Peace for the World

Peace for the World
First democratic leader of Justice the Godfather of the Sri Lankan Tamil Struggle: Honourable Samuel James Veluppillai Chelvanayakam

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sri Lanka soldiers remanded over rape of 9-year old Tamil girl

TamilNet[TamilNet, Saturday, 27 February 2010, 01:55 GMT]
Six Sri Lanka Army (SLA) soldiers were taken into custody for allegedly molesting a nine-year-old Tamil girl at Ki'raan Vaazhaichcheani in the eastern Batticaloa district, sources in Batticaloa said. The victim identified one of the perpetrators during an identification parade held in Batticaloa Magistrate Court. Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) reported that the soldiers of the Digiliwatiya camp had threatened the protesting villagers, and the body of one protester was recovered in a pond near the SLA camp after the protests. 

The victim "was returning home in the company of two of her friends when soldiers bathing near a well chased after her and raped her. The girl was admitted to a hospital and the medical reports confirmed that she had been sexually abused. It is also reported that the girl who is still being treated at the hospital is being questioned constantly by commando officers," AHRC report said.

The alleged incident happened on the 12th of February. The suspects have been remanded by the Batticaloa Magistrate until 3rd of March, legal sources in Batticaloa said.

When the issue of rape by SLA soldiers was raised by US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, Sri Lanka's Defense Ministry website carried a refutation, saying "such sadistic allegations are far from the existing realities: far from the truth," and added that "there was no basis whatsoever even to suggest Sri Lankan forces had involved in such gross violence during its three-year humanitarian campaign."

British weekly, The Observer, in December 2009 said that "Tamil women interned after escaping the horrors of the civil war in Sri Lanka were sexually abused by their guards who traded sex for food," reporting on an interview with Vany Kumar, a British medic who was released from internment in September from the camps run by Sri Lanka military.

"Systematic rape of Tamil women in custody and in areas under control of Security forces, and sexual abuse of LTTE women cadres caught during combat, had occured from as early as September 1996 when Krishanthy Kumarasamy, a 17-year old highschooler, was murderd after being stopped and raped at an SLA sentry point at Kaithadi, Jaffna. Horrendous videos showing Sri Lankan soldiers abusing women cadres stripped naked have routinely surfaced," said activist for a Washington-based pressure group.

The link between maintaining international peace and security, and preventing and responding to sexual violence used as a tactic of war to target civilians was first laid out in last year's United Nation's Security Council resolution 1325.

United Nations charged 114 Sri Lankan soldiers who were on peace-keeping missions to Haiti in March 2008 with sexual exploitation and abuse against children. After an investigation into pending charges against Sri Lankan troops in Haiti, the UN's Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) concluded that “acts of sexual exploitation and abuse [against children] were frequent and occurred usually at night, and at virtually every location where the [Sri Lankan] contingent personnel were deployed.”

Related Articles:
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18.04.09   'Regular rapes, killings, degrading interrogations in intern.. 
14.02.09   Grand scale murder, rape of screened civilians feared, TNA M.. 
28.12.07   Woman gang raped in Vadamaraadchi 
25.12.07   Woman raped, killed, 3 men slain in Vavuniyaa 
04.11.07   Rape by Sri Lankan troops resurfaces – in Haiti 
05.07.06   Uduvil woman raped, murdered 
20.12.05   Tharsini raped before murder- Medical Report 
05.08.05   Batticaloa woman raped before murder - JMO 
14.05.05   Krishanthy murder convict complains of death threat 
16.03.05   Sri Lanka Navy rape case refugees say threatened 
20.12.03   Police suspects in Mannar torture, rape to be indicted 
19.04.03   Poverty, oblivion dog rape victim 

