The United States Tamil Political Action Council (USTPAC) welcomes the Report of the United Nations Secretary General’s Internal Review Panel on UN Action in Sri Lanka, released November 14th, 2012 and said that this internal review, undertaken by Charles Petrie, reveals UN involvement in Sri Lanka to be a “grave failure” in preventing the mass atrocities that occurred at the end of the civil war in 2009.
A key mandate of the United Nations is to prevent the loss of innocent lives and genocidal acts against a people. The UN’s engagement in Sri Lanka, however, was found to be ineffective and deeply flawed. The departure of UN staff at the very moment they were most needed led to disastrous consequences for Tamil civilians trapped in the war zone.
“The Report highlights the systemic failure of the United Nations in its mandate to uphold the ‘responsibility to protect,’ resulting in the massive loss of human life,” said Tasha Manoranjan, attorney-at-law and member of the Governing Council of USTPAC. “It raises serious concerns regarding the UN’s lack of will to prevent the Sri Lankan government’s massacre of the Tamil people.”
The report concluded that the UN knowingly or unknowingly failed to respond to early warnings and confront the government of Sri Lanka throughout the unfolding crisis. The last phase of the war claimed up to 70,000 lives according to the UN report, and 146,000 are estimated to be missing. In the aftermath of the war, 300,000 Tamils were interned in Manik Farm, described by many as the largest concentration camp the world has ever seen. In sheer magnitude and intent to extinguish a people, this event is the worst mass atrocity of the 21st century and appears to constitute genocide.
Similar to Srebrenica and Rwanda, the inaction of the UN bodies and the international community left the Tamils deeply scarred. Now, three and a half years after the brutal end to the civil war, justice and accountability still remain elusive. Tamil aspirations are threatened by continued militarization of their homelands and a shrinking political space. Tamils around the world demand the United Nations and its member states take immediate corrective action in its policies toward Sri Lanka. The UN must respond by establishing an independent international investigation into allegations of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed against the Tamils in Sri Lanka.