Archive for February, 2008

Present Tamil Plight Mainly Due to Ultra-Nationalism of SJV

by S. Rasalingam

As an aging Tamil who has observed Tamil-Sinhala politics since the 1940s, I cringe to see the continued repetition of simplified and historically incorrect hurling of accusation, even by people who recognize the need for building bridges between communities. People of younger generation do not know that politicians like D. S. Senanayake (DS) tried to create a “Ceylonese” nation.

Much false propaganda has been generated and good men like DS have been besmirched. People like Ponnambalam Ramanathan, in collusion with Governor Maitland introduced the principle of “communal representation” in the legislative process. Some Sinhala leaders rejected this (“Ramanathan’s deception”), and then came the Donoughmore commission which proposed Universal Franchise.

Surely, it was a defining moment when the Colombo Tamil leaders decided that their dominant position would be threatened, unless they separated themselves from the Sinhalese, and call for a separate identity. G. G. Ponnambalam (GGP) in the State Council in 1934 declared that he was “a proud Dravidian” and rejected the “Ceylonese” concept of a polity of a single people. Natesan and others followed suit, as a reading of the political history of the times will reveal. Ponnambalam lent his voice to a movement which began to attack Sinhala Buddhists, and the Mahavamsa, their famed historical chronicle. Should I remind here that the first Sinhala-Tamil Riot occurred in 1939, in Navalapitiya, and spread to Passara, Maskeliya and to many other towns, when the Colonial government stepped in and stamped it out?

The riot was sparked by the inflammatory racist speech of GGP in Navalapitiya, attacking the Sinhala Buddhists and the Mahavamsa (see The Hindu Organ, June 1, 1939 and other newspapers of the time). It was then that S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike (SWRD) saw an opportunity, and went to every one of the cities touched by the riots, and established branches of the Sinhala Maha Sabha (see The Hindu Organ, June 19, 1939). It was in this extremely heated atmosphere that GGP developed his fifty-fifty solution as a means of safeguarding the dominant position of the Tamils. Far from bridging the gap between the communities, every action of GGP was designed to drive this “difference” between the Tamils-descendants of the Dravidians, and the Sinhalese, a “hybrid mongrel race split of from the aboriginal Tamils and mixed with Aryan invaders” (as stated by GGP in Navalapitiya in 1939).

The racism of the GGP et al was matched by the SWRD group. It would seem that SWRD the feudal aristocrat, and GGP the caste-conscious Catholic lawyer, were both power-hungry manipulators of the people for further their own interests. The elder statesmen of the times, i.e., Baron Jayatilleke, D. S. Senanayake (DS), Mahadeva etc. charted a reasonably non-communalist line.

DS in particular realized that public confrontations would be a grave obstacles to independence and bridge-building between the communities. When the Soulbury commission arrived, Senanayake managed to get the “Young Turks” like SWRD and others not to appear before Soulbury, and imposed a formal boycott while making room for informal contacts. GGP however appeared before the Soulbury commission and whenever possible for three months, claiming that the Tamils were being discriminated against in jobs, education, health, colonization settlements, etc. He even objected to the declaration of Anuradhapura as an archaeological conservation area as an act of discrimination. The Soulbury Commissioners rejected virtually all of GGP’s claims as being without foundation. It rejected the 50-50 demand, i.e., equal number of seats to the 12% Tamils and 75% Sinhalese as an attempt to subvert democracy.

The Sinhala leaders refrained from public confrontation with GGP during the Soulbury period, and this led to a sense of healing between the communities. The state council approved the Soulbury proposals overwhelmingly. GGP leading the Tamil Congress(TC), as well as SWRD and other Sinhala nationalists joined the DS cabinet which believed in the “ceylonese” concept (see Senanayake’s Acceptance Speech in the Hansard 1947).

[a Federal Party pamphlet with portraits of key members]

Meanwhile, dark clouds were gathering. The ultra-nationalist Tamil wing led by S. J. V. Chelvanayakam (SJV) was not happy. They grumbled about GGP’s approach, and proposed that instead of 50-50, the Tamils must pursue the “Two-Nation” concept, where the Tamils are equal to, and distinct from the Sinhalese. SJV said that Tamils should pursue their separate destiny. The opportunity to break from GGP arose with the Indian Citizenship Act. Most Ceylonese leaders and the Colonial government had become worried that the Indian Tamil workers and the Estate sector would fall into the hands of the Marxists who had began militant agitations. The new citizenship act required that only persons with seven years of residency could become citizens and vote in elections, thus eliminating transients. GGP and most other Tamils voted for it. But SJV declared that GGP was a “traitor” to the Tamil cause and used the moment to create the Tamil Arasu Kachchi. SJV contended that the Citizenship Act violated minority rights, and challenged it, and the government, in the courts, and in the Privy Council in London. The unequivocal judgments were that there has been no discrimination before or after the Act, and that the citizenship requirements were as reasonable as in the most liberal European states at the time.

Nevertheless, the Arasu Kachchi kept on agitating, determined to drive a wedge between the two communities, i.e., even among the anglicized Colombo citizens. I have attended meetings in Jaffna where the Arasu Kachchi talked of a separate Tamil nation, while in Colombo they sounded moderate and talked of federalism. A golden opportunity for the Arasu Kachchi arrived with the election of SWRD as PM. SWRD was a politician who recognized the rights of minorities, and an accommodation could have been easily reached with him. But the Arasu Kachchi’s public position in Jaffna was well known to the Sinhala nationalists who had deep distrust of SJV, E.M.V. Naganathan and others. If there is no trust, there can be no political Pact.

It is easy to blame the “Buddhist monks” for the failure of the Banda- Chelva Pact. But what did this Banda-Chelva Pact ask for? It asked for Tamil administrative regions in the North and East. At that time, just as today, the East involved Muslims and Sinhalese and Tamils. The Muslims opposed the Banda-Chelva Pact. The Sinhalese in the East opposed the B-C pact. The Arasu Kachchi had done NOTHING to build bridges between the two communities and win their confidence. Instead, they used every opportunity to confront the Singhalese. Ponnambalam and the TC also opposed the B-C Pact.

The B-C pact was NOT based on discrimination. It was based on the “Homeland Concept”. It asked for the same 2/3 coastal area and land area as a “homeland” for the Tamils (12% of the population) that the LTTE today is asking for. If the Arasu Kachchi had only asked for the Northern province and if its leaders had reassured the Sinhalese and Muslims, the B-C Pact would have had some chance of survival.

If the proposed B-C pact had actually got enacted, the Sinhala nationalists would have demanded the Tamils living in Weallawatai and Kottachenai to leave. The 1983 Black July would have happened decades earlier.

I have began from the Donoughmore Era and reviewed the history to indicate to young people that the story is not black and white, with the Sinhalese doing all the bad things and “creating the ethnic divide”, while the Tamils meekly performed “satyagraha” to win their rights both sides have been at fault.

The Tamils in the Vanni and other areas are not like their caste conscious counterparts in, whose only desire has been to retain their political power, and rule the North as absent landlords. The Vanni Tamils (“Malabars” in the language of the 1815 Kandyan Treaty, and also in Cleghorn’s report to the Colonial office), like the Singhalese, have a lot in common as our religion, social organization and language are very similar to that of the Sinhalese people. Although GGP and SJV attempted to emphasize differences, these are the same stock of people with mere superficial differences.

The LTTE is a creation of the elitist Colombo Tamils who decided to use the lower caste “boys” in far-flung areas to promote their misguided political struggle making our children mere cannon fodder. Meanwhile, their children, kith and kin have gone abroad and continue to finance a psychopath who has eliminated out teachers, our kurukals, writers, journalists, political leaders and thinkers, so as to create a subservient society toeing his line with no questions asked, in the name of Eelam.

So, what is there to be negotiated?

As Anton Balasingham once stated, “Only the borders remain to be negotiated”. It should not be forgotten that the Arasu Kachchi, while talking of Gandhian methods, secretly supported the creation of young militant groups. SJV personally met and worked with Sivakumaran, who was the first to commit suicide by swallowing cyanide.

I am sorry to say that the Tamil leaders of the 1930s, and then the ultra-nationalist activism of the SJV platform have been largely responsible for the plight of the Tamils today. Blaming the Sinhalese for all our ills won’t do. We need to soften our acrimonious uncompromising stand.

[This article is a slightly modified version of an article that appeared in “The Island”.]

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Serbian foreign minister flays Kosovo UDI

By Vuk Jeremic

[Vuk Jeremic, Foreign Minister of the Republic of Serbia, Photo:AP-David Karp, via Yahoo! News]

THE international system that has brought unprecedented prosperity to the world since 1945 is based on rules that apply without exception. This system is supposed to protect the basic, legitimate national interests of every country, whether rich or poor, strong or weak. Its binding principles include the sovereign equality of states, the respect for the territorial integrity and the inviolability of internationally recognized borders.

Yet on Feb. 17, the Serbian province of Kosovo, which has been under United Nations administration since 1999, unilaterally declared independence from my country. This illegal act has, unfortunately, been recognized by the Bush administration and some European countries including Britain, France and Germany. Others in Europe-including Greece, Romania and Spain-have withheld recognition, as have most other leading global and regional players, including Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Israel, Russia and South Africa.

As things stand, the number of countries that will recognize an independent Kosovo will plateau at around 40, leaving it unrecognized by a vast majority of the close to 200 members of the United Nations. This includes, of course, the Republic of Serbia.

A peaceful demonstration of close to half a million people in Belgrade last week condemned this act of illegal secession. Unfortunately, a few hundred hooligans attacked several embassies, including that of the United States, and looted stores; they even attacked my ministry. Our government has condemned these acts, and will prosecute the offenders.

The case against recognition is based not only on the Security Council’s 1999 resolution reaffirming Serbia’s sovereignty over Kosovo, but also founded on the view that the international system has, as a result of this hostile act by the Kosovo Albanians, become more unstable, more insecure and more unpredictable.

Here’s why. Recognizing the unilateral declaration of Kosovo’s independence from Serbia legitimizes the doctrine of imposing solutions to ethnic conflicts. It legitimizes the act of unilateral secession by a provincial or other non-state actor. It transforms the right to self-determination into an avowed right to independence. It legitimizes the forced partition of internationally recognized, sovereign states.