Thursday, February 25, 2010

GTF launch well attended by British politicians

[TamilNet, Thursday, 25 February 2010, 03:13 GMT]
British Foreign Secretary David Milliband, Conservative Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague and Liberal Democrats Shadow Foreign Secretary Ed Davey all addressed the Global Tamil Forum’s inaugural meeting in London on Wednesday, 24 February. The Global Tamil Forum (GTF) launch saw delegates from 14 countries gather in the UK House of Commons to be addressed by speakers from across the political spectrum, including parliamentarians, councilors and prospective parliamentary candidates. Some delegates were also invited in for a private meeting with Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

GTF Inaugural Conference

The meeting, in the Gladstone Room of the House of Commons, began at 10am and concluded at 4pm, followed by a reception between 4pm and 6pm at the Terrace Cafeteria.

Among the guests were a Buddhist monk and an Islamic theologian, both of whom had travelled from Sri Lanka for the event. An African National Congress parliamentarian from South Africa, Sisa Njikelana, had flown to Britain especially for the event and was in the country for only 6 hours.

Private meetings amongst the GTF are expected to continue over the next two days.

GTF Inaugural Conference

Following is the full text of the address by British Foreign Secretary David Miliband to members of the GTF at the House of Commons on 24 February 2010:

GTF Inaugural Conference
I want to very warmly welcome all of you to the House of Commons if you’ve come from around Britain, and welcome you to Britain, those of you who’ve come from around the world. I think that it is very significant indeed that the Global Tamil Forum should have brought people together from fourteen countries. That in itself is a huge achievement. It is a reflection of the breadth of the Tamil diaspora around the world and I hope it speaks to a unity that will serve the rights and hopes of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka.

It’s also important to recognise the history that’s associated with Britain’s relationship with Sri Lanka. Father Emmanuel spoke about this. And I hope that not just historians, but Tamils will come to look back on this meeting in this building as being a time and a moment of significance for the future of Sri Lanka.

GTF Inaugural ConferenceGTF Inaugural Conference
GTF Inaugural ConferenceGTF Inaugural Conference
GTF Inaugural ConferenceGTF Inaugural Conference
GTF Inaugural ConferenceGTF Inaugural Conference
I also want to recognise on the platform with me here are three Members of Parliament who have played an outstanding role in the British debate about the future of Sri Lanka. Virendra Sharma on my right, Keith Vaz, Siobhain McDonagh have all been stout defenders of the rights of all Sri Lankans and I think it is right not just to recognise the role of Governments, but to recognise the work of parliamentarians and also to recognise the work of community groups. Some of them made by Tamils, but others made by churches, made by other groups of British people who’ve seen the plight in Sri Lanka and wanted to respond to it and I think it’s important to recognise that this is a grass roots movement in Britain, not just a Government led movement.

I also want to say that the foundation of the Global Tamil Forum, the inauguration of its international work, is an important moment for politics and above all politics in Sri Lanka, because there is no substitute for political voice in asserting political rights. Tamils know to their cost the price of violence against them and in their name. We know that the civil war is over, but the civil peace has yet to be built and it is the dedication of this organisation to build a lasting equitable and endurable political civil peace that I think is the test of all of our effort.

I want to commend very, very strongly your decision to, not just to support non violence, but to advocate non violence. I think that history has shown time and again that lasting peace is not found through weapons and through warfare but through politics, however hard it is to persevere with it. We’ve seen this in our own United Kingdom, notably in the state of Northern Ireland, but also in other parts of the world and the road ahead no doubt will be long and hard in some ways that I will describe in a moment. But I think the founding commitment not just to a fully inclusive political process, but to support non violence as the means to achieve it, is something that speaks to the deepest values of the Tamil people and actually, as I will say later, to the deepest values of people everywhere.

Perhaps I should say why I’m here. It’s not just that London is the venue for this important meeting. It’s that the importance of establishing a lasting peace in Sri Lanka matters. It matters because of the deep links that exist between Britain and Sri Lanka, the deep links that exist between British people and Sri Lankans of all kinds, and it’s also that the future of Sri Lanka is important for the future of South Asia more generally. And I think that any Foreign Secretary would want to be here to listen, but also to support about the way ahead.

