"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."

- Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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Home > Tamils - a Trans State Nation > Struggle for Tamil Eelam > Indictment against Sri Lanka > Genocide'83 > Sri Lanka's Genocidal War - '95 to '01 > Sri Lanka's Undeclared War on Eelam Tamils  - in the Shadow of a Ceasefire - 02 todate: Introduction & Index  > Sri Lanka's Undeclared War on Eelam Tamils in the Shadow of a Ceasefire - 02 todate: the Record Speaks > Disappearances & Extra Judicial Killings > Rape & Murder  > Torture  > Sri Lanka's War Crimes > Censorship, Disinformation & Murder of Journalists > Patterns of  Impunity  > Sri Lanka Accused at United Nations > Rajiv Gandhi's War Crimes

INDICTMENT AGAINST SRI LANKA

Sri Lanka's Undeclared War on Eelam Tamils
...in the Shadow of a Ceasefire

  • Massacre of Aid Workers by Sri Lanka Army - President Mahinda Rajapakse stands charged with international War Crime, 4 August 2006

1. G. Kavitha (Female, Age 27, Hygiene Promotion Officer)
2. S. Ganesh (Male, Age 54, Driver )- Kavitha’s father
3. K.Kovarthani (Female, Age 28, Hygiene Promotion Officer)
4. S.Romila (Female, Age 25, Hygiene Promotion Officer)
5. V.Kokilavathani (Female, Age 29, Hygiene Promotion Officer)
6. G. Sreethraran (Male, Age 36, Advanced Field-Officer)
7.Primus Anandarajah (Male, Assistant Promotion Manager)
8. Matahavarasa Ketheeswaran (Male, Age 36, Supervisor)
9. M. Narmathan (Male, Age 24, Field officer)
10. R. Arulraj (Male, Age 24, Field officer)
11. P.Pratheeban (Male, Age 27, Field officer)
12. M. Rishikeshan (Male, Age 28, Field officer)
13. Kodeeswaran Y. Kodeeswaran (Male, Age 31, Field officer)
14. Muraleetharan (Male, Age 35, Driver I.)
15. K. Koneshwaran (Male, Age 24, Driver )
16. Abdul Latif Mohamed Jauffer (Male, Age 31)
17. A. Jaseelan (Male)


Mourners present flowers at a Memorial Service on 11 August 
for Aid Workers executed by Sri Lanka Troops

"...security forces had been present in Muttur at the time of the killings... the government had prevented the truce monitors from going to the crime scene to investigate immediately after the discovery of the bodies and ...confidential conversations with highly reliable sources had pointed to the culpability of security forces... The Security Forces of Sri Lanka are widely and consistently deemed to be responsible for the incident... the killings are one of the most serious recent crimes against humanitarian aid workers worldwide... Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission, 30 August 2006

  Sri Lanka Army Massacres Aid Workers - Tamilnet
Sri Lanka aid group says 15 tsunami staff executed - Reuters Report, 6 August 2006
ACF workers demand handover of massacred NGO workers' bodies, 7 August 2006
Aid massacre ‘result of impunity’ - Tamils Rehabilitation Organisation
ACF workers, 14 Tamils and a Muslim, lined up and shot - Fact Finding Mission, 8 August 2006
Sri Lanka blocking massacre probe says Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission, 12 August 2006
Execution-style killings - 17 ACF Aid Workers says International Federation of Tamils
Clinton calls killing of Sri Lankan aid workers ‘wanton act’
EU urges probe into killing of aid workers in Sri Lanka
UN condemns killings of aid workers in Sri Lanka, urges probe
ICRC condemns killing of aid workers
Families tell of Sri Lanka aid staff’s final hours  
Sri Lanka atrocity tales rage...
SLMM finds Sri Lanka military guilty of aid workers’ massacre
Searing Critique of Sri Lanka Government - International Herald Tribune, 30 August 2006
Aid workers massacre probe flawed- ICJ, 9 March 2007
ICJ calls for justice as inquest into killing of 17 aid workers concludes, 9 March 2007

