18th February 2013
To: The President and all members of the UN Human Rights Council
Call for a strong and action oriented resolution on Sri Lanka at the 22nd session of the UN Human Rights Council
As a group of concerned Christian clergy living and serving in North and East of Sri Lanka, we are writing to appeal for a strong and action oriented resolution in relation to accountability, reconciliation and human rights in Sri Lanka, which will go beyond the resolution adopted at the 19th session of the Council.
As noted by the High Commissioner for Human Rights in her report to the Council, what we have seen since the rather weak resolution adopted at the 19th session of the Council is a total lack of political will on the part of the government to implement recommendations therein, such as the call for investigations into allegations of international law during the final stages of the conflict and cooperation with the UN Special Procedures, as evident by the lack of response to requests for country visits by 8 thematic UN Special Procedures for a number of years.
We had also witnessed continuing ignorance and violations of the key LLRC recommendations, related to political solution to the ethnic conflict, release of political prisoners, appointment of a Commissioner to look into disappearances, reparations, release of land occupied illegally by the military, restrictions on media, commemorating those dead and disappeared, use of both national languages etc. In the last year, those criticising and challenging the government in peaceful ways including by engagement with the UN, have been assaulted, questioned, arrested, threatened, discredited and intimidated by government ministers, officials, military and police. Victims include some of us and fellow clergy who are not signing this letter due to fear of reprisals.
We feel that the killing and disappearance of tens of thousands of Tamil people and actions that are supressing the Tamil people and community, our culture, religions, language, land in a systematic way before, during and after the war, appears to be done with an intent to destroy us in whole or part, and thus, it is imperative that the international community addresses this seriously even at this late stage.
We fear that at the pace these oppressive methods are carried out after the war, our identity as a people will be destroyed in the near future. Hence there is an exigency to arrive at a political solution which acknowledges the internal self-determination of the Tamil People.
While we have focussed on issues confronting the Tamil people, particularly in the North and East, we also remain deeply concerned about increasing authoritarianism all over Sri Lanka, such as the recent attacks against Muslims, killing of 27 Sinhalese prisoners in November last year, lack of investigation into discovery of skeletal remains in Matale of those suspected to have been tortured and killed, threats, attacks and intimidations of journalists, human rights defenders, student leaders, trade unionists and religious clergy who criticize the government. We remain in solidarity with victims, their families and those who struggle for justice. The most recent impeachment of the Chief Justice bypassing Court decisions and due process, attacks and threats on judges and lawyers, as well as inaction of statutory bodies such as the Police, National Human Rights Commission and Attorney General’s Department reinforces our long held view that justice for Tamils through domestic processes is not realistic, despite our own engagement with several such bodies in good faith.
We are attaching a letter written by the Catholic Bishop of Mannar to the President in August 2012 and a letter to the Catholic Bishops Conference by the Justice and Peace Commission of Jaffna Diocese in January 2013, giving details of our concerns and also serve as examples of the numerous unsuccessful domestic efforts we have undertaken.
We are convinced that the root cause of these problems is a lack of political will, than the capacity. Hence, it is our firm conviction that technical assistance from the UN in the form of training, advice, financial and material support will not suffice, and may even serve as red herring if not accompanied by more substantive investigative, monitoring and reporting role.
Thus, we appeal for a strong and action oriented resolution, which will:
1. Note the lack of progress on human rights and reconciliation since the last year’s resolution, the continuing repression of minorities and those with dissenting views and unwillingness of the Sri Lankan government to address allegations of past violations
2. Establish an international and independent commission of inquiry to look into allegations of violations of international law by all sides during the war, with a proper witness protection mechanism and including with specific reference to findings and recommendations of the UN Secretary General’s Panel of Experts report
3. Appoint a Special Representative / Rapporteur on Sri Lanka with a broad mandate to address the past and on-going violations and assist and advice the government on future reconciliation initiatives
4. Identify a team of thematic UN Special Procedures to visit Sri Lanka considering pending requests for visits
5. Set up an accountability mechanism for UN officials implicated in the failure of the UN’s protection mandate in relation to last stages of war in Sri Lanka as identified in the UN’s own Internal Review
6. Welcome the report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to the 22ndsession of the Council and request her to report back to the Council’s 25thsession her observations on progress of the above and recommendations.
(Signed by the Bishop of Mannar and 132 men and women Christian clergy and religious from different churches in North and East Sri Lanka, full list of names in attachment)
1. Most Rev. Dr. Rayappu Joseph, Bishop of Mannar
2. Rev. Fr. S.V.B. Mangalaraja. President, Justice and Peace Commission, Jaffna
3. Rev. Fr. M.V.E. Ravichandran, Director, Laity council, Jaffna
4. Rev. I.D. Dixon, Anglican Church, Nallur
5. Rev. Sujithar Sivanayagam, Methodist Church, Trincomalee
6. Rev. N. Pirabhakaran, Anglican Church, Trincomalee
7. Rev. Sr. Immaculate Joseph H.C.
8. Rev. Bro. Lawrence Leon, Mannar
9. Rev. Fr. Jeyabalan Croos, Vankalai, Mannar
10. Rev. Fr. Gerard Rosairo, Colombo
11. Rev. Fr. Elil Rajendram SJ, Trincomalee
12. Rev. Fr. V. Yogeswaran SJ, Trincomalee
13. Rev. Fr. C. P. Rajendram SJ, Trincomalee
14. Rev. Sr. Jeyam, Vavuniya
15. Rev. Sr. M. Boneventine H.F
16. Rev. Sr. Mariamalar H.F.
17. Rev. Sr. Nirmala H.F.
18. Rev. Sr. Grace H.F.
19. Rev. Sr. M. Pushpam Gnanapragasam H. F.
20. Rev. Sr. Thayanayagi H.F.
21. Rev. Fr. Siluvairajah Arul Sutharsan O.M.I.
22. Rev. Fr. S. M. Sebastian O.M.I.
23. Rev. Fr. S. A. Sebastian Ravel O.M.I.
24. Rev. Fr. C. S. Croos O.M.I.
25. Rev. Fr. S. Anpurasa O.M.I
26. Rev. Fr. A. Celestine O.M.I
27. Rev. Fr. Peter Arulnathan O.M.I.
28. Rev. Sr. M. Elizebeth H. F.
29. Rev. Sr. Glory H.F.
30. Rev. Sr. Mary Yvone Simeon H.F.
31. Rev. Sr. Salami Sosai H.F.
32. Rev. Sr. Delicia H. F.
33. Rev. Sr. Cypirian Varapragasam H.F.
34. Rev. Sr. Justina kanapathi H.F.
35. Rev. Sr. Shamini Sebastiampillai H.F.
36. Rev. Sr. Jothinayaki H.F.
37. Rev. Sr. Sybil Theresa H. F.
38. Rev. Sr. Vasantha H.F.
39. Rev. Sr. Josephine Rajani H.F.
40. Rev. Sr. Dunstan Pathinathar H.F.
41. Rev. Fr. T. Navaratnam, Vavuniya
42. Rev. Fr. F. J. Gnanaraj Croos, Thoddaveli
43. Rev. Fr. Gnanathicam, Vanchiankulam
44. Rev. Fr. A. Rayappu, Mannar
45. Rev. Fr. S. Mariathasan Leon
46. Rev. Fr. Francis Assisi, Omanthai
47. Rev. Fr. A. J. Muralitharan, Mannar
48. Rev. Sr. Anitta Antony H.F.
49. Rev. Sr. M. James A.C.
50. Rev. Sr. M. Gnanatharshi A.C
51. Rev. Sr. M. Parames A.C.
52. Rev. Sr. M. Arulini A.C.
53. Rev. Sr. Sumithira RGS
54. Rev. Sr. Jesy RGS
55. Rev. Sr. Nijanthini RGS
56. Rev. Sr. Anthonipillai Mary Rita H.C.
57. Rev. Sr. Judith Rayappu H.C.
58. Rev. Sr. Jeyaseeli H.C.
59. Rev. Sr. Rina Rasiah H.C.
60. Rev. Sr. Maria Gorettee H.C.
61. Rev. Sr. Emerita Saverimuthu H.C.
62. Rev. Sr. Hilda Croos H.C
63. Rev. Sr. Sylvia Sebastiampillai H.C.
64. Rev. Sr. Vinci H.C.
65. Rev. Sr. Virginy Edwardrajah H.C.
