Showing posts with label war crimes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label war crimes. Show all posts

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sri Lankan leaders indirectly admit charges leveled against them

“When the American forces entered the room that Bin Laden was in they first shot his wife. Then they shot bin Laden. At this point both of them were unarmed. But none of us, or the international community is questioning this,” said Sri Lanka Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa at a meeting held in Nugegoda on June 17, as quoted by News First.

“But the Channel 4 video, we don't know if it is accurate or not, shows LTTE terrorists being arrested by the army. They are being questioned. But later they show the body. They make it out to be a big thing. But they don't show who this terrorist is,” pointed out the Defence Secretary.

“This terrorist is the terrorist who brutally murdered our Buddhist priests in the Eastern Province in cold blood. This is the person who killed 600 unarmed police officers after tying their hands. This is the person who killed the innocent women and their children in in villages in cold blood. None of this is mentioned about these people in the documentary,” said the Defence Secretary.

This statement raises several questions. Does the senior government official know the identity of the said dead man whose body was shown in the Channel 4 film?

Does the Defense Secretary attempt to justify the killing, stating that the dead man is a terrorist?

If so, the official seems to play into the hands of his enemies who seek a war crimes probe against him. The charges against Sri Lanka government leaders are related to extra judicial killings allegedly committed during war. This kind of statements or arguments amount to admitting the charges.

Do the Sri Lankan leaders think that this is the way to face the situation in which they are really in trouble?

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Link to Killing Fields of Sri Lanka

Watch Channel 4 video Killing Fields of Sri Lanka

Jon Snow presents a forensic investigation into the final weeks of the quarter-century-long civil war between the government of Sri Lanka and the secessionist rebels, the Tamil Tigers.

With disturbing and distressing descriptions and film of executions, atrocities and the shelling of civilians the programme features devastating new video evidence of war crimes - some of the most horrific footage Channel 4 has ever broadcast.

Captured on mobile phones, both by Tamils under attack and government soldiers as war trophies, the disturbing footage shows: the extra-judicial executions of prisoners; the aftermath of targeted shelling of civilian camps; and dead female Tamil fighters who appear to have been raped or sexually assaulted, abused and murdered.

The film is made and broadcast as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon faces growing criticism for refusing to launch an investigation into 'credible allegations' that Sri Lankan forces committed war crimes during the closing weeks of the bloody conflict with the Tamil Tigers.

In April 2011, Ban Ki-moon published a report by a UN-appointed panel of experts, which concluded that as many as 40,000 people were killed in the final weeks of the war between the Tamil Tigers and government forces.

It called for the creation of an international mechanism to investigate alleged violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law committed by government forces and the Tamil Tigers during that time.

This film provides powerful evidence that will lend new urgency to the panel's call for an international inquiry to be mounted, including harrowing interviews with eye-witnesses, new photographic stills, official Sri Lankan army video footage, and satellite imagery.

Also examined in the film are some of the horrific atrocities carried out by the Tamil Tigers, who used civilians as human shields.

Channel 4 News has consistently reported on the bloody denouement of Sri Lanka's civil war. Sri Lanka's Killing Fields presents a further damning account of the actions of Sri Lankan forces, in a war that the government still insists was conducted with a policy of Zero Civilian Casualties.

The film raises serious questions about the consequences if the UN fails to act, not only with respect to Sri Lanka but also to future violations of international law.

You can follow the programme on Twitter using #KillingFields

Sri Lanka's Killing Fields will be shown to MPs and parliamentary officials at a special showing in the House of Commons next week.

If you wish to contact your MP directly on this or any other matter you can go to (you can click on the link at the left hand side of this page) to find out who your representative is and how to contact them.

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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Channel 4 airs Sri Lanka's killing fields; government repeats it is not authentic

"Footage of alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka, with its echoes of Srebrenica, means the international community is more likely to act, a top lawyer tells Channel 4 News. But is prosecution possible?" Channel 4 questioned in its website yesterday as the government of Sri Lanka denied the one hour video aired by Channel 4 TV stating it was a a mere ‘collection of visuals previously aired through LTTE websites and a minuscule section of the international media, at the behest of parties with vested interests to undermine the present efforts at reconciliation and development taking place in Sri Lanka.'

