You may not have been aware of it, but this past Wednesday, Aug. 19, was the first World Humanitarian Day. August 19 was designated by the U.N. General Assembly last December as a day each year to honor aid workers around the world, especially those who have given their lives in the line of duty.
The UN website about the World Humanitarian Day noted that in Sri Lanka, 17 staff of the French aid agency Action contre la Faim (ACF) (Action Against Hunger) were killed in August 2006. While the Sri Lankan government has blamed the opposition Tamil Tigers for the killings, a recent report by the Sri Lankan human rights group, University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna), provides evidence pointing to the security forces as the killers. And Amnesty International’s report, “Twenty Years of Make-Believe: Sri Lanka’s Commissions of Inquiry, details serious deficiencies of subsequent government investigations into the massacre.
It’s been more than 3 years, and still the killers of the 17 ACF staff have not been brought to justice. One more example of the continuing impunity enjoyed by the Sri Lankan security forces. I hope that by next year’s World Humanitarian Day, I won’t be able to make the same statement.