January 20, 2011 Comments Off on Amnesty wants Mahinda investigated
Amnesty International Press Release
For Immediate Release
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Contact: AIUSA media relations office, 202-509-8194
(Washington, D.C.) The United States should investigate Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapksa, who arrives on a surprise visit to the United States today, for his alleged role in perpetrating torture and war crimes, Amnesty International said today.
Rajapaksa reportedly left Sri Lanka early Wednesday morning with a delegation of 20 bound for the United States.
“The United States has an obligation under international law to investigate and prosecute people who perpetrated war crimes and grave human rights violations such as extrajudicial executions, torture and enforced disappearances,” said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific director.
Rajapaksa is commander in chief of Sri Lanka’s armed forces, which face numerous allegations of engaging in war crimes, enforced disappearances, and torture. Under international law, military commanders may face criminal responsibility if they knew, or should have known, of such crimes being committed by their subordinates.
The president’s visit comes as a Panel of Experts appointed by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon works on a report advising him on accountability issues in Sri Lanka. Both Sri Lankan government forces and members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) are accused of having committed war crimes in the final phase of the decades-long conflict.
Amnesty International has called for the United Nations to initiate an international investigation.
“Thousands of victims in Sri Lanka demand accountability for the abuses they’ve suffered from the Sri Lankan security forces as well as armed groups such as the LTTE,” Zarifi said.
In December Wikileaks exposed a secret United States Embassy cable sent by Ambassador Patricia Butenis from Colombo in which she noted the difficulty of bringing perpetrators of alleged crimes to justice when “responsibility for many of the alleged crimes rests with the country’s senior civilian and military leadership, including President Rajapaksa and his brothers ….”
The United States should further investigate these allegations and support calls for an international investigation into Sri Lanka’s role in war crimes.
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 2.8 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.
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December 18, 2010 Comments Off on US officials want a SL war crimes investigation
AFP (18/12) – US lawmakers urge Sri Lanka rights probe
Dozens of US lawmakers on Friday urged a global probe into alleged rights violations by Sri Lanka in the last stages of its civil war, saying Colombo’s own efforts do not ensure accountability.
In letters to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, 17 senators and 30 members of the House of Representatives called for the United States to seek a United Nations role investigating last year’s finale of the Tamil Tiger insurgency.
April 25, 2010 Comments Off on GoSL General to visit US & citizens campaign
PEARL Action – Question Sri Lanka ‘s commander on warcrimes
Media reports from Sri Lanka indicate that Lt. Gen. Jagath Jayasuriya will be touring the U.S. on a private visitwithin several days.
Commander of the Army, Lt. Gen. Jayasuriya was in charge of the Vanni “No Fire Zone” duringthe Sri Lankan civil war’s escalation from 2008-2009. The Government of Sri Lanka has yet to even attempt holdingJayasuriya and his troops accountable for the tens of thousands of civilian deaths they caused by conductingmilitary operations in the Vanni’s “No Fire Zone”; it is highly unlikely that they will investigate war crimes allegations in the future.
In addition to the aforementioned crimes, Lt. Gen. Jayasuriya was responsible for the area where UN SpecialRapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary, or Arbitrary Executions Philip Alston is calling for an investigation intoextrajudicial executions by the Sri Lankan military.
These war crimes and crimes against humanity are extremely serious and, as such, the United States should set an example for other members of the international community bymeeting and questioning Lt. Gen. Jayasuriya. As a military commander, Lt. Gen. Jayasuriya is directly responsible for the commission and committing of indiscriminate killings in Sri Lanka’s “No Fire Zone” and should be held proportionately accountable.
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February 3, 2010 Comments Off on India's increasing power
Times of India – US gives India policing power in the Indian Ocean
Taking note of India’s “growing influence” in global affairs, the US has said the country will be a net provider of security in the Indian Ocean and beyond with the growth of its military capabilities.