For twenty six years all the peoples of Sri Lanka suffered from the effects of civil war, but we know that while all communities were hit, the Tamil communities were the worst hit. We know that during the conflict Tamils were in every day fear for their lives, trapped between Government forces and the LTTE, many thousands killed we know, seventy thousand in total from all communities. Thousands more injured or maimed which often is not mentioned in a grim recitation of statistics.

We know that civilians were displaced, individuals, children separated from their families, homes and livelihoods destroyed and we know also that the Tamil diaspora around the world reflects conflict and it reflects fear around the world. We are proud in this country, very proud, of the contribution that British Tamils are making to our country. You are our neighbours, our friends, our relatives. We’re proud of your role in business, in commerce, in politics. But you know very deeply that you would like to be making a contribution above all in Sri Lanka and it is that tension, that dual focus first of all on Britain and first of all, and secondly on Sri Lanka, that brings us together.

It’s also important to say as Tamils lived in fear, some expelled from their country, that they, you also lived in the shadow of the LTTE, a terrorist organisation which committed countless atrocities itself, which refused to tolerate dissent, which forcibly recruited children as soldiers and which again refused to allow Tamil civilians to escape from the fighting. I think it’s important to say those things as well.

And we know that today land mines are still scattered across the former conflict zone, the lack of infrastructure and the lack of electricity, the lack of irrigation, poverty rates in Tamil areas are at least double those in the other provinces. And after the spike in violence that preceded the end of the civil war, nearly a hundred thousand Tamils still remain in the IDP camps, unable to return to their homes. And I will never forget the faces that I saw in the IDP camps in Sri Lanka ten months ago. I will never forget the stories that I was told of innocent people separated from their families, of brutalisation and of profound fear about the future. And whenever I think of that statistic of a hundred thousand people still in IDP camps I think of individual men, women and in some cases young teenagers talking to me about all they wanted was to be treated as a decent human being, able to go about their lives in a decent way. And that’s what motivates me and it’s what motivates the Prime Minister and it’s what motivates the Government to believe that the aspirations of the Tamil people expressed as the hope of a decent life alongside others in Sri Lanka is something that should motivate us in the future.

We try in the short term to alleviate the suffering. We try to send money and we do send money, tens of millions of pounds are sent from Britain by the Government. But I know many millions of pounds are sent by the Tamil communities too to try to make a difference through the humanitarian agencies who should be given far greater access and freedom of movement. We also continue to urge the Government of Sri Lanka to return the remaining IDPs to their home areas, to grant full access to NGOs and we do not forget either the eleven thousand five hundred or so ex combatants also still in camps.

Now despite the scale of this humanitarian crisis and the need for us to focus on it as a matter of urgency, we do not forget the longer term, because anyone who cares about the future of Sri Lanka knows that it will not be built by aid alone. It must be built through a new political settlement. Since the end of the civil war, since the re-election of President Rajapaksa, as we look forward and await the parliamentary elections, we continue to make the case that the President should use his mandate for a real drive for national reconciliation, a real drive to respect the rights of every single Sri Lankan, a real drive to fulfil the commitments, constitutional and other reforms, that would make a difference.

Now to do this there needs to be greater effort to respect the rights of all Sri Lankans. It is because of our concern about the implementation of core commitments in respect of human rights conventions that we along with twenty six other members of the European Union supported the European Commission’s recommendation to suspend Sri Lanka from the benefits of the GSP+ trade programme. We did, we did so because trade and values need to be linked. We did so because the rules of the GSP programme put values at their heart. Those values are values of civil and political rights, because we are concerned about violence and allegations of malpractice in the election campaign and of course there are also important commitments made by the Government in respect of media freedom. There is also the issue of the arrest of the presidential candidate who like anyone else arrested should be treated in accordance with Sri Lankan law.

