Sri Lanka opposition demand war crimes probe

The main opposition party in Sri Lanka, the United National Party (UNP), released a statement Feb. 13 demanding the government conduct an investigation into alleged war crimes that occurred during the 26 year Sri Lankan civil war that ended in 2009. The Sri Lankan government and the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (or Tamil Tigers) have both been accused of war crimes and human rights violations, primarily in the final months of the conflict. According to the AP, the government has been accused of deliberately shelling civilians, blocking food and medicine for civilians trapped in the war zone and deliberately undercounting civilians caught up in fighting. The Tamil rebels have been accused of using civilians as human shields, killing those who tried to escape their hold and recruiting child soldiers. According to a November 2012 UN report (PDF) an estimated 40,000 Tamil civilians were killed in the final months of the conflict.

The UNP's demands come amid mounting pressure on the Sri Lankan government from human rights groups and the international community to investigate and prosecute abuses during the conflict. Last week the Public Interest Advocacy Center (PIAC), an Australian legal advocacy group, released a report detailing possible war crimes and crimes against humanity during the final months of the war. The report's findings will be incorporated into an upcoming meeting of the UN Human Rights Council sponsored by the US. Last month US ambassador Stephen Rapp called on Sri Lanka to investigate rights abuses by security forces during the war. In November UK Prime Minister David Cameron demanded that the Sri Lankan government conduct its own investigation into war crime allegations.

From Jurist, Feb. 13. Used with permission.

Strange geopolitics of human rights in Sri Lanka

While David Cameron and the US embassy may seem strange allies of the erstwhile radical ethno-Marxists of the Tamil Tigers, their demands must be seen in light of the Sri Lankan government's tilt to China and Russia in the Great Game. We fear the Tamils are being used as political pawns by Anglo-American imperialism. Note that more objective parties, like Amnesty International, have called for an international investigation of war crimes in Sri Lanka—which the Colombo government has refused.