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UN leak points to ‘crimes against humanity’ in Sri Lanka war

Saturday 16 April 2011
A leaked United Nations report indicates “credible allegations” of Sri Lanka war crimes. Video first broadcast by Channel 4 News, showing alleged Tamil executions, formed a key part of the evidence.

A leaked version of the long-awaited report by the United Nations Secretary General (UNSG) panel reveals “credible allegations” of war crimes which – if proven – suggest a “grave assault on the entire regime of international law”.

The report estimates that tens of thousands of civilians were killed in the final four months of Sri Lanka’s civil war in 2009.

It indicates that actions by both the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) could amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.

These alleged crimes include executions, rape and torture by government forces. The leaked report also lists the shelling of civilians inside “no-fire zones”, the “systematic shelling” of hospitals and attacks on the UN and Red Cross.

The LTTE stands accused of refusing civilians permission to leave the conflict zone and “using them as hostages” in a “buffer zone”.

The UN panel also says that authorities “sought to intimidate and silence the media and other critics of the war through a variety of threats and actions, including the use of white vans to abduct and to make people disappear”.

The Sri Lankan government has not yet responded in full to the allegations – a spokesman said earlier that the report was “under study”. But in an earlier statement officials said the investigation was “fundamentally flawed”. It has also been called a “conspiracy” in the Sri Lankan media.

Call for independent investigation

Yolanda Foster from Amnesty International has told Channel 4 News “this report is a call to action” and that an international independent investigation should now be set up. She said it would be difficult for the Sri Lankan government to “push back” against allegations on this scale.

Channel 4 news

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