by Augustine Anthony
How much more should the Sri Lankan Tamils suffer before the Malaysian government responds decisively, consistent with its previous efforts in condemning the practices of human rights violations such as :-
1. Apartheid discriminating blacks and coloured in South Africa,
2. Genocide of Muslim population in Bosnia,
3. Atrocities against the Palestinians in the Middle East fighting for their homeland.
Almost three decades of civil war coupled with the aftermath of the 2004 Tsunami that displaced more than 500,000 people, the Sri Lankan Tamils had suffered unimaginable hardship.
But what awaits the Sri Lankan Tamils and the world in the aftermath of the Armed Forces perceived victory against the LTTE is about to explode into a major international crisis unless sooner averted.
On May 18th 2009 Amnesty International made the following observations;-
“Humanitarian crisis continues to unfold in the country. Amnesty International has called for key steps to be adopted to ensure civilians and captured fighters are protected. There are more than 200,000 displaced people, including approximately 80,000 children, who need relief but also protection from abuses in Sri Lanka”
Barely a month after the above observations, New York Based Human Rights Watch made the following remarks:-
“The Sri Lankan government should end the illegal detention of nearly 300,000 ethnic Tamils displaced by the recently ended conflict in Sri Lanka. Displaced Tamil civilians have the same rights to liberty and freedom of movement as other Sri Lankans.”
“Treating all these men, women, and children as if they were Tamil Tiger fighters is a national disgrace, Displaced Tamil civilians have the same rights to liberty and freedom of movement as other Sri Lankans.”
It is shocking that in less than a month there had been a sharp increase in the number of displaced Tamil civilians in detention camps and one could only conclude that the numbers will continue to increase.
One of the major concerns arising out of the detentions of Tamils in these detention camps is the exercise by the Sri Lankan authorities who are expected to screen persons leaving the war zone to identify Tamil Tiger fighters.
Such screening exercises could most likely lead to serious human rights violations such as physical violence, rape and even murder as seen in the aftermath of many civil wars in other parts of the world.
The world must voice its grave anxiety and fear of these possible human rights violations even before the coming of documented reports.
We, peace loving Malaysians can play a major role in this humanitarian crisis.
So please send or post your comments and suggestions on what we can do for the Sri Lankan Tamils, no matter how unimportant you may think it will be, so that collectively we can do our part in preventing a human catastrophe awaiting.
(This article was first published in Kit Siang’s blog. http://blog.limkitsiang.com/2009/06/14/sri-lankan-humanitarian-crisis-deepens-what-can-ordinary-malaysians-do/)