As the United Nations – Universal Periodic Review (UPR) – begins it’s review of Sri Lanka’s human rights record, Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE) submitted a memo highlighting continued persecution of Tamils and urge the UN Human Rights Council to deploy UN Human Rights Monitors in Tamil areas to ensure Tamil’s safety and to refer Sri Lanka to UN General Assembly, recommending UN Security Council to refer Sri Lanka to International Criminal Court (ICC).
Main points in the Memo are:
1) Justice for victims of War Crimes, Crimes Against Humanity and Genocide is Denied.
2) Rape Camps run by Sri Lankan Security Forces, where Tamil women are held as Sex Slaves.
3) Plight of the “Disappeared”.
4) Tamil Prisoners of War (POW).
5) Military occupation of Tamil Lands.
6) Very large Military presence in Tamil areas.
7) Tamil’s safety in danger.
8) Restrictions on Freedom of Expression (6th Amendment restrictions).
BELOW, PLEASE FIND THE MEMO:
1) JUSTICE FOR VICTIMS OF WAR CRIMES, CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY AND GENOCIDE IS DENIED:
Getting Justice for victims of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide received a setback due to Sri Lankan Government’s unwillingness to prosecute civilian and security forces for have committed mass killings of Tamils and rape. According to UN Internal Review Report on Sri Lankan up to 70 thousand Tamils were killed in six monthsin 2009 and scores of Tamil women were sexually assaulted and raped by Sri Lankan Security forces.
UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) got involved to bring justice to these abuses and Resolution (30/1) was cosponsored by Sri Lanka in the September 2015 Session of the UNHRC and Sri Lanka committed to bring perpetrators to face justice by March 2017, in a hybrid court consisting of foreign judges, prosecutors and investigators.
But Sri Lanka reneged in its commitment and came to UNHRC in March 2017 to seek extension of two years, which was granted. But the Sri Lankan President and Prime Minister have already rejected one of the main conditions of the UNHRC Resolution of establishing a Hybrid Court with foreign judges, prosecutors and investigators.
The current President, who as Acting Defense Minister during the war had command responsibility and a possible suspect for committing war crimes, crimes against humanity.
Due to Sri Lankan Government unwillingness to bring perpetrators to face justice, Tamil victim’s quest for justice is denied.
Tamils now appeal UN Human Rights Council to refer Sri Lanka to the UN General Assembly, along with a recommendation to the UN Security Council that Sri Lanka be referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC) or that an ad-hoc International Criminal Tribunal be created on Sri Lanka, similar to the procedure followed to assure accountability for North Korea’s Crimes Against Humanity.
2) RAPE CAMPS RUN BY SRI LANKAN SECURITY FORCES, WHERE TAMIL WOMEN ARE HELD AS SEX SLAVES:
A recent report by the International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP) (http://www.itjpsl.com/reports/submission-to-cedaw ) published details of Sri Lankan Military run “Rape Camps”, where Tamil women are being held as sex slaves.
The report states the following:
“A senior officer came into the room and was asked to take his pick, like we were meat in a meat market. He looked around and chose me. He took me to another room and raped me”
“Two of the women describe being detained in a group in one room, available for any soldier to come and choosefrom and take to an adjacent room or tent to be raped,”
48 of the victims had been detained under the Government of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and seven of them under the new Government of President Maithripala Sirisena.
ITJP has also provided details of six military men including a major and a lieutenant colonel who are alleged perpetrators of rape and torture in the military.
3) PLIGHT OF THE DISAPPREARED:
The plight of thousands of Tamils who were subjected to enforced disappearance, including several who surrendered to the Sri Lankan Security forces, remain unknown for several years.
The Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wikramasinghe made a statement that thousands of Tamils who surrendered to the Sri Lankan Security forces are no longer alive. The Sri Lankan Prime Minister made this statement on January 15, 2016 in Jaffna, when he spoke at a celebration of Thai Pongal, a Hindu festival. Despite repeated requests by family members of the “disappeared” the Prime Minister refuges to give details about how these “disappeared” were killed and where their remains are.
The relatives have a right to know what had happened to the victims, the relatives are also victims. The denial of the right to know is a violation of article 7, 9, and 10(1) of the convenant. E.Quinteros and M.C. Almeida de Quintero v Uruguay Doc A/38/40
4) TAMIL PRISONERS OF WAR (POW):
Hundreds of Tamil Prisoners of War (POW) are imprisoned, some for over fifteen years.
They are held primarily under Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), which Sri Lankan Government promised to repeal to UN Human Rights Council, but still using PTA to arbitrarily arrest Tamils and detaining.
The current Government gave several assurances that these prisoners will be released. But years have passed without any results.
