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Christians petition UN for war crime probe

Clergy says government lacks will to investigate atrocities

Christians petition UN for war crime probe
Activists protest to urge the government to resettle internally displaced Tamils
ucanews.com reporter, Mannar
Sri Lanka

February 20, 2013

Christian clergy from the Tamil-majority north have called on the UN Human Rights Council to push for an independent international inquiry into alleged atrocities committed during the country’s civil war.

In a letter dated Monday and signed by 133 Catholic, Protestant priests and nuns, the Christian clergy said the government lacks the political will to investigate alleged war crimes, especially those committed by both sides during the latter stages of the three decade war which ended in 2009.

Action is also being sought over continuing rights abuses.

The letter also calls for a “strong and action oriented resolution on Sri Lanka at the 22nd session of the UN Human Rights Council.”

Rights groups say up to 40,000 civilians were killed during the final stages of the war but the government denies causing civilian deaths and executing prisoners.

In the letter the Christian clerics also said that they had witnessed continuing ignorance and violations of key recommendations by the government appointed Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission.

This was in relation to political solutions to the ethnic conflict, release of political prisoners and the appointment of a commissioner to look into disappearances and reparations, the letter said.

“We are convinced that the root cause of these problems is a lack of political will,” said the letter, which urged the appointment of a special rapporteur with a broad mandate to address past and ongoing violations and to help the government with future reconciliation initiatives.

Oblate Father S Anpurasa, one of the signatories, said there is no other platform to bring these issues for redress, other than the United Nations.

“To whom can we speak about these violations? There is no local organization to complain to on these issues,” Fr Anpurasa said.

He said the signatories of Monday’s letter will likely be subjected to a government backlash.

“In the last year, those criticizing and challenging the government in peaceful ways including through engagement with the UN, have been assaulted, arrested, threatened and intimidated by government ministers, officials and military.

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