Geneva-based human rights regime is big disappointment: Tamil political prisoners

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 04 July 2018, 20:29 GMT]
Tamil political prisoners languishing in Anuradhapura prison have questioned the role of the international community, particularly the UN human rights regime based in Geneva, in defending their rights. The successive High Commissioners of Human Rights, as well as the council mechanism of the UNHRC, have failed to exert pressure on the unitary state of genocidal Sri Lanka to release the prisoners of the times of war. The comment comes from the Tamil prisoners, who learned on Monday that the so-called Special High Court in Anuradhapura, which was set up to address their cases, transferred their cases back to Anuradhapura High Court, after dragging the cases for five more years.

“Many think that Colombo and the Sinhala Establishment are clever in deceiving the international community and the UN Human Rights mechanisms in Geneva. But, we refuse to buy this argument anymore. We know that there is no difference between the rulers of this island, be it Rajapaksas, Wickramasinghes or Sirisenas. Likewise, we also realise now that there is no difference in the approaches that have come from Louise Arbour, Navi Pillay and Prince Zeid on our problem,” one of the 8 Tamil-speaking prisoners who talked to TamilNet from Anuradhapura Prison commented on Wednesday.

“They have sold our rights in their appeasement policy oriented to defend the state sovereignty and so-called national security of a member state, completely disregarding the genocidal policy of that member state,” the Tamil prisoner said.

Three successive High Commissioners of Human Rights visited the island and witnessed the plight of the Eezham Tamil political prisoners, prisoners of war and their families. Louise Arbour (2004 - 2008), Navaneetham Pillay (2008 - 2014) and Prince Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein (2014 to date) have been well aware of the issue of political prisoners in the island, the prisoner further observed.

The occupying state of genocidal Sri Lanka established a so-called Special High Court in Anuradhapura in 2013 during the regime of Rajapaksa, with the claim that it was a measure to speed up the processing of the so-called ‘Prevention of Terrorism Act’ related cases.

The deceptive move came as a measure to suppress the protests of the Tamil prisoners of war and political prisoners and to counter the mounting pressure from the then UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Ms Navanetham Pillay, who visited the island in August 2013.

When the ‘Special High Court’ in Anuradhapura was established, the SL State was claiming that the court was set up for the fast-track processing of ‘Prevention of Terrorism Act’ (PTA) related cases.

The first five PTA cases to be transferred to the Anuradhapura ‘Special High Court’ included a case involving Purushothaman Aravinthan and Rasapallavan Thavarooban, and the remaining four instances involved Abdul Hameed Umar Hattaaph, Sooriyakanthi Jeyachandran, Sivapiragasam Sivaseelan, Rasathurai Jehan, Nallaan Sivalingam and Sasikala Rajan.

Despite the claim that the ‘special court’ was set up to address the PTA-cases, it systematically omitted the PTA cases and continued. However, the special court has completed more than 450 criminal cases in the South, most of them on child abuses.

While the ‘special court’ has processed around 450 cases related to child abuse in the South, it has been sitting on the five cases for five years without completing them at all.

Now, all the five cases have been transferred back to Anuradhapura High Court.

At least 125 Tamil-speaking political prisoners are languishing for several years, some of them for more than 20 years in the SL prisons under the notorious Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).

At the same time, the families of hundreds of Eezham Tamils, who have been subjected to enforced disappearances during the three-decade war, are still struggling to find out the whereabouts of their kith and kin by staging continues protests for more than 500 days.


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