Sri Lanka exclusion zone likely contains mass graves: British MEP

[TamilNet, Saturday, 10 December 2011, 15:41 GMT]
Richard Howitt, a British Member of European Parliament (MEP), after leading a delegation socialist MEPs to Sri Lanka where they were allowed to visit to the edge of the demarcated Exclusion zone, said "he believes there are many bodies of dead civilians buried in exclusion zones where the final fighting of the civil war took place in 2009," BBC reported. Howitt said that there should be full access to the exclusion zone.

Richard Howitt MEP
Richard Howitt MEP
“What everyone says is that it’s because [it is] literally where the bodies are buried, and that if people with forensic skills go in and investigations start, then the true horrors of what happened in those final days with so many innocent civilians said to have been killed absolutely unnecessarily, that that would come out and that the Sri Lankans will do everything to prevent that” BBC quoted MEP Richard Howitt as saying.

According to Mark Skinner, a well known author, a mass grave contains at least half a dozen individuals, while Mant, another domain expert on genocide is more modest regarding numbers: two or more bodies in contact with each other suffice to define a mass grave.

Government of Sri Lanka spokesperson, Minister Rambukwella, responded to the allegation, saying “[t]here had been no landmine deaths since the end of the war and it would be risky to send people into those zones.”

Spokesperson for Tamils Against Genocide (TAG), a US-based activist group, said "while satellite images and witness accounts indicate nearly 80,000 Tamil civilians may have been killed by Colombo, the accurate figures will remain not fully answered until high technology methods to discover bodies underneath newly constructed military and other structures, and inside deeply dug mass-graves, are made possible through an international investigation unobstructed by Colombo-engineered local obstacles. Newer hand-held spectroscopic technologies are available to forensic anthropologists that will detect concentration of calcium, phosphorus, sodium, and zinc, a chemical signature indicating presence of mass graves even decades after the killing. Sri Lanka will not get away with its short term theatrics to prevent full accountability for its mass atrocity crimes," TAG's spokes person added.

Meanwhile, documentary filmmaker Callum Macrae, Malinda Seneviratne, Editor-in-Chief of Sri Lanka's The Nation, and Bob Templer of the International Crisis Group participated in a discussion at the Asia Society on Sri Lanka's Civil war, on 6th December. The discussion was moderated by Tunku Varadarajan, editor of Newsweek International.

External Links:
BBC: Dead bodies in exclusion zone - British MEP
AS: Sri Lanka war discussion at Asia Society
ICP: At UN, Pillay Says Deferring Sri Lanka Visit Until LLRC Report, Won't Count Deaths
AS: What Are Asian Nations Saying About Sri Lanka’s Conflict?


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