Sri Lanka faces Fresh Calls for Human Rights Inquiry, BBC
Sri Lanka is facing fresh calls for an international human rights inquiry after video emerged apparently showing extra-judicial killings by troops.
The footage was allegedly filmed in January during the final stages of the bloody conflict with the Tamil Tigers.
It shows a man dressed as a soldier shooting a naked man in the head. Eight other bodies are seen on the ground.
It is impossible to verify the video's authenticity. Sri Lanka's government says the footage was fabricated.
The footage was provided to the BBC and other media organisations by a group called Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka, which said it showed "the reality of the behaviour of the government forces during the war".
Sri Lanka still is lowest ranked democratic country for Press Freedom.
Dear President Rajapaksa,
The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by your government's policies toward journalists who write critically about the conflict between Sri Lanka's military forces and Tamil secessionists. We have seen an increase in harassment, intimidation, and detention of reporters, many of whom are columnists in senior positions with well-established careers. Police have failed to investigate threats to journalists who cover elections or expose alleged corruption or misdeeds. They have also never investigated the death of a television journalist.
Those who wish to harass, harm, or even kill journalists can operate with relative impunity in Sri Lanka. Your government, particularly the Ministry of Defense, has done nothing, even as violence escalates in many parts of the country.
Based on our research, we have concluded that your government is stifling news reporting that it finds inconvenient precisely because those reports attempt to accurately reflect the ebb and flow of such a war. Suppressing journalists will neither alter the course of the conflict nor generate more public support for it.
Sri Lanka got the largest open-air prison for its ethnic minority group, guarded by Sri Lankan Security Forces and barbed wire.
It is almost impossible for journalists to get into the camps except for strictly controlled government tours such as the one given to Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, in May.
But these visits do not show the reality of life in the camps.
"We are now in refugee centres and there is no proper water, food or sanitation for us," one Tamil refugee says.
Some 250,000 Tamil refugees remain in what critics call open air prisons [AFP]
"For the past three days we have not taken a bath. We are only getting one meal a day in the night. We have been living in dirt and there is a bad odour in the air everywhere."
The refugees, who are guarded by armed security services, are scared to speak out for fear of reprisals.
The video has started a fresh wave of quest for investigations of war crimes in Sri Lanka, and the Human Rights Watch urged an independent inquiry into the war crimes of the last bloody civil war.
The blood, blindfolds, and mud of this apparent atrocity makes nonsense of President Rajapaksa’s claims of a clean war against the Tamil Tigers. An international inquiry needs to get to the bottom of this and other war crimes committed during the past year’s fighting.
Steve Crawshaw, UN director
The video and its method of delivery provide enough reason to launch a war crimes probe into the last bloody Sri Lankan war, that is in an ideal world.
The man is young, naked, bound and blindfolded; a corpse lying across his legs. A soldier approaches him in what appears to be Sri Lankan army uniform and shoots him at point-blank range, apparently amused at the death. “It’s like he jumped,” he says.
The footage, released last night, appears to show what the Tamil community and human rights campaigners have long alleged: that in its final surge against the Tamil Tiger rebels this year, the Sri Lankan Army summarily killed prisoners.
In today's world, it is unlikely that the west will care enough to do anything significant about this evidence.