UN agencies condemn forced displacement of Jaffna Tamils

[TamilNet, Thursday, 01 April 2004, 12:55 GMT]
The Resident Representatives of UNDP, UNHCR, UNICEF and WFP in Sri Lanka Thursday “expressed their joint concern over recent reports of the displacement of northern Tamils from Batticaloa District, either as a result of fear of persecution, or as a result of threats”. In a statement issued Thursday they strongly condemned the forced displacement and the violation of the basic rights of northern Tamils in Batticaloa. The UN agencies urged the authorities to ensure protection and to maintain law and order.

The following is the full text of the statement:

“The Resident Representatives of UNDP, UNHCR, UNICEF and WFP in Sri Lanka today expressed their joint concern over recent reports of the displacement of northern Tamils from Batticaloa District, either as a result of fear of persecution, or as a result of threats.

These threats include those reportedly directed at businessmen and included in a flyer that ran in the local Tamil Alai newspaper published on 31 March 2004. This at a time when so many other persons displaced by two decades of conflict have seized the opportunity to return to their homes - some 356,000 people since the ceasefire agreement was signed in February 2002.

All citizens of Sri Lanka, including residents of Batticaloa District, have a right to life, liberty and security of person under Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and a right to own property under Article 17. The UN agencies strongly condemned any abuse of these rights, which are also in contravention of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, and urged the authorities of all parties to ensure protection, to hold accountable anyone who violates those rights, and to maintain law and order.

The UN agencies also called for an immediate end to the incitement of further violence in Batticaloa at a pivotal time in the search of the people of Sri Lanka for peace and prosperity. The use of threats and violence puts everyone's future at risk. All parties are called upon to respect the rights of people to live without fear or persecution and to take no action that jeopardizes the lives and well-being of Sri Lanka's people, particularly children who suffer especially through displacement.

The Agency Heads said that the latest developments leading to new displacement from Batticaloa should not only be seen as a tragedy for the affected families, but as a flagrant breach of human rights”.

 

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