Residents of the Manik Farm IDP camp await the arrival of the United Nations Secretary-General in Vavuniya, Sri Lanka. Photo credit: Eskinder Debebe/United Nations.
On May 8, Yasmin Sooka, a South African human rights lawyer and activist, will be speaking about women’s rights and violence in Sri Lanka at a brown bag lunch. The event is free and open to the public, and will be held from noon-1pm at Amnesty House, 312 Laurier Avenue East in Ottawa.
This is a great opportunity for anyone interested in learning more about women’s rights issues in Sri Lanka and for those who want to stand in solidarity with Sri Lankan women as they assert their rights.
Yasmin is the Executive Director of the Foundation for Human Rights in South Africa, and also served on the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission. She is known internationally due to her assistance in writing two significant reports concerning human rights in Sri Lanka.
One of these reports is the Panel of Experts’ report on Sri Lanka issued in April 2011. This document advised UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon on the issue of accountability with regard to alleged violations of international human rights and humanitarian law during the final stages of the conflict in Sri Lanka.
The other report is An Unfinished War: Torture and Sexual Violence in Sri Lanka, May 2009-March 2014 issued in March 2014. This report is based on the testimony of 40 women and men who were witnesses to violence in Sri Lanka and concludes that their credible accounts establish a prima facie case for post-war crimes against humanity. These crimes involve torture, rape, and sexual violence by the Sri Lankan military five years after its defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in May 2009. Despite the conclusion of the military conflict, continued human rights violations have taken place, and still happen, in “a climate of impunity” and “absence of accountability” – endorsed at the “highest level” of government.