Sri Lanka Army Massacres Aid Workers - [TamilNet, August 05, 2006 14:28 GMT]

Sri Lanka Army soldiers who entered the Muthur town in the early morning of Saturday shot and killed 15 Tamil workers from Action Fiam NGO. The workers, trapped inside their Muthur branch office residence located close to Muthur Cultural Centre, were shot and killed at point blank range, initial reports from Muthur town said. Four of the fifteen massacred at the residence were women workers, according to the initial reports. Meanwhile, 29 Tamil males who were among the civilian refugees being transported by United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) towards Trincomalee town were arrested by Sri Lanka Army troopers and were transported in a tractor, sources from Kiliveddy said. The arrested were handed over to the Police, sources said. 300 Tamil families reached Trincomalee in a transport facilitated by the ICRC.

Names of those executed :

1. G. Kavitha (Female, Age 27, Hygiene Promotion Officer)
2. S. Ganesh (Male, Age 54, Driver )- Kavitha’s father
3. K.Kovarthani (Female, Age 28, Hygiene Promotion Officer)
4. S.Romila (Female, Age 25, Hygiene Promotion Officer)
5. V.Kokilavathani (Female, Age 29, Hygiene Promotion Officer)
6. G. Sreethraran (Male, Age 36, Advanced Field-Officer)
7.Primus Anandarajah (Male, Assistant Promotion Manager)
8. Matahavarasa Ketheeswaran (Male, Age 36, Supervisor)
9. M. Narmathan (Male, Age 24, Field officer)
10. R. Arulraj (Male, Age 24, Field officer)
11. P.Pratheeban (Male, Age 27, Field officer)
12. M. Rishikeshan (Male, Age 28, Field officer)
13. Kodeeswaran Y. Kodeeswaran (Male, Age 31, Field officer)
14. Muraleetharan (Male, Age 35, Driver I.)
15. K. Koneshwaran (Male, Age 24, Driver )
16. Abdul Latif Mohamed Jauffer (Male, Age 31)
17. A. Jaseelan (Male)

Sri Lanka aid group says 15 tsunami staff executed - Reuters Report Sun Aug 6, 2006 12:57pm ET


TRINCOMALEE, Sri Lanka (Reuters) - Fifteen local aid staff working on post-tsunami rebuilding have been found executed in northeast Sri Lanka after heavy fighting, the main umbrella body for aid agencies in the country said on Sunday.

The local aid workers were already known to be missing. The Consortium for Humanitarian Agencies (CHA) said that one of the only relief teams to reach the battered town of Mutur had found the corpses in an aid agency office.

"They found them in the office on the ground, lying face down -- executed," said CHA chief Jeevan Thiagarajah. "The report I had was that they had been shot. We have photographs but do not want to release them." The aid staff were all Sri Lankans working for an international agency which could not be reached for comment.

Thiagarajah said it was not clear who had killed them. Mutur has seen days of fighting between the government and Tamil Tiger rebels, and has proved almost impossible to reach. A pro-rebel website blamed the army for the killings.

The military, which says it now controls most of the town, said it knew nothing about the bodies -- found close to the army-held hospital and police station -- and denied involvement.

"I don't know anything about this but I know that a lot of people have been abducted by the LTTE," said a military spokesman, using the abbreviation for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Most of the dead were believed to be from the Tamil minority, with at least one Muslim among the dead, the CHA said.The Tigers want a separate homeland for minority Tamils and troops and local Muslims often accuse local Tamils of helping the rebels.Like most of the east coast, Mutur was hard hit by the tsunami, which killed 35,000 people around Sri Lanka. Tsunami damage is still very visible in the town and rebuilding has been slowed by recent conflict.International aid staff were pulled out of the town earlier in the year after a grenade attack on agency offices, so there are not believed to have been any foreign workers in the army-held town when the rebels attacked.

