Despite government claims, civil society groups back UN report findings
Human rights group ‘Platform for Freedom’ criticised the government at a recent meeting on the “Challenges and opportunities for civil society in Sri Lanka,” held on Saturday at the headquarters of Caritas Sri Lanka.
After putting a lot of pressure on the United Nations not to release its report, the authorities rejected its findings and accusations, calling them “inappropriate” and “harmful” to the post-war reconciliation process underway.
For Fr Reid Shelton Fernando, a Catholic political analyst, the lack of Sinhalese and Tamil translations is a serious flaw. “The report is not based on hearsay,” he explained, “but on direct eyewitness accounts of what happened. For this reason, we cannot walk away from its charges.”
“We, as Platform for Freedom, welcome the UN report on war crimes in Sri Lanka because we are working to build a fair society,” said human rights activist Nimalka Fernando. “This is a pluralist nation and the government should consider the accusations as an affair of state.”
As lawyer Sudarshana Gunawardana noted, the crimes committed by the government include the systematic shelling of ‘no-fire zones’ despite the presence of civilian refugees and hospitals, the confinement of survivors to prisoners’ camps, and the refusal to provide adequate food and medical supplies.
The report also accuses the rebels of the Liberation Tiger of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) of using human shields, executing people trying to flee and using child soldiers.