66. Rev. Sr. Anushia Alexander H.C.
67. Rev. Sr. Rojini Figirado H.C.
68. Rev. Sr. Sebamalar Patrick Grace H.C.
69. Rev. Sr. Manuela Michale H.C.
70. Rev. Fr. Thevathasan Edwin O.M.I.
71. Rev. Fr. Augustine Confucious O.M.I.
72. Rev. Fr. Vincent Jerome O.M.I.
73. Rev. Fr. Jeyanthan Pachek O.M.I.
74. Rev. Fr. Vijeyendiran O.M.I.
75. Rev. Fr. A. Nesan Kulas CMF
76. Rev. Fr. Rev. Fr. J. Jeyaseelan CMF
77. Rev. Fr. Rajeswaran C.R.
78. Rev. Fr. Rex Saundara
79. Rev. Fr. A. J. Yavis
80. Rev. Fr. S.M.P. Ananthakumar
81. Rev. Fr. A. C. Christopher, Chundukuli
82. Rev. Fr. R.C.X. Nesarajah, Gurunagar
83. Rev. Fr. J.C. Paul Rohan, S.F.X.S. Jaffna
84. Rev. Fr. S.A. Roshan, S.P.C. Jaffna
85. Rev. Fr. T.J. Kirubaharan, S.F.X.S. Jaffna
86. Rev. Fr. T. Raviraj, S.F.X.S. Jaffna
87. Rev. Sr. N. Emmanuel, Vavuniya
88. Rev. Sr. Hilary, Vavuniya
89. Rev. Sr. Genita, Vavuniya
90. Rev. Sr. Dharshini Perera, Vavuniya
91. Rev. Sr. Helen Lambert, Vavuniya
92. Rev. Sr. Oscar Lambert, Vavuniya
93. Rev. Sr. Angelita Joseph, Vavuniya
94. Rev. Sr. Christine Fernando, Vavuniya
95. Rev. Sr. Naomie, Vavuniya
96. Rev. Sr. Laurine, Vavuniya
97. Rev. Sr. Tharini, Vavuniya
98. Rev. Fr. A. Rajani Kanth, Veppankulam, Vavuniya
99. Rev. Fr. Christhu Nesaratnam, Mannar
100. Rev. Fr. Stephen Rajah, Thalvupadu
101. Rev. Fr. M. Jeyabalan, Bishop’s House, Mannar
102. Rev. Fr. G. A. Arulraj Croos, Murunkan
103. Rev. Fr. Sugunaraj Croos
104. Rev. Fr. Denny Calistus, Pampaimadhu, Vavuniya
105. Rev. Fr. Arokiam, Pandiviruchchan
106. Rev. Fr. S. Jeyabalan, Mannar
107. Rev. Fr. P. Jesurajah
108. Rev. Fr. Jesley Jegananthan
109. Rev. Fr. M. P. Peter Manohar
110. Rev. Fr. S. Vasanthakumar, Mannar
111. Rev. Fr. Desmond Kulas, Mannar
112. Rev. Fr. Douglas Milton Logu, Mannar
113. Rev. Fr. S.V. Avithappar, Mannar
114. Rev. Fr. Yogaraj Peries, Mannar
115. Rev. Fr. Arudkumaran, Mannar
116. Rev. Fr. A. Luckston De Silva
117. Rev. Fr. S. Anton, Mannar
118. Rev. Bro. Terrance, Mannar
119. Rev. Fr. S. Rajanayagam, Chilavathurai
120. Rev. Fr. Desmond Angelo, Mannar
121. Rev. Fr. Laconz Figurado, Mannar
122. Rev. Fr. G. Arulpragasam, Mannar
123. Rev. Fr. Ruban Fernando, Mannar
124. Rev. Fr. Rocksan Croos, Mannar
125. Rev. Fr. Emil Elilraj, Vankalai
126. Rev. Fr. Suresh Ravel, Alawakkai
127. Rev. Fr. Rayappu Augustine
128. Rev. Fr. E. Sebamalai, Mannar
129. Rev. Fr. Devarajah Koduthore, Mannar
130. Rev. Fr. Newton Devarajah, Mannar
131. Rev. Fr. Peppi Sosai, Vavuniya
132. Rev. Fr. S. Anton Thavarajah, Mannar
133. Rev. Fr. A. Jude Croos, Mannar
The group can be contacted at [email protected]