Seven years after their murder, the international aid organisation Action Contre Faim (Action Against Hunger – ACF) has decided to launch a report disclosing the role of the Sri Lankan security forces in the killing of 17 employees in the Eastern Town of Muttur in August 2006.
The report is being released to coincide with International Human Rights Day observed on December 10.
“ACF International reveals publicly for the first time who is responsible for the assassination of the 17 humanitarian aid workers killed on 4th August 2006 in the city of Muttur, Sri Lanka, and who protected the perpetrators of the crime. In one of the most serious crimes ever committed against humanitarian workers, the 17 aid workers were lined up, forced to their knees and shot in the head,” a media release by the organisation stated on its website.
Entitled The Truth about the Assassination of 17 Humanitarian Aid Workers in Sri Lanka, the report unveils that according to the information ACF holds, the aid workers were assassinated by members of the Sri Lankan security forces and the criminals were covered up by Sri Lankan top authorities.
‘Every day we and other humanitarian organisations work in war zones,’ said Mike Penrose, Executive Director of ACF-France. ‘It is paramount that those who do not respect humanitarian aid workers are brought to justice and that these crimes do not go unpunished.’
The statement said that the ACF does not seek to be or to replace a judge. “Up until now, the organisation’s position was to wait for the outcome of the official investigation. Now that relevant domestic mechanisms have been exhausted, witnesses have been silenced and the internal Sri Lankan investigation has become a farce, ACF considers it has a moral duty to denounce publicly the perpetrators of this crime,” the organisation said.
The report brings together publicly available sources**, confidential documents and witness statements obtained by Action Against Hunger from witnesses on the ground and overseas, diplomatic contacts and other sources close to the matter. These sources implicate Army, Navy and Police personnel in the killings.
ACF calls on the international community to consider seriously the arguments presented in the report and to end the impunity by conducting an independent international investigation into the massacre. If such an investigation is opened, ACF stands ready to cooperate with it in full by providing additional information in its possession.
Every day, humanitarian workers risk their lives delivering assistance in situations of armed conflicts. Respect for those who deliver humanitarian assistance is the most important condition to be observed by warring parties. Impunity for the Muttur massacre is not only an example of flagrant injustice for the deceased aid workers; it is also a brutal sign to the international community that humanitarian aid workers who work in situations of armed conflict are no longer protected nor respected.
Seventeen humanitarian aid workers working for Action Against Hunger were brutally executed on the organisation’s premises in Muttur on 4 August 2006. The aid workers were lined up and shot dead at close range. The Muttur massacre is not only a crime against humanitarian workers of unseen scale but also one of the most atrocious war crimes committed during the Sri Lankan internal armed conflict.