Documenting the final weeks of the bloody civil war when an estimated 40,000 people died, the Channel 4 documentary Sri Lanka's Killing Fields reveals shocking new evidence of serious war crimes.
The film includes footage of government soldiers executing bound prisoners; the dead bodies of naked, abused women dumped in a truck; and the bombing of civilian hospitals.
The barbaric images were captured on mobile phones, many apparently by government soldiers filming grim trophy videos.
The faces of a number of the soldiers can be seen while conversations are heard as the killings are discussed.
In one video, a soldier admits he would like to mutilate the corpse of a dead naked woman "if no one was around".
While pressure builds on the international community to answer calls for an investigation, a top international lawyer has told Channel 4 News the use of new technologies has created a sea change in the reporting of serious crimes.
Mobile phone footage, pictures and testimony distributed online has seen information become instantly accessible to a global audience.
"There has never been a greater awareness of these types of crimes than right now, and it is because of the use of social media," Mark Ellis, chief executive of the International Bar Association, told Channel 4 News.
"It is much more difficult for the international community to stay silent when facing this onslaught of evidence shown by the social media process - it increases the likelihood that the international community must act." (Channel 4)

The video shown at UNHRC

The statement of the Ministry of External Affairs of Sri Lanka:

“This document, like the Darusman Report, does no more than put together a sequence of events and images, to justify a conclusion arrived at in advance. The origins of this footage are yet to be established, and no one has so far taken responsibility for its contents. It is a mere collection of visuals previously aired through LTTE websites and a minuscule section of the international media, at the behest of parties with vested interests to undermine the present efforts at reconciliation and development taking place in Sri Lanka. The views expressed in the film are without any guarantee of authenticity.
“This is one of the matters before the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission which is scheduled to complete its work by mid-November 2011.
“When Minister Burt telephoned the Minister of External Affairs during the afternoon of June 14, 2011, Prof. Peiris emphasized that the Sri Lankan Commission is entitled to the space and time to complete its work. He took the opportunity to brief Minister Burt on the significant progress that has been made in a variety of fields.
These, he pointed out, include the demining of vast tracts of land, the resettlement of displaced persons, the reintegration into society of former combatants including child soldiers after exposure to programmes of training, the return to their rightful owners of lands previously included in High Security Zones, and the revival of the economy of areas affected by military operations and restoration of livelihoods of those who, for many decades, had been under the yoke of LTTE terrorism.
It must be noted that, in the interest of transparency, the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission invited INGOs who have been aggressively critical, to give evidence before the Commission, but this has been publicly rejected by these organizations.
It is much to be regretted that Minister Burt has taken no account of the Sri Lankan Government’s strong refutation of the suggestion that the Government of Sri Lanka deliberately targeted its own civilians, as alleged in the video.
This is in stark contrast with the visible standards maintained by the Sri Lankan Army during a three year long operation to liberate the Northern and Eastern Provinces of the menace of the LTTE, including bringing to safety 300,000 innocent Tamil civilians being held as human shields by the LTTE which has been proscribed as a terrorist organization in 32 countries.
At this crucial time what Sri Lanka needs from its friends is not threats but the space and support for restoration of what was lost over three decades and the opportunity to move rapidly forward towards reconciliation and economic development.”

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Thursday, July 01, 2010

Sri Lanka getting more violent and self-disastrous against UN

(July 01, 2010, Colombo - Lanka Polity) Sri Lanka is resorting to more violent and self-disastrous methods to deal with the war crime charges raised by international community against the rulers.

Instead of handling the issue directly with the UN in framework of international politics, the government of Sri Lanka is seeking statements from other countries that can be manipulated to pressure the UN General Secretary to withdraw the panel. But, only Russia raised voice against the panel. Even China keep mum, as same as it did in the UN proceedings to frame charges against Sudan President.

In July 2008, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Luis Moreno Ocampo, accused Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur. The court issued an arrest warrant for al-Bashir on 4 March 2009 on counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, but ruled that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute him for genocide. The warrant will be delivered to the Sudanese government, which is unlikely to execute it. Al-Bashir is the first sitting head of state ever indicted by the ICC. The court's decision is opposed by the African Union, League of Arab States, Non-Aligned Movement, and the governments of Russia and China.

