Chennai: Even as Sri Lanka’s jumbo delegation continues its heavy lobbying in Geneva ahead of a US resolution against the country at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) this week, a new footage showing the summary execution of the 12-year-old son of slain LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran is likely to bring fresh pressure on the island nation.
The footage is part of a new Channel 4 documentary titled Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields: War Crimes Unpublished to be aired this Wednesday. It will provide additional evidence of alleged human rights violations, including summary executions, by the Sri Lankan army during the final phase of its war against the LTTE.
The earlier part of the film, broadcast a year ago, carried chilling footage of large-scale shelling of civilians and human rights violations that led to instant damning of the country.
In an article published in the Independent yesterday, Callum Macrae, the British journalist-filmmaker who made both the documentaries, describes the scene involving Prabhakaran’s son vividly:
“A 12-year-old boy lies on the ground. He is stripped to the waist and has five neat bullet holes in his chest. His name is Balachandran Prabakaran and he is the son of the LTTE leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran. He has been executed in cold blood. Beside him lie the bodies of five men, believed to be his bodyguards. There are strips of cloth on the ground indicating that they were tied and blindfolded before they were shot – further evidence suggesting that the Sri Lankan government forces had a systematic policy of executing many surrendering or captured LTTE fighters and leading figures, even if they were children.”
Besides the footage, Macrae has obtained high-resolution pictures of the boy with bullet wounds, which were analysed by a forensic pathologist Prof. Derrick Pounder. Quoting Prof. Pounder, Macrae says: “It is possible that the boy may have been made to watch the execution of his bound and blindfolded guards before the gun was turned on him.”
On the forensic analysis, he continues, quoting Prof. Pounder: “There is a speckling from propellant tattooing, indicating that the distance of the muzzle of the weapon to this boy’s chest was two to three feet or less. He could have reached out with his hand and touched the gun that killed him.”
Remarkably chilling words there.
The film will also show further evidence that the Sri Lankan government prevented humanitarian assistance to the civilians trapped in the “grotesquely misnamed no-fire zones.”
The new evidence comes in the wake of serious assertions by members of the Sri Lankan delegation that the the US resolution is an infringement on the sovereignty of the country. Camping in Geneva, they claim to have obtained the support of China, Pakistan, Russia, OIC and African countries and non-aligned member states.
Sri Lanka’s special envoy Mahinda Samarasinghe, who will address the resolution at the UNHRC, has reportedly said his country had enough support from member states to defeat the resolution. The country’s position is that its domestic mechanism is capable of addressing the issues, and hence international interference should not be encouraged.
The draft resolution by the US, submitted to the Council on Wednesday last, calls on the Sri Lankan government to implement the recommendations in the report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), set up by the Sri Lankan government to look into alleged rights violations. But LLRC was seen as a ploy to prevent international scrutiny.
The resolution also calls for all necessary steps to fulfill Sri Lanka’s relevant obligations and commitment to initiate credible and independent actions to ensure justice, equity, accountability and reconciliation for all Sri Lankans. In addition, it asks for a comprehensive action plan on the steps that the government has taken, and will take, to implement LLRC recommendations, and to address alleged violations of international law.
While acknowledging the “constructive recommendations” of the LLRC, the resolution notes with concern that the report doesn’t address serious allegations of violations of international humanitarian law. If the resolution is passed, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) will be asked to intervene to implement the steps.
Dismissing international pressure in the face of mounting evidence of human rights violations, Sri Lanka always maintained that the evidence was fabricated and if at all there were some incidents, the country was competent enough to handle it. The country, speaking in a single voice except the Tamils, including through its proxies, decried that the West was immorally interfering in its internal matters.
In the midst of all this, the most disturbing ambiguity was that of India, which never condemned Sri Lanka for its alleged excesses, but opted to focus on the softer humanitarian and political dimensions. Such a stand has irked the political parties in Tamil Nadu where it has a certain emotional appeal.
The new film will definitely raise the protest pitch in Tamil Nadu. Although the sympathy for LTTE has always been limited to a few provincial outfits, the people of the state and the political parties are unequivocal in their stand on the oppression of Tamils in Sri Lanka and the killing of civilians.
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