Bloodbath in Sri Lanka
The civilian death toll in northern Sri Lanka soared even higher over the weekend, with reports (from a doctor in the field) that a staggering 378 people had been killed in just one day and at least another 1,212 injured. The real figure is expected to be far higher, as this report was based only on those casualties brought to the hospital.
The UN – hardly renowned for its hyperbole – has described the situation as a ‘bloodbath’, and one that its Colombo office had been warning against for some time. Their spokesperson Gordon Weiss said that over 100 children had been killed over the weekend in the ‘large-scale killing of civilans’, reports the BBC.
Civilians been herded into ever-smaller ‘safe zones’ which appear to be far from safe. Reports (again from medical staff) state that heavy artillery has fired into these civilian areas from government positions in Mullaitivu, though the government denies this.
There’s a near-total lack of independent reporting from the region as the government has banned reporters and human rights organisations from getting anywhere near the warzone. Just this weekend, Nick Paton-Walsh of Channel 4 News – a former winner of an Amnesty Media Award for his human rights reporting – was deported with his cameraman and producer, after they publicised allegations of abuse and poor conditions in the ‘internment camps’ in which Tamils have been held.
There’s a strong report from Al-Jazeera here.
The situation really is quite terrifying in Sri Lanka. And the true scale of the carnage is only going to come to light way, way after the event, once the government has secured its military victory. If we’re getting these kinds of reports when there are no journalists on the ground, the real picture is likely to be far worse. There will be mass graves and horrific reports from survivors to come. And once again the world is going to find out after the event, when the damage is done.
The need for a humanitarian truce is more pressing than ever.
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.