58 US Legislators Call on Secretary Clinton to Support War Crimes Probe in Sri Lanka
Press Release by Tamil American Peace Initiative
Fifty-eight U.S. Members of Congress have signed a letter urging Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to call for international investigations into alleged war crimes committed during Sri Lanka’s civil war. The Tamil American Peace Initiative (TAPI) has long supported such a probe. TAPI commends the work of the letter’s co-sponsors, Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Jim McGovern (D-MA), and applauds all of the cosigners for supporting an international war crimes probe.
“We are deeply grateful that the 58 lawmakers made such a strong push for international investigations into war crimes in Sri Lanka,” said TAPI spokesperson Dr. Karunyan Arulanantham. “These Members of Congress are leading the international effort to help build the lasting peace and meaningful reconciliation that Sri Lanka so desperately needs.”
Without transparency or creditability, the Sri Lankan Government's Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission has failed to live up to the standards set out by US Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice. Because of this, international organizations such as Human Rights Watch, the International Crisis Group, and Amnesty International have all called for international investigations into alleged abuses committed during the conflict in Sri Lanka. Purported crimes include the intentional bombings of civilians, humanitarian organizations, and hospitals; extrajudicial killings; the internment and abuse of unarmed civilians and former combatants; the killing of captives or combatants seeking to surrender; and individual disappearances.
According to their letter, the 58 Congressmen believe that these allegations must be fully investigated. The signatories also expressed doubt about the efficacy of the Sri Lankan Government’s plan to investigate human rights abuses, citing the failed efforts of nine past commissions. The letter maintains that without the verification of an international mechanism conducting an independent investigation, “neither accountability nor trust can be achieved, which are crucially important for any successful reconciliation.”
“These Members have made a valiant push towards reconciliation in Sri Lanka,” said Dr. Arulanantham. “We hope that Secretary Clinton takes heed of the letter and puts her weight behind a robust international investigation.”
The Tamil American Peace Initiative was formed by a group of Tamil Americans to help bring lasting peace, justice, democracy, good governance and economic development to Sri Lanka; to focus attention on the destruction of Tamil communities and culture caused by 30 years of war; and to demand an end to the continuing oppression of Tamils on the island.