Mar 282014
 
Tamil civil society disappointed with UNHRC resolution, New Delhi’s stand

While expressing appreciation for those countries that voted for the resolution and expressing their disappointment on the conduct of India at the UNHRC, Mannaar Bishop Rt Rev Rayappu Joseph and Jaffna University law academic Kumaravadivel Guruparan, in a statement issued on behalf of the Tamil Civil Society Forum (TCSF) on Thursday, expressed their deep regret that the resolution does not provide for the establishment of a robust mechanism of international investigations in the form of an International Commission of Inquiry.

Full text of the TCSF follows:

The Tamil Civil Society Forum (TCSF) takes note of the resolution passed by the UN Human Rights Council on promoting accountability, reconciliation and human rights in Sri Lanka on 27 March 2014.

TCSF expresses appreciation for those countries that sponsored and voted for the resolution. We are extremely disappointed that India chose to abstain during the vote on the full text of the resolution and to vote for the motion that sought to delete the paragraph (Operative Paragraph 10) in the resolution authorising the OHCHR to undertake investigations.

We deeply regret that this resolution does not provide for the establishment of a robust mechanism of international investigations in the form of an International Commission of Inquiry. We are also concerned that the Office of the Human Rights Commissioner’s mandate for investigations has been limited to the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission’s time framework. The resolution does not explicitly provide her office the authority to investigate on going violations.

With regard to Operative Paragraph 6 of the resolution we reiterate that the 13th amendment provides no basis for a political solution of the Tamil question. The narrative of the preambular paragraphs, we note with regret, does not take into consideration the specificity of the problems faced by the Tamils.

We are concerned that despite the resolution and the debate leading up to it, the plight of the Tamils continue and continue to escalate. We wish to stress upon the International Community, the need to take bold, firm and decisive steps that will be necessary to address the ongoing suffering of the Tamils.

Rt. Rev. Dr. Rayappu Joseph (Bishop of Mannar) & Kumaravadivel Guruparan (University of Jaffna) on behalf of the Tamil Civil Society Forum

* * *

Meanwhile, New Delhi’s envoy to UN, Mr. Dilip Sinha told NDTV on Friday that the introduction of the concept of international investigation in the resolution was the reason for India abstaining from the voting.

Mr. Sinha’s statement means that Pakistan and India are together in denying international investigative justice to Eezham Tamils.

During the voting, Pakistan asked the UNHRC to remove the clause on OHCHR investigation from the resolution.

When asked by the NDTV whether India would have voted yes, had the clause been removed, Sinha said that there were other concerns too and he wouldn’t speculate on what would have happened then.

“We encourage Sri Lanka to fulfill its own commitments and conduct its own investigations in such a way that they are credible and are looked upon by others as acceptable investigations,” Sinha said.

In the same spirit, people of India, especially the people of Tamil Nadu, should see that the coming elections should pave way for conducting an investigation in India itself on the role of the Congress regime and its officials in the genocide of Eezham Tamils, commented Tamil activists for alternative politics in the island.

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Mar 072014
 
USA ignores requests of Mannaar Bishop on UNHRC Resolution

Bishop of Mannaar Rt. Rev. Dr. Rayappu Joseph had sent a model resolution to the foreign diplomatic missions, including the Embassy of USA in Colombo, well in advance of the draft resolution by the USA was leaked in Geneva this Monday. The proposal presented by Mannaar Bishop was demanding international investigations on genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Prepared by the Tamil Civil Society Forum, the proposal also called upon the “UN Secretary General and the UN Security Council to activate procedures that will lead to a UN sponsored international mechanism to assess the democratic aspirations of the Tamil People, both in the homeland and in the diaspora for a permanent political solution.”

The proposal by the Tamil civil society also urged the UN to consider a Transitional Administration in the North-East of the island to prevent and protect the Tamil people from the continued crimes listed in the document.

