‘Stand up for human rights in Sri Lanka’

The South Asia Director of Human Rights Meenakshi Ganguly has called on the United Nations Human Rights Council to demand the release of detained human rights activists in Sri Lanka in a piece written earlier today. Extracts from her piece entitled ‘Silencing Sri Lanka’s Rights Advocates’ have been reproduced below. See the full piece here . “There’s a grim irony in the timing of the arrests that come just as a resolution on Sri Lanka’s failure to address accountability is under discussion and will be voted on soon at the ongoing United Nations Human Rights Council sessions in Geneva. In spite of council resolutions in 2012 and 2013, Sri Lanka has taken no meaningful steps towards ensuring justice for the victims of abuses during its civil war, and has instead launched an aggressive campaign against those Sri Lankans who advocate for accountability. Human rights defenders, activists, journalists, and civil society members who are critical of the government have regularly been threatened and harassed. Those who have an international profile, such as Fernando, face particular government hostility.”

Weak UN resolution will endanger justice

Acclaimed journalist J. S. Tissainayagam, wrote in Asian Correspondent on Wednesday, calling for a strengthening of a United Nations Human Rights Council resolution on accountability in Sri Lanka, stating one that does is not “will only enhance turmoil and violence”. Tissainayagam was detained by Sri Lanka's Terrorism Investigation Division in 2008 and sentenced to 20 years of "rigorous punishment" for inciting "communal feelings". Following international pressure, including a mention from US President Barack Obama, Tissainayagam was eventually pardoned and is currently living in exile. See his full piece in the Asian Correspondent here . Extracts have been reproduced below. Language in the draft resolution now before the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) for an investigation into past and ongoing human rights abuses in Sri Lanka lacks teeth say critics. A resolution that establishes a weak investigating body will only render ineffectual what the international community says it is working for – strengthening human rights to promote reconciliation in a country recovering from war. Adding to this, post-war militarisation in the former warzone of northern and eastern Sri Lanka, continues to spawn grave human rights abuses – disappearance, torture and sexual violence. In the face of Colombo’s stonewalling, the only option for justice and accountability for past and ongoing violations was an international investigation.

Genocide continues, we need a Commission of Inquiry

Northern Province Councillor, Ananthi Sasitharan's address at the side event on Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council on March 11th, organised by IMADR (International Movement Against all forms of Discrimination and Racism), reproduced in full below: My name is Ananthi Sasitharan, I am an elected Member of Northern Provincial Council in Sri Lanka. I am here today in front of you as a voice of the oppressed Tamil people in Sri Lanka, and I speak on behalf of thousands of Tamil people that surrendered as individuals and as families to the Sri Lankan government. Myself and others have filed cases habeas-corpus and continue to receive no justice for the thousands of people that were put in Sri Lankan custody. Our homeland is completely occupied by the military, that are almost entirely Sinhalese. At any event, the army is there and people are afraid by the army presence - too afraid to talk or do anything. All our native lands are in their hands, as they have occupied everything. In the North-East, there are a huge number of relatives of missing people; not just of those that disappeared during the war, because even today people are disappearing.

David Cameron must now deliver on his pledge for international investigation into Sri Lanka's war crimes

Writing in the Tamil Guardian today, Labour’s shadow foreign affairs minister, Kerry McCarthy, called on the British government to: (1) Be unequivocal and unwavering in its support for an independent, international inquiry into war crimes in Sri Lanka; (2) Make every effort to secure widespread support for a robust resolution at the UN Human Rights Council; and (3) Ensure an international inquiry commences swiftly. Naturally, the crisis in Ukraine and efforts to secure a diplomatic resolution are foremost in our minds at the moment, but we cannot allow the 25th session of the UN Human Rights...

Land and development in the North-East

This week, Northern Provincial Council Chief Minister Wigneswaran lamented the lack of economic development in the North, berating the Sri Lankan state for its “conqueror” mindset and festering militarisation that has come to engulf the Tamil North-East. In particular Wigneswaran highlighted the forcible acquisition of land by the government, a pertinent issue that has gained international attention, as the world ponders on how to bring about a long lasting stability to the island. The issue of land itself is central to the Sri Lankan state’s ongoing efforts to disrupt development in the...

End of the war has deepened ethnic conflict - CV Wigneswaran

Following is the address by the Chief Minister of the Northern Province, CV Wigneswaran, given at a conference in Colombo. Honourable Chairperson, distinguished guests, my dear brothers and sisters! I am indeed flattered that the Sri Lankan academia, under the leadership provided by the University Grants Commission, has thought it fit to invite me today to deliver the keynote address on “Accelerated Provincial Development – The Way Forward”. I am mindful that there is probably more value ascribed to my career of barely half a year as a politician than my career of half a century in the legal...

From R2P to RANP: Sri Lanka and ‘Responsibility After Not Protecting’

The international community continues to have a collective responsibility to act on Sri Lanka under the doctrine of R2P, even though it may have failed to halt the atrocities during the final months of the armed conflict, wrote Henrietta Briscoe in E-International Relations. The former Litigation and Advocacy Officer for Tamils Against Genocide argues that the concept of ‘Responsibilty to Protect’ has been too restrictively applied and proposed that the idea of ‘Responsibility After Not Protecting’ forged within R2P, can be utilised even after a crisis. Briscoe went on to put forward that whilst R2P is conceptualised as being only applicable within the borders of a ‘host’ state, Sri Lankan state violence exceeds those borders. She states that full engagement of the international community is thus needed and can be applied in areas such as political asylum, litigation and diplomacy.

‘Australia looks to be on the wrong side of history’

In a piece for SBS, writer Mark Riboldi has called for a resolution on an international independent investigation to be passed at the UN Human Rights Council in March and for Australia to rethink their policy towards Sri Lanka. Reflecting on Australian engagement with Sri Lanka, Riboldi states that Australia has been “toeing the Rajapaksa line”, leaving Tamils to “suffer dearly”. He goes on to state that an “independent international investigation is the best chance the Tamil people have to achieve peace with justice.”

‘Government turns blind eye to Tamil genocide’ - Haigh

Retired Australian diplomat Bruce Haigh has stated the Australian has been turning a blind eye to genocide, as he criticised the Australian government’s engagement with Sri Lanka. Haigh, who was also member of the Refugee Review Tribunal, criticised Australia’s acceptance of “fiction” on the island, and went on to state that Australia’s asylum seeker policy, which deports Tamils to face torture in Sri Lanka, may make them complicit in the crime of genocide. Extracts have been reproduced below. See the full piece in the Canberra Times here . "Former Australian foreign minister Bob Carr and his successor Julie Bishop view the world as they want it to be rather than as it is. Bishop, like her predecessor, has engaged in transparent and clumsy denial in order to placate what she likes to term Australia's friends." "The Australian government has adopted the fiction that the minority Tamils were the aggressors in the civil war, that the majority Sinhalese won the war, peace has been restored and the surly defeated Tamils must now accept the status quo and get on with life, accepting their position as a minority within mainstream Sinhala society."

We do not need a truth and reconciliation commission

Writing in the Sunday Times LK, Kishali Pinto Jayawardene, argues "we do not need a truth and reconciliation commission". Full text of her opinion is reproduced below: We do not need a truth and reconciliation commission Despite Sri Lanka’s most disgraceful history with a plethora of demonstrably useless Commissions and Committees established by successive Presidents, it is a matter for considerable astonishment that the Rajapaksa Presidency’s near desperate proposal of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission at the turn of this year, appears to have found support in some quarters of our society.

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