Action Alert Archive
SRI LANKA: Stop targeting civilians
June 5, 2008
I am writing to call your attention to escalating attacks on civilians in Sri Lanka.
The Sri Lankan government has increasingly been targeting civilians, through aerial bombardment, shelling, and claymore mines. In addition, the Asian Human Rights Council reports that ethnic Tamils are "specific targets of arbitrary arrest, detention and torture."
There have been escalating attacks against civilians across the island. The North East Secretariat on Human Rights (NESOHR), a local human rights watchdog, reported that in January 2008 a claymore mine was deliberately detonated to explode a bus carrying school children and teachers. Twenty were killed and 21 were injured in this tragic attack. According to the report, 13 students who died were aged between 10 and 16. In February 2008, Amnesty International released a report condemning the Sri Lankan government and other groups for carrying out violence against civilians. The report accurately foreshadowed that "a pattern of indiscriminate attacks by the Sri Lankan army will intensify and contribute further to spiraling civilian casualties."
In the last week alone, the Sri Lankan armed forces have targeted numerous civilians in reaction to the civil conflict. NESOHR reports that in May 2008, 16 civilians, five of whom were children, were killed by claymore attacks inside rebel-held areas by the Sri Lanka Military's Deep Penetration Unit. According to the report, which utilized witness testimony, "the attackers could have easily seen that the van was carrying mostly women and children." The increase in claymore mine attacks since 2007 has created a suffocating culture of fear for Tamil citizens in the Northeast.
I call on the United States government to pressure the Sri Lankan government to accept international human rights monitors, whose presence and testimony will help stem the violence against civilians.
The mission of People for Equality and Relief in Lanka (PEARL) is to end the systemic human rights abuses against the Tamil population in Sri Lanka, and promote equality, rights and justice on the island. PEARL is 501(c)3 non-profit organization led by human rights activists concerned about the situation in Sri Lanka.