World obliged to act when genocide occurs: Obama

[TamilNet, Saturday, 06 June 2009, 00:42 GMT]
"The international community has an obligation, even when it's inconvenient, to act when genocide is occurring," US President Barack Obama said Friday during a visit to Germany. He was responding to reporters asking how the Holocaust mantra of "never again" might apply to current crises in the Darfur region of Sudan or in Sri Lanka. He also said that it is up to other nations to take action to stop genocide when it occurs. Meanwhile, the UN's top human rights official, former war crimes judge Navi Pillay, has again called for an "independent international inquiry" into the violence against Tamil civilians in the Sri Lankan conflict.

President Barack Obama
President Barack Obama
When asked about genocide, President Obama told reporters in Germany his administration is working to end the genocide in Sudan.

Later, during a visit to a Nazi concentration camp, President Obama argued today’s leaders of must not rest against the spread of such evil.

This place teaches us that we must be ever vigilant about the spread of evil in our times. ... We have to guard against cruelty in ourselves ....," President Obama said after touring the Nazi concentration camp at Buchenwald, where 56,000 Jews were killed.

"And it is now up to us, the living, in our work, wherever we are, to resist injustice and intolerance and indifference in whatever forms they may take and ensure that those who were lost here did not go in vain."

Last month, as thousands of Tamil civilians were being slaughtered by Sri Lankan artillery, President Obama addressed the Colombo regime directly, saying: [T]the government should stop the indiscriminate shelling that has taken hundreds of innocent lives, including (in) several hospitals."

However, Sri Lanka escalated its shelling killing a further thousand people a day, according to an investigation by the The Times newspaper in London.

Obama’s call came two months after US Secretary of State spoke directly to President Mahinda Rajapakse by telephone over the killing of civilians.

“The Secretary stated that the that the Sri Lankan Army should not fire into the civilian areas of the conflict zone,” a press release by the State Department said.

Over 20,000 Tamil civilians were killed in the four months before Sri Lanka declared victory, UN officials told The Times newspaper.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said Thursday that the UN stands ready to support an inquiry into abuses in Sri Lanka's civil war.

"I believe that accountability is a prerequisite for the attainment of justice and reconciliation for all Sri Lankans and, thus, a foundation for lasting peace," she said.

In response Sri Lanka attacked the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, saying it needed to be a "regionally a far more representative and transparent body," before Sri Lanka would cooperate with it.

External Links:
Time: Sri Lanka Puts Obama to the Test — and He's Failing
Atlantic: Bystanders to Genocide by Samantha Power
BG: Genocide in Sri Lanka
WT: FEIN: A genocide inquiry?


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