Rights group urges Sri Lanka to curb abuses
Tue November 25, 2008 13:11 EST .
KRISHAN FRANCIS - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) An international rights group said Tuesday that it recorded 30 cases of extrajudicial killings across eastern Sri Lanka - in the past two months and urged the authorities to curb such abuses.
Brad Adams, the Asia director for New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a statement that ``killings and abductions are rife'' in a territory that the government claims to have freed from Tamil Tiger rebels and ``there is total impunity for horrific abuses.''
Last year the government cleared the entire Eastern Province of Tamil Tiger rebels, known formally as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
The rights group statement said 30 extrajudicial killings were documented from September, including the case of two young men detained by police in the eastern town Batticaloa who were found dead on the beach six days later with their hands and legs tied to a concrete pole. Their bodies showed signs of torture.
Police insisted that the two men were released the next morning but Rights Watch investigators found they had been taken away at night by men in civilian clothing, the statement said.
``Since the killings, the police have intimidated witnesses into changing their account of the killings and falsified important evidence,'' it said.
Rajiva Wijesingha, chief of the government's peace secretariat, said police have been asked to investigate every incident.
``There have been several such incidents. Some of them could be LTTE or some other group and it is vital that these be investigated thoroughly,'' he said.
The rights group also said many other abductions and killings were likely carried out by Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal, a breakaway group of the Tamil Tiger rebels, now supporting the government.
TMVP broke away from the mainstream Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam rebel group in 2004 and functioned as a paramilitary force helping the government troops beat back the rebels. It allied with President Mahinda Rajapaksa's ruling coalition and won the provincial assembly elections early this year.
``Many in the East believe that the government has given its blessing for these abuses,'' Adams said. ``It is important for the government to take action against perpetrators to demonstrate that this is not the case.''
Meanwhile, the military vowed to push ahead with its campaign to capture the Tamil rebel northern stronghold of Kilinochchi despite heavy monsoon rains and flooded roads, the Defense Ministry said.
Government troops positioned along the Kilaly defense line 12 miles (20 kilometers) north of Kilinochchi ambushed a group of rebels killing two, said military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara.
Soldiers in villages surrounding Kilinochchi continued to fire artillery and mortar shells on the town, the ministry said. Army and rebel forces have been locked in positions 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) from the town in the south and 10 miles (16 kilometers) in the west for over a month.
In preparation for their final push to retake the rebel town, soldiers began reinforcing supplies for troops along the front-line with food, drinking water and medicine, the ministry said.
Soldiers achieved rapid success in recent months in its campaign to crush the rebel group's decades-old bid to create an independent homeland.Discuss this story
Published: Tue Nov 25 14:22:46 EST 2008