South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

By Janith Aranze

International human rights organizations have raised questions over the report and video released by the Defence Ministry last week regarding the war in Sri Lanka.

The International Crisis Group (ICG) said it had seen the documentary titled “Lies Agreed Upon’ but added that the report did little to quell the allegations raised against the Sri Lankan government.

Speaking to The Sunday Leader, Alan Keenan of the ICG said the documentary left a lot of questions unanswered.

“There is actually very little in the film that disproves or even challenges directly the many credible reports of government shelling of civilian concentrations, executions of surrendering cadres and LTTE political leaders, failure to provide adequate humanitarian supplies and attacks on hospitals and medical centres. If anything “Lies Agreed Upon” raises more questions than it answers,” he said.

Keenan also questioned the credibility of the witnesses interviewed in the documentary. “Except for the couple of average Tamils shown early on, everyone speaking is under formal or de facto government detention or is a government servant who had earlier been detained under emergency laws – i.e. the doctors. Their situation – having been in detention and still being watched very closely – is well-known and provides strong grounds to doubt whether their statements reflect their true experience and beliefs,” Keenan explained.

Amnesty International meanwhile said that they are also ‘aware’ of the documentary but will not be commenting on it. A volunteer at Amnesty International, Tim Molyneux, told The Sunday Leader, that Amnesty International will not be submitting a response to the documentary. “We are aware of the documentary but we are not planning a response to it. A decision was taken this week not to respond,” he said.

Brad Adams, Asia Director of Human Rights Watch, said the documentary is finally an admission by the Sri Lankan government that civilians did die as a result of their actions. “The Sri Lankan government is finally admitting that its forces caused civilians losses during the conflict’s final months, but unconvincingly claims no responsibility. This is just the latest and glossiest effort to whitewash mounting evidence of government atrocities during the fighting,” he said.

The documentary, which was released last week by Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, is a detailed account by the government of the last stages of the civil war.

Source: Sunday Leader – 07.08.2011