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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2642

University Teachers, Jaffna urges international community intervention to prevent a human disaster in Sri Lanka

Colombo, 16 June, (Asiantribune.com): In its latest report the University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna) Sri Lanka, UTHR(J) has appealed to the international community to act, without washing their hands off Sri Lanka descending into another “human catastrophe of massive displacement where people have limited choices of where to run.” University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna) Sri Lanka, UTHR(J) Information Bulletin No. 40, Date of Release: 15th June 2006, Flight, Displacement and the Two-fold Reign of Terror.

It also points out that armed forces must be restrained because its current action against Tamil civilians “is enabling the LTTE to make cannon fodder of these people who dread war.”

Here is the excerpt of the UTHR bulletin which urges the international community to act:

The State and International Community Must Act

The LTTE has already started a war without acknowledging it to the international community. The security forces and civilians are daily facing casualties. The former are angry and have weapons and the institutional means to do things and cover up; the latter are helpless. But they do not want war and that is capital the Government can use to corner and expose the LTTE. Instead the impunity in which the armed forces' current actions are steeped is enabling the LTTE to make cannon fodder of these people who dread war. This state of affairs today is precipitating the human catastrophe of massive displacement where people have limited choices of where to run.

Sri Lanka is becoming a place where life has no value. People are being killed, but no one feels responsible. Those in authority do not appear to understand that this is a problem that must sooner rather than later concern the welfare of everyone of us. When it comes to Tamil civilian deaths at the hands of the security forces, government spokesmen, in the absence of the authorities doing anything constructive, are spinning tales that do not do them any credit.

Today, when we badly need some forceful international intervention to bring back a measure of sanity, we are being told that Sri Lankans must decide. Some of the fatalistic assessments hold that we are now far below the threshold where it is meaningful to talk about human rights, that so much malignancy was built up on both sides during the management of the CFA that we must face some catastrophic eruption before we could heal. We see little capacity for healing locally when members of the intelligentsia lionised for their discourses on federalism leading to separatism and wielding decisive influence, never displayed the honesty to take cognizance of the endemic institutional violence towards Tamils and fail to admit that this unitary state has been stewing in its poison for 50 years.

But we must keep hope. Having brought us to this point the international community cannot in fairness say that it is now up to us. We need intervention to restore the value of life, some means to check the violations of the State at least as the first step. Both the UN Special Rapporteur and the Human Rights Commission's Special Rapporteur who have studied the problem have made valuable recommendations in this regard. Things are not yet anything like as bad as they quickly became after the spate of massacres and counter massacres from December 1984. But the signals are there, where in a number of instances ethnicity has identified a person as a legitimate target.

The Government too must take some urgent steps in its own interests and in the interests of the country. Although several magistrates have tried with courage and competence to turn the wheels of justice and bring relief to the victims of violations by the State, they are being brazenly obstructed by the Police and the security forces. In the case of the five schoolboys in Trincomalee and in the continuing intimidation, there is a clear message and warning to the Tamil civilians that the security forces would get away with anything. This cannot go on without plunging the country into the direst of catastrophes. The omens of 1985 and what followed thereafter confront us with a grave challenge. The Government must abandon the pretence that the courts and the Police would check abuses by the security forces.

We strongly urge that the President speedily institute a committee based at the presidential secretariat and reporting to him, to quickly investigate and check abuses by the security forces. The committee should be formed of persons who enjoy the confidence of all communities and could include retired senior security personnel, retired judges, retired public servants and other persons as necessary to give it clout. The committee should as often as necessary, visit areas under government control where violations are taking place and collect evidence from those affected. It should have access to security forces' camps and to question officers and personnel as required. The task of the committee should be to identify perpetrators, suggest remedial and disciplinary measures and other measures to prevent violations.

The members of the committee should welcome civil society figures in the North-East to be in regular contact with them and to get in touch with them as soon as there is a matter needing attention. Many committees and commissions in the past have been spiked at birth by being headed by someone who is conformist and more than willing to cover up. Such a committee would be a wasteful time buying exercise. We hope the Government appreciates the situation as being too urgent for such an exercise.

The full report is available at http://www.uthr.org/bulletins/bul40.htm

- Asian Tribune -

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