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Home > Struggle for Tamil Eelam > Sri Lanka Accused at United Nations > UN Commission on Human Rights 1990
UN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
46TH SESSIONS: FEBRUARY 1990
- Joint Statement by 12 Non Governmental Organisations
Intervention under Agenda Item on the Violation of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
- Statement by International League for the Rights and Liberation of Peoples
Intervention under Agenda on Human rights of all persons subjected to detention, torture and enforced disappearances
- Reply by Sri Lanka Attorney General
Agenda Item 10 on Human rights of all persons subjected to detention, torture and enforced disappearances, 16 February 1990
- Oral Intervention by the World Council of Churches
Intervention under Agenda Item on the Violation of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
- Statement by International Educational Development
under Agenda Item on Violation of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
- Statement by Ambassador Raynell Andreychuk, Representative of Canada
- Report of the Working Group on Disappearances on Sri Lanka
E/CN.4/1990/13 Information reviewed and transmitted to the Sri Lanka Government
- Statement by Tamil Coordinating Committee, France
co signatories: World Tamil Coordinating Committee, Berne, Switzerland, Tamil Coordinating Committe, Hague, The Netherlands and World Tamil Movement, Toronto-Montreal, Canada
Joint Statement by 12 Non Governmental Organisations
consisting of Human Rights Internet, Pax Romana, International League for the Rights and Liberation of Peoples, World University Service, Liberation, Regional Council on Human Rights for Asia, International Fellowship of Reconciliation, Human Rights Advocates, Asociacion Americana de Juristas, ICHP, International Human Rights Law Group, and International Federation of Rural Adult Catholics
- Intervention under Agenda Item 12 on the violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms
The gross and systematic violations of human rights in Sri Lanka has been the subject of concern of this Commission since 1984. This was expressed by a consensus resolution (61) in 1987. Now, more than ever, the deteriorating situation in Sri Lanka demands the attention of the Commission.
The human rights situation in the latter part of 1989 has been referred to as "the new killing fields of Asia".
We welcome the identification of aspects of the concern for human rights as contained in the report of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances and in the reports of the Special Rapporteurs on Torture and Extra Judicial killings.
We express concern about the legislative framework which permits the continued violations of human rights. Specifically, laws such as the Prevention of Terrorism Act, the continued State of Emergency Regulations and the Indemnity (Amendment) Act are laws which in practice condone gross violations of human rights.
These laws are at certain times lifted, for example during International Conferences, meetings of donors groups or prior to elections, only to be re-imposed with added ferocity.
We note with particular concern that human rights lawyers and human rights workers are subject to extra judicial killings and they and their families are threatened if they undertake Habeas Corpus applications or defend cases under the PTA or Emergency Regulations;.
We want to express grave concern regarding the increased level of extra judicial killings. In the South, these killings have been perpetrated by Sri Lanka security forces, militant groups and various para military and vigilante groups.
It can be fairly estimated that 30,000 people, mostly youth, were killed in the South during 1989. Many examples can be cited of massacres such as those that took place at Peradeniya University, Menikhinna village, Kundasala and Tangalle. There were no inquest proceedings initiated to investigate these deaths.
An alarming element in the conflict in the South during 1999 has been the proliferation of vigilante groups widely believed to enjoy the protection of military officials.
Also of serious concern is the number of youth who are taken for interrogation and then subject to the most barbaric forms of torture. They are then often killed and their bodies disposed of by incineration. Repressive measures of the government have severely curtailed trade union activities and the students' democratic movements. Measures have including restrictions on freedom of speech and association.
In the North and East of Sri Lanka, human rights abuses have occurred as a result of conflict between militant Tamil groups and confrontation with the Indian Peace Keeping Force. Thousands of Tamil civilians have been killed by the IPKF from October 2987 to December 1989. Over 10,000 have been wounded and maimed as a result of indiscriminate shelling of neighbourhoods.
There is irrefutable evidence of large numbers of arrests and torture. Incidences like the massacre of 70 civilians' at Velvettitturai by the IFKF have been compared to the massacre at MyLai.
Of particular concern in the North is the forced abduction and conscription of school children to carry arms. This has caused hundreds of students to flee from Tamil districts and parents have protested vehemently. There were strong allegations by parents and human rights workers that this was done with the connivance and concurrence of the Indian Peace Keeping Force.
We call upon the Commission to appoint a special Rapporteur to investigate the situation of gross and systematic violations of human rights in Sri Lanka.
