Unlock the Camps in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka's bloody civil war ended 3 months ago, yet right now almost 300,000 civilians are being held captive inside military-run internment camps that operate like prisons. Trapped between the Sri Lankan Army and rebel Tamil Tigers during the final months of combat, they've been interned behind barbed wire with no government plan for setting them free or returning them home.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon described the camps as "by far the most appalling scenes I have seen."
At least 50,000 of the detainees are children. Every day, lives are lost to poor sanitation and lack of food, water and access to medical care.
Call on the Sri Lankan government to immediately allow the displaced civilians freedom of movement. Urge them to place the camps under civilian, not military, management and to allow aid agencies, journalists and human rights observers full, unhindered access to the camps to carry out their functions and prevent possible abuses.
- Senior Advisor to the President of Sri Lanka
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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