Peace for the World

Peace for the World
First democratic leader of Justice the Godfather of the Sri Lankan Tamil Struggle: Honourable Samuel James Veluppillai Chelvanayakam

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

UN human rights expert says new footage shows proof of Sri Lanka war crimes


By Associated Press, Published: May 30 

GENEVA — A U.N. human rights expert says gruesome new footage from the final days of Sri Lanka’s civil war is authentic and proves war crimes took place there, challenging the government’s claim that videos showing the army executing captured rebels in May 2009 are faked.
The U.N.’s independent investigator on extrajudicial killings says the five-minute video obtained by Britain’s Channel 4 corroborates an earlier, shorter video showing blindfolded, naked men being shot dead at close range.
“What is reflected in the extended video are crimes of the highest order — definitive war crimes,” the U.N. investigator, South African law professor Christof Heyns, said in a report released Monday to the global body’s Human Rights Council.
Heyns said he reviewed the new footage showing the apparent execution of unarmed men and women with technical and forensic experts. “The overall conclusion reached by the experts is that the video is authentic and the events reflected in the video footage occurred as depicted,” he told the council
Sri Lanka’s government has maintained that the video is not real.
“We don’t accept it. We have proven beyond any doubt that this is not authentic,” said Lakshman Hulugalla, director general of the government’s Media Center for National Security.
He added, “If they say this is authentic, then they should get an authentication certificate from a reputed institution to prove that it’s not fake. So far, no has submitted such a certificate on this.”
Channel 4 said in a statement to The Associated Press that the footage will be aired as part of a one-hour program on June 14.
“As with all the material in this new long-form film, the extended video has been subjected to rigorous journalistic scrutiny and checks. Following this meticulous process, we are satisfied that all the material presented is genuine,” the station said.
Channel 4 declined to say how it obtained the video, citing the need to protect its source.
The new footage is expected to re-ignite debate in the Geneva-based body about a September 2009 resolution that effectively endorsed the Sri Lankan military’s crushing of the Tamil Tiger rebels after decades of civil war, despite claims of war crimes by human rights groups.
The U.N.’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, told the council Monday at the opening of its three-week meeting that it should “reflect on the new information” and reconsider the resolution.
Her comments were echoed by diplomats from Western countries, including the United States.
“This Council must consider the serious abuses that have been documented and brought to our attention by the panel,” said U.S. Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe. “Sri Lanka must quickly and credibly address allegations of violations of international human rights and humanitarian law during the conflict, no matter which side committed them,” she added.
But African and Islamic members of the 47-nation Human Rights Council moved to quell any attempt to reopen the debate on Sri Lanka’s conduct at the end of the war.
“The international community must support national efforts to win the peace in Sri Lanka,” said Pakistan’s ambassador, Zamir Akram, speaking on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, which has a powerful presence in the council.
Akram said a recent report by the office of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was “primarily based on second-hand information that was never verified.”
The U.N. report claimed Sri Lankan government forces deliberately targeted civilians and hospitals, and blocked food and medicine for hundreds of thousands of civilians trapped in the war zone. It also accuses the Tamil Tiger rebels of recruiting child soldiers, using civilians as human shields and killing those trying to flee from their grip.
Ban has said he would need a mandate from either the Sri Lankan government or the U.N.’s Human Rights Council, Security Council or General Assembly in order to initiate an international inquiry into allegations of war crimes by both sides.
The U.N. estimates that between 80,000 and 100,000 people may have been killed in the war, including at least 7,000 ethnic Tamil civilians killed in the last five months of the conflict.
Kshenuka Senewiratne, Sri Lanka’s ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva, warned council members against approving an international probe of the alleged abuses, saying the procedure used to do so could set a precedent.
“It may wrongly be us today and one of you tomorrow,” she said.

Tamil Canadians welcome Canada's decision

For Immediate Release
May 30, 2011 The Sri Lankan government has invited 54 countries to take part in its “Seminar on Defeating Terrorism: The Sri Lankan Experience,” taking place from May 31 to June 2, 2011. The seminar purports to share the knowledge of the Sri Lankan government and military on counter insurgency.
The government of Sri Lanka is looking to push its self-proclaimed counter-insurgency model at a time where a panel appointed by the UN Secretary General found the government of Sri Lanka responsible for causing most of the civilian casualties in the final phases of the war. After an eight month investigation, the UN Panel issued a report finding that there were credible allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by both the government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
The UN Panel made recommendations to address the duty to hold accountable those responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian or human rights law. The panel concluded that the Sri Lankan government’s notion of accountability is not in accordance with international standards, and recommended that both the government of Sri Lanka and the United Nations immediately undertake various measures to fulfill their duties.
“In the face of the UN panel report, the government of Sri Lanka has once again deflected any form of accountability,” said David Poopalapillai, national spokesperson for the Canadian Tamil Congress. “Instead of moving towards truth and reconciliation, the government of Sri Lanka has decided to whitewash possible war crimes and crimes against humanity by framing and selling it as counter-insurgency.”
“The Canadian Tamil Congress has been informed, and we welcome Canada’s decision to not send any representatives to this seminar. Canada, along with other democratic countries, including the United States, UK, Australia, France and Switzerland, have sent a clear message to the government of Sri Lanka that their actions call for an investigation, not an emulation.”
For further information please contact Canadian Tamil Congress at 416-240-0078

