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New photos allege Sri Lanka war abuse

[AFP, Thursday, 11 November 2010 14:58 One Comment]

FpZ8NaC-A New photos emerged Thursday of piles of dead bodies and execution-style killings allegedly taken during the final stages of Sri Lanka’s civil war which ended in May last year.

Broadcaster Al-Jazeera said it had obtained the images from an unnamed Tamil source who said they had been taken by a member of Sri Lanka’s military.

Some of the disturbing photographs show bodies with twisted limbs piled on the back of a trailer, others show almost naked corpses, blindfolded and with hands bound behind their backs, lying in shallow graves.

Al-Jazeera said it was unable to verify their authenticity, adding that it was unknown if the bodies had been collected after a clean-up or were the result of a massacre.

The military onslaught against the Tamil Tiger rebel group has been dogged by allegations of war crimes, with the United Nations, Western powers and rights groups pushing for a probe of possible violations by both sides.

Other similar photos and video footage have emerged in the past.

In January, UN human rights envoy Philip Alston concluded that video footage said to be of Sri Lankan troops executing unarmed Tamil Tiger rebels was authentic and urged Colombo to accept a war crimes probe.

"These photos provide compelling reasons for why there should be an independent international investigation into what happened," Yolanda Foster from rights group Amnesty International told Al-Jazeera.

Sri Lanka has set up its own probe, the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), which critics say lacks credibility and is intended to cover up atrocities.

Authorities have blocked the international media from covering the proceedings.

The BBC complained again Thursday that its journalists had been prevented from travelling to hear witnesses testify.

Sri Lankan authorities have allowed foreign journalists to the former conflict zone as part of guided tours, but not allowed them independent access to the region.

The government, led by President Mahinda Rajapakse, rejects any accusation of war crimes and says no civilians were killed during the fighting.

Al-Jazeera said the government had denied that its photographs were genuine. AFP was unable to reach the government on Thursday, with ministers busy dealing with the worst flooding in the capital in years after a severe rain storm.

New York-based Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Brussels-based International Crisis Group say up to 30,000 ethnic Tamil civilians perished in the final months of the conflict.

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One Comment »

  • Jay Pathbey said:

    For all Tamils Worldwide

    Before one talks of ethnic cleansing, war abuses, human rights violations by the Sri Lankan Government, one must ponder the colossal crimes committed by the LTTE against humanity in Sri Lanka. Does the TNN, Tamilnet or any one of the thousands of bloggers and magazines ever publish news about even one of the hundreds of thousands of violations by the LTTE that led to the Government of Sri Lanka doing its duty to protect the people of Sri Lanka.

    Before one gets into the bandwagon of whitewashing the murderous Prabhakaran and his butchers, let us read about one single heinous crime committed by the LTTE about which the tamils all over the world came to know but did little or nothing to prevent it or to correct it. Are tamils the selected race to be given preferential treatment. Are tamils any different to millions of Africans, Arabs, Sinhalese who suffer because they are born poor. I do not think so. Neither do billions of others in this planet.

    So if ten thousand, twenty thousand or even one hundred thousand – tamils tigers, their supporters and sympathisers were wiped out in the cause of ridding this planet of a cancer that caused unpardonable massacres of innocents there should not be any tears. What tamils do not realize is the world should have tears for the tamils. WHY??????

    When one talks on 300,000 tamils in camps, diaspora tamils never mention nor admit that Prabhakaran marched them to his final battlefield to be used as human shields because he was such a coward.
    The tamils on the other hand must take consolation that they paid for the 100,000 or more innocent muslims driven out with 48 hours notice.

    Sri Lanka will today mark the twentieth anniversary of the forced eviction of Muslims from the North by the now wiped-out terror outfit-Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam or the LTTE.

    The official commemoration will be held at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute under the patronage of President Mahinda Rajapaksa with Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa, Minister Rishad Bathiudeen (former Minister of Resettlement), and FAO (UN) Resident Representative Patrick Evans, in attendance.

    On October 25, 1990 Northern Muslims were ordered out of LTTE-controlled areas, which led the entire Muslim population of Jaffna, and Mannar numbering roughly 100,000 persons to leave within 48 hours.

    According to Researcher Sharika Thiranagama the orders for the Muslim eviction came from the highest rung of the Tigers.

    “This was an LTTE-only military operation, and there is no evidence of civilian collusion; no ordinary Tamils participated in the eviction. Neither was any reason for the operation ever offered. Did the LTTE, faced with a numerically and politically stronger Muslim minority in the east, simply decide to evict a much smaller and more politically vulnerable Muslim minority in the north? Precise reasons are difficult to establish. What is certain is that this was a decision to remove an entire community, and without any attempt to legitimise the action through popular campaigns,”

    On October 1990, throughout the five districts of Kilinochchi, Mullaithivu, Mannar, Vavuniya and Jaffna, the Tiger terrorists announced that all Muslims living within the Northern Province must leave within 48 hours. On Mannar Island, the LTTE announced that all Muslims must report to the LTTE office by October 24, and leave by the October 28. Despite protests by moderate Tamils and the Catholic clerics, the rebels sealed off Erukkalampiddy town in Mannar on October 28, and forbade all further dealings between Tamils and Muslims.

    On October 25, in the Mannar mainland, the rebels announced that the Muslims must surrender their possessions, register with the LTTE office, and leave on 25. They were allowed to bring five traveling bags per family, one gold sovereign and maximum of 2000 rupees. At the final checkpoint leading south, in Vavuniya, all additional items were confiscated.

    Muslims from Puthukudiruppu, Tharmapuram, (Mulaithivu) Uppukulam and Erukkalampiddy were subsequently assembled on the beach without food, water or sanitation facilities, and forced to begin their outward journey.

    In Jaffna town, where the majority of the Northern evicted community is derived from, Muslims were summoned to the grounds of Osmania College on October 30for a meeting where they only ordered to leave by noon.

    The Jaffna Muslims made their exit through a route carefully laid out by the Tigers, which took them through LTTE checkpoint after checkpoint. At each they were searched and more and more of their possessions removed. Jewellery was taken from the women. The thefts form some of the bitterest recollections of the Jaffna Muslims. In the end, the evictees had only the clothes they were wearing.

    By November 1990 the Muslims were gone from the north; the LTTE had succeeded in converting the area into the Tamil-only territory for which it was fighting. This ethnic cleansing has since come to be known as the Eviction, and the community of Muslims created by this act, formally known as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), refer to themselves as ‘northern Muslims’ and ‘ahathi’ (refugees). The Eviction created a whole new demographic, created in the aftermath of an unthinkably traumatic event that broke one set of communities in the north and created another-that of the refugees. Through peace processes and ceasefires, the right of Sri Lanka’s northern Muslims to return-together with an LTTE guarantee that they will not be evicted again–has never been given adequate priority.

    Meanwhile Jaffna District Secretary (Government Agent -GA), Imelda Sukumar said in an event held on November 6 at Jaffna Osmania College that Jaffna Muslims evicted 20 year ago will be soon resettled in their own places.

    The event was organized by nearly ten Muslim organizations in Jaffna in memory of the evacuation in 1990. Sukumar added that government of Sri Lanka was correct in asserting that there is no place in Sri Lanka for any race to claim exclusive rights to it.

    She further added that several Arabian countries had directly approached offering funding for the resettlement of Muslims in Jaffna.
    JP / USA