(51 school girls killed in attack on SENCHOLAI)
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has been blamed by a probe panel for the killing of 51 schoolgirls in Naddalamottankulam of the Northern Province and 17 employees of a French non-government organisation in Muttur of the Eastern Province.
This was the highlight of seven reports submitted by the Udalagama Commission, which went into 16 cases of alleged violations of human rights that took place between August 2005 and November 2006. The reports were tabled on the floor of Parliament a few days ago.
The panel concluded its work only in seven cases, the reports of which were submitted to the government in April-May 2009. Among the nine cases were the assassinations of Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar (August 2005) and law makers Joseph Pararajasingham (December 2005) and Nadarajah Raviraj (November 2006).
On the school girls’ massacre in August 2006, the Commission, which had eight members with N.K. Udalagama as Chairman, stated that the LTTE had “exposed” the girls, all belonging to 17 to 19 years of age, to the risk of an air attack by “taking them to an isolated camp in a jungle”.
It found that the [Sri Lanka] Air Force was “justified in targeting the location and there was no human rights violation in doing so”. It also termed the location a “legitimate military target”. Three staffers were killed and over 100 were reportedly injured.
As for the Muttur killing, the panel said “it is possible that they [LTTE] perpetrated this crime to blame the armed forces”, said the panel.
In Muttur, 16 Tamils and one Muslim were shot dead in August 2006 amid evacuation of people in the region in the wake of intense conflict between the LTTE and the security forces,
In respect of four other instances including the killing of 98 Navy personnel near Sigiriya in October 2006, the panel blamed the LTTE directly or indirectly.
However, in the case of killing of five youths in Trincomalee in January 2006, the Commission concluded that “there are strong grounds to surmise the involvement of uniformed personnel in the commission of crime”.
Thirteen members of the Special Task Force, originally detained, were subsequently released as there was no evidence. In the section dealing with recommendations, the panel did not suggest action against anyone but stated that “those responsible should have the courage to admit that they have erred and tender a public apology which could be a catharsis for reconciliation”.