We also believe that as well as the GSP issue there is an issue of history because history is there to be learned from. We can not live in our history, but we have to learn from it and I think that my reading of reconciliation around the world is that if history is buried then reconciliation never happens. We have recently celebrated the twentieth anniversary of the release of Nelson Mandela and the commitment to expose history to the full glare of publicity, the commitment to reconcile history as well as reconcile people has been an important part of the South African experience and I think is an important lesson from the South African experience. That is why we continue to call as a Government for a process to investigate serious allegations of violation of international humanitarian law by both sides in the conflict. If credible and independent, such efforts could make an important contribution to reconciliation between Sri Lanka’s communities.

I’ve also said repeatedly that the concern with civil and political rights today, concern with the history, concern with the IDPs, feeds in to a constitutional point that there needs to be a genuinely inclusive political process in Sri Lanka which involves all communities of Sri Lanka. It’s important to say that whenever a British Minister says this, there are accusations that we are trying to tell Sri Lanka how to govern or run its own affairs. I want to refute that very, very clearly, because the shape of any future political settlement is for the Sri Lankan people, all the Sri Lankan people recognising all their rights, including minority rights, it’s for them to determine. But we will continue to be an advocate for the universal human rights that we believe underpin the basis not just of democracy, but of decent societies everywhere.

I just want to conclude on the following point. Politics is about Governments, it’s also about people, it’s about people in countries that are trying to chart a peaceful future, but it’s also about those with links around the world and that relates to the significance of today’s event. This democratic group, this heartily engaged forum is well placed to influence debate, well placed because of its commitments and well placed because of its contacts.

And it is my view that political reconciliation will require the active engagement of Tamil communities around the world. It will require you to speak up for your values of non violence. It will require you to speak up for a vision of a decent Sri Lanka that respects all its people and it will require you to speak up for a spirit that recognises that if people can not find a way to live together they will drift apart.

These commitments are easy to say, especially easy to say from the relative comfort of a democratic country like the United Kingdom. But it’s important that we say that we are in solidarity with all those Sri Lankans, whatever their background, who want to live up to the commitments in the Sri Lankan constitution and who want to live up to the founding ideals of a country that respects every single one of its citizens without fear or favour. The struggle for equality and democracy is one that should unite all Sri Lankans and all Governments around the world. On behalf of the UK Government I can assure you it does. Thank you very much indeed.

GTF Inaugural Conference


Monday, February 15, 2010

Thiranjala Weerasinghe sj.- One Island Two Nations

Your War Our Lives

Posted by Thiranjala Weerasinghe sj
Srilanka-Ilankai (in Tamil) / Lanka (in Sinhala)
An island located in the Indian ocean, off the southeast tip of India
Three times as larger than the state of New Jersey - 25,000 sq miles in area
Shared History Dates Back to 500BC.
• Sinhala-speaking people - 77%,
• Tamil-speaking people - 23%
When Portuguese took possession of the island in 1505 there were 3 Kingdoms
• Tamil Kingdom in the North-East - Tamil Homeland - (yellow)
• Sinhalese Kingdoms in the South-West (grey).
1505 -1658: Portuguese held the island
1658 – 1796: Dutch usurped control
1796: the British took over
Portuguese and Dutch ruled the Tamil and Sinhala Kingdoms separately, but, the British artificially joined them for their administrative convenience only in 1833.
On Feb. 4, 1948 - British left the Island leaving it as one country, CEYLON, leaving political power in the hands of the ‘majority’ Sinhalese.
THE PROBLEM: First Element
Two Historically Feuding Ethnic Groups
Two Historically Feuding Ethnic Groups.
Centralized Unitary Government.Citizens are not treated equally… …Rights of the Tamils are violated
‘Mistreatment’ of Tamils – 60 years!
Two Historically Feuding Ethnic Groups.
Centralized Unitary Government.
Constitutionally entrenched Sinhala Rule. SINHALESE COMMAND
1948 – 1 million Tamils declared as non-citizens
1949 – Sinhalese colonization in traditional Tamil homeland
1956 – Sinhala made sole official language of the country
1970 – “ethnic standardization” slashes university admission to Tamils
same entrance exam, but Tamils need to score 30% more
1972 – New constitution without Tamils participation
Unilateral name change from Ceylon to Sri Lanka
Declaration of Sri lanka as a republic
Buddhism made state religion
1977 - Prevention of Terrorism Act
State-sponsored anti-Tamil violence in 1956, 1958, 1961, 1974
(1948 – 1976)
(Since 1956)
Systematic Genocide of Tamils1956.. 1958.. 1961.. 1974.. 1977.. 1979.. 1981.. 1983.. .. 2008
Resolution for Independence: Vaddukoddai Resolution
30 year struggle for equality denied.
multiple pacts for regional autonomy not honored.
non-violent agitations by Tamils met by State violence
The Elected Tamil Political Leaders convened and resolved to restore Tamil Sovereignty by declaring an Independent Tamil state in the North-East of Sri Lanka.
1977 Election: Tamils ratify the call for independence by 82% popular vote
Tamil Legislators thrown out of parliament by the government.
Tamil Armed Rebellion takes hold Lead by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)
1983 – State Sponsored Anti-Tamil Pogrom
Thimpu Talks Declaration – July 13th 1985Mediated by Indian government failed
Monitored by Scandinavian Countries
(Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission - SLMM)
CEASEFIRE AGREEMENT Signed by the SL Government and the LTTE on 22 February 2002
…forward defence localities (borders) have been established, the Sri Lankan armed forces and the Liberation Tigers’ fighting formations shall hold their ground positions…
…Neither Party shall engage in any offensive military operation nor shall move munitions, explosives or military equipment into the area controlled by the other Party.
THE OSLO DECLARATION:Signed by the SLG and the LTTE on 25 November 2002
…the parties have agreed to explore a political solution founded on the principle of internal self-determination in areas of historical habitation of the Tamil-speaking people, based on a federal structure within a united Sri Lanka.
Within 3 years… 2002-2005
Dissolving High Security Zones – Withdrawing military from Houses, School, Worshiping places (February 2002)
Sub-Committee for Immediate Humanitarian and Rehabilitation Needs in the North and East (SIHRN) (February 2002)
North East Reconstruction Fund (NERF) (November 2002)
Interim Self Governing Authority (ISGA) (31 October 2003)
Post Tsunami Operational Management Structure (PTOMS) (June 2005)
November 2005Election of President Rajapakse
Campaign promises:
No recognition of Tamil Homeland or right to Self-Rule.
No to Federal Solution
No to International Mediation
After the Election of President Rajapakse ESCALATION OF VIOLENCEby the SL Armed Forces and Government sponsored Paramilitary.
47 humanitarian workers were kidnapped and killed.
5 Tamil Parliamentarians were assassinated.
Many leading Tamil Journalists were murdered.
Hundreds of Tamils were abducted for ransom & killed.
17 Humanitarian Workers of a French NGO (AFC)Murdered by SL Army in an execution style on 5 August 2006
Violence after Election of President Rajapakse
Targeted Killing of Tamil Civilians
SL government de-merged the Tamil Homeland. (North-East)
Sri Lanka government officially unilaterally abrogated Ceasefire Agreement from January 16, 2008
Sri Lanka government is intensifying a full scale war on the Tamil Homeland to impose Military Solution & calling it as “War on Terror”
No credible political solution is under discussion by SL government.

