Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education



Front Page

World

UK

UK Politics

Business

Sci/Tech

Health

Education

Sport

Entertainment

Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Archive
Feedback
Low Graphics
Help

Wednesday, June 23, 1999 Published at 11:55 GMT 12:55 UK


World: South Asia

Amnesty wants Sri Lanka probe widened

Authorities allowed international monitoring for the first time

The human rights group Amnesty International has called on the Sri Lankan authorities to widen a probe into the suspected mass killings of civilians in the country's civil war.

Forensic investigators have already found two skeletons near the northern city of Jaffna, after the exhumation began last week of an alleged burial site for up to 400 Tamil civilians seized by the army.


[ image: Amnesty wants Tamil Tiger killings to be probed]
Amnesty wants Tamil Tiger killings to be probed
In a statement, Amnesty described the excavation as "an important first step", but urged the investigation to be widened to cover suspected victims of killings by Tamil Tiger guerrillas.

The group says scores of people went missing while in the custody of the rebels in the early 1990s.

It also says the authorities should investigate suspected burial sites in the south of the country for people who went missing during a government crackdown on left-wing Sinhalese militants.

International experts monitoring last week's exhumation have also called for greater participation of foreign forensic specialists in the investigation.

More than 60,000 people are believed to have been killed by government forces and vigilante groups between 1988 and 1990.

Skeletons found

The authorities were led to the site at Chemmani near Jaffna by a former soldier, Somaratne Nerajapakse, who was sentenced to death for the rape and murder of a Tamil teenager in 1996.

The ex-soldier told a court last year that hundreds of Tamil civilians were buried in Chemmani by the Sri Lankan army after the takeover of Jaffna.

The bodies found on Thursday were buried 1.5 metres down in the salty marshland.

One of the skeletons found on Thursday was bound and blindfolded and there were scraps of material still attached to both bodies.

They were identified as belonging to motor mechanics working in the area.

Hundreds missing


[ image: Government forces are blamed for disappearances]
Government forces are blamed for disappearances
The area was cleared of overgrown bushes and then excavated by local forensic scientists, after Nerajapakse identified 10 sites where he was ordered to help bury 300 bodies.

The proceedings were watched by four international observers, including two from the human rights organisation Amnesty International.

The remains will then be taken to Colombo for analysis, while more information is gathered about how many bodies might be there.

After the security forces captured the Jaffna peninsula from the Tigers in 1995-96, they detained large number of local Tamils on suspicion of being involved with the rebels.

More than 600 of those who were held in military custody are still missing and observers say it is unlikely that they are still alive.



Advanced options | Search tips




Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©




Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia



Relevant Stories

17 Jun 99 | South Asia
Amnesty points to abuses in South Asia

16 Jun 99 | South Asia
Remains found in Sri Lanka 'mass grave'

29 Apr 99 | South Asia
Outrage over Sri Lankan 'mass grave'

28 Mar 99 | South Asia
Sri Lanka's disappeared thousands

05 Mar 99 | South Asia
Mass grave probe begins

30 Sep 98 | Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka's unwinnable war

22 Jul 98 | South Asia
Sri Lanka to investigate mass graves claim





Internet Links


Human Rights Watch - Sri Lanka

TamilNet

Amnesty International

Sri Lankan Government


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.




In this section

Sharif: I'm innocent

India's malnutrition 'crisis'

Tamil rebels consolidate gains

From Sport
Saqlain stars in Aussie collapse

Pakistan fears Afghan exodus

Hindu-Buddhist conference in Nepal

Afghan clerics issue bin Laden fatwa

Culture awards at Asian festival

Gandhi pleads for husband's killer

UN condemns Afghan bombing

Gandhi prize for Bangladeshi