AN OPEN APPEAL TO THE UN GENERAL SECRETARY AND THE MEMBERS OF THE UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY
On this day of September 21st, 2023, We the war affected and persecuted Tamil speaking people of North and East SriLanka, civil society organizations, women’s rights activists and human rights defenders of this region have come together to openly appeal the United Nations to ensure international justice mechanism to investigate Sri-Lanka’s war crimes.
Fourteen years have passed that the war has come to end. But, until to date there is no any initiatives from the side of the Srilankan government to establish a genuine justice mechanism to investigate the war crimes to hold the perpetrators accountable and to give justice to the affected people.
During the final stages of the war, SriLankan government totally disregarded the international humanitarian and human rights laws, norms and values and acted against the basic international standards:
- Violation against the Charter of the United Nations:
As a member state of the United Nations, SriLanka has violated the primary objectives of the Charter of the United Nations. The Charter explicitly states the United Nations is committed to protect the humanity, human dignity and the fundamental rights of all. The first hand experiences of most of us, and details enshrined in the UN Panel Report reveals that the SriLankan government failed to comply with the fundamentals of the UN Charter.
- Violation against the 4th Geneva Convention, 1949:
The objective of the Convention is to “protect civilians caught in war zones”. Though the Convention discussed the international armed conflict, which issue – international armed conflict – was gained primary attention during that time, the objective of the Convention is applicable to all conflict situations and it is undeniable. SriLanka, a party to the Geneva Conventions violated the basic Articles of the Convention that speaks about the civilian protection.
- War crimes of SriLanka:
- According to the UN Panel of Experts Report, SriLankan government forces used heavy shelling and bombing in “No fire Zone” and caused heavy civilian casualties. Chemical bombs (phosphorous) used by the government that deeply burnt the skin and flesh of the humans bodies. The Tamil survivors who lived in Vanni region and suffered throughout the final stages of the war, says, government used “Koththu Kundu”. That is “cluster bomb”.
- There are thousands of civilians living with shrapnel and bullets in their bodies. Infants also injured and those children are still sustained with metal pieces in their bodies. A pregnant mother, whose abdomen was pierced by a metal piece of a shell and the child in the womb also injured by that shell piece. The child still sustained with the scars.
- Hospitals were bombarded, there were wounded and sick who were transferred from Mullaitivu to Trincomalee by the ship went missing permanently, under the control of the military civilians were forcibly taken from Mullaitivu to Vavuniya against their will and kept in barbed wired fenced camps, which were heavily guarded by the armed forces day and night. Families were separated and there were situations, family members couldn’t see their beloved ones who were admitted in the hospital. Also they were not allowed to see the dead bodies of their family members who died in the hospital and also not allowed attend the funerals of them.
- Several persons who were arrested by the state forces or surrendered to them or handed over to the state forces by the family members were went missing and still no news about their whereabouts.
- Men and women were gone through screening process. There were situations women were screened by male state forces. This was basically violated the human dignity.
- Sexual crimes against women and girls were committed in different situations by the state forces.
- Most of the houses of civilians were completely destroyed by bombing including public buildings. The remained properties of those people were looted. The wooden doors, windows, the frames of the doors and windows, wooden lintels of the roof were removed from the houses by the army and taken for their use.
According to the UN Panel of Experts Report, in the final stages of the war civilian deaths amounts to 40,000. Several LTTE carders who were arrested or surrendered were killed. Recently, a mass grave has been identified in Kokkuthoduvai area of Mullaitivu district and human remaining were unearthed along with the uniforms and number plates of LTTE carders, including female under garments.
The United Nation is the primary incumbent, committed to enforce justice to all. Therefore, we call upon the United Nations to guide Sri-Lanka to establish an international justice mechanism to investigate the war crimes and to provide justice to the affected people.
North-East Coordinating Committee (NECC)
September 21st, 2023