Writing in The Guardian , the director of Freedom From Torture (FFT) UK Sonya Sceats, stressed that any process to deal with findings of the UN investigation into Sri Lanka’s mass atrocities that fails to win support of survivors “is doomed to fail before it even begins.” Full piece reproduced below: Sri Lankan war crimes will be laid bare in a harrowing UN report to be published on Wednesday. The Sri Lankan government has already launched its latest charm offensive to convince the world it can deal with these issues, but the international community must stay strong to ensure a proper justice process that wins the confidence of survivors and enables the country to heal.
The United States and international community should continue sustained engagement on Sri Lanka to ensure reform on the island and the passage of a strong resolution at the UN Human Rights Council, said Taylor Dibbert in Foreign Policy on Friday. “In order to help ensure that Colombo fully commits to reform, sustained engagement from the United States and other members of the international community is more important than ever” said Mr Dibbert, adding that “America’s commitment to issues including truth, justice and accountability needs to go beyond January 2017” when US President Barack Obama leaves office. “The war-wear Tamil community—the group that has clearly suffered the most as a result of the war—has virtually no faith in a domestic process,” he said. “If Washington has decided to unequivocally back the Sri Lankan government on this vital issue, it should take a couple of important steps during the Human Rights Council’s upcoming session,” Mr Dibbert added. “First, it is imperative that the United States make clear that sustained, international engagement with Colombo is paramount. Second, and more importantly, the United States should lead the way again at the Human Rights Council and ensure the passage of a strong resolution on Sri Lanka."
The United States’ reported backing for a domestic process of accountability with ‘international technical assistance’ perverts international justice said exiled Tamil journalist J.S. Tissainayagam on Tuesday. Writing in the Asian Correspondent, Mr Tissainayagam said: “the U.S. and the international community are misguided in believing that the two elections and a national government have brought about enduring change that merits Washington to collaborate with Colombo on the forthcoming resolution at the UNHRC. This is because despite regime change there is little evidence that the new government has either the capacity or the political will to domestically investigate, try and punish perpetrators of international crimes.” He went on detail the inadequacy in “important institutions of state that will be vital in determining if the process of accountability effectively delivers justice to the victims”. “Even as he campaigned for the presidency, Sirisena, who has admitted being acting minister of defence “when most of the LTTE leaders were killed,” was insistent that Rajapakse and the military leaders implicated in mass atrocities against Tamils would not be brought before an international tribunal for war crimes,” said Mr Tissainayagam, adding, “Installed in power, the Sirisena government intervened directly to protect the status of those in the military implicated in war crimes”. The journalist also stated that Sri Lanka’s new Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe “has been no less emphatic in expressing similar reservations on an international investigation”.
It is up to the Tamil public, civil society and diaspora to ensure that the Tamil National Alliance remains true to the mandate given by the voters, said exiled Tamil journalist J.S. Tissainayagam on Friday. Writing in the Asian Correspondent Mr Tissainayagam noted Tamil discontent at ambiguous aspects of the Tamil National Alliance’s manifesto, and called on, “Tamil voters, Tamil civil society – especially organisations such as the Tamil Civil Society Forum – and the Tamil diaspora to keep the TNA accountable and not deviate from its policy statements declared before elections.”
Marking the ninth anniversary of the Sencholai massacre when 53 school girls were killed by a Sri Lankan military air strike on a children's home, Together Against Genocide (TAG) published an account of the incident based on interviews. The following account written by Shash Trevett is based on interviews to Together Against Genocide (TAG). Personal details of Meena (not her real name), place names and dates have been changed to protect her identity. It was early in the morning of 14th August 2006. Meena was at home getting ready to attend a computer course at her school. She had completed her A Level examinations a couple of months before, and was shoring up her qualifications further. At 7.30am that morning, Meena was outside her family home when she saw Kfir planes belonging to the Sri Lankan Air Force fly over her house. A few seconds later she heard a loud explosion, accompanied by a bright light. Terrified, she dropped to the ground, covering her ears, trying to protect herself from the sounds of the aerial bombardment.
A more subtle war still rages across the historically Tamil northern and eastern provinces of Sri Lanka, said Taylor Dibbert, writing in The Diplomat on Tuesday. Full piece reproduced below.
Northern Provincial Council Chief Minister CV Wigneswaran speaking at the International Association of Tamil Journalists annual lecture in the London, UK. I am meeting you today in the context of exactly thirty years this week since the Thimbu talks and thirty two years since the Black July riots next week. Although all of you fall within the term “diaspora”, many of you did not come here rejecting your birth place. You came here wounded in body and in mind. In spite of this you foster and safeguard a connection between yourselves and your homeland. Some still have land there. Many have...
Northern Provincial Council Chief Minister CV Wigneswaran writing in The Hill, a major Washington DC-based newspaper which focuses on politics and international relations. Come September, the United Nations Human Rights Council will assemble in Geneva for its 30th session. This session marks an important date for Sri Lanka, the United States and the international community: the long-awaited release of the UN report on war crimes committed during Sri Lanka’s civil war. Secretary of State John Kerry in May urged Sri Lanka to launch a credible investigation into human rights abuses and to release remaining political prisoners, and added that the U.S. is willing to support these developments with legal and technical assistance. This U.S. political will, ready to support justice and reconciliation in Sri Lanka, and the upcoming release of the UN report on war crimes, which disproportionately affected the ethnic Tamil population, mean the next few months are crucial for pursuing true reform in Sri Lanka. U.S. leaders have praised progress from newly elected President Maithripala Sirisena, like passing the 19th Amendment that limits the presidency to two terms, but the country’s Tamil population in the North and East remains disempowered and displaced. Slow reforms, the delayed release of the UN report and proposed accountability mechanisms that don’t meet international standards fuel the growing feeling that genuine justice and reform, a cause long-backed by the U.S. and multilateral organizations, is being sacrificed for domestic political maneuvering.
Sri Lanka's concept of accountability has not been in accordance with international standards, said the Chair of the BAR Human Rights Committee for England and Wales, whilst calling on Sri Lanka to take a “first step by providing a list of names of all those detained.” Speaking to Tamil Guardian at the 29 th session of the UN Human Rights Council, Kirsty Brimelow QC, said, “So far the Sri Lankan government’s concept of accountability has not been in accordance with international standards. Truth, justice and reparation equals accountability. This means putting victims at the heart of...
Hundreds of recent survivors of torture have been forced to flee Sri Lanka, says former BBC correspondent Frances Harrison, in a piece in the Huffington Post. “Torture is for life,” said Ms Harrison who stated that those who have fled abroad “should not be rendered invisible”. Extracts from her piece have been reproduced below. See the full piece here . “The Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora numbers some million people worldwide. Some settled abroad decades ago; others fled only in recent months. In the current period of transition in the country there's much talk of victims' rights, though arguably little to realise them yet. The unthinking assumption is that the "victims" are those Tamils eking out a living in the former war zone, searching for loved ones, as well of course as the Sinhalese and Muslims who suffered. It's the victims inside the country whose fate is considered the litmus test for any future reconciliation effort.” “But what about those who've fled abroad, those who've been driven out after experiencing unspeakable crimes. I call them the invisibles.”