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‘Kill everybody!’ order came from the top – SLA officer

Executions of Tamil civilians and surrendered LTTE fighters and their families were carried out under orders ‘from the top’, Sri Lankan Army soldiers have claimed.

 

"Yes, our commander ordered us to kill everyone. We killed everyone," claimed on frontline soldier.

 

"Definitely, the order would have been to kill everybody and finish them off,” a senior Sri Lankan army commander said.

 

"I don't think we wanted to keep any hardcore elements, so they were done away with. It is clear that such orders were, in fact, received from the top."

 

The allegations were made in a report on Britain’s Channel 4 TV station, which broadcast two interviews with Sri Lankan Army soldiers.

 

The soldier confirmed he took part in the killing of innocent civilians. Surrendering LTTE fighters and their families were also tortured and executed, he said.

 

Several photographs were shown on the extended segment shown on Channel 4’s news programme.

 

Pictures were taken by soldiers on the frontline of the war zone and showed piles of bodies, lines of corpses and civilians in ditches with their hands tied behind their backs, including children.

 

They also broadcast pictures of the bodies of young women who had their hands tied behind their backs, suggesting that they were detained and executed.

 

The program quoted a soldier as saying that Pirabaharan’s youngest son, Balachandran (13), was shot dead after surrendering to the forces with his bodyguards.

 

One of the civilians in the photographs was subsequently identified by his wife, a displaced person currently living in Jaffna, TamilNet reported.

 

The unidentified woman claims her husband was a former member of the LTTE but was staying with his family after leaving the organisation.

 

He disappeared in April 2009, and has since been reported dead by villagers who saw his body together with bodies of LTTE fighters massacred by the Sri Lankan forces.

 

This raises the question whether all those who were pictured as detained by the army have been executed, said local reports from Jaffna.

 

Louis Arbour, head of the International Crisis Group and former Chief Prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunals for Yugoslavia and Rwanda, who was also interviewed by the program, slammed the impunity Sri Lanka enjoyed throughout the conflict.

 

She said there was no possibility of Sri Lanka holding a proper inquiry into the war crimes, noting that since the conflict began there had been impunity.

 

A senior Amnesty International official told Channel 4 News his organisation had this week launched a world-wide campaign to highlight the need for an independent international investigation into war crimes in Sri Lanka.

 

London-based Amnesty International and New York-based Human Rights Watch have joined Brussels-based International Crisis Group in this regard, Channel 4 said.

 

The Sri Lankan ambassador to the UN, Palitha Kohona had agreed to appear on the show to do the increasingly difficult task of defending his government, but news anchor Jon Snow revealed, despite desperate efforts to locate him, he failed to show up.

 

The Sri Lankan High Commission in London meanwhile issued a statement totally rejecting all accusations.

 

“All internationally accepted standards and norms of such operations were followed in the prosecution of the humanitarian operation by the security forces which were under strict orders to follow a zero civilian casualty policy,” the High Commission statement claimed.

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