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Commission Reports reveal parasitic conduct of LTTE

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on October 20 tabled the much awaited Reports of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Complaints of Abductions and Disappearances ( better known as Maxwell Paranagama Commission) and Presidential Commission of Inquiry appointed to investigate and inquire into alleged serious violations of human rights (popularly known as Udalagama Commission) with the UNHRC Report on the alleged human rights violations in Sri Lanka.

The Paranagama Commission conducted 12 public sittings in the North and the East. Each public sitting lasted for over four days. It has heard evidence of approximately 2700 complaints relating to what will hereinafter be referred to as its First Mandate. The Commission chaired by retired senior judge Maxwell Paranagama comprised Suranjana Vidyaratne, Mano Ramanthan, W.A.T. Rathnayaka and H. Sumanapala.

The Paranagama Commission has found that it was the LTTE which killed majority of Tamil civilians during the last 12 hours of the final stage of the war.

The Paranagama Commission Report stated: "In coming to its findings about the LTTE, the Commission was cognisant of the fact that every major NGO and many international organisations recognised the parasitic conduct of the LTTE in its treatment of Tamil civilian population, including the forcible recruitment of children as soldiers, particularly in the last stages of the war.

It has been estimated by a respected Jaffna-based NGO that in the final 12 hours of the conflict the majority of the Tamil civilian casualties were caused by the LTTE."

The Report "rejects the suggestion that civilians were either targeted directly or indiscriminately by the SLA as a part of an alleged genocide plan."

The Commission rejects the Darusman Report's finding that 'a number of credible sources' have estimated that there could have been as many as 40,000 civilian deaths.

The Commission finds that the Darusman Report as well as other reports have taken a particularly narrow and restricted view of the obligation upon the GOSL to prosecute international crimes.

However, the Commission emphasises that there may be individual instances of violations of IHL which could amount to war crimes and must be the subject of a judge led investigation.

The Commission takes the view that one of the most significant factors leading to civilian deaths was the refusal by the LTTE to agree to the NFZs.

Military aims

The Commission Report states, "The LTTE was principally responsible for the loss of civilian life during the final phase of the armed conflict through their actions which included taking 300,000 to 330,000 civilians hostage, implementing a strategy of killing Tamil civilians to suit their military aims, using civilians as a strategic human buffer leading to considerable loss of civilian life, using hostages to dig trenches and build fortifications thereby exposing them to harm, sacrificing countless civilian hostages to keep the LTTE leadership in power, arming hostages and forcing them into the front-line leading to the deaths of large numbers, forcing a great number of children to man the front-lines; deliberately preventing civilians from fleeing to areas away from the battle ground and executing civilian hostages for attempting to escape their captivity.

The Commission is of the view that the principal reason for the loss of civilian life during the final phase of the war was the hostage taking and use of human shields by the LTTE.

Evidence

The overwhelming evidence of the deployment of suicide cadres by the senior LTTE leadership during the conflict satisfies the Commission that there is strong evidence of the deliberate and indiscriminate targetting of civilians. This could be a war crime.

The Commission accepted that shelling by the Sri Lanka Army undoubtedly led to a significant number of civilian deaths, "but the Commission stresses that this was an inevitable consequence of the LTTE's refusal to permit civilians to leave their control to use them as a shield and a pool for recruitment, even when the GOSL permitted a ceasefire on April 12.

The Commission has recommended dealing with the issue of missing persons and the establishment of effective mechanisms at various levels for that purpose.

The Commission Report says that several complainants stated that their family members who were abducted or caused enforced disappearances were from their place of residence, while some stated that their members were abducted from places other than their homes, which information were transmitted to the members of the family by a third party."

The Commission recommends the legal process against the inmates held in prisons related to LTTE activities, should be expedited.

Livelihood

It has been observed by the Commission that livelihood is being drawn back due to the traumatic conditions of the missing persons family as a result of the war.

The Commissions also suggested a process of counselling and psycho- social related services.

The second Report tabled in Parliament on October 20 was the Presidential Commission of Inquiry appointed to investigate and inquire into alleged serious violations of Human Rights arising since August 1, 2005 popularly known as Udalagama Commission. The Commission, chaired by Justice N.K. Udalagama comprised Upawansa Yapa, Dr.Devanesan Nesiah, K.C. Logeswaran, Manouri Muttetuwegama, Jezima Ismail, S.S. Wijeratne, A. Javid Yusuf, Douglas Premaratne, M. Faizal Razeen and Denzil J. Gunaratne.

Of the 16 cases mandated to be inquired into by the Commission proceedings in seven cases have been concluded namely the killing of seventeen aid workers of the international non governmental organisation Action Contre La Faim in early August 2006, the alleged execution of Muslim villagers in Muttur and the execution at Welikanda of 14 persons from Muttur who were being transported in Ambulances in early August 2006, killing of five youths in Trincomalee on or about January 2, death of 51 persons in Naddalamottankulam (Sencholai) in August 2006, killing of ten Muslim villagers at Radella in Pottuvil Police area on September 17, 2006, killing of 68 persons at Kebithigollewa on June 15, 2006 and killing of 98 security Forces Personnel in Digampathana, Sigiriya on October 16, 2006. With regard to the balance nine cases, the COI is not in a position to conduct inquiries during the mandated period.

Two of the cases namely the killing of 17 Aid workers of ACF and the killing of five youth in Trincomalee attracted the attention of many parties including international organisations and foreign governments. Proceedings of the two cases took most of the time of the Commission.

Investigations

The Udalagama Commission says that the way the police have conducted the initial investigations with regard to the killing of 17 aid workers of the international non-governmental organization Action Contre La Farm in early August 2006 lacks professionalism.

The Commission recommends that it is necessary to incorporate a comprehensive component on human rights and international humanitarian law in all police and armed forces training schemes.

The Commission has said that the LTTE has been held responsible for the killing of 98 Security Forces Personnel in Digampathana, Sigiriya, but since the names of immediate perpetrators have not been identified, no further measures can be taken in this regard, at this point of time.

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