U.N. pressures Sri Lanka over alleged war atrocities

GENEVA | Tue May 31, 2011 8:32pm IST
(Reuters) - A U.N. envoy said on Tuesday the international community as well as Sri Lanka should further investigate horrific footage apparently showing summary executions of naked men and women during Sri Lanka's civil war. He stopped short of saying there could be an international war crimes case, but his comments raised pressure on Colombo to submit to an international inquiry into charges that war crimes were committed at the end of its 25-year war with guerrillas of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
Christof Heyns, the U.N.'s special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, told the Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday the video was, on the face of it, convincing evidence of "serious international crimes".
The footage provided by Britain's Channel 4 television appears to show soldiers carrying out summary executions and a total of 14 people on the ground, apparently dead or dying.
"The prima facie case should go to the next level of investigation on a domestic and an international level," Heyns told a news briefing on Tuesday.
"We should recognise the domestic process, but I think in parallel there should be an international investigation."
Heyns did not say what he meant by serious international crimes, which can be war crimes or crimes against humanity.
Sri Lankan authorities have rejected the video as falsified and accused the United Nations of bias and jumping to hasty conclusions.
They have acknowledged some non-combatants were killed, but say the numbers have been inflated by LTTE supporters.
The LTTE recruited women and girls as well as men.
Sri Lanka has also accused the international community of trying to pre-empt its own Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC).
In dialogue with the U.N. rapporteur, Mohan Pieris, Sri Lanka's attorney general, said the LLRC had also been studying the video.
He argued that the publication of the videos and "subsequent steps" were "tainted with the fundamental vice of bias and partiality".
Channel 4's hour-long investigation, "Sri Lanka's Killing Fields", will be shown in Geneva on Friday on the sidelines of the Human Rights Council and broadcast in Britain on June 14.
It includes the roughly five minutes of footage examined by U.N.-appointed experts, which was a longer version of a roughly minute-long video previously made available.
Sri Lanka and the pro-LTTE diaspora have engaged in a propaganda war since well before the conflict ended, with numerous groups offering what they say is realistic footage or photographs of atrocities. Many later proved to be doctored.
Barely a month after the civil war ended, Sri Lanka shocked Western governments by engineering the adoption of a U.N. Human Rights Council resolution that praised its victory over the Tamil Tigers, a group on more than 30 nations' terrorism lists.
That defeated a European-backed resolution condemning the civilian deaths at the war's end, pushed by nations angry that Sri Lanka refused pressure for a ceasefire in the final months.
The United States has warned that failure to investigate credibly allegations of war crimes and establish genuine reconciliation could lead to an international war crimes investigation.
Diplomats involved with Sri Lanka see that as unlikely, however, given the backing it has from China and Russia on the U.N. Security Council.
(Additional reporting by Bryson Hull in Colombo; editing by Mark Heinrich)

UN premiere for Sri Lanka war crimes film

Channel 4 is to screen Sri Lanka's Killing Fields, a special one-hour investigation which features devastating new video evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Sri Lankan government forces and the Tamil Tigers at the UN this Friday 3 June.
The film will be screened on the margins of the UN Human Rights Council session. It will air on Channel 4 on 14 June.
Featured in the film will be a video first aired by Channel 4 News which shows government troops executing Tamil prisoners - described today by the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heynes, as reflecting "definitive war crimes."
Presented by Channel 4 News journalist Jon Snow, the film features footage captured on mobile phones, both by Tamil civilians under attack and government soldiers as war trophies. It shows: the extra-judicial executions of prisoners; the aftermath of targeted shelling of civilian camps and dead female Tamil Tiger fighters who appear to have been raped or sexually assaulted, abused and murdered. Also examined in the film are some of the terrible crimes carried out by the Tamil Tigers, including the cynical use of Tamil civilians as human shields.
Channel 4's Head of News & Current Affairs Dorothy Byrne, who commissioned the programme, says: "The footage is probably the most horrific the channel has ever shown. The decision to show it at length was made only after serious and careful consideration. We believe this dossier of visual evidence combined with harrowing eye-witness testimony represents prima facie evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by forces of the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE. It is of the greatest possible public interest and as such we have a duty to journalistically scrutinise it."
The film, directed by Callum Macrae, provides powerful evidence - including photographic stills, official Sri Lankan army video footage and satellite imagery - which contradicts the Sri Lankan government's claims of a policy of ‘Zero Civilian Casualties'. The film raises serious questions about the failures of the international community to intervene and prevent the deaths of up to forty thousand people and lends new urgency to the UN-appointed panel of expert's call for an international inquiry to be mounted.
Macrae said: "The Sri Lankan government wanted a war without witness - deporting journalists and pressurising UN representatives to leave - but it didn't allow for the extraordinary power of mobile phone and satellite technology. We have trawled through hours of painfully raw recordings of the some of the most awful events I have ever seen in many years of war reporting. Sri Lanka's Killing Fields raises serious questions about the consequences if the UN fails to act - not only for Sri Lanka but for future violations of international law."
In a world exclusive, Channel Four News first revealed the existence of and broadcast the footage which is the subject of the report published yesterday by the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Christof Heynes.
The video was first broadcast on 2nd December 2010, edited versions were replayed on 4th and 5th December during President Rajapaksa's visit to London.
Channel 4 News' Head of Foreign News Ben De Pear said: "The authentication of the footage by the UN which, as Christof Heynes says, could be important evidence of war crimes is of major international significance. We would like to pay tribute to the bravery of those who risked everything to get the footage out to the world, and to the relatives and friends who identified the victims in the video."
  More News 