It violates the commitment to the peaceful and consensual resolution of disputes in Europe. It supplies any ethnic or religious group that has a grievance against its capital with a playbook on how to achieve its ends. It even resurrects the discredited cold-war doctrine of limited sovereignty.

A historical injustice is being imposed on a European country that has overcome more obstacles since we democratically overthrew Slobodan Milosevic in October 2000 than most other nations have in a much longer time. Recognizing Kosovo means saying, in effect, that Serbian democracy must be punished because a tyrant-one who committed heinous deeds against the Kosovo Albanians in the 1990s-was left unpunished. Such misplaced revenge may make some feel better, but it will make the international system feel much worse.

To act out of a false moral imperative to right a supposed historical wrong will contribute neither to international security nor to the region’s prospects of European Union membership. It is time to take a step back and examine the damage done.

If we can find a creative way to step back from the abyss that is Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence, we could not only salvage the credibility of the international system, but even strengthen it through a re-commitment to its basic principles. Some will say that it’s too late to put the genie back in the bottle. I don’t believe that’s true, because it’s never too late to forge a prosperous future for all stakeholders to share.

What is absolutely certain is that trust needs to be rebuilt and values must be reaffirmed. The way forward lies in coming together and securing an agreement between the two parties: a negotiated, compromise solution to Kosovo’s future status that addresses the legitimate right to broad self-governance for Kosovo’s Albanians, while preserving a democratic Serbia that is whole and free, integrated into Europe, and engaged with a world set aright through prudent statecraft.

The legitimacy of the international system hangs in the balance.

[Vuk Jeremic is the foreign minister of Serbia]

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Responsibility to protect is a Frequently misunderstood concept

By Desmond Tutu

[Rt.Rev Desmond Tutu-pic:Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation]

What is to be done when a government is unwilling or unable to stop mass atrocities being committed within its borders? That question has been asked far too many times in Africa – from Rwanda to Eastern Congo, from Somalia to Darfur.

The horrors of conflict in Africa continue today, but there is also a sign of how rapid response, with support from neighbors and the international community, can save lives and bring hope. In contrast to the crises in Rwanda in 1994 and Darfur in 2003, we see today in Kenya the formation of an international consensus that it is unacceptable to ignore violence of the kind that has occurred in recent months or to consider the crisis as purely an internal matter of the state.

What has brought about this change in attitude? We can’t underestimate the importance of the leadership and people of Kenya committing themselves to finding a just and equitable way forward. But it should also be acknowledged that the international community has moved far faster in addressing this conflict than it has in similar situations elsewhere. The United Nations has engaged at the highest political levels, the Security Council has issued a statement deploring the violence, and the secretary general and the leadership of human rights offices have been mobilized. African leaders have provided invaluable mediation. This now centers on the work being done by Kofi Annan, Graça Machel and Benjamin M’Kapa, at the request of the African Union.

I believe what we are seeing in Kenya is action on a fundamental principle – the Responsibility to Protect. At the UN World Summit in September 2005, government leaders pledged that states must protect their populations from mass atrocities and, if they fail, the international community must take action.

Unfortunately, the Responsibility to Protect is frequently misunderstood. It is not a justification of military intervention. It simply requires states to protect their own people and help other states to build the capacity to do the same. It means that international organizations like the UN have a responsibility to warn, to generate effective preventive strategies, and when necessary, to mobilize effective responses. The crisis in Kenya illustrates this: The primary role for outside actors is to protect civilians-not least by helping governments to improve security and protect human rights.

Nevertheless, despite some encouraging signs, little progress has been made towards implementing R2P, as it is often called, at the UN or at the national level. One response that I particularly welcome took place in November when women leaders from around the world convened a summit on global security and pledged to promote international support for the Responsibility to Protect and ensure that women’s views and involvement are included in peace and security initiatives. Think how different the situations in the Eastern Congo or Darfur could be if women were fully involved in seeking solutions.

More must be done to bring R2P to life. Last week in New York, a Global Center on the Responsibility to Protect was launched. Its aims are to build greater acceptance of the R2P norm and to work with others to call attention to how it must be applied in real-world crises. The Elders, the group of leaders brought together last year by Nelson Mandela and Graça Machel, have declared February as responsibility to Protect month as part of our Every Human Has Rights campaign to mark the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Universal Declaration was adopted in the aftermath of World War II, the Holocaust and the use of nuclear weapons. World opinion came together then to say, “never again.” Yet in the past six decades, we have witnessed mass atrocities committed against others across the globe. We all share a responsibility to do whatever we can to help prevent and protect one another from such violence.

The place to start is with prevention: through measures aimed in particular at building state capacity, remedying grievances, and ensuring the rule of law. My hope is that in the future, the Responsibility to Protect will be exercised not after the murder and rape of innocent people, but when community tensions and political unrest begin. It is by preventing, rather than reacting, that we can truly fulfill our shared responsibility to end the worst forms of human rights abuses.

[Nobel peace prize winner Rt.Rev Desmond Tutu is Anglican archbishop emeritus of Cape Town and chairman of The African Elders Council. This article is reproduced from International Herald Tribune]

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Sri Lanka: Human rights situation demands robust international intervention

Note to Members of the United Nations Human Rights Council by Tamil Information Centre:

20 February 2008

The Tamil Information Centre (TIC) is a non-profit community-based organization involved in promoting human rights, peace and development in Sri Lanka for over 25 years. The TIC is submitting this document to members of the UN Human Rights Council for information and consideration at the sessions in March 2008.

Sri Lanka: Human rights situation demands robust international intervention

Introduction

States bear ultimate responsibility as guarantors of democracy, human rights and rule of law. States are obliged under the Charter of the United Nations and other international instruments to promote respect for, and observance of, human rights and freedoms, and ensure that all people enjoy the freedoms without fear. States are also obliged to guarantee human rights and fundamental freedoms without discrimination and subject rights only to such limitations solely for the purpose of promoting the general welfare in a democratic society. States must uphold their human rights obligations during periods of conflict and national emergency, in accordance with international law, the rule of law, and the principles of democracy.

The Sri Lankan State has violated every democratic principle and has shown scant regard for democratic institutions. It has undermined the rule of law, thus placing constraint on the enjoyment of human rights. Government actions have created widespread fear and the people are unable to exercise their legitimate rights and carry on their daily lives in freedom and dignity without interference. The government, its security forces and state-sponsored armed groups, and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) which controls territory in the north-east, are the main violators of human rights. Sri Lanka has become a militarized State without law and order. There are reports of killings to settle private scores. But, because of the unwillingness on the part of the government and the wilful neglect of the State to build institutional capacity, these murders and other human rights violations remain un-investigated. In Sri Lanka, where the Legislature and the Judiciary have become subservient to the Executive, the government rules under a state of emergency and has armed itself with draconian laws to suppress rights and freedoms.

The Sri Lankan government has encouraged impunity and the security forces and State officers are directly involved in extra-judicial executions, arbitrary arrest and detention, abductions for ransom, torture, sexual abuse and disappearances. Security forces have also attacked or carried out aerial bombardment of populated areas in the north-east region causing large number of civilian deaths and destruction on a massive scale. The government has curtailed freedoms of expression and association and has targeted human rights defenders for intimidation, abduction and assassination.

In these conditions, when none of the State institutions, the Executive, the Legislature or the Judiciary, is providing protection to the people, international intervention has become necessary. Widespread and systematic human rights violations have continued in Sri Lanka since the 1980s and the Sri Lankan State has played a prominent role in the abuses. The UN and international human rights agencies have recorded the violations.

International concern on violations

Some of the statements of international concern over continuing human rights violations in Sri Lanka since 1985 are given below:

* In October 1985, Amnesty International reported the massacre or disappearance of 175 Tamil civilians, including women and children, by the security forces in Jaffna and Batticaloa in May 1985.[1]

* Amnesty International reported in 1995 on 700 unresolved cases of disappearances between 1984 and 1987.[2]

* In 1991, the Special Rapporteur on Summary and Arbitrary Executions reported the disappearance of 158 Tamils taken into custody on 5 September 1990 by the Sri Lankan security forces from the Vantharumoolai refugee camp in Batticaloa District.[3]

* The UN Human Rights Committee expressed serious concern in October 1995 about information on loss of life of civilians, disappearances, torture, summary executions and arbitrary detention caused by both parties to the conflict.[4]

* The Special Rapporteur Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, reported after a visit to Sri Lanka from 24 August to 5 September 1997 that there were large-scale human rights violations and abuses by members of the security forces, paramilitary groups (home guards) and the armed insurgent groups (LTTE), that military operations leading to the death of civilians included indiscriminate bombing of civilian settlements and armed incursions into villages, and that torture was used by the armed forces to obtain information on insurgent groups and to intimidate the population.[5]

* The Committee against Torture said in May 1998 that it was gravely concerned by the serious violations of the Convention against Torture in Sri Lanka, particularly regarding torture linked with disappearances.[6]

* The UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women expressed concern in March 2000 that the incidence of gang rape and murder of women and girls by Sri Lankan soldiers is continuing unabated in Sri Lanka.[7]

* The UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances said December 2000 that Sri Lanka remained the country with the second largest number of un-clarified disappearances in the world, next to Iraq. Between 1980 and 2000, the Working Group received reports of 12,277 disappearances of which 11,682 remain un-clarified.[8]

* The UN Human Rights Committee said in December 2003 that it remained ‘concerned’ about persistent reports of torture, and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of detainees by law enforcement officials and members of the armed forces, and about the intimidation or threat of victims, thereby discouraging them from pursuing effective remedy.[9]

* In December 2005, the UN Committee against Torture expressed concern about non-observance of fundamental legal safeguards such as habeas corpus rights, continued well-documented allegations of widespread torture and ill-treatment as well as disappearances, mainly committed by the Sri Lankan police forces, the lack of effective systematic review of all places of detention, continued allegations of sexual violence and abuse of women and children in custody, including by law enforcement officials, undue delay of trials, especially trials of people accused of torture and reprisals, intimidation and threats against persons reporting acts of torture and ill-treatment as well as the lack of effective witness and victim protection mechanisms.[10]

