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Sirisena Lacks Political Will For Reconciliation: Report

May 30, 2015
New Indian Express

COLOMBO:In an bid to mount pressure on the United States, India and other countries to take up the issue of war crimes and human rights violations in Sri Lanka at the September session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, the California-based Oakland Institute has put out a research study which says that the Maithripala Sirisena government in Sri Lanka lacks the necessary political commitment to bring about ethnic reconciliation.

The report, written by the Institute’s Executive Director, Anuradha Mittal, accepts that the Sirisena government has made some gestures towards reconciliation, however analysis of data up to April this year, show that very little has changed on the ground since the end of the war in 2009.

“This raises serious questions about the government’s political will and political space to carry out a thorough investigation and prosecution of war crimes and its ability to ensure remedies that lead to justice,” Mittal says.

Calling for unrelenting international pressure on the Lankan government to deliver on its promises, Mittal says: “Given the past record of governmental inaction, international pressure is critical for any decisive action. Instead of pursuing their geo-strategic interests, US, India and other countries should demand the release of the UN inquiry (into the charges of war crimes). The Human Rights Council should focus on establishing a judicial process under the auspices of the UN to ensure justice is done.”

The report points out that the Tamil-speaking North and East are still under “heavy military occupation” with one soldier for every six civilians. Maj Gen Jagath Dias has been appointed Chief of Army Staff even though his 57 Division was accused of committing “serious human rights abuses.”

Though a few political prisoners have been released it is still not clear how many are in detention. Thousands of Tamils are still living in camps or are unable to return to their lands. Seventy thousand to 140,000 Tamil civilians are still said to be missing.

Tamil culture and history are being “systematically suppressed through Sinhalization to establish Sinhalese domination of the Tamil Homeland,” the report alleges.