WASHINGTON – The United States is asking the Sri Lankan government to open to foreign inspection areas of the country where government forces are alleged to have shelled displaced Tamils early this year in the final weeks of a 25-year secessionist rebellion.
Speaking of a new State Department report on the gory finale of the war, spokesman Ian Kelly says it illustrates “some real concerns, obviously,” about Sri Lanka’s actions as the war wound down. He also said the United States has asked the Sri Lankans privately as well as publicly to investigate, as he said they should under international law.
Kelly said the United States wants answers “about how this military operation was conducted. And we also, of course, are calling on the government of Sri Lanka to allow more access to international organizations.”
Hundreds of thousands of minority Tamil civilians were forced into the camps after fleeing the final months of the war with the separatist Tamil Tiger rebels, which ended in May.
The report, posted Thursday on the State Department’s Web site, accused both the Sinhalese-dominated government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam of actions that could be described as war crimes. The United States considers the Tigers a terrorist organization.
They involved attacks on civilians, violations of cease-fires, use of children as combatants, attacks on hospitals.
Specific incidents alleged in the report involve shelling into areas where displaced Tamils had fled on the assurance of the government that they would not be attacked. Instead, it said, attacks were mounted on the civilians and even makeshift hospitals.
The Tigers finally ended their rebellion in May. The government-run camps remain, however, and even though 4,300 or more Tamils left government-run camps Thursday, thousands more remain.