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Human Rights groups urge Obama to initiate War Crime investigations

July 2, 2009

Click here to read letter sent by the following Human Rights activists  (this has been posted on a TamilNet site)

 

Mr. Larry Cox, Executive Director Amnesty International USA 

Ms. Karin Ryan, Director, Human Rights Program The Carter Center

Ms. Jennifer Windsor, Executive Director Freedom House 

Mr. Robert Arsenault, President International League for Human Rights 

Ms. Felice D. Gaer, Director Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights 

Mr. A. Frank Donaghue, Chief Executive Officer, Physicians for Human Rights 

 

 June 18, 2009 

 

President Barack Obama 

The White House 

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW 

Washington, DC 20500 

 

Dear Mr. President,  

 

We, representing several human rights organizations, are writing to express  our deep concern about the situation in Sri Lanka and urge you to take immediate steps to address the dire human rights and humanitarian situation in that country. 

 

Since December, during the last phase of intense fighting, tens of thousands of civilians have been killed, injured or displaced. Independent observers and media were denied access to the conflict zone.  Three medical doctors who were providing independent information were arrested and held incommunicado. Even after the government claimed military victory, it denied access to camps and to the former safe zone where the final battle took place.  

 

Despite repeated warnings by several international organizations of impending mass killings of civilians and despite strong statements of concern by you and several other world leaders, more than 20,000 civilians are reported to have been killed. The Times of London and Le Monde have published investigations, based on reliable data, and suggested that most of the civilian deaths were caused as a result of shelling by the Sri Lankan government. Thousands more were injured and the International Committee of the Red Cross was prevented by the Sri Lankan government for providing medical assistance resulting in many more civilian deaths.  

 

The failure of the international community to take concrete action to protect civilians in Sri Lanka has given the green light to regimes around the world and has signaled that there is nothing that the international community will do when a government kills its own people under the cover of sovereignty. 

 

It is now imperative that the United States assume the leadership necessary to mobilize the international community to protect the surviving civilians and to hold accountable those responsible for mass atrocities. Failure to do so would encourage governments to commit mass atrocities without fear of consequence. 

 

That is why your immediate action is important at this juncture.  We appeal to you to take steps to urgently address the plight of those in de facto 

internment camps and to initiate action to hold accountable those responsible for the mass killings. There are reports that some in the camps have already died from starvation or malnutrition. The United Nations Human Rights Council has called for an emergency meeting on Sri Lanka, but a UN resolution calling for immediate and unrestricted access to the camps failed, leaving individuals there still at risk. 

 

 Click here to read the whole letter 

 

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