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Sri Lankan Army burying the evidence of war crimes?

Act Now! | 20.05.2009 09:53 | Anti-militarism | Repression | Terror War

A day after the conflict was said to be officially over, there are reports coming out of Sri Lanka overnight that over 1000 Tamils were shot on sight in the enclave where civilians & LTTE forces had been confined in the last few weeks. There are reports that Sri Lankan soldiers were using mechanical diggers to dig large holes in the same region (Mullaivaikal - northern Sri Lanka). An estimated 25,000 people are dead since January this year and 30,000 injured. This figure is expected to rise dramatically if the whereabouts of 25 to 50 thousand civilians who were left in the enclave and still confirmed to have been there last Sunday can no longer be verified.
Meanwhile, Tim Martin from Act Now! continues into day-3 of his indefinite hunger strike outside the US Embassy.

The Sri Lankan Army has killed many thousands of innocent Tamils this year, several thousand in the last couple of weeks. This is the most extreme violence that has occurred during the entire 3 decade long conflict. There are allegations of atrocities having being carried out on both sides - the Sri Lankan army and the Tamil Tigers. However, evidence from satellite images of aeriel bombardment of the so-called 'no-fire zone' by the SLA has already been obtained by the UN. Right now, there have been witness reports that SLA troops have been large digging holes with mechanical diggers, as claims of numbers who have fled the area remain unverified. On Sunday 17th, between 25,000 to 50,000 civilians were still stranded on the 7.7 sq km narrow strip of northern coastline where 200,000 civilians had been confined alongside Tamil Tigers fighters in the recent conflict. There are no reports to confirm what has happened to these people since Sunday.

"Noting that the slow genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka accelerated to more than 10,000 in the last few months, far exceeding the horrors of Srebrenica, Professor Boyle in conversation with Los Angeles KPFK radio host, Michael Slate, Tuesday, accused Sri Lanka Government of bulldozing and destroying evidence of massacres in the Safety Zone while preventing access to the Red Cross and UN agencies. Boyle added that the United States Government with spy satellites would be knowing exactly what Sri Lanka's actions are in the Safe Zone, and stand implicated along with UK, France, and India in allowing the genocide to happen."
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Foreign ministers from the 27-nation EU have already said allegations that international humanitarian and human rights laws were violated and had to be investigated. On Wednesday 13th May, US President Obama denounced the "indiscriminate shelling of civilians trapped with the remnants of the country's Tamil Tiger rebels" in a speech he made about Sri Lanka.

There is a desperate humanitarian crisis facing tens of thousands of people in the country at this time and evidence of the use of chemical weapons by the Sri Lankan Army in the recent conflict. International aid agencies are now being allowed back into the northern Mullaivaikal region, but are said to be overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the human tragedy.

It is this plight facing scores of people which has driven Tim Martin, a non-Tamil British former aid worker who has lived in the northern region of Sri Lanka (where the conflict has been taking place) and now Campaign Director of Act Now! to embark on an indefinite hunger strike each day outside of the American Embassy.

He is calling upon President Obama of the US to intervene in Sri Lanka to ensure independent bodies, including UN monitors and media are allowed to enter the affected area immediately so that civilians are protected and the human scale of the disaster recorded.
Press can contact the numbers provided for more details. A copy of Mr Martin's letter to the President is below*.
END 19/05/09

Site: www.act-now

* Letter written by Tim Martin for the attention of US President Obama, delivered to USA Embassy yesterday, Monday 18th May 2009:

18th May 2009

Dear President Obama,

I am a former humanitarian worker. I have lived in Northern Sri Lanka where the conflict has been taking place during the good times of peace and the bad times of war. I have witnessed first hand the suffering of the tamil people and the atrocities inflicted by the Sri Lankan armed forces.

After returning from Sri Lanka, I founded a campaign called Act Now to raise awareness about the truth of the suffering of the tamil people. We are working closely with a number of human rights organisations and aid agencies, including ICRC, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Stop Child Soldiers. We also have the support of over 55 MPs and a number of Members of the European Parliament.

I have been deeply saddened by the international community’s lack of response to this humanitarian catastrophe, especially after the atrocities which took place in Rwanda and the promise of the international community to never let this happen again.

This desperate situation has led me to start a hunger strike without food or water to demand the necessary steps are taken to avoid further suffering. I call upon you today as a man which gave the world hope, a man that promised to bring change, to do everything possible in your power to put an end to the atrocities and meet my requests.

1. International monitors on the ground and satellite imaging effective immediately to verify the true number of casualties and the mop up process.

2. Immediate free access to international media and international organisations throughout Sri Lanka.

3. Emergency medical treatment for tens of thousands of civilians and POWs that are currently not in hospitals and are being held at checkpoints, schools and IDP camps.

4. Public Investigation into Vijay Nambiar, the Special Envoy for the UN Secretary General, as his brother Satish Nambiar is a paid consultant for the Sri Lankan government which suggests a conflict of interest.

Yours Truly

Tim Martin

Act Now!
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