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Last updated: 26 May, 2011 - Published 12:31 GMT
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"Scrap emergency and PTA " - Friday Forum
Thousands of Tamil people were displaced over the final months of fighting
Thousands of Tamil people were displaced over the final months of fighting
In a sentiment rarely expressed within Sri Lanka, a group of prominent intellectuals has urged the government to set up a body to look into issues of accountability on possible violations of international humanitarian law.

The Friday Forum, a multi-ethnic group which is led by a Sri Lankan former under-secretary-general of the UN, also calls for sweeping changes in post-war Sri Lanka.

Sweeping changes

The proposed changes includ the scrapping of emergency and the Prevention of Terrorism Act, an end to restrictions on freedom of movement in the north, and publication of the names and details of the many people in detention.

When a panel of experts, commissioned by Ban Ki-Moon, finished its report alleging possible war crimes and crimes against humanity by both the Tamil Tigers and the government here, the government was outraged.

Even before its publication a government minister started collecting signatures for a petition against the report.

Pro-government full-page advertisements have appeared in the newspapers, one of them calling the three experts “liars”.


Now an increasingly outspoken group of intellectuals, the Friday Forum, has issued a statement, calling such personal attacks “unwarranted” and pleading for what it calls a non-confrontational response.

In a landmark call from within Sri Lanka, it urges that the country set up a domestic mechanism to address the issue of accountability on violations of human rights and humanitarian law during the war.

It implies that the govermnent’s existing mechanism is inadequate and says past human rights inquiries have actually worsened the grievances of victims.

The government is unlikely to accept the Forum’s suggestions and is preparing for a large military display on Friday and a military seminar next week, both extolling the war victory two years ago.

Meanwhile, the former army chief, Sarath Fonseka, has said that only he can reply to international allegations made against the army.

Speaking at his own trial on charges of spreading disaffection, Mr Fonseka said the government was using incompetent people in its own response.

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