By Donald Gnanakone –
London attorney Vasuki Murugathas unearths photos and short videos further raising war crimes issues in Sri Lanka.
In a dramatic and unexpected fashion a Tamil attorney in London, Vasuki Murugathas was able to discover some 24 photographs and 32 short videos taken via a mobile phone of a Sri Lanka army soldier based in the Vanni in the last days of the war. To be exact the dates when the videos and photos were taken was the 5th and 6th of April of 2009. One of her clients who for fear of the State Terrorist who are well known to resort to attacks on family and friends wishes to be anonymous for the present, although he would be willing to testify to international, independent investigators once his stay in London has been stabilized.
This client was working in an internet cafe where soldiers regularly visited to back up their phones , download videos, and requiring assistance with their mobile phones to enable them to email their prized photos of especially naked Tamil girls. The original content are safe with an attorney in London.
Some of the photographs clearly demonstrates a pattern of woeful consistency of the Sri Lankan army. All the female armed and unarmed combatants, and civilians are always stripped naked or their underwear and down to their knees and the bras are either missing or near their neck, exposing the breast of teenage girls or young women. Only a few men are stripped naked.
This pattern was also clear when the LTTE media TV announcer Issaipriya’s naked photographs were discovered and questions about rape and torture prior to the death came about. She was never an armed combatant but her hands were tied behind her back as per channel 4 video.
Tamils For Justice have 20 similar photographs from way back in 2006 after the Mavil Aru battle where all the female fighters were stripped naked prior to the photographs being taken. Such detailed photographs have yet to be published, and there is no way that the GOSL or the Presidential spokesman Bandula Jayasekera can claim that these photographs were manufactured by the LTTE propaganda, because there is irrevocable evidence that it originated from the high official of the MOD- Ministry of Defense, and also a subsequent confession, after an initial denial. These photographs will be published via a documentary on Sri Lanka about the last days of the battle in the Vanni in the near future.
When the attorney provided the photographs to the “Independent” in London there has been already two positive results. A father in Vanni who thought his son died during the battle, is overjoyed that his son was last seen alive in captivity on the 6th of April 2009, though handcuffed like animals to the bus seat inside the bus together with other teenagers, both males and females.
After 3 years this is the first time he had any news that his son could be returned home soon despite the fact the army and the MOD had denied the surrender or capture of his teenage son born in 1990. Why such denials by the army is worrisome for the human rights activist worldwide due to the suspicion whether this teenager could be one of the thousands of Tamils who were summarily executed or one of the 146,769 described as dead or missing when Bishop of Mannar Rajappu testified to the Silva Commission. (aka LLRC).
This boy was not a combatant but part of the medical unit of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. (LTTE). (Like doctors, nurses and technicians). It is rather surprising that the MOD had resorted to such serious violations of the Geneva Conventions on Prisoners of War, by not permitting the information of a unarmed non combatant POW to the ICRC, SLRC, UNHRC, UN, LLRC or their parents, which is a heartless act. Now that there is a name, face, date of birth, and other details the onus also shifts right on to the head of the MOD, Presidential sibling Gotabaya Rajapakse, the remaining army commanders in service and also Sri Lankan diplomat in the UN Maj. General Shavendra De Silva, whose photographs also appears in a short video of this soldier, among the 32 videos that are available.
The father of this boy contacted the London attorney and was interviewed on tape by a media consultants and there is on record in Tamil via YouTube* .
The English translation/transcripts would be published by the solicitors office.
The challenge for the GOSL is to now confirm that the this teenager (now 22 years) as well as all those other teenagers and youth in the photographs and video who were captured alive or with minor injuries on the 5th of April 2009, are still alive and not brutally murdered. If they are alive why they have not been released after the 3 years, after the so called rehabilitation which also included some song, dance, drama and other cultural training.
Haven’t they had enough drama in their life that they need to enter into some GOSL/Army sponsored therapeutic drama training, where some of the activities are supervised by the co-founder of the TGTE, KP?
The GOSL should take this matter seriously and expeditiously, as failing to do so would certainly constitute “War Crimes”, and murder of Tamil civilians and POW. Just gone missing would not be an internationally accepted answer when this matter is already a part of the UN and US investigation in addition to other Human Rights Organizations such as HRW, AI, and ICG. There is also command and responsibility issues where it possibly could go as high as the commander of the Army, General Fonseka, and Defense Ministry Secretary Gotabaya Rajapakse notwithstanding that President Rajapakse is the Minister of Defense and Commander in Chief. Incidentally, the first two being US residents and citizens come fully under US jurisdictions and laws, and their is no necessity for the US State Dept., DHS, or DOJ to be dancing around UN and UNHRC regulations and delay tactics on war crimes and crimes against humanity violations. The serious question is do the US and the Tamils really want to take action or just only making empty threats for the past 3 years.
Furthermore, as per the photographs there are 2 Sinhala female soldiers who are clearly identified although the names are still under the process of verification, and one of them is also identified as the photographer. Another video in the possession of the attorney shows that she is building a new home in 2009, from the ill gotten loot in the Vanni from the hundreds of thousands of Tamil prisoners and dead civilians. All valuables and belongings were confiscated from the Tamil civilians. These soldiers are easily identifiable and traceable and the former army commander Fonseka can also provide the necessary assistance of the soldiers under his command either directly or through other officers.
There is also another lady from Europe who has identified one of the POW’s as her close relative. Further investigations and testimony is underway, and the whole process is to ensure that all are hopefully still alive, and would be released soon to their parents. That would also save the military officials and other higher up’s of war crimes accusations as far as these Tamil Youth are concerned.
*The father of this boy contacted the London attorney and was interviewed on tape by a media consultants and there is on record in Tamil via YouTube .