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Al Jazeera staff denied visa over Sri Lanka war crimes broadcast

[TamilNet, Monday, 15 November 2010 08:53 No Comment]

Three journalists from Al Jazeera, the international news network headquartered in Qatar, were denied visa to enter Sri Lanka, after the station broadcast photographs that provided additional prima facie evidence of widespread war crimes committed by Sri Lanka security forces during the final stages of war with Liberation Tigers, media reports from Colombo said.

Sri Lanka has been denying visa to foreign journalists and staffers of non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) who are critical of Government’s actions during and after the war that ended in May 2009.

The broadcast showed graphic scenes, with dead bodies blindfolded, hands bound [and] shot through the head, that appeared to provide further believable evidence of alleged massacre of Tamils during final stages of Sri Lanka’s civil war.

One of the photos shows a line of bodies, including what is believed to be the body of the son of Velupillai Pirapaharan, the leader of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

Another photo shows the naked body of a young woman and the body of a boy, perhaps in his early teens.

Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Defense said in a posting at its website that "[b]y these campaigns pro – LTTE elements are attempting to tarnish the image of the Security Forces and the government of Sri Lanka," and added, "[t]he fake News telecast with some picture without any reliable source by the Aljazeera television today also is a similar attempt with the aim of tarnishing the image of the valiant government troops as well as undermining the process of the Lesson Learnt and Reconciliation Commission.

"However the government vehemently condemns and denies these fabricated stories and these futile attempts by unscrupulous local and foreign forces aiming to cause damage and smear the image Sri Lanka, the MoD web posting said.

Sri Lanka has repeatedly rejected international calls for an independent inquiry into the war against the Tamil Tigers, in which a former UN spokesman has said more than 30,000 Tamil civilians were killed.

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