The UN’s human rights body has angered Sri Lanka by voting on a new resolution that calls on the island’s government to fully investigate civilian killings in its recent conflict and expresses growing concern over continuing atrocities.
But while officials in Colombo insist they are striving to account for the civil war violence and are actively working towards a lasting peace, evidence gathered from across the country indicates a ruthless campaign of oppression is being pursued with impunity.
A new assessment published by the Geneva-based Sri Lanka Brief claims that Sri Lanka’s leaders have betrayed citizens by wilfully ignoring international pledges of reconciliation and demilitarisation.
Listing several incidents of press intimidation, the report detailed how one government minister, Rishard Badurdeen, assaulted a 72-year-old journalist last May. Two months earlier, another minister, “Douglas” Devananda, called for attacks on a newspaper in Jaffna – the region once claimed by the Tamil rebels
A second list focuses on attacks on peaceful protests. These include one in July 2012 in which masked men disrupted a demonstration in Jaffna about the recent killing of a Tamil prisoner. Following one demonstration organised by Roman Catholic clergy in the northern town of Mannar, Rayappu Joseph, a local bishop who had sought information about the fate of thousands of people missing since the war, was subject to harassment and intimidation from security forces.
“Sri Lanka needs adequate time and space to resolve such wide-ranging and deep-rooted issues,” Mahinda Samarasinghe, Colombo’s special envoy on human rights told the UN council. “Undue pressure exerted by external parties on this one aspect is not helpful in the resolution of these issues.”