For new developments on Sri Lanka and updates on this action, follow me on Twitter.
UPDATE (July 30): Our action is working! We almost got one new co-signer per hour within the first 24 hours of the start of our action, collecting 22 additional signatures. Even more important, due to the traction we got on this topic over the last days, the deadline to sign on was extended to next Friday, August 6Thursday, August 5! Please keep urging your representative to sign and spread the word. Thanks to everyone who has already done so.
After a US State Department official called for reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka last week, US lawmakers are now taking concrete action to hold the State Department to its own word (unfortunately the State Department seems to support the insufficient domestic investigation into the war crimes). Currently, a congressional sign on letter is circulating at Capitol Hill, gaining support to identify those responsible for the crimes committed in the final stage of
Sri Lanka’s civil war. The letter, sponsored by Representatives Jan Schakowsky and James McGovern, urges Secretary Clinton to publicly call for an independent international investigation into alleged war crimes committed by both sides during the war in Sri Lanka. We urgently need your help in asking your representative to sign on. To achieve the highest impact with this congressional letter and keep up the pressure for true accountability, we must collect enough signatures now.
Last year, activists like you spearheaded the global Unlock the Camps in Sri Lanka campaign, leading to the release of tens of thousands of civilians who were detained after the end of the war. Now we need your help again. Please take action today by asking your representative in the House to sign the congressional letter, demanding an international investigation. The letter will be closed this Friday, July 30, so please urge your representative now!
Here‘s how you can take action:
- Take action online, urging your House representative to sign on to the letter.
- Call the Congressional switchboard at 202 224-3121 and ask for your representative. Tell him about the letter and encourage him to support it.
- If your representative has a Facebook page or twitter account, encourage him through these platforms to sign on (for an example how to do this on twitter, follow our lead).
Civilian Casualties NOT An Accident
We have reported extensively on this site about the massive human rights violations that were committed during the final stages of the fighting in Sri Lanka. The main conclusion, not only from our own research (which includes the use of satellite images to document attacks in the so-called “Civilian Safe Zone”), but also from the analyses conducted by Human Rights Watch, International Crisis Group, and the State Department’s own Office of War Crimes Issues, paints a grim picture. The civilian casualties were not accidental or simply the result of being caught in the crossfire. Many resulted from indiscriminate shelling by the Sri Lankan government of heavily populated areas. The LTTE used civilians as human shields and deliberately shot those trying to flee the war zone. The Sri Lankan government also prevented sufficient food and medicine from reaching the conflict area and prevented the International Committee of the Red Cross from providing medical assistance, resulting in many more civilian deaths.
These acts violated international human rights and international humanitarian law; some of them may constitute as war crimes. It is vital that those responsible for these atrocities be brought to justice. Failure to do so would send a message that the international community will allow war criminals to escape accountability and justice, and encourage other countries to follow the “Sri Lanka model”.
The United States government should take the lead in urging the United Nations to promptly launch an independent, international investigation into the alleged war crimes committed during the war in Sri Lanka.