Annual Report 2013
The state of the world's human rights

9 December 2010

New video evidence of alleged Sri Lankan war crimes requires UN investigation

New video evidence of alleged Sri Lankan war crimes requires UN investigation

Video footage allegedly showing evidence of war crimes by Sri Lankan soldiers in the closing days of the war against members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) underlines the need for an independent investigation by the United Nations, Amnesty International said today.
 
Footage aired on Wednesday evening by the UK's Channel 4 News television programme, allegedly reveals new details about the location, date and time of the events, the military units involved in the incident and the identity of at least one victim.

The Channel 4 video was allegedly filmed in northern Sri Lanka in May 2009 and appears to show Sri Lankan soldiers executing prisoners.

A portion of the five-minute video was aired last week, but the remainder was considered too graphic. Channel 4 released a similar, but shorter, video segment in August 2009.
 
"The video footage seen in full is extremely disturbing and includes what appears to be a number of naked male and female bodies, many of them blindfolded and bound, depicting what seems to be cold blooded execution of prisoners – if true, this would constitute a war crime," said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International's Asia-Pacific programme director.

"The Sri Lankan authorities have categorically rejected this and previous videos as fraudulent and dismissed out of hand reports that its forces engaged in war crimes. This position is increasingly difficult to defend. An investigation must be undertaken to explore alleged war crimes by all sides in the conflict."
 
Channel 4 has identified one of apparent victims as Shoba, alias Isaippiriya, a young Sri Lankan Tamil woman and LTTE media worker whose body was featured in video footage first aired on 30 November. Amnesty International has received independent confirmation about the identity of the dead woman.
 
"The addition of key details, such as the location and time that these images were captured, are a significant development," said Sam Zarifi.

"The identification of victims such as Shoba, and the fact that her location immediately before she was killed, and the approximate time and date of her death, can apparently be determined, makes it considerably harder to discount this evidence."
 
The Channel 4 footage also included audio material containing graphic sexual remarks apparently made by soldiers discussing the dead women.
 
On June 21, 2009, Sri Lanka's Ministry of Defence released a list of names of LTTE leaders it said were killed on May 18, 2009 – the final day of the war. According to the Ministry of Defence, among the dead was a "Lieutenant Colonel Issei Piriya" of the LTTE's Communications and Publicity Wing, killed by the troops of the 53rd Division.
 
"Since the Sri Lankan government is unwilling to initiate an impartial investigation of its own forces or ensure accountability, this responsibility must now be assumed by the United Nations," said Sam Zarifi.

"The growing evidence that war crimes have been committed underscores the need for clear and credible answers to these deeply disturbing questions."

Read More

Sri Lanka 'war crimes' video: woman's body indentified (Channel 4 video - page contains disturbing images)

Issue

Crimes Against Humanity And War Crimes 
International Justice 
United Nations 

Country

Sri Lanka 

Region

Asia And The Pacific 

@amnestyonline on twitter

News

23 October 2014

The Netherlands’ repeated attempts to argue for the forcible return of Somalis to areas controlled by the Islamist armed group al-Shabaab exposes them to grave risks of human... Read more »

17 October 2014

Prisoner of conscience and torture victim Ángel Amílcar Colón Quevedo has been released from prison after five years in pre-trial detention, in a move that is welcome but... Read more »

22 October 2014

The release from prison of one of Viet Nam’s most high profile prisoners of conscience is a positive step, but authorities must now free the scores of other peaceful... Read more »

20 October 2014

An Amnesty International investigation into allegations of execution-style and other deliberate killings by pro-Russian separatists and pro-Kyiv forces has found evidence... Read more »

17 October 2014

Testimonies gathered by Amnesty International indicate that Egyptian security forces used excessive force to crack down on recent student demonstrations at Alexandria... Read more »