Tamil diaspora organizations welcome the High Commissioner’s report on human rights in Sri Lanka ahead of the 51st session of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) and call on member states to pass a strong resolution on Sri Lanka. Action at the HRC should provide justice for victims of abuse and atrocity crimes existed over 70 years with impunity and should encourage the “deeper institutional and security sector reforms needed to prevent the recurrence of violations of the past.”
We congratulate Ms. Michele Bachelet on her productive term as High Commissioner, including her many strong and detailed reports on Sri Lanka, the passage of 2020’s Res.46/1 which referred to all her recommendations and the formation of the Sri Lanka Accountability Project, and wish her well in the future. We commend Mr. Volker Turk on his appointment as the next High Commissioner and pledge to work with him to further human rights and justice in Sri Lanka and our home countries around the world.
In her report on Sri Lanka, we are especially pleased that the High Commissioner has described the integral relationship between the economy and human rights in Sri Lanka, which has been especially clear during both the pandemic and the current economic and political crisis. We would like to note that the roots of the economic crisis lie in the high cost of discrimination and persecution against Tamils, which led to a long destructive war, the loss of immense talent and huge government deficits. Ethno-nationalist fervor over winning the war in 2009 and the lack of consequences for mass atrocity crimes committed against the Tamils led directly to the corruption and profligacy which is the primary source of the current economic devastation.
As the High Commissioner highlights, this is the moment to move forward on the fundamental structural change required for a new start and to avoid repetition of the abuses of the past in Sri Lanka. She emphasizes the need for security sector and political reform and recommends the urgent need “to advance the devolution of political authority, which is integral to reconciliation.” Her recommendation echoes the joint statement between Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and then President Mahinda Rajapaka at the end of the war in May 2009 that, “addressing the aspirations and grievances of all communities and working towards a lasting political solution was fundamental to ensuring long-term socio-economic development… [and] that a national solution acceptable to all sections of people will be evolved.”
As members of the victim community who fled our home due to discrimination and state-sponsored genocidal actions and in solidarity with all those seeking justice and accountability on the island, especially the mothers and other relatives of the disappeared, we urge HRC member states to pass a strong resolution at the 51st session including strengthening of the evidence collection mechanism and referring Sri Lanka to the General Assembly for further action on international justice.
On behalf of:
Australian Tamil Congress (ATC): +61300660629, firstname.lastname@example.org
British Tamils Forum (BTF): +447814486087, email@example.com
Maison du Tamil Eelam (France): +33652725867, firstname.lastname@example.org
Irish Tamils Forum (ITF): 0035389959270, email@example.com
Solidarity Group for Peace and Justice (SGPJ – South Africa): firstname.lastname@example.org
Swiss Tamil Action Group (STAG): +41764450642, email@example.com
Tamil Movement Against Genocide (Mauritius): +230 5728 5505, firstname.lastname@example.org
United States Tamil Action Group (USTAG): +12025953123, email@example.com
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