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UN admits use of cluster bombs three years after Vanni War

[TamilNet, Thursday, 26 April 2012, 11:30 GMT]
Sri Lanka using cluster bombs, an ordnance banned by several countries in the world, in a location where the Eezham Tamil civilians were herded during the Vanni war has been confirmed by a UN agency nearly three years after the civilians were silently allowed to succumb to such weapons by the international community. A report from a UN mine removal expert of the UNDP’s mine action group in Sri Lanka admits finding unexploded cluster munitions at Puthukkudiyiruppu, Associated Press reported Thursday, adding that the ‘revelation’ is likely to increase calls for international investigations. During the war, vividly describing the use of cluster bombs and other prohibited weapons, the affected people repeatedly appealed to the world to stop the genocide. TamilNet even published photographs of cluster bomb shells with Russian markings.

Genocidal Sri Lanka repeatedly and blatantly denied the use of cluster bombs in the war.

The Associated Press said that on Thursday it received a copy of an email written by Technical Adviser to the UNDP, Mr Allen Poston on Tuesday, saying that unexploded cluster bomblets were discovered at Puthukkudiyiruppu, where last month a boy was killed and his sister injured while trying to pry apart an explosive devise to sell it for scrap metal.

According to Mr Poston’s email, as the local mine clearers don’t have the expertise in clearing cluster bombs, a de-miner who had worked in Lebanon where Israel had used such cluster bombs in 2006, has been invited to clear the area in Vanni and train the other demining teams. This shows the UN was aware of the presence of unexploded cluster bombs at least for quite sometime now.

The Sri Lankan state that was demonstrating its genocidal intentions for ages, was not only allowed to course the Vanni War to genocide without witnesses, but was also given with ample time and space to clear the traces. The SL military was not allowing anybody into the former war zone for a very long time. Informed circles say that evidences were erased in a mass scale during this time. The UN has now gone there to collect scrap metal, commented a war victim in Vanni.

A spokesperson for Tamils Against Genocide (TAG), an activist group in US, said that while many still photographs taken from the war-zone have show alleged use of cluster bombs, TAG also has eye-witness evidence from medical personnel who have encountered cluster munitions embedded in injured victims. "Lack of witness protection, and danger to lives of relatives in Sri Lanka prevent exposing this evidence immediately, but TAG is collecting affidavits and evidence for appropriate use in the future," TAG said.

Full text of the AP story follows:

A report from a U.N. mine removal expert says unexploded cluster munitions have been found in northern Sri Lanka, appearing to confirm, for the first time, that they were used in that country's long civil war. The revelation is likely to increase calls for an international investigation into possible war crimes stemming from the bloody final months of fighting in the quarter-century civil war that ended in May 2009.

The government has repeatedly denied using cluster munitions during the final months of fighting, an Associated Press said Thursday.Cluster munitions are packed with small "bomblets" that scatter indiscriminately and often harm civilians. Those that fail to detonate often kill civilians long after fighting ends.

They are banned under an international law adopted by more than 60 nations that took effect in August 2010, after the Sri Lankan war. Those nations that haven't adopted the law still possess the bulk of cluster munitions, including the U.S., which says the bombs are a valid weapon of war when used properly. Sri Lanka, China, Russia, India and Pakistan also have not signed the law.

The Associated Press obtained a copy Thursday of an email written by a U.N. land mine expert that said unexploded cluster bomblets were discovered in the Puthukudiyiruppu area of northern Sri Lanka, where a boy was killed last month and his sister injured as they tried to pry apart an explosive device they had found to sell for scrap metal.

The email was written by Allan Poston, the technical adviser for the U.N. Development Program's mine action group in Sri Lanka.

It said photographs showed cluster bomblets in the area where the children had been collecting scrap and in their house.

Tens of thousands of civilians and Tamil Tiger rebel fighters had been trapped in a tiny area of Puthukudiyiruppu as government forces attacked the area during the final weeks of the war.

Lakshman Hulugalla, a Sri Lankan government spokesman on security matters, had no immediate comment. The U.N. also did not immediately respond to an AP request for comment.

Poston's email, dated Tuesday, said mine clearers in Sri Lanka had not been prepared to deal with the bomblets, and are now relying on the experience of deminers in Lebanon, where Israel used cluster munitions in its 2006 war.

A deminer who had worked in Lebanon was asked to clear the area and train other teams in how to handle the bomblets, according to the email. The local mine clearing office is adopting the Lebanon standards, and UNICEF was informed of the need to educate the local population about the dangers of the unexploded munitions, it said.

The army's demining unit also was informed of the discovery, the email said.

A report last year by a U.N. panel of experts found credible allegations of war crimes by both Sri Lankan government forces and the rebels. The experts said there were unconfirmed reports the army had used cluster bombs against civilians in a No Fire Zone the government had set up.

Witnesses reported hearing large explosions followed by multiple small explosions that would be consistent with such munitions. The expert panel said some injuries were also consistent with cluster munitions, and called for further investigation of the issue.

A New York-based human rights group said it would have been disastrous to use such weapons among the hundreds of thousands of civilians crowded into the Sri Lankan war zone.

"If there is evidence that cluster weapons were used, it would show yet again, the government's constant attempts at deception and underscore our demand that there should be an independent international investigation into all allegations of laws-of-war violations," said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director for Human Rights Watch.

Related Articles:
21.03.12   De-miners locate remains of cluster bomb in Ki'linochchi

External Links:
WP: UN report says unexploded cluster munitions found in Sri Lanka, appearing to confirm war use
BBC: Cluster bombs found in Sri Lanka, UN expert says


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