October 27, 2009 Comments Off on Report proves crimes against humanity
The Guardian – Stop Sri Lanka’s crimes
The US is the latest country to join the ever-growing list of nations that condemn Sri Lanka for its violations of international humanitarian law, crimes against humanity and related harms in its fight against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
The government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) is complicit in almost all the acts listed in the Rome statute of the international criminal court in its definition of crimes against humanity, according to evidence in a report published by the US state department for Congress on 22 October.
The report highlights deaths due to starvation as a result of the government’s restriction of supplies. It also indicates that the supply of medicines to the injured, disabled and sick was restricted. None were spared.
Satellite images show hospitals being targeted, and there are images which indicate heavy weapon usage, aerial bombing and cluster bombs. Eyewitness accounts outline the targeting of civilian areas and surrendering unarmed combatants being shot in cold blood. Video evidence shows alleged military executions of young naked men.
Who would argue against a damning report? Only Sri Lanka. More
October 24, 2009 Comments Off on US calls on SL to Investigate alleged War Crimes
The United States is calling on the Sri Lankan government to thoroughly investigate charges of war crimes in the final months of its long war with Tamil Tiger rebels. A State Department report issued Thursday listed what were termed credible allegations of abuses by both sides in the conflict.
The State Department says if the Sri Lankan government really is interested, as it says it is, in post-war reconciliation, it should investigate alleged abuses in the closing months of the conflict and bring to justice those responsible. More
New York Times : Sri Lanka Pressed to Investigate Possible War Atrocities
The Washington Post : U.S. urges probe of Sri Lanka war
September 17, 2009 Comments Off on Sri Lanka versus United Nations
TO KICK out one Australian working for the United Nations, as the Sri Lankan Government has just done with the UNICEF official James Elder, would be a coincidence. When we learn that another Australian with the UN, Peter Mackay, from the technical body UNops, has been expelled and that a third Australian with the UN in Colombo, Gordon Weiss, is threatened with the same fate, it becomes a disturbing and insulting trend.
Strangely, the Sri Lankan diplomatic chief handling these expulsions, the Foreign Secretary, Palitha Kohona, is also an Australian citizen and previously worked for our Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Whether Mr Kohona has advised the President, Mahinda Rajapaksa, that Australia is a soft target for his anti-Western foreign policy line, is something that only Mr Kohona can enlighten us about.
To add a public accusation that Mr Elder was ”doing propaganda” for the now defeated Tamil Tigers, while the UN official and his family are still in the country packing up, has been a nasty twist. It could signal the attention of the notorious men in white vans who have been beating up, abducting and murdering government critics with impunity during Mr Rajapaksa’s time in office.
Colombo’s charges of pro-Tiger partisanship by UN officials carry little weight outside its own government circles and its cowed media. The Foreign Minister, Stephen Smith, told Parliament this week that he had studied Mr Elder’s offending remarks and that ”they do not cause me any difficulty”. Indeed, Australia’s position is like that of other democracies: relief that the war with the sinister Tamil Tigers is finally over, concern at harm to civilians during the conflict, and mounting worry that 250,000 Tamil civilians remain in harsh internment camps four months after the conflict ended. To which might be added a deep concern at continued repression of critical minds, like the Tamil journalist J.S. Tissainayagam, just sentenced to 20 years’ jail for ”causing communal disharmony”.
Mr Mackay’s expulsion, in particular, suggests Mr Rajapaksa is trying to brush away the lingering accusations that war crimes were part of his offensive against the Tigers. Colombo has been unconvincing in instantly rejecting as a fabrication a smuggled mobile-phone video of apparent executions of bound men by its forces. Through his own experience behind the lines and then through satellite pictures, Mr Mackay contradicted the Government’s claims it was not knowingly shelling trapped civilians.
When he moves to the United Nations shortly as Sri Lanka’s ambassador, Mr Kohona will find he represents a government carrying little trust, as much as the world welcomed the apparent end of the Tiger insurgency.