COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
Agenda item 10
Statement of International Educational Development/ Humanitarian Law Project
JOINT STATEMENT: THE SITUATION OF TAMILS IN SRI LANKA
We are pleased to present to the Commission an urgent appeal made by NGOs credentialed by ECOSOC and other NGOs with members present here. This appeal reads in part:
We are gravely concerned by the continued armed conflict, the violations of humanitarian law and human rights in the island of Sri Lanka and the new military offensive in the Tamil Homeland:.
1. the civilian Tamil population continues to be a target of military operations, including intensive aerial bombardment, by the Sri Lankan forces: disappearances, extrajudicial killings, rape, torture, arbitray arrest and indefinte detention:
2. the North-East of the island is still under an embargo of essential food and medicine in violation of humanitarian law;
3. there are more than 825,000 displaced Tamil civilians living under appalling conditions which include acute shortages of water, food and medicine.
We urge the Commission to adopt a resolution
1. Calling upon the Government of Sri Lanka to cease all military operations against the Tamil civilian population, to withdraw the occupying forces from the Tamil areas, to lift the blockade in the north and east,humanitarian aid;
2. Calling on both parties to the conflict to secure a political solution to the conflict which recognises the right of the Tamil people to determine their political status and the need to assure full human rights of all persons in Sri Lanka.
We provide the full text to members and observers of this Commission and urge that it be taken to heart.
Our organization continues to be concerned by the scale and scope of human rights violations in Iran. We have transmitted some of our concerns to the Special Rapporteur as indicated in his report (E/CN.4/1997/63 at para. 17). We regret that the regime in Iran did not allow the Rapporteur to carry out his proposed visit during this year's reporting period. In this light we state that the situation in Iran as it actually exists is not reflected in the Rapporteur's report, espcially with regards to the situation of women and the use of brutality and torture by the regime's armed thugs (the Ansar-e Hizbullah, for example) and in places of detention.
In our view, the situation of women in Iran is graver than in any other country and amounts to a form of apartheid by sex: an apartheid enforced with daily humiliation and violence. The Rapportuer hints at some improvement in the status of women, supported by the "election" of a small number of women to the Fifth Majlis. We consider this a fraudulent improvement as the women chosen vigorously support the regime's oppression of women. In that sense the situation of women is far worse than before, because now the regime has enrolled other women in its maniacal attack on women. We interpret the pressure to admit women into the Guardian Council in that light. In Iran even small schoolgirls aged 6 to 12 are given 10 lashes for improper "veiling", as reported by Israeli radio this March. If the wives and daughters of the members of this Commission were treated none of you would stand for it. We urge this Commission to consider the women and girls of Iran as their own, and to condemn the Irani regime for its treatment of women in the most resolute manner.
We also are very distressed at the reduction in the numbers of Jewish Community in Iran from about 120,000 to only about 20 thousand during this regime, mainly but not exclusively due to escape.
We have expressed our concern about the situation of the civilian population in Iraq and the enhanced needs of civilians due to the serious war-caused damage and the use of depleted uranium in military operations in the country. Humanitarian aid such as food, medicine and water are protected by the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and cannot be subject to sanctions. We therefore consider that those provisions of the sanctions and the oil for food agreement that in any way controls or limits humantarian aid to civilians violates the Geneva Conventions and should be considered null and void as contravening jus cogens.
Our organization presently has a delegation in Mexico investigating the situation in Chiapas. The Father Bartolome Center for Human Rights of San Cristobal Mexico met with our delegation and provided its just completed report on the March 14, 1997 killings there. We are pleased to make this report available to members of the Commission.