Thursday, August 27, 2009

UN Mulls Sri Lankan Murder Video

Please be warned, this video contains extremely disturbing graphic content.

UNITED NATIONS, August 26 - When a war crime is filmed and presented to the UN, will it take action?

On August 26, Inner City Press asked three officials at the UN about the now widely circulated video clip depicting Sri Lankan soldiers shooting naked, blindfolded victims in the head.

At the noon briefing, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesperson Michele Montas about "footage of what appears to be Sri Lankan soldiers shooting naked, bound, unarmed people [inaudible]. Is there any response by the UN to that footage?" There was not.

Later another UN official said that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights is considering how to authenticate the footage, perhaps with outside experts, in order to act on it. But how?

At the Security Council stakeout, Inner City Press asked the president of the Council for this dwindling month, the UK's John Sawers, if he'd seen the footage and what the UK proposes to do about it. He replied that "first," he was appearing as President of the Council. He said he hadn't yet seen the footage but had read about it. It does seem "disturbing," he said, adding that it should be investigated "in the first instance by the Sri Lanka authorities."

But the Mahinda Rajapaksa administration has already curtailed its investigation into the killing of 17 aid workers of Action Contre La Faim, and declared that its soldiers committed abuses. (Others in the administration have said that winners are never tried for war crimes.) So at this late date to defer to Sri Lanka to investigate the snuff film seems misplaced.

Among NGOs working in Sri Lanka, the level of disappointment at the UN and Ban Ki-moon has grown. The groups are meeting one last time with UN country representative Neil Buhne, to urge him to go public with the evidence the UN has compiled. They say that Tamil females in the camps are being used as comfort women. They say that UN has a report showing that many people will die when the monsoon season comes if they remain trapped in the camps. The UN is not releasing this report, they say, asking why Ban Ki-moon appears so beholding to Rajapaksa.

In Sri Lanka, the administration is said to be concerned on this by only three things: Delhi's reaction, an upcoming report to the U.S. Congress, and how Rajapaksa is received at the UN General Assembly next month.

© Inner City Press

Related Articles:
Video that reveals truth of Sri Lankan 'war crimes' - The Independent
Video shows purported atrocities in Sri Lanka conflict - CNN
Kopfschuss, Gelächter, Genickschuss - Der Spiegel

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Sri Lanka calls 'war crimes' video a fake

Channel 4 News / Sri Lanka’s military says a video clip allegedly showing its soldiers executing prisoners during the battle against Tamil Tigers rebels is a fake.

Sri Lankan army spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said the footage – broadcast by Channel 4 News last night – was a fabrication designed to discredit security forces.

He said: "This video has been made to discredit the armed forces. This was said to have been filmed at a time when the Tigers too were operating dressed in Sri Lankan military uniforms."

The video was passed to Channel 4 News by a group called Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka. It campaigns for press freedom in the Asian country.

The group said the video was taken in January by a soldier using a mobile phone, when government forces overwhelmed the stronghold of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) at Kilinochchi.

The capture of Kilinochchi was a milestone in the army’s final push against the Tamil Tigers, which triumphantly concluded a 27-year war in May.

By January, when the video was allegedly filmed, foreign and most local journalists had been banned from the conflict zone.

Despite previous claims that the Sri Lankan army had committed war crimes during the conflict, it has so far staved off a UN investigation.

The Sri Lankan High Commission told Channel 4 News: "The High Commission has noted that in many instances in the past, various media institutions used doctored videos, photographs and documents to defame the Sri Lankan Government and armed forces.

"Therefore, we request you to verify the authenticity of the video footage."

© Channel 4

Related Articles:
Sri Lanka denies shooting unarmed men - ABC News
Sri Lanka rejects 'execution' video - Al Jazeera
Sri Lanka says killing footage 'fabricated' - BBC

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