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Humanitarian Catastrophe Unfolds in Sri Lanka April 17th, 2009

Human Rights Watch has posted a photo montage of the humanitarian catastrophe in the northern Vanni region of Sri Lanka. Human Rights Watch researcher Anna Neistat says both sides in Sri Lanka’s conflict are violating the laws of war, endangering the roughly 100,000 civilians trapped in a government-declared “no-fire zone.” Tamil Tiger (LTTE) rebels have prevented civilians from leaving the tiny strip of land, while government forces shell the area daily, leading to numerous casualties.

The photos in this slideshow are from a makeshift hospital in Putumattalan that was treating survivors of attacks on April 8 and 9, 2009. Many were women and children who were waiting in a food distribution line in Pokkanai when artillery shells hit.

Watch the video…


Senate Foreign Relations South Asia Subcommittee holds Hearing on Sri Lanka February 25th, 2009

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee room was standing room only on Tuesday afternoon for a Hearing called by the South Asia Subcommittee on “The Present Situation in Sri Lanka.” Senator Bob Casey (Dem-PA) chaired the Hearing.

The Honorable Jeffrey J. Lunstead, former U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Dr. Anna Neistat, Senior Researcher, Human Rights Watch, and Mr. Bob Dietz, Asia Program Coordinator, Committee to Protect Journalists presented testimony. Highlighted were the humanitarian crisis in the north (Vanni), problems associated with government camps established to intern civilians fleeing the fighting, and the increasingly brutal attacks against journalists. The need for a durable political solution to address the legitimate grievances of the Tamil community in Sri Lanka was also emphasized.

Testimony:

The Honorable Jeffrey J. Lunstead
Former U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka

Dr. Anna Neistat
Senior Researcher
Human Rights Watch

Mr. Bob Dietz
Asia Program Coordinator
Committee to Protect Journalists


No Safe Haven for Tamils in Sri Lanka January 23rd, 2009

A major military campaign by the Sri Lankan government to defeat the LTTE – the Tamil Tigers – is causing immense suffering and increasing civilian casualties among the Tamil population. Fleeing their homes to avoid the fighting, men, women and children have been forced into an increasingly small area in the northeast of the country, near Mullaithivu. With humanitarian workers told by the government to leave the Vanni (north) in September, food and medical supplies are in short supply and information is limited.

We continue to hear from priests and others who have remained in the area, and they are appealing for United Nations intervention to stop the bloodshed. Read the Open Letter to UN General Secretary Ban Ki Moon from the Priests and Religious in the Wanni

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