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Posts Tagged ‘Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka And War Crimes

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Comparatively speaking, the conflict in Sri Lanka between 2006 and 2009 was underreported in the Western media.

This is despite mass killings, horrendous atrocities and the shelling of areas known to contain civilians by the Sri Lankan army.

Towards the end, in 2009, there was increased coverage, but nowhere near the level of indignation that one might rightly expect to be found in the Western press.

The exception to that has been Channel 4, who have covered it for a number of years and reveal that the Sri Lankan government is guilty of war crimes, according to a secret UN report:

“A leaked UN report reveals the United Nations believes there is credible evidence that war crimes were committed in Sri Lanka’s civil war. Channel 4 News Chief Correspondent Alex Thomson recalls the “frustration and the tension” of trying to report on a “secret war”.

Already the government of Sri Lanka has put up its defences as the report is leaked. To nobody’s surprise Colombo’s position is that this is just so much hearsay because the United Nations team never got real access. And they have got access because Colombo banned them… and so the merry-go-round goes on.

All of it, merely the latest in a long chapter of secrecy, censorship and intimidation from both the Sir Lankan government and the LTTE (Tamil Tigers) down the long years of civil war from 23 June 1983 to the Tigers admitting defeat in May 2009.

For any foreign reporter visiting the island it was generally a barely endurable excercise in frustration and the tension. Frustration at interminable briefings in Colombo from government officials telling you virtually nothing. Or highly sanitised visits “to the front” during which one would be shown next to nothing.

Any attempt to reach the other side as it were – the LTTE – was always a high- risk venture from the crossing of lines and possible minefields to the more likely danger of exposing your local fixer/translator to serious police action or worse for helping foreign reporters to try and cover both sides of the long war. “

Read Channel 4 news’ Sri Lanka: civil war special report.

Update 1: Channel 4 has updated the details:

“These alleged crimes include executions, rape and torture by Government forces. The leaked report also lists the shelling of civilians inside “no-fire zones”, the “systematic shelling” of hospitals and attacks on the UN and Red Cross.

The LTTE stands accused of refusing civilians permission to leave the conflict zone and “using them as hostages” in a “buffer zone”.

The UN panel also says that authorities “sought to intimidate and silence the media and other critics of the war through a variety of threats and actions, including the use of white vans to abduct and to make people disappear”. “

Written by modernityblog

16/04/2011 at 15:24

Sri Lanka And The Tamils.

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The Sri Lankan army’s assault on the Tamil Tigers last year was particularly bloody. Civilians were killed in the onslaught and there was comparatively little media coverage, despite the numbers involved. It has emerged that there was the summary execution of Tamil Tigers by the Sri Lankan military as a press release from the UN states:

“GENEVA — Reports by three independent experts strongly point to the authenticity of a videotape released by Channel 4 in Britain which appears to show the summary execution of bound, blindfolded, and naked Tamils by Sri Lankan soldiers. This was announced today by the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Philip Alston, on the basis of detailed analyses conducted by recognized experts in forensic pathology, forensic video analysis, and firearm evidence.

Alston commissioned the three reports following the publication of four opinions by Sri Lankan experts, all of which concluded that the video was a fake. The Government of Sri Lanka informed the UN Human Rights Council that it would therefore not be undertaking any investigation of the allegations made. “Senior Government officials called upon me to apologize and to withdraw the allegations,” said Alston. “They also criticized me for not having undertaken my own technical analysis. In response to that criticism and to what seemed to me the patent inadequacies of the reports commissioned by the Government (two of which were prepared by officials of the Sri Lankan army), I requested highly qualified and totally independent experts to undertake evaluations.”

Alston released the full text of the expert opinions in a “Technical Note” made public in New York today. “Together, the reports by these experts strongly suggest that the video is authentic,” Alston stated.

“Given these conclusions, and in light of the persistent flow of other allegations of extrajudicial executions by both sides during the closing phases of the war against the LTTE, I call for the establishment of an independent inquiry to carry out an impartial investigation into war crimes and other grave violations of international humanitarian and human rights law allegedly committed in Sri Lanka.”

Alston summarized the key findings of the experts:

Mr Peter Diaczuk, an expert in firearms evidence, concluded that the recoil, movement of the weapon and the shooter, and the gases expelled from the muzzle in both apparent shootings were consistent with firing live ammunition, and not with shooting blank cartridges.

Dr Daniel Spitz, a prominent forensic pathologist, found that the footage appeared authentic, especially with respect to the two individuals who are shown being shot in the head at close range. He found that the body reaction, movement, and blood evidence was entirely consistent with what would be expected in such shootings.

Mr Jeff Spivack, an expert in forensic video analysis, found no evidence of breaks in continuity in the video, no additional video layers, and no evidence of image manipulation.”

The Times has more.

Something I posted on it last year, a worthwhile question.

Written by modernityblog

09/01/2010 at 23:32