Beginning December 1st, Sri Lanka's government will respond to the calls for action that 50,000 of you made over the past few months – they will finally unlock the camps!
This past weekend, government officials announced that all restrictions placed on innocent civilians trapped unlawfully behind barbed wire fences will be lifted.
In just one week, internally displaced Sri Lankans will be free to come and go as they please. We are relieved that this nightmare will finally be coming to an end for some 130,000 people, who remain in the camps today. Thanks to all of your emails, postcards and the thunderous international outcry, Sri Lanka's government could not hide this crime in the shadows any longer.
While we are heartened by this recent turn of events, we are still sobered by a few unrelenting facts:
- Lack of information: Many of the displaced have not received any information about the choices available to them once they are freed. How can they be expected to decide whether to return to their home villages or resettle in another part of the country if they don't know what resources will be available to them once they arrive?
- Humanitarian access: It is extremely important that the government facilitate assistance by humanitarian organizations and allow the displaced to gain access to necessary government services and infrastructure, including education, medical and social welfare facilities. It is imperative that the displaced receive food, water and shelter as they re-establish their homes.
- Incommunicado detentions: Around 12,000 persons (including children) suspected of links to the Tamil Tigers are being held by the government without charge in incommunicado detention, separately from the internally displaced. They should be promptly charged with a recognizable criminal offense and given fair trials in civilian courts, or else released.
Rest assured that we will not stop fighting until each of these points have been met. We will keep you posted until human rights are fully restored throughout Sri Lanka. Thank you for your action and commitment. Together, we've unlocked the camps of Sri Lanka.
Jim, Christoph and the Sri Lanka Crisis Response team