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HRW releases new photo evidence in urging for wartime abuse investigation

Government Inquiry Inadequate; UN Should Establish International Investigation

by HRW

New evidence of wartime abuses by Sri Lankan government forces and the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) during the armed conflict that ended one year ago demonstrates the need for an independent international investigation into violations of the laws of war, Human Rights Watch said today.

Recently Human Rights Watch research gathered photographic evidence and accounts by witnesses of atrocities by both sides during the final months of fighting.

On May 23, 2009, President Mahinda Rajapaksa promised United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that the government would investigate allegations of laws-of-war violations. One year later, the government has still not undertaken any meaningful investigatory steps, Human Rights Watch said.

Last week, the government created a Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission with a mandate to examine the failure of the 2002 ceasefire and the "sequence of events" thereafter. It is not empowered to investigate allegations of violations of the laws of war such as those documented by Human Rights Watch.

"Yet another feckless commission is a grossly inadequate response to the numerous credible allegations of war crimes," said Elaine Pearson, acting Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "Damning new evidence of abuses shows why the UN should not let Sri Lanka sweep these abuses under the carpet."

Human Rights Watch called on Secretary-General Ban to promptly establish an international investigation to examine allegations of wartime abuse by both sides to the conflict.

New Evidence of Wartime Violations

Human Rights Watch has examined more than 200 photos taken on the front lines in early 2009 by a soldier from the Sri Lankan Air Mobile Brigade. Among these are a series of five photos showing a man who appears to have been captured by the Sri Lankan army. An independent source identified the man by name and told Human Rights Watch that he was a long-term member of the LTTE's political wing from Jaffna.

click on pics for larger image ~ Viewer discretion advised

The first two photos show the man alive, with blood on his face and torso, tied to a palm tree. He is surrounded by several men wearing military fatigues, one brandishing a knife close to his face. In the next three photos, the man is lying - apparently dead - against a rock. His head is being held up, he is partly covered in the flag of Tamil Eelam, and there is more blood on his face and upper body.

A forensic expert who reviewed the photos told Human Rights Watch that the latter three photos show material on the man's neck consistent in color with brain matter, "which would indicate an injury to the back of his head, as nothing is visible which would cause this on his face. This would indicate severe trauma to the back of the head consistent with something like a gunshot wound or massive blows to the back of the head with something such as a machete or ax."

While Human Rights Watch cannot conclusively determine that the man was summarily executed in custody, the available evidence indicates that a full investigation is warranted.

Several of the photos also show what appear to be dead women in LTTE uniforms with their shirts pulled up and their pants pulled down, raising concerns that they might have been sexually abused or their corpses mutilated. Again, such evidence is not conclusive but shows the need for an investigation.

The new accounts by witnesses described indiscriminate shelling of large gatherings of civilians during the last weeks of fighting, apparently by government forces. In addition to an incident on April 8, 2009, previously reported, witnesses told Human Rights Watch about three other incidents in late April and early May 2009 of government forces shelling civilians, mainly women and children, who were standing in food distribution lines. The witnesses also described LTTE recruitment of children and LTTE attacks on civilians attempting to escape the war zone.

Government's Failure to Investigate Abuses

The Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission created on May 17, 2010 is the latest in a long line of ad hoc bodies in Sri Lanka that seem designed to deflect international criticism rather than to uncover the facts. The mandated focus of the commission ­- on the failure of the 2002 ceasefire - is largely unrelated to the massive abuses by both government forces and the LTTE in the last months of hostilities. Nor does the commission appear to have been designed to uncover new information: the commission's terms of reference do not provide for adequate victim and witness protection.

The government-appointed chairman of the commission, Chitta Ranjan de Silva, is a former attorney general who came under serious criticism for his office's alleged interference in the work of the 2006 Presidential Commission of Inquiry. The attorney general's role was one of the main reasons why a group of 10 international experts, the International Independent Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP), withdrew from monitoring the commission's work. The IIGEP stated that it had "not been able to conclude...that the proceedings of the Commission have been transparent or have satisfied basic international norms and standards."