Even al-Bashir's government negotiated an end to the Second Sudanese Civil War, one of the longest-running and deadliest wars of the 20th century, by granting limited autonomy to Southern Sudan.Sri Lanka is a significant case in which the policy of the rulers is mere suppression and no power devolution at all, an attitude that is blatantly against the norms accepted by international politics.

Now, Sri Lanka government coalition party National Freedom Front (NFF) leader and Minister of Housing and Construction Wimal Weerawansa vows to launch a fast unto death unless the panel appointed by the UN General Secretary to advise him on Sri Lanka is not dissolved.

Weerawansa has also warned the UN that a protest would be held before the UN office of Colombo.
He urged the Sri Lankan people to surround the UN office in Colombo and keep its staff inside until UN chief Ban Ki Moon decides to dissolve the three-member advisory panel he appointed on Sri Lanka.

Addressing a press conference in Colombo yesterday, Weerawansa said that discussions are underway with national organizations in this regard.

Weerawansa also said that the appointment of the advisory panel should not be perceived as a simple act as it could be followed by the appointment of an investigation committee to look into allegations of violations of human rights and war crimes.

This would eventually lead to the leaders and war heroes of Sri Lanka produced before an international court of justice, he added.

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Saturday, June 05, 2010

Lankan war was corporate one, says Arundhati Roy

(June 05, 2010, Colombo - Lanka PolityThe war in Sri Lanka was not just a war of the Sri Lankans against the Tamil people, according to writer-activist Arundhati Roy. "That was a corporate war. All the large Indian companies are now heading to Sri Lanka to make more money," Roy said on Friday. "The political parties of Tamil Nadu were the only ones who could have stopped the genocide in Sri Lanka, but they chose to stand by silently. A similar thing is happening in central India where tribals are resisting the takeover of natural resources by corporates."

Roy was speaking at a Convention on Operation Green Hunt and Genocidal attack on tribals by Indian State' organised in the city on Friday by the Federation Against Internal Repression. She said the resistance in central India was a fight against injustice and not a rebellion against the state as the government says it is. "The government is on the side of the corporates who want to take over the lands, forests, rivers, the traditional homes of the tribals. Operation Green Hunt follows the Bush doctrine of you are with us, or against us," she said. "Anyone who resists this corporate takeover, whether Gandhian, tribal or Maoist, is branded a terrorist," she said.

Turning her attention to the environmental impact of development, she said there was no ecological way to mine bauxite. "You can never mine bauxite and then turn it into aluminium without destroying the ecological balance of the mountains. The tribals have lived in harmony with the forests and nature for centuries," she said.

For over five years, some of the poorest, most marginalised people in the country have held off some of the world's largest multi-national corporations, she said, referring to tribals and adivasis across the country. "Every institution in this country has been corrupted but the spirit of our people remains strong," she said.

The people's struggles were not against democracy but the ways in which the mechanisms of democracy function. "You're a Gandhian if you protest on the road, and a Maoist if you resist in the forest. How can someone without food go on a hunger strike? To do Gandhian resistance, you need an audience, and there is no audience in the forest," she said.

-Times of India

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Sri Lanka President's secretary describes how Tamil Nadu Tamils were deceived by Sri Lanka and India

(January 14, Colombo - Lanka Polity)The way the Indian central government led by Congress Party deceived the Tamil Nadu Tamils ahead of the general election as Sri Lanka's war was raging in the last stage with high casualties was revealed in an interview given by Lalith Weerathunga, the secretary of Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa to the Daily Mirror website. Following is the report accompanied with the video of the interview.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa helped India’s Congress party win the General Elections in Tamil Nadu last year by reaching an agreement with the Indian government to stop using heavy weapons during the last stages of the war, Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga told Daily Mirror online.

In an interview on the ‘HOT SEAT’ segment of the website Mr. Weeratunga said the President had turned down a request from India to stop the military operations last year but later reached an agreement to stop using heavy weapons in order to help the Congress win the polls.

