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NESoHR Head appeals for help to protect humanitarian workers

[TamilNet, Friday, 5 June 2009 16:20 No Comment]

Deputy Chairperson of Northeast Secretariat on Human Rights (NESoHR), K Sivapalan, in a memorandum issued Thursday, appealed to the different Governments of South East Asia including Singapore, where many Tamil humanitarian workers from the conflict zone in Vanni have sought safety, to treat these refugees compassionately, and to protect them from falling back into the vindictive hands of the Government of Sri Lanka. Sivapalan also urged the Human Rights organizations across the world to exert pressure on the SriLanka Government to release the three medical doctors from Vanni who are currently being detained and interrogated in Colombo.

Excerpts from the memorandum follows:

Two weeks have passed since the final onslaught took place at Mullivaikkal in Vanni where more than 20,000 were killed and more than twice the number were seriously injured. According to Government of Sri Lanka’s (GOSL) own report, only a few days before that event, almost 120,000 persons left the "Safety Zone" in just two days, where for a long time GOSL, India and even UN were saying only 50,000 were ‘trapped’ in the area.

Almost 300,000 are currently being held in the different internment camps.

Women and mostly children had been killed in the most gruesome manner on, and for many days before, May 18, 2009 but it is shameful that those who talk about ‘child Rights’ especially ‘child recruitment’ at the ‘drop of a hat’, including UN, its Agencies, and ‘Special Representatives,’ had been silent for too long about the large scale killings.

UNHCR and other humanitarian INGOs have not been permitted to see or serve those injured. In fact they were expelled from Vanni with the full knowledge of the UN and the International Community on time to be bereft of any eye witnesses to the oncoming ‘genocide’ of the Tamils.

Even ICRC has not been given full access to many Internment camps.

Hon. Chief Justice, Sarath Nandana de Silva, has lamented at the condition of the Tamil refugees at Cheddikulam Camp, and has stated that their plight will never be brought to justice.

The GOSL spokespersons continue to state that 52 NGOs have been permitted to give humanitrarian assistance in these camps but the details of these NGOs have not been made public yet.

13,000 persons are said to be missing from the country which is only second to Sadam’s Iraq in Enforced disapperances and Involuntary removals. Extra judicial killings and torture are rampant even after the so called ‘war against terror’ is over.

Mr. Bothale Jayantha, the Secretary of Working Journalists Association of Sri Lanka has been abducted and tortured by people who came in a now infamous white van in high security capital Colombo, who as usual will never be ‘identified’.

We, at the Northeast Secretariat of Human Rights (NESOHR), are deeply concerned of the welfare of the Tamils held in the internment camps, and the plight of the three Doctors, Dr.Varatharajah, Dr.Sathyamoorthy and Dr.Shanmuganathan who had continued to serve the suffering masses at great risk to themselves in great adherence to their professional oaths. Instead of being treated with dignity and honour they are said to be interrogated.

Those who had been part of the legal system of Sri Lanka are only too familiar with the so called ‘confessions’ and to what purpose it has been put to use. Reputed Journalist Tissanayagam’s so called ‘confession’ is one in point.

We appeal to the authorities concerned and the UN to see that they are unharmed and to guarantee their safety.

NESOHR appeals to those concerned to adhere to due process and international humanitarian law in the treatment of those who have surrendered to the government forces, be transparent in the screening process, and adhere to the UN Guiding Principles on treating Tamil civilians who fled the war and currently held in internment camps.

Above all we appeal to the United Nations to execute its primary responsibility to look after the welfare of those held in internment camps, especially the children and the elderly. We expect the UN to exercise its humanitarian mandate to ensure that vulnerable civilans from disappearances, and the young from sexual harassment and rape, from Sri Lanka Security forces.

To the countries of the world we appeal to respect their U.N. charter obligations.

K.Sivapalan,

Deputy Chairperson,

Northeast Secretariat on Human Rights (NESoHR)

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