Monday, April 23, 2012

"Justice for Sri Lankan Tamils"

Speech by M Kula Segaran MP Ipoh Barat and DAP National Vice Chairman on the occasion “Justice for Sri Lanka Tamils at Butterworth, Penang on April 21, 2012

I spoke at the MGR societies function at Butterworth on Saturday night. Other speakers were Prof. Ramasamy, YB A.Sivanesan and many more. The crowd was encouraging more so when the visual and real happennings were shown on screen.

Among the matters I spoke about were:

During the recent sitting of Parliament many MP's including myself raised the issue of the recent civil war of Sri Lanka and the cruelty caused to innocent Tamils.

We raised the issue of Sri Lanka's abuse of its own citizens namely the Tamil people where tens of thousands of innocent people were killed, raped, tortured and are still missing.

The civil war has resulted in over 100, 000 people killed. The issue is, is the Sri Lanka government military action clean in the civil war issue? Are they guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity,genocide,ethnic cleansing ,mass murder and the sort and if they have committed such heinous crimes, Malaysia and the world should not turn a blind eye on this issue.

Shouldn’t the perpetrators of this war crime and those involved in the heinous crimes be brought to justice?

A. The UN Secretary General’s Panel of Experts Report

A three-member panel was set up in September 2010 following the Joint Statement made by UN Secretary–General Ban Ki Moon and Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse, after the Secretary-General Ban visited Sri Lanka shortly after the end of the conflict in May 2009. The panel consisted of Mr. Marzuki Darusman (Indonesia), Ms. Yasmin Sooka (South Africa) and Prof. Steven Ratner (USA).

The Sri Lankan Government refused to cooperate.

The evidence obtained by the panel revealed ”a very different version of the final stages of the war than that maintained to this day by the Government of Sri Lanka". The panel found "credible allegations, which if proven, indicate that a wide range of serious violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law were committed both by the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE, some of which would amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity". The panel concluded that the "conduct of the war represented a grave assault on the entire regime of international law designed to protect individual dignity during both war and peace".

The panel found "credible allegations" that the Sri Lankan military/government killed civilians through widespread shelling; shelled hospitals and humanitarian objects; denied humanitarian assistance; violated the human rights of civilians and Tamil Tiger combatants; and violated the human rights of non- combatants outside the conflict zone such as the media representatives. The panel found "credible allegations" that the Tamil Tigers used civilians as a human buffer; killed civilians attempting to escape Tamil Tiger control; used military equipment in the proximity of civilians; forcibly recruited children; used forced labor; and killed civilians using suicide attacks.

The Channel 4 documentary “Sri Lanka Killing fields” went on the 14thjune 2011 provided real and visual killings and torture which happen during the last days of the civil war. The 48 minute depicted “death, injury, execution, evidence of sexual abuse and murder”

The Sri Lanka President set up the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) in May 2010. Unfortunately the commission’s investigation etc was criticized by the UN which had this to say- Observations of the UN Panel of Experts on the nature of the LLRC

The Panel concluded that the Government’s notion of accountability is not in accordance with international standards. The government appointed Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission has been under scrutiny by the panel as the report says, “…the LLRC is deeply flawed, does not meet International standards for an effective accountability mechanism and, therefore, does not and cannot satisfy the joint commitment of the President of Sri Lanka and the Secretary-General to an accountability process”.

Malaysia decided to abstain in support of the resolutions on Sri lanka presented by the US, France and Norway.

The resolutions were:

a. To address accountability for the violations of international human rights law and humanitarian law committed by all sides in the last months of the war in Sri Lanka in 2009.

b. To discuss both Sri Lanka’s Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) report and the UN Secretary General’s Panel of Experts (PoE) report in 2010 to investigate allegations of violations of international human rights and humanitarian laws in the last stages of the war.

c. To establish an independent international mechanism to investigate Sri Lanka for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

d. To establish an international mechanism to monitor progress towards the implementation of an effective transitional justice process by the Government of Sri Lanka.

In reply to the matters raised in Parliament on March 28 , Deputy Foreign Minister YB Riot said they had 3 reasons for not supporting resolution at HR Conference in Geneva:

1) LRCC just concluded in Nov2011 its findings and must be given time.
2) it is an internal issue and Malaysia will not get involved
3) Sri Lanka is an independent democratic country, consistent and transparent in its acts.

The above reasons are unacceptable and flawed. Human rights abuse is a universal matter. It cannot and should not be regarded as an internal matter of a country. Thus it can't be questioned by any country is inconsistent with UN resolutions on Human Rights.

In the case of Palestinian issue with Israel, Southern Thailand up rising by Muslims, uprising in Philippines and in Bosina, in all these states Malaysia has been involved to resolvee their internal political issues. Thus how come, then, in the case of Sri Lanka, Malaysia views the killings of over 100,000 innocent people as an internal issue? Clearly double standard when it comes to issues of Tamils of Sri Lanka!!

By voting neutral Malaysia has failed to live to the exceptions of civil society and right thinking nations.

It is said after the civil war in Sri Lanka, Malaysian business people have got many lucrative business contracts in Sri Lanka. Was the decision to stay neutral influenced by these big business tycoons?

The Government failed to read, feel and act to the interest in particular of the local Tamil people and others who share similar values in this country who want bold action against Sri Lanka.

As Malaysia had acted contrary to accepted human rights norms, it is best for Malaysia to vacate its seat in the UN's Human Rights Council.

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