“Please see attached a proposal for a draft resolution in the upcoming UNHRC sessions in Geneva on accountability and reconciliation in Sri Lanka. The draft has been put together by Tamil civil society activists and is being sent to you to provide a perspective as to our expectations of the Geneva sessions. We hope that this document proves to be useful in your deliberations regarding the matter.” Mannaar Bishop had urged the foreign missions.

The document was released to media on Tuesday, a day after the US draft has been leaked in Geneva.

The proposal from the Tamil civil society should be considered as a model resolution to be compared with the leaked draft resolution and its future versions for the edification of Tamil activists in the homeland, in Tamil Nadu and in the Diaspora, Tamil activists for alternative politics in the island told TamilNet on Wednesday.

* * *

Following is the full text of the draft resolution presented by Mannaar Bishop.

Human Rights Council

Twenty-Fifth session

Agenda item …

Draft Resolution

Accountability and the human rights situation of the Tamils in the North-East of Sri Lanka

The Human Rights Council,

Guided by the Charter of the United Nations and General Assembly resolution 60/251 of 15 March 2006,

Recalling Human Rights Council resolutions 5/1, on institution-building of the Council, and 5/2, on the code of conduct for special procedures mandate holders, of 18 June 2007,

Reaffirming the purposes and principles of the Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and relevant international human rights treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and that all States are bound to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms,

Reaffirming the purposes and principles of the Genocide Convention, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and the Four Geneva Conventions and their additional protocols,

Recalling that each individual State has responsibility under International Law to protect its populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity

Recalling the responsibility to take collective action, in a timely and decisive manner when national authorities manifestly fail to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity

Recalling also in particular the UN General Assembly Resolution A/RES/63/308 on the Responsibility to Protect

Recalling Human Rights Council resolution 19/2 of 22 March 2012 on promoting reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka,

Recalling also Human Rights Council resolution 22/L.1 of 21 March 2013 on promoting reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka

Expressing serious concern at the lack of implementation by the Government of Sri Lanka of previously adopted resolutions and recommendations of the Council relating to the human rights situation in Sri Lanka,

Noting with concern the observation by the High Commissioner in her oral update on promoting reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka on 27 September 2013 about the considerable military presence in the Tamil homeland in the island of Sri Lanka, the high level of surveillance of returnees, rehabilitees and detainees who have been released, the compulsory acquisition of private land for installing military camps and other installations, the prominent role of military in areas of civilian administration and economic activity, including education, agriculture and tourism.

Noting also the observation by the High Commissioner in her oral update on promoting reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka on 27 September 2013 that no new or comprehensive effort to independently or credibly investigate the allegations.

Noting further that the Government of Sri Lanka has failed to act on the High Commissioner’s suggestion to the Government of Sri Lanka to show a credible national process with tangible results, including the successful prosecution of individual perpetrators by March 2014

Noting further that the Government of Sri Lanka’s Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission report and its recommendations have failed to bring about truth, justice and reconciliation for Sri Lanka

Reaffirming the right of the Tamil people in the island of Sri Lanka to self-determination

Noting further that successive Governments of Sri Lanka including the present have not taken any credible steps towards accommodating the Tamil people’s legitimate desire for self-determination and self-government within a united Sri Lanka.

  1. Unequivocally condemns the appropriation of land belonging to the Tamil people by the Government of Sri Lanka, the continuous detention of Tamil political prisoners without due process, the use of sexual violence against Tamil female headed house hold and ex-female LTTE cadres by armed forces attached to the Sri Lankan Government, the denial of psycho-social support for the war affected Tamils, the ever increasing role of the military in the daily lives of the Tamil people, the relocation of Tamil IDPs in places other than their historical areas of habitation, the continuous neglect of the livelihood of those resettled, the intimidation, forced use of long-term contraceptives, destruction of non-Buddhist religious places, violence perpetrated against Tamil civil society and political activists and the denial of the right to collective memory of the Tamil people.

  2. Requests all relevant special procedures mandate-holders, in particular the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the human rights of internally displaced persons, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, arbitrary, summary executions, the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, the Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression, the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, the Independent Expert on minority issues, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence, the Special Rapporteur on the right to education, Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, the Special Rapporteur on Cultural Rights, the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context, to urgently seek and gather information on violations of the human rights of the Tamil people and submit their reports to the Council at its next session;

  3. Decides to appoint a special rapporteur to monitor the situation of human rights in the North-East of Sri Lanka and to make recommendations for its improvement; to offer support and advice to civil society; to seek, receive, examine and act on information from all relevant stakeholders pertaining to the situation of human rights in the North-East of Sri Lanka; and to report annually to the Human Rights Council and to the General Assembly in accordance with their respective programmes of work;

  4. Calls upon the UN Secretary General and the UN Security Council to activate procedures that will lead to the setting up of a UN Transitional Administration in the North-East of Sri Lanka to prevent and protect the Tamil people from those issues identified in paragraph 1 above.

  5. Decides to dispatch an urgent, Independent International Commission of Inquiry, to be appointed by the President of the Council, to investigate all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law including the alleged crimes of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, committed in the post-colonial Sri Lanka, and calls upon Sri Lanka not to obstruct the process of investigation and to fully cooperate with the Commission

  6. Requests the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner to provide all administrative, technical and logistical assistance required to enable the above-mentioned special procedures mandate-holders and the fact-finding mission to fulfil their mandates promptly and efficiently.

  7. Calls upon the UN Secretary General and the UN Security Council to activate procedures that will lead to a UN sponsored international mechanism to assess the democratic aspirations of the Tamil People, both in the homeland and in the diaspora for a permanent political solution.

  8. Decides to remain seized of the matter.

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Feb 212014
 
Beware of war crimes investigation leading to ‘reconciliation’ deception

In the event of a US-tabled resolution at UNHRC calling for “an independent international accountability mechanism to evaluate reports of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other human rights violations committed by both sides during and after the war in Sri Lanka,” it will have all the potentialities of becoming yet another form of the ‘reconciliation’ deception. It will help to continue harping on ‘reforms’ within a unitary State, will give space and time in a camouflaged way to Colombo to complete genocide, prod Tamils into accepting models as of South Africa that are absurd to them, negotiate escape to culprits, and at maximum, may bring in ‘regime change’, but no political justice or release from genocide to Eezham Tamils, cautioned Tamil activists for alternative politics in the island.

Further comments from the Tamil activists for alternative politics in the island:

There seems to be a calculated detraction orchestrated against the demand for an international investigation on the genocide committed on Eezham Tamils, demand for an interim international mechanism to stop the on-going genocide and the demand for a referendum.

The detractors argue that the US move in the UNHRC, if going to be in the wording of the resolution tabled at the US Senate [cited in the lead para], that would have space for the investigation of the genocide as well.

In their desperation to jump on the US bandwagon, a set of Tamil political articulators in the island, in Tamil Nadu and in the diaspora, hide from Tamil masses the disastrous deceptions attached to the US approach.

They never want to explain to the people how the possible US resolution is a further manifestation stemming from the ‘reconciliation’ deception that was hatched by the USA immediately after its complicity in the genocide.

The USA has not abandoned its original policy or strategy with which it architected the genocidal war. Only the tactic may be different now but that is to only confirm the achievements of the original aims.

The non-recognition of genocide or delay would continue facilitating the genocide. It will save the genocidal State and will facilitate bargains desired by the USA.

The expected US resolution has to be read in its context of what the former US Asst Secretary of State, Robert Blake, said in 2009 on ‘some accountability’ for ‘reconciliation’; what the present Asst Secretary of State, Nisha Desai Biswal, said in Jaffna earlier this month, advising Tamils to seek ‘reconciliation’ than investigation, and what the two US Senators tabling their resolution ten days later said on the US leadership at UNHRC in “promoting reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka.”

Ultimately, supporting the envisaged US resolution amounts to reconciliation with the genocidal State of Sri Lanka and voicing for the edification of the resolution represents rejection of the genocidal State.