"Elections were being held in India so if the government of India did not do something to stop what the rest of the world thought the massacre of Tamils (as it was wrongly termed) the Tamils would not vote for the Congress. They said “please stop this”. But the President said “sorry I cannot do that”. But he added “ok what do you want me to do to ensure victory of the Congress Party”? They requested that the use of heavy weaponry be stopped. This is what brought India and Sri Lanka closer. With the halt in use of heavy weaponry (with approval of the Sri Lankan Security Council that Sri Lanka would no longer use heavy weaponry) the Congress gained strength and the victory in Tamil Nadu can be attributed to this decision by the Government of Sri Lanka," he told Daily Mirror online.

However, it is yet to verify if Sri Lanka actually bowed to this pledge as no independent inquiry has been undertaken regarding the allegations raised by various quarters including the ex-Army Chief that war crimes including shelling hospitals and no-fire zones took place in the final phase of war.

Soon after the defeat of the Tamil Tigers, citing a UN source, the Times of UK reported that 20,000 people were killed in the final throes of the civil war, mostly by government shelling. However, one UN official described the method used to calculate the toll – which appeared to involve multiplying the figure recorded by doctors by five – as dangerous extrapolation. The Sri Lankan government rejected the Times report. Earlier UN said 7,000 civilians were killed and 16,700 wounded in the fighting from Jan. 20 until May 7 before the final battles.

Major-General Ashok Mehta, a former commander of Indian peacekeeping forces in Sri Lanka, said that India’s role was “distressing and disturbing”. “We were complicit in this last phase of the offensive when a great number of civilians were killed,” General Mehta, who is now retired, told The Times. “Having taken a decision to go along with the campaign, we went along with it all the way and ignored what was happening on the ground.”

Tamil Nadu with 60 million Tamils was the last bit of straw for the Sri Lankan Tamil nationalists that  were ahead of the imminent defeat of the armed struggle for a seperate Ealam state for Tamils. They begged for mediation to prevent their defeat but for no avail.

Almost all the Tamil Nadu politicians raised Sri Lanka's war as their main issue but Chief Minister Karunanidi's DMK allied with the Congress Party registered a landslide victory in the parliamentary election following the central government's statement that Sri Lanka government had agreed not to use heavy weaponry against the civilians trapped in the contracting rebel-held territory. Hours after  the election were finished in India, Sri Lanka eliminated the leadership of the Tamil Tigers Velupillai Prabakaran and wiped out the rebel movement from the island.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Rajiva's letter and Sri Lanka's presidential

(December 25, Colombo - Lanka Polity) The reply of Wijesinghe has caused controversy in government circles as the Minister of Human Rights declined the responsibility of his secretary's letter at a press briefing held on December 23 .

The Minister said that Fonseka's statement put the armed forces in trouble. Wijesinghe had slipped out of the room when a journalist asked about the letter although he was there at the press conference.

'Patriotic brigade' mainly led by National Freedom Front leader Wimal Weerawansa was upset with the letter written by Rajiva Wijesinghe. The pro-Rajapaksa 'patriots' were elated with the trump passed by Fonseka to them to canvass for floating Sinhala votes. They whisper that Wijesinghe is under a contract of Sarath Fonseka and his letter benefited the retired General whose slip of the tongue put him in trouble in gaining majority Sinhala votes at the upcoming presidential.

However, political sources say that Rajapaksas themselves directed Rajiva Wijesinghe, a professor of English literature, to write this letter to save them from the war crime allegations.Anyway, Wijesinghe's response looked abrupt and unauthoritative since he had not consulted even his Minister. However, Rajapaksas have remained silent so far.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Sri Lanka government begging for UN action against war crime charges agaisnt officials

(December 23, Colombo - Lanka Polity) In a very extraordinary move, Sri Lanka government is anticipating harsh action from the United Nations against the state heads. officials and Army even before the UN has considered such a move.

Government leaders campaigning for the re-election of the President Mahinda Rajapakse in the presidential scheduled to be held on January 26 is trying to seek political mileage from a detrimental statement made and later denied by the opposition presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka at the cost of the future of the politicians, officials and soldiers. It is actually begging for action from UN even before replying to the letter of the UN seeking a clarification.