We call upon the government of Sri Lanka to repeal 'all repressive legislation such as the PTA, Emergency Regulations and those legislative measures restricting the activities of students and trade unions.
'We further call on the Sri Lanka government to investigate cases of extra judicial killing, disappearance and torture with a view to prosecuting 'perpetrators and compensating victims.
Statement by International League for the Rights and Liberation of Peoples
- Agenda Item 10 on human rights of all persons subjected to detention, torture and enforced disappearances
"…Another country in Asia is Sri Lanka, whose human rights records have preoccupied us for years and compel us once more to appeal to this Commission, in particular with regard to torture, detention and disappearances.
Since 1983, the human rights situation in Sri Lanka has been a subject of debate, under many items of the agenda of this Commission. With the adoption of a consensus resolution in 1987 by this Commission, the Indo-Sri Lanka Peace Accord in July 1987, the arrival of the India Peace Keeping Force (IPKF), the devolution of political powers to the Tamils of North East were expected to halt the deteriorating human rights situation in that country. But these factors brought about further deterioration of the human rights situation.
There is irrefutable evidence of extra judicial killings, mass arrests, detention, torture and disappearances.
Reports state that detainees are frequently beaten by members of the IPKF, and that electric shook treatment was often inflicted on prisoners during interrogation.
Torture includes beating, pouring water through the nose and applying electric shocks to the genitals. Torture and death of detainees at the hands of IPKF and Sri Lanken authorities is considered to be commonplace.
Many of those found dead along roads and rivers are thought to be victims of torture and death under detention. In the north, the IPKF continues to detain.
The former Indian Defence Minister admitted in August 1989 that 5489 Tamils had been arrrested to that date. During the last year there was a campaign of forced conscription where thousands of Tamil Youths of tender age were abducted and trained to fight the Tamil guerrilla group LTTE.
Even though during 1988 and 1989 there were grave violations throughout all of Sri Lanka the situation during 1989 deteriorated even further, particularly in the South.
The killings were attributed to the armed forces, various para military forces and vigilante groups. These vigilante groups act outside the law as in the case of vigilante groups in the Philippines. During a recent world service BBC interview, a leading opposition member of Parliament said that nearly fifty-thousand people might have been killed during 1989…
At this stage, however, we cannot fail to mention that the Tamil people also underwent hardship at the hands of Tamil militants.
It is estimated that there are now 5000 to 6000 youth in detention in the South. Most of them had undergone severe torture from the time of arrest, interrogation and detention.
Worst forms of torture are practiced to extract confessions. The scars resulting from beatings, broken bones, throwing into pits of fire and electric shocks are clearly visible on persons who came out of detention.
Durina 89 and 99 Amnesty International listed 72 disappearances at the hands of IPKF and Sri Lanka forces. Members of the Sri Lankan forces and IPKF have denied knowledge of the fate of those who have disappeared at their hands.
To give but two examples:
H.C. Fernando a young worker in the 'Gathering Section' of the Government Press in Borelle, Colombo, was abducted by armed men in Sri Lanken uniforms from his home in Maabima, Keianiya at 11 p.m. on 27th August 1989.
A lawyer, Wijedasa Liyanarachchi had been abducted by people unknown on 25th August. The police officials later admitted that he had been arrested by the Counter Subversion Unit of Tangalle in Southern Sri Lanka and that he was detained at Tmngnlle police station. At 11.3O a.m. on Ist September according to government sources, he was, brought to the Counter Terrorism Unit at Sapugaskande in Colombo, where he was received by Inspector Wickremasinghe who said he noticed external injuries. Mr. Lianarachchi is reported to have told the Inspector that the police had tortured him. His condition worsened during the day and at 11.15 p.m. on 2nd September he was admitted to Colombo's General Hospital where he died an hour later.
The article "Sri Lanka takes its place in the annuals of savagery' by David Husego in the Financial Times of 16.1.90 states:
"Interrogation procedures appear to follow a systematic pattern beginning with a heavy beating and leading in worst cases to a Sri Lankan invention of passing a plastic tube into the rectum with barbed wire inside - and then withdrawing the plastic."
The International League for the Rights and Liberation of Peoples calls upon this Commission:
- to appoint a Special Rapporteur to investigate these violations. in particular detention, torture and disappearances;
- to request India to expedite withdrawal of its Peace Keeping Force from Sri Lanka;
- to request the Sri Lanka government to withdraw emergency rule and repressive laws, like the Prevention of Terrorism Act.