"De Silva was the architect and enforcer of the attorney general's conflict of interest role with respect to the 2006 commission," said Arthur Dewey, former US assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration and member of the IIGEP. "Nothing good for human rights or reconciliation is likely to come from anything in which De Silva is involved."

The government has also yet to publish the findings from a committee established in November 2009 to examine allegations of laws-of-war violations set out in a report produced last year by the US State Department, despite an April 2010 deadline.

Sri Lanka has a long history of establishing ad hoc commissions to deflect international criticism over its poor human rights record and widespread impunity, Human Rights Watch said. Since independence in 1948, Sri Lanka has established at least nine such commissions, none of which have produced any significant results.

On March 5, Secretary-General Ban told President Rajapaksa that he had decided to appoint a UN panel of experts to advise him on next steps for accountability in Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan government responded by attacking Ban for interfering in domestic affairs, calling the panel "unwarranted" and "uncalled for." Two months later, Ban has yet to appoint any members to his panel.

"Ban's inaction is sending a signal to abusers that simply announcing meaningless commissions and making loud noises can block all efforts for real justice," Pearson said. "The only way to ensure accountability in Sri Lanka is to establish an independent international investigation."

30 Comments

No words to describe my sense of sadness.

We will never forget this atrocities committed on fellow human being.

When you have evidence like this, whats wrong with asking for full investigation by an impartial group of people ?

its a disgrace to humanity, if we do not.

Posted by: xsrilankan | May 20, 2010 10:47 PM

21 May 1991
The most horrible way of killing an enemy. The victim is a top LTTE member. Despite it, he should have been treated differently.

But, let us not forget the SL army learnt this method from the LTTE itself. The LTTE also had executed similar or worse type of killings against Tamils.

By the way, on this day in 1991, Rajiv Gandhi's ripped off head was on the roads of Sriperumbudur and his brains also were out. The LTTE hooligans and the so called intelligensia behind the LTTE having romanticized the LTTE killings [the words used by Mdm Louise Arbor recently] are trying to shed crocodile tears now.

LTTE had reaped what is sowed.

Posted by: Amirthakaliyan | May 20, 2010 11:38 PM

Despite Srilanka, International community mainly UN and India also resposible for this senseless crime against humanity. This is tip of the iceberg, many more evidences to surfcae in coming days. Every individual responsible for this crime should be punished under the international law.

Posted by: peacelover | May 21, 2010 12:35 AM

This need for an Investigation will bring in some
more evidence - as the SL Armymen have enough for a
good "Sale" of photographic evidence, of their deeds.

The Media was banned - now they are buying them
from a "Market" created by idiot Gota and his henchmen!

Can the Truth be hidden for long in a Buddhistic Land?

Posted by: Punchinilame | May 21, 2010 03:06 AM

Inspite of volumes of evidence that war crimes were commiited by the soldiers of the Sri Lankan army a Sinhala woman, from "Daham Pasal", brain washed in anti Tamilism like the Taliban being brain washed against the West, says "We say that there were no war crimes,” to The Globe and Mail.

Lying to the world aginst the criminality done to Tamils, is a part of engrained Sinhala colnial culture, practiced against the people of Tamil Eelam for decades.

When someone has concrete photgraphic images of war crimes and another says that there were no War crimes, the appropriate thing would be to appoint an impartial person to adjudicate.

Why is the GOSL of opposing it? It knows with certainty that the cat will then be out of the bag !!

The UN should immediately appoint a War crimes Tribunal for Sri Lanka based on the Channel 4 evidence, evidence with HRW and other massive volumes of direct evidence available.

Posted by: Justin | May 21, 2010 04:43 AM

State Terrorists. Don't try to fool IC.

Posted by: Kuru | May 21, 2010 05:20 AM

Amirthakaliyan, I guess be it before after, GoSL and LTTE both are terrorists, killing people they claim to represent. I agree.

Their leaders both deserve the same judgement.

Posted by: Arunan | May 21, 2010 05:54 AM

Banki Moon is only giving lips service and delay tactic. The present UN staff are either highly corrupted or Asian (India and China) have the power to dictate. There will be no proper independent investigation will take place until Baki Moon, Vijay Nambiar and few other highly corrupted and influential individual remove from the office, until such time don't have any faith in UN establishment.

Posted by: Fernando | May 21, 2010 07:01 AM

It is horrible. This is just one incident which is recorded. A normal Sinhalese Buddhist person(s) will not do these things.

There must have been an SS or gestapo type unit operating with the full knowledge and leadership of of the Sri Lankan political leadership. The Triuvirates are the perpetratos of this evil. Mr. Jayathilleke and Kohona like people nust have had knowledge of this.

The captured person is a prisoner of war. Did the prisoner of war deserve to die. The conduct of the Sri Lankan Army or the like units in the Army is violation and contrary to the principles and the law of the war and against everything twe value as an enlightened society.

Such conduct should be punished.

V. Stanislaus

Posted by: V. Stanislaus | May 21, 2010 07:53 AM

Amirthakaliyan,

You are as brutal as Srilankan Government and a heart less person can't you rememember or if youe are not old enough not even read what happned in 1958, and in 1978, and what happened to Kuddy mani Thangathurai in 1980s Who learned from whom you will know. Just dont talk like racist bruts,

Posted by: Pandaravanian | May 21, 2010 08:10 AM

Amithakalian and the elk

You have short memory pal, Who taught violence and military brute to Tamils in The Island of Srilanka? Since 1956 on wards just revise the history of Srilanka even before the 1956 what happened to even Muslims.Don't you alr wr writ Srilanka history as the Sinhala Budhist ,Mahavamsa mind set are trying to do for decades.

Posted by: ellalan | May 21, 2010 08:18 AM

I hear that Mr Mahinda Rajapaksa has ordered his ministers to avoid foreign travel Is he afraid what has been done tp Kp will may happen to them as well . what goes has to come back.

Posted by: paddaiappa | May 21, 2010 08:23 AM

What crimes ??????????????? Mission accomplished.
Invinsible became visible & was finally nailed. Chapter closed.

Arbours can labour GOSL need to move on.

Posted by: dagobert | May 21, 2010 09:08 AM

Fonseka said at the height of war, "We go for the kill; we do not take any captives" - This picture says it all

Posted by: kc | May 21, 2010 09:39 AM

You were annihilated just because of your..

1. Race
2. Birthplace
3. Age
4. Gender
5. Language
6. Economy
7. Education
8. Religion
9. Political Views
10. And lack of surviving skills.

Sorry brother.

Your killers were just following orders from their superiors.

You weren’t the first victim and obviously not going to be the last one either.

However,

We have to move on.

We have to some how reconcile with your killers.

We have to make babies with those thugs in order to get that killer gene to our future generation.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 21, 2010 10:08 AM

I read some otherpeole's comments about this but i wanted them to kinow how many times they say about Rajive Ghandi's issues has to get repaid like this. There were somany victims by ipkf when they in jaffna raped and abused.how can this be punished this far and justice cannot be overruled because of the position you hold.

Posted by: sugi | May 21, 2010 10:39 AM

Amirthakaliyan,

In your hatred of the LTTE, you are willing to stoop to animal level to justify this type of barbaric crime. The person in the picture is clearly unarmed, a captive, and a political cadre. He was not going to be a threat to anybody as a captive. For a government that claims to be democractic to do things like this--no matter how brutal the LTTE had been--and think this will be the end of the matter is naive in the extreme. Just as the LTTE had everything going for it by 2002 and ended up losing it all through the leadership's sheer arrogance, the current mafia regime (and its supporters and quislings who justify everything it did) which thinks that it is at the peak of its powers, will face justice, no matter how long it takes.

