Yesterday, the United Nations advisory panel on accountability in Sri Lanka turned over its report to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The panel had been established by Ban last June to advise him on how to pursue accountability for reported war crimes and other human rights abuses committed by both the government forces and the opposition Tamil Tigers during Sri Lanka’s brutal civil war (which ended with a government victory in May 2009).
While the Secretary-General’s spokesperson said yesterday that the U.N. intends to make the report public, he didn’t give a timeframe for doing so. It’s critical that the report be made public as a first step towards achieving accountability.
Amnesty International has been asking the U.N. to establish an international war crimes investigation in Sri Lanka. This past February, I accompanied Yolanda Foster, the Amnesty researcher on Sri Lanka, and Dr. Kasipillai Manoharan, the father of one of the “Trinco 5” students killed by the security forces in 2006, as we delivered to the U.N. offices in New York over 52,000 signatures on a petition to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon calling for such an international investigation. Above is the trailer of a short film of our trip, which Amnesty has just released.
Please write to Ban Ki-moon and ask him to make the U.N. advisory panel’s report public. It’s important that the U.N. hears from everyone concerned about truth and justice for the victims and their families in Sri Lanka.
Both the Sri Lankan government and the opposition Tamil Tigers were responsible for massive human rights abuses and violations of the laws of war during the 26-year conflict.
In response to Amnesty’s call for action, over 52,000 people signed our petition to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon demanding an international investigation as a first step toward accountability for these crimes.
This past Tuesday, Feb. 22, I had the privilege of accompanying Yolanda Foster, the Amnesty researcher on Sri Lanka, and Dr. Kasipillai Manoharan, the father of one of the “Trinco 5” students killed by the security forces in 2006, to the UN offices in New York as we delivered the signed petitions to the UN. We pressed the UN to act on our petition without delay and let them know we would be following up to make sure an international investigation is promptly established.
The U.S. government has not yet joined Amnesty in our call for an international investigation. We could use their support. Please write to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and ask that the U.S. government encourage the establishment by the UN of an international investigation into war crimes and other abuses in Sri Lanka. For Dr. Manoharan’s sake and that of all the other families of the victims, we cannot stop campaigning until they receive justice.
Amnesty International is calling for the Sri Lankan government to extend a humanitarian truce, allowing aid to be received by families who are experiencing heavy shelling, who are unable to retrieve the bodies of their loved ones from within combat areas and who are liable to be killed on their way to receiving medical help.
Action for Human Rights. Hope for Humanity.