Reply by Sri Lanka Attorney General
- Agenda Item 10 on Human rights of all persons subjected to detention, torture and enforced disappearances, 16 February 1990
Certain observations were made in the debate under Agenda Item 10 regarding the practice of torture and attacks on lawyers engaged in human rights activities.
The Sri Lanka Government unequivocally condemns the pernicious practice of torture. Our criminal law makes the infliction of torture punishable with varying sentences upto and including the imposition of the death penalty where the victim has succumbed to his injuries. Sri Lankan laws provide for payment of compensation to the victims payable by the State if the person responsible has been a member of the executive.
Madam Chairman, as the Attorney-General of Sri Lanka I can give this Commission the categorical assurance that if any person can provide me with credible and cogent evidence about any person who has inflicted torture on another within the jurisdiction of the Sri Lanka Courts, I will institute an investigation and a prosecution against the offender.
The insurgents in Sri Lanka conducted a campaign of murder and torture after abduction of family members of Security Force personnel. This has unfortunately led to revenge taken by a few individuals. And perhaps a few service personnel may have indulged in such illegal acts. The Government of Sri Lanka has categorically stated that it does not condone such criminal activities under any circumstances and that offenders will be brought to justice under the normal laws of the country. The President of Sri Lanka and the Minister-ln-Charge of Defence have issued clear orders that any such incident should be investigated and the perpetrators subjected to trial and punishment.
A name of a Sri Lankan lawyer allegedly killed for his human rights activities was mentioned by a speaker. The name of the lawyer was given as Wijayadasa Liyanarachchi. Mr. Liyanarachchi was not only a lawyer but was also a Politburo- member of the insurgent group. He was arrested in consequence of unimpeachable evidence of his involvement with the activities of the insurgents. Whether he was an insurgent or not, any assault on him would be a serious offence under our law. What the speaker failed to mention was the fact that a Superintendent of Police and two of his subordinates are facing trial in Sri Lanka in respect of this incident. The indictment was filed by me on behalf of the State.
However, as the matter is currently before Court, I will only mention without comment the versions of the prosecution and the defence. The prosecution alleges that Mr. Liyanarachchi died as a result of injuries inflicted while he was in the custody of the three officers whom I indicted. The defence challenges the medical evidence regarding the time when the injuries were caused and aver that death was due to the premature application of a cardiac massage. Three of the Judges of our High Court are sitting in judgement and I can assure this Commission that Justice will be done.
Oral Intervention by the Representative of the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs of the World Council of Churches
- Agenda Item 12 on the violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Member churches of the World Council of Churches have asked the international community to appeal for the end of the terrible conflict in Sri Lanka and the restoration of a rule of law that respects fundamental human rights.
1989 has seen a drastic deterioration of civil conditions and a frightening increase in human rights violations throughout the country.
The spiral of violence, especially in the South at this time, has escalated dramatically with extra-judicial killings becoming a daily occurrence.
Human rights abuses have been committed by a wide range of forces and groups including the Indian Peace Keeping Force, militant Tamil organizations, the JVP, vigilante groups and the Special Task Force of the Sri Lankan Army.
The statistics of these abuses exceed those of many of the countries for which this Commission has undertaken significant interventions.
Of particular concern is the complete militarization of the political process, the large numbers of internally displaced people and the indiscriminate killing of civilians including the targetting of family members of political opponents and human rights workers for extra-judicial killings.
The economic disparities underlying the conflict have not been addressed and the democratic process has so far failed to establish political institutions capable of addressing concerns in Sri Lanka.
We urge the Commission to further its concern expressed in Resolution 61 of its 43rd Session and undertake actions which will bring an end to the political conflict and the resulting human rights abuses in order to promote reconciliation and justice in Sri Lanka.
Statement by International Educational Development
- under Agenda Item on Violation of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
"…In Sri Lanka a civil war still rages. We were heartened by the peace initiative of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam of December 21, 1990 and by the government's initial response announced by a Communique on January 3 1991. Regrettably, the government was unwilling to continue a ceasefire.
The situation in Sri Lanka has been detrimental to the Tamil people there for forty years, especially since the 1950 disenfranchisement of the plantation Tamils reduced Tamil voting power to less than 20% and increased Sinhala voting power to 80%.
