Five Tamil politicians write to UNHR Chief ahead of Geneva session

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Five Sri Lankan Tamil political parties have written a joint statement with six requests to the UN High-Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet ahead of the UN Human Rights Council Session in September.

The request are to refer Sri Lanka to the International Criminal Court (ICC); to reduce Sri Lankan military presence in Tamil areas to pre-1983 level before the war started.

Also, they request to stop government sponsored Sinhala–Buddhist settlements in Tamil areas, including re-demarcation of divisional boundaries to incorporate Sinhala–Buddhist areas into Tamil districts and annexing Tamil areas into Sinhala-Buddhist areas; calling for an internationally conducted and monitored Referendum to bring about a permanent political solution to the protracted Tamil conflict thereby preventing further atrocities against the Tamil people, which they repeatedly faced inter-alia in 1958, 1977, 1983 and 2009

The letter had been signed by Tamil Makkal Kootani (TMK)  leader MP C.V. Wigneswaran Selvam Adaikalanathan,   Leader of Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization (TELO)  MP Selvam Adaikalanathan, Leader of the Peoples Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE)  MP Dharmalingam Sithadthan, President of the Eelam People’s Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF) Kandiah Premachandran, Former MP Jaffna District and Leader of Tamil National Party (TNP) Nallathamby Srikantha.

They also call on governments around the world to arrest and prosecute Sri Lankan political and military officers in their territories, under the principle of Universal Jurisdiction, which allows for the prosecution of serious international crimes, even if they were not committed in the country’s territory.

Furthermore they said that the freedom of expression is severely restricted in Tamil areas for several years, facilitated by the extremely large military presence and restrictive laws. Chief among the restrictive laws is the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution, which limits and criminalises political expression.

“We also would like to bring to your kind attention an open letter from 20 former high-level UN officials on 18 February 2021. The signatories included all four former UN High Commissioners for Human Rights, four former high officials of the UN, nine former Special Rapporteurs who had visited and written reports on Sri Lanka, and all three members of the Secretary-General’s Panel of Experts on Sri Lanka,” they said.

By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan