Action Alert Archive
Address the Needs of Sri Lanka's IDPs
November 25, 2009
Six months after the end of Sri Lanka's 26-year civil war, there are still hundreds of thousands of Tamil internally displaced persons (IDPs) detained in government-run internment camps.
In response to international scrutiny, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa promised to open the camps on December 1 and allow IDPs to leave for “a day or two at a time.” Sri Lanka has continued to violate international human rights law by imprisoning 300,000 Tamil civilians and restricting their freedom of movement. In addition, Rajapaksa has yet to create and execute a systematic plan for the permanent release of all IDPs. Given Sri Lanka’s extensive history of enforced disappearances, the lack of independent oversight of the camps is concerning.
The U.S. has shown its growing concern about IDPs and human rights violations over the last few weeks. In October, the U.S. State Department issued a report detailing actions by Sri Lanka that constitute war crimes. Even more recently was the passage of House Resolution 711: “Calling on the United States Government and the international community to address the human rights and humanitarian needs of Sri Lanka's Tamil internally displaced persons (IDPs) currently living in government-run camps by supporting the release of such IDPs, implementing and facilitating an independent oversight of the process of release and resettlement, and allowing foreign aid groups to provide relief and resources to such IDPs.”
This resolution is an encouraging step towards securing rights and dignity for the IDPs. However, we must continue to pressure the Sri Lankan government to ensure that Sri Lanka does not renege on its promise to release all IDPs by the end of the year.
As your constituent, I urge you to follow Representative Davis and Jackson-Lee's example by introducing companion legislation to H. Res. 711 in the Senate.
The year is coming to an end. It is imperative that the U.S. demonstrate firm resolve in addressing the needs of Sri Lanka's IDP population by enacting legislation and, more importantly, taking action.
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.