» 04/26/2011, 00.00
SRI LANKA - UN
UN publishes report on war crimes. Colombo protests
Over 40 thousand civilians killed in bombings and military prisoners executed with a shot to the head, women raped. The document ordered by Ban Ki-moon paints a hellish picture of the final stages of the ethnic conflict. Despite pressure from the Government of Sri Lanka to prevent publication.
Colombo (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The United Nations today released the report which accuses the government of Sri Lanka of the murder of thousands of civilians, during the final stages of the conflict in 2009. Sri Lanka and the allied countries have exerted great pressure in vain to prevent the spread of the document. In particular, it cites an Air Force bombing of vast proportions, which would have killed more than 40 thousand people. Since its announcement, the Sri Lankan government has rejected the controversial report, commissioned by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and attempted to block publishing "to avoid damage to the reconciliation efforts underway in the country," as reported in an official statement.
The UN report paints a hellish picture of life in Vanni, the largest area in the northern province (including the districts of Mannar, Mullaitivu, Vavuniya and part of Kilinochchi) the so-called "no-fire zone" where 330 thousand civilian prisoners were trapped: prisoners gunned down, women raped, the tortured bodies of children. The report also accuses the Tamil Tiger rebels (LTTE) of using civilians as human shields during the military airstrikes. According to UN experts, those contained in the document are "credible allegations, if proved, that both the Government of Sri Lanka and the members of the LTTE committed a large number of serious violations of human and international rights. Some of them would qualify as war crimes and crimes against humanity. "
Ban Ki-moon said that the purpose of the report is to urge the government to admit an official and formal recognition of its responsibility for civilian casualties in the final stages of the conflict in 2009. He added that he has no authority to launch an international inquiry into possible war crimes, without the authorization of the Sri Lankan Government, or the formal request of members of the United Nations.
The document was prepared after collecting the evidence for 10 months. Its publication has been postponed several times because of pressure from the Government of Sri Lanka, that wanted – it claimed - to avoid causing "irreparable damage" to the process of reconciliation in the country. The spokesman for Ban Ki-moon has defended the decision to publish the report as "a question of transparency in the wider public interest." The Sri Lankan government had received a full copy of the document already on 12 April, together with the repeated proposal - also rejected by Colombo - to publish an official replica of the government together with the UN document.
The first to denounce the government of Sri Lanka to have committed war crimes were the Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka (JDS), a group of Sri Lankan journalists in exile, Sinhalese and Tamil. Through their website (http://www.jdslanka.org/ ), the JDs have posted a series of short films. The videos show executions perpetrated by the military, as well as acts of violence of various kinds.
For the complete text of the UN click here
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