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INDICTMENT AGAINST SRI LANKA
The Charge is Ethnic Cleansing
Sri Lanka's Undeclared War on Eelam Tamils...
in the Shadow of a Ceasefire
International truce monitors this week said they believed reports
Sri Lanka Army troops were conducting Deep Penetration raids into
Tamil Tiger controlled areas, killing several civilians. They also
said Sri Lankan security forces are responsible for extrajudicial
killings with the troops so unconcerned as to the consequences as to
not ven provide plausible denials.
The Nordic-staffed Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) office in the northern town of Vavuniya told Reuters Monday it has recorded at least seven attacks in LTTE-controlled areas, including several on civilians.
The monitors believe military patrols are working alongside anti-Tiger Tamil armed groups. "We believe that the Sri Lankan army and Tamil armed groups are operating behind LTTE lines," truce monitor Bernt Gulbrandesen told Reuters. "There are so many incidents it has to be an organized thing."
Reuters quoted the Tigers as saying the first attack on them in their controlled areas was a claymore fragmentation mine ambush on a rebel political wing leader in January, during a spike in violence that preceded a first round of peace talks in Switzerland. Last week truce monitors said probable Tamil Tiger attacks on the military have been followed by disappearances and open killings of Tamil civilians.
“We have very strong indications that at least part of the government troops have been involved in these killings,” Jouni Suninen, the Finnish ex-army officer who heads the monitors’ northern Vavuniya office, said.
“The pattern is clear,” he added. In one case, a civilian was killed 60 metres from an army checkpoint. The soldiers told the monitors they heard nothing. Suninen said at least 40 people have been killed in the last month by suspected Tigers, soldiers or associated groups around Vavuniya, just beyond the southern border of LTTE-controlled Vanni.
For the first time, the monitoring mission’s field staff were authorised to speak on the record about what they had found. They say publicity is the only weapon they have. The monitors say suspected military killings target civilians believed to be LTTE-linked. Ponnuthurai Thayanithi, 27, killed last week, had one sister who had died fighting for the Tigers but was not believed to have any direct link. Police initially refused to come and inspect the body, said Heiskanen.
“This is where the girl was killed in the middle of the day,” Heiskanen said. “As you can see, we’re about 60 metres from an army checkpoint. There are always three soldiers there. The girl had two bullets in her head. They didn’t hear or see anything.” Heiskanen said he asked the soldiers why they had not noticed the killing taking place within sight and earshot. They said that as the shots were fired, there was a particularly strong gust of wind, so they had heard nothing. “I said ‘how do you know what was the exact time?’“ he said. “It is ridiculous. They don’t even try to make things up.”
People have disappeared at government checkpoints and turned up dead. A white van seen before some of the killings appears to have moved with impunity through checkpoints and in one case was reportedly seen leaving an army camp, the monitors say.