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Human Rights

UN to Investigate War-Time Atrocities in Sri Lanka

A U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva. Credit: Jean-Marc Ferré/U.N.

GENEVA, Mar 28 2014 (IPS) - The bloody events that marked the end of Sri Lanka’s civil war between government and Tamil separatist forces will be the focus of an independent international investigation, according to a United Nations Human Rights Council decision.

The serious human rights violations denounced by U.N. agencies are blamed on both sides. The inquiry will cover the abuses committed during the final period of the 1983-2009 war and after the government’s victory.

Juliette de Rivero, Geneva director of Human Rights Watch, told IPS that nearly five years on, the victims are still awaiting justice and for those responsible to be held to account.

“There are still no answers for the up to 40,000 civilian deaths for the last months of the fighting in Sri Lanka, nor for the 6,000 forcibly disappeared,” she said.

The Sri Lankan government rejected the Human Rights Council resolution adopted Thursday Mar. 27 on the argument that it erodes the sovereignty of the people of Sri Lanka and the core values of the U.N. Charter, the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the basic principles of law that postulate equality among all people

The resolution was approved with a 23 to 12 vote, with 12 abstentions.

Tamil leaders following the debate in Geneva, where the Council is based, were not completely pleased with the resolution either.

One of the leaders, Visvalingam Manivannan, told IPS that “Our most pressing concern is that the High Commissioner’s (Navi Pillay) report or the resolution say nothing to halt the ongoing genocide against the Tamil nation.

“We are of the opinion that this can only be achieved through the establishment of a U.N.-sponsored transitional administration (in Sri Lanka) established through the aegis of the U.N. Security Council,” said Manivannan, who represents Vigneshvssu Vssu Vssu, an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the U.N. Economic and Social Council.

The case of Sri Lanka has been unusual in terms of the alignments it triggered among the Human Rights Council’s 47 member countries.

The resolution was sponsored by the United States and co-sponsored by the United Kingdom, Macedonia, Mauritius and Montenegro, with strong support from the European Union countries in the debates.

Alongside Sri Lanka, Pakistan took the lead in protesting the resolution, with outspoken support from China and Russia.

This time, Colombo lost the backing of three key Asian nations: India, Indonesia and Japan, which abstained from voting.

The North-South divide that persists in the Council, as in other multilateral bodies, was blurred in this case. Of the 13 African nations, three voted in favour of Sri Lanka, four voted for the U.S.-sponsored resolution and the remaining six abstained, including South Africa.

Among the Latin American members, there was no middle ground. Cuba and Venezuela voted against the resolution and defended the arguments set forth by the Sri Lankan ambassador.

Meanwhile, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Mexico and Peru aligned with Washington. “We did it to end the impunity,” a diplomat from one of these countries told IPS.

Sri Lanka ambassador Ravinatha Arayasinha reached a different conclusion.

“A majority of the 47 members of the Human Rights Council -12 countries opposing and 12 other countries abstaining – has made it clear that they do not support the action taken by the United States, the UK and the co-sponsors of this resolution to impose an international inquiry mechanism concerning Sri Lanka.”

The resolution noted that in her report, the high commissioner had concluded that Sri Lanka’s national justice system and human rights mechanisms had systematically failed in their duty to discover the truth and deliver justice.

The Council thus accepted Pillay’s recommendation that an international inquiry be launched to carry out an in-depth investigation.

A leader of the Tamil National People’s Front (TNPF), Gajendrakumar Ponnampalan, told IPS that “The remedy for violations at the level of gravity that occurred ultimately cannot be anything short of a credible international investigation and a judicial process through the ICC (International Criminal Court) or an Ad Hoc special tribunal.”

A group of experts appointed by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon concluded that Sri Lankan government troops were involved in widespread abuses, including indiscriminate bombing of civilians, summary executions and rapes.

From 80,000 to 100,000 lives were claimed by the civil war between the Sri Lankan army and separatists demanding a Tamil state in the north of the island.

The conflict came to an end when the leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, Velupillai Prabhakaran, died in the fighting.

The U.N. experts accused the Tamil separatists of using civilians as human shields, recruiting child soldiers, and killing families trying to flee the fighting.

The U.N. Council resolution called on the Sri Lankan government to carry out a credible independent investigation of the allegations and to put an end to human rights abuses in the South Asian country.

Ponnampalan said “There is an ongoing genocide carried out by the Sri Lankan state, whose goal is the de-Tamilisation of Sri Lanka.

“Any reconciliation project has to include the Tamil nation – smaller in number on the island – and the Sinhala nation – a majority within the current configuration of the Sri Lankan state,” the TNPF leader said.

But “The Sinhala nation has no intention of ‘reconciling’ with the Tamil nation and wants it to assimilate into its vision of a Sinhala Buddhist Sri Lanka,” he maintained.

“Indeed, the only ‘remedy’ for the Tamil people in Sri Lanka is fleeing or assimilation,” he argued.

