Remembering the war against Tamils; accountability required

Sri Lanka remains a country talking about recovery after decades of war and yet Colombo refuses to accept responsibility for the crimes committed during the conflict.

This recently Wikileaks document from May 2009 gives an insight into the final days of the civil war, when the lives of civilians were irrelevant to government forces (and many Tamil Tigers, too):

SUMMARY: May 16-17 marked a watershed day in Sri Lanka…´s conflict with the LTTE, as an estimated 72,000 civilians escaped the safe zone. Remnants of the LTTE continued to mount resistance in an area of less than one square kilometer in the government…´s unilaterally declared “no fire zone.” President Rajapaksa is expected to announce the end of fighting in Parliament on May 19. The Defense Secretary announced publicly on May 17 that there were no civilians remaining in the conflict zone. However, a Tamil member of Parliament and [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN] separately contacted Embassy to report that tens of thousands of civilians were still in the conflict area and at grave risk. Ambassador contacted senior GSL officials throughout the day, including Secretary of Defense Gothabaya Rajapaksa and Foreign Minister Bogollagama, to urge acceptance of a mediated surrender of the remaining Tigers and maximum restraint on the part of the military to avoid further civilian casualties, particularly after the reports from the Bishop of Mannar of continued high numbers of civilians in the safe zone. Rajapaksa refused to accept mediated surrender on the grounds that the fighting was all but over, but said troops had been instructed to accept anyone who wishes to surrender. Ambassador spoke to Presidential Advisor Basil Rajapaksa to request access for the ICRC to evacuate dead and wounded. Rajapaksa refused, contending the GSL could manage on its own. Four government of Sri Lanka doctors and an Additional Government Agent escaped from the conflict zone on May 16 and were taken into custody by the military. One doctor with serious wounds was airlifted to Colombo, two or three other doctors were held for interrogation at Omanthai, and the Additional Government Agent was taken to an IDP camp. UNSYG Chief of Staff Nambiar, now in Colombo, was promised access to live UAV footage of the safe zone. He also has requested to visit the safe zone and the camps in Vavuniya.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

Site by Common