UN lopsided in calling for evacuation - TNA MP

[TamilNet, Friday, 13 March 2009, 17:21 GMT]
Calling for the evacuation of civilians and making them to end up in the hands of their killers, is taking side with one of the parties to the conflict and amounts to another one of the war crimes, perhaps the most serious one of them when comes from a world body of human rights, said Jaffna MP, Kajendran, responding to a statement from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Friday. The High Commissioner, Ms. Navi Pillai called on both the Sri Lankan Government and the LTTE to immediately suspend hostilities in order to allow the evacuation of the entire civilian population by land or sea, a press release from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said. She didn’t say anything on where should they be evacuated or on who would be responsible for them thereafter.

By a subtle twist of realities ultimately in favour of genocidal Colombo, the OHCHR is trying to justify evacuation and not protection of civilians where they are, by equating Colombo government and the LTTE in war crimes, the MP noted.

"This is not a balanced judgment."

Selvarajah Kajendran MP
Selvarajah Kajendran MP
"It neither serves humanitarian cause nor the affected civilians, but favours only the oppressors."

"What the OHCHR is envisaging is ‘enforced surrender’, even if people are not willing to surrender themselves into the hands of a genocidal government," the MP said.

Ultimately the civilians will end up in the barbed wire camps of the government after losing a part of them in the screening process.

"Where was the OHCHR when this was happening to the thousands who got into the hands of the government in the last couple of months, and what it was able to do on the conditions of the internment camps," asked the MP.

"It is not a natural catastrophe justifying evacuation. It is a situation deliberately created by a chauvinistic government and by the greed of certain world powers."

"The UN, especially its human rights arm, needs to stand upright in indicting the real culprits and in stopping their war of atrocities.

"The talk of evacuation comes from the failure, incompetence and unwillingness in rendering protection.

"Whether those who are now calling for evacuation are prepared to take full responsibility to the safety, wellbeing, rehabilitation and freedom of all the civilians, and what mandate and power they have is assuring them are crucial questions."

"The UN which is not prepared to take full responsibility of the situation in the island, which has withdrawn its agencies from the war zone and which is not able to assert itself with the Sri Lankan government in protecting the civilians has no moral grounds to take side only on the evacuation issue."

"We have seen the hanky panky in even being heard in the UN Security Council in the recent weeks," the MP said.

Meanwhile the already artful OHCHR press release, quoting Ms Navi Pillai, was twisted and painted further by some international news agencies to discredit the LTTE and to the benefit of Colombo. They didn’t fail to bring in the South African, minority Tamil profile of Ms. Navi Pillai.

The press statement issued by the OHCHR follows:

Serious violations of international law committed in Sri Lanka conflict: UN human rights chief

13 March 2009

GENEVA (OHCHR) -- The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay expressed her growing alarm Friday at the increasing number of civilians reported killed and injured in the conflict in northern Sri Lanka, and at the apparent ruthless disregard being shown for their safety.

"Certain actions being undertaken by the Sri Lankan military and by the LTTE may constitute violations of international human rights and humanitarian law." Pillay said. "We need to know more about what is going on, but we know enough to be sure that the situation is absolutely desperate. The world today is ever sensitive about such acts that could amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity."

Despite the Government's designation of safe -- or "no-fire" -- zones for civilians, repeated shelling has continued inside those zones, according to information made available to OHCHR. Other areas holding civilians have also been shelled. OHCHR said a range of credible sources have indicated that more than 2,800 civilians may have been killed and more than 7,000 injured since 20 January, many of them inside the no-fire zones. The casualties are believed to include hundreds of children killed and more than a thousand injured.

Even after the Government's announcement on 24 February that heavy weapons would no longer be fired into the no-fire zones, close to 500 people were reportedly killed and more than a thousand injured in these zones. Of these deaths, the great majority have been attributed to the use of heavy weapons. Overall, since 20 January, more than two thirds of the reported deaths and injuries have occurred in the no-fire zones.

According to UN estimates, a total of 150,000 to 180,000 civilians remain trapped in an ever-shrinking area of territory in the Vanni region.

"The current level of civilian casualties is truly shocking, and there are legitimate fears that the loss of life may reach catastrophic levels, if the fighting continues in this way," the High Commissioner said. "Very little attention is being focused on this bitter conflict."

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) are reported to be continuing to hold civilians as human shields, and to have shot at civilians trying to leave the area they control. They are also believed to have been forcibly recruiting civilians, including children, as soldiers.

"The brutal and inhuman treatment of civilians by the LTTE is utterly reprehensible, and should be examined to see if it constitutes war crimes," said Pillay.

There is very limited food – and reports of severe malnutrition – and key medical supplies, such as sutures, painkillers and antibiotics for treating victims, are virtually unavailable, even in the one makeshift medical facility still functioning.

The High Commissioner called on both the Sri Lankan Government and the LTTE to immediately suspend hostilities in order to allow the evacuation of the entire civilian population by land or sea. She also urged the Sri Lankan Government to grant full access to UN and other independent agencies to allow an accurate assessment of the human rights and humanitarian conditions in the conflict zone.


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