Former Sri Lankan Navy Commander Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda, who is now the presidential adviser on national security, has warned that the recent allegations raised by presidential candidate and former Army Chief General Sarath Fonseka could affect the opportunity for Sri Lankan troops to be selected for UN peace keeping operations in Haiti and for overseas training, reported Daily Mirror newspaper.

Speaking on State television Karannagoda, who was known to be at serious rift with Fonseka when both were serving as chiefs of their respective forces, said that the allegations raised by Fonseka, though false, could open the doors for a fresh bid by the international community to level war crimes charges against the Sri Lankan military.

Sri Lanka state-owned Sinhala daily Dinamina said today quoting government leaders that the Army 58 division of which the ex-commander was ordered by Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse to kill the leaders of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) was also facing a 'risk'. However, the newspaper did not describe the risk factor.

Karannagoda said to Dinamina newspaper that Sri Lanka would have to face a war crime trial and cited that the leaders of Bosnia were punished similarly by international war crime tribunal.

Sri Lankan law professor and Minister Gamini Lakshman Peiris told a news briefing at the Mahaweli Centre yesterday that UN special Rapporteur Philippe Alston’s letter to Sri Lanka’s ambassador Kshenuka Seneviratne seeking an explanation on the highly damaging charges against Sri Lanka put the nation on the level of a pariah state that has committed war crimes and crimes against humanity that should be meted out strict punishments.

“It is clear that the detractors of Sri Lanka want to take the country before an International Tribunal like the Nuremburg Trials that tried Nazi leader Adolph Hitler and his accomplices for their war crimes during World War II. This will result in any Army, Navy or Air Force personnel being arrested in Europe, US, Canada or even in Japan for war crimes,” Prof. Peiris stressed.

Prof. Peiris said the other danger was that any US or European court could pass an order against Sri Lankan leaders and armed forces personnel and issue a warrant for arrest on charges of ‘Crime against Humanity’ in a similar manner they arrested late Chili strongman Augusto Pinochet.

There was a warrant against General Pinochet by a Spanish Court on charges of extrajudicial killings committed during his regime as the President which had also been adopted by England. He was arrested when he arrived in England for medical treatment and languished in jail for more than 4 1/2 years.

There is a direct threat against President Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Commander in Chief, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, the then Brigade Commander of the 58th  Brigade Major General Shavendra Silva and all members of the 58th Brigade according to the charges levelled against them by General Fonseka, he said.

Responding to a question raised by a journalist as to what would happen if Sri Lanka refused to give an explanation to the UN special Rapporteur, Prof. Peiris said it was obligatory for Sri Lanka to explain as she is a member of the UN.

“We are bound to explain or they will accept it as an acceptance of the charges if not. Besides, the Security Council and the EU may pass resolutions against Sri Lanka if we did not respond positively. The government is doing its utmost to minimize the damage caused. A team of legal experts headed by Attorney General will look into the modalities in preparing the explanation,” he added.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tamil Diaspora urge to put Sri Lanka President on dock while Rajapakse says ready to go to gallows

(December 14, Colombo - Lanka Polity) Canadian Tamil Congress spokesman David Poopalapillai told IANS that the Tamil diaspora around the world is writing to the UN, the International Court of Justice and world leaders to put the Sri Lankan president on trial immediately.

"We are drafting our petition and will send it soon to the world leaders, including Canada and India, to put Mahinda Rajapaksa and his men in the dock for war crimes,'' he said.

"What more proof do world leaders and the international community now need to try the Sri Lankan president and his men for crimes against humanity?'' he asked commenting on Sri Lanka's ex-Army Commander Sarath Fonseka's statement to The Sunday Leader that Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse, a brother of President Rajapakse, ordered to kill the Tamil rebel leaders that came with white flags to surrender. 

"Rajapaksa is a war criminal. He should be taken to The Hague to face trial for war crimes. No nation has violated the Geneva Convention as flagrantly as Sri Lanka. No nation ever killed the surrendering enemy.''

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapakse said yesterday (14) that he was ready to go to gallows on behalf of the 'war herpes'.

Fonseka named Sri Lanka Army Major General Shavendra Silva, a Brigadier who was leading operations under Fonseka, as the person of reception of the killing orders of the Defense Secretary.

Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse is a US citizen.

The majority Sinhala community respects the military and political leadership alike that crushed the violent armed struggle of Tamil nationalists. They vehemently oppose power sharing and want to maintain the Sinhala dominance in state apparatus. Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE), a rebel movement that had a de facto state in Northern and Eastern parts of the island was militarily defeated and almost all leaders were eliminated in the military operations that ended in May 2009 with the victory of the state Army. 

University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna), an independent human rights organization in the Tamil polity in Sri Lanka stated in a recent report "for both parties, the key to military dominance lay not in brilliant strategies, but in an utter disregard for the lives of civilians and combatants alike, driven by their leaders’ single-minded pursuit of personal power."

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Fonseka's 'evidence' on war crime charges against Sri Lanka taking wings internationally

(December 13, Colombo - Lanka Polity) "This is a comment given by General Fonseka and he will come out with many more. We will not comment on what he says."

This was the response of the Army spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara to an AFP reporter when the latter asked the Brigadier to comment on the ex-Army Chief General Sarath Fonseka's statement that Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse ordered the commander of the army's 58th division, not to accommodate any LTTE (Tiger) leaders attempting to surrender and that they must all be killed.

However, the story has begun to spread in international media as analysts speculate backlash from the UN and other human rights bodies that urge for a probe on war crime charges in the last phase of the war with the Tamil Tigers. 

Fonseka's statement is the strongest evidence that has come out so far against Sri Lanka state and officials over war crime charges.

During the war's finale, the United States and other Western nations voiced alarm at Sri Lanka's treatment of non-combatants, along with its internment afterward of some 130,000 Tamil civilians. The U.S. State Department in October released a congressionally mandated report cataloguing accounts of shelling of civilians, killings, child-army recruitment and other abuses during Sri Lanka’s offensive against the separatists this year.

Sri Lanka's ex-Army chief cites evidence of war crimes of the rulers

(December 13, Colombo - Lanka Polity) Sri Lanka's opposition presidential candidate ex-Army Commander retired General Sarath Fonseka made a highly controversial statement today to The Sunday Leader newspaper unsettling the whole establishment including himself.

Immediately after the Sri Lankan rulers invigorated two selected investigations pertaining to intimidating and killing of media persons, for which the accusation finger was pointed at Fonseka by opposition and media, the latter said to the same newspaper the editor Lasantha Wickramathunga was brutally murdered on a busy highway in January that Defense Secretary Gothabaya Rajapaksa instructed a key ground commander in the north that all Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) leaders must be killed and not allowed to surrender.

This is the first ever concrete evidence of war crimes suspected took place in the final phase of the war against the LTTE and UN Human Rights Council, the UN Security Council and other international bodies cannot overlook the former Army Commander's statement.

In an explosive interview with The Sunday Leader General Fonseka the then Army Commander  said he had no information communicated to him in the final days of the war that three key LTTE leaders had opted to surrender to Sri Lanka’s armed forces as the battle drew to a bloody finish.

Fonseka charged that communications were instead confined  between the LTTE leaders, Norway, various foreign parties, Basil Rajapaksa, Member of Parliament and the powerful senior adviser to the President and such information was never conveyed to him as he supervised the final stages of the war. “Later, I learnt that Basil had conveyed this information to the Defense Secretary Gothabaya Rajapaksa – who in turn spoke with Brigadier Shavendra Silva, Commander of the Army’s 58th Division, giving orders not to accommodate any LTTE leaders attempting surrender and that “they must all be killed.”

General Fonseka explained how on the night of May 17th this year desperate efforts of three senior LTTE leaders trapped in the war zone to save their lives failed as they were instead shot dead as they prepared to surrender to government forces.

The government later claimed that troops found bodies of three key LTTE leaders identified as Nadesan, Pulidevan and Ramesh during the mop- up operations in the last LTTE stronghold on the morning of May 18.

