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Shocking video footage of summary executions apparently committed during the Sri Lankan civil war has been examined by experts and appears to be convincing evidence of “serious international crimes,” according to Christof Heyns, the U.N.’s special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.
Since late last year, the United Nations has closely studied the video that allegedly showed acts committed during the civil war that ended in 2009. “I conclude on the basis of the extensive technical evidence we obtained from independent experts that what is depicted in the video indeed happened,” Mr. Heyns told the Human Rights Council in Geneva, adding that “I believe that a prima facie case of serious international crimes has been made.” He said an international panel should investigate the evidence.
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Sri Lanka War Crimes Report Released October 30th, 2009
The 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.
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Tribute to Fr. Mariampillai T. Sarathjeevan, OMI May 26th, 2009
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.
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.
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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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.