By Shayne R. Burnham
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka – Human Rights Watch urged the Sri Lankan government to address the increase in killings and abductions that have occurred in recent weeks in the Eastern Province. The Tamil Makkal Vidulthalai (TMVP) has allegedly been behind the acts of violence.
The TMVP is a political group formed when Colonal Karuna, former leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), broke away in 2004.
“The Sri Lankan government says that the ‘liberated’ East is an example of democracy in action and a model for areas recaptured from the LTTE,” stated Brad Adams, Asia Director at Human Rights Watch. “But killings and abductions are rife, and there is total impunity for horrific abuses.”
Human Rights Watch cites to at least 30 extrajudicial killings and 30 abductions in the Eastern Province since September. Moreover, journalists reporting on the security situation have been the target of threats and attacks. Finally, investigations reveal several cases of forcible recruitment of children by the TMVP.
For those who have fallen victim to disappearances, the government states that most are fabrications to discredit it and that alleged victims did not disappear but have gone abroad, or eloped.
Adams said, “Far from being a reformed and responsible party ready for government, the TMVP is still actively involved in serious human rights abuses.” He further stated, “Instead of holding the group accountable, the Rajapakse government has provided unqualified support. The government needs to open independent investigations into all serious human rights violations and hold perpetrators accountable.”
With the “liberation” of the East, the Sri Lankan government is currently engaged in the seizing of the stronghold of Kilinochchi, located in the North, from the rebel Tigers. The recapture of the last LTTE controlled territory will end a decades long war that began as the LTTE’s struggle for their own Tiger homeland.
For more information, please see:
AFP – Murder, Abductions Rise in ‘Liberated’ Sri Lanka: Rights Group – 25 November 2008
BBC News – A Fearful End to Sri Lanka’s War? – 22 November 2008
Human Rights Watch – Sri Lanka: Human Rights Situation Deteriorating in the East – 24 November 2008