General Fonseka said the incident took place as the remaining LTTE cadres were boxed into a 100m x 100m area, North of Vellamullivaikkal.

Balasingham Nadeshan  a former police constable of Sri Lanka police was the political head of the LTTE. Seevaratnam Pulidevan was the head of “LTTE peace secretariat” while Ramesh a senior special commander of the military wing.

Hours before they surrendered, in a flurry of emails, text messages and telephone calls between NGOs, a foreign government and Sri Lankan officials in Colombo, the two LTTE political leaders had frantically inquired as to how they could give themselves up.

They were told: “Get a piece of white cloth, put up your hands and walk towards the other side in a non-threatening manner.”

But the attempt to surrender by the three LTTE leader and their families failed. Sometime between midnight on 17 May and the early hours of the next morning, the three men and their family members were shot dead.

General Fonseka said it was Basil Rajapaksa together with the Defence Secretary Gothabaya Rajapaksa who through foreign intermediaries conveyed a message back to the LTTE leaders who wished to surrender to walk out carrying a piece of white cloth.  “It was their idea,” he said.


When we contacted  Shavendra Silva, now promoted to Major General he sounded very shocked when told of the allegation but insisted he could not respond to this charge until he had clearance from the military spokesman.

Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara told us he had to get clearance from the Army Commander Jagath Jayasuriya.

Later in the day the military spokesman said that he had contacted both the Army Commander and General Shavindra Silva and both had said that they would not comment on the matter.

The chief intermediary for the three LTTE men was the Norwegian government’s then Environment and Development Minister Erik Solheim. (Solheim is now the overseas development minister) On Sunday 17 May, Mr Solheim apparently received calls from LTTE figures who said they wanted to surrender.

The ICRC in Colombo later confirmed that it had received word from the Norwegians that the two leaders were looking to give themselves up. “The ICRC was approached on this matter by the representatives of the LTTE as well as the Norwegian authorities,”  spokeswoman Sarasi Wijeratne was quoted saying  at the time of the incident. “The information was referred to the Sri Lankan authorities. We have no idea what happened [then]. We lost contact with everyone in the last conflict.”

The government’s point man in the negotiations appears to have been former foreign secretary Palitha Kohona who is now Sri Lanka’s ambassador to the United nations  He was quoted by news agencies saying that in the days leading up to Sunday evening, he had received a number of messages indicating from Mr. Nadesan and Mr Pulidevan – whom he has met at various peace talks – wanting a way out.

In one interview with ‘SiberNews’ Mr. Kohona said that his response had been that “there was only one way to surrender that is recognised by military practice”. He said they should obtain a white flag and give themselves up. “I kept saying this for three days,” he added.

But General Fonseka maintains that Nadesan, Ramesh and Pulidevan had been shot dead by government troops as they advanced towards them carrying a white flag, as they had been instructed to do.

Fonseka said he later learnt about what exactly had taken place as a result of journalists who had been entrenched at the time with General Shavendra Silva’s brigade command.  These reporter’s according to Fonseka  were privy to the telephone call received by the Army’s 58th Brigade Commander from the Defence Secretary –“telling him to not accommodate any LTTE surrenders but to simply go ahead and kill them.” – “These journalists later told me what exactly took place,” Fonseka said.
“Norway never got in touch” – Basil
Presidential Advisor Basil Rajapaksa refuted this damning charge.  He told The Sunday Leader, “The Norwegians never got in touch with me over this particular incident.  I have been in touch with the Norwegians over various issues pertaining to the conflict but never once on this particular issue.”

When asked if he had been unaware then that three LTTE leaders were seeking surrender during the last stages of the war – Rajapaksa replied, “No. I won’t say that. But Norway never got in touch with me.”

Asked nevertheless if he did convey something to this effect to his brother and Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Mr. Rajapaksa said “If I had not been informed by Norway in the first instance then obviously the second did not happen.”