* The UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions said in his report following a visit to Sri Lanka in November/December 2005 that he was immensely troubled by the fact that the police are engaged in summary executions and that in Sri Lanka’s police stations physical mistreatment is frequently used to extract confessions from suspects, sometimes resulting in death.[11]

* Following a visit to Sri Lanka from 1 to 8 October 2007, the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, expressed the opinion that the high number of indictments for torture filed by the Attorney General’s office, the number of successful fundamental rights cases decided by the Supreme Court, as well as the high number of complaints that the National Human Rights Commission continues to receive on an almost daily basis indicate that torture is widely practiced in Sri Lanka.[12]

International concern on impunity

Some of the statements of international concern over continuing impunity in Sri Lanka since 1991 are given below:

* The UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances recommended in 1991 that the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and Emergency Regulations (ERs), which provide extensive powers to the security forces, thus encouraging human rights violations with impunity, should be abolished or brought in line with internationally accepted standards, as they violate the provisions of the ICCPR.[13]

* The Human Rights Committee noted in October 1995 that there was no effective system for prevention and punishment of violations and said that violations by police officers were not investigated by an independent body and this may contribute to impunity among perpetrators and constituted an impediment to promote human rights.[14]

* The Special Rapporteur Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions said after a visit to Sri Lanka from 24 August to 5 September 1997 that a culture of impunity led to arbitrary killings and contributed to the uncontrollable spiralling of violence, and only few perpetrators had been brought to justice. He said further that the systematic absence of investigation, either civil or military, into violations of the right to life facilitated impunity.[15]

* The Committee against Torture expressed concern in May 1998 that there were few, if any, prosecutions or disciplinary proceedings despite continuous Supreme Court warnings and awards of damages to torture victims.[16]

* The UN Working Group on Disappearances reported following a visit to Sri Lanka in October 1999 that family members of the disappeared persons and representatives of NGOs complained that many of the persons who were identified as suspected perpetrators by the three Presidential Commissions of Inquiry continued to serve in their posts or have been promoted.[17]

* The UN Human Rights Committee expressed concern in December 2003 about the large number of enforced or involuntary disappearances, and Sri Lankan State’s inability to identify or inaction in identifying those responsible and to bring them to justice.[18]

* In December 2005, the UN Committee against Torture expressed concern over the failure to investigate impartially violations by law enforcement officials.[19]

* The UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, following a visit to Sri Lanka in 2005, said that the failure to effectively prosecute government violence is a deeply-felt problem and noted that the Sri Lankan State’s failure to convict anyone for the Bindunuwewa massacre is an example of this impunity. He also noted the frequent failure to prosecute police accused of responsibility for deaths in custody and the failure to rein in abuses committed or tolerated by the military.[20]

* During his visit to Sri Lanka in October 2007, the Special Rapporteur on torture noted that there had been only three convictions against perpetrators under the 1994 Torture Act. He also observed a number of reasons for low convictions such as the absence of effective ex-officio investigation mechanisms in accordance with Article 12 of the Convention against Torture, as well as various obstacles detainees face in filing complaints and gaining access to independent medical examinations while still detained.[21]

Chronic violations and impunity

As evidenced in the above statements, the international community, including the UN, has been expressing concern over violations of human rights and impunity in Sri Lanka for some thirty years. The measures taken by successive Sri Lankan governments throughout this period have been cosmetic, and in most instances, aimed at deflecting the criticisms of national and international human rights agencies. The governments’ attitude and refusal to take action on human rights violations have encouraged further abuses and impunity among security forces and government officers. In the face of grave abuses of human rights of the people, particularly, the Tamil community, by the Sri Lankan State, for such a long time, the response of the international community, including the UN, has been somewhat wanting. If criticism for thirty years has not produced results, surely it is time that the international community considered robust measures that will protect the civilian population.

Rule of law

The Sri Lankan government and government institutions have no respect for the rule of law. In her address to the UN Human Rights Council in August 2006, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour said that the failure of the Sri Lankan government to provide the protection of the rule of law to all its citizens generates serious concerns.[22] The rule of law is undermined by introduction of laws that are not in conformity with reasonable and acceptable legal norms, through the majority power in the parliament, and by direct illegal orders of the Executive.

The current President Mahinda Rajapakse himself has wilfully breached the Constitution of Sri Lanka. He has so far failed to appoint a Constitutional Council as required by the 17th Amendment to the Constitution. Whereas the Constitution requires appointments to bodies such as the Supreme Court and the independent commissions to be made only from persons selected and screened by the Constitutional Council,[23] the President has made appointments in the absence of the Constitutional Council. He has appointed members of the Police Commission, Public Services Commission, Human Rights Commission and the Supreme Court. The decision of President Rajapakse to ignore the 17th Amendment is a serious threat to the implementation of the rule of law. The appointments to the judiciary affect the independence and integrity of the judiciary.

Draconian laws

The Emergency Regulations (ERs) introduced in August 2005 have the effect of removing judicial oversight in relation to arrest and detention, and suspend the relevant provisions of the normal law. The ERs give authority to security forces to arrest on mere suspicion, without warrant. The person arrested can be detained without access and without charge, and the ERs do not limit the time period of detention. Under the ERs the Defence Secretary can order a person to be held for a period of one year and such person need not be produced before a Magistrate for 30 days or in some cases 90 days. The Magistrate has no authority to release the person on bail without written permission from the Attorney General. The ERs allow confessions to the police admissible as evidence in court and suspend the relevant provisions of the normal law. A confession or statement made to any person under any circumstance may also be used as substantive evidence against the accused. The burden of proving that the confession was made under duress lies on the accused.

The ERs also erode the powers of the courts under normal law in relation to deaths in the custody of the police or armed services. Under normal law, the Magistrate has wide powers to receive information immediately, view the body and hold an enquiry to ascertain the causes of death. But under the ERs enquiries into deaths in custody can take place only on the application of the Inspector General of Police (IGP). After a post-mortem, a DIG has the power under the ERs to burn the body without handing it over to relatives.

ERs introduced in December 2006 give a very wide definition of “terrorism” and are clearly intended to curtail legitimate democratic activities and constitutionally protected rights of the people, organizations and the media. The regulations say that no person shall engage in any transaction on any matter whatsoever with a group engaged in terrorism. But the regulations also say that there can be transaction with such a group with the written approval of the Competent Authority appointed by the President, to facilitate a peaceful political solution, maintenance of supplies, services essential to the life of the community, provision of humanitarian assistance, conduct of development activities or for any other lawful purpose. This means, individuals and civil society organizations engaged in these activities, including promotion of peace, cannot continue. If they wish to carry out these legitimate activities, they must obtain written approval from the Competent Authority, as otherwise they would be accused of engaging in terrorism.

In addition to ERs, the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) gives wide powers of arrest and detention to the security forces and State officers. A person may be arrested without a warrant under the PTA and can be detained for 72 hours. But during this period of 72 hours, the Defence Minister has the power to issue a detention order and detain the person for three months and such order may be extended up to 18 months. The Minister’s detention order is final and cannot be called into question in any court or tribunal in any manner. A person can be held for 18 months without being produced before a court. As in the case of ERs, confessions to the police are admissible as substantive evidence.

Both laws, which give wide powers to the security forces and State officers, have been condemned as falling far below international standards by the UN and international human rights agencies, which have been repeatedly calling on the government to repeal these laws or introduce the necessary amendments to bring them into line with international standards. The Sri Lankan government has not only ignored these calls but has used these draconian laws to the fullest extent resulting in grave human rights violations. The ERs and the PTA, which are almost exclusively used against the Tamil community, encourage impunity among the security forces, and have led to arbitrary arrests, illegal detention, torture, rape, disappearance and extra-judicial executions. Many Tamils arrested under these draconian laws are held in detention for several years in the north-east as well as southern areas, in many instances without access to lawyers, organizations or relatives, without facilities for communication or information, without medical facilities or access to humanitarian agencies and sometimes without even being produced before a court of law.

Human rights violations

Human Rights violations, including torture, are not probed by the police. In most cases where there is a claim by authorities that investigation is underway, in reality no action has been taken. In many instances, the investigators themselves have turned protectors or defenders of the perpetrators, and witnesses have been threatened. In the last thirty years, the security forces have carried out a number of massacres of Tamil civilians, almost all of which remain un-investigated. Many Tamil civilians have also been killed in aerial bombardment by the Sri Lanka airforce and the Sri Lankan government has always denied that civilians were killed.

Since Mahinda Rajapakse became President of Sri Lanka, the government has encouraged human rights violations against Tamil civilians by the security forces. This encouragement has been given by government ministers and officers by their war-mongering statements, the stance that the peace process will begin only after the LTTE is destroyed and the territory controlled by the LTTE is liberated. Ministers and government officers are also telling the public not to criticize the security forces, even in the face of grave violations of human rights. Critics and human rights activists are branded by government ministers and officers at every opportunity as LTTE sympathizers or agents. Even international agencies carrying out humanitarian work in Sri Lanka, including UN agencies, have come under severe attack from the government. Journalists who criticize the government have been attacked, arrested under the ER or even killed.

Arbitrary arrests

Thousands of Tamils have been arrested in the last two years throughout the island and many are still in prisons or detention centres, police stations or in military camps. Most arrests are not carried out on evidence of involvement in some illegal activity but on the mere basis of ethnicity. On 7 June 2007, the security forces forcibly removed 376 Tamils from Colombo to the north-east region.[24] Over 2,250 Tamils, including women and students, were rounded-up in Colombo and its surrounding areas between 29 November and 4 December 2007 and were subject to humiliation and degrading treatment by the security forces. The Sri Lankan Constitution guarantees the freedom of movement and residence. The government’s apparent position that Tamil citizens from the north-east can reside in Colombo only if they satisfy the security forces about their reasons for being in the capital, is a gross violation of human rights under the Sri Lankan Constitution as well as international law. The treatment of thousands of Tamils and the denial of their legitimate rights and safeguards confirm that the human rights of the Tamil people of Sri Lanka are not protected by the rule of law.

