News

UN Official Hints at War Crimes in Sri Lanka

The U.N. human rights office says war crimes and crimes against humanity may have been committed during the conflict in Sri Lanka, possibly by both the government and Tamil Tiger rebels. 

Two months ago, the U.N.'s top human rights official, Navi Pillay, called on the Sri Lankan government and Tamil Tiger rebels to immediately suspend hostilities.   She warned the number of civilian deaths could reach catastrophic levels.  She put both warring parties on notice that they may possibly have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The High Commissioner's spokesman, Rupert Colville, says since she expressed these concerns, nothing has happened to change her mind. 

"Quite the contrary," he said.  "Thousands more civilians are believed to have been killed or injured.  Heavy shelling of areas populated by civilians has continued, more evidence has emerged about the LTTE [Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam] forcing civilians to stay against their will in the conflict zone, and shooting at or even killing some who tried to escape." 

Nearly 200,000 Tamil civilians in northern Sri Lanka have become displaced since the government began its so-called fight to the finish against the Tamil Tiger rebels early this year.  The two sides have been engaged in a civil war for more than a quarter of a century.

An estimated 50,000 people remain trapped in the tiny conflict zone.  Thousands of civilians reportedly have been killed and many thousands more wounded.  The United Nations has called on both warring parties to end this bloodbath.  It said the Tamil Tigers must stop using the civilians as human shields and let them leave the conflict zone.

At the same time, the United Nations has told the government it must fulfill its commitment not to use heavy weapons and to exercise maximum restraint.

Colville noted that the clashes over the past week or so have drawn strong criticism from the U.N. secretary-general, other Senior officials and an increasing number of worried governments.

He notes three U.N. special investigators recently called for an independent Commission of Inquiry into the conduct of the Sri Lankan conflict.

"We agree that something of that sort is now essential," said Colville. "There has to be accountability of what has gone on in Sri Lanka.  There has to be clarity and there cannot be impunity." 

U.N. aid agencies report they are blocked from entering the conflict zone and assisting the civilians.  The World Food Program says a major shipment of food has not reached the area since April first.  It says only small amounts of food have been allowed in and that is likely to run out in a matter of days.  

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs