Action Alert Archive
Tell the EU "Thanks for Holding Sri Lanka Accountable"
April 8, 2010
Recently, UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband outlined three key issues for Sri Lanka to resolve in the upcoming months: (1) The renunciation of violence; (2) The achievement of equal human, social, economic, and political rights for all Sri Lankans; (3) The development of constitutional norms and order that respect these equal rights.
“Respect for minority rights is an absolutely vital part of the values that are essential to a civilized society,” Mr. Miliband continued. Sri Lanka has had ample time to address human rights and political reconciliation but has failed to do either. Instead, they chose to respond by issuing statements about the “suspicious” timing of Mr. Miliband's speech—days before the parliamentary elections. Sri Lanka Defense Spokesman Minister Keheliya Rambukwella called the UK “biased” and accused them of “[planning] this to suppress the victories of the [Sri Lankan] government.”
The European Commission's December 2009 investigation found that Sri Lanka has been significantly failing to implement the UN human rights conventions that qualify countries for GSP+. "Failure to implement core human rights conventions in the country is unacceptable and the European Commission's report into these failures made the decision [to suspend GSP+ provisions] a straightforward one," said UK Minister of State for International Development Gareth Thomas.
According to EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht, the EU hopes to work with Sri Lanka “to agree upon a set of measures that will result in rapid, demonstrable and sustainable progress in relation to the human rights shortcomings we have identified.” I believe that Mr. Miliband's aforementioned priorities are milestone steps towards equality and freedom for Sri Lanka's Tamils.
Unfortunately, we cannot rely on the consciences of Sri Lanka's officials. As such, the political and economic sanctions imposed on Sri Lanka may be the only way to ensure the rights of its Tamil population. The European Commission should be commended for championing human rights in Sri Lanka. I sincerely hope that the EU follows through with its promises and good intentions and successfully compels Sri Lanka to address urgent human rights issues.
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.