A momentous thing happened with the end of the LTTE; it is not what you think. It is that the moral high ground had passed back to the Tamil victims. Now we are the unarmed victims, as we have always been, who can no longer be tagged with mindless violence of the LTTE. The world's moral conscience will be stirred enough so that they will gradually see the Tamil viewpoint again. And one way or another, the top people in the regime will face justice for their crimes. I am personally committed to this and so are plenty of others.

Posted by: Expatriate | May 21, 2010 01:44 PM

The LTTE captured 270 Sri lankan Army soldiers alive in Mullaitivu. They were taken to the lagoon and tied together and set on fire while they were still alive. All I can say is it was a brutal war.

Posted by: pitt | May 21, 2010 05:00 PM

I had a relation who was a District Judge and served in various disticts in Sri Lanka. This gentleman is now dead and gone. One day when he was talking about the voilence and killing that was very common in the Singhala areas of the country.

I remember he was saying if a Tamil in the North or East is produced in the court on a charge of assaulting his nebour he gives him the maximum punchment for such offence the prevaily law. He thought when a Tamil does something wrong he does it willingly to harm that person.

There is no sudden implus to commite something wrong so he deserves the maximum punchment. If in a simmilar situation a Singhala man is produced in the court of stabbing someone he gives him a lesser punishment because in the Singhala blood revenge and brutality is born with him. So it proves, the ugly brutal and vengful killings and violence are born with him.

Therefore, accusing the Tigers for all the violence and killings is wrong. Tigers learned all these from the Armed forces of the Sri Lanka government. Amithakalian you are wrong in your assement.

Posted by: Martin Thomas | May 21, 2010 08:36 PM

*** An independent source identified the man by name and told Human Rights Watch that he was a long-term member of the LTTE's political wing from Jaffna.***


A Fitting End for a VISCOUS TERRORIST. After all these people have done to our soldiers, it is only KARMA what happened to this ENEMY. Don't shed tears for the manner in which he was Disposed of... the TAMIL TERRORISTS were the ones who TAUGHT our soldiers what BRUTALITY was... This is the End result. They are REAPING what they sowed.

Posted by: Devinda Fernando | May 21, 2010 10:52 PM

Martin Thomas,

You made my day. What a low life racist you are....

Posted by: SLFireBall | May 22, 2010 12:11 AM

V. Stanislaus,
"A normal Sinhalese Buddhist person(s) will not do these things." Are you blind and deaf, Who did and taught all the bruit to Tamils since 1956 on wards,in the streets Was Srilankan Armed forces Were manned by some aileans Since 1956 onwards? They are not buddhistes are they any abnormal Sinhala Buddhistes in habbiting Srilanka Perhaaps Chines! Sinhalees have inherited genes from animals ( as per Mahavamsa) that is why they do these crimes and taught it to Tamils. Tamils when they were pushed to the walls they reacted with what they learned from the Sinhala Bruts and gave them their own medicine. But the inherant brutality took the upper hand at the end in 2009.

I agree that Jayathilaka,Kohona,Rajeeva,and the likes are also partners in this crime against humanity That is the reson they are continueing their lies and deceptions in the media.

Now Tamils have taken up their inherent wapon hard work, justice,education brain power we will prevail in the end.The world have just woken up after swollowing Srilankan propaganda (sleeping pills).

Posted by: ellalan | May 22, 2010 04:56 AM

Every human has one life span only, GOTABAYA tries to send a message to 120 million Tamils worldwide that not to give up/or forget our National flag for any price.Our hearts & minds goes behind of this youth and his family and these pictures must be stored in our brain permanently.We(120 million) have started our duty for our mother land already on every sand and rock we live in this Globe ball.

Thanks.

Posted by: nadketh | May 22, 2010 04:59 AM

Jayawewa to Devinda Fernando and Amirthakaliyan.
Two in form. What a waste!

