Sri Lanka - Unlock the Camps

A senior US diplomat has urged the Sri Lankan government to allow more freedom to the more than a quarter of a million Tamil people detained in camps in the north of the country.

The military conflict has ended and Sri Lanka is making less headlines than a couple of months ago. But for more than a quarter of a million people – including 50,000 children – the story is far from over. They are confined to detention camps because of the government’s policy of rounding up all Tamils and holding them until it is happy that it has screened for all those it deems to be Tamil Tigers.

The vast majority of these are ordinary people, with families to care for and livelihoods to earn, who are being prevented from returning to their homes and whose future is uncertain. Read more about it here.

US diplomat Robert Blake also predicted that unless the Sri Lankan government moves towards some reconciliation with the Tamils, including a political settlement, and with more urgency than the current plan to begin talks in 2010, it is possible that some people will resort to violence and terrorism again.

Amnesty shares these concerns. On Monday we launched a new online campaign to get the Sri Lankan government to ‘Unlock the Camps’. There is a new Amnesty briefing on the scale of the situation and what Tamils are enduring here – including the fact that the biggest single camp is holding about 160,000 people in a space smaller than a square kilometre – the size of Wembley Stadium.

The situation is urgent. Amnesty is calling for an immediate end to restrictions on people’s freedom of movement, full access for aid agencies (which is currently very restricted) and a commitment to close the camps.

You can take action by signing a Facebook petition here.

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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