“We, as Platform for Freedom, welcome the UN report on war crimes in Sri Lanka because we are working to build a fair society,” said human rights activist Nimalka Fernando.
by Melani Manel Perera
The charges are a national issue, and a lesson for all. Christian leaders, human rights activists and ordinary people criticise the government’s opposition to the report, and for failing to translate it into Sinhalese and Tamil, which leaves many Sri Lankans in the dark.
Colombo (AsiaNews) – Members of a number of civil society groups back the United Nations panel report on possible war crimes by government and Tamil rebel forces. According to human rights activists, the accusations in the report are a national issue; for one catholic priest, they are a lesson from which we can all learn.
Human rights group ‘Platform for Freedom’ criticised the government at a recent meeting on the “Challenges and opportunities for civil society in Sri Lanka,” held on Saturday at the headquarters of Caritas Sri Lanka.
After putting a lot of pressure on the United Nations not to release its report, the authorities rejected its findings and accusations, calling them “inappropriate” and “harmful” to the post-war reconciliation process underway.
For Fr Reid Shelton Fernando, a Catholic political analyst, the lack of Sinhalese and Tamil translations is a serious flaw. “The report is not based on hearsay,” he explained, “but on direct eyewitness accounts of what happened. For this reason, we cannot walk away from its charges.”
“We, as Platform for Freedom, welcome the UN report on war crimes in Sri Lanka because we are working to build a fair society,” said human rights activist Nimalka Fernando. “This is a pluralist nation and the government should consider the accusations as an affair of state.”
As lawyer Sudarshana Gunawardana noted, the crimes committed by the government include the systematic shelling of ‘no-fire zones’ despite the presence of civilian refugees and hospitals, the confinement of survivors to prisoners’ camps, and the refusal to provide adequate food and medical supplies.
The report also accuses the rebels of the Liberation Tiger of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) of using human shields, executing people trying to flee and using child soldiers.