UK Tamil protest for independent international investigation

Photograph Tamilnet Gathering outside the the US embassy in London on Friday, Tamils called for an independent international investigation into the allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity, as the first concrete step towards accounting for the genocide that took place. See here for full report on Tamilnet.

Britain calls for support at UN Human Rights Council

Following the screening of Channel 4’s latest documentary, the British Foreign Office has called on the UN Human Rights Council to pass a proposed resolution on Sri Lanka. Commenting on the documentary, Minister for South Asia Alistair Burt said, "Once again, Channel 4 has brought to international attention important and disturbing evidence to support allegations of grave abuses in Sri Lanka." “Since the end of the conflict, the international community has called for an independent, credible and thorough investigation into alleged war crimes on both sides of the conflict. Channel 4’s...

England cricket captain says decision to tour Sri Lanka lies with the government

Speaking as the English cricket team began their tour of Sri Lanka, England’s cricket captain Andrew Strauss stated that it was up to the British government to decide whether or not to tour the island. As Sri Lanka comes under increasing pressure regarding allegations of war crimes and the airing of Channel 4's documentary on British television on Wednesday night, Strauss was questioned on whether the English team was comfortable playing cricket against Sri Lanka. He commented , "It's a bit of a tricky one. All round us, we see atrocities taking place all over the world and in war a lot of unsavoury things happen on both sides. I personally think the political issues are best dealt with by the politicians and administrators." " But that doesn't mean we should stick our heads in the sand. If the government feel there is cases to answer to a great enough extent that the England team shouldn't be touring somewhere then that is a call they need to make. Until that is the case, it would be wrong for us to focus on anything other than the cricket." "You must be careful that if you are investigating anything, you investigate it very thoroughly because otherwise there's nothing worse than a little bit of knowledge. When asked by the BBC if Strauss or any other members of them team had wanted to find out more on Sri Lanka’s human rights violations, he responded , “ I think it’s something that you keep an eye out for when you see it in the news... But ultimately there are people that are paid to look into these things, and they’re mainly in the government. They need to do their job and we need to do ours. ” See our earlier posts: ‘Should England’s cricket team tour Sri Lanka?’ (10 March 2012)

Australian Greens push for SL High Commissioner to be recalled

Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon has called upon the Australian Government to send back Sri Lanka's High Commissioner to Australia Admiral TSG Samarasinghe, until an independent international investigation into war crimes on the island has commenced. In a statement released by the Australian Greens, Senator Lee Rhiannon said, "It is not enough for Sri Lanka's High Commissioner to Australia Admiral TSG Samarasinghe to claim Sri Lanka is conducting its own investigation into the later stage of the civil war.” "It is becoming more widely recognised that claims claim that Sri Lanka makes about...

HRW baffled by Sri Lanka's 'strident opposition'

A spokeperson for the international human rights organisation, Human Rights Watch, expressed confusion and disbelief at the Sri Lankan government's indignant opposition to the resolution tabled at the 19th session of the UN Human Rights Council. "The Rajapaksa government's strident opposition to this is hard to understand ," "These are the expectations from any responsible government that must examine allegations of violations against its own people ," Drawing attention to the government's default position that anyone calling for accounability is "somehow linked to the LTTE", the spokesperson...

Sri Lanka's High Commissioner to India summoned to apologise

Sri Lanka's High Commissioner, Kariyawasam, to India apologised on Friday after suggesting that any Tamil Nadu MPs who spoke of accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity had been lobbied by the LTTE and should be investigated by Indian authorities. After being summoned for a meeting by India's ministry of external affairs with the ministry's joint secretary, Harsh Vardhan Shringla, Kariyawasam said, “I would like to apologise to MPs of Tamil Nadu if I have caused any discontent or concern or distress in their minds. I feel sorry about that,” “I am very sorry about that. That’s...

Militarisation and colonisation is to negate call for Tamil self-governance - ICG

In reports published Friday, the International Crisis Group detailed and condemned the "deepening militarisation" and "Sinhalisation" in the Tamil area of the Northen Province, that the report concludes are part of a strategy to ""change the facts of the ground", as has already happened in the east, and make it impossible to claim the north as a Tamil-majority area deserving of self-governance." See here for Sri Lanka’s North I: The Denial of Minority Rights. See here for Sri Lanka’s North II: Rebuilding under the Military. Extracts reproduced below: "Major new military bases require the...

TNA condemns 'broken promises', urges UNHRC action

In a statement released Wednesday, the TNA condemned the Sri Lankan government's catalogue of broken promises of political settlement and human rights, urging the member states of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to act. See here for full statement. Extracts reproduced in full below: "The Sri Lankan government has persistently claimed that, if provided time and space, it will evolve homegrown processes that will address the need for a political solution, improvement in human rights and accountability. This claim must be evaluated against the chronic unwillingness of the government to honour its own commitments to the people of Sri Lanka and the international community . Some of these commitments have been repeated for many years, with no progress made on the ground ." " Moreover, the trajectory of the government’s conduct indicates that, if given time and space, that time and space will be utilized to pursue the agenda that the government has brazenly undertaken despite assurances to the contrary. That agenda entails the silencing of the democratic voice of the Tamil people, the entrenching of power at the centre and the transformation of the linguistic, cultural and religious composition of the North and East so as to negate the need for a political solution."

A ‘diplomatic dance’ during the slaughter

The former UN Humanitarian Affairs Coordinator has stated that during the final weeks of the war in Sri Lanka, the international community was waiting for the inevitable defeat of the LTTE and hoped it “happened as quickly as possible”. Ahead of the broadcast of Channel 4’s documentary “War Crimes Unpunished” on Wednesday evening, director Callum Macrae spoke to the then UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Co-ordinator, Sir John Holmes, who visited the island at least twice during the final few weeks of the war. Macrae, described Holmes as “remarkably...

US warns of renewed conflict risk if accountability not addressed

The US Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia has stated that without accountability in Sri Lanka, new violence could arise on the island. Speaking in Washington, Robert Blake stated that both reconciliation and accountability were in Sri Lanka’s best interests so that, "they really can achieve peace and security and not sow anger in their own community that could give rise to new violence." He then went on to say, “Experience in many civil conflicts around the world has shown that countries that don't take adequate measures to address reconciliation and accountability frequently...

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