02/14/2015, 00.00
SRI LANKA
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After decades, Sri Lanka war widows demand justice

by Melani Manel Perera
Twenty local and foreign organisations and 133 women touched by the country's civil war have called on the government to start an independent investigation, in cooperation with the UN. The failure of many past inquiries is a sign of the culture of impunity that has come to prevail in Sri Lanka after the Civil War.

Colombo (AsiaNews) - A group of 133 women and 20 local and foreign organisations have signed a statement sent to President Maithripala Sirisena and the international community. In it, the signatories call on Sri Lankan authorities to set up an independent investigation to find the truth about past human rights violations, discover the fate of the "forgotten" victims of the civil war and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.

"In the context of decades of failed domestic processes," the press release said, "we reiterate the importance of the investigation being carried out under the auspices of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Investigation on Sri Lanka (OISL) established by resolution A/HRC/25/1 titled 'Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka' which we believe is essential in the search for truth and justice in Sri Lanka."

"We fear," the statement added, "that the over 20,000 complaints received so far will be unaddressed [. . .]. We say this having witnessed countless commissions and committees reportedly inquiring and investigating." Indeed, "a cloud of secrecy remains as to whether perpetrators were ever held to account. [. . .] We fear that a delay now in terms of the OISL is a denial of justice and a sign to perpetrators that impunity is acceptable."

For almost thirty years, the island nation was the scene of a bloody civil war between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and government forces.

Tamils, who represent the country's second largest language group, bore the brunt of the fighting since it was fought mostly in the country's north and north-east, regions where they are the majority.  In fact, it is here that Tamil rebels sought to set up an independent state.

Fighting ended in May 2009 when the LTTE's top leader was killed, signalling the victory of the Sri Lankan Armed Forces. Although no official figures exist, civil war casualties are estimated to be between 60,000 and 100,000 units.

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