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Sri Lanka War Crimes Report Released October 30th, 2009

19_02_09_01_76812_445The US State Department released its Report to Congress on Incidents During the Recent Conflict in Sri Lanka on October 22. The report details violations of the laws of war committed by both government forces and the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) from January through May 2009.

The report is a sobering chronicle of the horrors of war and points to the need for a more thorough independent, international investigation.

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Conditions in Sri Lanka Refugee Camps Worsening July 20th, 2009

Waiting for Water at Manik Camp

Waiting for Water at Manik Camp

According to a report by the associated Press in Colombo, conditions in the refugee camps in northern Sri Lanka are seriously worsening. In a report dated Sunday July 19th, AP said “in June, chicken pox was rampant and cases of typhoid, tuberculosis, skin and respiratory infections, hepatitis A, scabies and diarrhea have begun cropping up, according to U.N. reports. More than 35 percent of children under 5 are suffering from wasting, or acute malnutrition, according to a July 3 government presentation.”

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Tribute to Fr. Mariampillai T. Sarathjeevan, OMI May 26th, 2009


Rev. Fr. Mariampillai T. Sarathjeevan. OMI

Rev. Fr. Mariampillai T. Sarathjeevan died tragically of heart failure during the final evacuation of the so-called “No-Fire Zone” in northern Sri Lanka. Fr. Sara, as he was known, was determined to stay with his people trapped between the Sri Lankan Army and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. He cared for the wounded, buried the dead and gave spiritual support to those around him during the months of intense fighting. Those who survived the fierce, daily bombardment were able to escape when the LTTE decided to ‘silence their guns’ on Monday, May 18.

A moving remembrance of Fr. Sara has been written by Fr. David Manuelpillai, OMI. (Download PDF)

Sri Lanka: Repeated Shelling of Hospitals Evidence of War Crimes May 11th, 2009


Mullivaikkal hospital shelled on 3 May 2009 at 9 am

With 30 attacks reported on medical facilities since December, Human Right Watch warns that commanders responsible for such attacks may be prosecuted for war crimes.

The Sri Lankan armed forces have repeatedly struck hospitals in the northern Vanni region in indiscriminate artillery and aerial attacks according to the respected international human right monitoring organization.

One of the deadliest of these attacks on medical facilities took place on May 2, when artillery shells struck Mullaivaikal hospital in the government-declared “no-fire zone,” killing 68 persons and wounding 87.

Government medical personnel in the war zone carefully report the GPS coordinates to the government in a vain effort to protect the facilities in the intense bombardment of the crowded area. An estimated 100,000 civilians are trapped between the two armies, unable to escape the fighting.

“Hospitals are supposed to be sanctuaries from shelling, not targets,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “While doctors and nurses struggle to save lives in overcrowded and under-equipped facilities, Sri Lankan army attacks have hit one hospital after another.”

The Oblate JPIC office has joined Human Rights Watch in criticizing both the Sri Lankan armed forces and the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) for numerous violations of the laws of war during the recent fighting.

Read the full report from HR Watch.

Urgent international scrutiny needed in Sri Lanka, say UN Human Rights Experts May 8th, 2009

3-months-old-baby-with-severe-malnutritionThe UN Human Rights Council experts dealing with summary executions, right to health, right to food and water and sanitation, Mr. Philip Alston, Mr. Anand Grover, Mr. Olivier De Schutter and Ms. Catarina de Albuquerque, released the following statement Friday:

The current humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka gives cause for deep concern, not only in terms of the number of civilians who have been and continue to be killed, but because of a dramatic lack of transparency and accountability. “There is good reason to believe that thousands of civilians have been killed in the past three months alone, and yet the Sri Lankan Government has yet to account for the casualties, or to provide access to the war zone for journalists and humanitarian monitors of any type”, said Philip Alston, the UN expert on summary executions.

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Civilians Bear the Brunt of War in Sri Lanka April 28th, 2009

Conditions are grim in the tiny strip of coast in northern Sri Lanka where tens of thousands of civilians are trapped between the warring LTTE and Sri Lankan Army forces. Lack of food, water and medical supplies coupled with daily bombardment by heavy artillery have made this area a living hell.

UN sources have estimated that 6,432 civilians have been killed since January 20 of this year while another 13,946 have been wounded. This does not include all the bodies that are lying by the roadsides. We have received reports that today, numerous people were killed while 1,374 were injured and admitted to two hospitals. A health clinic was bombed killing people in the injured patient’s ward.

International calls to both sides to stop the fighting have fallen on deaf ears. The ICRC has been able to evacuate some 4,000 people in recent weeks, mostly severely wounded by Army bombing, but many more have been unable to get out, forcibly detained as a human shield by the LTTE. Civilians, as young as 12, have been forcibly conscripted by the LTTE in a desperate effort to fend off the military advance.

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