Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Investigate war crimes--Amnesty International

Amnesty International USA: TAKE ACTION NOW!
Sri Lankans survived horrific crimes and utter devastation during a brutal 26-year war. Today, a year after the conflict ended, there is little hope for justice.
Urge the United Nations to investigate war crimes.

Dear Rector,

Sri Lankans endured nearly 30 terrifying years of bloody civil war and then - its bitter aftermath. During the final stage of the conflict, both the Sri Lankan security forces and the Tamil Tigers committed horrific human rights abuses against civilians. The survivors deserve justice, reparations and the opportunity to rebuild their shattered communities.

Yet one year after the conflict ended, hope for justice is fading.

Instead of investigating suspected war crimes, the Sri Lankan government jails critics and clamps down on debate. The government's failure to act has compounded the victims' devastation.

One thing is clear - there will be no justice without international action. And this September, when Amnesty representatives meet with top United Nations (UN) officials, we plan on communicating that message clearly.

If that message is echoed by more than 50,000 of our supporters, then the UN will be hard-pressed to finally ensure an investigation into these war crimes.
Investigate war crimes now!

Help us send at least 50,000 signatures to our meeting with UN officials this September. Urge the UN to investigate war crimes in Sri Lanka.

Toward the end of the war, atrocities against civilians and enemy combatants were fueled by a sense thatthere would be no real consequences for violating the law. Violations of human rights and humanitarian law peaked in the final months of conflict, when some 300,000 displaced civilians were trapped between the warring parties.

Some 80,000 people remain in camps and funds for their support are running out.

To this day, the government denies access to the area where the crimes were committed. The International Committee of the Red Cross continues to be denied access to places of detention in the north. And even Amnesty International has been denied access to Sri Lanka since 2006.

Despite UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's repeated calls for accountability, the UN has essentially punted responsibility for ensuring justice to the Sri Lankan government. There is no immediate prospect of a referral to the International Criminal Court or consideration of other international justice options through the Security Council.

If Sri Lanka is left to go it alone, impunity will continue and victims will be denied justice. More disturbingly, it will set an international precedent that the UN will not act when serious crimes are committed under the veil of "combating terrorism".

The UN must set up an independent investigation into massive human rights violations committed by both government and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam forces. Those responsible for war crimes must be prosecuted before competent, impartial and independent criminal courts.

For lasting peace in Sri Lanka, there must be accountability. Justice rests with us, the global human rights community.

Please sign our petition to the UN today.

In Solidarity,

Chistoph, Jim, Scott, Juliette and the rest of the Crisis Response Team
Amnesty International USA

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