The many peaceful means to defend human rights tried by the subjugated Tamils all failed and especially after the massacre of Tamils in 1983, the Tamil people have increasingly sought the use of force to defend basic human rights and their aspirations as a people. At this point the Tamil people appear totally unwilling to accept any alien domination as they have justifiably lost all confidence that a Sinhala dominated government will ever protect the full rights of the Tamil people.
This forum has heard voluminous testimony about Sri Lanka from many NGOs and governments at one time or another in the past ten years. Today the situation is probably worse than at any time in these ten years. Current examples include:
(1) 2009 disappeared Tamil yout in recent months according to a tally compiled by Christian missionaries, some of them Jesuits affiliated with IED;
(2) nearly 6000 Tamil civilian casualties since June 1990;
(3) up to 60,000 deaths in the South since 1987.
In spite of the worsening situation, there has been no official Commission action on Sri Lanka since 1987. IED most strongly urges the Commission on Human Rights to address the on going armed conflict and human rights situation in Sri Lanka with a view to helping the parties to the conflict arrive at a ceasefire, a process of dialogue to meet the legitimate demands of the Tamil people and full restoration of human rights to all Sinhala citizens."
Statement by Ambassador Raynell Andreychuk, Representative of Canada
- 26 February 1990
CANADA DEPLORES THE CONTINUED AND DEEPENING CYCLE OF VIOLENCE IN SRI LANKA AND THE APPALLING HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION THERE.
WE ARE CONCERNED THAT FEW SPECIFIC POLICIES OR ACTIONS HAVE BEEN ADOPTED BY THE GOVERNMENT OF SRI LANKA TO CONTRIBUTE TO CONTROLLING THE VIOLENCE AND BRINGING IT TO AN END.
WE WELCOME THE RECENT DECISION TO REVOKE SEVERAL EMERGENCY REGULATIONS, INCLUDING 55FF, AS CONTRIBUTING TO AN IMPROVEMENT IN THE HUMAN RIGHTS CLIMATE. RECOGNIZING THE INTRANSIGENT NATURE OF ETHNIC VIOLENCE WE NONETHELESS CALL ON THE GOVERNMENT TO INSTRUCT ITS FORCES TO EXERCISE RESTRAINT AND TO RESPECT THE RIGHTS OF CIVILIANS.
Report of the Working Group on Disappearances on Sri Lanka
- E/CN.4/1990/13 Information reviewed and transmitted to the Sri Lanka Government (pages 69 to 74)
281. The Working Group's activities in relation to Sri Lanka are recorded in its last seven reports to the Commission.
282. During the period under review, . the Working Group transmitted to the Government of Sri Lanka 102 newly reported cases of disappearance,- - of which 33 were reported to have occurred in 1989. Twelve cases were transmitted by a letter dated 12 May 1989, 42 by a letter dated 20 September 1989, 28 by a letter dated 15 December 1989, and 20 were transmitted by cables dated 22 March, 20 July, 14 and 22 November 1989 under the urgent action procedure. By communications dated 12 May, 20 September and 15 December 1989, the Working Group also retransmitted 30 cases updated with new information received from the sources. As regards the cases transmitted by the Group on 15 December 1999, it must be understood that the Government could not respond prior to the adoption of the present report.
283. On 12 May and 15 December 1989 the Government was also advised that new information had revealed that three cases transmitted in the past were either not genuine disappearances or were duplications and consequently they had been deleted from the Working Group's list.
284. In its communication dated 20 September 1989, the Working Group advised the Government that on the basis of information given by it one case would be considered clarified provided that within six months the respective family did not make any observations which required further consideration by the Group. By letters dated 24 and 28 February, 27 June and 15 December 1989, the Government, was also informed that 13 cases were now considered clarified on the basis of information from the respective sources.
285. Furthermore, on 20 September 1989 the Group conveyed to the Government reports it had received about developments in Sri Lanka having an influence on the phenomenon of disappearances or on the evolution of cases not yet clarified.
286. Consequent upon its relevant decisions in respect of cases treated under the urgent action procedure the Working Group with its communications dated 24 February and 4 August 1989 respectively reminded the Government of one case which had been transmitted in 1988 and eight which had been transmitted during the first six months of 1989.
