Today, on Mullivaikkal Remembrance Day, Harvard Law School Advocates for Human Rights (“HLS Advocates”) stands by the Tamil people in their long fight for accountability and justice.
In the final months leading up to May 2009, tens of thousands of Tamil civilians were brutally massacred. Countless others were forcibly disappeared. One major 2015 Report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights outlines how in the months and years that followed, more than 250,000 Tamils were detained in military-run closed IDP internment camps, where they were subjected to torture, sexual violence, and other forms of inhumane treatment by state security forces.
Extensive investigations and documentation over the past decade, including by multiple UN bodies, have determined that these abuses likely amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.
In the thirteen years that have passed since the end of the war, survivors’ calls for truth and justice have been consistently and actively denied by each Sri Lankan government in power. Women-led protests in the North demanding answers for the whereabouts of their loved ones have been met by increased government threats and surveillance. Family members of Tamil victims have been denied the opportunity to openly mourn and memorialize the dead, and community-built monuments have been deliberately destroyed by the state. Thousands of survivors remain displaced, with the traditional Tamil homeland in the North and Northeast subject to intense militarization.
Yet even in the face of pervasive injustice and continuous assaults on their basic human dignity, the Tamil people have proven time and again that remembrance is resistance.
While the international community cannot undo what happened 13 years ago, we must make sure that survivors’ calls for justice do not continue to go ignored.
- Visit the “Remember May 2009” Website: www.remembermay2009.com
- This website is a collaborative project between the Adayaalam Centre for Policy Research, Tamil Guardian and 47 Roots, which aims to provide a resource that maps out the events that took place during the final months of the armed conflict and reflects on their impact today.
- Watch Channel 4’s “Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields” Documentary
- Investigative documentary about the final weeks of the Sri Lankan civil war that exposes powerful yet horrific evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by state security forces against Tamil civilians trapped in the “No Fire Zones”