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Sri Lanka Govt. Breaks Promises That Displaced Can Go Home-HRW

245,000 Held in Camps Should Be Released Immediately

Full Text of HRW Press Release

The Sri Lankan government's recent statements that it aims to return only 100,000 of the original 273,000 displaced civilians confined to camps by the end of 2009 breaks a promise to camp residents and the international community, Human Rights Watch said today. In May, the government announced that 80 percent of the displaced people would be able to return home by the end of the year.

Since the end of the fighting in May, the government has released or returned fewer than 27,000 people, leaving about 245,000 civilians in the camps.

"Enough is enough," said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "It is well past time to release civilians detained in the camps. Sri Lanka's international friends should tell the government that they will not accept any more broken promises."

The Sri Lankan government has used its promises of rapid return (usually called "resettlement" by the government) to stave off international criticism over its treatment of ethnic Tamil civilians displaced by war. The displaced Tamils have been held in detention camps, which the government euphemistically calls "welfare centers," where they are deprived of their liberty and freedom of movement, in violation of international law.

Human Rights Watch has repeatedly called for all civilians in the camps to be allowed to leave, even if security conditions do not permit them to return home immediately. Most could live with relatives or host families. Those who have nowhere to go could choose to stay in the camps, but this should be voluntary. For those who did stay, conditions would be improved because the camps would be less crowded. The United Nations, the United States, the European Union, and India have all called on the government to release civilians detained in camps as soon as possible.

The government has in its most recent statements dramatically decreased the number of people it says will be allowed to leave the detention camps by the end of 2009:

* On May 7, the official government news portal of Sri Lanka, http://www.news.lk/, announced that "[t]he Government plans to resettle over 80 percent of the displaced families in the North before the end of this year."

* Meeting with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on May 23, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa said, "The Government was already working on a plan to resettle most of the IDPs [internally displaced persons] within 180 days."

* In a July 16 letter of intent to the International Monetary Fund, which awarded Sri Lanka a US$2.6 billion loan, the government said that it "aims to resettle 70-80 percent of IDPs by the end of the year."

* On October 6, however, Deputy Finance Minister Sarath Amunugama, attending the annual meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in Istanbul, said that, "Sri Lanka may resettle 100,000 people from camps by the end of the year."

* On October 16, Resettlement and Disaster Relief Services Minister Rishard Bathiudeen said, "Our plan is to resettle around 100,000 persons by the end of this year."

These recent statements suggest that only about 37 percent of the original camp population would be freed from the camps by the end of 2009.

The Sri Lankan government has also made a number of statements about imminent releases of displaced persons from camps that proved to be untrue:

* On August 29, the government news portal announced: "Plans are afoot to resettle nearly fifty thousand persons now living in welfare camps shortly in their homes in Jaffna."

* In an official statement released on September 3, Northern Province Governor G.A Chandrasiri said: "All arrangements are in place to resettle 30,000 Internal Displaced Persons (IDPs) in 35 villages in Vavuniya District."

* On September 24, Minister of Mass Media and Information Anura Priryadarshana Yapa said: "The resettlement process of persons temporary [sic] accommodated at welfare camps in Vavuniya is in full swing and as of today, the Government has resettled 40,000 civilians in their place of origin."

* On September 25, the Ministry of Defense announced that active preparation is under way for "resettlement of an estimated number of one lakh [100,000] of displayed [sic] civilians by mid-October."

According to the UN, the government had returned only 13,502 displaced persons to their place of origin and released another 13,336 to host families and elders' homes as of October 9.

The media reported that on October 14, the Sri Lankan government promised a delegation of local parliamentarians from India that it will release 58,000 internally displaced persons from camps in the next two weeks.

"The Sri Lankan government is playing games with the lives and hopes of those displaced by the country's armed conflict," said Adams. "Its failure to address the genuine grievances of the Tamil community is disastrous for the country."

1 Comments

This is not the first time Srilanka Government broke promises If You look at the post independent history of Srilanka it is obvious these were the prime cause of the developement of Tamil armed liberation strugle and the LTTE.Please see below to recap.

1948 - British grant independence under the Soulbury constitution.

The parliament, with its entrenched Sinhalese majority, legislates to disenfranchise Tamils of [recent] Indian origin who have lived there for generations and have always exercised their franchise. The Tamil people lost almost half of their representation in the parliament.

The state aided colonisation of Sinhalese people in Tamil areas promoted to annex Tamil homelands and further reduce Tamil representation in the parliament.

1956 - The Sinhalese Language was made the only official language by legislation, disadvantaging Tamil people in dealing with the state administration and denying them equal access to education and employment.

1957 - Bandaranaike - Chelvanayakam Pact between the Sinhalese Prime Minister SWRD Bandaranaike and Tamil leader SJV Chelvanayakam QC to meet some of the demands of the Tamil people.

1958 - The Pact was unilaterally abrogated by the Sinhalese Prime Minister to pacify the extreme elements among the Sinhalese Buddhists. (He is the father of the President of Sri Lanka Chandrika Kumaratunga (1995 - ) He was assassinated by a Buddhist monk for his pact with the Tamils in 1959.

1965 - Senanayake - Chelvanayakam Pact - entered into, with another Sinhalese Prime minister Dudley Senanayake, and was never implemented by the Sinhalese government.

1969 - The Privy Council in London directs the Supreme Court in Sri Lanka to review the constitutionality of the Official Language Act, since it violated s.29(2) the constitution.

1971 - The government responds by abolishing appeals to Privy Council. The Tamil people's only avenue to seek justice through independent judiciary came to an end.

1972- The new Republican Constitution was adopted and imposed on the Tamil people without their consent.
The only legal safeguard provided by the entrenched section 29(2) of the Soulbury constitution, described by the Privy Council in London that they "represent the solemn balance of rights between the citizens of Ceylon, the fundamental condition on which inter se they accepted the constitution; and these are therefore unalterable under the constitution", was scrapped.
Tamil parties walked out of the constituent assembly. With this Tamil participation of the democratic process in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) came to an end.

1973 - Through a process of standardization the government restricts entry of Tamil students to universities and institutions of higher education.

1974 - The 4th International Tamil literary conference in Jaffna was broken up by the police, where many died and several were injured.

1976 - All the main Tamil political parties unite under the leadership of SJV Chelvanayakam QC and at their First National Convention declare:

"The Convention resolves that the restoration and reconstitution of the Free, Sovereign, Secular, Socialist state of Tamil Eelam based on the right of self-determination inherent to every nation has become inevitable in order to safeguard the very existence of the Tamil nation in this country."

1977 - Historical mandate of the Tamil people - The Tamil people gave a clear mandate at the general elections to establish their sovereignty. The manifesto called for:
"… in the general Election the mandate of the Tamil Nation to establish an independent, sovereign, secular, socialist State of Tamil Eelam that includes all the geographically contiguous areas that have been the traditional homeland of the Tamil-speaking people in the country.

"The Tamil nation must take the decision to establish its sovereignty in its homeland on the basis of its right to self-determination. The only way to announce this decision to the Sinhalese Government and to the world is to vote for TULF.

The Tamil-speaking representatives who get elected through these votes while being members of the National State Assembly of Tamil Eelam which will draft a constitution for the state of Tamil Eelam and establish the independence of Tamil Eelam by bringing that constitution into operation either by peaceful means or by direct action or struggle".

The Tamil resolution also called on
"The Tamil youth in particular to come forward to throw themselves fully in the sacred fight for freedom and flinch not till the goal of a sovereign socialist state of Tamil Eelam is reached".

(The Sinhalese Prime Minister of Sri Lanka from 1970 to 1977 was Mrs. Srimavo Bandaranalke , the mother of the President Chandrika Kumaratunge [1995 -2006 ).

The Anti-Tamil Violence - The Tamil people have been subjected periodically to communal violence. There have been anti-Tamil riots and pogroms in 1956,1958,1977 and culminating in the 1983 massacres and holocaust.

Military occupation & Police brutality - First in 1961 and then in 1974, 1979, 1981 and from 1983. Many historical monuments including temples and churches were destroyed. (Attested in two reports by the International Commission of Jurists, and in several other reports of independent international human rights organisations).
The armed struggle by the LTTE on behalf of the Tamil people arose as a rebellion against the tyranny of the Sinhalese state and its brutal repression of Tamil people.

It is a just cause in pursuance of their democratic aspirations, and the historic mandate, and therefore is lawful.

1983 - Sri Lanka commenced arbitrary arrests and detention without trial, torture and rape, violence against women, summary executions of the Tamil people. The era of mass exodus of Tamil refugees internally and internationally begins.

Various Tamil armed militant groups begant to escalate therir armed struggle, and LTTE became the dominent armed liberation force.

But the same violence ,rape, illegal,detention ,colonisation, distortion, lies, breaking promises are happning in front of Impotent world Bodies,and International Governments continueing even after Defeating LTTE.

What can the Tamils do? Surrander their lives to live ?, rights,?Self respects?Self determinations? in their own homelands?

Posted by: Glen.Eagle12 | October 20, 2009 03:45 AM

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