Evidence points to Colombo culpability to Tamil massacre - Washington Post

[TamilNet, Saturday, 30 May 2009, 13:24 GMT]
Adding to the increasing international media coverage of Government of Sri Lanka's culpability to the massacre of more than 20,000 Tamil civilians in Mullaitheevu, Emily Wax of Washington Post in a Saturday story said, the beach "shows clear signs of heavy artillery shelling, according to a helicopter inspection of the site by independent journalists, interviews with eyewitnesses, and specialists who have studied high-resolution satellite imagery from the war zone." The paper notes Rights advocates view that "any government could defeat terrorism if it ignored the 1949 Geneva convention that aims to protect civilians caught in war zones," and adds that U.S. Justice Department is considering whether to seek criminal charges against Colombo officials based on information filed by Attorney Bruce Fein.

The "evidence contradicts government assertions that areas of heavy civilian populations were no-fire zones that were deliberately spared during the final weeks of military assault that ended this island nation's quarter-century of civil war.

"We see a lot of images of destroyed structures and what look like circular shell craters and also, frankly, very large holes in the ground. If it was a shell, it must be a very large one to make 24-feet-wide craters," said Lars Bromley, director of the American Association for the Advancement of Science's Geospatial Technologies and Human Rights project, which was asked by human rights groups to study the satellite images, the paper said.

Bromley's detailed analysis of shell damages were earlier reported in a New York Times article.

"Human rights groups have also raised questions about media reports that two senior Tamil Tiger rebels were killed while waving a white surrender flag. Government officials deny the allegation," the paper said.

"The government's decisive offensive against the rebels, conducted in an area strictly closed to reporters and other independent observers, also raises larger questions about the rights of nations to take military action against their people beyond the view of the rest of the world," the paper said noting that the Sri Lanka has continued to reject international inquiries and continue celebrate its victory over the rebels.

In Washington, officials in the Justice Department are considering whether to seek criminal charges against Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka's defense secretary and a U.S. citizen; and Sarath Fonseka, Sri Lanka's army commander and a U.S. legal resident who holds a green card, the Washington Post article said.

Bruce Fein, former US Associate Deputy Attorney General
Bruce Fein, former US Associate Deputy Attorney General
"Bruce Fein, a lawyer who represents the group Tamils Against Genocide, said he filed a 1,000-page report with the attorney general's office detailing alleged bombings, disappearances and other attacks. Fein, a former associate deputy attorney general, said he hoped the evidence would lead to charges of genocide, war crimes and torture against Rajapaksa and Fonseka, who are widely considered architects of the government's war against the Tamil Tigers.

"Fein, in an interview, said his group hopes to win a legal ruling to deny Rajapaksa and Fonseka U.S. visas and freeze their assets. If Rajapaksa and Fonseka were indicted, Sri Lanka would be obliged to extradite them to the United States under the genocide convention of 1948, he said," the article notes.

On the reaction of the Sri Lanka Government the paper said: "[w]e reject any allegations of genocide or war crimes in Fein's case, or with the United Nations," said Palitha Kohona, Sri Lanka's minister of foreign affairs. "We would have finished this war months ago if we didn't want to hurt civilians. It could have been over in days."

Related Articles:
29.05.09   20,000 Tamil civilians massacred by Sri Lanka – The Times
15.05.09   NYT highlights satellite evidence of Sri Lanka's criminal cu..
06.02.09   Fonseka, Gotabaya Genocide charges filed with US Justice Dep..

External Links:
WP: Fresh Reports, Imagery Contradict Sri Lanka on Civilian No-Fire Zone
WP: Article's by Emily Wax
NYTimes: Satellite Map showing shelling damage inside Safety Zone
HRW: Sri Lanka: Satellite Images, Witnesses Show Shelling Continues
TAG: Tamils Against Genocide
NYT: Sri Lanka’s Dirty War
AAAS: AAAS Report: Satellite imagery and conflict in Sri Lanka


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