Sinn Féin's Foreign Affairs spokesperson Seán Crowe has urged the international community to take a strong stand on Sri Lankan war crimes as the state prepares to host the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) starting on November 15.
Deputy Crowe said:
“It is simply unacceptable that 50 world leaders will turn a blind eye to Sri Lanka’s war crimes as they gather in Colombo this month, four years after the Sri Lankan government carried out an assault on the Tamil areas in the north and east of the island that left 40,000 civilians dead.
“A United Nations panel produced a report in April 2011 that examined war crimes committed during the final stages of the civil war in 2009. The UN found that most civilian casualties were caused by systematic government shelling of densely populated areas in the final few days of the war – areas the government had encouraged refugees to concentrate in.
“The five core allegations of war crimes committed by the Sri Lankan government that the UN panel found credible were: the killing of civilians through widespread shelling; the shelling of hospitals and humanitarian objects; denial of humanitarian assistance; human rights violations suffered by victims and survivors after the conflict; and human rights violations against the media and other government critics outside the conflict zone.
“Despite repeated calls from the UN for a full investigation, there has been no adequate attempt by the Sri Lankan government to investigate or hold accountable the perpetrators of these war crimes.
“In addition, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have continued to document human rights violations by the Sri Lankan government against the Tamil population and government critics, including the widespread use of rape and torture against detainees, disappearances and extra-judicial killings.
“In light of these on-going human rights violations and the Sri Lankan government’s failure to investigate war crimes committed during civil war, it is both unbelievable and unacceptable that 50 world leaders will gather in Colombo this month.
“Canada's Prime Minister has commendably decided to boycott CHOGM but other Commonwealth leaders including David Cameron have committed to attend. The international community failed the Tamil people in 2009 as they were trapped and mercilessly shelled by the Sri Lankan government; now it is failing them again in participating in this summit which the Sri Lankan government is using to rehabilitate its international reputation.”