GENOCIDE OF TAMILS IN SRI LANKA’
Round Table Discussion
By: The Malaysian Parliamentary Caucus on Human Rights Monitoring in Sri Lanka and Tamil Forum Malaysia
Date: 19 Feb 2013 Tuesday
Time: 9.30 AM to 1.00 PM (lunch at 1.00PM)
Venue: Parliament House, Kuala Lumpur
OBJECTIVE OF RTD:
1. In view of the impending resolution on Sri Lanka at the UNHCR in March 2013, this RTD is called to build support and obtain consensus in order to persuade the Malaysian government to vote for the resolution. It may be noted that Malaysia abstained from voting during the 19th UNHRC in
2. At the Universal Periodic Review of Sri Lanka in November 2012, 99 countries made 210 recommendations; Malaysia was not one among them. As Malaysia is a voting party, this RTD is pertinent to gather inputs to further the cause of international justice.
ISSUES TO BE DISCUSSED:
1. The so-called reconciliation by the incumbent Sri Lankan government is but mere attempts to pull the wool over the eyes of the international community. The constant denials even in the face of hard and heart-rendering and explicit documentary evidence as exposed by Channel 4, the UN Panel of Experts report, the verdict of the Dublin People’s Tribunal and the reliable reports of International Human Rights Groups is very worrisome, to say the least.
2. To allow the hypocrisy of the Sri Lankan authorities is tantamount to allowing for the perpetuation of blatant lies in the face of truth. This display of hypocrisy ought to be condemned by all nations who hope to expound international justice, including Malaysia.
3. The massacring of its own people by Sri Lanka is alarming, astonishing and outrageous to say the least. It is a model never to be emulated and the perpetrator punished according to International laws.
4. The U.N. for its part, censored an internal memo showing how top officials recognized the failure of the world body’s Human Rights Council when it came to seeking accountability for Sri Lanka’s killing of an estimated 40,000 civilians in 2009.
5. Whilst it is commendable that U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had established a Panel of Experts to look into the conflict and its aftermath, I am afraid this is insufficient. One of the recommendations of its 2011 Report was for the Human Rights Council “to reconsider its May 2009 Special Session resolution regarding Sri Lanka, in light of this report.”
6. That session, which was called by the European Union, had been hijacked by Sri Lanka’s allies, and ended up praising the Sri Lankan government, rather than condemning its atrocities.
7. A second recommendation asked for the U.N. to conduct “a comprehensive review of action by the United Nations system during the war in Sri Lanka and the aftermath, regarding the implementation of its humanitarian and protection mandates.” Ban Ki-moon then established a follow-up panel to do just that.
8. The second panel’s conclusions were released on 14 November 2012. The panel found that “the United Nations system failed to meet its responsibilities, highlighting, in particular, the roles played by the Secretariat, the agencies and programmes of the United Nations country team, and the members of the Security Council and Human Rights Council.”
9. The published report included several parts that were blacked out. Inner City Press published the same document, noting how the blacked-out parts are readable by a simple copy-paste.
10. The UN Panel of Experts wanted the UN to press for an International Investigation of War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity. It becomes a basic necessity for the human rights respecting world to press for this demand to deliver justice to the voiceless victims.
11. The Charles Petrie report of November 2012, also speaks of an unpublished report of the UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide. Malaysia should support its civil society which has been demanding the publication of this report.
12. Malaysia should also request the UN Secretary General to use Article 99 of the UN Charter and appoint an International Investigation team.
13. Ladies and Gentlemen, the U.N.’s credibility would be undermined if it continues to choose not to intervene. The U.N. is after all supposed to be an impartial and respected international body.
14. Failure to intervene would expose the sores of politicization and selectivity that eat and erode the UN Charter‘s promise of equal treatment to all nations – large and small.
IS IT POSSIBLE TO REFER THE PRESIDENT OF SRI LANKA TO THE ICC?
1. Sri Lanka is not party to the statute.
2. The ICC only has jurisdiction over genocide, crimes against humanity, the crime of aggression, and war crimes under the following circumstances:
a. If the state is party to the Rome Statute. (Sri Lanka is not party to it.)
b. If the alleged crimes have been committed in a country, or, if the crime was committed onboard a vessel or aircraft which is party to the statute. (All alleged crimes have occurred in Sri Lankan territory).
c. If the alleged individuals are nationals of countries party to the convention. (All possible members are either Sri Lankan or American. Because neither country is party to the convention, the ICC does not have any jurisdiction.)
d. If Sri Lanka requests the ICC investigate such crimes which may have occurred due to its own inability to do so.
e. If the alleged crimes committed are referred to the Prosecutor by the Security Council acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations. (Any such move by any member of the United Nations Security Council would be blocked by either China or Russia. Both are permanent members of the Security Council. Due to our close diplomatic ties and due to their own internal considerations these two countries would not go ahead with any such investigation.)
The latter point was clearly apparent when Russia opposed any discussion of Sri Lanka on the UN Panel report at the Security Council on the 18th of April.
THE CALL BY MS. NAVI PILLAY TO SET UP AN INTERNATIONAL PANEL OF INVESTIGATION.
1. United Nations Human Rights High Commissioner Navi Pillay has sought to dispatch ten Special Rapporteurs to Sri Lanka to assess the implementation of the recommendations by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC).
2. This is in addition to last year’s visit of three officials from the High Commissioner’s office to Sri Lanka. Hanny Megally and Oscar Solera are the two officials who came to Sri Lanka in September last year.
3. However, it is learnt that the government of Sri Lanka has turned down the latest request to send Special Rapporteurs from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). Instead, the External Affairs Ministry has insisted that Ms. Pillay should visit the country first to see for herself the progress being made in the post war area.
4. According to authorities, “It is the initial stand. First, a team of officials from her office arrived in the country and held talks with all the stakeholders. They came here to do the groundwork for her visit. We stick to that stand. It is impossible to endorse further missions by special rapporteurs,”.
5. Ms. Pillay had also sent a strongly worded letter to the government, criticizing the procedure adopted in the impeachment of former Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake.
6. The UNHRC adopted the United States-sponsored resolution on Sri Lanka in March, last year. According to it, the High Commissioner is required to submit a report to the next session of the UNHRC regarding the progress on the implementation of measures outlined in the resolution.
WHAT MALAYSIA CAN DO:
1. All efforts must be concerted and continuous.
2. More NGOs and individuals can be urged to support the Memorandum.
3. Perhaps an ASEAN stand can be looked into as well.
4. Malaysia could take the lead in influencing the other Muslim countries on the need to have a human rights respecting world and also to highlight the problems faced by the Muslim minorities in Sri Lanka.
5. Malaysia can speak out against Sri Lanka at the UNHRC on the unkept promises made over the years to treat the minorities with dignity.
6. Malaysia should join the countries demanding International Investigations in Sri Lanka as all locally available mechanisms have failed and rendered toothless by the present regime. What is notable is the February 4th 2013 Independence Day speech of its President who announced that there would be no concessions given to the Tamils, thus ending all speculations of greater autonomy and power sharing with the Tamils.