Sunday, March 1, 2009

There is no genocide in Sri Lanka says Human Rights Watch representative

The Sri Lankan government is not committing genocide in the North, said Charu Lata Hogg of Human Rights Watch.

It is the LTTE which is forcibly holding innocent civilians as a human shield and shoot at them when they try to flee. There are certainly international guidelines which have to be met in a conflict situation. Sri Lanka cannot just be accused of genocide.

Ms. Hogg was participating in a discussion, "Reactive Media Talk: Sri Lanka - a hollow victory?", held in London on February 24, organized by Frontline Club.

She said that more than 2000 civilians were killed and over 5000 injured since January 2009 in the Northern battlefront in Sri Lanka. "Both Government troops and the LTTE are responsible for that. It is not only the Sri Lankan Army -- there have been killings and shootings by the LTTE as well. A large number of injuries have been caused to civilians as a result of the LTTE firing at them, Hogg said.

She also said around 40,000 civilians have already escaped from LTTE clutches and reached government controlled areas. They are being looked after by the government in welfare centres.

At this point, a group of Tamils in the audience tried to heckle her.

Priyath Liyanage of BBC Sinhala Service chaired this discussion while R. Jayadevan of the Alliance for Peace and Reconciliation in Sri Lanka, Pearl Thevanayagam and Francis Harrison (Journalists) and Charu Lata Hogg (Human Rights Watch) were in the panel. Leader publisher Lal Wickrematunge joined the discussion from Colombo over the phone.

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