France’s Action Against Hunger (ACF) on Tuesday accused Sri Lankan security forces of killing 17 aid workers in cold blood and then organising a cover-up of what it termed a “heinous” war crime.
In a report due to be made public later in the day, the charity said it has proof that Sri Lankan army, navy and police personnel were implicated in the August 4, 2006 massacre in the city of Muttur, in the mainly Tamil north of the island.
“In one of the most heinous crimes ever committed against humanitarian workers, the 17 aid workers were lined up, forced to their knees and each shot in the head,” ACF said in a statement.
The aid workers, 16 ethnic Tamils and one Muslim, were killed as Sri Lankan government forces, then engaged in a civil war against Tamil Tiger separatists, took over Muttur.
ACF’s report into what happened is entitled “The Truth Revealed about the Assassination of 17 Humanitarian Aid Workers in Sri Lanka.”
It alleges that the killers were protected by the Sri Lankan authorities at the highest levels and describes an official investigation into the killing as a “farce” characterised by the systematic destruction of evidence and multiple irregularities.
|Killed: 17 aid workers
“Every day we and other humanitarian organisations work in war zones,” said Mike Penrose, Executive Director of ACF-France. “It is paramount that those who do not respect humanitarian aid workers are brought to justice and that these crimes do not go unpunished.”
ACF said it had been prepared to wait for the outcome of the official investigation but had finally lost hope of Sri Lanka acting to bring those responsible to justice.
“Now that relevant domestic mechanisms have been exhausted, witnesses have been silenced and the internal Sri Lankan investigation has become a farce, ACF considers it to be its moral duty to publicly denounce the perpetrators of this crime.”
The organisation said only an independent international investigation could now lead to prosecution of the killers.
Sri Lanka government officials did not immediately respond to AFP’s request for comment on ACF’s accusations.