Is this evidence of Sri Lankan ‘war crimes’?
25 August 2009
By Jonathan Miller
Channel 4 News shows footage claimed to show Sri Lankan forces executing Tamils earlier this year. Jonathan Miller reports.
Just three months after the Sri Lankan government declared the country liberated from the Tamil Tigers, video footage has emerged apparently showing government troops summarily executing Tamils.
Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka, which obtained the material, said it was filmed in January – when the international media were prevented by the Sri Lankan government from covering the conflict zone.
Tonight, the Sri Lankan High Commission denied the government had carried out atrocities against the Tamil community. A Sri Lankan army spokesman also called the video a “fake”. Read the response here.
The Sri Lankan government launched a large scale military offensive in January capturing the Tamil Tiger held town of Kilinochchi. The army then steadily pushed the rebels into an small area of the north-east.
Be warned – there are extremely disturbing scenes in this report from our foreign affairs correspondent Jonathan Miller.
Sri Lanka High Commission response
“The High Commission of Sri Lanka categorically deny that the Sri Lankan armed forces engaged in atrocities against Sri Lankan Tamil community. They were only engaged in a military offensive against the LTTE.
“The High Commission has noted that in many instances in the past, various media institutions used doctored videos, photographs and documents to defame the Sri Lankan government and armed forces. Therefore, we request you to verify the authenticity of the video footage before the telecast”.
Sri Lanka calls ‘war crimes’ video a fake
Updated on 26 August 2009
By Channel 4 News
Sri Lanka’s military says a video clip allegedly showing its soldiers executing prisoners during the battle against Tamil Tigers rebels is a fake.
Sri Lankan army spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said the footage – broadcast by Channel 4 News last night – was a fabrication designed to discredit security forces.
He said: “This video has been made to discredit the armed forces. This was said to have been filmed at a time when the Tigers too were operating dressed in Sri Lankan military uniforms.”
The video was passed to Channel 4 News by a group called Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka. It campaigns for press freedom in the Asian country.
The group said the video was taken in January by a soldier using a mobile phone, when government forces overwhelmed the stronghold of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) at Kilinochchi.
The capture of Kilinochchi was a milestone in the army’s final push against the Tamil Tigers, which triumphantly concluded a 27-year war in May.
By January, when the video was allegedly filmed, foreign and most local journalists had been banned from the conflict zone.
Despite previous claims that the Sri Lankan army had committed war crimes during the conflict, it has so far staved off a UN investigation.
The Sri Lankan High Commission told Channel 4 News: “The High Commission has noted that in many instances in the past, various media institutions used doctored videos, photographs and documents to defame the Sri Lankan Government and armed forces.
“Therefore, we request you to verify the authenticity of the video footage.”