ACF International accuses Sri Lanka on death of 17 aid workers

killing fields      A French aid group accused Sri Lankan security forces on Tuesday of the death of 17 of its employees in 2006 during the country’s civil war. The group, Action Against Hunger, said it had information implicating the army, navy and police personnel. The group said its information came from witnesses, confidential documents and diplomatic contacts.

The organization said it had been awaiting the outcome of a local investigation, but decided to publicly denounce the forces because “relevant domestic mechanisms have been exhausted, witnesses have been silenced and the internal Sri Lankan investigation has become a farce.” The group called for an international investigation into the massacre.

Ahead of International Human Rights Day, observed on 10th December, humanitarian organisation Action Against Hunger ACF International reveals publicly for the first time who is responsible for the assassination of the 17 humanitarian aid workers killed on 4th August 2006 in the city of Muttur, Sri Lanka, and who protected the perpetrators of the crime. In one of the most serious crimes ever committed against humanitarian workers, the 17 aid workers were lined up, forced to their knees and shot in the head.

Titled The Truth about the Assassination of 17 Humanitarian Aid Workers in Sri Lanka, the report unveils that according to the information ACF holds, the aid workers were assassinated by members of the Sri Lankan security forces and the criminals were covered up by Sri Lankan top authorities.

‘Every day we and other humanitarian organisations work in war zones,’ said Mike Penrose, Executive Director of ACF-France. ‘It is paramount that those who do not respect humanitarian aid workers are brought to justice and that these crimes do not go unpunished.’

ACF does not seek to be or to replace a judge. Up until now, the organisation’s position was to wait for the outcome of the official investigation. Now that relevant domestic mechanisms have been exhausted, witnesses have been silenced and the internal Sri Lankan investigation has become a farce, ACF considers it has a moral duty to denounce publicly the perpetrators of this crime.

The report brings together publicly available sources**, confidential documents and witness statements obtained by Action Against Hunger from witnesses on the ground and overseas, diplomatic contacts and other sources close to the matter. These sources implicate Army, Navy and Police personnel in the killings.

ACF calls on the international community to consider seriously the arguments presented in the report and to end the impunity by conducting anindependent international investigation into the massacre. If such an investigation is opened, ACF stands ready to cooperate with it in full by providing additional information in its possession.

Army spokesman Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasooriya said that the contents of the report, reportedly issued by the French NGO Action Against Hunger (ACF), contains allegations of a very serious nature implicating the security forces over the death of the 17 aid workers.

“If the ACF (or any other organization for that matter) had in its possession evidence which could bring the perpetrators of the crime to justice, the first thing they should have done was to produce that evidence and support and strengthen the local investigations and not withhold such evidence for almost 7 years,” the army spokesman said.

He said that the fact that they did not come up with so called evidence and chose instead to release a public report on the matter, calls to question the motives of the organization in withholding such evidence in the first instance.

Military spokesman, Brig. Ruwan Wanigasooriya, said the government “remains committed” to investigate any “alleged perpetration of crimes” by the armed forces and the police.

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