Inquiry urged into Sri Lankan rights violations


HUMAN RIGHTS violations committed during the Sri Lanka conflict must be subject to an independent, international investigation, former UN assistant secretary general Denis Halliday said last night.

“Sri Lanka has been forgotten, despite the staggering violations of human rights, the war crimes and the crimes against humanity that took place there,” he said. “All this has been ignored.”

Mr Halliday was speaking following the second of two public meetings in Dublin at which he presented new evidence of alleged war crimes and human rights abuses in the south Asian state.

Video footage showing extra-judicial killings, the desecration of corpses and the bombing of hospitals was screened at last night’s event at Trinity College. Also in attendance was Mary Lawlor, director of human rights group Front Line.

Mr Halliday and Ms Lawlor served as members of the Permanent Peoples Tribunal on Sri Lanka which met in Dublin in January. The tribunal is a body of academics, jurists and campaigners who have investigated allegations of human rights violations in several countries including Vietnam and Guatemala.

The tribunal on Sri Lanka heard from more than 20 witnesses and received hundreds of written affidavits from people directly affected by the conflict.

It found the Sri Lankan government guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The tribunal also declared that the UK and the US shared responsibility for the breakdown of the 2002 peace process between the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

The two meetings were organised by the Irish School of Ecumenics at Trinity College and the School of Law and Governance at Dublin City University along with the Irish Forum for Peace in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka’s parliament yesterday revoked the seat of Gen Sarath Fonseka, who led the army against the Tamil Tigers but was later jailed after being found guilty of misappropriating funds.