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Indian women’s rights activists urge the Indian government to Support the UN Resolution on Sri Lanka

22 March 2012

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PRESS RELEASE

Indian women’s rights activists strongly urge the Indian government to Support the UN Resolution seeking Enquiry into war crimes in Sri Lanka

ACTIVISTS SHARE THEIR EXPERIENCES OF WAR TORN SRI LANKA AND CALL FOR JUSTICE BEFORE PEACE.

EVEN AS THE Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has been disinclined to commit how India will vote on the Resolution on war crimes in Sri Lanka at the on-going 19th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC), ninety (90) women’s activists, women’s groups and eminent individuals in the fields of education, human rights, media and the law came together to urge India as a regional super power and the largest democracy in the world to take an unequivocal stand favouring the vote.

The statement (attached) focuses on the fact that the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) “has done little apart from establish the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) and allow the report to be released publicly… Among the measures proposed by the LLRC are the investigation of cases of disappearances and abductions, promotion of a trilingual policy, deployment of Tamil-speaking officers in all offices, curbing activities of illegal armed groups, reduction of high security zones, return of private lands by the military and demilitarisation, including phasing out the involvement of the security forces in civilian activities, and the restoration of civilian administration in the Northern Province. While there are a number of credible recommendations made by the LLRC, there are also gaps specifically with regards to war crimes and accountability.”

Yet the GoSL has failed to take even these first small steps towards peace and reconciliation. There is an urgent need for “efforts to help trace the missing, to devise and implement a political solution, to widen space for civil society groups and to address land conflicts, remain pressing issues, which if left unaddressed can undermine the existing situation in Sri Lanka where there is a real opportunity for lasting peace.” Especially since the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India has repeatedly welcomed the report of the LLRC and expressed hope that its recommendations would be implemented by the GoSL in a time-bound manner.

Speaking on the occasion, film-maker Iffat Fatima recounted the troubled history of the island nation, and described how everything from educational institutions to old age homes, hospitals to churches on the ill-famed ‘killing fields’ of Sri Lanka have borne testimony to the military might of the Sri Lankan state. Researcher Anusha Hariharan highlighted that the people of SL continue to live under the fear of displacement, detention and violence, even to this day.

Eminent law researcher, Usha Ramanathan, pointed to the irony that while the GoSL is claiming this to be a ‘triumph over terror’ it has been countless ‘war crimes meted upon people who have done no wrong. She also argued that it is imperative that we don’t see this as an imperialist design of the United States of America, but rather, an acknowledgment that the USA is finally granting due regard for international law.

Advocate Vrinda Grover, Bureau Member, South Asians for Human Rights said it is critical for both South Asian citizens and governments to take a position on the matter because conflicts in the region affect us all, and finally, we share a common aspiration to live in peace.

It is hoped that the government of India will fulfil its responsibility towards the people of Sri Lanka and help foster a climate of peace and justice in South Asia.

For more information, contact: Anusha Hariharan: 9654979742. anju.hari@gmail.com

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