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Sri Lanka: Women From The North And East Call For Real Peace, Justice And Accountability
Released by the North East Women’s Network as part of the International Women’s Day Campaign (March 08th 2012)
The end of the brutal 30 year old war brought with it a hope of reconciliation, peace, development and equality for all. However in the last three years the Sri Lankan State’s lack of commitment to these basic principles have left women in the North and East in a vulnerable position. The lack of livelihood, safety accountability and justice have left women in a state where we are yet to reap the benefits of a nation not in armed conflict.
In the last three years the security of women has deteriorated in several aspects. Women have found themselves in a position of having to take care of the economic and social wellbeing of their family single handedly while ensuring her and her families safety and security.
The continuation of the presidential task force and the PTA prevent women working at the grassroots level to help women who have been affected in the 03 decade old war by providing them counseling. The government’s constant interference in rehabilitation and resettlement activities has hampered the work of these organizations and does not help organizations work in collaboration with the beneficiaries.
The increased military presence in the North and East, apart from creating a sense of fear in the people, has also led violations of rights for women. The military has opened several food and grocery shops, thus curtailing women’s livelihood options in the north. Earlier several women used to earn their livelihood by running small shops. The Military has also been engaging in the sale of vegetables. Women therefore are unable to sell vegetables from their home gardens due to their inability to compete with the military and their fear of doing so.
In several places the military has taken over public land and private land alike to create military camps and training centres and they are even engaging in paddy cultivation using the land that has been forcibly taken from poor farmers. Even though the army commander has stated that the army is ready to scale down its presence in the North and east, this is unlikely given the permanent large structures that the army has built in the north and east.
This statement also comes at the wake of the proposed resolution at the UN calling for the implementation of the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) and for additional and more thorough investigations. The Sri Lankan state’s piecemeal measures make us aware that Sri Lanka is not serious about its claim of justice and accountability. Last year’s grease yaka attacks remind us once again of the vulnerable position women are in even though there is a high military presence, which the government has stated is for the security of the people.
Download the full statement by clicking on the link below.
Photo: Tamil women in an camp for internally displaced people in Sri Lanka's Eastern Province