A call to action from Badayl-Alternatives
The government of Sri Lanka is relentlessly pursuing critics of the government using dubious tactics. At one stage, it was hoped that the “Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission” would bring out the truth of the war in Sri Lanka and that those who perpetrated war crimes- whichever side of the divide they belonged to- would be dealt with appropriately. The over-two decade war was responsible for killings, displacements, and disruptions not quite paralleled in recent history in any war situation.
The commission has been heavily criticized by international human rights groups, the UN Panel of Experts and others due its limited mandate, alleged lack of independence and its failure to meet minimum international standards or offer protection to witnesses. They believed that the Sri Lankan government was using the commission as a tool to prevent an independent international investigation of alleged abuses. As a consequence of this Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the International Crisis Group refused to appear before the commission.
The Bishop Joseph Rayappu and 30 other priests are asking the Rights United Nations Council for Human to push the Rajapaksa Government to recognize their war crimes, seizures of human rights activists, hate campaigns against non-governmental journalists; disorder of peaceful protests, witnesses never heard of violence amid post-conflict government abuses.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said India is “inclined” to vote in favour of a resolution against Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council. The council is due to vote later this week on a US motion calling for a probe into alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka as its civil war ended in 2009.
Badayl-Alternatives have received the following appeal for action from the Asian Centre for the Progress of Peoples. We call on our readers to follow the suggested actions that are found in the letter below.
As some of you may already be aware, the Bishop of Mannar in Northern Sri Lanka, together with 30 priests, has written to the UN Human Rights Council urging them to call on the Government of Sri Lanka to implement the positive recommendations of the LLRC (Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Committee, the body of inquiry it set up to look back at the Sri Lankan Civil War and provide recommendations for moving forward to an era of healing and peace building), among other things. (See Annex 1) The Bishops and the priests have since been attacked through intimidation and discredit by media and government-friendly groups.
Concerned civil society groups in Sri Lanka and abroad are rallying around Bishop Rayappu Joseph and the priests for their “principled and courageous position” in the light of UN’s belated interest in the human rights situation in Sri Lanka. As the UN is discussing a US-led resolution on Sri Lanka this week, letters of support for the bishop’s letter have been solicited and directed sent to the UN HRC. (See Annex 2) However, the on-goings at the Human Rights Council in Geneva is anyone’s guess, and already there are those who are questioning the US resolution, which even if passed, are predicted to be much watered down. This means it would not have any meaningful effect on the human rights situation and national reconciliation efforts in Sri Lanka.
Given this scenario, the pressure is thrown back to those opposing the government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, and civil society actors like Bp. Joseph and his priests. It is imperative thus, that they be affirmed and supported in their action, now more than ever.
To this end, ACPP and the Hotline Team appeal to you to send your notes and messages of solidarity to Bishop Rayappur Joseph and the 30 priests to affirm their courageous act of writing to the UN, to encourage them to be steadfast in their public stand and prophetic witness, and to give them support in the continuing and expected increased backlash on their action.
You may address your messages of solidarity to:
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
Fax No.: 0094-23-2232709
Please also see Annex 3, ACPP’s solidarity message which you may also adapt in preparing your own letters.
Thank you very much and hope that you will send your letters as soon as possible to support these men of God who have taken upon themselves to be the voice of the voiceless in Sri Lanka.
May God bless all our efforts for Justice and Peace,
Asian Center for the Progress of Peoples
1/F, 52, Princess Margaret Road
Kowloon, Hong Kong
Phone: (852) 2714 5123 / 2712 3989
Fax: (852) 2712 0152