|and the ruthless Government of Sri Lanka, the one and only Catholic country in Asia gives credit to the Government of Sri Lanka.”
“The Government of the Philippines has given credit to the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) for the military victory over the Tamil Tigers. The GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) which congratulated the GoSL has failed tremendously to articulate the need to abide by International Humanitarian Laws and International Conventions,” Bernard said, adding “the whole world and the international community know about the total collapse of the rule of Law and high rate of impunity in Sri Lanka.”
Bernard has been helping bring the case of the victims of human rights violations in Sri Lanka, before the United Nations and other international bodies.
“Congratulating the Genocidal Sri Lankan Government reflects obviously the GRP's own governance, policies, international and internal politics, independency of judiciary, and the genuine stand of the GRP towards its own people,” he said.
Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro congratulated Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama and the Sri Lankan Government on the military defeat of the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) at a meeting on the sidelines of the 8th Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore last week.
Bernard said he found it “disheartening” and "shocking to learn that the GRP is supporting the Genocidal Government of Sri Lanka at all possible levels,” noting that since the civil war or the ethnic conflict started in 1956, more than 120,000 innocent, unarmed Tamil civilians were killed by the Sri Lankan government.
“In the month of May 2009 alone, more than 29,000 Tamil people were killed under iron curtain. On May 18, 2009 during the final onslaught of the war, 25,000 Tamil people were feared killed. Since the war started, one million Tamil people have been made refugees; more than 7,000 reported missing; and many women were raped. Racial Discrimination is rampant and unleashed on the Minority Tamils in Sri Lanka by the GoSL. More than 300,000 Tamil people were made homeless and refugees in the last few months. All those who are Internally Displaced are kept in the detainment and internment camps without proper food, medicine, shelter, access to information and communication,” he said.
“People are dying everyday in the detainment camps. No journalists, no humanitarian agencies, No human rights defenders, no relatives can visit the people in the detainment camps. Thirteen thousand (13,000) young men and women are reported missing in the detainment camps in the last three months. Many young girls were forcefully taken from the detainment camps by the Sri Lankan forces have been raped. Is this a Government that the GRP wants to congratulate consciously? Does the GRP want to maintain a diplomatic relationship with Sri Lanka at the expense of Genocide?” asked Bernard.
He added that during the 11th special session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva last May 26 and 27, the Council “wanted to call for an international impartial investigation on Sri Lanka on its war crimes.”
“It is a dismay for the West and for the Catholic World that the Philippines voted to support Sri Lanka's human rights record while all the European countries and Canada voted against Sri Lanka and wanted the UN to investigate the war crimes of Sri Lanka. The Gospel values should prick the conscience of those who promote ethnic cleansing, genocide, and crimes against humanity,” he said.
Bernard stressed that a “very concerted global effort is required to hold those responsible – both in Sri Lanka and internationally- for the death, injury, rape and torture of innocent men, women and children. Failure to do so is a sure recipe for the repetition of these crimes by the very same culprits, whose confidence can only be boosted by the indifference of the world around them.”
He listed 10 actions that are “urgently required to keep local memory of the Sri Lankan genocide alive against the grave danger of global forgetting.” These are:
“1) Establishment of an international tribunal to investigate accusations of war crimes and crimes against humanity by the Sri Lankan government in its war against the Tamil separatist movement. The tribunal must also examine the role of foreign governments and agencies in the Sri Lankan conflict;
“2) Accurate documentation, to whatever extent is possible, of every murder, brutality, rape, torture carried out by the Sri Lankan armed forces during its recent campaign. Preservation and collection of evidence – or even establishing cases of destruction of evidence- is crucial to the success of prosecuting the criminals;
“3) Filing of cases against individual Sri Lankan officials and citizens for crimes against humanity in whichever courts around the globe that are willing to take these up. If some of these accused Sri Lankan officials happen to have dual citizenship in another country the justice systems of those countries should be targeted first;
“4) Global campaign for immediate access for humanitarian workers, international observers, media and human rights groups to the thousands of Tamil civilians kept in concentration camps by the Sri Lankan government. This is urgently required to prevent further human rights abuses from happening;
“5) A global campaign for the immediate release of Tamil doctors and other humanitarian workers arrested by the Sri Lankan government on false charges of being ‘LTTE accomplices'. The despicable nature of the Sri Lankan regime is clearly revealed in its attempts to prevent even neutral voices from speaking out against its crimes in any manner.
“6) Global campaign for an international moratorium on loans to the Sri Lankan government for any purpose together with a boycott of Sri Lankan products and tourism on the same lines as the one against the repressive military junta in Burma. Since a lot of Sri Lankan politics, like everywhere else, is about getting to power and making money there needs to be economic retribution too against those behind the recent genocide of innocent civilians;
“7) Global campaign for the freedom of media and civil society in Sri Lanka and investigation into cases of human rights abuses against opponents of the Mahinda Rajapakse regime. Journalists and media groups around the world in particular must be mobilised because silencing the Sri Lankan press is a crucial part of the Sri Lankan government's strategy to erase all memories of its atrocities;
“8) An inquiry into the role, over the last few decades, of the Indian government in the Sri Lankan conflict and establishment of culpability of politicians and diplomats responsible for aggravating the conflict or their role as accomplices in crimes against humanity. This is a task that civil society in India must take up as to both ensure justice for those in Sri Lanka who have suffered due to the Indian state's meddling as also to prevent it from carrying out similar actions against its own citizens;
“9) An international investigation into the failure of the United Nations to prevent the genocide of Tamil civilians despite ample warnings and also into accusations that senior UN officials suppressed information about atrocities carried out by Sri Lankan armed forces. It is time for the world to put the UN and its highly paid bureaucrats on the chopping block for repeatedly flouting the principles on which this noble institution was once founded and destroying the faith of all those who believed in its integrity.
“10) Organise an international meeting on Tamil Eelam, the right to self-determination of the Sri Lankan Tamils and to highlight atrocities against them by the Sri Lankan state. The meeting should ensure space for a wide range of views, opinions and ideas on finding lasting peace with justice to all communities on the beautiful island of Sri Lanka.”