Aid massacre ‘result of impunity’ - Tamils Rehabilitation Organisation [TamilNet, August 09, 2006 15:37 GMT]

Joining several humanitarian organizations in condemning the massacre of the 17 ACF staff members in Muthur, the Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation (TRO) said the failure to investigate and punish those responsible for attacks on its own aid workers in January 2006 had contributed to a climate of impunity.

“This horrific crime has taken the lives of 17 persons who were engaged in bringing relief and humanitarian assistance to those who were suffering as a result of the 2004 tsunami and the ongoing conflict.These 17 persons dedicated their lives to helping others and their lives were taken by the deliberate act of some criminals. This act can not go unpunished.Since the abduction, and disappearance, of the 7 TRO employees in January, there has been an air of impunity.
 


1.Premini

2.Ganesalingam

3.Thangarasa

4.Sujendram

5.Vasantharajan

6.Ravindran


7.Satheesharan

The investigations produced no results or reports, and the criminal acts against humanitarian workers continued.This [latest] incident is the end product of this lack of investigation and accountability by the authorities. It's unfortunate that the myriad of initiatives and appeals undertaken by the TRO (appeals to the International Community, the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, President of Sri Lanka, press conferences, etc) to release the abducted TRO humanitarian workers went unheard and remain unsolved, thus reinforcing the deep-rooted culture of impunity that exists in Sri Lanka,” the TRO said.

The repeated plea to the GOSL and to the International Community by the TRO to provide safety and security for all humanitarian workers in the NorthEast were ignored and not given due attention, the Tamil agency said.“This is yet another incident which sadly reflects the indifference and lack of empathy afforded to people working under volatile political conditions,” TRO added.

Ten TRO staff members were kidnapped by Army-backed paramilitaries in Batticaloa district on January 30, 2006. Three were released, but the other seven have ‘disappeared’ and many believe they have been killed in custody. Despite repeated appeals by local and international human rights groups, the TRO workers have never been found. Promises by the Sri Lankan government to investigate the disappearances has been dismissed by the TRO which insists the security forces and its paramilitaries are responsible.

Shortly after the TRO abductions, Army-backed paramilitaries entered the offices of MAG (Mines Advisory Group) in Batticaloa on February 22 and beat a local staffer working at the office, and threatened the British national heading the Batticaloa office of MAG

On May 21, 2006, grenades were thrown at the Muthur offices of Nonviolent Peaceforce, injuring a Serbian peaceworker and two passing civilians. At the same time, the offices of two humanitarian NGOs in Muthur, including ZOA Refugee Care, were also attacked with grenades.

Other aid workers in Muthur have been attacked by Sinhalese mobs in recent days. Supplies sent by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for displaced Muslims and Tamils have been blocked by angry Sinhalese in the Trincomalee district. Sinhala hardliners in Sri Lanka routinely accuse aid agencies and NGOs of being pro-Tamil and backing the Tamil Tigers.
 

Sri Lanka ‘blocking massacre probe’ - SLMM [TamilNet, August 12, 2006]

Sri Lankan authorities are deliberately hampering efforts to investigate the murder of 17 aid workers, some of whose relatives blame the military, the island's chief truce monitor said on Saturday. “I have experienced this in the Balkans before. When you're not let in, it's a sign that there's something they want to hide,” retired Maj. Gen. Ulf Henricsson, who heads the unarmed Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) told Reuters.  Relatives of some of the 17 Action Contre La Faim (ACF) staff shot dead execution-style in Muttur town last week blamed Sri Lankan security forces for the killings.

The international community, from the United States to the United Nations, demands a transparent investigation into one of the worst massacres of aid workers in living memory. But the Sri Lankan government is denying Nordic truce monitors access to the site, Reuters quoted the SLMM chief as saying.

“You have a lot of time to clear it up. If there was clear evidence for the LTTE to have done it, why not let us in to see it? I think the government makes the situation worse for themselves, because the truth will come out,” Henricsson said.

“They are denying us access to the whole area, so we cannot monitor. There were journalist trips arranged to Mutur last Saturday and Sunday. That was possible, but we had no access. Why? For security reasons? Of course not. There are other reasons.”

Execution-style killings - 17 ACF Aid Workers says International Federation of Tamils [also in PDF]

...”I offer my condolences to the victims and strongly urge the authorities to do everything possible to apprehend the perpetrators of this crime and bring them to justice,”... Former US President Bill Clinton, 8 August 2006
... “This is plainly a crime, not only to us but to those we serve,” said Guy Hovey, head of delegation for the US-based United Methodist Committee on Relief which has been working to evacuate people since the fresh conflict began...

Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Article 2 - “war crimes” means - 2 (c) In the case of an armed conflict not of an international character, serious violations of article 3 common to the four Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, namely, any of the following acts committed against persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention or any other cause:

(i) Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;

(ii) Committing outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment;

(iii) Taking of hostages;

(iv) The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgement pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all judicial guarantees which are generally recognized as indispensable. ...

2(e)

(i) Intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population as such or against individual civilians not taking direct part in hostilities;

(ii) Intentionally directing attacks against buildings, material, medical units and transport, and personnel using the distinctive emblems of the Geneva Conventions in conformity with international law; ...

(iv) Intentionally directing attacks against buildings dedicated to religion, education, art, science or charitable purposes, historic monuments, hospitals and places where the sick and wounded are collected, provided they are not military objectives;

(v) Pillaging a town or place, even when taken by assault;

(vi) Committing rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, ... enforced sterilization, and any other form of sexual violence also constituting a serious violation of article 3 common to the four Geneva Conventions; ....

(x) Declaring that no quarter will be given;

“ I have been struggling in my mind against the conclusion that the SL government is trying to kill or terrorize as many Tamil people as possible; that the government is trying to keep the conditions of the war unreported internationally, because if those conditions were reported, the actions of the military would be perceived as so deplorable that foreign nations would have no choice but to condemn them. And this would be embarrassing to everybody. But it seems now that no other conclusion is possible... “ Professor Margaret Trawick
... “Aid and relief workers should not be harmed or killed. We are a neutral force. We are bringing help to these people,” said Ahmad Raslan from the Islamic Red Crescent medical agency.
“...Against partisans backed by the entire population, colonial armies are helpless. They have only one way of escaping from the harassment which demoralizes them .... This is to eliminate the civilian population. As it is the unity of a whole people that is containing the conventional army, the only anti-guerrilla strategy which will be effective is the destruction of that people, in other words, the civilians, women and children...” Jean Paul Sartre ‘On Genocide’
... “We believe it was the army,” said 50-year-old Richard Arulrajah, whose 24 year-old son was among those shot dead. “On Friday he phoned and said he would be back by Saturday. After that, we heard the military personnel came and shot them.”... Families tell of Sri Lanka Aid Staff Final Hours

CASE REPORT

Deat of incident: 4th August 2006
Place of incident: Mutur east, Trincomalee, Sri Lanka

On 4 August 2004, in Mutur east in Trincomalee, 17 ethnic Tamil employees of the International NGO Action Against Hunger (ACF) was told to lie face down on the ground with their hands on their head and shot dead. Each received scores of bullets to their bodies. All the jewels on the slain men and women were removed when the bodies were eventually retrieved. Who did it? Some available evidence is given.

ACF Director-General Benoit Miribel said the group wanted to send a team to the area but was prevented from doing so by soldiers. A journalist from international news agency said that he was among those taken to the area by the SLA. Although the SLA was keen to discuss alleged killings by the LTTE, it did not mention the killing of the 17 ACF employees.

