The Indian news channel 'News X' broadcast today footage of a Sri Lankan army officer reportedly boasting of the use of chemical weapons against Tamil fighters and civilians during the final stages of the armed conflict in Sri Lanka.
The footage, from the documentary 'This land belongs to the army' by the Indian journalist Thamizh Prabhakar, shows a Sri Lankan soldier pointing to a chemical weapon and describing in detail how it works.
"This one is a very potent weapon," says the soldier pointing to ammunition, adding,
"When it hits the grounds it disintegrates into several pieces. The chemical in this burns the skin immediately"
"We used this in the last stages of the war. We used it on LTTE fighters holed up on the beach. All the people died when we used this"
Pointing to another store of weapons, a soldier explains,
"This one is dropped from a plane. It will explode only when it hits the ground. An area of 1 square KM is completely destroyed by this"
|View from 01:46 for interview with soldier|
Rejecting the footage broadcast by the Indian news channel, which included photographs of reported chemical burns on Tamil civilians, the Sri Lankan army spokesperson Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasooriya told Colombo Gazette via email,
“As you know Sri Lanka did not manufacture weapons or munitions and we procured our inventories from know suppliers through government to government interventions. The LTTE however were known for their attempts at manufacturing arms and munitions and large stocks of chemicals were even recovered from their bases during search operations. The latest video is another attempt by some parties to sensationalize baseless allegation against the Army in particular and the Government in general. We reject such appalling attempts driven by vested interests,”
Asked for his views on the Sri Lankan Army's response, the documentary director, Maga Tamizh Prabhagaran told the Tamil Guardian,
"The fact that the Sri Lanka government has rejected the evidence I showed in my documentary, that their army used chemical weapons, does not surprise me at all. After all, it has always rejected any evidence pointing to mass atrocities and has lied that it only used legal weapons. What this murderous government says is not of any significance."
Mr. Prabhagaran added,
"In the last stages of war, thousands of Tamils were penned into 3km in the surroundings of Mullivaaikal. As the soldier told me video interview, ' one single chemical weapon attack and kfir bomb attack' would have wiped out people over a 1km radius. Just think in final stages of war how many thousands of peoples in 1km radius.
The cartoonist Prageeth Eknaligoda went missing after he started researching the Sri Lankan military's chemical weapon use and started publicising his findings to diplomats out of Sri Lanka. His wife also wrote a letter to BBC Sinhala about Prageeth's chemical weapons investigation.
The Sri Lankan army use chemical weapons and heavy weapons to cleanse the Tamil population from Sri Lanka. This not only war crimes, it's clearly a genocide."