On the eve of Independence day celebrations
On the eve of the 74th anniversary of Sri Lanka’s Independence, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) leader R. Sampanthan has written to all 47-member states of the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) urging them to take tangible measures against Sri Lanka over its failure to fulfill commitments relating to Resolution 46/1.
The Trincomalee District MP alleged that the government hasn’t taken any steps to address the Tamil National Question as the only sure means to ensure non-recurrence of conflict. The following is the text of MP Sampantha’s letter addressed to Permanent Representatives of the member states made available to The Island by his Office:
“I write to you as the Leader of the largest Tamil Political Party (Tamil National Alliance) in the Sri Lankan Parliament in the lead up to the 49th secession of the United Nations Human Rights Council (U.N.H.R.C) when the situation in Sri Lanka is to be evaluated after the written update by the High Commissioner for Human Rights in keeping with the provisions of Resolution 46/1.
Within a week of the end of the armed ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka in May 2009, a joint communique was issued by the Government of Sri Lanka and the United Nations at the conclusion of the U.N Secretary General’s visit to Sri Lanka on 23rd of May 2009, which inter alia stated
“Sri Lanka reiterated its strongest commitment to the promotion and protection of Human Rights, in keeping with international Human Rights standards and Sri Lanka’s international obligations. The Secretary General underlined the importance of an accountability process for addressing violations of International Humanitarian and Human Rights law. The Government will take measures to address those grievances”.
Sri Lanka has not taken any meaningful steps to address the above commitments in the last twelve (12) years. During the intervening years the U.N.H.R.C has adopted seven (7) resolutions ending with U.N.H.R.C 46/1 in March 2021. Sri Lanka has meanwhile issued statements of various commitments which have largely not been implemented. In addition to not addressing the accountability issue the government of Sri Lanka continues a programme of oppression of the Sri Lankan Tamils including Militarisation, indefinite detention of political prisoners with several new arrests of also Civil Society and Media Personnel and family members and others memorializing their departed kith and kin, impeding displaced Tamil people from resettling on their lands through the actions of various Government Departments, the denial of traditional collective land rights and cattle grazing rights and intensifying surveillance of political and Civil society activists.
The most serious danger the Tamil people face is the issue of Land Grab that is going on in the pretext of archeological explorations, Wild Life protection and protecting of forest reserves., in addition to driving the Tamil people out of their traditional habitats
The government is engaged in a programme of redemarcation of divisional boundaries, and colonisation of historical Tamil speaking areas with new Sinhala settlers, so as to render any future settlement of the Tamil question nugatory. In this situation of uncertainty, Tamil people are leaving the country and seeking refuge abroad, in the interests of their own safety.
These actions of the Sri Lankan Government are intended to defeat the concept accepted both domestically and internationally that the Tamil people are a people within a united and undivided Sri Lanka inhabiting the Northern and Eastern provinces as their area of historical habitation, and thereby progressively transform the Northern and Eastern provinces into a majority Sinhala Areas.
As the U.N.H.C.R meets in February and March 2022 to evaluate the performance of the Sri Lankan government on its commitments relating to resolution No 46 / 1 we urge the member states to clearly articulate that Sri Lanka has failed in its obligations to investigate allegations of violations and not taken any steps to address the Tamil National Question as the only sure means to ensure non-recurrence.
The Tamil people request that you make your observations at the interactive sessions, and urge the Government of Sri Lanka to abide by its commitments, both in respect of accountability and settling the Tamil National Question justly and also adopt measures that will compel the Sri Lankan Government to move in the right direction in conformity with all its commitments, to ensure that we the Tamil people in Sri Lanka are able to continue to live in our Areas of Historical Habitation, the Northern and Eastern Provinces, within a United and Undivided Sri Lanka with Self- Respect, Dignity and Security.”
BASL urges President to de-escalate tensions in different parts of country
The Bar Association of Sri Lanka has called upon President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to instruct the Defence Secretary, the Commanders of the Tri Forces and the Inspector General of Police to ensure that there is an immediate de-escalation of tensions in different parts of the country – especially at fuel stations – understanding the difficulties faced by the public.”