Tamil civilians being targeted: Disappearances, Daily aerial bombings, Road-side bombs, Shelling, Extra-judicial killing.
Over 5000 Tamils have been killed since election .
Average of 7 Tamils killed daily
US Foreign Policy & Role Toward Sri Lanka and Tamils
US Policy & Role
In 1996 Sri Lanka influenced US to designate LTTE as FTO.
In the post 9/11 scenario US sort partners for War on Terror.
SL depicted the Tamil armed struggle as acts of Terrorism.
SL declared its human rights violations as inevitable occurrences in the War on Terror.
US promotes democracy and freedom, and acknowledges Tamils’ legitimate aspirations for freedom.
In 2004 elections, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) accepted the LTTE as the National Leadership of the Tamils, and won 97% of Tamils’ votes.
However, since LTTE is in its FTO list, US is in a paradox that it is unable to treat both parties equally and help Tamils achieve their legitimate aspirations for freedom.
The USA had placed LTTE on the FTO list
Military Assistance to SL Army
Stop It
Financial Aid to SL Government
Monitor it
Public Statements
Be fair to both nation
Treat both parties Equally
Rep. Frank Pallone – On Autonomy of Tamils:
“I echo this sentiment and support a solution that grants a level of autonomy to ethnic minorities like the Tamils. We have seen very similar successful situations throughout the world. Places like Quebec in Canada, Wales and Scotland in Great Britain are all part of their Federal Nations but have significant autonomy. “ (September 2006)
Rep. Rush Holt – On Human Rights Violations Against Tamils
“I urge US Secretary of State Dr. Rice to appoint a special envoy to emphasize US's commitment to peace in Sri Lanka and to include in the envoy's mandate efforts to increase monitoring of human rights violations," (September 2006)
Mr. Richard Boucher
Assistant US Secretary of State
[Colombo; 26 June 2006]
Though we reject the methods that the Tamil Tigers have used, there are legitimate issues raised by the Tamil community and they have a very legitimate desire, as anybody would, to control their own lives, to rule their own destinies, and to govern themselves in their homeland, in the areas they’ve traditionally inhabited.
Richard L. Armitage
Deputy Secretary of State
[December, 2002
… the United States is greatly encouraged that the LTTE has made a commitment to the political solution and has agreed to settle this conflict through peaceful means...
… the United States government is also encouraged by the vision of the LTTE as a genuine political entity. If the LTTE can make a convincing case that it is committed to a political solution, the United States will certainly consider removing the LTTE from the list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations, as well as any other terrorism-related...
… A US – LTTE direct contact is worth Trying.
EU followed US and placed LTTE on the FTO list
Maj. Gen. Ulf Henricsson
Chief of the Ceasefire Monitoring Mission.
[ Reuters; 12 Aug 2006]

