Sri Lankan Tamils urge visiting UN official for help

Details provided on land grabs, disappearances and slow legal proceedings
Sri Lankan Tamils urge visiting UN official for help

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein meets with Chief Buddhist monk Venerable Sri Sumangala Mahanayaka Thera on Feb. 8, during his four day visit to Sri Lanka. reporter, Colombo
Sri Lanka
February 9, 2016
A top U.N. official met with representatives from Sri Lanka's Tamil community who provided him with details on continuing human rights concerns.

Tamil representatives handed U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein on Feb. 7 details of those who went missing during the country's civil war that ended in 2009.

Father S.D.B. Managlaraja, president of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Jaffna Diocese, said that Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran gave Al Hussein a list of disappeared persons.

It is believed that there are about 10,000 persons missing since the end of the war, said Father Managlaraja who added that the list handed to Al Hussein only included 4,000 names.

The priest said relatives of the disappeared told Al Hussein that "our near and dear ones are alive in some secret location and we want you to pressure the government to locate them and bring them back."

Bishop Noel Emmanuel of Trincomalee, an ethnic Tamil, told that he believed that Al Hussein's visit showed people from the country's north and east that "there is somebody from the U.N. listening to their difficulties."

Tamil politicians and victims said that the High Commissioner's four-day visit was an important occasion to remind the government of it commitments made in a U.N. Human Rights Council resolution that it co-sponsored in October.

The resolution allowed for foreign judges and prosecutors to help Sri Lanka try those accused of serious crimes during and after the country's decades-long civil war.

While Tamil groups believe that they will only get justice through an international mechanism, Chief Buddhist monk Venerable Sri Sumangala Mahanayaka Thera told the U.N. rights official that there is no need for foreign involvement to help resolve Sri Lanka's human rights issues.  


Land and trial issues

The information given to the U.N. official also expressed Tamil concerns over alleged land grabs and legal processes against political prisoners.

Father Mangalaraja said the information detailed land grabs allegedly carried out by the Sri Lankan government.

The high commissioner said he hoped that the issue would be addressed and that the people would have their land returned.

Chief Minister Wigneswaran requested the U.N. to intervene in the issue concerning political prisoners having their cases dragged out in the courts. However, Al Hussein said it was best for the country's legal process to take its own course.

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