Information and views received from relatives of missing persons or from non-governmental organizations
287. The reports received during 1989 emanated from Amnesty International, the Campaign for Democracy and Human Rights in Sri Lanka and/or relatives of the missing persons. Responsibility for the disappearances was attributed mainly to the Special Task Force and armed forces, but it was alleged that 19 of the missing persons had been arrested by members of the Indian Peace-keeping Force (IPKF).
288. In its communication of 16 March 1989, submitting four recent cases of disappearance, Amnesty International observed that although many prisoners-had been released following the lifting - on 11 January 1989 - of the State of Emergency imposed in May 1983, many persons had since been arrested during large-scale "anti-'Subversive" search operations conducted by the security' forces in southern areas as a result of continuing violence by groups opposing the Government. The organization emphasized in that letter that some people, had been missing since those operations and that the Prevention of Terrorism' Act (PTA), which permitted 18 months'. detention without charge or trial and without access to relatives and lawyers, remained in force as part of the-normal law of Sri Lanka..
289. With its letter dated 2 June 1989 Amnesty International forwarded a copy of its report of May 1989 entitled 'Sri Lanka.- Continued Human Rights Violations". In the report Amnesty International expressed concern that the Indemnity (Amendment) Act, passed in December 1988, granted indemnity from civil or criminal proceedings being instituted against, for instance, members of the security forces, provided that their actions had been carried out "in good faith", and viewed the Act as providing immunity from prosecution to those accused of serious human rights violations.
Amnesty International believed it could prevent future legal actions concerning human rights abuses allegedly committed from I August 1977 to 16 December 1988; and that it could affect the course of the many habeas corpus petitions already filed in the courts by the families of those who had disappeared and those who had been detained for long periods without charge or trial. The organization also expressed concern that the Government had revived a regulation permitting the disposal of bodies by the security forces without postmortem or inquest on the direction of the Inspector-General of Police or his Deputy, with the approval of the Ministry of Defence.
290. In its letter ,dated 11 July 1989, submitting information in respect of four persons who had disappeared in June and July, Amnesty International mentioned the reintroduction of the State of Emergency amid widespread political unrest and strikes instigated by the Janatha Vimulithi Peramuna (JVP), People's Liberation Front.
As they had done in the past, - -the JVP had used intimidation in their call for strikes and Amnesty International had expressed concern to President Premadasa that the powers granted to the security forces under the provisions of the State of Emergency, if similar to those granted before January 1989, could facilitate "disappearances" and other -human rights violations. It had urged the Government to take all necessary steps to ensure that the rights of detainees were respected by all law enforcement personnel.
291."On 14 July 1989 Amnesty international reported that since mid-June 1989 hundreds of civilians, mainly young men, had been forcibly "recruited" by Sri Lankan paramilitary forces, involving members of the Eelam People's Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF) and Eelam National Democratic Liberation Front (ENDLF), aligned with the Indian Peace-keeping Forces, and forced to participate in the Citizens' Voluntary Force (CVP). Thereafter their whereabouts were often unknown.
292. During-the period under review, 13 cases were clarified on' the basis of information received from Amnesty International and/or the respective families that 10 missing persons had died in custody, some allegedly as a result of torture, and 3 had been released from detention.
Information and views received from the Government
293. By a communication dated 13 June 1989, the Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka informed the Working Group that one person, whose case had been transmitted on 22 March 1989 under the urgent action procedure, had been arrested but released on 17 March 1989.
294. At its twenty-eighth session, the Working Group met the Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations Office at Geneva, who conveyed his Government's gratitude and respect for the Group's humanitarian work and mentioned the priority given by his Government to co-operation with it. He stated that he was now authorized to inform the Working Group that his Government had no objection to a visit to Sri Lanka by the Group, and he looked forward to having discussions with the Chairman in regard to timing and modalities.
295. Since Sri Lanka had last appeared before the Working Croup - in December 1988 - presidential elections followed by parliamentary elections had been held on 19 December 1988 and 15 February 1989 respectively. The Government regarded it as a favourable sign when, in April 1989, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) responded to the call of the President to talk directly to the Sri Lankan authorities without the participation of a third party; negotiations had begun that month, and at the end of June the LTTE had announced its decision to cease hostilities against the security forces and to henceforth resolve matters through negotiations and discussions with the Government.
