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Amnesty International Urges Action on Sri Lankan Detention Camps

First Posted: 11/15/2009 5:12 am EST Updated: 05/25/2011 3:05 pm EDT

The Sri Lankan government declared victory back in May when they defeated the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), also known as the Tamil Tigers. The problems continue, however, as 280,000 civilian refugees have been forced into overcrowded detention camps. Amnesty International alleges that the civilians' rights are not protected and that many men have disappeared after being screened for LTTE sympathies.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called conditions in the camps "appaling," and thus Amensty Int'l is asking concerned citizens to sign a letter urging the Sri Lankan government to put the camps under civilian control and allow freedom of movement for those who wish to leave.

The text of the letter, titled Unlock The Camps:

Early in 2009, over 280,000 civilians fled the war zone in northeast Sri Lanka as the Sri Lankan military reconquered all the territory held by the opposition Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and killed their senior leaders, thus ending the 26-year-old conflict. Since the conclusion of hostilities in mid-May, the displaced civilians have been held in overcrowded, military-run internment camps. The Sri Lankan government will not allow the civilians to leave the camps until a screening process to detect suspected LTTE fighters among the civilians has been carried out. Aid agencies, journalists and human rights observers have not been given full access to the camps. Without independent monitors in the camps, the civilians are at risk of human rights abuses from the security forces.

I call on the Sri Lankan government to immediately allow the displaced civilians freedom of movement: those who wish to leave the camps should be free to do so. The camps should be placed under civilian, not military, management. Aid agencies, journalists and human rights observers should be promptly provided with full, unhindered access to the camps to carry out their functions and prevent possible abuses.

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Filed by Jonathan Daniel Harris  |