Press Release Headlines

USTPAC Reiterates Call for Commission of Inquiry on Sri Lanka

U.S. Draft Resolution on Sri Lanka Promotes neither Reconciliation nor Accountability

WASHINGTON, March 5, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The United States Tamil Political Action Council (USTPAC) expressed its deep disappointment with the United States' draft resolution on Sri Lanka, presented at the 25th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council. The absence of a clear call for international investigations into the mass atrocities of 2009 has shocked the international human rights community, civil society and advocacy organizations like USTPAC.

"In light of the Sri Lankan Government's failure to act, the United States' apparent decision to call again, for the third year in a row, another domestic investigation by the Sri Lankan government, while not seeking to formalize an OHCHR investigation into a Commission of Inquiry is a profound disappointment to the victimized Tamil community," said Dr. Karunyan Arulanantham, President of USTPAC.

UN bodies and human rights organizations have estimated that over 40,000 ethnic Tamil civilians were killed during the final months of the war in 2009. These killings occurred as part of a systematic program in which the Sri Lankan government designated areas, including hospitals, as "No-Fire" zones, and then extensively bombed and shelled those same areas.

The United States Department of State's own 2013 report on Sri Lanka recorded deteriorating human rights climate in Sri Lanka ripe with torture, extra-judicial killings, arbitrary arrest and detention, attacks on journalists, and "widespread impunity for a broad range of human rights violations." Despite overwhelming evidence of these horrific crimes, the Government of Sri Lanka has failed to take even modest steps to ensure accountability for the war crimes for the last five years.

USTPAC calls on the United States' government to heed the growing consensus in the international community, as expressed by the United Nations' High Commissioner for Human Rights, by amending its resolution to call for an independent international investigation in the form of a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the atrocities committed by both sides during the final stages of the ethnic conflagration in 2009. "Permitting the Sri Lankan government to thumb its nose at the international human rights community only encourages impunity and further mass atrocities in Sri Lanka and elsewhere," observed Dr. Arulanantham.

Media contact: Elias Jey: 202-595-3123