Father of one slain man Richard Arulraj said, “We believe it was the SLA”. Father-in-law of another slain man, S Navaratnaraja, said that his son-in-law called and said that the LTTE told them to leave because the LTTE is leaving the area and therefore cannot protect them. People of the area speak of one employee who escaped and has told the story but is hiding out of fear for his life. There were previous threats and attacks on INGOs operating in Trincomalee.

Officials promised a full probe, but truce monitors say the investigation is stalled.

“I can’t see any action on that,” said chief monitor Henricsson, adding that as a result government forces were the prime suspect in the killing.....


Clinton calls killing of Sri Lankan aid workers ‘wanton act’
08 Aug 2006 NEW YORK (AFP)

“I was shocked and saddened to hear of the killings in Sri Lanka” of the workers “who I understand were providing assistance to tsunami survivors in the eastern part of the country”, Clinton said.

The slain workers were staff in the Sri Lankan city of Muttur for the French aid group Action Against Hunger (Action Contre le Faim), which has decided to withdraw from the country because of the attack.

“I hope that this wanton act will not deter the critical efforts of aid workers in Sri Lanka, who have operated with courage and determination under difficult circumstances,” added Clinton in a statement released by the UN’s office of the special envoy for tsunami recovery, set up after the December 2004 disaster in the region.

“I offer my condolences to the victims and strongly urge the authorities to do everything possible to apprehend the perpetrators of this crime and bring them to justice,” said Clinton.


EU urges probe into killing of aid workers in Sri Lanka - 7 August 2006

The Paris-based charity Action Against Hunger (Action Contre la Faim, ACF) earlier on Monday recovered the bodies of 16 local staffers who were killed while fighting was going on between Sri Lankan troops and Tamil Tiger rebels.

“We are deeply shocked by the spate of violent attacks on civilians and humanitarian aid personnel in Sri Lanka culminating in the execution-style killing,” EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner and Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Louis Michel said in a joint statement.

Aid officials in Sri Lanka said they were not in a position to say how the staffers had been killed but several witnesses who saw the bodies Sunday said they had been shot dead. “The Commission urges the authorities in Sri Lanka to investigate these killings immediately and thoroughly and to give assurances that they will do everything possible to ensure a safe humanitarian space in the country,” the commissioners said. ACF said it sent staff to recover the bodies of 15 staff members, but found 16 corpses at the offices in the northeastern town of Muttur where heavy fighting raged last week.

The relief agency had struggled since the weekend to get access to the area. But sporadic long-range attacks, which continued throughout Monday and which Tiger rebels said killed another 15 civilians, hampered efforts to reach the fishing town.

The two commissioners warned that if attacks continued European Union- financed relief might not reach the more than 325,000 highly vulnerable, uprooted

Former US president Bill Clinton, who is a UN special envoy on tsunami recovery efforts in the Indian Ocean, expressed shock Monday at the killing of 16 aid workers in Sri Lanka. The European Commission said Monday it was “deeply shocked” by recent attacks on civilians and aid workers in Sri Lanka and called for a probe into the killing of 16 members of a relief agency.


UN condemns killings of aid workers in Sri Lanka, urges probe, 8 August, 2006

The United Nations on Monday strongly condemned the execution-style killings of 15 aid workers from French organization Action against Hunger in northeastern Sri Lanka, calling on the authorities to apprehend those responsible.

The aid workers, who were providing assistance to survivors from the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, were killed in the town of Mattur, according to the Inter-Agency Standing Committee Country Team for Sri Lanka, which is chaired by the UN’s humanitarian coordinator but also brings together nongovernmental aid agencies.

“The country team said the killings were ‘a totally reprehensible act’ and called for an independent investigation. It added that many civilians have been killed since fighting started in the area and called for a cessation of hostilities,” UN spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters in New York.

UN Special Envoy for Tsunami Recovery and former United States President Bill Clinton expressed his shock at the killings, extending condolences to the affected families and urging the authorities to do “everything possible to apprehend the perpetrators of this crime and to bring them to justice.”

