URGENT Appeal from CTC: Witness Testimony from Tamil Canadians Needed in Support of UN Investigation Our Dear Community

CTC-300-seithycom1As many of you may know, on August 5th, 2014 the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) announced it will accept submissions pursuant to the mandate given to it at the 25th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva to undertake a comprehensive investigation into alleged serious violations and abuses of human rights in Sri Lanka during the period of February 2002 to November 2001.

In accordance with this mandate, the OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka (OISL) was established. Canadian Tamil Congress (CTC) wishes to encourage any and all members of the community to make submissions to the OISL
CTC has been at the forefront of UNHRC advocacy efforts since May 2009. CTC’s International Team, in collaboration with various Tamil organizations in different countries, have advocated strongly against human rights violations in Sri Lanka.

The culmination of the efforts of all like-minded Tamil organizations resulted in the passage of the most recent UN Resolution promoting truth and reconciliation in Sri Lanka. The resulting investigation is very crucial for our community and prompt action is required to achieve any meaningful result. We are therefore making this urgent appeal for anyone with information to come forward to assist the UN investigation team achieve justice for our brothers and sisters in Sri Lanka.

We thank you for your support in this very important matter. Please urge your friends, family and contacts to spread the word around. The deadline for the submissions is October 30th, 2014. The more people who come forward and provide witness testimony, the stronger the case against the Government of Sri Lanka will be.

Please help CTC in taking an important step towards achieving peace, reconciliation and justice in Sri Lanka.

From,

The CTC International Team

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How you can help:

1. Make submissions through CTC’s legal team as detailed below

2. Make submissions directly to the UN team as detailed below

3. Make submission to any other legitimate Tamil organization in Canada

Please keep in mind that anyone is welcome to submit to the panel, and no story is too small or insignificant.

(1) CTC’s Legal Team:

CTC has put together a team of lawyers who stand ready to assist individuals interested in making submissions. Rest assured that any conversations between you and a lawyer are subject to solicitor-client privilege and will remain strictly confidential. CTC will ensure that the lawyer will meet with you in a confidential setting and will directly transmit the information to the UN investigation team. Please contact us if you would like more information on the process we have set up.

(2) Submissions Directly to the UN:

Anyone wishing to make submissions directly to the investigation may do so as follows:

a) Organizations and individuals may make a written submission in English, Tamil or Sinhalese, not exceeding ten pages, and must include the contact details for the author(s) of the submission.

b) The timeframe OISL is interested in is February 21, 2002 to November 15, 2011 but OISL is willing to consider any other contextual or relevant information that falls outside this time.

c) Submissions should specify if the submission or parts of it should be treated confidentially

d) Any video, audio or photographic material related to the submissions should not be submitted via email

e) Written submissions may be sent by email (OISL_submissions@ohchr.org) or by post:

OISL UNOG-OHCHR 8-14 Rue de la Paix CH-1211 Geneva 10 Switzerland

(3) Submissions to another Tamil organization in Canada:

Please note that if you wish to make submissions to any other Tamil organization in Canada, you can contact CTC to get more information on community participants.

The mandate of OISL includes violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, as well as related crimes. Here are just some examples of the types of evidence that will be useful to the OISL. (note: this is a list crafted and adopted by CTC and not the UN body)

General:

-shelling of civilians (i.e. “No Fire Zones.” hospitals, ICRC ships, UN hub, food distribution lines)

-torture

-extrajudicial killings

-”disappearances”

-embargo/blockade preventing access to medical supplies, humanitarian aid, food etc

-land grabs (i.e. taking Tamil land for “High Security Zones”)

-arbitrary arrest

-abuse in government custody (i.e. prison riots, excessive force used by prison guards)

-indefinite detention

-sexual violence

-any injustice based on the Prevention of Terrorism Act (i.e. indefinite detention, detention without charge, detention without access to family/lawyers)

-government harassment/surveillance Specific:

A. Obstruction of Humanitarian Aid

-People who suffered severe harm as a result of the SLA’s preventing medical supplies, food, batteries, etc. from being transported into the area where they lived

-Post-tsunami relief obstructed by GoSL

B. Victims of Attacks on Religious Institutions

– Pesalai church massacre

– Madhu church

– Kilinochchi church bombing

– Vankalai church 2006

– Christmas killing – Pararajasingam

C. Victims of Shelling / Aerial Bombardment

– Sencholai

– Hospitals

– Suthanthirapuram (“UN hub”)

– Puthukuddiyiruppu (PTK Hospital)

– Putumattalan (makeshift hospital known as Putumattalan or Mathalan Hospital)

– Ampalavanpokkanai

– Karaiyamullivaikkal and Vellamullivaikkal (hospital also known as Mullivaikal West)

D. Massacres / Mass Graves

– Chemmani

– Trinco 5

– ACF

– Alaipitty, Jaffna

– Identification of actual mass graves for evidence preservation and potential mass graves for further investigations

E. Killing of Journalists

– TarakiSivaram

– AiyathuraiNadesan

– MylvaganamNimalarajan — Jaffna BBC Tamil correspondent

– LasanthaWickrematunga

– Shoba/Isaipriya

– Selvarajah Rajeewarnam (Uthayan reporter)

– SubashChandraboas (ed. of Nilam)

– SubramaniyamSugitharajah (killed shortly after reporting on Trinco 5)

– Nov. 2007 air strike on Voice of Tigers station — several reporters and staff were killed

F. White Flag Incident

– People who witnessed individuals surrendering to GoSL in May 2009

– People who witnessed individuals who surrendered to GoSL in May 2009 later in government custody

G. IDP-related Crimes

– Disappearances

– Sexual abuse in the camps, such as Manik Farm

– Torture of camp residents

– Unlawful detention (e.g., for a prolonged period, after land for resettlement was available)

– Resettlement not on their native land

H. Enforced “Disappearances”

I. Indefinite Detention …Or any other instances of violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. Full text available here:

http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/Pages/OISL.aspx