“We therefore call upon the Government of the United Kingdom to honour their promise made by the foreign affairs minister, to exercise all options available in order to serve justice and to halt the structural genocide of Tamils by the Sri Lankan State,” the Forum has said.
The BTF has made these comments releasing a statement on the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) report.
The Forum has observed that the much awaited Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) report released recently by the government of Sri Lanka has neither investigated nor dealt with the war crimes charges or the charges of crimes against humanity.
“Instead of addressing the accountability issues as promised to and requested by the UN secretary general, it has attempted to exonerate the Sri Lankan military from all charges even without carrying out an investigation. The report has focused on discrediting the evidence based findings of the UN panel of experts report on Sri Lanka instead of using the evidence to further an impartial investigation,” the Forum has noted.
As highlighted by the Human Rights Watch and the Amnesty international, from its inception, the LLRC lacked the mandate, structure, independence and resources to investigate the serious charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. There was no witness protection scheme in place as required by the international standards of investigation. To the contrary, several witnesses were threatened and intimidated by the Sri Lankan security apparatus.
The commission according to BTF has failed to investigate the charges relating to the number of civilians killed due to its use of heavy artillery on a narrow strip of land where a large number of civilians were holed up. Nor has it investigated the deliberate targeting of hospitals, and denial of vital humanitarian aid during the last phase of the war.
“There was a clear military strategy directed by President Mahinda Rajapakse as the commander- in – chief and his brother Gothabaya Rajapakse as the defence secretary to inflict maximum casualties among the civilian population which has been herded within the so called ‘safe’ zone. An exiled Sri Lankan army general has given a sworn affidavit to assert that atrocities against Tamil rebels and civilians were sanctioned at the highest echelons of the government. The report failed to address the charges relating to the execution of those who had surrendered with “white flags”,” the statement has noted.
They have pointed out that despite the satellite imagery, video evidence and eye witness accounts of civilians, pointing to the use of heavy artillery and deliberate targeting of densely populated areas, the commission tries to exonerate the Sri Lankan military and its command structure from any responsibility for such crimes.
The state further reads:
“The report recommends appointment of further commissions, setting the stage for the perpetual formations of such commissions and reports to defer international action, denying justice to the victims. While the Sri Lankan regime is allowed time and space for such dubious eye wash activities, by the international community, it is using the time to permanently change the demography of the Tamil homeland and continues to eliminate, those who are clamouring for democracy and freedom.
“Sri Lankan State is colonising the Tamil people’s homeland in the North and East of the island with Sinhalese from the South and building more army camps and Buddhist temples on forcibly appropriated land belonging to the displaced Tamils. The Tamil Homeland is highly militarised and the people are terrorised by “white van” abductions, murder and rape. Tamil farmers are driven out of their farmlands to give way to Sinhala farmers and Tamil fisher folk have been uprooted from their coastal villages which are now colonised by Sinhala fishermen. These communities, whose livelihoods are denied to them by the state, live in abject poverty, slowly dying of starvation and related diseases.
“Tamil people in the North and East of Sri Lanka live in an open prison terrorised militarily and marginalised economically, politically and culturally. The Sri Lankan regime is making living conditions of the Tamil people unbearable so that they leave the island. It is intimidating and enacting laws to deter the returning Tamils of the Diaspora who wish to rebuild the lives of their kith and kin.
“This strategy has a clear objective of eliminating the Tamil identity from Sri Lanka, thus completing the genocide of Tamils paving the way for the formation of a mono ethno Sinhala state.
“Time is of essence, as the very existence of Tamils is threatened in Sri Lanka. It is the responsibility of the international community to force the Sri Lankan state to change course. The use of soft options has so far not produced any results but has helped the Sri Lankan regime in its persecution of Tamils with absolute impunity. It is time for the international community to act decisively and expeditiously to stop the annihilation of Tamil people in Sri Lanka.”