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Sri Lanka's Undeclared War on Eelam Tamils
...in the Shadow of a Ceasefire
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.
Sri Lanka aid group says 15 tsunami staff executed - Reuters Report Sun Aug 6, 2006 12:57pm ET
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.
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.
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.
Deat of incident: 4th August 2006
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’
“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)
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.
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
Searing Critique of Sri Lanka Government - International Herald Tribune, 30 August 2006 -y Shimali Senanayake and Somini Sengupta -The New York Times