Several Tamil organisations are preparing to bring a strong resolution on Sri Lanka at the ongoing United Nations Human Rights Council session in Geneva.
Accordingly, Tamil Nadu-based NGO Pasumai Thaayagam, Australian Tamil Congress, British Tamils Forum, Maison du Tamil Eelam (France), Mauritius Tamil Congress, and United States Tamil Action Group have urged the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), joining many other Tamil Diaspora organisations, to bring a strong resolution on Sri Lanka at the ongoing session in Geneva.
The strong demand for resolution comes in the wake of several locals representing the recent protesters in Sri Lanka speaking at side events, citing how the Government has suppressed freedom of speech and democratically held protests.
The Government’s strong stance on rejecting resolution 46/1 passed on the country in 2020, which includes the rejection of the OHCHR office setting up an evidence-gathering mechanism on Sri Lanka’s alleged human rights violations. Pasumai Thaayagam demanded the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to initiate an independent investigative team to operate similar to the mechanisms set up for Myanmar (IIMM) and Syria (IIIM) and evidence from all credible, reputed sources should be accepted by the mechanism.
As part of recovery from both the financial crisis and the war, the opportunity for fundamental change in Sri Lanka’s human rights trajectory must be seized, the Tamil Nadu-based NGO in its written statement to the OHCHR said.
“As Sri Lanka debates changing the Constitution to get rid of the 20th Amendment or eliminating the executive presidency, it must also grapple with the root causes of the ethnic conflict, necessary for non-recurrence of conflict and human rights abuses. The structure of the state must be reformed to move away from the strongly unitary state in which all power resides with the central government. Chauvinist Sinhalese Buddhist politicians have used ethno-nationalism to attack and weaken the Tamils and Muslims, who continue to feel under threat.In our traditional areas of occupation in the North and East, Tamils and Muslims have no control over land, language, education, law and order, etc.”
The statement further noted that the Office for Reparations is a bureaucratic exercise which has, if at all, benefited only the Government side of those affected by the war. The Office on Missing Persons (OMP) was effectively dismantled by the latest Rajapaksa government. Not a single disappeared person has been located, nor a single member of the Security Forces remains in prison for crimes committed during the war. Neither institution was formed with or includes victim participation. Notably, no accountability mechanism has been set up, even though resolution 30/1 called for a hybrid justice mechanism.
Sri Lanka is in the midst of a severe financial and political crisis which has brought considerable attention to the island. The crisis has not yet caused the Government to completely collapse or brought the military directly into control, but there is a high likelihood of further instability. With instability and a very large security sector, there is the strong possibility of an increase in the human rights abuses for which Sri Lanka is known, namely killings, disappearances, torture and sexual violence.
By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan