International action urged to provide accountability in Sri Lanka

Remembering the Third Anniversary of the End of the Civil War in Sri Lanka

Excerpts from speech by Hon. Jean Schmidt of Ohio in The House of Representatives, Friday May 18, 2012:

Mrs. Schmidt:

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to remember the third anniversary of the end of the civil war in Sri Lanka. Although the war ended on May 19, 2009, 90,000 Tamil war widows in the north and east continue to struggle to resume their lives without their husbands.

Many have not been able to return to their original homes and must cope with disabilities, both their own and their children’s, caused by shelling and the lack of medicine and intentional starvation at the end of the war. They have returned to a devastated land in which there is little remaining infrastructure and few jobs and which is occupied by a military force whose soldiers do not speak their language.

Jean Schmidt (R) is the U.S. Representative for Ohio’s 2nd congressional district

Making a return to normal life even more difficult is the lack of accountability for their husbands’ deaths and the horrors these women and their children underwent at the end of the war, including physical, sexual, and gender-based violence. Sri Lanka’s Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission did not adequately deal with accountability by its armed forces.

At its March, 2012 session, the U.N. Human Rights Council called on Sri Lanka to “take all necessary additional steps to fulfill its relevant legal obligations and commitment to initiate credible and independent actions to ensure justice, equity, accountability and reconciliation for all Sri Lankans.”

If Sri Lanka does not take up this task immediately, there must be international action to provide accountability.

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