S.Lanka's 'terror' seminar under war crimes cloud
S.Lanka's 'terror' seminar under war crimes cloud AFP/Pool/File – Displaced Tamil civilians are seen in 2009 at a refugee camp, located on the outskirts of the northern … 
COLOMBO (AFP) – Sri Lanka pressed ahead Tuesday with an international seminar aimed at sharing its experience of defeating terrorism despite a boycott campaign and new claims that its troops committed war crimes.
The seminar entitled "Defeating Terrorism, Sri Lankan Experience" is co-sponsored by China, but rights groups have called for a boycott and major nations such as the United States and Japan have stayed away.
A massive military offensive crushed the country's Tamil Tiger separatists two years ago, bringing an end to ethnic violence for the first time in decades but also sparking allegations of war crimes.   Full Story »  
Sri Lanka: war crimes and accountability
 The report of an expert panel finds evidence of serious human-rights violations during Sri Lanka’s long civil war - but also that the political and legal environment conducive to investigating these is lacking. This situation presents all those who seek to develop a principled approach to post-war Sri Lanka with serious moral and political dilemmas, says Asanga Welikala.       Full Story>>>

Monday, May 30, 2011

Tamil police 'excluded' from Sri Lanka parade

Sri Lankan snipers participate in a victory day parade marking the second anniversary of the end of the civil war, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Friday, May 27, 2011 The military parade marked two years since the end of Sri Lanka's civil war
A Tamil policeman from northern Sri Lanka says he feels hurt that he and 25 Tamil colleagues were excluded
from a recent parade of security forces.
He said they were pulled out at the very last moment. He believes it was because of their ethnicity.
But a police spokesman said there was no discrimination and it was "wrong" to say anyone was withdrawn.
Meanwhile, a UN official says he thinks a controversial video, purportedly from the recent civil war, is authentic.
'Security problem'
After decades of ethnic tension and militant separatism, members of the Tamil minority, some 15% of the island's population, are under-represented in state institutions.
The security forces are overwhelmingly ethnic Sinhalese. Yet the police have recruited about 600 Tamils in northern Sri Lanka in the past year.
Of them, an elite 17 men and six women were selected to take part in last week's military display marking two years since the end of the war.
One of them told the BBC they were delighted to be chosen and trained, first in the north, then for 10 days in southern Sri Lanka and three days in Colombo.
But, he said, at the last moment a senior police officer asked them to withdraw, saying this was because President Mahinda Rajapaksa's security officer said that their presence in the parade posed "a security problem".
He said the senior police officer was very apologetic but he could do nothing in the face of the order from the presidential department.
The policeman said that after days of training in the hot sun, he and his colleagues felt a sense of "hurt and shame". He believed their exclusion was because of their Tamil ethnicity.
Asked to comment, the police spokesman, Prishantha Jayakody, said it was "completely wrong" to say that anyone was withdrawn.
He said there were established teams of what he called parade professionals; there was no ethnic discrimination in the police department, he said.
But the episode will fuel the sense among many Tamils that the state neither trusts them fully nor treats them equally.
Controversial video In a separate development, a senior UN official has said he believes controversial video footage, circulated on the internet and broadcast by the UK-based Channel 4 News, is authentic.
The video appears to show Sri Lankan soldiers killing captured and unarmed Tamil Tiger rebels at close range.
The UN's special rapporteur on summary executions, Christof Heyns, said the video had been tehnically and forensically reviewed. He described it as evidence of what he called "definitive war crimes".
But a senior Sri Lankan defence official, Lakshman Hulugalle, said it was "not real" and "not authentic".
"They should get an authentication certificate from a reputed institution to prove that it's not a fake," he told the Associated Press news agency.

Confronting the Tamil Genocide in Sri Lanka Monday May 30, 2011
If we don't speak up who will?
One of the many tragic images of the Tamil Genocide.
One of the many tragic images of the Tamil Genocide.

(SALEM, Ore.) - Genocide is unacceptable, too bad the western nations are so busy killing innocent people in Middle east false flag wars, I guess it leaves little time for problems in countries that are 'friends' of the U.S.
The friendly relations between the United States and Sri Lanka are a stain on the conscience of everything America stands for. It is consistent with the U.S. position toward Israel which equates to a free pass on stealing humanity. I once learned that this is not supposed to take place, that killing was wrong.
Obama and Rajapaksa
Some alliance are excusable and some are not. Knowing that Sri Lankan President Majinda Rajapaksa ordered his army to slaughter the Tamil people after trapping them in a small area in 2009, there is no doubt that what took place is highly illegal under international law and any moral code.
The Tamil people met their fate because they spoke out and defended themselves against a government that is mostly Buddhist that engineered human rights to cater to a particular faith. Tamil Hindus and Christians have paid the supreme price.
After the current president took office in 2005, one of his first moves was to disengage from the fragile peace process between Tamils and Sinhalese that had been in place.
Again, in a pattern highly similar to Israel's treatment of Palestinians, Sri Lanka routed and isolated its perceived enemies and then claimed after slaughtering them, that Tamil people has sacrificed civilians as 'human shields'.

UN envoy concludes Sri Lanka execution video authentic May 30, 12:34 pm ET
UN envoy concludes Sri Lanka execution video authentic AFP/Journalists For Democracy – This handout screen grab taken off video provided by Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka and shot …
GENEVA (AFP) – A UN envoy confirmed Monday that a video allegedly depicting Sri Lanka troops executing Tamil Tigers was authentic, and that the action were "definitive war crimes".
"What is reflected in the extended video are crimes of the highest order -- definitive war crimes," said Christof Heyns, UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.
"I believe that the prima facie case of serious international crimes has been made by the video that I've examined," he told the UN Human Rights Council.    Full Story>>>

UN probing Sri Lanka 'executions'


Video proves Sri Lanka war crimes: UN expert Patranobis, Hindustan Times
Geneva, May 30, 2011
War crimes were committed by the military during the final days of conflict in Sri Lanka, a UN expert has said after reviewing footage showing unarmed men being shot dead from close range. Agency reports from Geneva quoted UN human rights expert, Christof Heyns, as saying that the shocking footage showed "definitive war crimes."  More>>>

HR groups urge US to bash SL in Geneva
By Shamindra Ferdinando

Several international organisations at the behest of the LTTE rump want the US to rap Sri Lanka at the 17th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, in Geneva, beginning today (May 30). The sessions continue till June 17.

A senior security official told The Island that among the NGOs gunning for Sri Lanka at the Geneva meet are the Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and International Crisis Group. They turned down an invitation from the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation commission (LLRC) to make representations on behalf of those affected by the war.

The 11-member collective of outfits has written to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton requesting the US to take a strong position against Sri Lanka at the Geneva meet.

In a letter dated May 27, the group, while appreciating the continued US support for their cause, particularly a statement attributed to US Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Susan Rice pushing for independent investigation with regard to accountability issues in Sri Lanka.

Sources said that the group had gone to the extent of advising the US regarding the position it should take on Sri Lanka at the Geneva meet. Their recommendations were (a) welcome the Darusman Report (b) express the US Government’s concern about the credible allegations detailed in the report, including the seriousness and scale of the crimes described, (c) express concern at the report’s findings of the failure of the Sri Lankan government to investigate and prosecute those involved in these crimes (d) note the Panel’s findings that the LLRC is "not tailored to investigating allegations  of serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law," and has "not sought to investigate systematically and impartially the allegations of serious violations on both sides of the war;" and (e) call for the full implementation of the Panel’s recommendations, in particular the establishment of an independent international mechanism with a mandate to conduct investigations into alleged violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, including war crimes.

The anti-Sri Lankan grouping comprises Adotei Akwei (Managing Director, Government Relations, Amnesty International), Karin Ryan (Director, Human Rights Program, Carter Center),Don Kraus(Chief Executive Officer, Citizens for Global Solutions), Dokhi Fassihian (Executive Director, Democracy Coalition Project),John Bradshaw (Executive Director, Enough Project),Paula Schriefer (Director of Advocacy, Freedom House), Tom Malinowski, Washington Director (Human Rights Watch), Mark Schneider (Senior Vice President, International Crisis Group), Jerry Fowler (Senior Policy Analyst, Open Society Foundations),Hans Hogrefe (Chief Policy Officer/Washington Director, Physicians for Human Rights) and Aung Din, (Executive Director, U.S. Campaign for Burma).

Sources told The Island that Global Tamil Front, along with British Tamil Front had been involved in this latest project, though they had not written to the US Secretary of State Clinton.

Sources said that the UK-based Diaspora groups would hold a meeting in a EU country in June to drum up support for the controversial Darusman report.

They have expressed the opinion a US attack on Sri Lanka at the Geneva meet would boost the morale of Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon, the Sri Lankan government and the other UN member states supportive of the Darusman report.

UN urged to probe Lanka war crimes May, 2011
UN urged to probe Lanka war crimes
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillai
Ms Pillai says HRC should reconsider its 2009 May verdict on Sri Lanka in light of "efforts to combat impunity worldwide"
Senior UN officials and sections of the international community have called for an international body to investigate alleged rights violations during Sri Lanka's civil war.
Some other countries including China have opposed the call.
Speaking at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) annual session Navi Pillai, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said she supported special UN panel's recommendations.
The panel appointed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said it found "credible allegations" of a wide range of serious violations of international law committed by both the Sri Lanka security forces and Tamil Tigers in the final stages of the conflict.
"I fully support the recommendation to establish an international mechanism to monitor national investigations and undertake its own as necessary," Ms Pillai said.
"It would be important for the Human Rights Council to reflect on the new information contained in this important report, in light of its previous consideration of Sri Lanka and efforts to combat impunity worldwide." 
Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe (R) at a previous UNHRC session
Minister says there is no set international standards dealing with conflicts similar to Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka successfully resisted attempts by Western nations in 2009 May during a special session of the UNHRC in Geneva to investigate alleged war crimes.
UN Special Rapotteur on extra-judicial killings Christof Heyns also supported Ms Pillai's call.
New footage from the final days of the war proves that the war crimes indeed took place in Sri Lanka, he told the session.
He was referring to a five-minute video, obtained by a British television station (Channel 4), apparently shows Sri Lankan soldiers killing blindfolded and naked men and women at close range.
Sri Lankan officials have dismissed the footage as fake.
"Crimes of the highest order"
"What is reflected in the extended video are crimes of the highest order - definitive war crimes," Heyns, said.
Rappotteur Heyns said he reviewed the footage showing the apparent execution of unarmed men and women with technical and forensic experts. 
 What is reflected in the extended video are crimes of the highest order - definitive war crimes
Christof Heyns on Channel4 video
"The overall conclusion reached by the experts is that the video is authentic and the events reflected in the video footage occurred as depicted," he told the Council.
However, China, Cuba and Pakistan were among the countries that opposed any international intervention on Sri Lanka.
While China said that SL can handle their own matters, Cuba opposed a re-opening of Sri Lanka's case.
Meanwhile, Ireland joined EU, US, UK, and France backing the call for an investigation.
Sri Lanka's plantation minister, meanwhile, categorically rejected the calls for an international probe.
Expressing regret that Ms Pillai's statements "that contain pre-judgements" , Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe says the government has resorted to restorative justice through the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC).
"There is no one set of international panacea that can apply for such a complex set of domestic issues," Minister for Plantation Industries and Special Envoy for Human Rights in Sri Lanka said.
The Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) appointed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa “even before the UNSG's panel,” has started the domestic process, he added.

