Search

 

Cablegate: Internally Displaced Persons in Mannar Living in Detention

VZCZCXYZ0012
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHLM #1071/01 3311155
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 261155Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY COLOMBO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8978
INFO RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK 3502
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 6372
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 4598
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 2422
RUEHNY/AMEMBASSY OSLO 4554
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0181
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 3658
RUEHCG/AMCONSUL CHENNAI 8805
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 3043
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS

UNCLAS COLOMBO 001071

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

STATE FOR SCA/INS - PLEASE PASS USAID/OFDA
KATHMANDU FOR REFUGEE SECTION
GENEVA FOR RMA
BANGKOK FOR USAID/OFDA

REF: COLOMBO 1054

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREF PHUM PGOV EAID PREL CE
SUBJECT: Internally Displaced Persons in Mannar Living in Detention
Conditions

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The Government of Sri Lanka's push to regain
military control over Mannar district met with success in early
2008. The government may soon approve return of displaced persons
to their homes within the district. However, over 800 persons, most
originating from Jaffna and Kilinochchi, remain confined in two
camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Mannar district:
Kalimoddai and Sirukandal. This situation of prolonged detention
violates international practices on treatment of IDPs and Sri
Lanka's Constitution. Efforts by the office of the United Nations
High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to seek progress have met
with limited success. Post will continue to raise concerns about
these conditions with GSL authorities. End summary.

Visit to Kalimoddai
-------------------

2. (SBU) Kathmandu-based Deputy Refugee Coordinator visited the
Kalimoddai "welfare camp" on November 20 with UNHCR protection
staff. The site is administered by Sri Lankan soldiers who stand
guard at the IDP camp gate. UNHCR was surprised to see that the Sri
Lankan authorities had further militarized the welfare camp since
the last visit; in addition to barbed wire surrounding the camp, the
soldiers had created a corridor of barbed wire for IDPs to queue in
during registration in and out of the camp. The camp resembled a
detention site more than a humanitarian operation.

3. (SBU) Camp residents described to us recently increased
restrictions on their movement. Two months ago, one individual had
been granted permission to leave the site, and then disappeared;
since then, anyone who leaves the camp during the day must leave a
family member behind. Over one hundred persons in the two camps do
not have family with them and therefore cannot leave at all. The
residents perceive the restrictions as collective punishment.
Children with school identification cards are permitted to leave to
attend school nearby.

4. (SBU) Humanitarian conditions at the site fall below
international standards. Sanitation is a problem, including lack of
functioning latrines, as well as poor garbage collection. Residents
were clearly despondent about their continued confinement. They
appealed to Deputy RefCoord to tell the World Food Programme not to
send any more food aid; they claim it is not enough, and just
enables the GSL's continued policy of confinement. It was clearly
not the first time the residents had shared their concerns; as
Deputy RefCoord left, the residents asked the UNHCR interpreter "not
to bring any more of these people here" as it never seemed to
improve their situation.

Efforts to Intervene
--------------------

5. (SBU) UNHCR continues to urge the GSL to resolve the situation of
the two camps by appropriately screening for combatants, as they
have in previous IDP settings, and granting the civilians cleared by
this process freedom of movement. In addition, UNHCR advocates on a
case-by-case basis to secure the release of certain individuals.
Recently, 22 individuals from Trincomalee district were released
following UNHCR intervention. One woman from Kalimoddai camp is
separately pursuing in the courts a habeas corpus case with the help
of a local NGO.

Implications for Vanni IDP Outflux
----------------------------------

6. (SBU) Staff from nongovernmental organizations and UN agencies
expressed concern that the GSL could use this detention model in
responding to future IDP outflows from the Vanni. While most who
have exited the Vanni through the Omanthai checkpoint have not been
transferred to this site, some who arrived by boat in Trincomalee
have been brought here. UN reports that IDPs in the Vanni are aware
of the detention conditions in Mannar, compounding rumors and fears
of what will happen to them should they flee LTTE-controlled areas.
Humanitarian staff question how the GSL would handle 200,000 IDPs

from the Vanni if they cannot screen 800 people over the course of
eight months.

7. (SBU) COMMENT: Ambassador and other Mission staff have repeatedly
raised USG concerns about the prison-like conditions in these camps
and the deterrent effect they have on the willingness of IDPs now in
the north to move into GSL-controlled areas (reftel). DCM and PolOff
had planned to visit Mannar but were obliged to postpone their visit
after the Defense Ministry denied permission due to security
concerns related to the LTTE's November 27 "Heroes' Day"
observances. However, Ambassador and others will continue to raise
U.S. concerns about the Kalimoddai and Surikandal camp conditions in
meetings of the Committee for Coordination of Humanitarian
Assistance (CCHA) and in other appropriate venues. Future visits of
USG officials to Vavuniya and Mannar would help ensure that Sri
Lankan government officials are aware of broader U.S. Government
humanitarian concerns regarding treatment of Sri Lanka's
conflict-displaced persons.
BLAKE

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>

ALSO:

Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC