SL must be held to account
Jake Lynch, director of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPACS) at the University of Sydney, 29 October 2009
Sri Lanka Week has shrunk to a long weekend. The trade and investment shindig in Melbourne’s Docklands was scheduled to take place in June, but was called off amid outrage over the Sri Lankan army’s pounding of Tamil areas and UN estimates of 20,000 deaths. It’s back on, from Friday to Sunday, promising visitors “the opportunity to feel and experience the taste of paradise”.
Instead, we should remember 300,000 inmates who are being held against their will in a living hell — the giant internment camp at Menik Farm — in violation of their rights under international and Sri Lankan law. Alarming eyewitness testimony trickles out, of food and clean drinking water in desperately short supply, filthy conditions and — for any who might be tempted to protest to the occasional foreign visitor — the ever-present threat of disappearance.
That’s a fate that has befallen thousands over the years, in Sri Lanka’s dirty war with the Tamil Tiger rebels, which ended just over five months ago. Various commissions of inquiry were set up, only to fail in bringing any of the culprits to justice: a “sham”, in the words of Amnesty International. So the bullies carry on with impunity, and impunity incentivises repetition: we got away with it once, why not do it again? More