“I hope that this wanton act will not deter the critical efforts of aid workers in Sri Lanka, who have operated with courage and determination under difficult circumstances,” he said in a statement.

Last Friday, the UN refugee agency expressed deep concern about the plight of civilians caught up in the violence between the government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), who have been fighting for more than 20 years in a conflict that has already claimed some 60,000 lives.


ICRC condemns killing of aid workers

The International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) strongly condemns the killing of 15 national employees of the French humanitarian organization Action Contre la Faim (ACF) in the town of Muttur, Trincomalee district, Sri Lanka. “We are appalled at what happened to the ACF staff. This was a deliberate attack on a humanitarian organization that was doing valuable work for the people of Muttur,”said Yvonne Dunton, head of the ICRC’s subdelegation in Trincomalee in a press released issued Monday evening.

The release further states:-

“The ICRC is deeply concerned about the serious deterioration of the security situation, which has severely hampered the efforts of aid workers to provide assistance for the country’s most vulnerable people.

“The ICRC calls on all the parties to the conflict to respect the work of humanitarian agencies and to refrain from any acts that might jeopardize their staff or their activities. It also urges the relevant authorities to take all necessary measures to ensure that aid workers assisting the civilian population and persons no longer taking part in the hostilities are spared from attack and can move about freely and safely. “Today, the ICRC provided displaced families in the town of Kantalai with assistance consisting of 335 tarpaulins, 335 hygiene kits (soap, washing powder, razors, bath towels and shampoo) and 112 baby parcels ( blankets, towels and baby powder). It is also installing sanitary facilities and two water-distribution systems in the camps where the families are sheltering. More relief activities for the displaced population are planned for the coming days.”


Families tell of Sri Lanka aid staff’s final hours  

Tue Aug 8, 2006 -By Peter Apps TRINCOMALEE, Sri Lanka (Reuters) - Some family members of 17 Sri Lankan aid workers found executed blamed the army for the killings, as details emerged on Tuesday about the final hours of the team trapped in a town at the centre of fighting with rebels.

Sri Lanka’s government denies any involvement in the killing of the tsunami relief staff from international aid group Action Contre La Faim (ACF). The charity itself says it does not yet know who murdered its mainly Tamil staff.

“We believe it was the army,” said 50-year-old Richard Arulrajah, whose 24 year-old son was among those shot dead. “On Friday he phoned and said he would be back by Saturday. After that, we heard the military personnel came and shot them.” Some Sri Lankan hardliners have in the past accused aid agencies of being pro-Tamil, ignoring the majority Sinhalese and backing the Tigers. Other aid workers have been attacked by Sinhalese mobs in recent days, and troops had been under strain in heavy fighting. A precise cause for the massacre remains unclear.

Fighting between the military and the Tamil Tigers over water supplies entered a 14th day on Tuesday in the most serious outbreak of conflict since a 2002 ceasefire. Outside the hospital in the northeastern port town of Trincomalee, where the bodies of the aid workers arrived late on Monday night, relatives wailed while policemen covered their noses and mouths with scarves against the stench of death.

The staff had travelled to the eastern town of Mutur last Tuesday by ferry from Trincomalee, aiming to return the same day. That afternoon, a Tiger attack on a troop convoy in the harbour trapped them there.

UNABLE TO ESCAPE

Before dawn on Wednesday, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) launched an assault into the town.

“They called on the phone and you could hear shelling,” said Sinathambi Navaratnarajah, 52, who lost his son-inlaw. “They called ACF and were told to stay in the office.” Fighting raged through Mutur, with the Tigers taking positions in key buildings in the centre. The last contact with the aid team was on Friday, as most of the town’s people fled.

“They said the LTTE came and told them to leave,” said Arulrajah, who believed the Tigers would not have killed the ethnic Tamil workers. “They said: We are leaving this place so you must also leave or we can do nothing to protect you.”