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  • Nallathamby Yoganathan

    Srilanka did GENOCIDE and still doing the structural genocide of Tamil Nation – North and East of the island- by keeping more than 300,000 same SIN-HELLa racist Military involved in the GENOCIDE of Tamils.
    This UN resolution is very VAGUE one, UN must have passed SANCTIONS against the racist Srilanka like the world did against the APARTHEID SOUTH AFRICA.
    Srilankan economy depends very much on Exports to Western countries and Western people go there as tourists, If no Export and western tourist, Srilanka will come clean on peace and harmony, Otherwise, Srilanka will become richer and richer, then Srilanka would have carried out Genocide of remaining Tamils, Muslims and Christians as Srilanka resumed atrocities against Muslims and Christians too.
    UN also must pass resolution to hold UN referendum in North and East of the island like the UN did in East-Timor, Kosovo and South Sudan.

  • Self plover

    International Tamil Diaspora destroys bothe Tamil and Sinhala people in Sri Lanka. People in Sri Lanka lived in peace for centuries until, Tamils living in a foreign countries wanted a part in a country barely visible in the map.

    Anyone can visit northan region of Sri Lanka. Many foreigners do actually. I don’t think they’ll find a hint of on going genocide.

    Tamil Tigers were a terrorist organization listed as terrorists by US. They killed Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims equally. International community should thank the government for stopping the terrorism from spreading to the world. They even had planes; only terrorist organization to have them (given by India?).

    Civilian casualties were very low in SL when compared to other places with a similar war. LTTE did a good job to make it difficult to identify terrorists from civilians. Pregnant woman bombed the Army Commander.

    Looking at UN actions lately, makes me wonder what kind of world they are going to make. Navi Pillay (UNHRC Head) is Tamil; can she make the right judgement?

  • Shashini Perera


    Posted on March 26, 2014by tamiltigeractivities

    Who did the LAND GRAB?

    LTTE divided state lands for their cadres! Anyone can live anywhere in the country. How can it be a land grab when the land does not belong to any ethnic community? Land belongs to the nation. It is separatists that ethnically cleansed Sinhalese and muslims and grabbed their lands! Who is grabbing land in the south? Buying houses and buildings off the other communitites and creating enclaves? Tamil community needs to integrate instead of living in pockets like the enclaves that has formed in Britain and other countries. Sinhalese don’t call it land grab when a Tamil buys land in the south? How come its land grab if someone buys land in other regions.

    Who did the GENOCIDE?
    Tamil separatists FUNDED by separatist diaspora funded the ethnic cleanisng of Muslims and Sinhalese to carve out a mono ethnic North. Any one with partial sight and hearing will know what the open LTTE policy was in the region. Who attacked Sinhala students with bicycle chains at the Jaffna University. While Tamil students study in EVERY university in the rest of the country. How many Sinhala students in Jaffna university. HOW is it that there are MORE Tamil residents in All rregions AFTER terrorism than BEFORE??? This is stold by Tamils living in those regions themselves. UN can look at an arial map and see the population expansion.

    Who destroyed BUDDIST sites? Tamil separatists have destroyed 128 historical buddhist sites in the northern region – and used those sites as their bases. Over 152 Hindu temples have sprung up newly all island. Any human being that has even partial vision will see how existing Hindu temples have prospered. Tamil separatists have destroyed 132 Buddhist sites in the eastern region. In mullaitivu a Buddhist temple (Lumbini) made into a Hindu Kovil. Government won’t publicise this – thinking the Buddhists will react against this mass wiping out of the buddhist historical sites from the regions occupied by Tamil separatists. This is a systematic cleansing of the Buddhis archeological sites. Japan Must help Sri Lanka.

  • rohini

    First it is LTTE and now International Tamil Diaspora. What is next? How was the Tamil diaspora created in the first place I wonder?. You have very much limited knowledge.

  • Jesudas

    LTTE is gone. Tamils have been conqured. Singalese won. Now pumping up
    your chest and dancing should end. Its been 5 years. Still takling about LTTE and justifying singalese occupation is not going to cut it. Anyone who writes here is trying to justify the atrocites on going by the militarty in the north and east by arguing LTTE is
    ruthless and they killed also. I agree but they are gone. What are you doing now?
    You are wrose than the LTTE. A state has to be for all citizens. It cannot be for the majority.
    About the guy talking about land grap. Which hole you are living??. Did the Govt. ever
    colonised singalese areas with Tamils? You think Singalese who are getting planted in Tamil areas are buying land from Tamils? Please don’t be so ignorant.
    I guarantee that if singalese were to buy land or house in Tamils areas
    just as Tamils do in singalese areas there will be no problem. That is how it has to be
    so minorioty and majority can live together. Not by Govt. forcefully evict Tamils in the name of high security zone and then plant snigalese families.
    Please don’t even say anything.
    When MR runs to UN when he felt nothing can be done against JR’s tyranny he was called champion of human rights. Now when nothing can be done against MR and his brother’s tyranny, if someone runs to UN, they are called LTTE supporters.
    Please have a heart for another human being.
    God bless SriLanka and get rid of these tyrants. (MR and his family)

  • Sinniah Sivagnanasun

    I need not to repeat JESUDAS has expressed all for the time being. Will anyone heed ????

  • Nallathamby Yoganathan

    USA actually helping the SIN-HELLa FUNDAMENTALIST racist Srilanka to get away with Genocide of Tamils and to allow Srilanka to carry out genocide of remaining Tamils, Muslims and Christians because the USA so called resolution -against Srilanka – DID NOT EVEN MENTION “TAMILS” despite the Srilanka carried out GENOCIDE of TAMILS and STILL continue to do so without remorse.
    USA and India actually working 24 hours in collaboration with the GENOCIDAL SRILANKA because the USA and INDIA were actually directly involved in the Genocide of Tamils.
    It is a sick world, Even after the Srilankan NAKED GENOCIDE of TAMILS, the so called international community still not doing anything substantial action against the GENOCIDAL SRILANKAN RACIST state like the IC taking immediate action against Russia vis a vis Crimea. Syria, etc.
    Only way to solve the Srilankan issue, by recognising the GENOCIDE of TAMILS by the racist Srilanka and allow UN to have referendum in EELAM -NORTH and EAST of Srilanka- like the UN did in East-TIMOR, Kosovo and South Sudan. Otherwise, the Srilank WILL KILL ALL TAMILS, MUSLIMS and CHRISTIANS as Srilanka teach the SINHALA PEOPLE from their birth as the WHOLE ISLAND BELONG TO ONLY SINHALESE and others are IMMIGRANTS despite the FACT that SINHALESE WERE THE ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS to ths island and the TAMILS ARE THE ORIGINAL INHABITANTS of the ENTIRE ISLAND.

  • Nallathamby Yoganathan

    NO Srilankan SIN-HELLa racist terrorism NO NEED of LTTE at all.

    Srilankan racist terrorism is the cause of all troubles in the island and the LTTE just a SYMPTOM only as the whole world witnessing the REALITY as the Srilanka still carrying out GENOCIDE of Tamils, resumed atrocities against Muslims and Christians too after the 2009 Genocide of Tamils.

    Srilanka unleashed Racist atrocities and ETHNIC CLEANSING of Minorities in 1948 as soon as the British left the island and did carry out massive killings of Tamils and Muslims not to mention rapes and destruction of their properties in 1948, 56, 58, 67, 77,83 and every day after 83 to date but the LTTE created by frustrated Tamils in 1978, that is 30 YEARS after the Srilankan SIN-HELLa racist Terrorism unleashed in 1948, to counter the Srilankan terrorism

  • Nallathamby Yoganathan

    Lets know the FACT.
    SINHALESE are the ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS to the island as thier MAHAVMSA itself claimed. Tamils are the original inhabitants and ARAB traders OFF SPRINGS – MUSLIMS – adopted Tamil as their language because TAMILS WERE THE RULERS and ORIGINAL INHABITANTS of the island as we in the west adopted English in the UK, German in Germany, French in France, etc, etc, British brought the UPCOUNTRY Tamils from Tamilnadu and they live in Middle of the Island

  • srivanamoth

    The racism business has no end in sight except a repetition of what the Council is trying to deal with in the light of serious governance failures accompanied by genocidal actions by the state. Until and unless the Council resolution is implemented and the ground facts become quite clear then recommended follow-up actions is what will determine the island’s future.

  • tharindu11

    – Tamil community enjoy a better life in Sri Lanka; disproportionately high in good jobs such as Doctors, Engineers. Whereas, in Mumbai Slums, Majority are Tamils
    – World saw “Shock & Awe” that killed millions in Iraq! That is real War Crimes! Did you see any such killings in Sri Lanka?

    – US Carper bombing killed millions in Vietnam and Cambodia! That is War Crime!
    – US justified Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombing and said that was to achieve peace! Did Sri Lanka said so or wiped out towns with civilians , dispute they also achieved peace?

  • tharindu11

    – World saw “Shock & Awe” that killed millions in Iraq! That is real War Crimes! Did you see any such killings in Sri Lanka?
    – US Carper bombing killed millions in Vietnam and Cambodia! That is War Crime!
    – US justified Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombing and said that was to achieve peace! Did Sri Lanka said so or wiped out towns with civilians , dispute they also achieved peace?
    Before crying about past, why not give a good life to Tamils living in extreme poverty in Mubai slums? They are giving a bad name to TN, Mumbai, and India

  • Nallathamby Yoganathan

    Yes, you are dead right about the USA, Srilanka must try to take action against the USA in the UN but don’t justify the Srilanka by blaming the USA.
    Srilanka did the genocide and still do Genocide of Tamils, Muslims and Chrsitians. As a so called Proud Buddhist country, Srilanka must show the world that they have nothing to hide by allowing the UN Independent International IMPARTIAL investigation rather than JUSTIFYING the SRILANKAN GENOCIDE by blaming the USA.

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