Channel 4 are currently broadcasting “No Fire Zone”, the new documentary about Sri Lanka’s civil war. It contains shocking footage pointing to a number of human rights violations, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.
Some of the most disturbing footage shows the naked bodies of murdered Tamil Tiger soldiers. The commentary strongly suggests sexual violence has taken place. It is very disturbing and upsetting. It also raises the following question:
We know William Hague cares deeply about sexual violence
- He launched a campaign on sexual violence in conflict (PSVI) with Angelina Jolie last year.
- He has persuaded 128 countries to sign a Declaration of Commitment to End Sexual Violence in Conflict.
- He has deployed a 70 member team (the Stability Unit of doctors, police officers, and forensic experts) to track down and document perpetrators of sexual violence in conflicts current and historic in Congo, Syria, Bosnia, Libya, and now Burma.
We know sexual violence is rife in Sri Lanka:
- The BBC reported on a shocking case of sexual violence last week.
- ITV reported on a Tamil couple’s horrific ordeal the week before.
- Frances Harrison wrote up a similar case for Granta the week before.
- The Daily Telegraph interviewed another victim on Friday.
- Roma Tearne wrote up a similar case in March.
- Human Rights Watch published 75 case studies earlier this year.
- As the Minority Rights Group reported, it is likely this is merely the tip of the iceberg.
So why doesn’t William Hague care about sexual violence in Sri Lanka?
- The Foreign Affairs Select Committee recently characterised his policy towards Sri Lanka as “timid and inconsistent”.
- He hosted the President of Sri Lanka for a champagne reception in New York.
- He is going to Sri Lanka next week to attend the Commonwealth Summit and help bestow the honour of “Chair of the Commonwealth” onto the Sri Lankan President.
This is hypocrisy. If William Hague is serious about preventing sexual violence, if his Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative is to mean anything at all, then he must apply it to Sri Lanka – not simply heap rewards on the Government whose army is committing these offenses.
This is why we are today launching a campaign to ask William Hague to stand up for what he believes in – to deploy his team of experts to Sri Lanka, and to campaign to stop the Commonwealth lavishing any more rewards upon Sri Lanka until they deal with this problem.
Many Tamil men and women have been raped by Sri Lankan Security forces. Many multiple times. Many as recently as a few months ago. In all probability many are suffering this ordeal right now. This is an outrage and it must stop.
We have set up a form so that you can send a message to William Hague with just a few clicks. If enough of us do it in the next few days, he will have to act – or else his hypocrisy will cause major embarrassment.
So please help us by clicking here, and sending a message to William Hague.
Many of the victims of sexual violence cannot speak out, because of the fear it will happen again – to them or to their loved ones still in Sri Lanka. But you can speak out. Please use your voice.