Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Sri Lanka Army Atrocities

Channel 4 broadcasts a graphic footage, showed by a Sri Lankan soldier on a mobile phone, shows a naked Tamil minority man sitting blindfolded and bound in the dirt. A Sri Lankan soldier from the Sinhalese majority kicks the Tamil man before he is shot in the back of the head.

Channel 4 correspondent Jonathan Miller, who presented the video, said the material was obtained from the press freedom group Journalist for Democracy in Sri Lankan (JDS).

These scenes, captured on video, allegedly show extra-judicial killings of Tamils by Sri Lankan troops earlier this year in the bitter and bloody endgame of the country’s civil war.

The man is young, naked, bound and blindfolded; a corpse lying across his legs. A soldier approaches him in what appears to be Sri Lankan army uniform and shoots him at point-blank range, apparently amused at the death. “It’s like he jumped,” he says. After the murder the video, taken in daylight, pans out to show eight bound corpses, all shot in the head and all but one naked. Voices in the background speak Sinhalese; as the footage concludes, viewers see a ninth bound victim.

The significance of this footage – particularly shocking for the seemingly casual way in which the killings were carried out – is even greater given the way that journalists and independent observers were prevented by the government from reaching the war zone.

According to Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka (JDS), a multiethnic exile organization, the video was taken by a soldier with a cell phone in January 2009 at Kilinochchi. Sri Lankan soldier took this footage, which was then smuggled out of the country by (JDS) activists. It may constitute the first hard evidence for those who believe war crimes were committed by Sri Lanka in the effort to crush the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

The summary execution of prisoners is a violation of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and a war crime. This apparent atrocity makes nonsense of Sri Lanka President Mahinda claims of a clean war against the Tamil Tigers,” said Steve Crawshaw, UN director at Human Rights Watch. “An international inquiry needs to get to the bottom of this and other war crimes committed during the past years fighting. Human Rights Watch has long criticized the government’s failure to carry out impartial investigations and prosecutions of those responsible for the numerous human rights abuses committed by both sides during the conflict.

There have been serious ongoing violations of human rights, and the backlog of cases of enforced disappearances and unlawful killings runs to the tens of thousands. Only a small number of cases have ended in prosecutions. Past efforts to address violations through the establishment of ad hoc mechanisms in Sri Lanka, such as presidential commissions of inquiry, have produced little information and few prosecutions.

In interview with Time magazine, Sri Lanka president Mahinda said that during the war, “there was no violation of human rights. There were no civilian casualties.”

Human Rights Watch said “International Community (IC) should stop relying on the president’s promises of domestic action and make it clear that an international commission is needed if the victims of Sri Lanka’s bloody war are to find justice.”


  1. Channel 4 has done a great courageous job. There as only one and only one question to ask. The government is confident that it is not guilty, why didn't it allow international journalists and international HR organizations in the war zone?
    And why isn't it ready to allow an independent inquiry into the truth or fallacy of this video?
    Government is not at all serious about reconciliation. If it were serious it WOULD NOT SEND journalist Tissanayagem to YEARS HARD LABOUR IN PRISON. This government is responsible for his life. Because a number of Tamil prisoners were killed by Sinhale prisoners in the jail.

  2. I would like to thank Channel 4 News for having the slightest interest in the affairs of the Tamil people.
    The World seemed to have turned their back on us and have successfully managed to ignore the nightmare that many of the Tamil innocent people have been through this year.

    I am not talking on behalf of the Tamil Tigers, I am talking on behalf of the innocent tamil people who were punished for being born as a Tamil, whilst the singhalese people sat in their safe homes criticising those who spoke out for the Tamils.
    I would like to thank Channel 4 news, for their dedication in finding out and revealing the truth, I admire your courage.

    If the sighalese people declare that Sri Lanka belongs to the Tamil people too, then how can they kick you out of OUR-so called country. As I am sure they wanted you to be there .
    Its because the singhalese people don't want the world to know, how they are torturing our people, they don't regard the Tamil people as humans, so why ask them if the world media can come to THEIR (sinhalese) country!!

    Thank you channel 4, for not giving up, thank you for being no.1.

  3. Tamil Terrorists have killed civilians throughout the years they excitted. Many are Tamils who did not agree with their tactics.
    When did the BBC and the Western Media talked about these?
    Sri Lanka has won the war. LTTE is history. LTTE money in the west could not change that.

  4. Video could be fake or true.

    If the video is true, we know that the Combatants often regret their excesses and suffer severe post war psychological trauma as a consequence of atrocities committed in the course of battle.

    However, atrocities of war need to be investigated and addressed in a just manner in order to vindicate the victims a well as punish the offenders in context of the circumstances.

    The video is the tragedy of war which all civilized society must try hard to avoid through the rational conduct of conflict resolution through negotiation and reconciliation.

    If the GOSL is genuinely concerned in achieving just and equitable peace and reconciliation then they must diligently address all accusations of human rights abuses and war crimes in a transparent and accountable manner leaving no room to doubt their intergrity.

    It is only then that we as a nation can hope to achieve social stability, peace and progress for all Sri Lankans.

  5. No one should downplay, excuse or explain away the inhuman treatment of prisoners as clearly shown by the video footage.

    Firstly, I wish to emphasize that we are all first and foremost united by our common humanity, over and above such labels as "Tamil", "Sri Lankan", "Jewish", or whatever.

    If you do not feel any sense of compassion for your fellow man then I would invite you to look within yourself and ask why.

    Compassion is not to be confused with taking sides- it is the basic tenet of being human; and without it we are poorer.

    Secondly, to the comments which explain away the behavior captured on the video as being a hazard of war and inevitable; or that these people deserved it for previous actions, I would wholeheartedly refute this. If that was the case then once a war had begun there would be license to treat members of the opposing side however one would like.

    The Geneva Convention is a universally agreed set of rules set up in response to some of the atrocities committed during the Second World War (I's sure we all know the Nazis treated "prisoners of war"), in the hope that they would never be repeated and that a basic level of humanity could be afforded prisoners of war and civilians.

  6. The LTTE had to be annihilated, no matter whatever the collateral damage.
    It was a cancer that was killing this country. It needed radiation treatment, which was delivered by Mahinda. In fact, some of us who cheered the Sinhala Buddhist cause even advocated the nuclear option for the whole of North and parts of the East as the Final Solution.
    If that was done, in Hiroshime style, there won't be witnesses of any kind. Vaporized men don't tell tales.