Where do the Tamil activists want to pitch themselves?

It is not a question of being pro-USA or anti-USA, or being pro and anti to any other power.

Such a question never arises if any one considers himself or herself as an activist of the Tamil cause.

Whether as Tamils, we place our demands and register our claims in the proper perspective or not, is the question.

It has now become a routine every year, to see orchestrations discovering ‘virtues’ in the US moves and passionately denouncing anyone who seeks edifications.

But what is the total output in the last five years, other than seeing irreversible and accelerated structural genocide?

Who is responsible for this fallout, or victimisation by deception?

How does the momentum in public uprising seen in 2009 in Tamil Nadu and in the diaspora was put to sleep?

Those who have bondages and constrains to open mouth against the designs of the Establishments should at least refrain from detracting righteous voices coming from others.

What if genocide is disproved in an investigation – the detractors have the audacity to ask this threatening question on an obviously provable phenomenon faced and being faced by Eezham Tamils for decades.

When the source of this pitiable self-doubt is no other than the NPC chief minister, Justice Wigneswaran, it is no surprise that there are detractors in Tamil Nadu too.

If the Tamils criticize the US resolution, even whatever that may come through also will not come, is another threat put to Tamils.

Exactly with the same thinking, Eezham Tamils were first taking the risk with British colonialism, then with New Delhi’s ‘Indo-Lanka’ Accord and recently with the US and Co-Chair deception.

At least now we should ‘learn the lesson’ to say goodbye to the polity of knowingly collaborating with deception. We should make our righteous demands in their proper perspective without any hesitation, and also should tell our allies in Tamil Nadu and elsewhere to do so.

Our immediate need of priority is international intervention to stop the on-going genocide.

We have been asking to stop the genocidal war and the IC failed in it. Now, if the IC is not stopping the on-going genocide, the target of our international struggle should focus on it.

The competitors of the USA, rather than always proving themselves worse than that of the USA, would do much better by taking a higher stand in the delivery of meaningful justice to the nation of Eezham Tamils. They may even expose the USA through that.

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Feb 122014
 
US Senators call for War Crimes investigations in Sri Lanka

burrcaseyFront Noting that, “Human rights violations continue, and the Sri Lankan government has failed to bring to justice the perpetrators of attacks against journalists, religious and ethnic minorities, and opposition politicians. As the March session of the UNHRC approaches, I believe another UNHRC resolution is warranted,” a senior Democratic Senator Casey, and Republican Senator Richard Burr, in a resolution called “on the United States and the international community to establish an independent international accountability mechanism to evaluate reports of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other human rights violations committed by both sides during and after the war in Sri Lanka.”

Full text of the Press release issued on the 10th of February from the offices of U.S. Senators, Richard Burr (R-NC) and Bob Casey (D-PA), follows:

Washington, DC- With the March session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) approaching, U.S. Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced a resolution calling for an independent investigation into allegations of war crimes during the Sri Lankan conflict and urging the Government of Sri Lanka to uphold media freedoms.

“This resolution calls for the establishment of an independent international accountability mechanism that would hold responsible those who have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity,” said Senator Burr. “I believe ensuring a lasting peace in Sri Lanka is in the interest of the Sri Lankan people, the United States, and the broader international community.”

“Four years since the end of the conflict in Sri Lanka, there has yet to be real progress made on reconciliation and accountability through domestic processes,” said Senator Casey. “Human rights violations continue, and the Sri Lankan government has failed to bring to justice the perpetrators of attacks against journalists, religious and ethnic minorities, and opposition politicians. As the March session of the UNHRC approaches, I believe another UNHRC resolution is warranted.”

The full text of Burr and Casey’s resolution can be seen below:

Expressing support for the internal rebuilding, resettlement, and reconciliation within Sri Lanka that are necessary to ensure a lasting peace.

