Le Conseil des Droits de l’Homme des Nations Unies réuni en session à Genève en septembre 2015 a adopté une résolution concernant la situation passée et présente de Sri Lanka sur la base du rapport détaillé fourni par le Haut Commissaire des Droits de l’Homme. Nos lecteurs peuvent prendre connaissance de ces deux textes dans leur version anglaise; une analyse détaillée en sera faite ultérieurement
On the 29th of July 2015, the Batticaloa Peace Committee and friends gathered together to remember all those who died in the senseless violence of 1990 and also those who still live with its consequences. We did this with a deep sense of sadness for the past, but also hope for the future.
It would be important for the Pope not to be carried away too much with election celebrations, which is predominantly Sinhalese feeling. I hope the Pope will be able to address key issues related Tamils and Muslims, which have not been addressed by the President Sirisena’s manifesto. This will include processes towards power sharing and addressing serious violations of human rights and humanitarian laws. President Sirisena’s past conduct and that of some of his allies, which have been very nationalist and pro-war, anti-minority, doesn’t give Tamils and Muslims much confidence and hope even in the new government. Clearly, it was their desperate need to get rid of Rajapakse family rule that led them to vote for Sirisena.
New Yorker take on the election: “If a Presidential candidate refers to himself as a devil, chances are he’s in trouble. Last week, campaigning ahead of this Thursday’s election, Mahinda Rajapaksa, the incumbent Sri Lankan President, tried hard to endear himself to an audience in the northern city of Jaffna. The crowd consisted almost entirely of Tamils, the island’s largest minority, a community that regards him with suspicion and anger. ‘There is a saying that the devil you know is better than the unknown angel,’ Rajapaksa said. ‘I am the known devil, so please vote for me.’ These two sentences encapsulated the swift and intriguing fall of the once-mighty President.”
After execution of mass atrocities and their failure to stop it, international actors have accepted their failure. Time has arrived for course correction, and Sri Lanka’s forthcoming presidential election will be the litmus test for it, and a challenge to international conscience. Will international actors bring perpetrators of mass atrocity crimes in Sri Lanka to international justice and prove “Never Again” to be more than just a slogan?
Mahinda Rajapaksa’s plans to return to power as Sri Lanka’s president for a third successive term has run into trouble. With less than a month to go before the vote, Rajapaksa is ahead of his rivals but joint opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena is closing in and could unseat him in a free and fair election.
This week, the UN Human Rights Committee will review Sri Lanka’s fifth periodic report on how it is implementing the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. This post offers a preview of the issues likely to be raised by the committee at its session in Geneva.
“Staff from the Centre for Policy Alternatives have been at the inquiry hearings and say there are serious problems. The organisation claims that military and intelligence officers have been intimidating witnesses by questioning and photographing them as they arrived to give evidence.”
The US has said that there has been no softening of its stand on Sri Lanka with regard to the human rights situation in that country, as being reported in a section of the media.
“On 4th August, I was at the Centre for Society & Religion (CSR), along with some other human rights defenders, lawyers, clergy and diplomats. CSR is located in the premises of a Catholic church in the heart of Colombo. We had gathered for a “listening and sharing” meeting with some families of Tamil disappeared persons. It was a small, invitation only, private gathering. Just when some families had started to share their pains and struggles, a mob including some Buddhist Monks broke into CSR and tried to enter the meeting room where we were having the meeting. Some of us from Colombo tried to stop the mob from getting inside the meeting room and pleaded with them to leave. I saw the families of disappeared – children – men – women, had left the chairs and were sitting on the ground, cowering in fear, with some crying and some clinging on to diplomats and Catholic sisters who were present. The Police rejected our appeals to provide protection to the meeting and families of disappeared persons and disperse the invaders.”
The families seemed to have come to terms with the fact that they were probably massacred on the beach, even though their bodies have not been found or even been excavated yet from where they are suspected to be. 24 long years have passed, and loved ones still come before a Commission, like they have in the past, to provide testimony. They want their stories recorded, for history, for posterity.
Sri Lanka is urging the U.S. to avoid letting human rights concerns dominate the relationship between the countries five years after the end of a civil war that killed as many as 40,000 civilians.
A new report named “An Unfinished War: Torture and Sexual Violence in Sri Lanka, 2009 – 2014″ published today details evidence of ongoing sexual violence and torture in Sri Lanka – some as recent as February 2014 – from international human rights lawyer Yasmin Sooka, the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales (BHRC) and The International Truth & Justice Project, Sri Lanka.
“Horrifying details of sexual and physical abuse, including forced oral sex, anal rape and water torture, have been documented in a new report on Sri Lanka’s treatment of Tamils after the end of the 2009 civil war, which includes testimony from returned asylum seekers and raises further questions about Australia’s deportation of Tamils.”
The full report with witness testimonies can be downloaded from here: http://www.stop-torture.com/
“He who tries to defend everything, defends nothing”– Sun Tzu (‘The Art of War’)
With the arrests of an outspoken middle aged Tamil woman activist with no history of violence, her detention in Boossa under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, the handover of her 13 year old daughter to the child protection authorities, the detention without acknowledgement of two human rights activists, Ruki Fernando and Fr Praveen reportedly also under the PTA, the Sri Lankan authorities just torpedoed Sri Lanka’s chances at the ongoing crucial 25th sessions of the UNHRC.
This latest round of arrests in Kilinochchi-Vavuniya is not just outrageous, but also decidedly irrational. Apart from the ethics, the optics are all wrong. Detention under the harsh PTA of Tamil and Christian activists simply makes the case that the regime is targeting minorities. This impression is reinforced by the invective against the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress. When it takes place under the Geneva UNHRC searchlight, the impression is one of arrogant regime impunity masquerading as the defence of sovereignty; an impunity that invites a retaliatory response by Sri Lanka’s powerful and unfair critics while embarrassing and alienating potential friends. Thus the behaviour of elements of the regime actually makes Sri Lanka less defensible internationally. It jeopardises national sovereignty while rendering the security forces less secure.
When the timing is all very wrong because that vote pertains to so poisonous a clause as ‘a comprehensive investigation’ by the OHCHR, one cannot but notice that this is not Mahinda Rajapaksa’s usual style. Who decides? Is the Minister of Defence, who is also the President, really making the decisions? Or in the ultimate irony, has there been a dangerous degree of devolution of power?
Read the article in full here.
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