Sunday, February 3, 2008

WAPS letter to United Nation's Human Rights Commisioner

29 January 2008

Ms Louise Arbour
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
OHCHR, United Nations
Palais Wilson, Geneva
Switzerland

Dear Madam:

Re: United Nations Justice Tribunal – Velupillai Prabhakaran (Leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) aka Tamil Tigers)

Your communiqué on the human rights situation in Sri Lanka piqued our interest since we too have had an on going concern that the mandate your office was given to provide relief and safeguard the lives of children particularly in theatres of war, as in the North and East of Sri Lanka had not been forthcoming.

We have long questioned why Velupillai Prabhakaran has not been charged with war crimes, while Charles McArthur Taylor, former President of Liberia has been arrested by the United Nations Justice Tribunal for using child soldiers during his tenure as the President of Liberia from August 2, 1997 to August 1, 2003.

In comparison to Charles Taylor’s six year involvement in recruiting child soldiers, Velupillai Prabhakaran has been abducting and recruiting children for almost 25 years since late 1983, and the numbers as recorded by UNICEF and Human Rights Watch are in the thousands.

We believe that your organization should invoke the Security Council Resolution 1612, which is meant to take punitive action against violators of the rights of children in armed conflicts. Which, in this case, the leader of the LTTE, Velupillai Prabhakaran is the perfect candidate to be charged for such ‘war crimes’.

While we may be repeating information which you already have in your files, it is incumbent upon us to bring to your notice that Velupillai Prabhakaran as leader of the LTTE has committed four grave violations against children in the North and East of Sri Lanka for over two decades, which are offences chargeable as ‘war crimes’. They are: (i) Attacks against schools and civilians centers; (ii) Abduction of children; (iii) Denial of humanitarian access to children; and (iv) Use of children in armed conflict.

In March 2005, following strong criticism and condemnation from the United Nations Security Council for continued recruitment of child soldiers; the LTTE launched an offensive to get UNICEF expelled from Sri Lanka. By then UNICEF had reported more than 4,700 odd cases of recruitment and re-recruitment of children by the LTTE, by force, abducting children while on their way to school or during religious festivals, et cetera.

UNICEF is also on record as having stated that the LTTE conscripted more than 1,600 children out of the Tsunami displaced camps in 2005 itself.

What should not go unnoticed is that, according to Human Rights Watch, almost all the suicide bombers, over 200 of them were trained from the ranks of the child soldiers.

While we value your timely reiteration that such violations are indeed ‘war crimes’ and of systemic grave violations of the Rights of the children in the North and East of Sri Lanka, we now await your action in exercising you rights as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to issue a warrant for the arrest of Velupillai Prabhakaran and charging him for war crimes in the International Criminal Court.

The time has arrived for such an action and anything less would be a disappointment to us as well as the growing consensus at the UN for not taking punitive actions against the violator of the rights of the Tamil children in this armed conflict.

If Liberia’s Charles Taylor has been charged for his six-year violations on children for recruiting them as child soldiers, so should Sri Lanka’s Liberation Tigers of Tamil (LTTE) leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran for his violations of Tamil children for the past 25 years.

We shall be looking forward with interest on your progress in bringing this war criminal to Court, which will bring immense solace not only to the Tamil children but also to their parents and immediate family members.

Very sincerely,

President - Society for Peace, Unity and Human Rights of Sri Lanka (SPUR), Victoria
President - Sri Lanka United National Association (SLUNA) of Canada
President - Society for Peace, Unity and Human Rights of Sri Lanka (SPUR),NSW
President - Western Australian Society for Peace Unity and Rehabilitation, (WASPUR) in Sri Lanka
President - Sri Lankans Against Terrorism- NSW
President - Sinhala Cultural and Community Services F. Vic
President - Apey Shakthi- New Zealand
Coordinator - Hela Muthu Ketaya, New Zealand
President - Canadian Association for United Sri Lanka-Canada
President - Sri Lankan United National Association-Canada
President - Sinhala Centre- U.K
President - The International Campaign for the Liberation of the Sinhala Nation- U.K
President - Sinhala Association of Sri Lankans in the U.K
President - New York Society of United Sri Lankans-U.S.A
President - United Sinhalese Association in Italy- Rome.
President - Pacific Alliance for Peace in Sri Lanka, Vic (National Office), Australia
President - Alliance Against Tamil Domination, UK
President - Veera Parakramabahu Foundation (VPF), NSW, Australia
President - First Society of Sri Lankan Professors in American Universities
President - First Society of Sri Lankan Professionals in Japan
President - Society for Peace, Unity and Human Rights of Sri Lanka (SPUR), UK
President - FOSUS - FRIENDS OF SRI LANKA in US

WAPS - World Alliance for Peace in Sri Lanka

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