Northern Provincial Council (NPC) councillor and a direct eyewitness to the genocidal onslaught on Eezham Tamils in Vanni in 2009, Ms Ananthy Sasitharan, on Thursday urged the OHRC Investigation on Sri Lanka (OISL) to give more time for the people on the ground to send their submissions to the OISL. Ms Ananthy has requested to extend the time for submissions by one month or at least to the extent possible, citing the intense atmosphere of intimidation, threats and attacks against potential witnesses in the North and East. There is also a serious lack of communication on the process of submitting evidences, the councillor further said. Meanwhile, a planted section in the TNA that argues against Tamils demanding genocide investigation came out with a last minute statement this week, as eyewash, asking people to give evidence to the OISL.
There is also un-preparedness even in the sections that were spending much time eulogising the US resolution, in practically meeting the various obstacles coming from the Colombo government and in arranging the presentation of case-specific evidences in time, diaspora observers said.
Ananthy Sasitharan, who is still searching for the whereabouts of her husband, who was handed over to the SL military by the family at Mullaiththeevu, has appeared in front of the local commissions and has attended the UN Human Rights Sessions in Geneva. She has also made a submission to the OISL.
The combination of the atmosphere of fear and intimidations, attacks on Tamil activists, the enforced ban on foreigners travelling to the North, the lack of IT knowledge and facilities among the victims, have all contributed to create conditions on the ground which does not enable the Tamil people to participate with the OISL process in a meaningful manner, the NPC councillor said.
According to the OHCHR announcement, dated 01 August 2014, submissions to the OISL must be made before midnight, Geneva time, on 30 October 2014. “This is to allow the investigation team time to analyse all the information gathered before drafting its report. Drafting needs to be completed at least two months before the report is presented to the HRC in March,” the OHCHR has stated.
“Submissions should be sent in written form and must include the contact details of the author(s). Submitting entities/individuals should specify if the submissions – or parts of them – should be treated confidentially,” according to the Terms of Reference of the OISL. Submissions, which should not exceed 10 pages, may be in English, Sinhala and Tamil languages.
The Tamil National Peoples Front (TNPF) led by Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam and the grassroots oriented elected councillors of the TNA have been actively encouraging the people to submit their statements as affidavits that could be useful also for the future international investigations.
The latest request from the NPC councillor comes in the spate of recent attacks on Tamil activists working against the unlawful detention and the enforced disappearances of Tamils, Tamil journalists and potential witnesses of genocide throughout the North and East.
Ananthy Sasitharan, in her letter to the OISL, also noticed how previous international events that scrutinised the Sri Lankan state on grounds of Human rights violations have resulted in the Colombo government stepping up attacks and persecution of Tamils.