EU can't say they didn't know or at least have any signal about what could happen, I think the EU thought that the government of Sri Lanka was a responsible government, who could take the appropriate decision and work for peace instead of war...
…I would say, EU’s decision to ban the LTTE is a mistake, it was a wrong decision, because the LTTE and the government have signed the ceasefire agreement as equal partners.”
Teresita C. Schaffer
Former US Ambassador to Sri Lanka
(June 2005)
The United States’ designation of the LTTE a ‘Foreign Terrorist Organization’ has affected U.S. diplomacy in Sri Lanka…
…The effect of U.S. terrorism law and of the terrorist organization list has been a problem for U.S. diplomacy, and one that has not always been wisely handled.”
Rep. Brad Sherman
March 15, 2006
I’ve urged the State Department to design a road map for the Tamil Tigers, so that they would know what steps they would need to take to get off the terrorist list…
…What is the difference between terrorism on the one hand, and waging a legitimate guerrilla struggle on the other?..
Seeking some degree of autonomy for North-East Sri Lanka is not a terrible objective.
Jeffrey Lunstead
Former US Ambassador to Sri Lanka
[May 2007]
…Direct US-LTTE links would have helped in convincing the LTTE to move away from terrorism…
… direct communication with the LTTE would have had concrete benefits including the ability to deliver a clear U.S. message about possible delisting of the LTTE as an FTO (Foreign Terrorist Organization)
60 Years... The result:
More than 100,000 Tamils Killed and Disappeared
More than 20,000 Tamil orphaned children
More than 35,000 Tamil widows
Hundreds of Thousands of schools, houses, hospitals, churches, temples, villages and livelihood destroyed.
More than 600,000 Tamils Internal Refugees
Nearly 1 Million Tamils made to flee the country
A Struggle for Freedom – NOT Terrorism
Two Ethnic Nations, separated by
History, Language, Culture, Economic Life, Territorial Homeland.
A Tamil Conventional Military fighting the Sri Lankan Military.
Defense against genocide of Tamils
A large enough Tamil Territory
Defensible and sustainable for self governance
Roughly the same size as Israel or Kuwait or Slovenia.
Bigger in area (19,509 sq. km.) than at least 41 countries in the UN (including Singapore)
A De facto Tamil Government
Police, Judicial, Finance, Economic-Developments,etc, …in existence.
Bigger in population (3.6 million – in 1979 - ) than at least 59 countries in the UN
The Future…
If the Sri Lanka government does not accept Tamil Homeland, Tamil Nationhood and Tamil self-rule, the basic and cardinal principles, that have been guiding the Tamils in their struggle to find a peacefully-negotiated political arrangement…and…
If the Sri Lankan government not willing to share power with the Tamils under a Con-Federal system or some form of a two-state solution…
Tamils will be forced to continue their struggle for their National Self-Determination and a Separate State.
Kosovo & Tamil Eelam
What the Tamil Americans expect from theGovernment of the United States:
Remove the LTTE from the Foreign Terrorist Organizations list, and Treat both parties equally.
Recognize the Tamil National Self Determination.
Permit Tamil people to choose their destiny in internationally supervised plebiscite.
Facilitate the birth of the Tamil Nation, Tamil Eelam.

Monday, February 1, 2010 article

UN probing Sri Lanka 'executions'

Updated on 01 September 2009

By Nick Paton Walsh

The UN says it is viewing with 'utmost concern' a video broadcast on Channel 4 News which allegedly shows Sri Lankan troops executing prisoners.

Channel 4 News showed footage claimed to show Sri Lankan forces executing Tamils earlier this year.

The images are "horrendous" and, if authentic, are a serious breach of international law.

The United Nations’s own expert called for an investigation into footage broadcast by this programme.

But there are accusations that the organisation failed to speak out about alleged atrocities committed in the dying days of Sri Lanka's war against the Tamil Tigers.

Philip Alston, who is the UN's special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, explained whether he thought the pictures were authentic.

He said: "This videotape seems to have most of the characteristics of a genuine article and that in itself is sufficient to impose an obligation upon a government to undertake a sustained, effective, impartial investigation to ascertain the truth.

"I think the United Nations is in a difficult situation in the sense that it's really a grouping of states and the government of Sri Lanka has been very effective in terms of garnering the support of a large number of states and that does seem to have made the UN rather reluctant to speak out on these issues.

"My own role is not that of a UN official. I am a so-called independent expert, appointed as a UN special rapporteur. I report to the UN human rights council.

"I am therefore able to say very clearly that these images are gravely disturbing, that they raise prima facie concerns about significant extra-judicial executions and a full-scale investigation should be undertaken.

"I would like to see a more active United Nations response to this issue. I think it's important to try to remove it from politics. I think the UN has to insist in relation to these sorts of issues that it is not putting the Sri Lankan government in the dock as it were.

"The UN's objective should be to ascertain the facts, to verify whether killings of this nature did take place either on an isolated basis or a systematic basis and thus to provide the foundations for an ongoing dialogue with the government of Sri Lanka.

"It shouldn't be seen as a one-off issue of 'do you condemn or do you support the government?'. The focus must be on the alleged killings and getting to the truth of those and then working out what should be done by all of the parties."