A United Nations panel investigating allegations of war crimes by Sri Lankan troops at the end of the bloody battle against Tamil rebels in May 2009 found that there was credible evidence that government soldiers had targeted civilians, shelled hospitals and attacked humanitarian workers, according to a leaked copy of the panel’s report.
The long-awaited report, the result of an extensive investigation by Marzuki Darusman, a former Indonesian attorney general, contradicted the government’s assertion that the war was a humanitarian effort aimed at liberating civilians trapped with the Tamil Tigers in an ever-shrinking corner of northern Sri Lanka.
“The government shelled on a large scale in three consecutive no fire zones, where it had encouraged the civilian population to concentrate, even after indicating that it would cease the use of heavy weapons,” the report said, according to a leaked copy that was published over the weekend in the Island, a Sri Lankan newspaper. “Most civilian casualties in the final phases of the war were caused by government shelling.”
The fact that its been published in a Sri Lankan newspaper means more internal strife and accusations. It also vindicates many of Tamils who congregated in Westminster last year saying that innocent civilians were being killed in Sri Lanka.
Channel 4 News reported on this last night too, extensively. They called it Sri Lanka’s “Srebrenica moment”.
The UN is also criticised in the reporting for failing “to take actions that might have protected civilians.” The panel says casualty figures collected by the UN should have been made public at the time.
Releasing casualty figures isn’t enough. Why was the world happy to sit by and watch while this was going on, and ignore the pleas of Tamils everywhere to intervene?
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Filed in: Current affairs,South Asia,Sri Lanka