Ex-LTTE exiles willing to testify

Many former members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), now on exile in Europe, are willing to participate in the proposed transitional justice mechanisms in Sri Lanka on alleged violations of human rights during the final phase of the civil war, if their safety and anonymity are guaranteed.

This is among the findings of a survey undertaken by the International Truth & Justice Project (ITJP), Sri Lanka, which is affiliated to the Foundation for Human Rights in South Africa.

The survey covered 75 Tamils living in four European countries, of whom ex-cadres of the LTTE accounted for 54. Women constituted 26 per cent of the entire group.

They fled to Europe after 2009 war

Almost all the interviewees fled Sri Lanka for Europe after the end of the civil war in May 2009.  A quarter of them had been through the Sri Lanka government’s rehabilitation programme for former LTTE cadres but had “found it impossible to survive” in the country after being released, according to a report prepared by the ITJP.

Seventy-three per cent of the interviewees alleged that they had been subjected to torture by the security forces after the fighting stopped and 54 per cent to rape or other forms of sexual violence.

The survey’s findings were released on Friday night, a few days before the commencement of the United Nations Human Rights Council’s two-week-long session in Geneva. An oral update is expected to be presented on June 29 on the status of implementation of the October 2015 resolution.

They want anonymity

Eighty two per cent of the group members said they would testify to a special court in Sri Lanka. Anonymity has been stressed by the interviewees, considering that many of them are survivors of sexual violence and several members of their families are still in Sri Lanka.  Most of the interviewees felt that witness protection in the island-nation was “grossly inadequate.”

Three quarters of the persons surveyed said no amnesty should be given even for those who revealed the full truth about their role in violations. There was a unanimous view that the proposed Truth Commission and Special Court must have a majority of international commissioners or judges. Fifty per cent of the post of commissioners or judges should be earmarked for women.

Whither those who vanished?

One half of the interviewees wanted to know the fate of those who had disappeared. For some interviewees, truth meant knowing why international community “abandoned” Tamils during the final phase of the war. At the most basic level, mothers sought to ascertain whether their children’s fathers were still alive or not.

As for apology from the government or individual perpetrators, 55 per cent of the group members demanded it from the government. Also, 46 per cent of them favored an apology by the LTTE or the Tamil community for actions such as the expulsion of Muslims from the Northern Province in 1990.  (The Hindu)

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