Sri Lanka: War Crimes

A United Nations investigation panel says both the government and Tamil Tigers are to blame.


In May 2009, Sri Lanka’s decades long civil war with the Tamil Tigers, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam came to a bloody close after government forces launched a massive offensive.

What exactly happened during the last days of the battle is still the subject of fierce debate, but it is clear that as the rebel perimeter shrank, around a third of a million civilians were trapped between the two armies and tens of thousands were killed.

The government says the LTTE were using civilians as human shields, Tamil exiles say the deaths were the result of indiscriminate shelling by the Sri Lankan army. The LTTE was crushed in the offensive, most of its leaders killed and thousands were captured and imprisoned but the Sri Lankan government has so far refused to agree to an independent, international war crimes investigation.

Now a UN panel has found that the allegations against both sides are credible saying they may have committed serious violations of humanitarian law.

As Juliana Ruhfus and Dom Rotheroe have been finding out, unless and until the truth is established, a final reconciliation in Sri Lanka may prove impossible.

Some of the images in their film are deeply disturbing.

This episode of People & Power can be seen from Wednesday, April 20.


Advertisements

International Crisis Group : Louise Arbour on Sri Lanka

International Crisis Group : Louise Arbour on Sri Lanka.

The Interview – III with Shanthi Sachithanandan =English=

On this program Sanjana Hattotuwa talks to Shanthi Sachithanandan, Chairperson, Viluthu, Sri Lanka.

The series that gives you insights on Peace and Politics; Business and Development; Society and the Environment; Culture and the Arts.

Featuring diverse views and perspectives; informing people; contributing to the debate on important national issues – The Interview is produced by Young Asia Television.

Watch the video here 

The Interview – with Shanthi Sachithanandan =English=

On this program Sanjana Hattotuwa talks to Shanthi Sachithanandan, Chairperson, Viluthu, Sri Lanka.

The series that gives you insights on Peace and Politics; Business and Development; Society and the Environment; Culture and the Arts.

Featuring diverse views and perspectives; informing people; contributing to the debate on important national issues – The Interview is produced by Young Asia Television.

Watch the video here 

The Interview – with Nimalka Fernando

NIMALKA FERNANDO, HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYER, COLOMBO

 

Watch the video here 

Calls for war crimes inquiry over 20,000 civilian deaths in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka faced new calls for a war crimes inquiry today after an investigation by The Times revealed that more than 20,000 civilians were killed – mostly by the army – in the latter stages of the war against the Tamil Tigers.

The army dismissed that figure as an exaggeration and repeated the Government’s assertion that not a single civilian was killed by government forces in the final assault on the northeastern conflict zone.

Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara, a military spokesman, declined to say how many civilian deaths had been confirmed, but insisted that they had all been caused by the Tigers, also known as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

“This is an exaggerated story. Whoever has put up this report has been paid by the LTTE,” he told The Times. “There can’t be any civilians killed by government forces in that area. How can the UN know about this? It had no people on the ground.” The UN, however, described its figures as “well-informed estimates”, adding that it did not have “precise, verifiable numbers” because of a lack of access to the conflict zone and the camps holding refugees from the area. “The UN has publicly and repeatedly said that the number of people killed in recent months has been unacceptably high and it has shared its estimates with the Government as well as others concerned,” said Elisabeth Byrs, of the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs. “The point is the UN has not been shy about the scale of human suffering and civilian casualties,” she said. “It has been ringing the alarm bells for a long time.” Sri Lanka officially declared victory in its 26-year civil war with the Tigers early last week after killing almost all of their leadership, including Velupillai Prabhakaran, their founder, in a tiny patch of coconut grove on the northeastern coast. Backed by China, Russia and other allies, Sri Lanka also easily defeated a proposal for a war crimes inquiry at a special session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Tuesday and Wednesday. The new civilian death toll figure has prompted new calls for an inquiry, which could still be ordered by Ban Ki Moon, the UN Secretary-General, or by Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Managala Samaraweera, a former Foreign Minister who left the Government to become an opposition politician in 2005, told The Times that an inquiry was the only way for Sri Lanka to repair the damage to its international reputation. “As Sri Lankans, we’re extremely concerned about what happened during the last stages of the conflict,” he said. “The Government must immediately initiate an independent inquiry. Only by doing so will Sri Lanka be able to clear up its good name.” Human rights groups, aid workers and numerous civilian witnesses have accused the Tigers and government forces of repeatedly firing on non-combatants in violation of international humanitarian law. The Tigers have also been accused of using civilians as human shields and recruiting children forcibly, while the army has been accused of deliberately shelling hospitals in the conflict zone. Brad Adams, Asia director of Human Rights Watch, told The Times: “There’s no doubt there’s a need for a war crimes inquiry. The whole operation has been done in secret and the scale of deaths is so large that it has to be investigated. This is not going to go away.” The UN and the Red Cross also complained today that the Sri Lankan Government was still refusing to provide aid workers with full access to the former conflict zone despite a direct appeal by the UN Secretary General.

Source : TimeOnline

India urged to tell Sri Lanka to stop war

New Delhi, April 16 : Four Tamil MPs from Sri Lanka have urged New Delhi to put pressure on Colombo to stop the war in the island to protect civilians trapped in the conflict zone.
The members of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), which is sympathetic to the Tamil Tigers, conveyed the message to National Security

Advisor M.K. Narayanan here late Wednesday, a delegation member said Thursday.

“We told the Indian government that the military operations (in Sri Lanka) must be stopped,” TNA MP K. Premachandran said, adding that the delegation was worried about Tamil civilians in the war zone.

Premachandran told IANS that the main reason Sri Lanka was pursuing its military offensive was because there was no pressure on Colombo to end the bloodshed.

“India must tell Sri Lanka that if it cannot protect civilians, then it (India) will have a responsibility to do so,” he said, explaining what the TNA expected from New Delhi.

“Sri Lanka thinks that India is on its side. A minister said so in so many words in parliament. This has not been denied by either the Indian mission in Colombo or the Indian government,” he added.

The TNA delegation, which is led by R. Sampanthan, will also meet Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon.

Tens of thousands of Tamil civilians, their number put at more than 100,000 by some, are caught in a small strip of territory the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) still holds in Mullaitivu district.

The area where the civilians are holed up is known as a no-fire zone but reports say the military continues to target it in response to activities of the LTTE.

Colombo has accused the LTTE of forcibly holding back the civilians as a virtual shield. The Tigers deny the charge.

Source – IANS

%d bloggers like this: