Justice For Tharsini
- Prime Minister Tony Blair, EU Commissioner Mrs Ferrero-Waldner
- United Kingdom
January 17, 2006
In December, 20 year old Tharsini, a pre school teacher in the Sri Lankan army occupied Northern Tamil island of Pungudutivu, was gang raped and murdered, allegedly by members of the Sri Lankan Military; her body found in a well next to a Sri Lankan Military camp.
She was murdered in a government designated 'high security zone' where civilians live, which means that access in and out of the zone is tightly controlled by soldiers. The evidence of the Sri Lankan Military's involvement in the rape, murder and attempted cover up, is extensively documented in a report by the North Easter Secretariat for Human Rights (www.nesohr.org) whose founder member Jospeph Pararajasingham has since been shot allegedly by Sri Lankan military intelligence.
The Pungudituvu Cooperative Society has said in a press release that the Sri Lankan Navy should take responsibility for the murder and has appealed for international action to ensure that women in their island and in neightbouring areas can live without fear of violence from the occupying army. The Pungudutive Welfare Association in the United Kingdom have taken up this appeal.
We, the undersigned join in their appeal and ask for action by the British government and the European Union, to ensure accountability and to prevent future sexual abuse of women in army occupied areas. As we draft this appeal a 16 year old school girl in another part of Jaffna was abducted on her way home from school by Sri Lankan soldiers. Your immediate preventive action is asked for.
Many of those who have appealed for justice for Tharsini so far have been intimidated and some shot by the Sri Lankan Army & Navy.
· When her body was found, residents protested against the Sri Lankan Navy. A 55 year old post man was shot by the Sri Lankan armed forces.
· The University of Jaffna, both its professors and students, then took up the protest. They too, including the Vice Chancellor, Professors and students were assaulted and shot by the Sri Lankan Army.
· Mr Gajendran, TNA Member of Parliament for Jaffna who joined the protest march for justice for Tharsini was injured by the Sri Lankan Army. The TNA party protested in Parliament. But on Christmas Eve, after the protest, the TNA's leading parliamentarian Joseph Pararajasingham was also shot.
· Journalists who covered the protests were assaulted.
We the undersigned, who live in Britain in relative safety, now take up this appeal for immediate and unequivocal action as outlined below.
We, the undersigned, ask you to take every step possible to ensure:
(a) an independent, racially impartial criminal investigation with at least half the investigating officials drawn from the affected community, namely the Tamil community of Pungudutivu and its immediate neighbouring villages.
(b) A successful follow up prosecution. There has only ever been one prosecution (in 1998) for sexual violence against women by Sri Lankan soldiers. Most cases are not investigated let alone prosecuted;
(c) De-militarisation of the occupied areas; the 'High Security Zones' are in fact 'High Danger Zones' for Tamil women. The zones need to be normalized.
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The Justice For Tharsini petition to Prime Minister Tony Blair, EU Commissioner Mrs Ferrero-Waldner was written by UK IFT and is in the category Human Rights at GoPetition.