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Unpunished Massacre June 2, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in Human Rights, Sri Lanka/Tamil, War.
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tamil childPhotos like this one of a dead Tamil child contradict the Colombo government’s cynical assertion that it had “liberated the civilians held hostage by the Tamil Tigers ‘without spilling a single drop of blood.'” (Photo: Marie-France Calle / Le Figaro)

tamil prisoners“The [Sri Lankan] government is keeping close to 300,000 Tamils prisoner in camps surrounded by barbed wire, access to which is severely restricted for humanitarian aid workers and journalists.” (Photo: Marie-France Calle / Le Figaro)

Monday 01 June 2009

by:   |  Visit article original @ Le Monde | Editorial

The Sri Lankan regime is exultant. It’s about to get away scot-free with the massacre of thousands of civilians on its country’s northeastern beaches. According to a UN estimate, close to 20,000 people could have perished in the Sri Lankan army’s end of January to end of May offensive against the ultra-violent Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) separatist movement. Conducted largely out of camera range, this carnage – reported by Le Monde’s special envoy – has given rise to neither investigation nor sanction.

    That explains how Sri Lankan Foreign Affairs Minister Rohitha Bogollagama, could declare on Sunday, May 31: “Sri Lanka will enter into the annals of history as the example of a nation that overcame the scourge of terrorism, even as it tenaciously enforced respect for the precious values of democracy.” With the same cynicism, Colombo asserted that it had liberated the civilians held hostage by the Tamil Tigers “without spilling a single drop of blood.”

    The Sri Lankan government came away emboldened from a session of the UN Human Rights Council on May 26 and 27 that turned into a farce. The meeting of this astonishing inner circle finished off with a resolution praising the government for its human rights efforts…. The text, backed by China, India and Pakistan, offers international support for Colombo’s actions.

As for the victims, they remain voiceless. The government is keeping close to 300,000 Tamils prisoner in camps surrounded by barbed wire, access to which is severely restricted for humanitarian aid workers and journalists. The three admirable Tamil doctors who took care of civilians during the bombings are detained in a sinister Colombo interrogation center. The local press is under orders and human rights defenders fear for their lives.

    Opposed in battle, the Sri Lankan army and the Tamil Tigers are complicit in the carnage. Because it was legitimately struggling against a terrorist movement, the army believed itself entitled to rain down a deluge of fire on the tents of tens of thousands of refugees. No less sanguinary, the Tamil Tigers transformed “their people” into human shields and recruited its children by force.

    It’s not too late for the UN to speak up. However, in the absence of an international investigation, democracies must tackle the problem and arraign Colombo. Unless they wish to agree that it’s all right to massacre in silence – an attitude that will feed tomorrow’s terrorism.

    ——–

    Translation: Truthout French language editor Leslie Thatcher.

Leading Sri Lanka Tamil Politician Claims ‘Genocide’ by Military May 12, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in Asia, Sri Lanka/Tamil.
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12 May 2009

sri lanka tamil victimsSri Lankan ethnic Tamils are seen with the dead bodies of their relatives at a make-shift hospital in Tamil Tiger-controlled no fire zone in Mullivaaykaal, Sri Lanka, 11 May 2009

 
 
 

Tamil Tiger rebels say Sri Lanka’s military has renewed shelling Tuesday of the only remaining combat zone. The top government doctor in the rebel-controlled territory says at least 45 patients died when a mortar hit the admissions ward of the only remaining medical facility there. The military has repeatedly denied using heavy artillery to try to protect tens of thousands of civilians trapped with the rebels. It says three divisions continue advancing to rescue all the civilians in the final phase of the offensive to defeat the rebels in the sliver of coastal land they still hold. A senior opposition politician contends the Sinhalese-dominated military is deliberately targeting ethnic Tamils.

Sri Lanka’s government says the impending battlefield defeat of the Tamil Tigers, regarded as a terrorist organization, will bring national reunification and return democracy to the Tamil-dominated north.

An opposition member of parliament, representing the northern Jaffna district, sees only more trouble ahead, because the government is failing to win Tamil hearts and minds.

In a VOA interview, Suresh Premachandran, of the Tamil National Alliance, blamed the military for civilian deaths during this year’s offensive to retake the north and wipe out the rebels.

“Within five months, more than 10,000 killed and 20,000 injured,” he said. “Definitely it’s a genocide. Definitely the international community is having the duty to stop it.”

Top Army commanders contend troops have not killed a single civilian during their offensive.

Government medical workers in the combat zone report hundreds – and possibly thousands – of civilian casualties in recent days.  

The TNA’s Premachandran blames the military for this latest artillery barrage and predicts more Tamil deaths.

“Definitely they are the people who are shelling and if they are going ahead with this sort of slaughtering, definitely within another two or three days time another few thousand are going to get killed,” he said.

Government leaders accuse the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam of firing artillery, killing civilians and then blaming the military.

Premachandran says the LTTE has been fighting for a “just cause,” but acknowledges the rebels – condemned for their urban suicide bombings and political assassinations – have committed “excesses.”

The TNA has 22 members in parliament, representing the Tamil north and east. Premachandran says he and his party believe in negotiations and the political process to settle the Tamil question in the island nation.  

But Premachandran says he has grown increasingly impatient with the political climate, describing the reaction when he and other Tamil politicians speak in parliament.

 
 

“Immediately all the people who are in the ruling party start to shout, ‘You LTTE bugger’ and things like that. They are not prepared to listen to us. They are not prepared to discuss matters with us,” he added. “If [an opposition member of parliament] speaks the truth, if he criticizes the undemocratic matters happening in this country, immediately he will be called as an LTTE’er.”

Premachandran says such accusations have a chilling effect. Three of his fellow TNA members of parliament have been assassinated.

The office of President Mahinda Rajapaksa says it is reaching out to Tamil parties to rebuild civil society in the north.

The Tamil National Alliance says it is boycotting such meetings with the government until it shows sincerity in discussing a ceasefire with the LTTE and accepts a political solution.

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