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TNA's Ananthi wants UN probe deadline extended ... alleges military obstructing war crimes eyewitnesses

2014 Oct 28

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Accusing the military of suppressing information as regards war crimes allegedly committed by the military during the last phase of the Vanni assault, Northern Provincial Councillor, Ananthy Sasitharan has urged Geneva-based Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to extend the deadline for the completion of the ongoing investigation.

Ananthy has made her appeal to OHCHR through three senior external experts, namely Martti Ahtisaari, Silvia Cartwright and Asma Jahangir tasked to advise and support still unidentified war crimes investigation team.

Her request was made on behalf of the five-party Tamil National Alliance (TNA) running Northern Provincial Council (NPC) administration.

Her husband Elilan, a hardcore LTTE cadre disappeared during the last stage of the war. Since the conclusion of the war in May 2009, Sasitharan on numerous occasions, both here and abroad blamed the military for the disappearance of her husband.

Former High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navanethem Pillay, in a letter dated June 5, 2014, informed External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris that the investigation which would begin in mid June, 2014 would be completed in ten months. Pillay assured Prof. Peiris that a comprehensive report was to be presented at the 28th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in March 2015.

Sasitharan has alleged that recent restrictions placed on foreign passport holders entering the Northern Province is meant to prevent Tamil speaking people from communicating with the OHCHR and the international community. Due to continuing interference by the military, those living in the Northern Province couldn’t receive clear instructions as regards the submission of evidence, Sasitharan alleged.

She has emphasised the importance of propagating eyewitnesses’ accounts in writing as those are acceptable to UN investigators, though as many believed that only documentary evidence would be accepted.

Sasitharan joined 32 colleagues of the Northern and Eastern Provincial Councils last August to request the OHCHR to expand the on-going investigation. The group wanted the UN to investigate atrocities against the Tamils at least from 1974 and to determine whether successive Sri Lankan governments had engaged in genocide.

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