The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) recently released a report on the alleged war crimes committed by the Sri Lankan army and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) during the Sri Lankan civil war inviting international attention towards the horrific atrocities by both sides.
The UN, in its long awaited report accused both the Sri Lankan army as well as the Tamil tigers for the savagery especially during the final months of the war in 2009. Hundreds of thousands of Tamil civilians were killed in the final months of the 26-year war that ended with the killing of the LTTE Chief V Prabhakaran in May 2009. Unveiling the report in Geneva, UN Human Rights Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein called for a special court to try war crimes committed and punish the convicted during the years-long conflict between the army and Tamil tigers. He said that only international magistrates, prosecutors and investigators would be able to handle the task of examining the alleged war crimes and ensure effective justice. The Sri Lankan government had earlier denied all claims that its forces committed war crimes. It promised a local inquiry but did not allow the proposed court which would have foreign judges. The government had once questioned the inquiries by the UN agencies and had refused to permit those coming with investigation purposes to enter the country.
The UN report that comes after six years since the war ended details shocking truths about the atrocities committed by both sides. The actual circumstances that led to the killing of the Prabhakaran and elimination of the Tamil tigers are not yet known. But the UN has confirmed the allegations of brutal massacres and severe human rights violations by the army laid down by different agencies. UN estimates reveal that 40, 000 Tamils were killed in the final army offensive. Gang rapes, enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, sexual violence and ‘brutal use of torture’ by the military forces encouraged by political and racial reasons were witnessed towards the end of the war. The army entrusted with the security of the nation brutally murdered the civilians violating all international laws. The then President Mahinda Rajapaksa resisted international pressure to investigate the issue. According to the report, Prabhakaran and his forces carried out forceful recruitment of children and massacred the Muslims and Sinhalese in the Tamil regions.
During the time of World War, battle between the world powers were eventually resolved by executing lakhs of civilians in the Afro-Asian countries and establishing settlements of new racial and religious communities. At least 4, 61, 000 people were killed in the racial massacres carried out by the NATO forces in Iraq. In Syria, at least 3.5 lakh civilians have been killed by the different battling forces. Russian army in 1999-2000 had tackled the Chechen forces by destroying Chechnya’s capital Grozny. The United Nations in 2003, called Grozny the ‘most destroyed city on earth’. Since the alleged war crimes occurred in the Asian country of Sri Lanka, a government towards which the Western powers have no apparent obligations, an outcry over the UN report for further steps to be adopted is likely to happen in coming days. The Sri Lankan government seems to continue with its racial stance and approaches. The global community should come forward to try the accused and punish the criminals particularly at a time when the Sinhalese and the Buddhist extremists move ahead with hostile policies against the Tamils and Muslims. Whether the families of the victims and the survivors would find justice is yet to be seen.