Ten Years After A War Without Witnesses

Ten Years After A War Without Witnesses: Global Tamil Forum Calls To Ensure Sri Lanka Firmly Remains On The UNHRC Agenda 

“The time is right to consider consequences – both bi-lateral and multi-lateral – if Sri Lanka continues to repudiate its commitments,” says the Global Tamil Forum.

Issuing a statement today the GTF said: “Ten years after the end of one of the most brutal wars of recent times, all victims and their families, irrespective of their background, need justice and closure. Any further delay and diversions will only perpetuate the injustice and long-suffering.”

We publish below the statement in full:

It is almost ten years since the war ended in Sri Lanka. The Tamil community suffered the most devastating impact of the war. Death, enforced disappearances and displacement was the norm, literally not a single family was left unaffected. The misery reached a crescendo during the final stages of the war. Despite Sri Lanka’s attempt to conduct the war without witnesses, evidence of brutality came to light in the form of videos, photographs and victim statements after the conclusion of the war. The systematic violence – sexual abuse and cold-blooded execution of war surrenderers, indiscriminate shelling of hospitals and safe zones, and denial of desperately needed humanitarian assistance – led to the deaths of tens of thousands during the final stages of the war, mostly Tamil civilians in the hands of the country’s security forces.

Though the UN system failed miserably in 2009 to protect civilians, subsequent initiatives taken by the leading UN officials to address this failure were notable and praiseworthy. The leadership shown by these UN officials with the support of a core group of countries led to the adoption of five UNHRC resolutions on Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka itself co-sponsored the last two, 30/1 (2015) and 34/1 (2017), committing to implement transitional justice measures, including those related to truth, justice, and reparations.

Despite Sri Lanka’s public pledge, its commitment and conviction to faithfully implement the resolutions have been lacking from the word go. Merits of the accountability process and the need to end impunity for the future wellbeing of all its communities hardly entered a national dialogue. A comprehensive plan to implement all aspects of the resolutions was never developed. Instead, it was always an ad hoc, politicized process with twin objectives – a façade of actions to keep the international community at bay, while no judicial enquiries that would indict military personnel or bound to result in political fallout. Justice for the victims and their families was never a serious concern.

It is in this context that all of Sri Lanka’s diversionary tactics and half-measures should be understood – a Consultation Task Force (CTF) whose well-considered recommendations were dismissed out of hand; operationalising Office of the Missing Persons (OMP) after years of delay but with a restricted mandate to be effective; the undue delay in repealing the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and replacing it with an Act that meets international standards; and now the plan to set up Office of Reparation, without synchronising it with the judicial process. Regarding the crucial aspect of criminal accountability, Sri Lankan leaders have been consistently stating that no international judges will be incorporated into the legal process – a key requirement of the resolution, and a core demand of the Tamil victims. Sri Lanka has made zero progress on this matter.

The recent call by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe for a process of truth-telling, regret and forgiveness – without the key promises of justice and accountability, and the statement by President Sirisena that discussions were going on regarding Sri Lanka withdrawing from UNHRC commitments, therefore, are astounding, sinister and dangerous. Whether these are tactics to avert judicial accountability or bargain positions to weaken international will or truly ill-considered steps to seclude Sri Lanka from the international processes – only time will tell.

Letting Sri Lanka off the hook at this critical juncture without formal UN scrutiny will invariably result in the abandonment of its accountability commitments. No doubt it will alienate the Tamil community by failing to address longstanding grievances related to impunity, thus effectively extinguishing the prospect of reconciliation. It will also abruptly end the processes designed to mitigate the past UN failures and convey a dangerous message that accountability commitments for international crimes are expendable.

As Sri Lanka continues to squander a unique opportunity to address its tragic past, the Global Tamil Forum (GTF) calls on the international community and the members of the UNHRC, to ensure that Sri Lanka firmly remains on the UNHRC agenda until all aspects of resolutions 30/1 and 34/1 are fully implemented without exceptions. The new resolution contemplated must be strengthened by a time-bound action plan and be subject to more rigorous monitoring by a special country rapporteur and/or by OHCHR presence in the country or by any other suitable mechanism.

The time is right to consider consequences – both bi-lateral and multi-lateral – if Sri Lanka continues to repudiate its commitments. These include the UN Member States exercising universal jurisdiction, particularly in the absence of the promised special court; adopting effective vetting procedures that would deny travel privileges to those credibly accused of international crimes; and targeted economic and military restrictions. The recent constitutional crisis and resolution offer a useful model as it amply illustrated the vulnerability of Sri Lanka to external economic pressures. Our request is that failure at UNHRC should trigger alternate UN processes involving multiples of UN organs to establish criminal accountability.

