Sri Lanka releases 'war crime' rebuttal video

1st August 2011, Comments 0 comments

Sri Lanka on Monday released its own documentary to counter a programme by Britain's Channel 4 that alleged war crimes by government troops in their final assault on Tamil Tiger rebels.

The hour-long video, produced by the Defence Ministry and called "Lies Agreed Upon", was shown to an invited audience that included Western diplomats in Colombo.

It was in large part a rebuttal to the charges contained in the Channel 4 documentary -- "Sri Lanka's Killing Fields" -- that the military shelled civilian targets in the dying stages of the war against Tiger separatists in 2009.

The programme, which aired on British television in June, contained footage of what it said were prisoner executions and showed the bodies of female Tamil fighters who appeared to have been sexually assaulted.

The ministry's video contained testimony from Tamil doctors and civilians in the conflict zone denying the shelling of hospitals and the killing of non-combatants.

It did not directly respond to war crimes allegations, but said it was common for any military in the world to strip and search the bodies of "terrorists" after they had been killed.

It said Channel 4 had ignored the fact that a Tamil TV presenter whose semi-naked body was shown in the British documentary was also a rebel fighter.

At the release of the rebuttal video, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse, reiterated his government's insistence that the Channel 4 footage was faked "propaganda".

A key figure in the military campaign that crushed the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), Rajapakse said pro-LTTE members of the Tamil diaspora were fuelling the allegations of war crimes.

"It is important to realise that although the LTTE has been militarily defeated in Sri Lanka, its international organisation remains largely intact to this day," he said.

"This continues to work actively, though often in disguise, to promote the separatist cause and discredit the government of Sri Lanka."

The government has consistently denied any war crimes and resisted calls for an international probe.

A UN panel reported in April that there were "credible allegations" that government shelling killed thousands of civilians in a no-fire zone.

© 2011 AFP

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