Independent report verifies SLN complicity in Pesalai violence
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 04 July 2006, 15:44 GMT]
In a report filed by a fact finding mission from two Colombo-based NGOs to look at the Pesalai violence of 17 June 2006, the investigators said, "Although in the initial days following the attack the government laid the responsibility for the attacks at the door of the LTTE, the strong report compiled and widely disseminated by the Bishop of Mannar pointed directly to Navy involvement. None of the many we met had the slightest doubt on this issue." The report also details the background to the prevailing ground situation in Mannar, urgent efforts required to prevent escalation of tensions, and provide security to the poor fisher families in Mannar.
The report widely distributed by the Asian Human Rights Commission in Hongkong was produced by members of Center for Policy Alternatives (CPA) and INFORM, two nonGovernmental Organizations based in Colombo.
Bullet marks on Church walls (Photo: CPA/INFORM)
Burnt out wadiyas (Photo: CPA/INFORM)
Burnt out boats (Photo: CPA/INFORM)
"The eyewitnesses who spoke to us stated that the men who attacked the church wore what they identified as ‘military civvies.’ In particular the blue t-shirt worn by them, is very similar to the ones normally worn by Navy personnel. The motorcycles used by some of the attackers, according to the eyewitnesses, looked like those that are used by Navy personnel," the report said.
"As reported in the Daily News on June 26, President Mahinda Rajapakse appointed a Presidential Commission of Inquiry, but as of July 1st names of its members have yet to be publicly announced...It is important to note that if the outcome of the investigation is substantive it will have consequences far beyond Pesalai and to the issue of impunity of the armed forces and the human rights record of this government," the report added.
"The issue of impunity is one that has dogged the human rights record of successive Sri Lankan governments since 1971. In more recent years, since the intensification of the conflict in Sri Lanka, the LTTE has also acted with impunity against civilians, especially against members of Tamil political parties that oppose their views, and in the form of abductions of children. Thus, the incidents in Pesalai demonstrate the importance of highlighting human rights abuses in order to address the issue of accountability and the culture of impunity with regards to the government, the LTTE and other actors," the report said indicating the urgent need to identify and prosecute offenders from all parties of armed actors.
On the the reluctance of the Sri Lanka Government legal system to aggressively pursue cases that involve security forces and the resulting impunity enjoyed by the members of Sri Lanka military, the report said, "The psychological impact of the continued and systematic violence has rendered the people of Pesalai a community in deep shock and fear. In the church in Pesalai we met the husband of Theresa Cruz who lost his wife and their son, Dilakshan (4) in the attack on the 100 Houses Housing Scheme last December. He is still waiting for justice; the remains of the bodies found in the ruins of the charred houses were sent for forensic examination to Karapitiya Hospital in Galle in late December 2005. There has been no progress in the case since then. At that time too, the people ran to Our Lady of Victories Church for sanctuary. The fact that the last attack was on the church itself has meant the community has no real refuge here any more."
In the 100 Houses Housing scheme violence the SLN was accused of burning to death 4 residents and injuring more than 40 Pesalai residents in an orgy of violence retaliating to a claymore mine attack that killed 13 soldiers on 23 December.
20.06.06 SL Navy desecrated island's biggest church - Bishop
18.06.06 Pesalai victims traumatized
17.06.06 5 civilians killed, 44 wounded in Pesalai, SLN troopers lob ..
25.12.05 Civilians burnt to death in Pesalai
23.12.05 28 wounded, 13 hospitalized in SLN revenge attack on IDPs