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Sri Lanka’s death toll sadly surpasses the death toll in Syria, and yet there is no discussion of a Commission of Inquiry

LTTE leaders arrested but disappeared 

Tasha Manoranjan/Pasumai Thaayagam / 21 session HRC

Thank you Madam President.  
Pasumai Thaayagam welcomes this Council’s attention to the tragic situation unfolding in Syria. We support the Council’s Commission of Inquiry for Syria, and urge the Council to extend the Commission’s mandate in order to ensure that accountability – a necessary precursor to lasting peace – is achieved.

We would like to turn the Council’s attention to another example of international justice suffering under a violently oppressive regime. This is a situation in which a ruthless government corralled over 330,000 civilians into so-called “Safe Zones”,  prohibited humanitarian aid organizations from reaching this suffering population,  and intentionally deployed heavy firing and shelling against these dense civilian areas.  Over 40,000 civilians were killed in a matter of months.  And yet three and a half years later, this Council has failed to even utter the words “Commission of Inquiry.” Today, we ask the Council – Why?

This is Sri Lanka. In early 2009, the Sri Lankan government ended decades of armed conflict through a brutal bloodbath on the beach.  Now, Sri Lanka’s ongoing militarization in the war-torn Tamil North and East, forces victims of Sri Lanka’s war crimes to live next to their victimizers.  The Sri Lankan government has not pursued a single investigation or prosecution regarding these war crimes and crimes against humanity. 

Sri Lanka’s death toll sadly surpasses the death toll in Syria, and yet there is no discussion of a Commission of Inquiry for Sri Lanka. We urge the Council to demand accountability for Sri Lanka’s past and present war crimes and crimes against humanity – first, by initiating an independent Commission of Inquiry, and second, by requesting the UN Security Council to refer Sri Lanka to the International Criminal Court. These two mechanisms are the only way to bring truth, justice and sustainable peace to this war-ravaged island.

Thank you Madam President.

Item 4 – General Debate
21st Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council
17 September 2012

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