People's tribunal finds Sri Lanka guilty

January 30, 2010

Sri Lanka was guilty of crimes against humanity for their war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) that concluded last May, a People's Tribunal in Dublin on January 14-16 found.

The people's court was organised by the Milan-based Permanent People's Tribunal and hosted by the Irish Forum for Peace in Sri Lanka.

The tribunal also found that the charge of genocide "warrants further investigation" and that the US and Britain should share responsibility for the breakdown of the peace process.

The tribunal used eyewitness accounts, as well as NGO and media reports to assess the nature of Sri Lanka's war on the LTTE and how it affected the Tamil population. Several escapees from the final weeks of the Sri Lankan government's offensive last May within the Mullaiththeevu "No Fire Zone" gave eyewitness accounts to the court. More than 20,000 Tamil civilians were slaughtered by Sri Lanka Army during these last days of the war.

The court heard that from July 2006 to April 2009, air raids and heavy artillery lead to the death of 116 people per day, according to the UN. It also heard that since the war many internment camp prisoners have simply been moved on to satellite camps in remote areas, according to BBC News.

Claims leveled during the election campaign were also assessed by the tribunal.

Opposition leader and former government minister Mangala Samaraweera claimed during the election that government minister Lalith Weeratunga had said the use of heavy weapons was only stopped as part of a political deal with the Indian government.

Samaraweera said in a statement during the campaign: "Despite claims to the contrary, both to the public of this country and to (the) UN … in February 2009, in fact the government had sanctioned the use of heavy weapons until April, when the Indian general election was in full swing".

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