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"Free pass on rights violations, a dangerous precedent"

[TamilNet, Sunday, 17 February 2013 09:57 No Comment]

"The end of war has not augured a return to normalcy in Sri Lanka’s North and East. Rather, there are clear, indisputable indications that conditions are getting worse. Consequently, international condemnation of the country’s human rights record is not only justified; it is essential. Giving Sri Lanka a free pass on human rights and reconciliation would set a damaging precedent that could take decades to overcome. If the time for more resolute action has not yet arrived, will it ever?" asks an analytical article on Foreign Policy (FP) magazine’s website.

Four years after the Mu’l'livaaykkaal killings of more than 80,000 Tamil civilians by the Sri Lanka’s military, "[t]he country’s North and East are plagued by a host of problems that are unlikely to be resolved soon. Misguided policies emanating from the central government in Colombo have directly contributed to these negative trends. Lofty talk about “the defeat of terrorism” and majoritarian triumphalism have further antagonized people," the FP article said.

Excerpts from the article follows:

    The politics of land remains controversial…families that have been “resettled” lack adequate housing, including locks for doors and windows or suitable sanitation facilities…People who were recently resettled in Mullivaikkal have returned to transit camps due to appalling living conditions “at home” and the dismal security situation there.

    The government’s talk about a military drawdown lacks merit, especially in the Northern Province. “We are living under military occupation,” notes one community member living near Jaffna. Even though several checkpoints have been removed, a large number of them have been converted into shops – such as grocery stores and cafés – that are run by the military. The ubiquity of military personnel does not leave people feeling safer; ordinary citizens feel more vulnerable and the country’s continued militarization has contributed to a host of widespread social problems including alcohol abuse, sexual violence and rape.

    …heavy monitoring of ex-combatants has continued unabated. Ex-LTTE cadres are consistently harassed by state security personnel.

    …it appears that even preschool education will now fall under the purview of the Ministry of Defence.

    Disappearances and extrajudicial killings have continued, but assailants are rarely held accountable. Like elsewhere in Sri Lanka, impunity has become institutionalized.

    …dozens of towns and numerous streets that originally had Tamil names have been given Sinhalese ones. And, with government money, Buddhist temples and war memorials (venerating the military) continue to be built in the North and East. Yet, scores of Hindu temples in need of renovation have been left neglected.

    …reports of sexual violence and intimidation are commonplace. In other instances, women engage in sexual relationships with soldiers with the hope that they will be protected from other abuses. Failing to succumb to a military man’s request for sexual favors could result in continued visits and harassment.

Noting that the "end of war has not augured a return to normalcy in Sri Lanka’s North and East," and instead the "conditions are getting worse," the magazine asserted that concerted, resolute action is required from the International Community.

External Links:

FP:
Broken Dreams: The Truth about Sri Lanka

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