“Whilst keeping in mind that the police and armed forces are acting under very trying circumstances, nevertheless it is necessary to give strict instructions to the police and the forces to desist from violence in dealing with the public and to act with utmost restraint”, the BASL has said in a media statement.
“We also call upon you to ensure that steps are taken under the law to deal with errant officers who have subjected civilians to such violence.”
The BASL is of the view that it is not appropriate for service personnel to be deployed in the present manner in matters which essentially should be managed by the Sri Lanka Police.
The armed forces should also not be used to disturb or hinder peaceful protests as was seen last week in Galle.
Full text of the BASL letter to the President:
The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) expresses its gravest concerns at the current situation at fuel stations throughout the country and the reports of several incidents of conflicts between civilians and members of the police force and the armed forces at fuel stations. There has been video footage of civilians being assaulted by personnel of the armed forces and the police, the latest being of a civilian being kicked by an Army officer at a fuel station. There have also been situations of the police and Army opening fire into the air to contain the crowd.
Your Excellency is no doubt aware that thousands of desperate civilians are waiting in queues at hundreds of fuel stations in the country. The queues are kilometres long. The tension at the fuel stations have arisen from this desperation for which there is no immediate solution in sight.
The BASL wishes to warn Your Excellency of the imminent dangers this situation could give rise to. The present unrest could result in a conflagration between civilians and members of the armed forces or the police. Some years ago, confrontations between members of the public and the armed forces resulted in the deaths of civilians. Such incidents between the members of the armed forces or the police and the civilians will discredit Sri Lanka’s armed forces and the police.
We call upon Your Excellency to take all necessary steps to give instructions to the Defence Secretary, the Commanders of the Tri Forces and the Inspector General of Police to ensure that there is an immediate de-escalation of the situation in different parts of the country – especially at fuel stations – understanding the difficulties faced by public. Whilst keeping in mind that the police and armed forces are acting under very trying circumstances, nevertheless it is necessary to give strict instructions to the police and the forces to desist from violence in dealing with the public and to act with utmost restraint. We also call upon you to ensure that steps be taken under the law to deal with errant officers who have subjected civilians to such violence.
The Sri Lanka Army and other service personnel must be deployed only in very limited circumstances as contemplated in the Criminal Procedure Code. The BASL is of the view that it is not appropriate for service personnel to be deployed in the present manner in matters which essentially should be managed by the Sri Lanka Police. The Armed Forces should also not be used to disturb or hinder peaceful protests as was seen last week in Galle.
We trust that this will receive the immediate attention of the Government as to do otherwise may otherwise result in unprecedented turmoil and harm.
The BASL believes that the ultimate solution to the situation at fuel stations is to be transparent with the public and to ensure an equitable and effective system of fuel distribution throughout the country.
SC orders AG to submit report on fuel purchases and distribution
By A.J.A. Abeynayake
A three-member Supreme Court bench consisting of Justices Vijith Malalgoda, Mahinda Samayawardena and Arjuna Obeysekera yesterday ordered the Attorney General to submit a report on fuel purchases, the distribution thereof and the sectors to be provided with fuel on a priority basis.
The Supreme Court made the order after considering two fundamental rights petitions presented by the Bar Association of Sri Lanka.
The BASL has requested the Supreme Court to direct the Cabinet of Ministers to consult all stakeholders and independent experts to formulate and implement the necessary policies, and to provide concessions in relation to the prices of essential goods and services to the people including LP gas, fuel, electricity, milk powder, medicines and food.
The petitions were filed by the President of the BASL Saliya Pieris PC, Deputy President Anura Meddegoda PC, former Secretary Rajeev Amarasuriya, Treasurer Rajindh Perera and the Assistant Secretary Pasindu Silva.
A/L may be delayed by one month
Education Minister Sushil Premajayantha told Parliament yesterday that although it had been scheduled to hold the G.C.E. A/L Examination 2022 in November this year, it could be further delayed by another month.
Responding to a question by MP Shantha Bandara, the Minister said: “The examination should be held at least after three months of releasing the results of the previous A/L exam because the students who need to sit it again should have enough time to prepare,” the Minister said.
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