Video evidence of war crimes committed by Sri Lankan military — executions of Tamil men

Issue 

The article below is a August 27 statement by the Australian Tamil Congress. Media contact: Dr. Sam Pari – 0433 428 967

The Australian Tamil Congress, a national body representing Australian Tamils, wishes to bring to your attention the disturbing video evidence of members of the Sri Lanka Armed Forces executing Tamil men. The footage shows nine young men, stripped naked, hands bound and eyes blindfolded being shot execution style by members of the Sri Lankan military. The executioners speak in Sinhala, the language of the island's majority and ruling government. One army officer compares the taking of turns at shooting the Tamil men to buru, the Sinhala name for a card game.

The footage released last night shows what the Australian Tamil community along with human rights campaigners have long alleged: that the Sri Lankan military has been engaging in crimes against humanity and war crimes against the Tamil civilians.

The footage was leaked to British media Channel 4 by Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka, an action group of journalists, writers, artists and human rights defenders in exile who are campaigning for democracy, human rights and media freedom in Sri Lanka.

The Australian Tamil community and human rights campaigners have long been calling for war crimes investigations against the Sri Lankan government. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has repeatedly called for an international independent investigation into such violations. However, Sri Lanka has blatantly opposed such an idea.

Furthermore, despite reporting an end to the war on 19 May 2009, the Government of Sri Lanka has still not permitted unrestricted access to the ICRC, UN agencies, international aid groups, media or independent observers to the 300,000 Tamil civilians it currently holds indefinitely in heavily militarised concentration camps.

Allegations of rape, torture and abductions continue to emerge from the concentration camps, and an estimated 10,000 Tamils have been taken away for interrogation by security forces and their whereabouts are unknown.

Civilians in the region have not had free access to the UN, the ICRC and international aid agencies since September 2008, when the Government of Sri Lanka ordered them to leave Tamil areas of the north of the island.

The Australian Tamil Congress urges the Australian media to report on this latest evidence of the Sri Lankan government's continuing persecution of the Tamil people in the island of Sri Lanka.

Furthermore, the Australian Tamil Congress urges the Australian government to heed these convincing signs of human rights atrocities by the Sri Lankan state against Tamil civilians and use Australia's diplomatic power to pressure the Sri Lankan government to bring to justice all perpetrators.

The original video footage can be downloaded here

The press release from Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka can be downloaded here