Church supports bid for Sri Lankan justice

The Catholic LeaderPublished: 29 May 2011
BRISBANE archdiocese's Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (CJPC) has helped launch a campaign to encourage the Australian Government to support United Nations recommendations on accountability for human rights viol-ations in the final stages of the bloody Sri Lanka conflict which ended two years ago.
Among the recommendations are that the Sri Lankan Government would issue a formal apology for human rights violations during the conflict and the provision of reparations to survivors.
The campaign, launched in collaboration with Pax Christi Queensland at St Oliver Plunkett Church, Cannon Hill, on May 19, follows publication of a report prepared for the UN Secretary-General by an advisory panel of three experts.
CJPC executive officer Peter Arndt said the report found there were "credible allegations of serious violations of human rights law and humanitarian law committed by both the Sri Lankan Government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE)".
"Allegations against the Government included that it shelled civilians in 'safe zones', that it shelled hospitals and humanitarian facilities and that it denied humanitarian assistance to victims of the conflict," he said.
"Allegations against the LTTE included that it killed civilians trying to flee LTTE-controlled areas, that it recruited child soldiers and that it recruited forced labour."
Mr Arndt said the campaign was intended to ensure the Australian Government supported UN recommendations based on the experts' report.
"The advisory panel recommended that the Sri Lankan Government conduct a thorough investigation of these allegations in line with international standards and that the United Nations establish international mechanisms to support these investigations," he said.
"The panel also recommended that the Sri Lankan Government adopt a number of short-term accountability measures which ensure respect and dignity for the victims and survivors of the conflict.
"It also recommended a number of long-term measures including a formal apology by the Sri Lankan Government for its human rights violations and the provision of reparations to survivors of the conflict."
The fundamental concern of the CJPC and Pax Christi Queensland campaign was the establishment of lasting peace and reconciliation in Sri Lanka, Mr Arndt said.
The campaign encourages people to sign a petition to the Senate and to contact their local MPs and senators calling on them to encourage the Australian Government to support the UN panel's recommendations.
Home Global Tamil Forum.flv

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Genocide recognition of Mu’l’livaaykkaal 2009 gains ground

[TamilNet, Monday, 30 May 2011, 00:03 GMT]
TamilNetGenocide recognition is a long and politicised process. While the international media has a pivotal role, historically it has failed to publicise genocides as they occur and has delayed in recognition afterwards. Governments on the other hand have been reluctant to recognise genocide as this would impose obligations on them under international law to act to 'prevent and to punish' and these obligations would consume resources and damage diplomatic relations with countries that may be their allies in military and security endeavours.

The Rwandan genocide is a case in point and historians such as Linda Melvern (author of “Conspiracy to Murder”) have documented the media failures. In the Rwandan case, Melvern cites that several British reporters were unable to get their story printed even after Oxfam had made a determination that genocide was occurring.

Alternatively, in Rwanda, the media failed to distinguish between civil war and massacres or portrayed the story as one of general lawlessness rather than a systematic attack on civilians of a particular ethnicity. There was little or no analysis of the race-based pattern and motivation until after the genocide. Thus the New York Times contemporaneously described the Rwandan genocide as a ‘spasm of lawlessness and terror’, failing to identify the systematic, organised, ethnically motivated nature – i.e. genocide – of the violence.

A number of academics, notably Michael Barnet, have extensively document UN decision-making paralysis in the case of Rwanda. Again a significant failure was to identify the context as being one of genocide rather than the ordinary course of civil war.

In the case of Sri Lanka’s attack on the Vanni in 2009 there is little excuse for the media or for politicians, because the Tamil Diaspora identified the ethnic nature of the violence very early on. But in an extended form of racism, no one listened precisely because those who spoke up were also Tamil.

