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Amnesty flays Lankan Govt for killings

It has said that the low intensity war in Lanka has claimed over 200 lives in a month, reports PK Balachandran.

india Updated: May 19, 2006 19:48 IST

Amnesty International (AI) has said that the low intensity war in Sri Lanka has claimed more than 200 lives and displaced more than 20,000 people in the past one month.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the AI said that most of the dead were civilians.

It criticised the Sri Lankan government for not conducting "complete and effective" investigations into killings of this sort, and pointed out that this was leading to the perpetrators' indulging in such crimes with "impunity".

The killing of nine members of a Christian family in Kayts island off Jaffna on May 13, had come in for special mention because two of the dead were very small children, a four-month-old baby and four-year-old boy.

On the same night, gunmen killed 72-year-old Murugesu Shanmugalingam and two others, in Puliankoodai, also in Kayts island.

A tea shop owner, Ratnam Senthuran, was shot dead in Vangalady.

" The government has condemned the Kayts killings and announced that police investigation is underway. Amnesty International welcomes these initial steps but notes that there is a disturbing pattern of incomplete or ineffective investigations by the government, with the result that perpetrators of such violence generally operate with impunity," the statement said.

"In accordance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Sri Lanka has ratified, the government must carry out independent, impartial and effective investigations, the results of these investigations should be made public, and those found responsible for the attacks must be brought to justice."

"Without effective investigations and prosecutions, the cycle of retaliatory violence that so endangers the lives of civilians is likely to escalate," the statement said.

Navy and EPDP in the dock

"The LTTE has accused the Sri Lanka Navy of responsibility for the attacks on Kayts island, a charge which the Navy has denied."

"However, Amnesty International has received credible reports that Sri Lanka Navy personnel and armed cadres affiliated with the Eelam Peoples' Democratic Party, a Tamil political party that is opposed to the LTTE, were present at the scene of the killings."

Govt, EPDP deny involvement

The Amnesty noted that the Sri Lankan government had denied involvement and blamed the Tigers.

"The LTTE orchestrated the attack to divert international opinion," government said.

The EPDP said in a statement on Wednesday that the LTTE had "fabricated" the story of its involvement.

The EPDP was dedicated to "serving the people and not taking their lives", the statement said.

The EPDP is part of the government of Sri Lanka and its leader, Douglas Devananda, is a cabinet minister for Social Welfare.

But still the Amnesty told the government: "Regardless of who is responsible for the attacks, the Sri Lankan government has obligations under international law to take steps to prevent such killings, to ensure that those who commit them are brought to justice, and that the families of those killed are able to obtain redress," the AI statement said.

First Published: May 18, 2006 11:58 IST