There will be no sustainable peace in Sri Lanka without more rights for the Tamils

The President of Sri Lanka rejects autonomy for the Tamil population

The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) is disappointed about the fact that the Tamils in Sri Lanka are being denied more autonomy. On Monday – during a speech on occasion of the 65th anniversary of the country's independence – President Mahinda Rajapaksa had ruled out more autonomy for the Tamils. "There will be no sustainable peace in Sri Lanka without more rights for the Tamil minority and without a legal processing of the serious human rights violations committed during the civil war," warned the STP's expert on questions regarding Asia, Ulrich Delius, in Göttingen on Tuesday.

The human rights organization criticizes Sri Lanka's government sharply because of the blocking policy regarding human rights issues. "Anyone who ignores more than one hundred recommendations by the Human Rights Council of the United Nations and declares them to be unfounded, will lose any international credibility," said Delius. In March 2012, the UN Human Rights Council had also adopted a resolution urging Sri Lanka to do everything possible to put an end to impunity. The island nation is to present a detailed plan on how to punish those who are responsible for the human rights violations. Sri Lanka should also explain in which ways the country will implement the recommendations of the reconciliation commission – which was founded after the end of the civil war between the Tamils and the Singhalese. "The Government of Sri Lanka has not yet given any credible and realistic statement regarding these questions," said Delius. The "action plan" that was presented by Sri Lanka is unrealistic and disregards basic human rights.

The United Nations estimates that crimes against humanity were committed against roughly 11,000 Tamil civilians – especially during the last months of the civil war in 2009. To date, nobody has been held accountable for these crimes. Up to 100,000 people got killed during the civil war, which lasted from 1983 to 2009.

The Sri Lankan government seems to be following a policy of the "hard hand" instead of trying to enter a dialogue with the Tamils. There were further restrictions to the freedom of the press and the freedom of expression. The police and security forces have extensive freedom of action. The Tamils in the north and the east of the country are living in a climate of fear and violence because of arbitrary arrests, disappearances, torture and executions.