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Sri Lanka's Genocidal War - '95 to '01
In an appeal (dated 6 April 2000) to the Chairperson and Members of the Commission on Human Rights, the Humanitarian Law Project requested that immediate steps be taken to secure the release of 5,114 Tamil women, children and elderly who are trapped in St. Marys Church and school at Kilali near the Sri Lankan Armys (the SLA) Elephant Pass military base. The appeal read:
"International Educational Development/Humanitarian Law Project requests that the Commission take immediate steps to secure the release of 5114 Tamil women, children and elderly who are trapped in St. Marys Church and school at Kilali near the Sri Lankan Armys (the SLA) Elephant Pass military base.
These people come from the 8 villages surrounding the Elephant Pass base, a key strategic base for the SLA currently under siege by the opposition forces, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
We are aware that the LTTE has suspended operations in the past few days to allow these civilians to escape from the battle zone to safer areas, but to date the SLA has not allowed them to go.
We fear that the SLA is trying to use them as human shields. We consider this action by the SLA to be "hostage-taking" under the Geneva Conventions and hence a serious violation of humanitarian law. If they are killed in the course of the armed conflict, the SLA would be the chargeable party based on its refusal to let them flee.
We are also aware that the Roman Catholic Bishop of Mannar, Tamil groups of all sides in this war as well as many other concerned people and groups have appealed to the president of Sri Lanka and the SLA authorities to allow safe passage for these people, but to date they are still being held.
We are certain that the Commission as a whole will take appropriate action as it has in other similar situations this session and in the past. Accordingly, we inform you so that you may act before it is too late."
(Karen Parker, Chief Delegate, Humnaitarian Law Project:International Education Development, 8124 West Third Street, Suite 105, Los Angeles, California 90048, Phone: 310-836-6316 Fax: 310-836-7347 E-mail: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org )