Colombo threatens Tamils in contact with visiting US delegation
[TamilNet, Sunday, 12 February 2012, 23:56 GMT]
Some of the eyewitnesses in Vanni, who met the visiting US delegation headed by Stephen J Rapp, the ambassador-at-Large for war crimes at the US State Department, on Thursday and Friday, have been harassed by the occupying Sri Lanka Army in Mullaith-theevu after the US delegation had left the region, sources in Mullaith-theevu told TamilNet Sunday. The SL Army has questioned a parish priest, inviting him to their camp consecutively for three days, and at least five parents who had allegedly complained about their missing sons and daughters have also been questioned by the SLA. While diplomatic circles in Colombo wonder at what the USA is up to in the island, Tamil circles are worried at pre-emption hatching in the establishments of the USA and India.
In the meantime, sources in Ki'linochchi also reported similar harassments there.
The visiting US delegation attempted to circumvent the prying eyes of the SL military in their search for witnesses who could testify the use of chemical weapons and cluster bombs. They also gathered details of the youth who were handed over by the parents to the Sri Lanka Army at Vadduvaakal in Mullaiththeevu after the war ended in Vanni on 18 May 2009.
Following the harassment by the SL military, an embassy official at the US embassy, who is in touch with local media, has blamed the local media as exposing the details of those who met Mr. Stephen Rapp in Vanni. The official had said questions had been raised from the hierarchy in the US department regarding the harassments caused by the SL military.
However, the journalists said there was no direct or indirect information about the people who met the visiting US delegation in their coverage.
The visiting US delegation had gone to remote places in Mullaiththeevu and Ki'linochchi districts. Since there are military camps all over the Vanni, it is nearly impossible for a foreign visitor to undertake confidential investigations, the sources further said.
Civil sources in Vanni commented that Stephen Rapp, who visited Vanni was fully aware of where Sinhala colonisation, land grab and demographic changes were being carried out.
Meanwhile, informed sources in Colombo said that the US government was already in possession of critical evidences that could directly implicate SL Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa in war crime charges. However, the sources also opined that Mr. Gotabhaya was having powerful friends in the US defence establishment and that it remains to be seen whether the evidences collected by the USA would lead to any international investigations on Mr. Gotabhaya and his commanders, who had committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in the final phases of the war.