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UN suspects Sri Lanka war crimes.

3/14/2009 2:36:07 AM

The United Nations high commissioner for human rights has voiced deep concern over the plight of civilians in war-ravaged Sri Lanka Sri Lanka (srē läng`kə) [Sinhalese,=resplendent land], formerly Ceylon, ancient Taprobane, officially Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, island republic (2005 est. pop. , saying both the government and the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam Noun 1. Tamil Eelam - the independent state that the Tamil Tigers have fought for

Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka, Ceylon - a republic on the island of Ceylon; became independent of the United Kingdom in 1948
 (LTTE) may be committing war crimes.

Navi Pillay on Friday also urged both the sides to halt hostilities to allow the evacuation of civilians trapped on the northeastern coast.

Pillay said the government had repeatedly shelled the designated "no-fire" zones for civilians and also cited reports the separatist fighters were holding civilians as human shields and had shot some as they tried to flee.

"Certain actions being undertaken by the Sri Lankan military and by the LTTE may constitute violations of international human rights and humanitarian law," Pillay said in a statement.

"The world today is ever sensitive about such acts that could amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity," the former UN war crimes judge, who is a member of the Tamil ethnic group and grew up in South Africa South Africa, Afrikaans Suid-Afrika, officially Republic of South Africa, republic (2005 est. pop. 44,344,000), 471,442 sq mi (1,221,037 sq km), S Africa. , said.

'Truly shocking'

Pillay called on Sri Lanka's government to grant full access to UN and other aid agencies to monitor human rights and humanitarian conditions amid reports of "severe malnutrition" among those trapped.

"The current level of civilian casualties Civilian casualties is a military term describing civilian or non-combatant persons killed or injured by military action. The description of civilian casualties includes any form of military action regardless of whether civilians were targeted directly.  is truly shocking and there are legitimate fears that the loss of life may reach catastrophic levels, if the fighting continues in this way," Pillay said.

"The brutal and inhuman treatment of civilians by the LTTE is utterly reprehensible rep·re·hen·si·ble  
Deserving rebuke or censure; blameworthy. See Synonyms at blameworthy.

[Middle English, from Old French, from Late Latin repreh
 and should be examined to see if it constitutes war crimes."

Walter Kaelin, the UN secretary-general's representative on the human rights of internally displaced persons, also voiced grave concern at reports of LTTE rebels using civilians as shields and preventing them from leaving the conflict zone.

Kaelin also stressed that Sri Lanka's government must protect and assist civilians fleeing the fighting, as well as avoid confining them to camps.

But P Ramasamy, a former member of the LTTE-run Tamil constitutional affairs committee The Commons Constitutional Affairs Committee (est. January 2003) of the United Kingdom is a select committee of the House of Commons which looks into the expenditure, policy and administration of the Department for Constitutional Affairs and associated public bodies. , said "the situation is more complex than meets the eye of the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights".

"While the fighting is going on the maximum damage is inflicted on the civilians by the Sri Lankan armed forces," he told Al Jazeera This article is about the TV network and channel. For other uses, see Jazira.

Al Jazeera (Arabic: الجزيرة, al-ğazīrä

Sri Lanka's military has encircled en·cir·cle  
tr.v. en·cir·cled, en·cir·cling, en·cir·cles
1. To form a circle around; surround. See Synonyms at surround.

2. To move or go around completely; make a circuit of.
 the LTTE, also known as the Tamil Tigers Tamil Tigers
 or Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)

Guerrilla organization seeking to establish an independent Tamil state in northern and eastern Sri Lanka.
, in a mere 37sq km of the island nation's northeastern coast and is fighting to deal a death blow to a civil war that has raged off and on since 1983.

More than 2,800 civilians may have been killed and more than 7,000 wounded since January 20, according to a range of credible sources. Many had been inside the "no-fire" zones, the UN says.

The LTTE is seeking a separate homeland in the country's north and east for the ethnic Tamils, accusing the Sinhala dominated Sri Lankan government of marginalising the Tamil minority. 2003 - 2009

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Date:Mar 14, 2009
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