|Saturday, 9 August 2003|
|Security||Today's Top Story|
by Ranil Wijayapala
The International Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International in a joint statement Thursday accused the LTTE of using the cease-fire with the Government to murder their political opponents.
Executive Director of the Asia Division of the Human Rights Watch Brad Adams, in his statement said that there is convincing evidence that the LTTE are taking advantage of the cease-fire with the Government to murder political opponents.
The statement of the two human right groups came a day after the US Government warned the LTTE over the assassination of political opponent.
The Deputy spokesman of the US State Department in a statement issued in Washington said: "More than three dozen persons -- all of whom were alleged to be political opponents of the Tamil Tigers or anti-Tiger informants -- have been assassinated in Sri Lanka so far this year'.
"We note with concern, however, activity by the Tamil Tigers that is undermining confidence in the peace process at this critical juncture," Reeker said in his statement.
According to Amnesty International they are going to call on the LTTE, the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) and the Police to take immediate action to stop human right abuses and bring to justice those responsible for political killings.
However, the LTTE Political Wing leader S.P. Thamilselvan at a recent meeting with SLMM Chief Tryggve Tellefsen in Kilinochchi denied the allegation against the LTTE over the assassination of political opponents.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe also recently expressed his concerns to the SLMM Chief over the political killings after SLMM Chief met him after his visit to Wanni.
"The end of the fighting in Sri Lanka has not meant an end to the killing," Brad Adams said in his statement.
"Members of Tamil political parties are being gunned down and the available evidence points to the Tamil Tigers."
At least 22 people with links to Tamil political parties opposed to the LTTE have been killed in politically motivated attacks since the government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE signed a cease-fire in February 2002.
Many others have been abducted, their fate still unknown. In several instances witnesses have identified the perpetrators as members of the LTTE. All available evidence points to a systematic campaign by the LTTE to silence opposition voices.
"Any improvements to the human rights situation in Sri Lanka are now at risk of being undermined by these killings," said Ingrid Massage, interim director of the Asia Pacific Program of Amnesty International.
"The use of political assassinations and violence threatens to seriously undermine moves made towards establishing a just system of governance that will serve all citizens of Sri Lanka."
Human Rights Watch also urged the SLMM to develop its capability to conduct in-depth investigations of such cases.
"Sri Lankan police and the LTTE also need to act to stop the killings", it added.
"While recognizing the difficulties the police face in investigating these crimes, this does not excuse their failure so far to bring to justice those responsible," said Massage.
"Given the weight of evidence, it is the responsibility of the LTTE to immediately halt these killings and ensure its members fully abide by human rights provisions in the cease-fire agreement. They must also fully cooperate in any investigations conducted by the SLMM."
Produced by Lake House