Report, devastating indictment of Sri Lanka military conduct, says Washington Post

[TamilNet, Friday, 22 April 2011, 00:25 GMT]
"The [UN] panel’s findings constituted a devastating indictment of the country’s [Sri Lanka's] military conduct during the final stage of the 28-year war, accusing government forces of shelling hospitals, no-fire zones and U.N. facilities, and blocking the delivery of humanitarian aid to victims of the war," Washington Post said Thursday, adding, "the panel calls on Sri Lanka to “issue a public acknowledgment of its role in and responsibility for extensive civilian casualties in the final stages of the war."" The UN officials told the Post that the release of the report had been delayed amid discussions with Sri Lanka over the possibility of including a rebuttal in the report.

“This campaign constituted persecution of the population of Vanni,” according to the panel, headed by University of Michigan legal scholar Steven Ratner. “Around 330,000 civilians were trapped in an ever-decreasing area, fleeing the shelling but kept hostage by the LTTE. . . . From February 2009 onwards, the LTTE started point-blank shooting of civilians who attempted to escape the conflict zone, significantly adding to the deal toll in the final stages of the war,” the Post said.

The Post commented that the report offered an implicit criticism of Ban’s attempts to use quiet diplomacy to persuade Sri Lanka’s president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, a longtime friend, to bring a halt to the worst excesses in the conflict. It also faulted the U.N. reluctance to publish casualty estimates to rally international pressure against Sri Lanka, the paper said.

“The Sri Lankan government has thus far gotten away with doing the very thing the Security Council stopped [Moammar] Gaddafi from doing in Libya,” said Tom Malinowski, Human Rights Watch’s advocacy director in Washington. “The least the council can do is to pursue the truth about these tens of thousands of civilians who died.”

Malinowski said it would be reckless for the United States and other key powers to turn a blind eye to Sri Lankan excesses, saying it would encourage others to ignore the rules of war in prosecuting wars on their own insurgencies.


Chronology:


External Links:
WP: U.N.: Sri Lanka’s crushing of Tamil Tigers may have killed 40,000 civilians

 

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