The Colombo arrests are just an example of the vulnerable position of the Tamils. Arrests of Tamils are taking place in Sri Lanka’s north-east, in many areas of the south and the hill country. The Colombo arrests took place during cordon and search operations although most of the people were in possession of more than one identity document – such as national identity cards, passports, police registration certificates, Village Headman certificates and evidence of employment or trade in Colombo. The persons were not informed of the reasons for the arrest or detention. The relatives were not informed of the whereabouts of the detainees. It is clear that the security forces are not following even the few safeguards provided in the ER and the Presidential Directives. The Presidential Directives also require that the Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission (SLHRC) should be informed of every arrest under the ER or the PTA within 48 hours. But in the case of the mass arrests of Tamils, no information was provided to the SLHRC. The SLHRC itself has failed to take appropriate action in this regard by failing to demand information on arrests and the whereabouts of the detainees.

Torture

Torture and ill-treatment are being carried out by the armed forces, paramilitary groups and the police in military camps and police stations. There are also allegations of sexual violence and abuse of women and children in custody, and intimidation of and threats against persons reporting torture. There are no effective witness and victim protection mechanisms in cases of torture. Torture by the security forces has continued in Sri Lanka for several decades and is widespread, systematic and institutionalized, despite international condemnation. The Joint Services Operations Command in Vavuniya, the Kankesanthurai military camp in Jaffna, the Plantain Point army camp in Trincomalee, the “Fourth Floor” headquarters of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and the Terrorist Investigation Division (TID) in Colombo, the Batticaloa prison and the Counter Subversive Units (CSU) in various towns, and police stations in the capital and other areas of the south are well known as centres of torture, and according to victims, have special rooms, equipment and devices for the purpose of torture.

Soon after arrest, the victim is usually assaulted and suffers degrading treatment at the place of arrest. Thereafter, the person is transported to these torture centres, stripped naked and subject to torture. The military and the police use various extreme physical and psychological beastly torture methods. Some of these are as follows:

1) Beating with plastic pipes filled with cement, batons, belts or chains;

2) Stamping wearing boots;

3) Hanging by the legs and beating all parts of the body;

4) Burning with cigarettes;

5) Suffocating by covering the head with plastic bags soaked in petrol;

6) Beating on the soles of the feet;

7) Inserting bottle, baton or barbed wire into the rectum;

8) Applying chilli powder or other material to sensitive parts of the body;

9) Detaining in a dark room;

10) Kicking and punching repeatedly;

11) Tying to a chair and beating;

12) Tying the hand together and hanging from a pole;

13) Giving electric shocks;

14) Repeatedly smashing the head on a wall;

15) Inserting needles into finger nails and other parts of the body;

16) Injecting liquids into various parts of the body;

17) Deprivation of sleep.

Women have been sexually abused or raped as part of torture by the security forces. Some of the victims of torture have been forced under threat of further torture to join paramilitary groups, give evidence against other people or to spy for the military. The Tamil victims are almost always forced to sign a confession under torture or threat of torture and these confessions are used in evidence against them in court. The provisions of the ER and PTA which allow confessions as evidence in court encourage torture.

Abductions and disappearances

Abductions and forced disappearances are taking place every day in Sri Lanka. It is clear that the majority of the abductions and involuntary disappearances are carried out by Sri Lankan government officers and the security forces or these violations are taking place with their knowledge and blessing.

Four Presidential Commissions inquired into 37,662 of the 54,404 complaints of disappearances, which took place between January 1988 and December 1995 and found evidence of disappearance in 21,115 cases. No enquiries have been conducted into another 16,742 cases of disappearances. No further action has been taken in the 21,115 cases where the commissions have recorded the names of the security force personnel responsible for the disappearances.

A new Presidential Commission was appointed in November 2006 with a mandate to inquire into complaints of abductions, disappearances and unexplained killings. In June 2007, the International Independent Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP) expressed concern that the conduct of the Presidential Commission is inconsistent with international norms[25] [See under Human rights institutions]. This Presidential Commission submitted reports to the President in 2006 and 2007 and says it has made recommendations to take strong action against officers in charge of the police stations responsible for violations, and their superior officers for lapse of duty, and to pay compensation to the bereaved families.[26] But the government has not published the reports and has failed to take any action on the recommendations.

In Colombo and other areas of southern Sri Lanka, nearly 100 Tamils were abducted since February 2006. The persons abducted include journalists, students and women. The bodies of 12 people were found later and the fate of most of the others is unknown. Sixteen people were released after paying huge sums of money as ransom. The ransom monies are paid into named bank accounts, but the Banks and the Police are not willing to investigate contravention of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act No 5 of 2006. These indicate government involvement in the abductions. Individuals, members of organizations and even parliamentarians who attempted to investigate the abductions have received death threats.

Disappearance of people in the north-east takes place during cordon and search operations, at military checkpoints and during curfew hours. People living near military installations are vulnerable. Often abductions are carried out in white vans without number plates, a hallmark of military death squads. The motorcycles used by the security forces are also often without number plates. During search operations, security force personnel in uniform often wear masks in order to hide their identity. The daily curfew in Jaffna between 7.00pm and 5.00am and the cover of night enable the security forces to enter into houses and carry out abductions. Because of the curfew, people are vulnerable and there is no way to escape or call for help. The abductors have no difficulty in passing through several military checkpoints with the victims.

Where people have witnessed abductions or arrests during cordon and search operations, the military deny holding any person in custody when inquiries are made at army camps. Local Grama Sevakas (Village Headmen) are often threatened by the military with death, should they reveal the names of persons arrested during search operations. Many people who visited police stations to report about abductions or arrests by the military and to record their statements as witnesses, have themselves been assaulted, killed or disappeared. In some instances, several members of one family who made statements to the police have disappeared. This indicates that the police are providing information to the military about witnesses and are involved in disappearances.

In addition to the activities of the security forces, parents and relatives continue to complain that forcible recruitment by the LTTE is taking place in areas controlled by them as well as other parts of the northeast.

Extra-judicial executions

More than 5,000 people are reported to have died in north-east Sri Lanka since August 2006. These include extra-judicial executions. The Sri Lankan security forces, the non-state paramilitary groups aligned to the military and the LTTE are responsible for the killing of civilians. In many cases of civilian deaths, the killings have been carried out by unidentified persons arriving at homes and shooting them or taking them away to other places and murdering them. Many people have been abducted by the so-called “unidentified persons”, murdered and their bodies dumped in public places. The perpetrators are referred to as “unidentified persons” in order to avoid persecution in the absence of witness and human rights defender protection. Others have been murdered in public places such as bus stations, streets, shops or offices. Many civilians, including journalists, human rights defenders, officers of NGOs, government officers and even Tamil MPs have received death threats from the military. In many cases of killings of Sinhalese civilians, the government has offered compensation to the families, but has denied compensation to the families of Tamil victims.

Military regime in the north-east

The north-east region is effectively under military rule and military forces control the population through the decision-making process, whether it is government-controlled or LTTE-held areas. All decisions, including the supply of food, medicines, fuel and other essential needs, are made by these military forces, and civil authorities cannot act independently even in cases of emergency.

All rights and freedoms of the people in the north-east are suppressed or restricted. These include the freedoms of expression, association and movement. The Sri Lankan army has blocked access of the population to many roads and has taken possession of many houses and private buildings. It has declared vast areas as high security zones (HSZ) denying access to houses and agricultural land. There are 18 HSZs in the Jaffna peninsula alone, covering 160 sq kms or 18% of the total landmass. Nearly 30,000 houses, 300 schools, 25 roads, 40 industries and more than 42,000 acres of cultivable land are within HSZs. The army has also demolished a huge number of houses, particularly around military camps. Thousands of Tamils in the north-east who have been deprived of their lands, houses and other buildings live in refugee camps or with relatives and are undergoing great suffering. They have neither been compensated for the destruction of their houses nor paid any rent for occupation by the military.

In the north-east areas, the strong presence of soldiers in the street terrifies the people. They carry out body searches regardless of sex of the person searched. They often wear masks to hide their identity and to terrorize the people. These matters have been brought to the notice of the security force commanders on many occasions, but the harassment of civilians continues. Military identity cards have been issued to the people in areas of the north-east, which they must carry on their person in addition to the National Identity Card. In order to escape the threat to life posed by the security forces and the paramilitary groups, many people in Jaffna have sought protection from the Jaffna branch of the Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission (SLHR). These people are accommodated in the Jaffna prison on the request of the SLHRC. They are placed in the prison with convicted criminals under extremely crowded conditions and are expected to follow the prison regime.

The security forces have forcibly seized many vehicles of civilians in the north-east. For example, they have commandeered 376 Lorries, 57 dual-purpose vehicles, and 183 buses for military use in Jaffna. A large number of motorcycles have also been seized. The people who were reluctant to give up their vehicles received death threats from the military. Some people have informed the TIC that their vehicles are being used to transport arms and ammunition to front defence lines of the fighting. Many private vehicles have been destroyed in the fighting. But the owners have received no compensation.

Although the Sri Lankan Constitution guarantees freedom of movement with the island, people wishing to leave the Jaffna peninsula must obtain clearance from the security forces. The application must be submitted with four copies of photograph, National Identity Card and the Ration Card, and must have the recommendation of the Village Headman and Divisional Secretary. Permission to leave Jaffna may be delayed or denied by the military. On 5 September 2002, the Supreme Court declared that the military pass system, which was in force for some ten years in the north-east, violated the provisions of the Constitution relating to the freedom of movement. The Court also awarded Rupees 30,000 ($280) compensation to the applicant and Vavuniya resident Peter Vadivel. In defiance of this judgment, the military introduced a pass system in Vavuniya and Mannar on 20 October 2006 and in Amparai on 23 October 2006 and in Jaffna.

The security forces have also conducted their own census in the north-east. All information about residents must be provided. They include address, National Identity Card number, educational qualifications, occupation, telephone number, mobile phone number, bicycle details and car or motorcycle number. In some areas of the north-east, bicycles must be registered with the security forces and a permit obtained. Fishermen are expected to register their boats and engines.

