UNHRC’s futile resolutions on Sri Lanka's mass killings

UNHRC’s futile resolutions on Sri Lanka’s mass killings

There was no action to investigate mass killings of Tamils by Sri Lankan government forces

More than 100,00 people were killed in the Sri Lankan insurgency from 1972 until 2009.  The highest toll of mass killings was in Mullivaikkal where an estimated 40,000 Tamils were killed in early 2009.

Towards the end of the insurgency in May 2009, aerial bombardments and indiscriminate shellings by the Sri Lankan army, navy and air force comprising about 300,000 personnel massacred helpless, starving and unarmed civilians.

According to the then United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon’s panel of experts’ report published on 31 March 2011, the Mullivaikkal (North East) killings ceasing in May 2009 marked the end of 37 years of insurgency.

Since then, six United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC)  resolutions from 2012 to 2019 came to nought with no resolute action to investigate and judicially try the mass killings by the Sri Lankan government forces.

Shockingly, all these six resolutions were adopted in the UNHRC but were not acted upon or implemented because they were not referred to the UN Secretary-General to table at the UN Security Council to take action on the reported mass killings of 40,000 Tamil civilians in Mullivaikkaal.

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From the Security Council, the resolution against the Sri Lankan government forces massacre would be referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Haque for war crimes. There is very little hope for justice to be served after six resolutions failed.

The Sri Lanka genocide was highlighted in the Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields documentary which showed Sri Lankan armed forces declare victory in May 2009, in one of the world’s most intractable wars in which the forces killed the leader of the Tamil Tigers, V Prabhakaran.

The insurgent group had fought to create a separate homeland for the country’s ethnic Tamil minority. The United Nations said the conflict had killed about 100,000 people.

The United Kingdom is now leading a team of six countries, including Canada, Germany, Malawi, Montenegro and North Macedonia, to table a fresh resolution on 22 March 2021.

The UN Secretary-General’s panel of experts report in March 2011 stated that the Sri Lankan government “fell dramatically short of international standards on accountability and fail to satisfy either the joint commitment of the President of Sri Lanka and the UN Secretary-General, on Sri Lanka’s legal duties. The Government of Sri Lanka has not discharged its responsibilities to conduct a genuine investigation, nor has it shown signs of an intention to do so.”

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The UN’s panel of expert’s report emphasised: “The Sri Lankan authorities should immediately embark on a genuine investigation of the alleged violations in this report. The Panel considers that an independent and complementary international approach is imperative.”

The Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields documentary director Callum Macrea in the book, Sri Lanka: Hiding the Elephant, foreword remarked: “Truth-telling is a modest contribution to the process which will lead to justice – and which in turn can help pave the way to peace and political solutions to very long-standing injustices.”

The solution lies with the UN Security Council’s reference of the Sri Lankan government’s massacre and genocide of innocent Tamil civilians to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague for the perpetrators to be tried for war crimes.

Ceylonese Tamils made up an overwhelming majority in the civil service of British Malaya and Singapore prior to independence. It was in Malaysia and Singapore that the term Ceylonese and Jaffnese were popularly used by the Sri Lankan Tamils to differentiate themselves from the larger Malaysian Indian population who were predominantly of Tamil origin.

Like other diasporas, Sri Lankan Tamils are scattered and dispersed around the globe, with concentrations in South Africa, United Kingdom, Canada, India, Europe, Australia, United States, Malaysia, Singapore, Seychelles and Mauritius.

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M.Krishnamoorthy was a full-time journalist for the past 35 years. He has also freelanced for CNN, BBC, German, Australian TV networks, TIME magazine, New York Times and newspapers in Malaysia. In the past four years, he taught Journalism at two international universities as an Associate Professor.  In 2019, his sixth book, May 9PEOPLE POWER SAVES MALAYSIA was voted as Malaysia’s top Reader’s Choice. His 5th book was another bestseller titled: MH 370: Flying Through Crisis.

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