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Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Bishop Joseph Rayappu, R. Sampanthan, CV Wigneswaran and 35 Others Jointly Demand UNHRC Set up Commission of Inquiry on Sri Lanka

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In a statement released today in the Mail and Guardian (South Africa) Archbishop Desmond Tutu and 38 Human Rights activists and organisations from around the world demanded that the UN Human Rights Council set up a Commission of Inquiry to investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Sri Lanka.

Signatories came from South Africa, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Pakistan, Uganda, India, Cambodia, Malaysia, Brazil, Japan, Bosnia, Mongolia, Cote d’Ivoire, Nepal, Thailand and organisations representing individuals from all over the world. We, concerned individuals and organizations from around the world, urge the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to use their March 2014 session to pass a resolution that will include a commitment to an Independent International investigation in the form of a Commission of Inquiry. Only this will help to put the country on the path to justice and reconciliation.

Here is the statement and list of signatories in full.

Although the long-running civil war ended in May 2009, a lasting peace is not in sight and we remain gravely concerned for the future of the people of Sri Lanka. A fear and sense of injustice persists, not just among minorities and political activists, but among ordinary people desperately trying to rebuild their lives. A number of unresolved issues remain, including ongoing human rights violations, credible allegations of crimes against humanity and war crimes, and the lack of progress towards longer-term political solutions and reconciliation. Left unaddressed, these issues could lead to renewed conflict.

Post-conflict processes do take time, but what matters is getting on the right path. Nearly five years after the war ended, the situation appears to be getting worse, not better.

The biggest issue Sri Lanka faces is a systemic lack of respect for the rights of its citizens, particularly – but not exclusively – its minority citizens. This is rooted in a culture of impunity which is in turn rooted in a failure to hold to account those, on both sides, who committed some of the worst atrocities this century.

Only an independent international investigation of these atrocities will end this culture of impunity and give the people of Sri Lanka a chance to climb out of the cycle of violence towards a lasting peace. For these reasons, there have been numerous calls over the years for such an investigation: from a renowned panel of experts appointed by UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon, from UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, from a host of Sri Lankan and international individuals, Non Governmental Organisations, and politicians, and from many thousands of petitioners all over the world.

We represent organisations and individuals in many countries. The Sri Lankan Government claims that attempts to set up an international inquiry in Sri Lanka come exclusively from the west, and represent a form of imperialism. Not so. Many of us come from countries that have also seen conflict, and attempts at reconciliation after it. We know Sri Lanka is going to need help from the international community to get back on track. Standing in solidarity with the many Sri Lankans who feel their government is making a mistake, we urge the United Nations to establish a Commission of Inquiry.

1 Archbishop Desmond Tutu, South Africa
2 Yasmin Sooka, Executive Director, Foundation for Human Rights, South Africa
3 Rt Rev Rayappu Joseph, Bishop of Mannar and President of Tamil Civil Society in Sri Lanka
4 Hon. Rajavarothayam Sampanthan – Leader of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and Member of Parliament of Sri Lanka
5 Hon. C.V.Wigneswaran – Chief Minister of Northern Provincial Council (NPC) and former Supreme Court Judge (Sri Lanka)
6 Danny Sriskandarajah, Secretary General, CIVICUS, the world Alliance for Civilian Participation, South Africa
7 Dr. Irene Fernandez, Right Livelihood Award, Malaysia
8 Bashana Abeywardane, Exiled Sinhalese Journalist, Co-ordinator Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka
9 Maggie Ndagire, Program Director, on behalf of Women And Children’s Empowerment Network in Africa (WACENA), Uganda
10 Flavia Piovesan, Professor of Human Rights and Constitutional Law, Catholic University of Sao Paulo, Brazil
11 Arul Prakkash, Executive Director, Pusat KOMAS
12 Chibli Mallat. chair, Right to Nonviolence, Lebanon
13 Dr. Nezamuddin Katawazi, Director of Peace and Human Rights Organization (PHRO), Pakistan/Afghanistan
14 Dr. Bruce White Director, Organization for Intra-Cultural Development (OICD), Japan
15 Francis Paul Siah, Leader, Movement for Change, Sarawak, Malaysia (MoCS)
16 James Offuh, President and Founder, ONG UFPACI, Ivory Coast
17 Jerald Joseph, Human Rights Activist, Malaysia
18 Kannan Ramasamy, President of RARE Msia (Respect All Race & Religion of Msia), Secretary of Tamilar Action Force Malaysia, Malaysia
19 Lena Hendry, Programme Co-ordinator, Pusat Komas Human Rights organisation, Malaysia
20 Ng Yap Hwa, Coordinator of Malaysians for Beng Hock movement, Malaysia
21 Nora Ahmetaj, Executive Director, Centre for Research, Documentation and Publication (CRDP), Kosovo
22 PY Wong, Tindak Malaysia, Malaysia
23 Ratna Osman, Executive Director of Sisters of Islam, Malaysia
24 Richard Obedi, Executive Director, The Populace Foundation International, Uganda
25 S. Gobi Krishnan, Founder & Secretary General of NewGen Party Malaysia
26 Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice, on behalf of 15000 supporters in 66 countries around the world
27 Tan Jo Hann, President of Persatuan Masyarakat Selangor & Wilayah Persekutuan (PERMAS Movement of the Urban Poor. ), Malaysia
28 Yu Ren Chung, Human Rights Activist, Malaysia
29 As an organisation, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development, Thailand
30 As an organisation, Association for Democratic Initiatives in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosnia and Herzegovina
31 As an organisation, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), India
32 As an organisation, Destination Justice, Cambodia
33 As an organisation, Globe International Center, Mongolia
34 As an organisation, INSEC, Nepal
35 As an organisation, Life Watch Manipur, India
36 As an organisation, Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity (PACTI), India
37 As an organisation, Redress, UK (representing victims from all over the world)
38 As an organisation, SDO ( Sanayee Development Organization), Afghanistan
39 As an organisation, UNA Sweden, Sweden.

COURTESY:SRI LANKA CAMPAIGN FOR PEACE AND JUSTICE

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