Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka, a Sri Lankan human rights organisation has presented the world with a video that purportedly shows executions being carried out by men dressed in military fatigues. It is not crystal clear who is killing whom, but various Sri Lankan Tamil organisations based in the West, including the LTTE’s unofficial mouthpiece Tamilnet, have been quick to claim that the video shows Sri Lankan government soldiers killing Tamils held in their custody. The Sri Lankan government has denied such claims, taking the stand that the video is a fabrication.
In my opinion, in all probability the executions are being carried out by Sri Lankan soldiers. The victims are very likely to be Tamils, possibly captured LTTE cadres or even sympathisers. The UN has called upon the Sri Lankan government to carry out an enquiry into the video.
Both sides to this conflict have routinely accused the other of human rights violations, including extra judicial killings and assassinations. However, so far neither side had managed to provide video evidence of such extra-judicial killings.
These days when mobile phones with cameras are so very common, the chances are that the video in question was taken by the perpetrators of the killings to record their dirty exploits and show off. Meant for limited circulation among friends, it must have dropped into the hands of Journalists for Democracy by accident. This won’t be the first time when soldiers carrying out human rights abuses got into trouble by the videos and photos they took. In Iraq, prisoner abuses by coalition troops came to light when photographs taken by the culprits fell into unintended hands. Technology has made it practically impossible for governments to use their delinquent soldiers to commit murder and get away with it!
Channel 4 which aired the shocking video for the first time has now come up with a second video which shows how grim life is in detention centres for Sri Lankan Tamils. Videos like these are bound to erode what little remains of the global backing, sympathy and support that helped the Sri Lankan government defeat the LTTE.