5) MILITARY OCCUPATION OF TAMIL LANDS:
Large number of private lands belonging to Tamil civilians are forcibly occupied by the Sri Lankan Security forces. Using them to commercial projects like farming, luxury hotels, shops, fishing etc., depriving Tamil’s livelihood.
The above is a deprivation of property without due process. Taking lands belonging to the Tamils on account of their nationality also constitutes a violation of article 2 of the covenant.
3) VERY LARGE MILITARY PRESENCE IN TAMIL AREAS:
According to several independent sources, Tamil areas have a ratio of one soldier for every five civilians, the highest number of soldiers to civilian ratio in the world.
In one Tamil District in the North, the ratio is one Sri Lankan soldier to every two Tamils civilians (Source: Report by think-tank Adayaalam Center for Policy Research).
Eight years have passed since the war came to an end but not a single soldier was brought to justice and the Government is trying to shield the soldiers even from the UN mandated inquiry.
Sri Lankan President and Prime Minister have already rejected one of the main conditions of the UNHRC Resolution of establishing a Hybrid Court with foreign judges, prosecutors and investigators.
The current President, who as Acting Defense Minister during the war had command responsibility and a possible suspect for committing war crimes, crimes against humanity
According to the UN, Sri Lankan security forces have committed mass killings and large scale rape of Tamil women. The same security forces that committed these abuses are still stationed in very large numbers in Tamil areas; among the same women they committed sexual violence. Tamil women have to undergo fear and humiliation to live among the soldiers and to see them walking free and enjoying full protection and support of the Government.
The suffering of 90,000 Tamil war widows is continuing, having to live with pain of losing their husbands and to take care of the children with great difficulty and facing threats, intimidation and abuse from the same soldiers who killed their husbands.
4) TAMIL’S SAFETY IN DANGER:
Since UN Human Rights Council’s decision to give extension of time to Sri Lanka for the Resolution 30/1, Tamil’s fear for their safety since it embolden and encourage Sri Lankan security forces to commit human rights abuses against Tamils without any fear.
Tens of thousands Sri Lankan Security forces who committed mass killings and sexual violence are still stationed in Tamil areas and live among the victims.
There are numerous reports of current abuses against Tamils, including a recent report by UN Special Reporter on torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment Mr. Juan Mendez.
A recent report by Associated Press (AP), highlight the abuses faced by Tamils in a story titled: “Dozens of Men Say Sri Lankan forces raped and tortured them.”
To Ensure Tamil’s safety UN is urged to deploy UN Human Rights Monitors in Tamil areas.
Here is the link to Associated Press (AP)Report: https://apnews.com/ced017bd441f46ba838aaedf6ff5dbe2
8) RESTRICTIONS ON FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION:
The 6th Amendment to Sri Lanka’s Constitution, criminalizes freedom of speech and conscience, guaranteed in Articles 18 and 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
This Amendment prohibits peaceful exercise of Tamil’s right to self-determination in the form of an independent state in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolution 2625 (1970) which is considered as customary law. It denies Tamil’s right to articulate their political aspirations freely and peacefully resulting in Tamils democratic rights curtailed.
Cases in point:
1) The European Court of Human Rights in the cases of Okçuoğlu v. Turkey, and Arslan v. Turkey 8 July 1999 held that convictions for disseminating separatist propaganda violated the guarantee of freedom of expression in the European Convention of Human Rights.
2) In the case of Erdoğdu and Incev.Turkey also July 8, 1999, the Court held that convictions for disseminating propaganda against the indivisibility of the state violated the guarantee of freedom of expression in the Convention.
3) The Court, in the case of Association Ekin v. France held on July 17, 2001 that the banning of a book advocating Basque separatism violated the guarantee of freedom of expression in the Convention.
4) In the case of IsakTepe v. Turkey the Court on October 21, 2008 held that a charge without a conviction for disseminating separatist propaganda violated the guarantee of freedom of expression in the Convention.
1) UN Human Rights Council urged to refer Sri Lanka to the UN General Assembly, along with a recommendation to the UN Security Council that Sri Lanka be referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC) or that an ad-hoc International Criminal Tribunal be created on Sri Lanka, similar to the procedure followed to assure accountability for North Korea’s Crimes Against Humanity.
2) Repeal Constitution’s Sixth Amendment, so that Tamil’s freedom of expression is restored and Tamils can express their political choice through a Referendum.
3) Close the Rape Camps run by Sri Lankan Security Forces, where Tamil women are held as sex slaves, and charge those military officers in International Criminal Court (ICC).
4) Repeal Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and release Tamil Prisoners of War (POW).
5) Return the Tamil Lands to Tamils.
6) Sri Lankan Prime Minister should give the details of how the disappeared were killed and the whereabouts of their remains.
7) Ensure Tamil’s safety by deploying UN Human Rights Monitors in Tamil areas.