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State Department Reiterates Deep Concern For Accountability in Sri Lanka

Published On Wednesday, June 08, 2011
On June 3rd, Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner of the US Department of State issued a press statement calling for the Sri Lankan government (SLG) to “act quickly and credibly to address the violations” that allegedly occurred during the war’s final stages and “adopt the measures necessary to achieve national reconciliation and build a united, democratic, and peaceful Sri Lanka.”

The Tamil American Peace Initiative (TAPI) strongly supports this view amid concerns that the SLG-appointed Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation (LLRC) not only lacks the mandate and authority to investigate some of the most egregious violations allegedly occurring during the end of the war, but the release of its final report has also already been delayed twice and will be, in the best case scenario, a year behind schedule.

The State Department’s statement comes on the heels of a three day seminar that took place in Sri Lanka called “Seminar on Defeating Terrorism: The Sri Lankan Experience.” The US, along with Britain, France, Australia, and Japan declined their invitations to attend given credible concerns over the SLG’s tactics. Although the US Embassy’s Defense Attaché was present at the seminar to observe the proceedings, he was not given the authority to speak on behalf of official US policy.

The SLG-led counterinsurgency seminar commenced just one day after a U.N. special envoy announced the authenticity of a video showing ethnic Tamils being summarily executed by Sri Lankan armed forces comprising all Sinhalese personnel. According to Christof Heyns – the UN's special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions – extensive technical evidence obtained from independent experts shows evidence of "definitive war crimes." This “prima facie case should go to the next level of investigation on a domestic and an international level," said Mr. Heyns.

This view by Mr. Heyns is supported by H.Res.177, which has been referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. H.Res.177, sponsored by Reps. Michael Grimm (R-NY) and Rush Holt (D-NJ), urges the establishment of an independent, international accountability mechanism to look into reports of war crimes, crimes against humanity and other human rights violations committed by all sides both during and after the war. A nearly identical resolution, S.Res.84, passed unanimously through the Senate on March 1st.

About TAPI
The Tamil American Peace Initiative was formed by a group of Tamil Americans to help bring lasting peace, justice, democracy, good governance and economic development to Sri Lanka; to focus attention on the destruction of Tamil communities and culture caused by almost three decades of war; and to demand an end to the continuing oppression of Tamils on the island.

Contact T. Kopper at info@tamilamerican.org or +1.202.879.9384 for additional information or to arrange an interview with Dr. Karunyan Arulanantham.
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