The ongoing session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva is generating strong hopes and emotions especially in the former war zones of the north and east of the country and amongst the Tamil Diaspora. Many of the people living there have been direct victims of the war that lasted nearly three decades. They look to the process unfolding in Geneva to obtain justice for themselves and for their kin. They are hopeful that international intervention will resolve their problems and bring justice to them. There is much dissatisfaction about the present situation where progress in finding missing persons, return of land, compensation to victims and demilitarization have been slow in coming.
At a previous session of the UNHRC in October 2015, the government promised to deliver on these and other targets and report on implementation at the current session. While the government has reported the constructive changes it has made, the progress does not encompass the gamut of promises made either in depth or in spread. The government has therefore asked for two more years to implement its commitments. Many in the Tamil community see a repetition of broken promises by successive Sri Lankan governments where it concerns political solutions to the ethnic conflict. A joint appeal made by Tamil civil society organisations, political parties and trade unions calls on the UNHRC to deny the government the time it seeks and to conduct an independent international investigation instead.
In considering how to move forward it is important to note that in the current international context, Sri Lanka is one of the more positive examples of post-war progress despite the infirmities of its reconciliation process. This is why it appears that the international community seeks more to support the government’s actions rather than to engage in punitive or coercive actions with regard to it. This is a government that has been agreeable to cooperation with both civil society within the country and with the international community on human rights issues, unlike its predecessor.
The National Peace Council believes it is necessary to give the government the additional time it seeks. We also urge that as a confidence building measure and to sustain its own credibility before the Tamil people and international community, the government sets a time line to meet its commitment to the joint resolution of October 2015, which includes among others, concerns articulated by victims on missing persons, return of land, compensation to victims and accelerated demilitarization.
The National Peace Council is an independent and non partisan organization that works towards a negotiated political solution to the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. It has a vision of a peaceful and prosperous Sri Lanka in which the freedom, human rights and democratic rights of all the communities are respected. The policy of the National Peace Council is determined by its Governing Council of 20 members who are drawn from diverse walks of life and belong to all the main ethnic and religious communities in the country.
Courtesy – National Peace Council