Stephen Rapp visits No Fire Zone

Rapp visit   Stephen Rapp, Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues at the State Department, and US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Michele Sison met Tamil activist cum Provincial member and wife of Tamil Tiger Eastern Politician Elilan (Sasitharan) and discussed about issues faced by  Tamils of Sri lanka and the involvement of Sri Lankan forces.

Tamils activist Ananthi, the wife of a former LTTE leader Elilan contested with Tamil National Alliance, obtained the second highest preferential votes at the election. The United States envoy’s meeting up with Ananthi has caused consternation  in the Srilankan government and increased the fear that a war crimes investigation is forthcoming.   Tamil Diaspora organisations are expected to grab the opportunity to work with US to bring the war crimes charge against the Sri Lanka Government.

The US Ambassador-at-Large at the Office of Global Criminal Justice, Stephen J. Rapp  and US Ambassador Michele J. Sisonvisited parts of the North which were designated as ‘No Fire Zones’ during the final stages of the war. Rapp  and  Sison also visited the site where a UN office was in Puthukudiruppu and the site of a school and hospital in Puthumathalan. The US Embassy in Colombo had  tweeted a picture of the duo inspecting St. Anthony’s ground in the North which was shelled during the final stages of the war in 2009. The Embassy tweet accused the army of killing hundreds of families at the site and caused controversy after it stated that hundreds of families were killed by army shelling in January 2009, with questions raised on twitter whether this represented the official stance of the US government.BBC journalist Charles Haviland later tweeted that a US embassy official has confirmed to the BBC that the tweet represented the “official government stance”.

Army spokesman Brig Ruwan Wanigasooriya said the allegation made by the US Embassy that Sri Lanka army shelling had killed hundreds of families at St Antony’s Ground, Iranapallai in 2009 is completely baseless. Brig Wanigasooriya added that the allegations could also be an attempt to give credence to otherwise baseless allegations that have been propagated by some governments and separatist elements with the support of some international media organizations.

 Meanwhile the External Affairs Ministry in Colombo has sought a clarification from the US Embassy on the locations Rapp visited in the North and the tweets.

The Embassy also showed a picture of Rapp at the Uthayan newspaper office in Jaffna and quoted him as raising concerns over media freedom in Sri Lanka. 

Rapp arrived in Sri Lanka this week and will be here till Saturday. He already had a meeting with the Tamil National Alliance before visiting the North and tomorrow he will be having meetings in Colombo with the Government and other political parties.

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