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UN Rights Chief expresses concern at rapidly deteriorating conditions in Vanni

[TamilNet, Thursday, 29 January 2009 17:33 One Comment]

pillayFront Expressing concern at the "rapidly deteriorating conditions facing quarter of a million civilians" and of "alleged human rights abuses, significant number of casualties, as well as huge displacement," Ms Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, in a press release issued Thursday said that "[t]he lack of access for independent monitors, humanitarian workers and the media only adds to concerns that the situation may be even worse than we realize." She adds: "a strenuous effort needs to be made to tackle the core problems that have fuelled this conflict for a quarter of a century, in order to bring peace and prosperity and restore fundamental rights and freedoms for all Sri Lankans in all parts of the country."


Full text of the press release follows:

 

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said Thursday she was deeply concerned by reports of the rapidly deteriorating conditions facing a quarter of a million civilians trapped in the conflict zone in northern Sri Lanka, and of alleged human rights abuses and a significant number of civilian casualties, as well as the huge displacement.

Pillay also expressed concern at the highly restricted access to the Vanni region for aid agencies and impartial outside observers, including journalists and human rights monitors.

"The perilous situation of civilians after many months of fighting, multiple displacements and heavy rains and flooding is extremely worrying," Pillay said. "The lack of access for independent monitors, humanitarian workers and the media only adds to concerns that the situation may be even worse than we realize," she added.

The High Commissioner cited reports of forced recruitment, including of children, as well as the use of civilians as human shields by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). She also condemned the fact that safe zones promised by the Government have subsequently been subjected to bombardment leading to civilian casualties.

"People trying to flee the conflict areas are reported to have either been prevented from doing so, or to have been arbitrarily detained in special centres," she said. "It seems there may have been very grave breaches of human rights by both sides in the conflict, and it is imperative that we find out more about what exactly has been going on. It is also urgent that civilians in the north can find safe shelter, away from the fighting."
Pillay noted that along with the Secretary-General and other heads of UN agencies, she had already expressed her concerns directly to the Government of Sri Lanka. "We are all seriously alarmed by the situation," she said, "as are many of the NGOs and other organizations operating in Sri Lanka ."
Pillay said the conflict had reached a critical stage: "While the Government has made military gains on one hand, the rule of law has been undermined on the other. The killing of the prominent newspaper editor Lasantha Wickrematunge earlier this month was the latest blow to the free expression of dissent in Sri Lanka . The searing article he wrote prophesying his own murder is an extraordinary indictment of a system corrupted by more than two decades of bloody internal conflict."

The High Commissioner observed there had not been any successful investigations or prosecutions of political killings, disappearances and other violations committed in recent years.
"It is the Government’s duty to provide safety to all Sri Lanka ‘s citizens, whatever their ethnic origin or political views," Pillay said. "That means not only protecting civilians during military operations in the north, but also ensuring space for journalists and human rights defenders to seek out the truth and expose abuses."
Pillay added that "a strenuous effort needs to be made to tackle the core problems that have fuelled this conflict for a quarter of a century, in order to bring peace and prosperity and restore fundamental rights and freedoms for all Sri Lankans in all parts of the country."

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One Comment »

  • kugan said:

    The UN Talks about the safe passage for Tamils, and how the LTTE is holding more than 250,000 people in an area half the size of London.
    This is not correct, those Tamil who is in the fighting zone are there because they feel safe (even in the war zone compared to SLA camps), and it is better to be killed by air bombs then to face the Sri Lankan army who will split families, Rape Tamil Women, abduct young Tamil men and these individual will not be seen again. The UN forgets all the Crimes committed against the Tamil people and tells the Tamils to go to the Sri Lankan so called Safe Zone.
    Bruce Fein, former U.S. Deputy Associate Attorney General said in a latest report 24/01/09 "In the three year period under Rajapaksa regime there have been nearly 3000 extra-judicial killings, an average of 3 civilian killings every day, he said. There has been no investigation or prosecution. Failure to prosecute the killers is a proof of genocide" and this has increased to a level the the government do not want any independent reports and any international agencies.

    It like the UN saying to the Jews during the WW2 go to the German Camps because the have a safe Zone or telling the Black in USA to go back and be salves to the whites. We know these thing are not acceptable, still UN wants the Tamil to hand them self to the Sri Lankan Government.