For example former U.S Ambassador Lunstead admitted in the US Congress Foreign Relations Sub Committee Hearings in February 2009(@ 23.07min)that he was enundated with emails many of which warned him that the Sri Lankan government was committing genocide. But he dismissed this as a simplistic interpretation and the Foreign Relations Committee subsequently failed to investigate the warning.
Similarly, in the popular media, British Tamil rapper M.I.A was censored by CNN’s Tavis Smiley when she warned in January 2009 that a ‘systematic genocide’ was taking place (

M.I.As argument was not very different from that made by the ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo against President Al Bashir of Sudan when he said (of Al Bashir) ‘his alibi was counter-terrorism, his intent was genocide.’ But M.I.A , in contrast to Ocampo, has been attacked relentlessly for ‘not knowing what she was talking about’.

Sri Lanka’s Ambassador Palitha Kohona condescendingly remarked that M.I.A should ‘stick with music’. He came on the Tavis Smiley show to repeat Sri Lanka’s story that it was acting to ‘rescue’ the civilians. Kohona defended the Sri Lanka government’s ban on media from the so called ‘safe zones’ ‘because, he said, it is not safe’ for journalists. He said he did not think ‘Anybody who is familiar with the concept of genocide believes that genocide is going on.’

But things have changed. Kohona, an Australian citizen, is now himself accused of complicity in war crimes by the Australian press.

Wiki-leaked memos show that former British Foreign Secretary David Milliband told his colleagues that the Sri Lankan government were ‘liars’. They also show that the U.S government had in its posessions satellite imagery of the use of heavy weaponry against civilians in the so-called safe zone well before the end of the conflict. The U.S, while not publishing the satellite images, brought them up in private conversations with Sri Lankan officials.

Following the publication in April 2011 report of the UN Panel of Experts on the final months of the Sri Lanka, and the preceding International Crisis Group Report on War Crimes in Sri Lanka, media and political understanding of genocide is both growing and becoming increasingly transparent. The suppression of evidence is increasingly difficult.

Comparisons to other genocides – notably Srebrenica – have appeared in Britain’s Channel 4 news (quoting Gordon Weiss the former UN Spokesperson in Sri Lanka), The Australian and others.

Elected and aspiring British Members of Parliament have made clear statements recognising genocide. Jewish British Members of Parliament have publicly remarked on parallels with events that took place during the Holocaust.

This new understanding of genocide is also seen in May 2011 in the press. The headline by the Boston based GlobalPost ‘What if you discovered evidence of genocide and nobody cared?’ or by the 'Liberal, New Democrat Officials Commemorate May Genocide Remembrance.'

Can we indeed solve our own problems?

By Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

In a miraculous coincidence, just days after the joint statement by India and Sri Lanka following External Affairs Minister GL Peiris’ visit to New Delhi, Sri Lanka’s Attorney General was heard to announce benevolently that the Government of Sri Lanka was ‘mulling’ review of the Prevention of Terrorism Act and emergency regulations promulgated under the Public Security Ordinance.            read more..
By Our Political Editor
In the aftershocks of External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris' visit to India last week and the disastrous Joint Statement (disastrous to Sri Lanka), President Mahinda Rajapaksa was grappling with one of the main outcomes of that statement; devolution of power.   read more..   
'White Flag' Trial-at-Bar
By Manopriya Gunasekara
Former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka told the High Court Trial-at-Bar that it was ironical that he had to spend time in jail when Karuna Amman, a former military wing leader of the Tiger guerrillas, who was responsible for the killings of civilians, was enjoying privileges as a minister without facing any charges.  read more

Lasantha Murder Trial Takes Another Twist  

By Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema
Following a sensational twist in the case currently being heard at the Mount Lavinia Magistrate Court on the murder of Founder Editor of The Sunday Leader Lasantha Wickrematunge, Counsel for the aggrieved party, Attorney Shiral Lakthileka requested on Thursday (26) that the Magistrate holds a magisterial inquiry into the statement made by former army intelligence officer Kandegedera Piyawansa.     read more..  

Sunday 29 May 2011

By Christy Mahesh de Silva

  The government has been forced to take some concrete measures to address issues faced by  the North  East population, informed sources say. These include substantial devolution of power and holding the Northern Provincial Council elections as soon as possible. This follows Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh's demand that  Sri Lanka  provides a solid and long-lasting political solution to the North-East issue within the next six months.
If the government fails to do so India might not provide the expected assistance to meet consequences of  Ban Ki-moon's Panel of Experts’ report, informed diplomatic sources told LAKBIMAnEWS.
"The government has decided to provide all powers to the Provincial Councils except those concerned with police and land. The Indian leader and the government had to take such a firm stance on Colombo due to the coming parliamentary elections in India and the pressure mounted on New Delhi by the newly elected Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Jayalalitha Jayaram," said our sources.
The newly elected Tamil Nadu Chief Minister has called for taking Sri Lankan leaders before an international tribunal for alleged war crimes committed by the security forces during the last days of Eelam War IV.
Sri Lanka relies heavily on India for its campaign against growing international pressure for an independent international investigation into alleged war crimes allegations.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

