Monday, May 10, 2010

Top 10 Things To Know About Post-conflict Situation in Sri Lanka

May 18th, marks the first anniversary of the end of the war in Sri Lanka when the government concluded its campaign against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

The LTTE’s dreaded leader V. Prabhakaran is dead, as are all his senior colleagues and for now the banned terrorist group has been destroyed.

But there needs to be a serious and independent investigation into the war crimes said to be committed by both sides during the final months of the war between January and May 2009. The SL government estimates that about 3,000 to 5,000 civilians were killed but unofficial estimates by UN personnel present in SL during that time say that the real figure could be closer to 20,000 if not more.

I know some people argue that war is dirty business; that you can’t have a war where everyone comes out smelling of roses. True. But there are rules even for the conduct of war and if the Sri Lankan government has observed those rules, it should not be afraid of an independent investigation. But it won’t allow one. And countries like China, Russia and India are helping it cover up its crimes.

Even the manner in which the Sri Lankan government has handled the post-conflict situation and the terrible, terrible punishment that the Tamils are being made to pay for this collectively is shameful.

Amnesty International put together this list of ‘Top 10 Things to Know’ about the post-conflict situation in Sri Lanka. The next time you hear the argument, “But war is dirty business…..” remember to quote one of these 10 points.

  1. Despite reports of torture, rape and killings in detention and IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) camps since spring 2009, the SL government has not allowed impartial observers to investigate the validity of the claims and monitor the situation.  
  2. Despite the government’s promise that all would be released from the post-war camps for the displaced in Menik Farm and elsewhere by the end of January 2010, 70,000 people are still in camps.
  3. Atleast 10,000 ppl (incl. appx. 500 children) have been detained because of alleged ties to the Tamil Tigers. We don’t know exactly who, how many or even where they are being held.
  4. Red Cross has been denied access to detention camps for child ex-combatants since July 2009. Even UNICEF has had very limited access.
  5. Despite government promises, a vast majority of the returnees from IDP camps do not have adequate housing, potable water and sewerage.
  6. The UNHCR has had to stop its shelter grant of US$220 to all future returnees from IDP camps due to a lack of funds. The shelter grant is crucial assistance to help people rebuild their homes.
  7. SL has become one of the most dangerous places in the world to freely express an opinion. Attacks against journalists and civil society activists have risen in the last 4 yrs and dozens of journalists have fled.
  8. Sri Lanka has the second largest number of enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings after Iraq according to the UN.
  9. After the war against the Tamil Tigers ended in May 2009, SL President Rajapakse promised UN Sec. Gen. Ban Ki-Moon that his govt. would look into claims of human rights abuse and possible war crimes committed during the war. There are claims that anywhere from 10,000 to 40,000 people were killed in the final weeks alone. But the govt. has taken no serious action so far.
  10. Despite the tens of thousands of crimes committed over the last 30 yrs only a handful of perpetrators have ever been convicted. There is little hope for victims’ families to find justice inside SL.


Ganja Turtle said...

Weird coincidence? Picked this up from AII's FB page earlier this morning for blog... let me know link once the signature campaign is up.

Alaphia Zoyab said...

Totally! But I commend you for good timing :-) I'll be sure to let you know once the petition goes up. Should be on May 18th.