296. He stressed that the Government, when it began discussions with the LTTE, had made it very clear that the final political settlement would be reached in consultation with all the Sri Lankan parties concerned, including specifically the Eelam People's Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF) which heads the administration of the North East Provincial Council. As the Indian Peace-keeping Force had not been able to fulfil its mission to disarm. the LTTE and its continued presence was being used to rouse anti-Government feeling, the President had requested the Government of India to withdraw its troops. The request had been the subject of negotiations between the Indian and Sri Lankan authorities but the majority of the Indian Army units remained.
297. In April 1989 the President had offered an amnesty to groups engaged in violence and called on them to surrender their arms. The desired response had not been achieved, however, a major constraint being the groups' claim that the Government had been unable to ensure the withdrawal of Indian Army units. Violence had so escalated that the State of Emergency which had been lifted on 11 January 1989 reluctantly had had to be re-introduced on 20 June 1989, mainly because of the heavy toll of human lives as a result of violence occasioned in part by the presence of the IPKF.
298. Under the State of Emergency, the normal machinery in operation under the legal process had been unable to make substantial headway but habeas corpus :, petitions continued to be filed as before and heard by the same judges, and in some instances, those judges had ruled against the security forces and ordered that compensation be paid to the victims. Every attempt was made to expedite the processing of all habeas corpus cases filed before the Supreme Court but the main difficulty was that investigations could not be conducted.... expeditiously because most of the forces were preoccupied with trying to prevent.violence and lawlessness in the country.
299. At its twenty-ninth session the Working Group again received the Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka, who stated that his Government held the accomplishments of the Working Group in particular esteem, and that co-operation with the United Nations and its bodies dealing with human rights had been a consistent policy of Sri Lanka..
300. The Permanent Representative reported that since he had last met the Working Group, the Government had persisted in its multifaceted endeavours to restore peace and normalcy, and continued to give effect to the devolution of power in the north and east. The continued failure of the Indian forces to disarm some of the Tamil militant groups posed a number of dangers but the Government had been able to secure the participation of the main Tamil militant group (LTTE) in a process of negotiation. The LTTE had further indicated that they were willing to face free and fair elections with other Tamil groups on the completion of the withdrawal of the Indian forces, a process which should be completed before 31 December 1989. Nonetheless, the Government had been deeply concerned about recent reports concerning the formation of further illegal armed groups in the eastern part of the country and resulting clashes between various Tamil groups there and was pursuing this matter with the authorities of the North-East Provincial Council and the Indian Government.
301. Since the Permanent Representative last appeared before the Working Group, there had been an escalation of violence in areas other than the north and east, and despite repeated offers by the Government, those groups which still remained outside the mainsteam of democratic politics had not accepted the invitation to participate in political negotiations. There were recent indications, however, that the level and intensity of violence had abated.
302. The Government had convened an All Party Conference (APC), which had brought to the fore a number of human rights concerns, and the Permanent Representative recalled that when the Government had decided to appoint an independent committee comprising retired Supreme Court judges, to monitor the observance of a ceasefire, one of the concerns had been that certain acts of violence seemed to have been carried out by groups other than regular security forces or known militant groups. Pursuant to the APC discussions the President of Sri Lanka had issued definite and clear instructions to the security forces and police to identify and disband any illegal paramilitary forces operating in any part of the country.
303. The Permanent Representative informed the Working Group that his Government had decided to invite the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to send a delegation to Sri Lanka. The ICRC activities had begun and they had already visited places of detention and had been provided with all necessary facilities and free access to information from both governmental and non-governmental sectors including the press, humanitarian organizations in Sri Lanka and the general public. The Government's position concerning a visit to Sri Lanka by the Group remained valid.
304. The Government had initiated a Procedure to ensure that senior field officers of the security forces informed the Chief Civilian Officers of the area (the Government Agents in respective Districts) of the names and other details of all persons taken into custody for suspected subversive activities. This would help relatives to communicate with detainees through civilian authorities and to provide legal and other assistance. Security personnel had also been instructed to furnish names and particulars of those detained to nominated political party representatives, on request, and the relevant authorities had further provided a full list of persons detained to the Parliament's Human Rights Committee.
305. The State of Emergency which had had to be reintroduced was renewed on a monthly basis by Parliament after a debate. Detention orders issued under emergency regulations were subjected to judicial review and the Courts would examine whether the security authorities had misdirected themselves on the law. The Writ of Habeas Corpus was available even under the emergency regulations.
306. Referring to the Indemnity Act, the Permanent Representative emphasized that the Act was not intended to provide blanket immunity for any member of the security forces who did not respect the rule of law; rather, it provided that indemnity should apply to acts carried out in good faith and required that such acts should be done in the execution of duty.
