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"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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Home > Human Rights & Humanitarian Law  > International Human Rights Day - Statement by Tamil Centre for Human Rights, 10 December 2000

Human Rights & Humanitarian Law

International Human Rights Day
52nd Anniversary of the UDHR 

Statement by Tamil Centre for Human Rights (TCHR/CTDH)
10 December 2000

The Tamil Centre for Human Rights - TCHR/CTDH, in association with other Human Rights organisations, Institutions, Human rights defenders and with many others around the world celebrates the 52nd anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights - UDHR.

The UDHR opened up the pathway to many other Conventions, Convenants and Declarations in the context of Human Rights. The UDHR has thirty articles, which include the rights of people to Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and to Civil and Political Rights.

Violations of human rights started in Sri Lanka a long time ago. We are witnesses to the fact that the UDHR and subsequent Covenants and Conventions are seriously violated by the government of Sri Lanka and its allies.

The new phenomenon of aggressive states is that they label any action other than non-violent struggle, as "terrorism" and "terrorist". Undoubtedly the task of Human Rights defenders is a purely non-violent one - organising meetings, seminars, producing reports and lobbying locally and internationally. However, another phenomenon of State terrorism and its propagandists, is to call Human Rights organisations "Front Organisations" and "Outfits"!

State terrorism and its propagandists fail to counter the message - reports, etc of the Human Rights defenders but aggressively target the messengers instead. This paves the way for more state terrorism, not only in the country of origin but even in other countries too. In the recent past, Sri Lanka and its neighbours have increased their State terrorism. 

When violations committed by States are reported to International Human Rights organisations and UN organs, some States always try to find a way to defend themselves, by any means. When we look at the record of the UN, it is crystal clear that the States which have the highest violations, always dominate the UN Human Rights organs and institutions. 

The notorious States look for membership in the UN Commission on Human Rights, insert a loyal person as a member in the Sub-Commission on Human Rights, influence their propagandists to find high profile jobs with International organisations and they never fail to bribe the officials in the top positions in various governments and institutions.

Nowadays, the voice of the voiceless is hardly ever heard internationally unless human rights defenders are ready to face the consequences - even sacrifice their life. A tragic and typical example of this, was the assassination of Mr. Kumar Ponnambalam - Lawyer and Human Rights Defender - on 5th January 2000 by the Government of Sri Lanka.

TCHR produces reports annually, quarterly, monthly and releases Urgent Actions and Press Releases. TCHR members undergo humiliation and work with great risk, continuing their high profile lobbying in important areas. When we look back at our records, we see clearly that TCHR initiatives have brought positive responses in the long run.

Nowadays, the International Community is making a serious response to the deteriorating human rights situation in Sri Lanka. The government of Sri Lanka, however, continues to ignore the warnings given by the International Community and as a consequence of this, is gradually being punished and isolated from important World bodies.

1- The latest punishment came as Sri Lanka lost her seat in the 53 member United Nations Commission on Human Rights. Despite heavy lobbying by Sri Lanka, they failed to retain their membership in this key UN Human rights body.

2- Sri Lanka was supposed to Chair the last UN Commission on Human Rights (Fifty-sixth Session) - but it was given to Nepal because the members in the Asian group and other countries felt that allowing Sri Lanka to Chair the Commission on Human Rights would be equivalent to allowing a butcher to conduct mass in the Church.

3- Last year Sri Lanka suffered a humiliating defeat at the Paris based UNESCO General Council, when its candidate for the post of Director General - UNESCO, was able to muster only two votes out of 36. 

4- In the World Court the seat Sri Lanka held was lost to a Jordanian.

5- In November 99, Sri Lanka with three other nations were about to be expelled from the Commonwealth under proposals for tough new membership criteria based on democracy and human rights. 

Everyone knows that Sri Lanka spends vast amounts of money buying sophisticated weapons. Day and night, the people in the North East of Sri Lanka are facing artillery fire, shelling, aerial bombing, etc. As the government of Sri Lanka cleverly spends money on their malicious international propaganda, human rights defenders also face the firings! Human Rights Defenders in foreign countries need no bunkers! What we all need is moral courage and hard work. This will certainly help us to achieve our goals. 

Once again, TCHR in solidarity with all other organisations celebrates the 52nd Anniversary of the UDHR, which is a constant shining guideline for future achievements. 

We take this opportunity to thank all the individuals, organisations and institutions, which continue to be in solidarity with us, even amidst the malicious propaganda of the Sri Lankan government propagandists.

Thank you.
December 10th 2000 Ref: AE/11/12

Head office:
Tamil Centre for Human Rights / Centre Tamoul pour les Droits des l'Homme - TCHR/CTDH
9, rue des Peupliers
95140 - Garges les Gonnesse
Fax : + 33 - 1- 40 38 28 74 Email : [email protected] 

United Kingdom
Tamil Centre for Human Rights - TCHR
P. O. Box 182
Manchester M16 8ED
Fax : + 44 - 161 - 860 4609 Email : [email protected] 



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