Sri Lanka: The Siege Within Continues...
With more than two decade long Civil War over, annihilation of LTTE, a farce called democracy in the form of Constitutional Dictatorship and amidst growing militarisation the siege within continues in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, a small island nation, besotted with ethnic strife mainly between dominant & majoritarian Sinhala and minority Tamil culminated into a full blown civil war for more than two decade. It was able to come out of this quagmire thanks to full support from regional super powers and military might that it acquired over the years. The eerie calm that prevails in the country belies the victory that the Sri Lankan Government and the Sri Lankan military so proudly proclaim.
A Panel of Experts Committee appointed by UN Secretary General after submitting its report on March 31, 2011 concluded that in the last phase of war against LTTE, an estimated 40,000 people would have been killed including women and children. This estimated figure was arrived at by verifying claims and counter claims from different sources, but the actual number may have been even higher and that is why an independent investigation was required to ascertain the total number of casualty. The Panel found credible allegations in the final stage of the civil war (between September 2008 and 19 May 2009). It comprises five core categories of potential serious violations committed by the Government of Sri Lanka: (i) killing of civilians through widespread shelling; (ii) shelling of hospitals and humanitarian objects; (iii) denial of humanitarian assistance; (iv) human rights violations suffered by victims and survivors of the conflict, including both Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and suspected LTTE cadres; and (v) human rights violations outside the conflict zone, including against the media and other critics of the Government.
The Panel's determination of credible allegations against the LTTE associated with the final stages of the war revealed six core categories of potential serious violations: (i) using civilians as a human buffer; (ii) killing civilians attempting to flee the LTTE control; (iii) using military equipment in the proximity of civilians; (iv) forced recruitment of children; (v) forced labour; and (vi) killing of civilians through suicide attacks.
The Panel averred that accountability for serious violations of international humanitarian or human rights law is not a matter of choice or policy; it is a duty under domestic and international law. These credibly alleged violations demand a serious investigation and prosecution of those responsible, including Sri Lankan Army commanders and senior Government officials, as well as military and civilian LTTE leaders, would bear criminal liability for international crimes. At the same time, accountability goes beyond the investigation and prosecution of serious crimes that have been committed; rather it is a broad process that addresses the political, legal and moral responsibility of individuals and institutions for past violations of human rights and dignity. Consistent with the international standards mentioned above, accountability necessarily includes the achievement of truth, justice and reparations for victims. Accountability also requires an official acknowledgement by the State of its role and responsibility in violating the rights of its citizens, when that has occurred.