made public this morning, “notes the persistent lack of accountability through domestic mechanisms” and slams Sri Lanka’s newly announced domestic Commission of Inquiry...

Modi reaffirms commitments to Tamil rights in Sri Lanka

We are always committed in ensuring that our Tamil brothers and sisters in #srilanka live with Dignity, Equality, Justice & Peace : PM @narendramodi in Tamil Nadu pic.twitter.com/fd1L0oh8u2 — All India Radio News (@airnewsalerts) February 14, 2021 Ahead of assembly elections in Tamil, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has visited during the inauguration of the Chennai Metro Rail Phase-1 extension and expressed the government's commitments to Tamil rights in Sri Lanka. “We are always committed to ensuring that they live with equality, justice, peace and dignity”, Modi maintained during...

Game on? England Cricket team leaves Sri Lanka with hundreds of unanswered questions

Britain’s High Commission in Sri Lanka announced that the English cricket team would be taking questions from the public as they embarked on a controversial tour of the island. Despite hundreds of questions flooding in through Twitter and Instagram, none were answered.

From Pottuvil to Polikandy: Why are Tamils marching?

This week Tamils and Muslims across the homeland united in a march for justice, calling on the international community act to protect their rights. The protests which have been extended due to disturbances caused by Sri Lanka’s security forces took place from Pottuvil in Amparai to Polikandy in Jaffna. Despite intimidation from Sri Lankan security forces and bans imposed by Sri Lankan courts, the rally lasted for five days and passed through each district in the Tamil homeland. Organised by civil society organisations across the North-East, the key demands are: 1. A traditional Tamil homeland...

From Pottuvil to Polikandy - What happened on the five day march for justice

On 3 February 2021, Tamils and Muslims in the North-East mobilised en-masse to begin a peaceful march from Pottuvil in Amparai to Polikandy in Jaffna, two points delineating the furthest ends of the traditional Tamil homeland, in defiance of numerous court orders. Their aim was to raise awareness of the plight of Tamils and Muslims on the island and to call upon the UN and the international community to heed Tamil calls for justice and accountability. Throughout this march, Sri Lanka’s security forces attempted to break up the rally at various points by threatening and intimidating demonstrators as well obtaining injunctions against the protest but at each step protesters have defied Sri Lanka’s security forces. Whilst the march was initially set to end on 6 February, it was extended to the 7 February due to these disruptions.

Samantha Power, Sri Lanka and another opportunity

US President Joe Biden announced that Samantha Power, the former ambassador to the United Nations who has visited Sri Lanka on at least three occasions, will be his pick to lead the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in a bid to confront “climate change, global poverty and democratic backsliding”. Under the Obama administration, she served as a White House national security staffer from 2009 to 2013, before going on to become the US ambassador to the UN until 2017. During her tenure, however, she came under both praise and criticism, particularly for the way in which the administration handled Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka’s frenzied response to UN report

The Sri Lankan government lambasted a report from the United Nations human rights chief last week, as it sent a response which defended accused war criminals, denied reports of rights abuses and slammed accusations of ongoing discrimination. In an almost 20-page response sent to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, a draft version of which has been seen by the Tamil Guardian , the Sri Lankan government called her report “speculative, presumptive and unsubstantiated opinions”. The response was sent to the United Nations on Wednesday, just hours before it was publicly released, following...