I. Cases reported to have occurred in 1989 ... 33
II. Outstanding cases ... 901
III. Total number of cases transmitted to the Government by the Working Group ...936
IV. Government responses:
(a) Number of cases on which the Government
has provided one or more specific responses ... 232
(b) Cases clarified by Government's responses a/ ... 14
V. Cases clarified by non-governmental sources b/ 21
a/ Persons released: 11
Persons detained: 3.
b/ Persons released: 7
Person detained: 1
Persons who died in custody: 13.
Statement by Tamil Coordinating Committee, France
- co signatories: World Tamil Coordinating Committee, Berne, Switzerland, Tamil Coordinating Committe, Hague, The Netherlands and World Tamil Movement, Toronto-Montreal, Canada - 10 February 1990
We wish to bring to your notice, on the occasion of the 46th session of the Commission on Human Rights, our latest report on the violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms perpetrated by the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) and Indian backed groups in the Northern and eastern provinces of Sri Lanka.
We are obliged to address you on this subject because we wish that our people should not be annihilated on the one hand by the chauvinistic forces in Sri Lanka, and on the other hand by the forces in India who have imperial ambitions.
During the time of the presence of IPKF throughout North and East it was extremely difficult to obtain proof of the misdeeds of IPKF and the groups under the patronage of the Indian government. Now from six out of eight districts in the North and East IPKF has left. They are still in strategically important sea port districts namely Jaffna and Trincomalee.
In the districts vacated by the IPKF the mercenary army called TNA created by the Indian intelligence agency RAW and trained by the IPKF is trying to create a chaotic situation with view to prolonging the Indian army presence.
As and when the situation clears up and access to all the territories becomes possible, we shall collect, collate and substantiate for future reference all the cases of abuse or violation of human rights perpetrated by the Indian army as -an occupation force and by the groups in collusion with the Indian army.
If we try to fathom the reasons for the violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms by the Sri Lankan state and later by the Indian state done on the Tamil speaking population, we will come to the conclusion that the Tamil speaking people wanted to assert their national right to self determination and in return the governments of Sri Lanka and India wanted to suppress it.
The effort to destroy the national identity of the Tamil speaking people assumed a multi dimensional thrust, attacking simultaneously the different structural levels of the national foundation, the levels of the conditions of existence of a nation its language, education, culture, economy and territory. A part of this genocidal programme were the state sponsored riots from time to time and the military deployment which led to the mass destruction of life and property of the Tamil speaking people.
The struggle for the right to self determination of the Tamil people has an evolutionary history extending to 40 years. It was a historical struggle characterized by state repression and resistance. The Tamil freedom movement was peaceful and non-violent at the early stages and later developed and advanced into an armed revolutionary struggle as state oppression intensified and assumed the character of genocide.
The Tamil people of the island constitute themselves as a nation of people forming a coherent social entity with a homeland, a historically constituted habitation with a well defined territory embracing the Northern and Eastern provinces, with a distinct language, a rich culture, a unique economic life and a lengthy history extending to over 2000 years, as a nation the Tamil speaking people have the inalienable right to self determination.
Professor Virginia Leary, in her report of a mission to Sri Lanka In July-August 1981 on behalf of the International Commission of Jurists said, " The application of the principle of self determination In concrete cases is difficult. It seems, nevertheless, that a credible argument can be made that the Tamil community in Sri Lanka is entitled to self determination."
India intervened militarily in the internal affairs of Sri Lanka with a defective provincial council system. That system did not satisfy the aspirations of the Tamil speaking people. In order to impose that inadequate system the government of India went into a war with the liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
During the time of war, the Indian troops committed various war crimes against the norms of human rights and fundamental freedoms. In order to continue its domination India wanted to put in power its puppets in the North and East, through a fraudulent elections, stage-managed under the Indian army occupation.
After two years of intense war, the Indian armed forces have started to move out. The military pressure mounted by the LTTE and the political and the diplomatic pressure jointly put by the government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers have forced the government of India to withdraw its troops. Even though the final date for the total withdrawal is fixed as 31st, March, 1990, the Indian government is trying to keep its forces in some corner of the country, particularly in Trincomalee by a series of political, military and diplomatic manoeuvres.
