Students gather at Marina Beach, Chennai, as protests against Sri Lanka continue in Tamil Nadu. (Updated: 14:30 GMT)
Sri Lankan security forces continue to systematically rape, sexually abuse and torture Tamils, almost 4 years since the end of the armed conflict, according to a report released by Human Rights Watch, earlier on Tuesday. The 141-page report, entitled ‘“We Will Teach You a Lesson” - Sexual Violence against Tamils by Sri Lankan Security Forces’ , inspected 75 cases of rape alleged to have occurred from 2006-2012 in both official and secret detention centres across Sri Lanka. The 75 cases were made up of 31 men, 41 women, and three boys aged under 18, all detained by Sri Lankan government of paramilitary forces and all subjected to torture and sexual abuse. Harrowing accounts of rape and torture were recounted, with HRW stating that the report only accounts for “a tiny fraction of custodial rape”. Many of the cases followed similar patterns of detention, followed by torture and rape by security forces, whilst being interrogated about “LTTE activities”. Victims were also forced to sign confessions in Sinhalese, a language they did not understand, as well as being forced to identify and name other potential “suspects”. Some of the victims recounted that they signed ‘confessions’ and pointed out people as LTTE cadres, knowing that they were not, simply to put an end to the torture. Tamils returning from abroad were also shown photographs of anti-government protests that took place in Paris and London, and forced to identify those in the images. A former UN field officer told Human Rights Watch that, “a large number of women fleeing from the conflict areas during the peak of fighting were sexually assaulted. The abuse was extensive, causing a large number of civilians to flee back to the theater of conflict to escape the abuse”.
British Members of Parliament have called on the government to boycott this year’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka, at a debate held in the Houses of Parliament on Tuesday. The debate, saw MPs from across the political spectrum speak out against Sri Lanka and slamming international inaction on the issue, with many calling for the British Government to refuse to attend the CHOGM due to be held in Sri Lanka, and called for robust action at the UN Human Rights Council. Many of the lawmakers blasted the Sri Lankan government’s human rights record, with Siobhain McDonagh saying, "If the Queen were to put her foot on the soil in Colombo it would be regarded as a vindication of the Sri Lankan Government’s actions—and this is at a time when at least 40,000 people are still dying or missing." Lee Scott also added, "Should we forget Auschwitz, Rwanda or the atrocities committed in Northern Ireland? No, we should not. That would be an insult to the memories of the people who lost their lives on all sides, and that is not acceptable." A small group of MPs however, defended Sri Lanka, with Member of Parliament Jeremy Corbyn slamming them as “the Sri Lankan Government lobby that is in Westminster Hall today”. Amongst them was Conservative MP James Wharton (See our earlier post: Why does the Tory MP for Stockton care so much about Sri Lanka? ) and Ian Paisley who stated, “ I took a day out and spent it with the leader of Tamil National Alliance, Mr Sampanthan. I spoke to him and his party colleagues at length, and I waited for him because I wanted to hear from him at first hand, without his being pushed or prodded into some of the difficult issues about the past. He did not raise with me the issue of the disappeared; he did not take time to raise with me the issue of war crimes; he did not take time to talk about routine torture, in his country, of his people. He had a politician with him from this nation and he did not want to talk about those things. In fact, he actively applauded the Government, whom he opposes. He applauded them on their investment in the country—in parts of the north—and he said that the most effective thing that many of his people required was practical help to get bicycles and other tools to help them to work and run their country. That was the message of the man who is leading the opposition. ” Echoing those comments on meeting the TNA leader, Aidan Burley added, "I met the President in Kandy. I also met, Mr Sampanthan, a leader of the opposition, for several hours in Trincomalee —I recognise the comments of the hon. Member for North Antrim (Ian Paisley)— and I remember him telling us that he wanted a bicycle for every one of his people, which is his main priority." Extracts from the debate have been reproduced below. Video of the debate can be seen here . Full text can be accessed here .
Staff at Jaffna uni protest in solidarity with their students, over Maaveerar Naal commemoration attacks by the Sri Lankan security forces. (Updated 23:35 GMT 30 Nov)
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon receives a copy of a report on the actions of the United Nations in Sri Lanka on Wednesday morning. Picture courtesy of Inner City Press. A report detailing the “grave failure of the United Nations” in Sri Lanka has been officially handed over to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, on Wednesday morning and released publ i cly later in the evening. The full report can be downloaded here . In a statement , the UN Secretary General said, "I am determined that the United Nations draws the appropriate lessons and does its utmost to earn the confidence of the world's people, especially those caught in conflict who look to the organisation for help," He went on to say that the report had been released publically as, "transparency and accountability are critical to the legitimacy and credibility of the United Nations". However sections of the report had attempted to have been blacked out. The blacked out portions of the report could still be accessed and have been reproduced further below. See here . Ex tracts from the report (On February 7th 2009) Some UN staff in Colombo expressed to the UNCT leadership their dismay that the UN was placing primary emphasis on LTTE responsibility when the facts suggested otherwise , and urged a more public stance.
Speaking in an interview on TamilNet's Palaka'ni channel , TNPF leader Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam asserted that Eelam Tamils were a nation and asserted their right to sovereignty, and outlined the Tamil National People Front's position as: "The existence of the Tamil nation must be secured. The recognition of Tamil nationhood and its distinct sovereignty is non-negotiable , that is our party's position. As to how that status is going to exist, whether it is going to exist within a larger state, or within a larger country, so as in the country being a multi-national state, or whether the Tamil nation is going to exist as a nation state, is something the eventual peace process will decide. But our view, what is fundamental, is the recognition and the safe-guard of the Tamil nation." See full video here .
September 26 is the anniversary of the death of LTTE Lt. Col. Thileepan in 1987 during his hungerstrike appealing for the Indian government of Premier Rajiv Gandhi to honour the security undertakings it gave to the Tamil people alongside its 1987 Accord with Sri Lanka. Click image for details.
Street art in Chennai, Tamil Nadu depicting two prominent anti-caste leaders. B.R Ambedkar, who became a Buddhist and E.V. Ramaswamy, a key figure in the Tamil Dravidian movement.