USTPAC Supports Secretary Clinton's Efforts to End Rape as a Weapon of War

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USTPAC, a grass roots advocacy organization, welcomes Secretary Clinton's speech at the UN Security Council, describing Resolution 1888 as necessary to control the abuse of Tamil women and young girls in Sri Lanka by the country's armed forces.

Joe Ratnam, a spokesman for the US Tamil Political Action Council (USTPAC), said, "USTPAC endorses and supports Secretary Clinton's speech at the UN Security Council on September 30 on the new Resolution 1888". The resolution requests Secretary General to "appoint a Special Representative to lead, coordinate and advocate for efforts to end sexual violence." The Security Council unanimously adopted the resolution, which also calls on the Secretary-General to rapidly deploy a team of experts to work with governments to strengthen the rule of law, address impunity and enhance accountability. During her speech Secretary Clinton stated, "Rape has been used as weapon of war in the Balkans, Burma and Sri Lanka and elsewhere."

USTPAC is urging the Secretary General to kick start Resolution 1888 by appointing a Special Representative to review allegations of rape and torture of young Tamil women and girls by the Sri Lankan government military forces and their paramilitaries in the predominantly Tamil-speaking Northern and Eastern Provinces in Sri Lanka. The mono-ethnic Sri Lankan military forces, that are more than 99% Sinhalese, have frequently been accused of using rape and torture as weapons of war in the 30+ year old ethnic civil war.

USTPAC's spokesperson, Mr. Joe Ratnam, stated that the UN is fully aware of the Sri Lankan military force's lack of respect for women and basic human dignity; on November 4, 2007, the UN sent home 108 Sri Lankan soldiers of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Haiti for sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of minors, including prostitution, and the charges included rape (which is a "war crime" in a military conflict).

Mr. Ratnam further stated that on April 18, 2009, German writer and human rights activist Mr. Thomas Seibert described the plight of Tamil civilians after conducting personal interviews. He said, "Many are tortured or simply shot. There are also reports of regular rapes."

In May 1997, Sri Lanka's militarized police known as Special Task Force was accused of raping a young Tamil mother named Koneswary under horrific circumstances. The Amnesty International issued an urgent action appeal on May 21, 1997 stated the following: "Murugesupillai Koneswary, a mother of four children, was killed at her home in 11th Colony village by a grenade being thrown at her genitals on the evening of 17 May. Circumstantial evidence suggests that she may have been raped prior to being killed and that the perpetrators may have been one or more police officers attached to the nearby Central Camp police station, on the border between Batticaloa and Amparai districts."

In 2001, Amnesty International said it "has noted a marked rise in allegations of rape by police, army and navy personnel. Among the victims of rape by the security forces are many internally displaced women, women who admit being or have been members of the rebel militants and female relatives of members or suspected male members. Reports of rape in custody concern children as young as 14." Amnesty wrote to then President Chandrika Kumaratunga 'urging her to take action to stop rape by security forces and bring perpetrators to justice" in response to reports of rape by security forces in, "Mannar, Batticaloa, Negombo and Jaffna."

In March 2000, the then UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, Radhika Coomaraswamy, expressed her "grave concern" over the lack of serious investigations into allegations of gang rape and murder of women and girls by the Sri Lankan security forces. In the same year, the Asian Human Rights Commission protested that "Sri Lankan security forces are using systematic rape and murder of Tamil women to subjugate the Tamil population…impunity continues to reign as rape is used as a weapon of war in Sri Lanka."

USTPAC welcomes Secretary Clinton's speech as timely and Resolution 1888 as necessary to control the abuse of Tamil women and young girls in Sri Lanka. USTPAC urges the UN Secretary General to appoint a Special Representative to Sri Lanka to strengthen the rule of law, address impunity and enhance accountability in Tamil-speaking areas in Sri Lanka.
For further information call Joe Ratnam at 202 595 3123. Visit us at http://www.USTPAC.org

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