InterAction Names Dr. Sathiyamoorthy Winner of the 2010 Humanitarian Award!
International Medical Health organization  
Tuesday, 24 May 2011 18:58
IMHO is thrilled to announce that Dr. T. Sathiyamoorthy, current Medical Superintendent at the Vavuniya General Hospital in Northern Sri Lanka, has been named the winner of the 2010 InterAction Humanitarian Award! Each year InterAction recognizes an individual who has demonstrated extraordinary leadership in support of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the people they serve in the developing world. As the international relief and development community’s national staff and national counterparts often must surmount significant obstacles in order to carry out their work effectively in their own home countries or regions, InterAction seeks to honor these individuals and their bravery and commitment to the most vulnerable populations in their own communities. The award is meant to recognize individuals whose work reflects important leadership qualities such as courage, initiative, creativity, grace under pressure, personal integrity, personal sacrifice, and who have made significant contributions in the developing world in any of the following areas: disaster relief, human development, refugee assistance, civil society, equitable economic development, health, environment, education, population, or public policy.    Full Story>>>

On Sri Lanka, Ban Passed Buck to GA, Whose Leader Passes It Back, Letter to US

Inner City Press
By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, May 27 -- When UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was urged by the UN Panel of Experts on Sri Lanka to establish an investigative mechanism, Ban claimed he couldn't do so without a vote by the General Assembly, Security Council or Human Rights Council.
On May 27, Inner City Press asked the President of the General Assembly Joseph Deiss about the Sri Lanka Report. “It's for the Secretary General to handle this case,” PGA Deiss said.
So Ban says it's up to the General Assembly, but the head of the General Assembly says it's up to Ban. This is called passing the buck.
   Meanwhile a slew of human rights groups have urged the US to raise the Sri Lanka report in the Human Rights Council in June, in a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice, Samantha Power, Robert Blake, Esther Brimmer, Eileen Donahoe, Harold Koh, Michael Posner, Stephen Rapp and others.
  Inner City Press has asked the US Mission to the UN for its response, but none was received four hours later by press time.
Ambassador Rice held a “background” call for select media on May 26; it is not reported what was discussed, other than a US speaker (not Rice) chided even the select media for not covering her trip to Sudan, but not Abyei, or any attempt at Darfur. Watch this site.

US urged to use UNHRC for Sri Lanka war-crimes accountability

[TamilNet, Saturday, 28 May 2011, 03:05 GMT]
Eleven prominent Rights Groups including Carter Center, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and International Crisis Group, in a letter to US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, urged the US to "take advantage of the opportunity of 17th session of the U.N. Human Rights Council to highlight the need for effective accountability in Sri Lanka for war crimes and other abuses committed by both sides." The communication pointed to conclusions of the war-crimes report by the UN panel of experts that "tens of thousands were killed in the final months of the war..." and called for "establishment of an independent international mechanism with a mandate to conduct investigations into alleged violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, including war crimes."
Full text of the letter to Secretary Hillary Clinton follows:
Full story >>

May 27, 2011

Secretary Hillary Clinton
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Clinton,

We write to urge you to take advantage of the opportunity of 17th session of the U.N.
Human Rights Council to highlight the need for effective accountability in Sri Lanka for
war crimes and other abuses committed by both sides during that country’s civil war that
concluded in May 2009. The United States Government should press for prompt action
by the international community to provide such accountability and end the ongoing
impunity in Sri Lanka for these abuses.
The Panel of Experts appointed by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to advise him
on issues of accountability in Sri Lanka found credible allegations of war crimes, crimes
against humanity and other violations of international humanitarian and human rights law
by both the Sri Lankan government forces and the opposition Liberation Tigers of Tamil
Eelam during the war in Sri Lanka.
The UN report concludes that tens of thousands were killed in the final months of the
war, documenting rape, summary execution, enforced disappearances, widespread
shelling, denial of food and medicine, and government attempts to intimidate and silence
media. The UN Panel recommended that the U.N. Secretary-General immediately
proceed to establish an independent international mechanism to conduct an investigation
into the alleged violations.
The Sri Lankan government has pointed to its Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation
Commission (LLRC) as the vehicle for accountability in Sri Lanka. But the LLRC is
neither independent nor impartial. It is composed of individuals with close ties to the
government, including former government officials who publicly defended the
government’s conduct during the war against allegations of war crimes. The LLRC is not
explicitly mandated to investigate violations of human rights and international
humanitarian law. In its proceedings to date, it has failed to pursue these allegations with
any vigor.
The U.N. Panel examined the workings of the LLRC and concluded in its report as
follows: “In sum, the LLRC is deeply flawed, does not meet international standards for
an effective accountability mechanism and, therefore, does not and cannot satisfy the
joint commitment of the President of Sri Lanka and the Secretary-General to an
accountability process.”
We appreciate the support the U.S. Government has repeatedly expressed for the Panel,
including Ambassador Rice’s April 25 statement commending the Panel’s report. We
respectfully request that the U.S. Government reiterate its support for the Panel at the
opening session of the U.N. Human Rights Council on May 30 by making a strong
statement which would:
a) welcome the Panel’s report;
b) express the U.S. Government’s concern about the credible allegations detailed in
the report, including the seriousness and scale of the crimes described;
c) express concern at the report’s findings of the failure of the Sri Lankan
government to investigate and prosecute these crimes;
d) note the Panel’s findings that the LLRC is “not tailored to investigating allegations
of serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law,” and has “not
sought to investigate systematically and impartially the allegations of serious violations
on both sides of the war;” and
e) call for the full implementation of the Panel’s recommendations, in particular the
establishment of an independent international mechanism with a mandate to conduct
investigations into alleged violations of international humanitarian and human rights law,
including war crimes.
Such a statement by the U.S. Government would send a powerful signal to Secretary-
General Ban Ki-moon, the Sri Lankan government and the other U.N. member states of
U.S. support for effective accountability in Sri Lanka. With the support of the U.S. and
other members of the international community, the victims and their families in Sri Lanka
may finally receive the truth and justice they have long been denied.
Thank you for your consideration. We look forward to hearing from you in response to
this matter.
Adotei Akwei, Managing Director, Government Relations, Amnesty International
Karin Ryan, Director, Human Rights Program, Carter Center
Don Kraus, Chief Executive Officer, Citizens for Global Solutions
Dokhi Fassihian, Executive Director, Democracy Coalition Project
John Bradshaw, Executive Director, Enough Project
Paula Schriefer, Director of Advocacy, Freedom House
Tom Malinowski, Washington Director, Human Rights Watch
Mark Schneider, Senior Vice President, International Crisis Group
Jerry Fowler, Senior Policy Analyst, Open Society Foundations
Hans Hogrefe, Chief Policy Officer/Washington Director, Physicians for Human Rights
Aung Din, Executive Director, U.S. Campaign for Burma
Robert O. Blake, Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs
Dr. Esther Brimmer, Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs
Ambassador Eileen Donahoe, U.S. Representative to the United Nations Human Rights
Harold Koh, Legal Advisor, U.S. Department of State
Michael Posner, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor
Samantha Power, Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights, National
Security Council
Ambassador Stephen Rapp, Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues, U.S.
Department of State
Ambassador Susan Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations

Friday, May 27, 2011

Channel 4 News awarded by Amnesty for third year running

 Wednesday 25 May 2011
Channel 4 News won the TV News category at last night s Amnesty Media Awards for their coverage of the brutal end of Sri Lanka's civil war.
Channel 4 News awarded by Amnesty for third year running
It was the third successive year that Channel 4 News has won the Amnesty award, and the second year that the programme's reporting on Sri Lanka has scooped the top prize.
The Channel 4 News entry comprised reports from last year that showed further film purporting to show the execution of Tamil soldiers - and forensic investigation that led to some of the victims being identified.
Some of the reports were aired as President Rajapaksa visited the UK late last year - and were though to be behind his visit being cut short. The films have been cited in a recent investigation by the UN and will feature as part of a Channel 4 documentary later this month.
Commenting on the award, Jim Gray Editor of Channel 4 News said: "Huge congratulations to Ben De Pear and his team for cracking journalism and sheer dogged persistence on this story.
"Our achievements on Sri Lanka are genuinely important and, as ever, it was the result of a great team effort, so thank you to Jonathan Miller, Nevine Mabro, Sarah Corp and Girish Juneja - the editors that worked on very difficult footage - and of course those who must remain unnamed."
The judges comments were:
"The piece was streets ahead and it should not preclude it winning because it's the second year in a row. It should be rewarded for depth, effort and staying with the story.

"Keeping a story going is more challenging than finding new ones, in many ways.

"I was impressed by the commitment from the team, and the impact of their work is still to come: it could result in a UN inquiry. There is a chance of real tangible impact.

"Disturbing, deep, important."       Full Story>>>     

A review of ‘The Cage: The Fight for Sri Lankan & The Last Days of the Tamil Tigers’*groundviews journalism For citizens

I was elated to take delivery of my copy of The Cage by Gordon Weiss yesterday. Having pre-ordered it off Amazon UK, I fully expected it to be held up by Customs officials in Sri Lanka, given the incendiary issues the book is anchored to and its author, an erstwhile employee of the United Nations (UN) in Sri Lanka. As a friend quipped, they probably thought it had something to do with the Dehiwela Zoo. This may be true for now, but it is highly unlikely, in a country that has repeatedly even blocked issues of The Economist with articles perceived to be against the incumbent government, that this tome will be freely sold in bookstores.
 Continue reading »

Sri Lanka and the International Community – Indian Role is Crucial


Guest Column: By Sivanendran.
(The views expressed are his own)
"To employ the coercive apparatus of the state in order to maintain manifestly unjust institutions is itself a form of illegitimate force that men in due course have a right to resist." – John Rawls
What is particularly horrifying about ethnic wars is that people are brutalised and killed not because of anything they have done, not even because of their politics, but simply because who they are. That is what it is so terrible about the persecution of the Tutsis in Rwanda, the Tamils in Sri Lanka, the Kurds in Iraq, the Muslims in Bosnia and the Albanians in Kosovo. Ethnic wars are quite different; they are about malevolence – not quite like other wars conducted according to moral or legal rules. ‘Ethnic cleansing’ like ‘final solution ‘is surely one of the most sinister phrases to enter the political vocabulary of the twentieth century.

      Full Story>>>

Sri Lanka PM will protect military on UN rights action

CBC news   The Associated Press Posted: May 27, 2011 1:45 AM ET
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa says his armed forces followed international human rights law during their fight with separatist Tamil Tiger rebels. (Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters )
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa says his armed forces followed international human rights law during their fight with separatist Tamil Tiger rebels.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

More on Sri Lanka on: 24 May 2011 by Daniel Kitts
I had a bit of extra content left over from the program I produced called "Sri Lanka: Finding A Middle Ground." So I thought it made sense to include it in a follow-up blog post.

Full Story>>>