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New Sri Lankan civil war photos threaten to overshadow Britain visit

[Telegraph, Wednesday, 20 October 2010 09:34 One Comment]

 Internally displaced Sri Lankan people wait behind barbed wire at Menik Farm refugee camp in Cheddikulam  Photo: AFP GETTY The photographs, which showed blood stained bodies of young men and women who had been blindfolded and had their hands tied behind their backs, were released by the Global Tamil Forum (GTF), a group which includes former supporters of the Tamil Tiger rebels.

Their release was timed to coincide with the visit of Professor G.L Peiris, the Sri Lankan foreign minister, who will meet William Hague on Wednesday. A foreign office spokesman said Mr Hague will reiterate Britain’s demand for a "credible and transparent investigation" into alleged war crimes. The United Nations estimates between 8,000 and 10,000 civilians died between January and May 2009 and claims the Sri Lankan army shelled a civilian ‘no-fire zone’.

The GTF said these latest photographs had been passed to them by a Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elaam (LTTE) intelligence official who said he’d acquired them from within the Sri Lankan Army.

A group spokesman said the pictures had not been verified but raised serious questions which only an independent investigation could address. He said some of the photographs of Sri Lankan Army officers inspecting rows of dead bodies suggested the pictures may have been taken as ‘souvenirs’.

One showed a semi-naked young woman lying, apparently dead, with blood trickling from her nose. She is surrounded by dead bodies of other young men, some naked, and all blindfolded and bound.

Father S.J Emmanuel of the Global Tamil Forum, said the pictures showed a "blatant disregard for humanity" and while he did not know if they were authentic, the possibility that they might be highlighted the need for a UN war crimes investigation.

"If Government of Sri Lanka has nothing to hide, why wouldn’t they at least now admit to allowing the UN to investigate?" he said.

The Sri Lankan government said the photographs had been released to discredit it during Prof Peiris’s visit to London by a pro-LTTE group which admitted it could not verify them.

The defeat of the LTTE had given Tamils new freedoms while a ‘Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission’ “will consider matters relating to international humanitarian law, reconciliation and governance.”

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One Comment »

  • Usha S Sri-Skanda-Rajah said:

    The photos show more glaring evidence of what happend, we cannot rest until justice is done. In my poem below I have poured my heart out seeking justice for the people who perished in the 2009 Tamil Holocaust.
    Usha S Sri-Skanda-Rajah


    2009 Tamil Holocaust and your lost credibility

    The Cry of a Freedom Activist:

    To the International Community

    Tamil civilian lives are in your hands the Diaspora pleaded in desperation;

    To Canada, US, Britain, EU, Norway and the UN; had you heeded with compassion;

    Twenty to forty thousand need not have perished in one sweep without identification;

    From a cruel regime’s and its ally’s fire power, chemical weaponry and ammunition.

    You have to act fast before it’s too late we wailed and protested;

    Lay down on highways, burnt our bodies, fasted, begged and prayed;

    In a tiny sliver of land our people are holding out, we cried,

    To their last vestige of freedom and dignity, still brave but petrified.

    You would have prevented a HOLOCAUST from happening;

    If you did what was right by your conscience, without failing;

    You should have used R2P: ‘Responsibility to Protect’ with urgency, without faltering;

    Canada’s initiative, mind you, to intervene to save lives, it was then certainly wanting.

    Tamils were falsely led to the ‘no fire zone’,

    Only to realize as soon as they had gone,

    They were going to be slaughtered, not spared but done;

    Under the very nose of the international community and the UN.

    It was a war without witness, no media to report the situation there;

    The people were left with no food, no water, and no real medical care.

    No humanitarian aid, not a soul to truly comfort and care;

    Such inaction on your part, a travesty of justice, that’s beyond compare.

    The attackers used their diplomatic machinations to raise the ‘human shield’ concept;

    You harped about it, not knowing, it was the perpetrators’ way to cleverly manipulate.

    The decision not to leave was a cry for freedom from enemy subjugation, you know it;

    Instead you fell prey; if you had a heart you should have surely and easily have known it.

    It’s a real shame under the pretext of fighting terrorism;

    You turned a blind eye to ruthless Sri Lankan state terrorism;

    You condoned the mass slaughter of a people who defied fascism;

    Women, children, babies and the elderly left to die from this unspeakable barbarism.

    To escape prolonged racism, marginalization, persecution and unending violence;

    To defend their territorial integrity, sovereignty and security and fend from occupation;

    People joined together, Tamil Eelam their thirst, their passion and their earnest aspiration;

    Forming a defacto Tamil State in Vanni to protect their nests and nurture their generation.

    They cultivated their fields, fished and traded, even ceased fire for a peaceful resolution;

    Self Rule, Nationhood, Homeland, three principles upon which they stood for liberation;

    Swearing allegiance to the State that had its own police, legal system and administration;

    Defending the land from enemy fire scores of freedom fighters died for the Tamil Nation.

    Tamils needed understanding, sensitivity and empathy;

    To the people crying for freedom Sri Lanka is their enemy;

    To ask them to go with an army, not friendly, with whom they did not identify;

    To be disappeared, incarcerated, tortured, raped and massacred; it does defy,

    Logic and reason; proved right with hindsight; alas too late to rectify.

    The strategy of the enemy was to deny sustenance and wear Tamils out;

    Weaken their resolve and virtually force them from their hold out;

    It was not a ‘hostage rescue operation’ but a ‘hostage taking operation’, with no time out;

    Even with Tamil fighters’ guns silenced, the bombing and the shelling ended not;

    The carnage leaving dead bodies, people butchered with limbs missing and organs out;

    To stop chemical weapons and multi barrel rockets from being fired on the innocent;

    In the end with white flags, the political heads, their families surrendering came out;

    Only to be killed at point blank range, as soon as the order from the top was given out.

    These helpless people had a right to life,

    A fundamental human right, even in strife.

    With a will to protect, it was for you to strive,

    To act expeditiously, to save innocent life.

    Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Crisis Group have said categorically,

    It will not appear before SL’s LLRC, as it has no mandate to probe war crimes explicitly;

    They said the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission will not act independently;

    Without witness protection it falls short of international minimum standards quite clearly.

    Let the UN’s Panel of Experts of accountability speak through its spokesperson directly;

    Not let UN’s Secretary General’s personal connection with the Rajapakses even faintly,

    Impinge upon and tarnish UN’s image as an organization with impeccable integrity;

    Affecting Ban Ki Moon’s ability to take action on the experts’ advice impartially.

    The perpetrators have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity;

    The question is who will bring the members of the Sri Lankan family dynasty,

    Those who allegedly gave the orders, to the International Criminal Court to answer flatly;

    To the charge of Genocide of the Tamil People. If you the International Community,

    Don’t listen to image building consultants hired by Rajapakses to counteract skillfully,

    The growing evidence against them; those who come knocking on your doors ostensibly;

    If you believe in the truth, and nothing but the truth and conduct a fair inquiry,

    And see that ‘justice is done and manifestly seen to be done’ only then considerably,

    Could you redeem your reputation in our eyes ever again and restore your lost credibility.

    Usha S Sri-Skanda-Rajah

    Oct 19, 2010