A night curfew is enforced in the Jaffna peninsula since 11 August 2006 and currently it is between 7.00pm and 5.00am. The curfew has affected employment, education and the ability of the people to go out to buy food and other needs. The curfew, imposed allegedly to protect the people, has become a threat to their security. When fighting breaks out between the security forces and the LTTE during curfew hours, they are neither able to seek safety in other places nor provide urgent medical attention to injured civilians. The curfew enables the security forces and the paramilitary groups to abduct or murder civilians under cover of darkness. The life of the people is often violently disturbed by the military’s cordon and search operations. The people suffer humiliation and degrading treatment. Mobile phones are blocked during search operations to prevent the people reporting any abuses by the security forces to the outside world.

Since August 2006, the Sri Lankan government and the military have imposed restrictions on food, fuel, medicines, raw materials and other essential needs to the LTTE-controlled areas of the north-east. It has imposed restrictions on materials that are essential for health, education, agriculture, transport, communication and other sectors. It has also restricted legitimate livelihood activities such as fishing. The TIC has received information that the hospitals in the north-east suffer from acute shortage of doctors, hospital staff, proper medical facilities and medicines. Doctors in the north-east have raised alarm about these issues, particularly the acute shortage of many essential drugs.

Tamil civilians in the southern part of the Vanni region, which lies along the forward defence lines of the Sri Lankan security forces, are under threat and their vulnerability has increased as a result of the current fighting. Essential commodities into the areas have been blocked. These areas are constantly shelled by the Sri Lankan military and thousands of people have been displaced. At Alampil in Mullaitivu District, shelling by the security forces has killed or injured civilians and has destroyed schools, houses and other buildings. In the Madhu area of Mannar District, IDP camps have been shelled, injuring refugees, including children. In the Adampan area of Mannar District, the fighting has forced farmers to abandon thousands of acres of cultivated land with crops ready for harvest. Part of crop has been destroyed by shells. The Nudunkerni area of Vavuniya District has come under security force claymore mine attacks, affecting work, schools and farming. Vehicles, including ambulances have been targeted, killing or injuring doctors and nurses.

Due to Sri Lankan government pressure and restrictions imposed by the security forces, several international humanitarian agencies are closing their operations and international staff are moving out of the north-east. They continue to fund local partners, but are ceasing direct operations. When international agency staff are present, the people are able to report about human rights violations and receive some kind of protection. Perpetrators are often reluctant to commit offences when international staff are present in the area. The end of such protection will make the people of the north-east more vulnerable and is likely to result in increased human rights violations.

Attacks on human rights defenders

Human rights defenders have provided some measure of protection to the people in a volatile and dangerous situation, and therefore the persecution of human rights defenders has become a critical issue in Sri Lanka. If such persecution continues unchecked, the people will be totally exposed to the perpetrators. Human rights defenders, journalists and even MPs have been threatened with death or other physical harm to force them to keep quiet or abandon the cause they are pursuing.

A Tamil MP has informed the TIC that “The threats and pressure come from government ministers and from persons linked to high government authorities”. Information received by the TIC indicates that the persons most at risk of abuse in Sri Lanka are human rights defenders who persistently criticize the warring parties for human rights violations; reveal the links of politicians with the police officers and armed gangs involved in abuses; reveal corruption involving members of the administration and law enforcement officers; or reveal abuses against minorities.

Hundreds of human rights defenders have received death threats and many of them have been attacked. Many have left their homes and localities in the face of continued threats and many others have fled the country. Agents of the State including the police, army, and other law enforcement agencies, for whom successive governments of Sri Lanka have been directly accountable, have continued to perpetrate violations against human rights defenders.

Between January 2006 and September 2007, at least 57 humanitarian workers were killed in Sri Lanka. In many of the killings, government agencies, security forces or government-aligned paramilitaries are suspected to be involved. NGOs maintaining a position independent of the government in the defense of human rights are under severe pressure from the Sri Lankan government as well as the LTTE and the paramilitary groups. The government has forced some humanitarian agencies to leave the country and denied visas to foreign aid workers. During the past two years, 12 media personnel have been killed in Sri Lanka. President Rajapakse, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse and the army commander have summoned meetings of media representatives on several occasions to warn them against criticizing the war. Trade unions and trade union rights are also under attack in Sri Lanka.

The intelligence services and other shadowy groups operated by senior government officers are also responsible for abuses against human rights defenders. These violations are mainly arbitrary arrest, torture, disappearances and murder. They also include the following:

* Visiting them at night and threatening them with death or serious bodily harm;
* Telling them that their spouses and children will be killed or abducted;
* Using abusive language against them;
* Telephoning spouses and threatening them;
* Following them in unmarked motorcycles to work and other places;
* Arriving in vehicles and waiting outside the home or office, sometimes for several days;
* Sending them death threat letters and parcels containing bullets;
* Policemen from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) ransacking houses on the pretext of search;
* Denying human rights defenders access to scenes of incidents;
* Publishing inflammatory messages in newspapers against defenders;
* Forcing spouses to attend enquiries by providing false information;
* Forcing human rights defenders or spouses to attend enquiries repeatedly;
* Withholding identity cards, thus preventing their movement and forcing to remain in their homes;
* Phone tapping;
* Demanding them to provide their mobile telephone numbers;
* Withdrawing or reducing the number of security officers for MPs and others, making them vulnerable to attacks.

Other perpetrators of abuses against human rights defenders are the LTTE, paramilitary groups operating with the security forces, individuals or groups linked to armed criminal gangs, parties of the ruling coalition or the opposition, and mercenary gangs hired by local politicians to suppress revelations about their unlawful activities. Abuses committed by these groups include death threats and physical attacks against human rights defenders

Human Rights institutions

It is clear from the inaction even in the cases of serious human rights violations, the Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission (SLHRC) which should be independent, is now functioning fully under the control of the Sri Lankan government and has failed to provide protection to the people in accordance with its mandate. It has failed to adequately monitor human rights violations and to investigate abuses. It lacks transparency and accountability. It has failed systematically to hold inquiries into abuses and publish reports. As a consequence, it has totally lost the confidence of the people and people’s institutions. In relation to torture and disappearances, the regional offices of the SLHRC have provided information to the SLHRC headquarters in Colombo. But the commissioners have not taken any action. The SLHRC, as in the case of other commissions appointed by the President, lacks the legal basis for effective functioning.

The SLHRC announced in June 2006 that it will not hear 2,127 cases of disappearance passed on to it from the presidential commissions appointed to investigate disappearances, ‘unless special directions are received from the government, as findings will result in payment of compensation’. This is a clear indication that the SLHRC is taking instructions from the government contrary to its purpose and mandate. In June 2007, the SLHRC introduced a three-month time-limit for investigation of complaints, although Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka Act 1996 does not limit the time for investigations. It has also issued instructions to its regional offices to stop sharing information with NGOs. Sri Lankan human rights agencies have stated that the SLHRC violates fundamental features of the Paris Principles Relating to National Institutions for Protection and Promotion of Human Rights. By failing to carry out its duties as a national institution, the SLHRC in effect, is contributing to impunity and human rights violations in Sri Lanka. Despite the downgrading of the SLHRC in 2007 by the International Coordinating Committee of National Human Rights Institutions (ICC) for failure in human rights responsibilities, no action has been taken to improve its position.

In a statement on 15 June 2007, International Independent Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP) expressed concern that the conduct of the Presidential Commission appointed in November 2006 to inquire into complaints of abductions, disappearances and unexplained killings is inconsistent with international norms and standards. The IIGEP has pointed to the following problems:

1) Lack of speed in investigation: The first investigation began on 14 May 2007, but since then only a few witnesses have been examined and no substantial progress has been made into any of the mandated cases.

2) Lack of transparency: The Commission’s decision to conduct investigations in closed sessions may undermine the transparency. The amendments to organizational rules implying that Commissioners can make a decision not to hold a public inquiry at the end of an investigation further affects transparency.

3) Lack of independence: The involvement of the Attorney General’s Department in the Panel of Counsel to the Commission, involves serious conflicts of interest and compromises national and international standards of independence and impartiality that are central to the credibility of and public confidence in the Commission.

4) Lack of financial independence: The Commission does not have sufficient financial independence enabling it to exercise direct control of its resources and avoid delays to its operations.

5) Lack of victim and witness protection: The Commission has no functioning Victim and Witness Assistance and Protection Unit, and no adequate training programme to ensure that potential witnesses have the confidence and protection to testify in an inquiry.

6) Failure to secure disclosure: The Commission is conducting investigations without relevant and sufficient information and evidence from state bodies and other persons which is vital for comprehensive and effective investigations. The Commission has failed to exercise powers in the Presidential Warrant and secure adequate disclosure.

The IIGEP has called upon the Commission and the Sri Lankan government to comply effectively with international norms and standards in order to achieve the objectives of the Commission’s mandate, but no effective action has been taken to remedy the situation.

Judiciary

The judiciary is a vital institution of any democracy. The UN Special Rapporteur on Extra-judicial Executions says that in Sri Lanka, an ineffective justice system creates a climate of public opinion conducive to condoning police torture and summary execution of suspects.[27] The ER and the PTA erode, and in many instances remove, the powers of the judiciary.

Human rights defenders are attacked from all sides and they have no one to turn to for protection. The courts, particularly the Supreme Court, are hostile to the defenders. In 2007, the Chief Justice himself threatened human rights defenders during court proceedings that he would suitably deal with them if they brought human rights cases before the Supreme Court against the security forces.

On 15 September 2006, the Supreme Court effectively ruled that Sri Lankan citizens cannot seek remedy from the UN Human Rights Committee regarding human rights violations. It declared that the Accession to the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in 1997 does not bind Sri Lanka and has no legal effect within the island.[28] The decision effectively nullifies Sri Lanka’s obligations under international law, except those that have been incorporated into local laws, and Sri Lanka will not be able to protect and promote human rights under the laws and institutions of the UN.

In a judgment on 16 October 2006, the Supreme Court declared that the merger of the Northern and Eastern Provinces in 1987 to form one administrative unit is unconstitutional and invalid. Lawyers appearing for four Intervenient Petitioners from the Eastern Province were not permitted to adequately explain the position of the Tamil people. In court, Chief Justice Sarath Silva did not allow them to appear as representing the Intervenient Petitioners. They were told that they could appear only as amicus curiae (court advisors) and could not make written submissions.