Whereas May 19, 2013 marks the four-year anniversary of the end of the 26-year conflict between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the Government of Sri Lanka;

Whereas the people of Sri Lanka suffered greatly as a result of this conflict, the impact and aftermath of which has been felt especially by women, children, and families;

Whereas the Government of Sri Lanka established a “Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission” (LLRC) to report whether any person, group, or institution directly or indirectly bears responsibility for incidents that occurred between February 2002 and May 2009 and to recommend measures to prevent the recurrence of such incidents in the future and promote further national unity and reconciliation among all communities;

Whereas the LLRC report was presented to the Sri Lankan Parliament on December 16, 2011, and officially translated into Sinhala and Tamil on August 16, 2012,

Whereas the LLRC report acknowledges important events and grievances, that have contributed to decades of political violence and war in Sri Lanka and makes constructive recommendations on a wide range of issues, including the need to credibly investigate widespread allegations of extrajudicial killings; enforced disappearances; intentional targeting of civilians and noncombatants; demilitarizing the north and the country as a whole; reaching a political settlement with minority communities on the meaningful decentralization of power; and promoting and protecting the right to freedom of expression for all through the enactment of a right to information law and additional rule of law reforms;

Whereas the Government of Sri Lanka developed the National Plan of Action to implement just 82 of the 285 recommendations of the LLRC in August 2011, and although the Government of Sri Lanka has made some progress on rehabilitation, resettlement of displaced persons, and improvements of infrastructure in the North and East, there are still many issues of major concern;

Whereas the Government of Sri Lanka has yet to reasonably address issues of reconciliation and accountability through internal processes;

Whereas the Department of State’s 2012 Human Rights Report on Sri Lanka outlines ongoing concerns regarding landownership and property restitution, particularly in the Jaffna Peninsula where large numbers of persons have not received restitution for land that remains part of government high security zones; and while citizens generally were able to travel almost anywhere in the island, there continues to be police and military checkpoints in the north, and de facto high-security zones and other areas remained off limits to citizens;

Whereas the Government of Sri Lanka has not taken tangible steps toward demilitarization of civilian functions, particularly in the North and East, and continued military presence on private lands in the North is preventing the resettlement of internally displaced persons who desire a return to peaceful life;

Whereas the Department of State’s 2012 Human Rights Report on Sri Lanka also includes reports of serious human rights violations such as, unlawful killings by security forces and government-allied paramilitary groups, often in predominantly Tamil areas; torture and abuse of detainees by police and security forces; and arbitrary arrest and detention by authorities;

Whereas the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution supported by the United States and adopted by the UNHRC on March 21, 2013, expresses concern at the continuing reports of violations of human rights in Sri Lanka, including enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, torture and violations of the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, as well as intimidation of and reprisals against human rights defenders, members of civil society and journalists, threats to judicial independence and the rule of law, and discrimination on the basis of religion or belief;

Whereas the Government of Sri Lanka expressed its commitment to addressing the needs of all ethnic groups and has recognized, in the past, the necessity of a political settlement and reconciliation for a peaceful and just society;

Whereas tangible progress on domestic and international investigations into reports of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other human rights violations during and after the conflict and promoting reconciliation would facilitate enhanced United States engagement and investment in Sri Lanka: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Senate —

  1. commends the representatives of the United States on their leadership on United Nations Human Rights Council Resolution (UNHRC) 22/1 adopted by the UNHRC on March 21, 2013 promoting reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka;

  2. calls on the United States and the international community to establish an independent international accountability mechanism to evaluate reports of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other human rights violations committed by both sides during and after the war in Sri Lanka.

  3. urges the Government of Sri Lanka to allow unimpeded access for media, international aid agencies and human rights groups into all regions of the country, as well as to detention sites that may hold political and war prisoners;

  4. urges the Government of Sri Lanka to end its media restrictions, including the obstacles to the flow of information in the North and East, and bring to justice those responsible for attacks on journalists and newspaper offices;

  5. calls upon the President to develop a comprehensive policy towards Sri Lanka that reflects United States interests, including respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law, economic interests, and security interests.

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