Home » 51st SESSION UNHRC RESOLUTION ON SRI LANKA AND WAY FORWARD

51st SESSION UNHRC RESOLUTION ON SRI LANKA AND WAY FORWARD

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Geo-politics Prevails the Humanity

Unquestionably the whole world knows that the Mullivaikkal genocidal intended Tamil massacre in Sri Lanka is the first and the worst in this 21st century. Despite the awareness of well-substantiated documents pertaining to Tamil massacre, the international community not only assisted Sri Lankan state to execute its purpose but continue to disregard Tamil peoples’ call for justice for the atrocity crimes inflicted on them by the Sri Lankan state.

Had the international community been considerate on humanities, rather than paying their geo-politics, many Tamil peoples’ lives could have been saved. It is not only the loss of lives, but several people have been maimed, lost their limbs, eyes, widowed, orphaned and have been living into destitute situation due to the destruction of their properties and belongings and also due to the occupation of concentrated Sri Lankan military in their lands. 

Had the world-leaders proactively set an example by intervening with the Sri Lankan government and stopped the massacre of Tamil people, that precedence could have saved many peoples’ lives in other countries too. A good recent example is Ukraine – Russian war.

Nevertheless, there are 1000s of well documented evidence are available the UN Member states continue to fail to acknowledge merits to establish an international criminal justice mechanism due to lack of political will and geopolitical interests. Had there been a drive, international community should have ensured the (a) reporting of these crimes to other UN mechanisms and (b) referring to the General assembly for an international criminal justice mechanism.

The Core Cause for Sri Lanka’s Economic Crisis

Majority of the countries were sympathetic with Sri Lanka’s pretence that imposition of stringent resolution against it, while it undergoes economic upheaval, is unfair without knowing the true cause for its current dilemma.  

These countries must understand and acknowledge that there is a disconnection between the current economic crisis and the seven decades of Sinhala Buddhist exclusivity, impunity, cycles of violence, conflict driven political agenda and highly centralised state institutions, 

We met the diplomats of several countries and internationally reputed NGOs to comprehensively explain them with facts and figures in convincing them that the root cause for Sri Lanka’s current economic problem has been its racial hegemony of Sinhala-Buddhist chauvinism since Sri Lanka became independence in 1948. 

Among the many things cited: 

·        the Sinhala-only Act followed by the premeditated deployment of more military camps in Tamil homeland from 1963 when the Tamil people were conducting nonviolent resistance, 

·        the prolongation of Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) as a temporary provision enacted in 1979 till to date, arbitrary arrest, detention, enforced disappearance, extra judicial killings, torture, sexual violence, vulnerability of the women & children and the effect of impunity, 

·        national budget spent for defence for 27 years, between 1983 and 2009 was $14 billion, whereas the post-war defence expenditure for the 10 years, from 2010 to 2019 has been $17 billion causing the frenzy borrowing led to $51 Billion foreign debt, and

·        the additional defence expenditure predominantly was to deploy 16 out of 19 military divisions in Tamil homeland with the increase of 318,000 military personnel in 2018 from 220,000 at the end of war in 2009.

Imposition of Leverages

The despotic nature of the Sinhala-Buddhist chauvinistic Sri Lankan state has proved over the past seven decades, by defying several negotiations & pacts for the devolution of powers to the Tamil people, that it is not going to fulfil the legitimate aspirations of Tamil people in the island for prospering through the process of peaceful coexistence. 

Undeniably, the international community is fully aware not only from the many cycles of violence staged against Tamil people, but also from disregarding the UNHRC Resolutions over the years, particularly A/HRC/RES/46/1 of March 2021 and A/HRC/51/L.1/Rev.1 of October 2022.

It is the time for the international community to take tangible actions, one of which is applying calibrated leverages against Sri Lanka avoiding the sufferings of innocent civilians. otherwise, it will continue its atrocities endlessly, leading the country further economic and political crisis. 

As Sri Lanka is totally depending on foreign aids and support such as the GSP+ privileges, applying leverages at this stage can bring significant changes to the political structure in the island. 

By using all the available leverages on Sri Lanka, when it is in weakest stage and fully dependant on the international community, particularly the USA, UK, India and EU should be able to prevail on the decision makers of Sri Lanka to arbitrate a power sharing arrangement based on the right to self-determination and the principles of federalism. Resolution 51/1 progressively included the political solution and devolution.

Implications of 51/1 UNHRC Resolution 

It is worth mentioning at this juncture that Sri Lanka, arrived with an arrogant attitude of defying the resolution as if the countries would extend their support on sympathy of its economic crisis and also demanding not to interfere with its sovereignty, severely lost with receiving only seven votes, which was four less than its position if 2021. India emphasised on the devolution of powers and the aspiration Tamil people for a lasting peace in Sri Lanka. 

Unlike Resolution 46/1 low allocation of budget, which was subsequently unduly curtailed by the friendly countries of Sri Lanka, Resolution 51/1 has allocated a moderate budget for the evidence collection, preservation and analysation of human rights violations and related crimes in Sri Lanka. 

Resolution 46/1 does not restrict the time limit for the evidence collection of atrocious deed inflicted on innocent victims. Thus, this permits us to collect evidence of all atrocity crimes including Genocide even up to the date Sri Lanka attained independence in 1948.

This implies that Tamil people, particularly the diaspora organisations, Victims & Witnesses and the human rights defending countries must work hard in providing and assisting the Sri Lanka Accountability Project, UNHRC with truthful and genuine evidence collections. 

Considering that “unity is strength” the Tamil diaspora organisations collectively must take responsibility to ensure the revelation of the unreported crimes especially the crime of Genocide in the future reports of the OHCHR. We call upon the like-minded Tamil organisations to join us to explore the avenues leading to international criminal justice mechanisms and mobilise the resources to establish such international mechanisms for Sri Lanka

Tamil political parties and civil society to work in unison towards finding a long-term political solution by involving India, the United States, The European Union, the United Kingdom and Canada to play as arbitrators of the devolution of power sharing mechanism. 

The Way Forward

Considering the foregoing, among the many other things stipulated in current resolution, 51/1, we must ensure to strengthen the Evidence Collection Mechanism by fully resourcing without further delay by enabling the team reach out to the victims and witnesses globally and to secure their evidence, prepare case files, share with relevant host countries and international justice mechanisms to initiate the judicial proceedings. More proactive we are, will result in strong reporting on the 53rd session validating the elements of genocidal intent and other atrocity crimes. 

In the interim, we request the states to address the underlying causes of the crisis, including impunity for human rights violations and economic crimes by pursuing a number of options to advance accountability at the international level, by helping the victims seek justice, reconciliation and human rights; and requests UNHRC to pursue the prosecution of the available emblematic cases through appropriate mechanisms and  also requests the council to refer through the General Assembly to establish an International criminal justice mechanism for Sri Lanka.

We also request the International Community to work towards a negotiated political solution for the Tamil people through international arbitration and to undertake to implement it in Sri Lanka.

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