Jaffna protest over human rights

[TamilNet, Friday, 11 December 1998, 17:16 GMT]
The Missing Persons Guardian Association (MPGA) and 15 other Non Governmental Organisations in Jaffna sent a memorandum to the Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan on December 10, to mark Human Rights Day.

The organisations appealed to the Secretary general over the "continuous subjection to the violation of fundamental human rights" of Tamils.

"While the 50th anniversary of the UN Declaration of human rights is a day of celebration for many, it is a day of morning for us," said the memorandum.

The organisations said that, although one of the main objectives of the UN is "the promotion of human rights for all, without discrimination as to race, sex, language or religion", the past fifty years since independence, have been, for the Tamils, "a period of denial and violation of our fundamental human rights and freedoms by successive Sri Lankan governments".

The organisations said that people on the northern Jaffna peninsula "feel alienated by the international community" due to international apathy.

"The nonviolent protest of the Tamil community starting from the early fifties only met with violent response. Programs directed against the Tamils kept on increasing in frequency and intensity over the years," said the memorandum. Eventually the Tamil youth decided to resort to arms" said the memorandum.

"The armed conflict has cost the lives of over sixty thousand civilians (not to speak of the combatants killed). The deaths continue as people fall victim to random aerial bombing, shootings, and uncleared mines" added the memorandum.

The organisations protested against Sri Lankan anti-terrorism and emergency legislation, which human rights groups condemn as "draconian".

"Under the Emergency Rule and the Prevention of Terrorism Act we stand deprived of the many rights ensured in the declaration; the right of life; the right to liberty and security of the person; the right not to be subjected to arbitrary arrest; the right to a fair trial the right to legal defense; the right to recognition as a person before the law; the right to humane conditions of detention; the right not to be subjected to torture or to cruel inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" said the memo.

The organisations also protested against the Sri Lankan government's economic blockade on the Vanni region.

"Thousands are made to starve in the Vanni district by the blockade imposed on food (as well as medical) supplies" said the memorandum.

Though Sri Lankan MPs and aid workers say over 400,000 people are displaced in the Vanni region, the Sri Lankan government only sends food for a small fraction, they say.

"Parents and relatives of over 600 recent cases of disappearance and many more of detainees denied a fair trail for months or years are crying out for justice," said the organisations, adding "Our many pleas for peace and justice have fallen on deaf ears."

"Every our appeal to investigate the alleged mass graves at the village of Chemmani have been treated with contemptuous silence", they added.

"We have lost all hopes of justice from any Sri Lankan government", they said.

"Now, without a reassurance from the UN of its concern for our plight, the 50th anniversary of the UN Declaration cannot be for us a day of rejoicing, but a day of morning." The memorandum concluded.

 

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