US claims hundreds of families killed in army shelling in Jan. 2009
Friday, 10 January 2014 00:20
Embassy says statement based on survivor and witness accounts
Reiterates call for credible investigation into allegations of abuse
US War Crimes Envoy visits No Fire Zone
Rapp goes to Puthukuduirippu, tours former UN HQ, school and hospital in final theatre of war
By Dharisha Bastians
The US Embassy in Colombo yesterday said that its top envoy on war crimes, currently on a visit to the island, had toured a site where hundreds had been killed by military shelling in January 2009 in the final Northern theatre of battle between Government forces and the LTTE.
Tweeting a picture of US Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues at the Office of Global Criminal Justice, Stephen J. Rapp and US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Michele Sison at the St. Anthony’s Ground at Puthukudurippu in the Mullaitivu District, the US Embassy said on its official Twitter page that “hundreds of families had been killed by army shelling” at the site.
Asked if the tweet reflected an official position, a US Embassy Spokesman told Daily FT that these were the stories they were hearing from survivors, ex-combatants and witnesses to the events that unfolded in the region.
“The Government of Sri Lanka has its own view on events there and they have expressed that, these are the accounts of civilians and survivors,” the Embassy official said.
The official explained that the Rapp delegation had visited a cross section of officials and civil society activists during their tour of the north, including the Northern Province Chief Minister all of whom articulated this view.
“This is why we have repeatedly called for a credible investigation into these allegations. Clearly there are serious allegations here of violations of humanitarian law and human rights abuses which require a thorough investigation,” the Embassy Spokesman told Daily FT.
Ambassador Rapp who was on a two day tour of the Northern Province since Wednesday (8), made a trip to the controversial ‘no fire zone’ in the Mullaitivu District, where tens of thousands of civilians had been trapped in the final days of the war.
Ambassadors Rapp and Sison also visited the Puthumathalan school and hospital in the final theatre of war between the Government and the LTTE and were pictured touring the former UN Headquarters at Puthukuduirippu.
Ambassador Rapp paid a call on Northern Province Governor, Major General (Rtd) G.A. Chandrasiri during his tour of the north.
During the top US official’s visit to Jaffna, he also met with Northern Provincial Council Member Ananthi Sasitharan, for a discussion about the plight of the disappeared. Ambassador Rapp also toured the Uthayan newspaper offices in Jaffna town and met with the publisher and TNA MP E. Saravanabhavan to express concern about media freedom.
The US War Crimes Envoy is in Sri Lanka ahead of the March Session of the UN Human Rights Council where Washington is expected to float a third resolution against Sri Lanka regarding outstanding allegations about rights abuses and the need for reconciliation in the island.