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Tamil Civilians Face Annihilation – British Lawyer



(September 24, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) Karen Parker of International Educational Development & Association of Humanitarian Lawyers, participating at the United Nations Human Rights Council’s general debate on human rights issues on 17 Sep 2008, asked the Council to hold a special session on the situation in the north of Sri Lanka, to prevent another Rwanda. She stated that “Tamil civilians in this region faced annihilation”.

Ms. Parker is a San Francisco based attorney who practices human rights and humanitarian law.

She highlighted that serious breaches of international humanitarian law were being committed in the armed conflict in Sri Lanka, including the genocidal statements by former government officials. The situation in the north of the country had been deteriorating, and Tamil civilians in this region faced annihilation. The Government of Sri Lanka sought the removal of representatives of the international community from these regions, including the United Nations humanitarian agencies and the International Committee of the Red Cross. The civilian population in the north of the country did not have access to basic needs, such as food, health, or water. That represented a crime of extermination according to the International Criminal Court. The Council was asked to hold a special session on the situation in the north of Sri Lanka, to prevent another Rwanda.

The International Educational Development & Association of Humanitarian Lawyers also submitted the following appeal to the Geneva based UN Council:

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
Agenda item 4
September 17, 2008
The genocidal situation in Sri Lanka

International Educational Development and the Association of Humanitarian Lawyers have addressed the armed conflict in Sri Lanka since it began in 1983. We invite you to consult our written statement (A/HRC/9/NGO/40) on the current crisis situation in Sri Lanka in which we again present our view that the numerous violations of humanitarian law targeting the Tamil civilian population invokes international law relating to genocide. We set out clearly genocidal statements by former and current government officials. As an example of a recent statement, in July 2008 Lt Gen Sarath Fonseca stated: “This country will be ruled by the Sinhalese community which is the majority, representing 74% of the population.” We ask the Sinhala authorities what they propose for the Tamils?

We submitted our written statement only a few weeks ago, and we also addressed the High Commissioner and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities. But the situation has since deteriorated even further, and the Tamil civilians in the north of the island face complete annihilation. The Sri Lanka authorities are seeking the removal of all international humanitarian organizations, including UN authorities, and the International Committee of the Red Cross. Tamil civilians will have no access to food, water, shelter, medicine and survival needs. As we have pointed out many times, this is an element of the crime of extermination under the International Criminal Court. The Sinhala authorities apparently want no witnesses to the genocide they plan against the Tamils. Anyone, including UN Secretary-General BAN Ki-moon, is accused of aiding the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam because he or she expresses concern for the Tamil civilian population.

In fact, the Sri Lankan authorities circulate the globe spewing anti-Tamil rhetoric at every opportunity. Never in our 30+ years at the UN have we seen such racist rhetoric. No other government would dare to malign an ethnic group the way the Sinhala government in Sri Lanka has the Tamil people. Why the Sri Lankan government continues to do so, continues to excoriate anyone or any government that expresses concerns, and faces no consequences is simply beyond belief.

While many of the Council’s mandate-holders have raised serious concerns in this area for many years, we must question why the Council as a whole has not acted. To maintain any credibility of impartiality and transparency, the Council must act as we suggest in our written statement. In particular, we urge the Council to hold a special session on Sri Lanka as soon as possible as a matter of the utmost urgency due to the impending annihilation of the Tamil people. How will you answer to another Rwanda?
- Sri Lanka Guardian

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