Monday, May 17, 2010

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka Forces Blamed for Most Civilian Deaths
By Lydia Polgreen
The New York Times, May 16, 2010
"Tens of thousands of Tamil civilians died in the last, bloody months of Sri Lanka's civil war, the International Crisis Group said in an investigative report to be released Monday, most of them as a result of government shelling of areas that were supposed to be safe zones. The report, which cites witness testimony, satellite images, documents and other evidence, calls for a wide-reaching international investigation into what it calls atrocities committed in the last months of the Sri Lankan government's war against the Tamil Tiger insurgency. ... Because the government barred independent journalists and most humanitarian workers from the war zone, the death toll of the final months of fighting, when at least 300,000 Tamil civilians were pinned down on a beach, caught between the rebels and government forces, is not known. United Nations workers counted about 7,000 dead in the last weeks of April, just before the last phase of the fighting, but diplomats, aid workers and human rights activists have long argued that those figures far underestimated the dead and did not include the final weeks of battle.
Government officials, meanwhile, have repeatedly denied singling out civilians, and have said that the total number of people killed is much lower. Sri Lankan officials declined to comment on the report, saying they had not yet seen it. The report by the Crisis Group, an advocacy organization based in Brussels and Washington that seeks to resolve and prevent armed conflicts, said that despite its promises to protect civilians and aid workers as it made its assault on the Tigers, the Sri Lankan government had bombed relentlessly in areas where it knew unarmed people were present. [...]"

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