8/11/2009

Amnesty International launches "Unlock the Camps in Sri Lanka" campaign


(August 11, 2009 - Lanka Polity) Amnesty International has launched a campaign called "Unlock the Camps in Sri Lanka."  
The campaign also includes a Facebook application and a 34-page briefing paper, both of which can be found at:  http://blog.amnestyusa.org/asia/unlock-the-camps-in-sri-lanka/.  An online letterwriting action for the campaign can be found at http://takeaction.amnestyusa.org/siteapps/advocacy/index.aspx?c=jhKPIXPCIoE&b=2590179&template=x.ascx&action=12651.  
Please consider taking action, through the Facebook application and/or the online letterwriting action, to help the displaced civilians in Sri Lanka, AI appeals.
"These (camps) are effectively detention camps. They are run by the military and the camp residents are prevented from leaving them; they are denied basic legal safeguards. The government's claim that it needs to hold people to carry out screening is not a justifiable reason to detain civilians including entire families, the elderly and children, for an indefinite period," says AI in a press release.

The press statement adds, "Displaced people have even been prevented from talking to aid workers. With no independent monitors able to freely visit the camps, many people are unprotected and at risk from enforced disappearances, abductions, arbitrary arrest and sexual violence.

"According to government figures, the fighting between the Sri Lankan army and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) displaced over 409,000 people. At least 280,000 are displaced from areas previously under LTTE control. A dramatic influx of people fleeing the fighting and crossing to government controlled areas took place from March 2009.

"The displaced people, including at least 50,000 children, are being accommodated in 41 camps spread over four districts. The majority of the displaced are in Vavuniya District where Manik Farm is the biggest camp.

"When United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon visited some of the camps in May, he said: "I have travelled around the world and visited similar places, but this is by far the most appalling scene I have seen."

"While some progress had been made on providing basic needs, much still needs to be done on the right to health, food, water, family reunion and access to relatives.




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