Posted by: R Pathmanathan | May 22, 2010 03:37 PM

I totally agree the 120 Million that Nadaketh claims for his race definitly need a homeland . But Srilanka which now has only less than 2 Million in total, is definitely not the right place for obvious reasons.

Tamil Nadu which has nearly 80% of this 120 Million seems the most logical location .Now that the TNGTE is officially in place in the West,there is a possibility that the Western heavy weights who helped establish the TNGTE may be able to get a seat for them in the UN and then force the Indian Government to make Tamil Nadu the Eelam, like what the West did to Yugoslavia.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 22, 2010 04:27 PM

Hi Devinda,
We know who you are...stop.

Posted by: j.muthu | May 22, 2010 05:04 PM

*** We know who you are...stop. ***

Really Muthu? Did my name give it away?

Posted by: Devinda Fernando | May 22, 2010 10:06 PM

In the Sinhala blood revenge and brutality is born with them. So it proves, the ugly brutal and vengful killings and violence are born with them.Because they inherited this animal genes from their fore father (Sin)haBahu'S father.Who was a lion whom got married Queen Quveni and produced (Sin)habahu Who again married(sinned) his mother after killing his father and reproduced the current Sinhala race inhabbited the Island of Srilanka. What else can we expect from these brutal sinners. The reader of this blog has ample evidence from the Barking of people like Devinda,kalu,kukul,Dogebert,hela,even at times from dayan and the likes they have not yet lost their animal instincts.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2010 04:14 AM

In the Sinhala blood revenge and brutality is born with them. So it proves, the ugly brutal and vengful killings and violence are born with them.Because they inherited this animal genes from their fore father (Sin)haBahu'S father.Who was a lion whom got married Queen Quveni and produced (Sin)habahu Who again married(sinned) his mother after killing his father and reproduced the current Sinhala race inhabbited the Island of Srilanka.

What else can we expect from these brutal sinners. The reader of this blog has ample evidence from the Barking of people like Devinda,kalu,kukul,Dogebert,hela,even at times from dayan and the likes they have not yet lost their animal instincts.


Ltte tried to copy the Sinhala brutality but failed because they could not be able to match the inherited brutal animal blood thurst.

Posted by: mano | May 23, 2010 04:26 AM

"After all these people have done to our soldiers, it is only KARMA what happened to this ENEMY. Don't shed tears for the manner in which he was Disposed of... the TAMIL TERRORISTS were the ones who TAUGHT our soldiers what BRUTALITY was"

Devinda,
Don't you know what happened to 1000's of innocent tamil civilians in 1956, 1958, 1963, 1966, 1977, 1983.
1958 - A Hindu preist was burnt alive by sinhala thugs in the south
1983 - Tamils were burnt alive in their vehicles in Colombo. Kuttimani, Thagathurai, Thevan and many more prisoners in Welikada were brutaly murdered by sinhala thugs with the support of police and jail guards.

Do you still want to know who define "BRUTALITY". It is the Srilankan state! Successive Sinhala Governments! STATE TERRORISM! taught to everyone in that island what BRUTALITY is.

It is a vicious cycle 1958-1983, Sinhala states had upper hand over tamils, 1983-2009 LTTE had upper hand against Sinhala States, 2009-XXXX again Sinhala state has upper hand over tamils, XXXX (soon) onwards Tamils have control of their destiny.

Devinda!
In a civilised world, this won't happen to any prisoner as this young former LTTE died in captivity. You are an example, it is long way to go for people like you to be civilised in Srilanka. There are many more like you in Srilanka! mainly in Politics and in Armed Forces

You are a curse for humanity, buddhism, Srilanka and law abiding sinhalese.

But keep in Mind the vicious cycle!

EVERY ACTION HAS AN EQUAL AND OPPOSITE REACTION!
WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND!
LAW OF KARMA!

Posted by: peacelover | May 24, 2010 11:19 PM

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