Amnesty call over civilian deaths

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 23 November 1999, 21:44 GMT]
Amnesty International, the London based human rights group, said it was "gravely concerned about the killing of 37 civilians in Madhu church last Saturday, and urged the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) and the Liberation Tigers to "to take all necessary measures to prevent civilian casualties".

"While the circumstances of the shelling remain unclear, it is clear that both the [Sri Lankan] security forces and the LTTE were aware that civilians were sheltering at the church. Thus, both parties were obliged to take all necessary measures to prevent civilian casualties," Amnesty said.

"These tragic deaths underscore the need for both sides to the conflict to recommit themselves to upholding principles of international humanitarian law," Amnesty International said. " They must issue clear orders to their personnel to ensure the protection of civilians at all times."

"Under international humanitarian law, civilians must not be deliberately exposed to bombing or shelling. All parties must refrain from direct attacks on civilians or indiscriminate attacks," Amnesty said.

The Sri Lanka Army has accused the LTTE of shelling the church. The LTTE has denied the charge and blamed the SLA.

Wounded survivors in Vavuniya hospital and aid workers in the region said retreating SLA tanks had fired into the church.


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