Saturday, May 22, 2010

International groups call for war crimes inquiry after new photos

Complete photos can be viewed here.

By Andrew Moran - The Coalition to Stop the War in Sri Lanka (CTSWSL) has joined the Human Rights Watch (HRW), the International Crisis Group (ICG) and Amnesty International calling for an independent international inquiry into Sri Lanka's alleged war crimes.

It seems more information is coming out of Sri Lanka as to whether or not the President Mahinda Rajapaksa government committed war crimes and human rights violations.

International reports of war crimes in Sri Lanka

On Tuesday, during the Tamil one-year civil war anniversary memorial remembrance, Channel 4 News published an article that stated the killings of Tamil civilians were ordered from the top of the Sri Lankan government. A Sri Lankan senior army commander and a soldier said the orders were to kill everybody and were “received from the top.”

The ICG also released a report on Monday showing that the Sri Lankan security forces had “shelled civilians, hospitals and humanitarian operations.” The information was gathered through witness testimony, government documents, satellite images and other means.

New photos

On Thursday, a series of five photos were released through the HRW, which showed a Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebel with his body covered in blood. Later photos showed the detainee dead, which has brought concerns that the man was killed by Sri Lankan forces while he was in custody.

After closer examination, according to a forensic expert, the back of his head was severely injured, “This would indicate severe trauma to the back of the head consistent with something like a gunshot wound or massive blows to the back of the head with something such as a machete or ax.”

Although it is not conclusive that the man was killed by the Sri Lankan army, who was identified as a long-term member of the LTTE, HRW believes an investigation is needed. There are also concerns that women were raped, tortured or mutilated because there are dead women in the background wearing LTTE uniforms with their shirts pulled up and pants pulled down.

The Tamil community responds

Senthan Nada, a Toronto Tamil and spokesperson for CTSWSL, said the international community and the government of Canada should do its best to ensure justice is brought to the nation of Sri Lanka and convene under the “auspices of the United Nations.”

“How could our sense of human attachments could be rested, knowing that Sri Lankan government and its armed forces were responsible for slaughtering more than 40,000 our kith and kin and maiming a 50,000 more including tens of thousands of our children in matter of few days in the May 2009,” said the Toronto spokesperson.

Nada further explained that truth and justice would eventually lead to indentifying the culprits involved in the recently released images and that the perpetrators “have done nothing but damage the relations between ethnicities in order to hold onto power.”

In the end, says Nada, “true reconciliation” would lead to an ultimate solution for the Tamils who want to have rights, freedoms and the right to self-determination.

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