TORONTO: Three and a half years after the world witnessed the brutal end to Sri Lankan civil war, the extent of brutalities by Sri Lankan forces in the last stages of the conflict continue to shock the world.
The Report of the Secretary General’s Internal Review Panel on the UN Action in Sri Lanka, released yesterday, concludes that the events in Sri Lanka mark a grave failure of the UN to adequately respond to early warnings and to the unfolding situation during the final stages of the conflict and its aftermath, resulting in deaths of tens of thousands of civilians and the displacement and subsequent internment of over three hundred thousand people.
The Canadian Tamil Congress (CTC), which represents the huge Tamil diaspora in Canada, has welcomed this highly critical internal review undertaken by Charles Petrie, stemming from the Secretary General’s Panel of Experts report released on April 12, 2011.
The last phase of the war reportedly claimed at least 40,000 lives and resulted in the disappearance of tens of thousands of civilians – one of the worst atrocities the world has seen.
“The Report, confirms the systemic, and collective failure of the United Nations and its constituent bodies in preventing the loss of human life”, said Gary Anandsangaree, legal counsel tohte CTC at a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.
“It poses disturbing questions on the role of the United Nations in aiding the Sri Lankan government’s slaughter of the Tamil population caught in the war zone,” added Anandasangaree.
The internal report could play an invaluable role in providing an impartial assessment of the UN’s existing failures and opportunities for improvements. The UN’s policies in Sri Lanka were seriously flawed, matching its actions in Rwanda, and only through public dialogue and stronger accountability can the international community and Tamil victims regain trust in the United Nations, says the CTC.
The actions of the United Nations and the international community as a whole has left much of the world with haunting questions – it casts real doubt on whether victims of Sri Lanka will ever see real justice.
In light of the mounting evidence against Sri Lanka, provided by the UN Panel of Experts Report, the Channel 4 Video, Still Counting the Dead – a book by former BBC Correspondent Frances Harrison and this very report, the CTC has called upon the United Nations and its member states to convene an International Independent Investigation into allegations of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.