ACT NOW is a new campaign group set up by a number of former British Humanitarian Aid workers from Sri Lanka and the general public. Act Now has set up campaign groups all across the UK and have thousands of members across the globe. About us

                         Why are we doing this? 

  1. Tamil civilians have borne the brunt of Sri Lanka’s civil war violence. As recent reports have shown, the situation bears striking similarities to that in Vietnam, with the bombing by the Government of innocent civilians, schools, temples, orphanages, hospitals and refugee camps. However, because the government removed all international aid workers from the northern region of Sri Lanka and barred the media, there were no independent witnesses and the world has been mostly oblivious to the true scale of the atrocities which have been taking place. 

  2. Act Now is working to protect the lives of Sri Lanka’s Tamil population. We have been raising awareness of the ongoing war and now the situation in the camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs). We work with a number of human rights organisations and aid agencies and have a very good network of credible information. Our reports have been confirmed by investigations by The Times and Channel 4 news. 

  3. Through raising awareness and pressing for action amongst parliamentarians and other government officials, we are seeking to protect Tamils in Sri Lanka from further suffering and we are calling for an inquiry into recent events as a precursor to an effective reconciliation process so that violence does not reoccur. 

    The scale of civilian casualties 

  4. During the first few months of 2009, according to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and Human Rights Watch, over 2800 Tamil civilians were killed and 7000 injured in the so-called ‘no fire zone’, from shelling by the Sri Lankan Armed Forces. More recent reports from Catherine Philps of The Times (29 May), who visited the war zone with the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, indicate that the civilian death toll may have exceeded 20,000.  A report in The Telegraph (24 May) suggests that shelling in the ‘no fire zone’ has left up to 30,000 Tamil civilians severely injured and urgently requiring prosthetic limbs or wheelchairs to regain their mobility. 

  5. “Photographs taken by The Times present clear evidence of an atrocity that comes close to matching Srebrenica, Darfur and other massacres of civilians. In the sandy so-called no-fire zone where the trapped Tamil civilians were told to go to escape the brutal army bombardment, there are hundreds of fresh graves as well as craters and debris where tents once stood. This was no safe zone. This was where terrified civilians buried their dead as the shells landed - after the Government had declared an end to the use of heavy weapons on April 27.” (The Times) 

  6. An aid worker who had worked in Sri Lanka's Vanni district for more than a decade until he fled in mid-May, at the height of the Sri Lankan military assault against the last Tamil-held areas, told the Catholic News Service in Rome, on May 21, that the high number of casualties at the hands of the SLA forces was caused by "a generous use" of weapons, such as cluster and chemical bombs, weapons banned by international treaties and, therefore, their use represents a war crime. Today the conflict zone of Vanni "is like a burial ground, nothing left behind, no buildings, no churches, utter destruction," he said. [The] worst was "the use of forbidden weapons. We appealed to so many people, but nobody took notice of it because the government kept on denying it was using such arms”, he said. 

  7. During the final weeks of the conflict Act Now received witness reports that SLA troops had dug large holes with mechanical diggers. As claims of numbers who have fled the area remain unverified we fear these craters were used to hide the numbers of those killed.   
       

        What is the current situation? 

  1. Despite the official war having ended, major human rights violations are still being reported, as over 280,000 Tamil civilians are detained in camps in northern Sri Lanka. These detainees have been caught up in the conflict and many have been moved from location to location, with limited access to food and water, before arriving at the camps. However these camps have not provided the safety and protection these war refugees have sought. The camps have been heavily criticised for lacking in medical facilities and providing inadequate food and water. Aid agencies and groups  such as the UNHCR, OCHA, Oxfam, UNICEF and ICRC have stressed that the camps do not meet international standards, that shelter, food and medical aid is inadequate.  

  2. Lack of food is leading to malnutrition and starvation. Channel 4 reported dead bodies being left where they had fallen. Desperate families are at the mercy of extortion demands. Many civilians are at risk as their wounds and diseases go untreated. In some camps, there is only one doctor per 40,000 civilians. One family reported one toilet between 800 people and washing facilities contaminated with sewage. The overcrowding and poor sanitation facilities are leading to the spread of diseases. Christian Aid has declared the camps ‘an epidemic waiting to happen’. Aid agencies are not being given proper access to the camps and those that are, are not allowed to speak to the detainees.  

  3. Unlike many IDP camps, the Sri Lankan camps are heavily militarised, with armed patrols, armoured vehicles, razor wire fences and some trenches, and with the detainees’ freedom of movement restricted. Through our sources, Act Now has received extremely disturbing reports of torture, rape, extortion, extra-judicial murders and child recruitment by government backed paramilitary groups, occurring both within the camps and at the initial screening process. The Sri Lankan Army is not releasing information on the names of detainees. Inner City Press has pointed to discrepancies in the UN’s own numbers, which suggest that 13,000 people have disappeared from the camps.  

  4. Many families have been separated from their relatives and the restrictions on movement within camp zones and outside of the camps is adding additional trauma and risk. Amnesty and other groups have reported that civilians, including children as young as twelve, are being abducted from the camps, subject to torture and execution by Army-linked paramilitaries. Act Now seeks the immediate investigation of these reports by independent, international parties. 

        



         What are we seeking? 

  1. a.  Immediate free access to aid agencies and media throughout Sri Lanka.  

  2. b.  Emergency medical treatment and social care for tens of thousands of civilians and POWs, especially those in the camps. 

  3. c.  Immediate measures to guarantee the safety of those in the camps from disappearances, attacks and sexual assaults, and investigations into any such crimes taking place in the camps. 

  4. d.  Immediate access to adequate shelter, food, water, clothing, medicine and sanitary facilities for all those refugees in Sri Lanka, especially those in the camps.

  5. e.  Immediate release of detained health workers that were formerly working in the conflict zone. 

  6. f.   MPs fact finding mission: to visit camps with British citizens with detained relatives to assess conditions and seek improvements.

  7. g.  Provision of contact network to enable families to find missing relatives, both in camps and other detention sites, and release of SL Army’s registry of those detained in the camps. 

  8. h.  Collection of evidence of war crimes committed by both parties to the conflict, collected by an independent party.

  9. i.   Attachment of conditions to any relief and development aid provided by the international community to ensure the safety and welfare of civilians, with a guarantee of their early and safe resettlement back to their original homes and action to solve the root causes of the conflict, such as widespread discrimination and prejudice against minority groups such as the Tamil people.























 

Regardless of the history and geopolitics of Sri Lanka, no one deserves the fate of those in the camps. Act Now is pressing for urgent action to protect all those held in the camps. We are seeking: 


Next boycott Event 6th and 7th of March please get involved!

 

If you haven't already done so we urge you to sign the on line letter which is sent to 12 British stores requesting them to not sell Sri Lankan products.


http://www.act-now.info/Site/Online_boycott.html.