The Solidarity Group for Peace and Justice in Sri Lanka (SGPJ) comprising of the South African Tamil Federation, The Tamil Coordinating Committee, The World Saiva Council, and other stakeholders, was launched in 2007 in an attempt to unify all solidarity work in South Africa in a bid to assist in bringing about a lasting peace solution to the Sri Lankan conflict.
The SGPJ has mobilized the community and raised awareness on the ongoing assault on the freedom of the Sri Lankan Tamil community. Post 2009, the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) claimed victory in combating terrorism by further depriving the Tamil speaking community of basic human rights.
The UN Special Expert Panel found credible evidence of atrocities committed by the GoSL. The Human Rights Council further resolved in 2012 to hold the GoSl accountable for human rights abuses by asking it to implement its own LLRC Report.
The GoSL has done very little in addressing these gross human rights violations and the international community at large is growing impatient at this lack of transparency by the GoSL. The Canadian Prime Minister went as far as calling for a boycott of the planned Commonwealth heads of government summit in Sri Lanka in 2013.
Amnesty International, has in a written statement, dated 30 August 2012, to the 21st Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, stated that “Sri Lanka’s failure to account for serious violations of human rights has created a climate of impunity where arbitrary detentions, torture, and other ill treatment, enforced disappearances and custodial killings continue unchecked”. Amnesty International has called for UN intervention if this cycle of impunity continues.
South Africa has contrary to the growing international sentiment, embarked on a trip to Sri Lanka with a business delegation of about 30 business people from the 5th to the 8th September 2012. This information was kept under a veil of secrecy for reasons best known to the organizers of this delegation.
Sri Lankan newspapers have been openly reporting on this trip citing South African trade values with Sri Lanka and boasting South Africa as its second largest trading partner.
The SGPJ places on record its extreme dissatisfaction and disappointment at the stance adopted by this business delegation, allegedly being led by the Deputy Minister for Economic Development, Hlengiwe Mkhize.
The GoSL has failed to demonstrate its commitment to the values underpinning human rights and justice. According to a report by Human Rights Watch, the police and the military have wide powers that have the effect of a perpetual state of emergency. Allegations of sexual assault, torture, white van abductions, the limitation of free expression and the denial of political prisoners access to legal recourse remain the order of the day. Over hundred thousand people still remain displaced after nearly two years of forced removals. There are also widespread claims of “Sinhalisation” of previously held Tamil land sanctioned by the GoSL with claims of cultural and heritage sites being destroyed and replaced with Sinhala temples.
Given this intransigence by the GoSL to protect the rights and welfare of its own citizens, it is untenable that the South African delegation led by a government deputy minister, has chosen economic interests over the promotion of a just and equitable solution for the Tamil speaking people of Sri Lanka.
The SGPJ remains committed to its cause of finding a just and peaceful solution to the plight suffered by the continually marginalized Tamil community of Sri Lanka in collaboration with all internal stakeholders and the international Diaspora.
Issued by the Secretary: SGPJ.
Contact: Mr. Pregasen Padayachee (0828229164)
IMMEDIATE RLEASE. DATE: 4 SEPTEMBER 2012
SOLIDARITY GROUP FOR PEACE AND JUSTICE IN SRI LANKA