Many Tamil people believe that the Sri Lankan government is behind the decisions of the Supreme Court that affect the Tamil people. In the case against the Post-Tsunami Operational Management System (P-TOMS), alleging infringement of the right to equal protection of the law,[29] the Chief Justice Sarath Silva said in a decision in July 2005 that relief must be granted to the people of the north-east, who have suffered and continue to suffer, untold hardship and tragedy from the tsunami and that the interests of these hapless people should be borne firmly in mind. But in November 2005, the court suspended the enquiry indefinitely and in addition granted an indefinite injunction against the provisions of the P-TOMS. Many people, within and outside Sri Lanka, have expressed their suspicion to the TIC that this change is due to political intervention or some devious political deal.

The Tamils have suffered and continue to suffer by decisions of the Sri Lankan courts, which have on many occasions been politically motivated. The judiciary failed to grant remedy to the Hill Country Tamils and allowed a million of them to suffer without citizenship and voting rights for more than 50 years. The judiciary also failed to protect the Tamils against political abuse and legislation which were clearly aimed at denying equality and other the rights of the Tamils, including in education and employment. The judiciary has further failed to protect the Tamils against physical abuses such as torture, injury and extra-judicial executions. Many Tamils, particularly in cases under the PTA and the ERs, have been remanded or convicted and imprisoned without any evidence.

Judges serving in north-east Sri Lanka have come under constant threat from the security forces, intelligence services and the paramilitary groups. Impartial judges hearing human rights cases against security force personnel in the north-east have been directly threatened or transferred to other areas. The fact that judges are threatened or disrespected is a clear sign for promotion of violence in the region. The Judicial Services Commission, which is headed by the Chief Justice, sent a circular letter on 22 August 2006 effectively ordering the judges in Jaffna not to interfere in the activities of the security forces. The letter says that judges should ‘refrain from any direct conversation or contact with armed force personnel, except where necessity for such action shall arise in proceedings in open court’.

Accountability is lacking in the judiciary. It is clear that justice cannot be expected from the courts, particularly from the current Supreme Court, which appears to be acting, not independently in the interests of the people, but to promote a programme of the Executive aimed at denying the fundamental rights and aspirations of the people of Sri Lanka.

Killing and abduction of children and child recruitment

Killings and abductions of children and other violent incidents have traumatized the children in the north-east. Many children have been affected by the deaths of hundreds of young fathers, who were the sole breadwinners of their families, and the killing of parents in their presence. The number of orphans in the north-east region is increasing.

Child recruitment for the military purposes of the LTTE and Karuna Group in eastern Sri Lanka has seriously affected the psycho-social conditions of the children. The undertakings given by them in relation to child recruitment to the international community have not been fulfilled. The children released by them and other male youths continue to seek UNICEF’s aid for special protection in fear of assassination, arrest or abduction.

Right to education

The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICES) says in Article 13 that education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and the sense of its dignity, and shall strengthen the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. But the Tamil north-east region in Sri Lanka has suffered discrimination in the provision of education. More than 15,000 classrooms in 500 schools were damaged or destroyed in the war in the north-east, requiring about 209,000 sq. metres of additional classroom space and 312,000 sq. metres of additional space for laboratories, libraries and office rooms. In the December 2004 tsunami, further damage was caused to 122 schools. Equipment, IT facilities, laboratories, furniture, electricity supply and sanitation facilities are needed for the schools. There is also a shortage of teachers in the north-east. The Sri Lankan government has done little to provide these needs and has denied adequate assistance for the people affected by the tsunami.

The fighting, continued harassment at military checkpoints, human rights violations and restrictions imposed by the military, such as curfew, have severely impacted on the education of children. Aerial bombardment and shelling of populated areas, the multi-barrel gun attacks and the arrest and abduction of children, and cordon and search operations in schools and universities have caused tremendous fear among the students. More than 100 students were killed in the north-east between October 2005 and May 2007. The Sri Lankan Airforce killed 61 children attending a training course and wounded 129 others in an air attack in Mullaitivu on 14 August 2006.

Many students are reluctant to attend school. The military has made the fear more acute by announcing that students who do not attend school would be regarded as having links with the LTTE. Many students have been arrested and have suffered torture by the security forces. Jaffna University final year student Vijayaraja Vijayaruban was abducted in a military vehicle on 29 March 2007. He was released the following day. He had been severely tortured and sustained external as well as internal injuries.

Right to Health

The ICES recognizes the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health and States are obliges to take full steps to achieve the realization of this right. Out of 400 health institutions such as hospitals in the north-east, 55 were totally destroyed in the war and 49 could not function. Several hospital, dispensaries and medical centres were also damaged or destroyed in the tsunami. A large number of vacancies in the health sector have not been filled and hospitals are affected by the lack or shortage of essential drugs. Mothers and children are affected by malnutrition. The state of sanitation facilities in the north-east is poor and rural areas lack water facilities. Again the Sri Lankan government has done little to provide the needed health facilities to the population of the north-east and has denied adequate medical assistance to the people affected by the tsunami.

Internally displaced people

On 2 January 2008, the Sri Lankan government withdrew from the ceasefire agreement of 22 February 2002. As a consequence, the international monitoring body, the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM), established to enquire into any instance of violation of the terms and conditions of the agreement, has come to an end. The withdrawal of the government from the ceasefire and resumption of hostilities will result in displacement and great human suffering. When the tsunami struck in December 2004, there were some 340,000 war-displaced people in Sri Lanka, majority of them in the north-east. The tsunami displaced a further half a million people. The government refused to establish a joint mechanism for the equitable distribution of tsunami aid to the north-east, which could have formed a basis for cooperation towards finding a political solution. More than 300,000 people were displaced in the north-east when the government launched military operations in 2006 and 2007. Currently there are 189,000 internally displaced people in Sri Lanka, 98% of who are in the north-east.

Although international agencies are involved in humanitarian aid, the Sri Lankan government has not taken adequate and necessary measures to improve their quality of life and to enable them to return to normal life, particularly in the provision of housing, health and livelihood.

The Tamil Information Centre request

In light of the above and worsening situation in Sri Lanka, the TIC call upon the UN Human Rights Council to

a) take urgent measures for the presence of an international human rights monitoring body with access to all parts of Sri Lanka and access to all relevant institutions with a view to improving human rights on the ground and ensuring Sri Lanka’s human rights obligations and commitments;

b) ensure that a mechanism for investigation of human rights violations throughout the island, which meets the requirements of independence, credibility, effectiveness and empowerment is established, with international participation, so that it contributes to public confidence, peace and stability in all parts of Sri Lanka;

c) ensure that impunity is dealt with in Sri Lanka, paying special attention to the laws and regulations that contribute to impunity, particularly through proper, adequate and impartial investigations into allegations of torture, rape, disappearances and extra-judicial executions, and that the perpetrators, irrespective of their ethnic origin, position or status, are prosecuted.

d) impress upon the Sri Lankan government that the role of human rights defenders in the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms has been recognized by the UN, urge the government to end all attacks, verbal and physical, on human rights defenders, and promote a mechanism for the protection of the human rights defenders that ensures ability to carry out their work unimpeded.

Tamil Information Centre
Thulasi
Bridge End Close
Kingston Upon Thames KT2 6PZ

Telephone: +44 (0)20 8546 1560

Fax: +44 (0)20 8546 5701

E-mail: admin.tic@sangu.org

[1] Amnesty International report on extra-judicial killings in Sri Lanka, 16 October 1985 – AI Index: ASA 37/14/85 Distr: SC/PO/CO

[2] Amnesty International Annual Report 1995

[3] Report of the Special Rapporteur on Summary and Arbitrary Executions – E/CN.4/1991/36 para 471, 472

[4] Concluding observations of the UN Human Rights Committee: Sri Lanka, 3 October 1995 – A/50/40, paras.436-476 – www.unhchr.ch

[5] Report of the Special Rapporteur, Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, 12 March 1998, Visit to Sri Lanka, 24 August to 5 September 1997 – E/CN.4/1998/68/Add.2 – http://daccessdds.un.org/doc/UNDOC

[6] Concluding observations of the Committee against Torture: Sri Lanka, 19 May 1998 – A/53/44, paras.243-257 –www.unhchr.ch

[7] UN Press Release 14 March 2000 – www.unhchr.ch

[8] Report of the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, 18 December 2000 – E/CN.4/2001/68

[9] Concluding observations of the Human Rights Committee: Sri Lanka, 1 December 2003 – CCPR/CO/79/LKA – www.unhchr.ch

[10] Conclusions and recommendations of the UN Committee Against Torture: Sri Lanka, 15 December 2005 – CAT/CLKA/CO/2

[11] Report of the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, 27, March 2006, Mission to Sri Lanka 28 November to 6 December 2005 – E/CN.4/2006/53/Add.5 – http://daccessdds.un.org/doc/UNDOC

[12] UN Press Release 29 October 2007 – www.unhchr.ch

[13] Report of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances on a visit to Sri Lanka 25-29 October 1999 E/CN.4/2000/64/Add.1

[14] Concluding observations, 3 October 1995, op. cit

[15] Report of the Special Rapporteur, Extrajudicial, Executions, 12 March 1998, op. cit

[16] Concluding observations, 19 May 1998, op. cit

[17] Report of the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances on a visit to Sri Lanka from 25 to 29 October 1999, 29 December 2001 – E/CN.4/2000/64/Add.1

[18] Concluding observations, 1 December 2003, op. cit

[19] Conclusions and recommendations, 15 December 2005, op. cit

[20] Report of the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, 27, March 2006, op. cit

[21] UN Press Release 29 October 2007 – www.unhchr.ch

[22] Address of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour at the Second Session of the UN Human Rights Council, 18 September 2006 – www.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil

[23] Article 41B of the Sri Lankan Constitution

[24] Open letter to President Mahinda Rajapakse from 11 Sri Lankan human rights NGOs: Stop expulsion of Tamils from Colombo, 7 June 2007 – www.lawandsocietytrust.org

[25] The second public statement of the International Independent Group of Eminent Persons, P N Bhagwati, Chairman, 15 June 2007 – www.pchrv.gov.lk/news

[26] Letter dated 27 December 2006 by T A Mahanama Tillekaratne, Chairman of the Presidential Commission to the Asian Human Rights Commission – www.ahrchk.net

[27] Civil and political rights, including the question of disappearances and Summary executions, Report dated 27 March 2006 of the Special Rapporteur on Extra-judicial, Summary and Arbitrary Executions to the 62nd Session of the Commission on Human Rights, Mission to Sri Lanka 28 November-6 December 2005, E/CN.4/2006/53/Add.5 – www.ohchr.org

[28] Nallaratnam Singarasa vs The Attorney-General – Decision of the Supreme Court 15 September 2006 – SC Spl (LA) No 182/99

[29] The Sri Lankan government and the LTTE signed the P-TOMS agreement on 24 June 2005 and the JVP filed action in the Supreme Court on 27 June 2005.

