Today marked a tremendous turning point for all the people of Sri Lanka not just those in the North and East of the country when the United Nations Human Rights Council voted overwhelmingly to launch an international inquiry following the persistent failure of the Sri Lankan Government under the leadership of President Mahinda Rajapaksa to effectively investigate allegations of war crimes committed at the end of the Bloody civil war in 2009.
Despite attempts by Sri Lanka's friends and allies within the Council to firstly throw out the draft resolution and then to effectively neuter it, both of which attempts failed, the Council members passed the resolution sponsored by Britain and the United States amongst others by 23 votes to 12.
No Fire Zone Director Callum Macrae said:-
"For five years the Sri Lankan government has repeatedly denied that its forces engaged in terrible war crimes and crimes against humanity – whilst simultaneously claiming it was capable of investigating those crimes itself. Today the international community has finally lost patience. I hope this historic decision will finally mark the turning point in the search for justice. Because without that justice, there can be no progress to peace, political solutions and reconciliation in this beautiful island.”
This resolution may well be the turning point, but it is not, on its own, the solution. Today in the north and east of Sri Lanka, the repression of the Tamils continues – and indeed is growing. In the last couple of weeks we have seen a wave of arrests of Tamil human rights activists. Land grabs and sexual violence are rampant. The ethnic re-engineering of the region is intensifying. Meanwhile in the country as a whole the repression of critical voices across all communities continues.”
"The attempts during today’s Human Right’s Council debate to portray this resolution as an infringement of Sri Lankan sovereignty is misleading. This vote is about universal principles of human rights. The suggestion that the global south was united against this resolution is also simply wrong – as demonstrated not just by those who voted for it – but also by the recent appeal for support for an international inquiry issued by some forty leading human rights defenders from the global south, led by Archbishop Desmond Tutu."
You can watch a shortened version of the debate and vote at the meeting below.