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Alternative world to hold tribunal on Sri Lanka’s war crimes

[TamilNet, Thursday, 7 January 2010 08:51 No Comment]

An independent commission of jurists of the Rome based Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT) will be meeting in Dublin, Ireland, on 14th and 15th of January 2010 to investigate allegations that the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) and its armed forces committed war crimes and crimes against humanity during its final phase of the war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. The commission will also examine violations of human rights in the aftermath of the war and the local and international factors that led to the collapse of the 2002 Ceasefire Agreement. The provisional findings of the Peoples’ Commission will be announced to the public on January 16.
The event is being organised by the Irish Forum for Peace in Sri Lanka (IFPSL). A press statement from the IFPSL said that the jury has been from across the global south and north in order to transcend geopolitical barriers and to ensure that its findings will be both credible and ethically binding.
The PPT has examined the cases of Tibet, Western Sahara, Argentina, Eritrea, the Philippines, El Salvador, Afghanistan, East Timor, Zaire, Guatemala, the Armenian Genocide, the intervention of the United States in Nicaragua, the Brazilian Amazon, and others.
Ireland has been chosen because of its historical status as a post-colonial nation, the success of the Northern Ireland peace process, and its traditional policy of neutrality, the organisers said.
Welcoming the move of the alternative international community, Tamil circles commented that such tribunal investigations should also be extended to cover the abetment to the war crimes by the UN and by the Establishments in New Delhi, Washington, Beijing and others.
None of the Establishments and the UN, which had been repeatedly calling for the people of Vanni to come out of the war zone into the hands of the SLA, were there to take the responsibility of protecting the people from the war crimes of the SLA, Tamil circles said.
The Indian Establishment and the UN, even underplayed the number of civilians in Vanni to defuse the gravity of international attention.
It is also now known that members of some leading Indian and International media were present in the war zone with the Sri Lankan forces. The Indian and international media not only failed in covering the story of the side of the victims on the pretext of Colombo’s sanctions, but also came out with one-sided reporting hiding the truth and thus abetting the war crimes.
In what way that happened and that has been happening in the island of Sri Lanka is less genocide than that happened elsewhere in such international cases, asked the Tamil circles. All involved parties now try to advice the victims to drop calling their plight genocide, which is in fact a continued abetment by them to crimes against humanity, Tamil circles commented.
Tami circles pointed out to the affinities between the spirit of such Peoples’ Tribunals and their own international efforts of forming alternative democratic polity.
Efforts of the alternative world in holding peoples’ tribunals have to be extended further to examine the longstanding political cause of the concerned people so that such tribunals will be of more practical use to the victims, the Tamil circles commented.
The Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT), based in Rome, was formed in 1979 as the successor to the Bertrand Russell Tribunals on crimes against humanity and is inspired by the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Peoples at Algiers (also named the Algiers Declaration of 1976).
The Tribunal attempts to fill gaps in international law, which it seeks to influence by elaborating on such documents as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (United Nations), the Nuremberg principles, United Nations General Assembly resolutions on de-colonization and the new international economic order.
Profile of the panel of Judges of the People’s Tribunal on Sri Lanka provided by the Irish Forum for Peace in Sri Lanka, follows:

  1. Francois Houtart (UNESCO awardee for non-violence and tolerance, Chairperson of the UN Committee on Economic Recession., Prof. Emeritus, University of Louvain, Belgium. Founding Member of the World Social Forum, Honorary Member of the Academy of Sciences of Vietnam and Cuba, Laureate of the Camilo Torres Prize of the National University of Colombia, Bogota)
  2. Rajinder Sachar (Former High Court Judge of Delhi, headed the Sachar Committee appointed by the Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, to prepare a report on the social, economic and educational status of the Muslim community of India)
  3. Nawal al Saadawi (Egyptian writer, trained as a medical doctor, known for her outstanding work for women’s rights in Egypt and in the region. She has been imprisoned for her activities and writings in Egypt.She has been United Nation’s Advisor for the Women’s Programme in Africa (ECA) and Middle East (ECWA) from 1979 to 1980. She is a prolific author.)
  4. Sulak Sivaraksa (Thai Buddhist peace campaigner and writer, initiator of a number of social, humanitarian, ecological and spiritual movements and organizations in Thailand. He was awarded the Alternative Nobel Prize, Right Livelihood Award)
  5. Denis Halliday (Former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations)
  6. Gianni Tognoni (Secretary General, People’s Permanent Tribunal, Milan)
  7. Daniel Feierstein (Director of the Centre for Genocide Studies at the ‘Universidad Nacional de Tres de Febrero’, and Professor in the Faculty of Genocide at the University of Buenos Aires)
  8. Mary Lawlor (Director, Frontline, International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, Dublin)
  9. Oystein Tveter (A Scholar in International law and member of the People’s Tribunal on extra-judicial killings and violations of human rights in the Philippines)
  10. Eren Keskin (Kurdish-born lawyer and a human rights activist in Turkey, Vice President of the Human Rights Association, Istanbul. She co-founded the project “Legal Aid For Women Who Were Raped Or Otherwise Sexually Abused by National Security Forces”, to expose the abuses happening to women in Turkish prisons. In 1995, she was imprisoned for her human rights activities and was adopted as a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International)
  11. Francesco Martone (An ex-Senator in Italy, a leading activist in the non-governmental sector and an Ecologist)

Among those who cannot be on the Panel for various reasons but have agreed to publicise and interpret the findings of the Tribunal:

  1. Arundhati Roy (Writer and Journalist and Booker prizewinner)
  2. Krishna Iyer (Former Judge of the Indian Supreme Court, former Minister in the Kerala Parliament and a figure of considerable prominence in India)
  3. Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann (Senior Advisor on Foreign Affairs in Nicaragua, the outgoing President of the UN General Assembly, the former Minister for Foreign Affairs in Nicaragua, a liberation theologian and laureate of the Lenin Peace Prize and winner of the Thomas Merton Award)
  4. Irene Fernandez (A leading Malaysian Trade Unionist and a human rights campaigner)
  5. Adolfo Perez Esquivel (Argentinian human rights campaigner, and a Nobel Peace Prize winner)

[Full Coverage]

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