[The The Tamil Information Centre (TIC) is submitting this document to members of the UN Human Rights Council for information and consideration at the sessions in March 2008.]

Comments (4)

Britain with Europe to take stronger position against Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council

At a meeting organised by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on Monday, 25 February 2008 at the Houses of Parliament, chaired by the Foreign Minister Lord Malloch-Brown, the Minister stated that Britain with Europe will be taking a stronger position against the Government of Sri Lanka at the forthcoming UN Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva next week. This meeting will be attended by the Minister in person. Lord Malloch-Brown acknowledged that the Sri Lankan delegation would seek to maintain status quo. His Lordship further stated that they will be demanding and pressing hard for wider access by John Holmes, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Radhika Coomaraswamy UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict. They will also demand that all recommendations made by Louise Arbour, Head of UNHCR and Radhika Coomarasamy be implemented in full.

When questioned by Barry Gardiner MP the Minister confirmed that if the recommendation is to maintain a permanent UNHCR office in Sri Lanka then Britain will support such a recommendation.

The purpose of the meeting was to engage with the Tamil Diaspora and understand their perspective to the conflict in Sri Lanka that has already claimed more than 70,000 lives. The meeting was attended by Parliamentarians from the three major parties and members from the House of Lords. Mr. Gajan Ponnambalam-Tamil National Alliance elected Member of Parliament in Sri Lanka (One of the 22 of the 23 Tamil MPs) who is also the Foreign Relations Committee Secretary for that Party was also in presence and spoke as part of the community.

Minister said that all immigrant communities in the UK should know that UK Tamils are a ‘model’ for being organised so well politically and that he sometimes mentions to other such communities that they should follow the Tamil’s approach and establishment. “It is extremely important and absolutely correct for you as British citizens to organise and demand sympathy and support for your objectives from your local MPs. This is how the British democracy works. I wish the Sri Lankan democracy also worked that way. I want to register that point.”

“The British Tamils Forum has been labeled ‘terrorists’ and there had been some smear campaigns. I can draw parallel to my own experience. I have lived in the US for 21years. My wife is Irish American. We have been in the same position as you are. How do we support the change that we want in Northern Ireland while making sure that one doesn’t actually support violent acts against the British or the British Army?”

“You should be able to put hand on your heart and say that you are not contributing to arms to the LTTE but you are contributing to peace and justice. There is always a case for freedom struggle and self determination. Violence does not justify violence. I acknowledge the Norwegians who played such admirable role were wrong footed by the changes in Sri Lanka. We all believed that there was a political process on the way and there was negotiation. Election happened. Unfortunately the last government fell and we ended up with the current government in power. This government made political process secondary to military process. I have told the President, Foreign Minister and visiting Sri Lankan delegation that we do not find the political process credible or serious. You are all aware how Tony Blair tried to share the Northern Ireland experience. We feel that we really sought to push for a political negotiation as a way forward. There is no military solution to this problem.”

His Lordship stated that this meeting today has enormous importance in the message to indicate to the Sri Lankan Government via the Sri Lankan High Commissioner and her staff in London.

Lord Malloch-Brown observed that there are two core issues. Namely,

Prosecution of war and failure to enter into serious negotiation

Human Rights issues

He said that there was vicious attack by the government press of Sri Lanka, on UN Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs recently. We are going to go on pushing hard to put the political negotiation back on track. This he said will not be done from a bilateral position but by working closely with Europe, UN and the Commonwealth to push this forward. However, he further noted that expelling Sri Lanka from the Commonwealth is not that straight forward. Its not that Sri Lanka has breached election rules like the recent examples of Fiji or Pakistan, he explained.

-Britain will support political solution with major devolution of power to the Tamil areas

-Britain with its partners will take aggressive action on human rights

-Minister would take personal responsibility to ensure that Britain does not issue any defense related licenses that would facilitate the conflict

-However, Britain cannot support Independence for Tamils, Lord Malloch-Brown said as part of his concluding statement.

Other speakers included many UK Parliamentarians from all major parties, Lords, UK Local Councillors, Tamil Member of Parliament of Sri Lanka, A former Commissioner of the Commission for Racial Equality in the UK, A human rights lawyer from a reputable UK based company, members of British Tamils Forum and many other members of the Tamil community in the UK with varied backgrounds and political affiliations.

Below are extracts and quotes from a sample of such speakers:

Tamil Parliamentarian Gajan Ponnambalam

“..even though I am an elected member of parliament I cannot espouse the wishes of the vast majority due to the 6th amendment of the Sri Lankan constitution..”

He further restated contents from a memorandum that was handed over to the Minister last summer when he met the Minister as part of a Tamil National Alliance delegation. UK should make its development assistance conditional on human rights, progress in the political negotiations and implementation of the ceasefire agreement, UK should seriously consider trade and travel ban and the international community must renunciation the position that if the right to internal self determination of the Tamil people is going to be denied any further, the right to external self determination of the Tamil people will have to be inevitably recognised.

Former Commissioner of the Commission for Racial Equality in the UK–Dr Rajchandran

“…over a million Tamils fled Sri Lanka, they fled because of being discriminated in their own country…”

A practicing General Practitioner

“A political problem turned into a military problem turned into a terrorist problem. Not only are the Tamils in the North and East are suffering but also the Sinhalese in the South because the cost of living is crushing them and they cannot speak. All the Tamils want is peace and justice permanently guaranteed the same way as what a Sinhala person from South of Sri Lanka would enjoy”.

Simon Hughes MP

British Government, EU and the Commonwealth must make representation to Sri Lanka condemning the militaristic approach. Sanctions (“I use the general term sanctions”) could be a way to protest against a Sister Government not following international rules. Unfortunately Sri Lanka doesn’t value overseas involvement. However, that should not stop the international community progressing with the constitutional debate. Foreign Secretary indicated that there may be possibilities to progress the constitutional debate from outside Sri Lanka if that doesn’t come from the Presidents Office then we must sought where best within Sri Lanka can we take this in selling it to the communities within Sri Lanka. Commonwealth Secretariat could possibly be a good starting point.

Barry Gardner MP

There is systematic abuse of human rights in Sri Lanka. International community will not stand and watch such abuses without making representations through the UN Commission for human rights. The APRC (All Party Parliamentary Committee) that was to devise a political solution to the Tamil grievances was not represented by all parties.

Jeremy Corbin MP

“The way forward is through a long term UN presence in Sri Lanka”

Lord Naseby (Life Baron)

The Lord said that there are no indiscriminate aerial bombardments in Sri Lanka. I am well informed as I returned from Sri Lanka only two weeks ago. I am a trained fighter pilot. Sometimes people get killed when you bomb from the air. British Tamils Forum is not the sole representation of the Tamil Diaspora.

Joan Ryan MP

One cannot say that British Tamils Forum is not representative of the Tamil Diaspora in the UK. There were thousands and thousands of Tamil people who attended the Remembrance Day function held at the Docklands last November. “I am pleased that the Tamil community is organised this way and have engaged with the British Establishment this way”.

Susan Kramer MP

“people are constantly referred to as terrorist even though they are looking for peace…Menacing is an understatement”.

“LTTE is a complex organisation..It is cut off…to make any progress LTTE must be recognised in the process…Abrogation from the Ceasefire Agreement by the Sri Lankan Government was not incidental or accidental and the economic strangulation of Tamils by blocking of the A9 highway and yet the international community is not willing to speak…”

A leading human rights lawyer from a leading Law Firm in the UK

At independence in 1948 Sri Lankan State was entrusted with all minorities’ rights. They have abused the trust against Tamils, human rights, free speech, pluralism and denounce the demand for statehood. In 1977, long before the arms conflict ever began more than 90% of Tamils voted for an Independent State.

At the beginning of the meeting Suren Surendiran of the British Tamils Forum presented a short presentation. Through this presentation five main demands were made by the British Tamils Diaspora to HM’s Government.

INDEPENDENCE–Tamils safety and political future can only be guaranteed if the Sri Lankan state is restrained by international law. Therefore support & sponsor the Tamil’s demand for Independence, just as the Kosovon’s demand

-British Government & the International Community must EXPLICITLY state that their support for unity & territorial integrity CONDITIONAL on the Tamil people collectively being satisfied with the State’s sharing of power and its governance

-British Government must formally echo the same sentiments as the German Economic Co- operation and Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul (e.g. EU Sanctions, Freeze all development aid, withdraw the GSP (General System of Preference) offered to SL) to bring economic pressure on GoSL to abandon the militaristic approach to a fundamentally political problem

-Creation of a ‘Safe Haven’ by enforcing a ‘No Fly Zone’ to protect the Tamil civilians (similar principles adopted to protect the Kurdish population from Iraq’s indiscriminate bombing)

-British Government sponsored EU/UN Security Council/Commonwealth resolution condemning the militaristic approach by GoSL to a fundamentally political problem, particularly condemning the indiscriminate AERIAL bombardment

[This is the text of a press release issued by the British Tamils Forum]

Comments (26)

The Ceasefire Agreement Six Years Later

Annulment creates broader space to achieve sustainable peace

[Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process (SCOPP)]

The Ceasefire Agreement was signed six years ago by the then Sri Lankan Prime Minister, without consultation of the elected Executive President or even the Cabinet. Though he could claim a mandate for initiating negotiations, following the victory of his party in the 2001 Parliamentary Election, the failure to consult adequately can be seen as one reason for a structurally flawed document that contributed substantially and visibly to the erosion of the sovereignty of Sri Lanka. It negated the Constitutional foundations that underlie the State of Sri Lanka. It undermined the territorial integrity of Sri Lanka in that it granted what seemed virtual immunity to a non -State actor, i.e. the LTTE, from being subject to offensive operations by the armed forces when performing their legitimate task of safeguarding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka. It also privileged one party in an apparent demarcation of certain areas as LTTE held, thus preventing the Armed Forces and Sinhalese civilians from entering such areas while LTTE cadres were given free access to every part of the country. Though the Preamble to the CFA states that the “overall objective” of the GOSL and the LTTE “is to find a negotiated solution to the ongoing ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka”, it was never seriously pursued because the LTTE was not interested in a negotiated settlement, and withdrew from negotiations just over a year after the CFA was signed.