Our attempts to contact Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa failed.  When we telephoned the Defence Ministry Friday we were told Mr. Rajapaksa had not been in office the entire day.  His staff refused to release any other telephone number.
A reader of The Sunday Leader commented as follows:

The War Crimes Tribunal and the international community should take note of the disclosures of Gen Sarath Fonseka, under whose watch the decades-long war was won. Perhaps, in the run-up to the Presidential election, we will learn more of the final phase of the war, and the innocent civilian blood that was shed to achieve that victory, hitherto censored from public knowledge. If this is not war crimes and crimes against humanity, what is?
Following is an excerpt from an encyclopedia on surrender:

Surrender is when soldiers, nations or other combatants stop fighting and eventually become prisoners of war, either as individuals or when ordered to by their officers. A White flag is a common symbol of surrender, as is the gesture of raising one's hands empty and open above one's head.

When the parties agree to terms the surrender may be conditional, i.e. if the surrendering party promises to submit only after the victor makes certain promises. Otherwise it is a surrender at discretion (unconditional surrender); the victor makes no promises of treatment other than those provided by the laws and customs of war  — most of which are laid out in the Hague Conventions (1907) and the Geneva Conventions . Normally a belligerent will only agree to surrender unconditionally if completely incapable of continuing hostilities.

The Third Geneva Convention  states that prisoners of war should not be mistreated or abused. United States Army  policy states that surrendered persons should be treated according to the "5 S's" until turned over to higher authority.
  • Silence: so that they cannot plan an escape attempt.
  • Search: for weapons or items of intelligence value.
  • Secure: tie up and/or guard carefully at all times, particularly at first.
  • Safeguard: do not allow the dangers of the battlefield to hurt them
  • Separate: soldiers from officers, men from women, combatant

    s from civilians, to make them easier to control.


(NWP1-14M, Section 11.7)

Combatants cease to be subject to attack when they have individually laid down their arms to surrender, when they are no longer capable of resistance, or when the unit in which they are serving or embarked has surrendered or been captured.  However, the law of armed conflict does not precisely define when surrender takes effect or how it may be accomplished in practical terms.  Surrender involves an offer by the surrendering party (a unit or individual combatant) and an ability to accept on the part of the opponent.  The latter may not refuse an offer of surrender when communicated, but that communication must be made at a time when it can be received and properly acted upon - an attempt to surrender in the midst of a hard-fought battle is neither easily communicated nor received.  The issue is one of reasonableness.

Combatants who have surrendered or otherwise fallen into enemy hands are entitled to prisoner-of-war status and, as such, must be treated humanely and protected against violence, intimidation, insult, and public curiosity.  When prisoners of war are given medical treatment, no distinction among them will be based on any grounds other than medical ones.  Prisoners of war may be interrogated upon capture but are required to disclose only their name, rank, date of birth, and military serial number.  Torture, threats, or other coercive acts are prohibited.

Persons entitled to prisoner-of-war status upon capture include members of the regular armed forces, the militia and volunteer units fighting with the regular armed forces, and civilians accompanying the armed forces.  Militia, volunteers, guerrillas, and other partisans not fighting in association with the regular armed forces qualify for prisoner-of-war status upon capture, provided they are commanded by a person responsible for their conduct, are uniformed or bear a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance, carry their arms openly, and conduct their operations in accordance with the law of armed conflict.

Should a question arise regarding a captive's entitlement to prisoner-of-war status, that individual should be accorded prisoner-of-war treatment until a competent tribunal convened by the captor determines the status to which that individual is properly entitled.  Individuals captured as spies or as illegal combatants have the right to assert their claim of entitlement to prisoner-of-war status before a judicial tribunal and to have the question adjudicated.  Such persons have a right to be fairly tried for violations of the law of armed conflict and may not be summarily executed.

According to Wikipedia, clloquial definitions of war crime include violations of established protections of the laws of war, but also include failures to adhere to norms of procedure and rules of battle, such as attacking those displaying a flag of truce, or using that same flag as a ruse of war to mount an attack. Attacking enemy troops while they are being deployed by way of a parachute is not a war crime. However, Protocol I, Article 42 of the Geneva Conventions explicitly forbids attacking parachutists who eject from damaged airplanes, and surrendering parachutists once landed.War crimes include such acts as mistreatment of prisoners of war or civilians. War crimes are sometimes part of instances of mass murder and genocide though these crimes are more broadly covered under international humanitarian law described as crimes against humanity.

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