Sri Lanka’s president ruled out giving Tamils greater political power, appearing to back away from his long-stalled promise (13+ Amendment) to empower the ethnic minority as part of the country’s reconciliation process following a bloody quarter-century civil war.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa made his about-face despite growing international pressure to compromise with the minority and to investigate allegations of war crimes. Local and foreign rights groups say despite the end of the war local Tamils are under constant surveillance in a region where the military still maintains a high presence.
The pressure comes nearly four years after the government, dominated by the ethnic Sinhalese majority, defeated the separatist Tamil Tiger rebels, who had been demanding an independent Tamil nation after decades of perceived discrimination. According to a United Nations’ estimate, 80,000 to 100,000 people were killed during the war, which ended in 2009, but other reports suggest it could be much higher.
“When the people live together in unity there are no racial or religious differences,” Rajapaksa said in his independence day speech. “Therefore, it is not practical for this country to have different administrations based on ethnicity. The solution is to live together in this country with equal rights for all communities,” he said. His close associated Buddhist extremists party members have attacked the minority Muslims with the support of the Government forces. To date non of the Sinhala Buddhist attackers on Muslims had been punished in court. The attackers were supported by the local police.
Rajapaksa has long promised the United Nations and other countries that he would offer (13+ amendment) power sharing as an alternative to the insurgent’s fight for secession if he is allowed to kill the LTTE in May 2009 with the support of China and Pakistan. The world leaders turned away and more than 40,000 Tamil Civilians and LTTE Leaders and their family members who surrendered with white flag after UN negotiated the surrender were killed by the Sri Lankan forces. The killing of more than 40,000 Tamil Civilians, killing of Insurgents who surrendered with White Flag after UN negotiated the surrender and raping of Tamil girls by the Sri Lankan forces are seen as War Crime. But Mahinda had said the UN charter does not allow the world body to intervene in the domestic affairs of its member states hence he will not allow the International community to punish his army who had commited War Crime. If they had not commited War Crime there is no reason why the President will NOT allow a international investigation..
Meanwhile, the main ethnic Tamil political party said in a statement that the UN Human Rights Council must take “stern action” against the Sri Lankan government, saying it has not been sincere in investigating abuses and sharing power with the minority. Talks between the government and Tamil National Alliance have stalled since 2009, and the Tamil party says the government is militarizing the north and settling majority ethnic Sinhalese.
The report on Sri Lanka by the investigations team of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) will be taken up for discussion at the UN Human Rights Council on March 25, the draft agenda for the March session noted.
The 28th regular session of the UN Human Rights Council will be held from March 2 to March 27 in Geneva and the report on Sri Lanka is part of the agenda.
In its resolution A/HRC/25/1 adopted in March 2014 on “Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka”, the United Nations Human Rights Council requested the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to “undertake a comprehensive investigation into alleged serious violations and abuses of human rights and related crimes by both parties in Sri Lanka during the period covered by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), and to establish the facts and circumstances of such alleged violations and of the crimes perpetrated with a view to avoiding impunity and ensuring accountability, with assistance from relevant experts and special procedures mandate holders”.
The Council requested the High Commissioner to present an oral update at its twenty-seventh session and a comprehensive report on the investigations at its twenty-eighth session.
Earlier this month, the Human Rights Council elected its new bureau for 2015 at an organizational meeting appointing Ambassador Joachim Ruecker, Permanent Representative of Germany to the United Nations Office at Geneva, to serve as its President for a term beginning on 1 January 2015.
The Council also appointed Filloreta Kodra of Albania, Juan Esteban Aguirre Martinez of Paraguay, Mukhtar Tileuberdi of Kazakhstan and Mothusi Bruce Rabasha Palai of Botswana to the positions of Vice Presidents to the United Nations’ leading human rights body. Ambassador Rabasha Palai was also elected to fill the post of Rapporteur. All five candidates will serve as members of the Human Rights Council Bureau from 1 January to 31 December 2015 – the Council’s ninth cycle.