By Alishba I. Kassim
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka – The Sri Lankan government continues to reject calls to probe for human rights violations amidst allegations that an unprecedented number of civilians perished in the battle against Tamil separatists.
Media Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena said “those who give various civilian casualty figures and call for these probes must have ulterior motives.” He further went onto say that the government was conducting its own analysis but declined to give any figures. “Our officials knew how many people were in the (war zone) area and we are taking a tally on the number of people now in the IDP (internally displaced persons) camps.”
Several groups such as Amnesty International have been calling for independent probes but are being met with resistance. Amnesty also urged the United Nations to reveal its own estimates of civilian casualties. Sam Zarifi, the group’s Asia Pacific director accused both sides of human rights violations and war crimes and repeated a request for an independent and international probe.
Last week Sri Lankan officials managed to garner enough South Asian support at the Geneva council session to pass a resolution describing the conflict as “a domestic matter that doesn’t warrant outside interference.” In a following controversial development, the council supported the Sri Lankan government’s decision to provide international NGOs and human rights agencies with limited access “as may be appropriate” to refugee camps.
Undoubtedly these developments have frustrated international organizations that are now unable to accurately assess the human rights violation in Sri Lanka and therefore are unable to respond appropriately.
It makes one wonder, when civilian victims are at issue, shouldn’t one accept all the aid and support available?
For more information, please see:
The Nation – Sri Lanka Rejects Probe after Crushing Tigers – June 01, 2009
Guardian – UN Rejects Call for Human Rights Inquiry – May 28, 2009
Straits Time – Sri Lanka Rejects Rights Probe – May 31, 2009
Press Trust of India – Sri Lanka Rejects Demands for Probe – May 31, 2009