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ACF calls for international inquiry into Muttur massacre

[TamilNet, Saturday, 18 July 2009 08:34 No Comment]

Action Contre la Faim (ACF), a Paris-based NGO, in a press release issued Friday said that the 17 of its staff members shot dead in execution style in Muttur, Sri Lanka in August 2006 is one of the "most serious crimes ever committed against an NGO," and accused Sri Lanka of failing to identify the people responsible for the killings after "[t]hree Years of obstructionism, smokescreens, and politicized proceedings." ACF called on the European Union to initiate an international inquiry into the "massacre."

ACF quit Sri Lanka in June 2008 in protest saying that ACF has no confidence the Sri Lanka investigations will deliver justice.

"Sri Lankan authorities are deliberately hampering efforts to investigate the murder of 17 aid workers, some of whose relatives blame the military, the island’s chief truce monitor Maj. Gen. Ulf Henricsson, who headed the unarmed Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) told Reuters in August 2006 after the massacre.

The report released by Sri Lanka’s Commission of Inquiries (CoI) earlier this week exonerated the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) and navy (SLN), but said auxiliary police known as home guards could have carried out the killings. "There was other evidence like the presence of Muslim home guards. They had access to the weapons. And it could have been LTTE," the head of the CoI, Udalagama told Reuters.

Full text of the press release follows:

On August 4, 2006, 17 members of Action Against Hunger / Action Contre la Faim (ACF) were executed in Muttur, Sri Lanka. These murders constitute the most serious crime ever committed against a non governmental organization. According to the media, the final report of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (notably in charge of investigating this massacre) failed to identify the people responsible for this slaughtering.

This commission was the last of the 3 procedures implemented by the Sri Lankan authorities, which ACF called upon to obtain justice. Nowadays, nearly 3 years after the crime, one cannot but notice that these procedures have failed, and that the Sri Lankan government obviously lacks will to establish the truth. Facing this, Action contre la Faim (ACF) reiterates its call, notably to the European Union, to constitute an internationalized inquiry into this massacre.

A report that finds no culprit for the crime

According to the official proceedings and the President’s initial commitment, this report is to be made public thanks to an official publication. ACF deplores this failure to respect the proceedings since it maintains direct victims of this crime in a state of uncertainty and ignorance regarding the very conclusions of the Commission. Thus, ACF does not currently own the whole report of the Commission of Inquiry and then can only go on what the media told.

ACF’s demand to this Commission – like in all the other proceedings we began – was that those who knowingly executed 17 of its co-workers be identified and put under arrest. If the information spread in the Sri Lankan press match the report, this one seems to point out no responsible for the crime, and no clue for the inquiry is to be found in it.

Apart from these disappointing findings, the report is said to mention negligence from ACF. Our organization is not startled by such a declaration in the context of this much politicized case. ACF has always been prepared to disprove this slanderous blame in the framework of an internationalized inquiry.

Given the failure of this Commission, as well as the two other proceedings that were begun, it is now clear that only an internationalized inquiry will allow reaching a real identification of those responsible for this crime. Then ACF reiterates its demand to the European Union to support such a proceeding.

Nearly Three Years of Obstructionism, Smokescreens, and Politicized Proceedings

Following the massacre of Muttur, ACF has closely followed three separate judicial proceedings. Two years into these investigations, the search for truth has been a casualty of obstructionism, the intrusion of politics into the judicial process, a lack of transparency, and even errors. Facing this denial of justice and after the departure of the international observers, ACF decided to leave the country in March 2008 and to withdraw from all the proceedings, now only relying upon an internationalized inquiry.

The Muttur Massacre At a Glance

On August 4, 2006, 17 Action against Hunger aid workers were murdered in the town of Muttur, north-eastern Sri Lanka. Lined up execution style and shot one by one, the assassination of humanitarian workers indicates that it was an intentionally act of violence. The massacre is the gravest crime carried out against a non-governmental organization and is comparable to a war crime under international law.

[Full Coverage]

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