Ten years after the end of one of the most brutal wars of recent times, all victims and their families, irrespective of their background, need justice and closure. Any further delay and diversions will only perpetuate injustice and long-suffering.

https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/ten-years-after-a-war-without-witnesses-global-tamil-forum-calls-to-ensure-sri-lanka-firmly-remains-on-the-unhrc-agenda/comment-page-1/#comment-2255943


About editor 1605 Articles
Writer and Journalist living in Canada since 1987. Tamil activist

1 Comment

  1. “The recent call by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe for a process of truth-telling, regret and forgiveness – without the key promises of justice and accountability, and the statement by President Sirisena that discussions were going on regarding Sri Lanka withdrawing from UNHRC commitments, therefore, are astounding, sinister and dangerous.”

    Many thanks for the editor CT placing this subject for public scrutiny. More than Ranil, it is Sirisena who is talking like a Sinhala – Buddhist supremacist unmindful of the high office he holds. As stated there is photographic and video evidence to prove how hospitals, schools etc were bombed.  Ranil and Sirisena should tell the world what became of the following LTTE cadres, who surrendered with white flags on the 18th of May, 2009.  They surrendered with white flags on the assurance given by President Rajapaksa. Another batch of middle-rung LTTE cadres surrendered to the army at Vadduvaakal in the presence of their spouses/relations. They were taken for a short inquiry by the army in CTB buses. To date, there is complete silence on the part of the Sri Lankan army as to their fate. It is rumoured that they were killed by placing them inside cement grinders!

    Here is the list of 41 LTTE cadres slaughtered by the Sinhala army after they surrendered on that fateful day”

    (1) K.V. Balakumar and his son Sooriyatheepan

    (2) V. Ilankumaran (alias Baby Subramanian) Head of the Tamil Eelam Education Department. His wife Vettrichchelvi and daughter Arivumathy.

    (3) Yogaratnam Yogi in charge of ’Institute for Conflict Research’ in Vanni

    (4) Poet Puthuvai Ratnadurai, Coordinator of LTTE Arts and Cultural Department

    (5) K. Paappa, Coordinator of LTTE Sports Department

    (6) Rajah (Chempiyan) Assistant Coordinator LTTE Sports Department and his 3 children

    (7)  Ilanthirayan, LTTE Military spokesman

    (8) Veerathevan, Coordinator LTTE  Bank

    (9) S.Thangkan,  Political Wing Deputy Chief

    (10) Aruna, Thamil Eela Education Department

    (11) S. Naren, Asst. Executive Head of TRO

    (12) Kuddy, Head of the  LTTE Transport Department

    (12) Piriyan, Head of Administrative Service Department and his family

    (13) V. Poovannan, Head of the Administrative Service Division of the LTTE

    (14) Thangaiah, Administrative Service Department

    (15) Malaravan, Administrative Service Department

    (16) Pakirathan, Administrative Service Department

    (17) Reha, Head of LTTE Medical Division

    (18) Selvarajah, Commander Manal Aru Head Quarters

    (19) Bhaskaran, Commander Manal Aru Head Quarters

    (20) Major Lawrance

    (21) Major Kumaran

    (22) Prabha, Batticaloa District Commander

    (24) Rupan, Coordinator of  Supplies

    (25) Babu, Coordinator of  Jewellery Business

    (26) Ilamparithy, Executive Head of Political Wing

    (27) Elilan, Head of Trincomalee Political Wing

    (28) Vijitharan, Executive Secretary, Political Wing

    (29) Major Veeman

    (30) Sakthy, Coordinator Forestry Division and his family

    (31) E.Ravi,   Charge of Houses

    (32) Sanjai, Mulliyavalai Divisional Political Wing Coordinator

    (33) Para Ratha, Coordinator Justice Department

    (34) Kumaravel, Coordinator Air Force Security

    (35) Chithrankan Malathy, Commander Manal Aru District

    (36) Suhi, Commander

    (37) Arunan, Major Sea Tigers

    (38) Manoj – Medical Department

    (39) Lawrance, Finance Department

    (40) Lawrance Thilakar, Coordinator TRO Planning Department

    (41) Karikalan, former Commander, Eastern Province

    The above list is by no means complete.

    On May 31, 2009, Lankafirst.com website quoting Government Information Department sources, reported that some top Tiger leaders under the custody of the military were going through a series of serious investigation by the security forces.

    I fail to understand how former generals like Sarath Fonseka, Sharvendra Silva (58th Division)  Colonel Ralph Nugera,  Colonel Athula Kodippili are going to sleep these 10 years.
    Thanga

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