In a Letter to the UN High-commissioner for Human Rights Mr. Volker Türk, the Prime Minister of Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam Mr. Visvanathan Rudrakumaran has Urged the UN to Undertake the Reminder of the exhumation process of the recently discovered mass grave found in Tamil area in Sri Lanka on July 6, 2023. So far bodies if 13 men and women were unearthed and the operation is ongoing.
“We strongly believe that our request falls within the purview of paragraph 8 of the 2021 Human Rights Council Resolution on Sri Lanka (A/ HRC/Res/51/1), which mandates that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights…collect, consolidate, analyze and preserve information and evidence and to develop possible strategies for future accountability processes for gross violations of human rights or serious violations of international humanitarian law in Sri Lanka, to advocate for victims and survivors, and to support relevant judicial and other proceedings, including in Member States and with competent jurisdiction” said Mr. Rudrakumaran.
“We fear that the truth will never come to light without your office intervention. The technical expertise of your office in this matter is needed with great urgency. The location of the discovery of this mass grave, the 33rd unearthed to date, was under the control of Sri Lankan army during the conflict. It is also reported that there was a big army camp near the grave.” continued Mr. Rudrakumaran.
“Due to pervasive and entrenched racism in Sri Lankan state institutions, including the judiciary, the Tamil People will never get justice through domestic mechanism. Thus, an international mechanism for the imminent exhumation, evidence preservation more broadly, and ultimately for the pursuit of justice and accountability is a must.” He continued.
Sri Lanka is notorious for mass graves. During the last 30 years, 32 mass graves (with this latest discovery being the 33rd) have been identified in the island of Sri Lanka. In 2018, UK newspaper The Independent reported that 276 skeletons with signs of possible torture were exhumed, including the remains of 21 children. Twenty years prior, in 1998, a Sri Lankan soldier provided testimony that after the Sri Lankan army took over control of the Jaffna peninsula from the LTTE in 1995 and 1996, hundreds of people who disappeared in the region had in fact, he said, been killed and buried in mass graves near the village of Chemmani. Reports count the dead to be between 300 to 400 victims.
On June 20th of this year, a 75-page report titled Mass Graves and Failed Exhumations in Sri Lanka jointly compiled by the organizations Journalists for Democracy, Families of the Disappeared, The Center for Human Rights and Development, and the International Truth and Justice Project was released. The report states inter alia: None of the Sri Lankan Commissions of Inquiry were mandated to look into Mass graves. Instead, efforts to uncover truth have been stymied.
Magistrates and forensic experts have been transferred abruptly, police have delayed carrying out judicial orders, families, lawyers have been denied access to sites ,no efforts have been made to find living witness, no antemortem data was collected and, in the very rare cases where someone was convicted, they were then pardoned. For the families of the disappeared it is a story of unresolved tragedy. The bereaved are forced to live–and die–without ever finding their loved ones. This report also states that former Sri Lanka president Gotabaya Rajapaksa stalled police probes into mass graves.
ABOUT THE TRANSNATIONAL GOVERNMENT OF TAMIL EELAM (TGTE):
The Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE) is a democratically elected Government of over a million strong Tamils (from the island of Sri Lanka) living in several countries around the world.
TGTE was formed after the mass killing of Tamils by the Sri Lankan Government in 2009.
TGTE thrice held internationally supervised elections among Tamils around the world to elect 132 Members of Parliament. It has two chambers of Parliament: The House of Representatives and the Senate and also a Cabinet.
TGTE is leading a campaign to realize the political aspirations of Tamils through peaceful, democratic, and diplomatic means and its Constitution mandates that it should realize its political objectives only through peaceful means. It’s based on the principles of nationhood, homeland and self-determination.
TGTE seeks that the international community hold the perpetrators of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide against the Tamil people to account. TGTE calls for a referendum to decide the political future of Tamils.
The Prime Minister of TGTE is Mr. Visuvanathan Rudrakumaran, a New York based lawyer.