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People’s Tribunal on Sri Lanka

The war in Sri Lanka commenced in July 2006 with the final collapse of the internationally backed 2002 peace process between the government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The declared objective of the Sri Lankan government was to eliminate the LTTE and capture all areas previously controlled by it. This war, with such a terrible humanitarian cost, was declared as over by the Sri Lankan government on 18 May 2009. The international media characterised this last phase of the war as a ’war without witness’ due to the fact that journalists and other potential witnesses like aid workers were prevented by the government from remaining in the area.

In May 2009 the members of the Irish Forum for Peace in Sri Lanka (IFPSL), in consultation with sister lobby groups in Europe, decided to appeal to a group of internationally renowned eminent persons to write to the Sri Lankan government to seek permission to visit the detention camps in Sri Lanka. As scepticism grew regarding obtaining permission from the Sri Lankan government (due to the deportation of several groups and individuals who reported to the world about the detention camps) members of IFPSL initiated a discussion with the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT) based in Milan which has a long history of carrying out independent investigations into human rights abuses ranging from Vietnam to Guatemala. The meetings with PPT were facilitated by Prof Francois Houtart who is an expert in People’s Tribunals ranging from Vietnam to Iraq. As a result of these discussions the PPT has agreed to conduct a People’s Tribunal on Sri Lanka following the methodology of the Bertrand Russell-Sartre Tribunal on Vietnam.

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Why a Tribunal on Sri Lanka
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