By this time, Action Contre La Faim vehicles were trying to break through from the south, but could not get past columns of displaced Muslims and frequent mortar fire. The last radio transmission was recorded early on Friday morning, ACF says.

Most bodies had several bullet wounds, mainly to the head. The pathologist said they likely died later on Friday.It was all too much for Ponuthurai Yogarajah, 62, who lost one son in the killing and another in January when five youths were shot dead on Trincomalee beach as violence worsened.“There is no use in living,” he said as coffins were prepared for the bloated corpses. “Better to have died before them.”


  Sri Lanka atrocity tales rage  -  Peter Apps -COLOMBO (Reuters)
Wed Aug 23, 2006 6:09am ET 

... Generally the pressure for a proper investigation only really comes when outside groups get involved, hence the execution-style killing of 17 Sri Lankan staff from international aid group Action Contre La Faim is the best documented so far. Photos show the bodies lying apparently where they fell in the agency’s compound in the northeastern town of Mutur. Most had been shot several times.Officials promised a full probe, but truce monitors say the investigation is stalled. “I can’t see any action on that,” said chief monitor Henricsson, adding that as a result government forces were the prime suspect in the killing.....

SLMM finds Sri Lanka military guilty of aid workers’ massacre, 30 August 2006 [TamilNet, August 30, 2006]

International ceasefire monitors Wednesday blamed the Sri Lankan military for the massacre of 17 local aid workers from international group Action Contre La Faim earlier this month, Reuters reported, quoting Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM). Outgoing SLMM head Ulf Henricsson, called the killings a "committed act of assassination" and "one of the most serious recent crimes against humanitarian aid workers worldwide," AP reported.  “SLMM is, with the obtained findings, convinced that there cannot be any other armed groups than the Security Forces who could actually have been behind [this] act,” the SLMM said. The finding is based on its investigation and interviews with other parties and the international community, the SLMM said.

Outgoing SLMM head Ulf Henricsson, called the killings a "committed act of assassination" and "one of the most serious recent crimes against humanitarian aid workers worldwide."

The SLMM also ruled that a June claymore mine attack on a civilian bus that killed almost 70 was a breach of the ceasefire by Tamil Tigers, while blaming the government for a string of similar attacks in LTTE-held areas from April onwards.

15 of the ACF staff had been found dead on the floor of their ruined office, while two had been gunned down while apparently trying to escape in a car. In the office, the bodies, clad in ACF T-shirts, had bullet wounds and most of them lay face down.All except one, a Muslim, were Tamils.

The SLMM ruled the execution-style killings of the aid workers in Muttur a breach of the Ceasefire Agreement. Earlier, the SLMM charged that the Sri Lankan authorities are deliberately hampering efforts to investigate the murder of 17 aid workers, some of whose relatives also blamed the military for the killings. “I have experienced this in the Balkans before. When you're not let in, it's a sign that there's something they want to hide,” Henricsson told Reuters two weeks ago.

“You have a lot of time to clear it up. If there was clear evidence for the LTTE to have done it, why not let us in to see it?” Henricsson said amid accusations by the Sri Lankan government the Tamil Tigers carried out the massacre. “They (government forces) are denying us access to the whole area, so we cannot monitor. There were journalist trips arranged to Mutur. That was possible, but we had no access. Why? For security reasons? Of course not. There are other reasons.”

The SLMM report Wednesday backed up accusations by parents of some of the murdered aid workers who blamed Sri Lankan troops who recaptured Muttur town from the LTTE in early August for the killings.
 

Searing Critique of Sri Lanka Government - International Herald Tribune, 30 August 2006 -y Shimali Senanayake and Somini Sengupta -The New York Times


COLOMBO In a searing critique of the Sri Lankan government, Swedish- led cease-fire monitors on Wednesday blamed security forces for the killings of 17 aid workers in the eastern town of Muttur this month, one of the worst attacks against humanitarian workers worldwide.

A statement issued by the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission cited three factors.

First, security forces had been present in Muttur at the time of the killings. Second, the government had prevented the truce monitors from going to the crime scene to investigate immediately after the discovery of the bodies. Third, confidential conversations with "highly reliable sources" had pointed to the culpability of security forces. No other group, the peace monitors concluded, could have carried out the killings, which it called a "gross violation" of a tattered cease-fire agreement. "The Security Forces of Sri Lanka are widely and consistently deemed to be responsible for the incident," the statement read.

The government has said that it will conduct an independent inquiry. It has made no announcements about its own investigation yet, nor reacted to the Monitoring Mission's latest findings. The military has denied involvement in the killings. Summary executions of this nature are considered a war crime.

The findings of the truce monitors come on the eve of the departure of the group's Swedish chief, Major General Ulf Henricsson, and others who are nationals of European Union countries. The rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, which has fought a war of ethnic secession for more than two decades, demanded that EU citizens quit the mission, effectively forcing the removal of monitors from Denmark, Finland and Sweden.

That demand came after the European Union in May added the Tamil Tigers, or the LTTE as they are better known here, to its list of banned terrorist organizations. Monitors from non- European Union countries, namely Norway and Iceland, will remain in Sri Lanka. The size of the mission will shrink by about half to roughly 30.

The statement from the Monitoring Mission on Wednesday blamed the rebels for a land mine explosion that killed 68 people on a civilian bus in June. But it held the government responsible for a string of mine explosions in rebel-held territory between April and June in what it called "a deliberate strategy against LTTE cadres and civilians in LTTE controlled areas."

Despite a 2002 cease-fire agreement, fighting has intensified between the Sri Lankan military and rebel troops over the last month. It was ostensibly sparked by a contest over control over an irrigation channel not far from the strategic eastern port of Trincomalee. The fighting has also engulfed the northern Jaffna Peninsula, blocking the transport of goods and leaving it perilously short of food staples. An estimated 200,000 people are displaced by the latest fighting.

The 17 employees of the French branch of the international Humanitarian agency Action Contre la Faim, or Action Against Hunger, were found dead on Aug. 6 in the agency's office in Muttur. Fifteen of the employees had been shot in the head. Two had been shot in the back, as though they were trying to escape their attackers, agency officials said at the time. They were all dressed in T-shirts bearing the agency's name. Action Against Hunger worked on tsunami reconstruction and provided water and sanitation services to people displaced by war. The assassinations drew strong condemnation from abroad and attracted attention to the deteriorating safety for aid workers operating in Sri Lanka, which has been on the receiving end of unprecedented international aid since the Dec. 2004 tsunami.

In the last four months, the corpse of a driver from a humanitarian agency was found near a military checkpoint in the north, and grenades were lobbed at the offices of three aid agencies in the east, wounding one. 

Earlier Wednesday, an ethnic Tamil journalist abducted a day earlier was freed unharmed. Nadaraja Guruparan, 39, who heads the news division of a privately owned Tamil-language radio station Sooriyan FM was abducted by an armed group on his way to work. Five journalists have been killed in the last 16 months, four of them ethnic Tamils. None of the cases have been solved.

UN appeals for $37.5 million

The United Nations appealed Wednesday for $37.5 million to help tens of thousands of people who were driven from their homes or cut off by fighting in the north and east of Sri Lanka, The Associated Press reported from Geneva.

The appeal on behalf of a range of UN agencies was made at the UN's New York headquarters and the regional office in Geneva, and covers the period from September to December 2006.

"There is an urgent need for restoring and safeguarding of humanitarian operational space to ensure effective access to allow the delivery of services and the monitoring of assistance programmes," said Rashid Khalikov, temporary director of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Action in Geneva, while presenting the appeal to donor nations on Wednesday.
 

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