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The New York Times on Sri Lanka: International Investigation Would Aid Post-War Reconciliation

Published On Thursday, June 23, 2011
On Monday, June 20, David Miliband and Bernard Kouchner, former foreign ministers of Britain and France, wrote in The New York Times that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon should establish an independent, international mechanism to monitor Sri Lanka’s reconciliation efforts and conduct investigations into human rights violations that occurred during the end of the war.

Furthermore, Miliband and Kouchner called upon their governments “to set a deadline, soon, for satisfactory response from the Sri Lankan government and if it is not forthcoming to initiate the international arrangements” to address credible allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The prospect for a satisfactory response by Sri Lanka’s own investigative panel, the so-called Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), and any other arrangements the government may initiate, appears highly unlikely.

The LLRC was recently granted a second six-month extension and has been widely criticized by leading independent experts for being deeply flawed, partial, and lacking the mandate to adhere to international standards for accountability. Amnesty International calls Sri Lanka's commissions exercises 'make-believe.' Nevertheless, the Sri Lankan government continues to vehemently deny having committed any wrongdoing during the war, including in the final stages where tens of thousands of Tamil civilians were killed.
The Tamil American Peace Initiative (TAPI) applauds Miliband and Kouchner for underscoring how the Sri Lankan government’s attempts to sweep recent atrocities under the carpet will create deeper divisions, and how establishing an independent, international mechanism to look into alleged violations is not only essential for ensuring lasting peace on the island nation, but is a duty under international law.

Miliband and Kouchner wrote that the integrity of the international humanitarian system is being closely scrutinized, and that the international community cannot be selective in confronting human rights violations. TAPI agrees that a decision by the UN to initiate an independent, international investigation of human rights violations would send a signal to the world that all perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity will be investigated.

The Times’ op-ed also called the continued discrimination against Tamils by the government “a dangerous cancer at the heart of Sri Lanka’s future.” TAPI agrees that the inequitable treatment of Tamils and lack of protection of Tamil rights, which fueled the war and continues to this day in the government’s programs and policies, is a serious barrier to an enduring peace.

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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