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Calls for war-crimes probe escalate as Tamils commemorate massacre

18 May 2011,
Amid increasing calls by world’s premier human rights NGOs, newly elected Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu for independent international investigations into alleged accusations of war-crimes committed by Sri Lanka on Tamils, Tamil expatriates in several countries in the West are preparing to commemorate the massacre of Tamil civilians during the final phase of Sri Lanka war.
Tamil expatirates. In the United Kingdom, youth groups are organizing a vigil in Trafalgar Square and planning protest campaigns against visiting Sri Lanka cricket team, while in the U.S. in a show of unity, multiple Tamil organizations are participating in a protest and vigil in front of the United Nations building. Organizers of both events said they are expecting a large turnout.

Calls for War-Crimes Probe
Amnesty:: Investigate War Crimes In Sri Lanka: It would be a great help if we can get the U.S. government to publicly support our call for an international war crimes investigation in Sri Lanka. Please write the U.S. government today, so that the victims and their families can finally receive truth and justice.

HRW:: Sri Lanka takes the wrong road to peace: India should be working alongside those governments that wish to see that the people responsible for terrible crimes are held to account. India should not hold back now. By speaking up, it can ensure that the Sri Lankan people, Sinhalese and Tamil and the rest achieve a future they have long craved, one that allows all the promise of a peaceful democracy.

ANC:: Supports UN recommendations on Sri Lanka war crimes: The ANC supports the recommendations of the Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s Panel of Experts that called for the establishment of an independent body to investigate all violations of international humanitarian and human rights laws committed in the conflict.

Jayalalithaa:: Asks Centre to move UN against Rajapaksa for war crimes:[SLFP proposals] are potentially dangerous for democracy, good governance and the existence of independent institutions…demonstrates that those responsible for the proposals are completely out of touch with the realities of constitutional reform for conflict resolution.

Weiss:: Sri Lanka’s conduct of war “serious challenge to International Order”In an interview with Radio Australia, Gordon Weiss, a former UN spokesperson who accused Sri Lankan Government earlier of killing 10,000 to 40,000 Tamil civilians by discriminate shelling during the final stages of war, said that the real impact of the UN-panel’s report “really in its absolute clarity that grave crimes were committed and that there must be an international judicial inquiry into it,” and adds that he believes these “investigations will lead to a war crimes process.”

UN Panel Report on War CrimesIn light of the allegations found credible by the Panel, the Government of Sri Lanka, in compliance with its international obligations and with a view to initiating an effective domestic accountability process, should immediately commence genuine investigations into these and other alleged violations of the international humanitarian and human rights law committed by both sides involved in the armed conflict.

“Thousands of Tamils will hold a vigil in Trafalgar Square on Wednesday evening to mark the second anniversary of the end of the civil war in Sri Lanka and to call for an independent international investigation into allegations of war crimes and human rights abuses,” British daily Guardian reported on the Trafalgar Square event.

MPs from the UK’s main parties – among them Simon Hughes (Liberal Democrat), Virendra Sharma (Labour) and Theresa Villiers (Conservative) – are expected to attend the event, the paper said, adding “[a]t the end of the vigil, demonstrators will deliver a memorandum to Downing Street, urging the prime minister to honour the call he made in October for an independent investigation into the allegations of war crimes and human rights abuses.”

The press release issued by the U.S. groups organizing the UN protest, said, “[i]n the name of fighting terror, the government of Sri Lanka indiscriminately bombed the Tamil homeland, using large-scale and widespread shelling including deployment of banned chemical weapons….From January to May 2009, over 80,000 Tamil civilians were slaughtered by the Sri Lanka state apparatus, including 40,000 in the last three days.”

Spokesperson for the US protest said, “dissident voices, independent journalists, and elected Tamil Members of Parliament have been silenced by threats, brutality, and assassinations carried out by government-sponsored death squads….In order to give voice to the voiceless, our coalition and the widespread Tamil Diaspora are determined to carry forward the struggle for justice and freedom in the international arena.”

Further, Tamils in Canada, have declared the month of May as “Genocide Month,” and have been focusing their efforts at grassroots and towards the diplomatic missions in bringing the Tamil concerns to the global community, according to the organisors of the National Council of Canadian Tamils (NCCT), the democratically elected country council of Eezham Tamils in Canada. Meanwhile, Tamil Youth Organisation (TYO) launched an awareness campaign through social media on Tamil genocide and was conducting signature campaign urging the International Criminal Court to investigate the Sri Lankan state.

Meanwhile, in the NorthEast, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) urged Tamils to have religious observances in memory of those who were killed in the war.

More than 600 students from all the faculties of Jaffna University observed “Mu’l’livaaykkaal Remembrance,” defying the threatening presence of Sri Lankan riot police commandos, Sri Lanka Army soldiers and intelligence operatives at the University premises between 11:00 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.

Noting that “International diplomacy is not about the truth. The truth can be ignored most of the time,” Stephen Keim, president of Australian Lawyers for Human Rights, in an opinion column in the ABC news “Drum section” questioned “if the UN panel’s conclusions will be acted upon and whether the international community will realise that the game is up and everyone knows what it has been trying to ignore. Or will it sit on its hands and hope that the illusion of the emperor’s new clothes again get to cover the nakedness of those who committed serious crimes during the final months of the Sri Lankan civil war.”



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