March 19, 2019

UN report accuses Sri Lanka government of killing “thousands of civilians”

Sri Lankan soldiers pose beside captured weapons and dead rebels at the end of the war in 2009. Now it seems that they killed thousands of civilians along with the rebels.

A United Nations report has been released that says Sri Lankan government forces were responsible for killing most of the thousands of civilians who died in the final months of the conflict with the Tamil Tiger rebels.

The UN said there was widespread shelling of civilians by government forces in the five month offensive in 2009 that ended the 25 year long conflict with separatist rebels in northern Sri Lanka.

The report doesn’t cast all the blame on the government, also accusing the Tamil Tiger forces of using civilians as human shields at sensitive installations.

The UN is now calling for an independent investigation into what it says could constitute war crimes.

The Sri Lankan government has denied allegations that it targeted civilians, and has rejected the report’s findings as biased and fraudulent.

Sri Lanka had specifically asked the United Nations not to publish the report findings as they claimed it might damage reconciliation efforts.

The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was forced to appoint an investigation panel after the Security Council was initially reluctant to investigate. Increasing evidence of serious human rights abuses in the government offensive, led to international pressure for a formal investigation.

The war against the Tamil Tigers has shades of the Vietnam conflict about it. The authorities find it hard to tell the enemy from civilians so they end up shelling them all. Often this is the result of sheer frustration at the enemy never being a clear target.