In order to continue India's domination in the island Indian intelligence agency RAW masterminded a plan to create a mercenary army called TNA with the forcibly conscripted young boys. The Indian military authorities in collusion with their quisling armed groups launched a programme of mass conscription of Tamil youths to be trained and armed by the Indian army.
They wanted to create an army with a strength of 12000 and, arm them with the sophisticated weapons. About 4500 young men, mostly school going teenage boys were rounded up and taken by force to various Indian army camps. This program of mass forced conscription was started by the Indian authorities with the help of the North-East provincial administration following the announcement of the Sri Lankan President of the total withdrawal of the Indian army.
The TNA started attacking the police stations killing Sinhalese and Muslim policemen with the intention of provoking the Sinhalese retaliation on the Tamil population. T4s ploy was deployed to delay the Indian troop withdrawal by telling that for the safety of the Tamils the Indian troops should stay.
The undisciplined TNA cadres started killing LTTE sympathizers in the North and East of the country. Robberies were committed by these groups for selfish reasons. LTTE had to attack the camps of TNA to disarm them. Over thousand TNA members surrendered to LTTE. They were handed over to their parents in ceremonies attended by elderly and religious personalities and the press people.
TNA was routed within few days. In the districts vacated by the Indian army and its mercenary army TNA, peace is returning fast. Normalcy has already returned in all these districts. In the districts LTTE surfaced peace, normalcy and communal harmony prevail to great extent.
LTTE is negotiating with the Sri Lankan government on the withdrawal of the Indian troops and on the question of the Tamil speaking people. The cessation of hostilities between LTTE and Sri Lankan armed forces has been reached. Both parties have decided to resolve all outstanding problems through consultation, compromise and consensus.
In the meantime, the LTTE has transformed its political wing into a political party called PFLT (People's Front of the Liberation Tigers). The newly formed PFLT will contest elections under the provincial council framework only as an interim measure. After the elections, the PFLT as the elected representatives of the people will continue to talk to find a permanent solution to the Tamil national question. The large crowds, the PFLT meeting draw everywhere shows clearly the massive popular support the Liberation Tigers has.
Various forms of violations on human right have been perpetrated on our people. These violations can be stopped by finding a permanent solution. A permanent solution can be found only on the basis of our people's right to self determination.
The forty years of struggle of the Tamil speaking people has clearly indicated that a solution found on the basis of our people's right to self determination will provide permanent security on the national rights of the Tamil speaking people and on their lives.
At Thimpu in Bhutan in the year 1985, during negotiations with accredited representatives of the Sri Lankan government, LTTE and all other Tamil political organisations expressed the joint and unanimous will of the Tamils that any meaningful solution to the Tamil national question must be based on our people's right to self determination.
The heroic struggle of our people against the formidable Indian army and its eventual withdrawal from our homeland has reinforced the concept of Tamil's right to self determination.
The chauvinist and extreme nationalist tendencies among the Sinhalese population and their eruption in brutal forms and the serious human rights violations against their own people have given ample basis for our people's demand for the right to self determination. The killings by the Sri Lankan armed forces and the vigilant groups backed by the armed forces of the JVP suspects and the JVP attacks and slaughtering of government supporters have aroused fear among our people.
The finding of a solution on the basis of the right to self determination will prevent the repetition and continuation of the human rights violations in various forms. Non acceptance of this right has led the country to riots, wars, outside interferences, bloodshed, loss of lives and the destruction of the country as a whole.
We beg that the commission should recommend for a solution to be found accepting our people's right to self determination. The infringement of this fundamental right and various other vilolations of human rights by both Sri Lankan and Indian governments should be condemned.
We enumerate here the violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms committed by the Indian armed forces and by the Indian intelligence agency RAW through the quisling groups. It should be noted that the RAW agents and Indian army commanders have headed the death squads comprising the members of the quisling groups and committed numerous murders and abductions by means of covert operations.
For example we provide some information collected by the citizen committee in Amparai about the atrocities committed by the Indian army and the groups EPRLF, ENDLF, TELO, PLOT backed by India, in the Amparai district during the period of 10-3-88 to 31-i2-89. 541 civilians were killed- 63 persons either abducted or taken into Indian army camps disappeared. 4675 persons were either beaten or tortured.
Over 3600 houses were robbed. Over 1000 LTTE suspects, innocents civilians and LTTE sympathizers are still in IPKF detention camps in Trincomalee and Jaffna. This is against the laws of Sri Lankan and Indian States. Many of them are detained over two years.