Rights groups say new evidence suggests Sri Lanka war crimes against Tamil Tigers
Human Rights Watch and the International Crisis Group have each released new evidence implicating the Sri Lanka government in war crimes during its offensive against the Tamil Tigers one year ago.
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In its report published Thursday, Human Rights Watch (HRW) offered a series of photos showing a man, identified as a member of the Tigers' political wing in the city of Jaffna, apparently being held by Sri Lankan forces. In the first two photos, he is bloodied but alive and tied to a tree, surrounded by what appear to be soldiers. In the subsequent photos, he is shown lying against a rock, apparently dead, with additional injuries to his head and torso.
HRW writes that while the photos do not prove that the man was summarily executed while in custody, "the available evidence indicates that a full investigation is warranted." HRW also cites several photos of dead female Tiger members, which raise concerns that the pictured women might have been abused or mutilated by government forces.
The HRW report comes days after the release of a similar report by the Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG). The ICG report, released Monday, says that evidence collected by the group "suggests that these months saw tens of thousands of Tamil civilian men, women, children, and the elderly killed, countless more wounded, and hundreds of thousands deprived of adequate food and medical care, resulting in more deaths."
The substantial body of evidence collected by Crisis Group since August 2009 offers a compelling case for investigation of the conduct of hostilities and the role of the military and political leadership on both sides. It consists of numerous eyewitness statements that Crisis Group has taken and considers to be reliable as well as hundreds of photographs, video, satellite images, electronic communications and documents from multiple credible sources.
The government's response to the accusations has been dismissive. Despite the reports, there is only celebrating in the Sri Lanka capital, Colombo, as the government celebrates the anniversary of its victory over the Tamil Tigers in a brutal offensive that ended a year ago.
The Globe and Mail reports that Sri Lanka's ambassador to Canada called the claims in the ICG report "unsubstantiated." And Sri Lankan news site ColomboPage.com reports that Sarath Fonseka, the detained former general of the Sri Lankan military, denied any knowledge of the abuses cited in the ICG report.