Sri Lanka military denies executing 12 year old boy | Asia Pacific

Sri Lanka military denies executing 12 year old boy

Sri Lanka military denies executing 12 year old boy

Updated 20 February 2013, 22:06 AEST

The Sri Lankan government and military have rejected accusations that soldiers executed the 12 year old son of Tamil Tiger rebel leader Velupillai Prabhakaran in the last weeks of the war.

A film-maker on Tuesday released photographs, allegedly of Balachandran Prabakaran, to publicise a new documentary on war crimes for Britain's Channel Four.

The documentary alleges that the boy was executed two hours after the first photo was taken.

The UN Human Rights Council meets in Geneva next month, and the Sri Lankan army says such allegations tend to surface to coincide with the meetings.

Human rights groups say the government and the military can't be believed.

Presenter: Sen Lam

Speaker: Britto Fernando, co-convenor, Platform for Freedom and President of the Families of the Disappeared, Sri Lanka

FERNANDO: The military spokesman has rejected it - that means has said that this is a baseless accusation. So they're rejecting the accusation. Then (the former military chief) General Fonseka was interviewed by the BBC and he has said that under his command, such a thing has not taken place. So the Sinhala papers actually do not carry much about this issue, other than saying, this is another baseless accusation by the West.

LAM: The British film-maker who released the photographs, said they were proof that the boy was alive and well, two hours before he was shot dead. What is the current feeling on the matter, where human rights groups are concerned? Do you think these photographs deserve to be investigated?

FERNANDO: The thing is, with the past experiences of the government behaviour, especially with the military spokesmen and police spokesmen, we don't believe as human rights activists, anything that the government or the military or the police say, because there were many cases where disappearances took place, and when they caught some perpetrators, the whole country knew the truth, but these 'spokesmen' always said they (the allegations) are baseless and they have no proof. Whatever they say, we don't believe, even the majority knows that they're not telling the truth. The interest in enquiring into those things, those allegations, the government doesn't show any improvement on the enquiries. So now the LLRC - the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission - which was appointed by the government - in their recommendations suggested many things, to look into the disappearances. They (the government) didn't do anything.

LAM: So you're saying that the political will is not there in Colombo. The UN High Commissioner on Human Rights last week called on Sri Lanka to allow international experts in criminal and forensic investigations to help put to rest, these allegations of this nature. Obviously, international opinion has fallen on deaf ears in Colombo, but what about within Sri Lanka, What about the Sri Lankan people - do you think there's a demand for some kind of truth and reconciliation commission, or some kind of investigation into war crimes allegations against both sides?

FERNANDO: The thing is, in the southern part of the country, the government is still able to keep their idealogy, that means the idealogy against the Tamil people. And whenever they want something, they can just raise the matter saying this is a Singhala country, Singhala Buddhist country, and the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) was the great problem for us, and we have eradicated it. So even these pictures and this killing, the southern community won't get much effect on that, the majority.

But in the north and east, it will really affect.. and anyone with a clear and open mind, can see these photographs and the arguments. Anyone with a clear and open mind can't refuse in a short notice, saying that it is not true.

LAM: Do you think there's a genuine need, that people feel a genuine need, to get to the bottom of these atrocities, committed by both sides?

FERNANDO: That is what a few people, especially human rights activists and others are trying to do. We want to say that, not only the government, may be the LTTE, even though they were fighting for their people, they did commit alot of wrong things. So we need an enquiry.

LAM: The UN Human Rights Council will be meeting in Geneva next month. Are you hopeful that that in turn, might lead to some development on this front?

FERNANDO: Yes, definitely now, it is very clear on the war, the USA's saying that they are coming with a new proposal. Even the Catholic priests and some religious activists and others, from the north and east have also submitted a pettition, saying that they don't need any other weak resolution. That they need a very confirmed one, where a mechanism, an independent mechanism should be looked into.

The human rights activists and the human rights groups have given up faith about the national forums and national commissions, because their recommendations were never implemented. So I think the March session (of the UNHCR) will be a very serious one for Sri Lanka. The team the last time was about six or nine people - this time, only a very few people are going, so they accept the defeat. So there'll be a challenge for the human rights activists, to implement those things in the country - to build up reconciliation, because if we (Sri Lanka) can't do that, then the country has no hope.

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