News / Asia

Sri Lanka Denies Accusations of Abusing Tamils

Henry Ridgwell
Newly-discovered photographs have raised questions over the death of a Sri Lankan rebel leader's son in 2009.  The photos will be shown at a meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, which plans to discuss alleged atrocities against Sri Lanka's Tamil minority.  Sri Lanka accuses the Council of bias.  

The group Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka says the photos show Balachandran Prabhakaran, the son of the late Tamil Tiger rebel leader, in the custody of government soldiers in May 2009.

Another photo, which the journalists say was taken two hours later, appears to show the same 12-year-old boy lying dead on the ground with five bullet wounds in his chest.

The photos, and additional video footage, appear to contradict government accounts that the boy was killed in crossfire, says the head of Amnesty International India, G. Ananthapadmanabhan.

“We think they are credible evidence that needs investigation, but we cannot exactly say at this point what exactly happened," said Ananthapadmanabhan. "But having said that, even the thought that a 12-year-old boy could be executed in that fashion is quite horrifying."

The alleged killing happened during fierce fighting as the civil war between the government and armed Tamil separatists known as the LTTE, was coming to an end.

Sri Lankan High Commissioner to India Prasad Kariyawasam doubts the veracity of the pictures.

"This footage for us is kind of morphed in a way that this series of photographs doesn't add up, so we totally reject this," said Kariyawasam. "We have no doubt that Prabhakaran's son died, but he was a victim of that battle at that time."

The group Human Rights Watch says abuses against Tamils took place long after the civil war - in many cases to extract information or to force confessions.  Video footage taken by the group shows victims with scars across their backs.  One of them, given the name "DK," says he was tortured in 2012.

“They beat me severely. They burned cigarettes on my back. I was sexually abused. They hanged me upside down and beat me. My body was full of bruises. They submerged my head in water," he said.

David Mepham is UK Director of Human Rights Watch.

“We’ve got 75 cases where we are very clear that the evidence is compelling and that these people were subject to rape and sexual violence," said Mepham. "And overwhelmingly this is violence carried out by members of the Sri Lankan security forces.”

Sri Lanka says the allegations are fabricated by Tamils seeking asylum overseas.

For the second year in a row, the United States is sponsoring a resolution at the UN Human Rights Council calling on Sri Lanka to cease what it calls rights abuses.

Sri Lanka's presidential envoy on human rights, Mahinda Samarasinghe, claims the U.N. council is biased.

“We have put in place structures for discussion and implementation of solutions," said Samarasinghe. "However, we are being told that our chosen path is perhaps the wrong one. It is supposedly deficient. We must be lectured to or even taught. We must be instructed by people who know little of our history, culture or socio-political background."

Sri Lanka is due to host the Commonwealth summit in November this year. Canada has threatened to boycott the meeting unless Colombo addresses the allegations of atrocities.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Troops Depart

Afghans are grappling with how exodus will affect country's fragile economy More

Video Scientists Say We Need Softer Robots

Today’s robots are mostly hard, rigid machines, with sharp edges and forceful movements, but researchers at Carnegie Mellon University say they should be softer and therefore safer More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs