Amnesty International has continued to highlight the serious and on-going repression, impunity and human rights violations in Sri Lanka for several years. They have documented testimonies from thousands of people over the years and have worked tirelessly to draw the attention of the International Community to take action to bring relief and justice for Sri Lankans.
The deaths and disappearances number hundreds of thousands in Sri Lanka. But these are not faceless numbers, but individual people with lives that have been taken away and not protected by their government. AI’s campaign concern is deeply linked to the individual cases they have monitored. Dr Manoharan is one such case, and he has been seeking the truth and to find justice for the death of his son in 2006. Dr Manoharan explained why the UN is his last resort and together with AI, personally presented his plea to the UN earlier this year. (1)
Over 50,000 people backed a worldwide petition launched by AI requesting the Sri Lankan government to ‘Unlock the camps” – camps which held over 300,000 people behind barbed wire following the military offensive – and demanded an independent enquiry by the UN on the last 5 months of the military offensive which ended in May 2009. (2)
The imminent release of the much delayed UN panel’s report is an important step on the road to establishing what really happened in those final months of mass killings. Following receipt of the Report, the Sri Lankan Government seems to have deliberately leaked it, ahead of the UN making it public. Yolanda Foster of AI has urged the UN not only to urgently make the report public but also to act on it, unlike previous occasions when the UN has ‘ buried reports’. She also called on the UN to show leadership and set up an independent War Crimes enquiry. (3)
Together with other Human Rights organsiations and campaign groups, AI has repeatedly urged members to request their governments to push for this too. AI are critical of the report being released selectively to the GoSL, which is disrespectful of the many who have given input and were expecting to be treated with equal respect. Their new campaign petition “Dear UN Secretary-General, tell us what you know about Sri Lanka” calls for the immediate release of the report to the public (4)
A recent in-depth report by Channel 4 highlights the plight of people still living in a climate of fear and intimidation and with on-going grave human rights abuses (5)
Now is the moment, for the United Nations to live up to its mandate and instigate processes to reveal the truth of what happened and is continuing to happen in Sri Lanka. Act now!
For more information on the AI campaign on Sri Lanka, please see http://amnesty.org/en/appeals-for-action/dear-un-secretary-general-tell-us-what-you-know-sri-lanka
For more info on channel 4 coverage please see http://www.channel4.com/news/sri-lanka-civil-war