No deliberate targeting of civilians: Lankan probe

A Sri Lankan war commission has cleared the nation`s Army of deliberately targetting civilians in the final stages of the deadly war against the LTTE.

Last Updated: Dec 16, 2011, 19:05 PM IST

Colombo: A Sri Lankan war commission has
cleared the nation`s Army of deliberately targetting civilians
in the final stages of the deadly war against the LTTE, though
conceding that some isolated incidents could have occurred.

The much anticipated report of Lessons Learnt and
Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) which was tabled in
parliament today ruled out allegations that army intentionally
targeted civilians towards the end of the conflict with Tamil
Tigers.

Though the commission cleared the military it recommends
that investigations be carried out if there was evidence of
isolated cases of excesses.

The commission called for a political settlement of the
ethnic conflict with the Tamil minority and asked the
government to take the initiative for "a serious and
structured" dialogue with all political parties, particularly
those representing the minorities.

It has asked the government to reach out to minorities
and said that Tamils should in turn reposition themselves in
their role vis a vis the state.

The commissions report comes as Western nations and
rights group have called for an independent probe into charges
that Sri Lankan army was responsible for death of thousands of
civilians in the final military offensive against LTTE.

The much-awaited report, presented to President Mahinda
Rajapaksa last month, was tabled in the parliament today.

Concluding that there was no deliberate targeting of
civilians by the government troops, it recommends
investigations if there was evidence.

The report calls on the government "to take the
initiative to have a serious and structured dialogue with all
political parties, and those representing the minorities in
particular".

"A political settlement based on devolution must
address the ethnic problem as well as other serious problems
that threaten the democratic institutions," the report added.

It opines that in order to achieve reconciliation and
nation-building is "the state has to reach out to the
minorities and the minorities, in turn must, re-position
themselves in their role visa vis the state and the country".

Responding to accusations of large scale civilian
killings during the military offensive which crushed the LTTE,
the report while stressing that the military operations had
been conducted professionally says.

"If there is evidence of transgression by individuals,
this of course should be examined."

The LLRC report stresses that despite the lapse of two
years since the ending of the conflict, "the violence,
suspicion and sense of discrimination are still prevalent in
social and political life".

The report also said the defeated Tamil Tigers had
disregarded international humanitarian law in their combat
strategies and called for tough legal action against rebels in
detention.

This was caused by the delay in the implementation of
a clearly focused post-conflict peace building agenda, it
asserts.It says that despite the end of the conflict
significant issues of law and order still remain.

"There is apprehension in the minds of the people
living in the North and the East, due to continuing acts of
extortion, and other criminal acts continuing acts of
extortion, and other criminal acts such as abductions,
disappearances, robberies etc by armed groups".

The LLRC, headed by former Attorney General CR de
Silva and consisting of several respected public officials was
appointed by Rajapaksa in May 2010 to look into the conflict
with the LTTE during the period February 2002 and May 2009.

As it proceeded, a special UN panel report appointed
by Ban Ki Moon in April issued a report which accused both the
government and the LTTE of war crimes.

However, the LLRC makes no reference to Moon`s panel
report which was dismissed by the government as based on
hearsay evidence in order to please the pro-LTTE diaspora in
the West.

On the controversial airing of video footage of
alleged war crimes by the British TV Channel 4, the LLRC says
they recommend to "institute an independent investigation into
this issue with a view to establishing the truth or otherwise
of these allegations and take action in accordance with the
laws of the land".

PTI