The CFA limited discussions to being between the GOSL and the LTTE, and thus denied opportunity to include others from the Tamil community. In retrospect the CFA became a dead letter; an instrument to negotiate a solution with an uninterested party who wanted to exclude any others who might be serious about a negotiated solution. In abrogating the CFA a path is now cleared to negotiate a solution with a more representative Tamil delegation, in consultation also with other minorities, as well as other political interest groups.

The CFA was honoured in the breach by the LTTE, which in the considered judgment of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (initially composed of representatives from five Nordic countries) violated the CFA 3830 times vis -a- vis Govt. violations that amounted to 351. The Ceasefire was never an impediment for the LTTE to engage in acts of terrorism against civilian and military targets. The CFA provided a veil for the LTTE to indulge in a game of hypocrisy and to prepare for war under an effective cover of searching for peace. It was able to strengthen its military potential manifold during the CFA. The LTTE took advantage of the Government adhering to the letter of the CFA and ceasing all operations whether offensive or defensive against the LTTE :

a) to murder dozens of unarmed and defenseless Tamils who were opposed to the LTTE and were disarmed in terms of the CFA,

b) to murder Tamil informants,

c) to attack the Police Stations at Point Pedro and Valachchenai and the STF Base at Kanchanankudah soon after the commencement of the CFA,

d) to sink merchant vessels,

e) to detain two SLMM Monitors against their will on board a LTTE vessel on 14 July 2002, upon detection of communication equipment, when they got on board a trawler which appeared on the territorial waters of Palk Bay,

f) to destroy a LTTE ship on detection by the SLMM of smuggled arms, which resulted in two SLMM monitors ( who discovered the hidden explosives ) nearly losing their lives. They had to jump overboard to save themselves when the LTTE set fire to the explosive laden ship on detection It was originally intercepted by the SL Navy near the Delft Islands on February 10, 2003,

g) to attack the Chinese Trawler “Fu Yuan Ya 225” on March 20th 2003,

h) to murder the Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar on 12 August 2005,

i) to regroup, rearm and launch massive attacks on Government forces in 2006. The LTTE itself called these attacks “Unceasing Waves – Eelam War 4″,

j) the killing of nine SLN personnel in Chettikulam on 12 January 2006, which prompted the SLMM shortly after the election of a new government to question the actual existence of the Ceasefire Agreement in the SLMM Press Release issued on 13 January 2006 ( The headline of the Press Release was ‘ SLMM questions whether there is still a Ceasefire”)

k) to attempt to murder the Sri Lanka Army Commander General Sarath Fonseka on 25 April 2006

to withdrew security guarantees given to the SLMM and the ICRC with regard to sea monitoring and forcing the SLMM to suspend sea monitoring on 11 May 2006, following the attack on the ship ‘The Jetliner’

l) to attack a bus load of innocent civilians by detonating a claymore mine killing 60 civilians at Kebitigollewa on the 15 June 2006,

m) to deprive thousands of civilians living down stream of the Mavil Aru Anicut of water on 22 July 2006,

n) to attack, in the guise of civilians in a bus, the forces at the checkpoint on the A9 leading northward into the Jaffna peninsula, and launch thereby on August 11 2006 a ferocious attack which involved its so-called head of the Political Wing, Mr Thamilchelvam, on the army lines there, thus precipitating the closure of the road at that point

o) to murder the Deputy Secretary – General of the Peace Secretariat, Ketish Loganathan on 12 August 2006,

p) to force the SLMM monitors from Denmark, Finland and Sweden to withdraw by refusing to give them assurances of protection and effectively truncating the Mission in September 2006,

q) to murder 98 sailors of the Navy by crashing an explosives-laden vehicle into a naval convoy at Digampatana in the Habarana area of Matale district on 16 October 2006,

r) to attempt to murder the Sri Lanka Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse on 1 December 2006

s) to engage in acts of piracy and loot ships e.g. Jordanian Merchant Vessel MV FARAH III, in December 2006,

t) to attempt to murder an elected Tamil Member of Parliament and Minister, Douglas Devananda, on 28 November 2007,

v) to refuse from 2006 onward to provide guarantees to the ICRC to enable them to facilitate the smooth shipping of supplies to Jaffna, or sea transport of civilians to and from Jaffna, all of which has now to be accompanied by naval support to ensure safety and security

w) to expand the territory over which they exercised usurped power by occupying Manirasakulam and fortifying Sampur to smuggle about eleven shiploads of arms into the country

x) to refrain for several months from giving the required guarantees to enable the A9 to be opened northward into the territories under their control, in order to claim falsely that supplies were restricted, even though throughout this period the government of Sri Lanka was ensuring supplies whilst continuing to fund education and health and other social services for all its citizens including those in LTTE controlled areas

y) to continue to recruit children forcibly into their armed forces from 2002 to 2007 inclusive

z) to prevent the holding of local government elections in the East when initially planned by the Minister of Constitutional Affairs

aa) to force the resignation of an elected Member of Parliament from the Eastern Province Mr Kingsley Rajanayagam, on the grounds that he supported the breakaway Karuna faction, and subsequently to assassinate him on October 19, 2004 at Kalliyankadu, Batticaloa

bb) to build up an airstrip, having prevented the SLMM from inspecting this in accordance with their monitoring requirements

cc) to claim on the strength of the CFA that they should not be prosecuted for collecting and using finances internationally for terrorist purposes

dd) to forcibly recruit one person from every family in the area under their control in 2007, extending this even to the families of those working with international aid agencies

Despite these grave provocations, and continuing suffering for the Tamil people in LTTE controlled areas, the Government Forces stuck to the ceasefire and took limited remedial measures only after the attack on the Army Commander in April 2006. After the full scale assaults by the LTTE on two fronts in August 2006, the Sri Lankan forces decided in the interest of national security to ensure that such offensives could not be repeated. It was only then that the operation to clear the East conclusively began.

SLMM Rulings – Select Excerpts: 1)

1. The Assassination of Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar on 12 August 2005
“SLMM strongly condemns the brutal assassination of Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar. The barbaric act is a huge blow to the peace process as a whole. Such brutal violence creates, fear, distrust and insecurity within society, and therefore represents a serious threat to the ceasefire”. 2)

2. Violation of the CFA with LTTE sea movements and attacks on the Sri Lankan Navy – 11 May 2006
“The SLMM takes these threats very seriously and would like to remind the LTTE of its responsibility as an equal partner to the Ceasefire Agreement to do everything in its power not to jeopardize the monitors’ safety”. 3)

3. LTTE claymore mine attack on a civilian bus near Kebitigollewa-15 June 2006
‘ This is not only the bloodiest attack on civilians since the Ceasefire Agreement was signed in February 2002, but yet another set back in the peace process in Sri Lanka”. 4)

4 Closure of the Mavil Aru anicut -22 July 2006 “The findings made by and provided to the SLMM show that the measures taken by the LTTE to close the Mavil Aru sluice gates on 22 July 2006, whether with or without the help of or on behalf of the people of the Verugal area, as well as the continuation of keeping the gates closed, have led to
the creation of a humanitarian crisis in the area surrounding and being dependant on the Mavil Aru dam, and thereby
the creation of a situation conducive to direct conflict between the two Parties.
Putting the civilian population in severe physical danger as the possibility of them being caught in crossfire greatly increased with the escalating tension and violence, as well as
Constraining the possibilities of rational discussions and negotiations towards a solution to the conflict. ”

5. Assassination of Deputy Secretary General, Kethesh Loganathan on the 12th August 2006
“There are no words strong enough to condemn this vicious and cold blooded murder of yet another statesman living for peace.” 5)

6. Attack on the Jordanian ship Farah III on 28 December 2006
“SLMM strongly advised the LTTE to respect International Law and the sovereign rights of Sri Lanka in the territorial waters surrounding the island…..with regards to the Jordanian ship FARAH III, the LTTE acted contradictory to its commitment to the CFA”.
Norwegian Minister of International Development Erik Solheim says:

LTTE’s request for the removal of Monitors from the EU countries- September 2006
“The LTTE’s demand that SLMM monitors from EU countries be replaced is deeply regrettable and will weaken the SLMM in a critical period,” says Norwegian Minister of International Development Erik Solheim ( key facilitator of the peace process)
Other verdicts of the SLMM will continue to be available through their website, which will be linked to that of the Royal Norwegian Embassy website in Colombo.

Comment

The annulment of an ill-conceived and unsustainable ‘agreement’ does not in any way fetter the Government of Sri Lanka from seeking a long lasting solution that addresses the genuine grievances of all sections of the people, and in particular the Tamil community in the North and East of this country. The Government has already begun the recruitment of Tamil policemen, on a targeted programme never attempted by previous Governments. Though entry was always open to security forces for all Sri Lankan citizens, minorities were not actively recruited, and in recent years Tamils, facing the threat of execution as traitors by the LTTE, were slow to apply. This has changed, following the liberation of the East from the LTTE, and recently 175 police men and women passed out at a ceremonial parade in Batticaloa.

The Government is now secure in the knowledge that there is a broader space available to interact with all sections of the Tamil community, including elements of the Tamil diaspora, most of which sections were left out of a participatory role due to the highly restrictive and limiting scope of the Ceasefire Agreement. In annulling the CFA the Government affirms its commitment to all its citizens in the democratic dispensation that it is now free to promulgate.

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