Photos of LTTE chief Velupillai Prabhakaran's son morphed: Sri Lanka

Last Updated: Wed, Feb 20, 2013 14:35 hrs

New Delhi: Sri Lanka's envoy to India said on Wednesday that photographs showing the late LTTE chief Velupillai Prabhakaran's son alive before being killed were morphed.

"Prabhakaran's son could have been killed in crossfire while he was in a little bunker. There is no need for an international probe. The photos are morphed," Prasad Kariyawasam told a news channel.

A section of the media carried photographs of 12-year-old Balachandran Prabhakaran seated in a Sri Lankan army bunker just before he was killed allegedly at close range.

The pictures are part of a film, "No Fire Zone", which seeks to document the rights abuses during the final phase of Sri Lanka's war when the military crushed the Tamil Tigers in May 2009.

Mr Kariyawasam urged Indian Tamil leaders to visit Sri Lanka "to see progress. Sentiment in Tamil Nadu is worrying. We cannot tell India how to vote in Geneva. It is a responsible regional power".

The reference is to next month's meeting in Geneva of the UN Human Rights Council where the US is expected to bring a resolution critical of Sri Lanka vis-a-vis human rights.

India voted with the US and against Sri Lanka last year.

Killing of Prabhakaran's son sufficient evidence: Karunanidhi

DMK chief M. Karunanidhi on Wednesday said the world or the United Nations need not go anywhere in search of evidence to "prove Sinhalese chauvinism and Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa is a war criminal".

"There is no need for a separate enquiry," he said in a statement.

Karunanidhi said the alleged cold-blooded killing of Balachandran Prabhakaran, "a tender leaf" and the 12-year-old son of the late Tamil Tigers chief Velupillai Prabhakaran, was "sufficient" evidence of alleged war crimes committed in the island nation.

"There is no record of such gruesome killing in any country in the world... The world is surely going to raise its voice against the Sri Lankan government," he said.

"The Sri Lankan army shot dead the boy at a distance of three feet while claiming he was killed in a crossfire," he alleged.

"The US is sponsoring a resolution against Sri Lanka next month in the UN Human Rights Council. While the western nations are supporting it, it is painful to note that India has not explained its stance. India should not try to save Sri Lanka and this is what people of Tamil Nadu wish," he said.

Jayalalitha wants Sri Lankan 'war criminals' tried

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa on Wednesday called for the trial of Sri Lankan "war criminals" following fresh evidence that the 12-year-old son of slain Tamil Tigers supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran was killed in cold blood after being captured.

The chief minister told the media that photographs showed an innocent looking Balachandran Prabhakaran seated in a military bunker before he was shot in May 2009. She said his killing was "an inhuman act of extreme cruelty".

Calling it a "war crime", she compared the conduct of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa's regime with the Nazis and the way Hitler dealt with Jews.

"He (Balachandran) was only 12 years. He was only a child. He did not commit any crime. As he was the son of Prabhakaran, the Sri Lankan army killed him," she said.

Jayalalithaa spoke a day after a section of the media carried two photographs of Balachandran dressed only in shorts seated in a bunker just before he was killed allegedly at close range.

In one photograph he is seen looking inquisitively at someone and in the other munching what could be a chocolate or biscuit.

These snaps, being made public for the first time, were apparently taken from the same camera that also photographed the boy later lying dead, with five bullet wounds. The latter picture became public knowledge earlier.

'killing of Balachandran is a war crime'

"The killing of Balachandran is a war crime" and "unforgivable", the chief minister said, and pressed India to work with the US to pass a resolution in the UN denouncing rights violations in Sri Lanka.

"I call upon the Indian government to hold discussions with the US and other like-minded nations and prepare a resolution to be passed by the UN (against Sri Lanka)," she said.

She added that in line with a resolution passed by the Tamil Nadu assembly, India should impose an economic embargo on Sri Lanka "with the cooperation of other countries".

The embargo should remain in place "until the Tamils who have been displaced there and confined in camps (after the conflict) are allowed to return to their homes and live with equal rights on par with" members of the majority Sinhalese community and "live a life of dignity".

UNHRC urged to probe Sri Lanka 'war crimes'

Human Rights Watch Wednesday urged the UN Human Rights Council to launch "an independent, international investigation into war crimes" committed in the final months of the Sri Lankan conflict.

It said that since the Council adopted a resolution on Sri Lanka in March 2012, Colombo "has taken no significant steps to provide justice for victims of abuse and accountability for those responsible".

"Over the past year the Sri Lankan government has alternated between threatening activists who seek justice and making small, cynical gestures to keep the international community at bay," it said in a letter to members of the Council.

"The Human Rights Council should dismiss these tactics, end the delays and authorize an independent, international investigation into the estimated 40,000 civilian deaths at the conflict's end."

On Feb 11, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a highly critical report on the Sri Lankan government's failure to provide justice and accountability.

It also urged "an independent and credible international investigation into alleged violations of international human rights and humanitarian law".

Human Rights Watch called on Council members to support a resolution that would establish an international investigation under the high commissioner's office.

Several independent bodies have reported credible allegations of war crimes and other serious rights abuses committed by government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) during the armed conflict that ended in 2009.

"However, the government has taken no significant steps to undertake impartial and credible investigations of these alleged violations," said Human Rights Watch.

It said the Sri Lankan authorities had not reported any criminal prosecutions for serious rights abuses committed during the final years of the conflict.

"Indeed, thus far impunity for these abuses has been total.

"Most disturbingly, an army court of inquiry set up by the government to look into these allegations issued a report Feb 15, fully exonerating the army from any liability for civilian casualties."

On top of the government's failings on justice and accountability, the human rights situation in Sri Lanka has deteriorated since the March 2012 Human Rights Council session, Human Rights Watch said.

Stones pelted at Sri Lankan office; none injured

In an apparent fallout of the alleged cold blooded killing of the 12-year-old son of slain LTTE Chief V Prabhakaran, some persons pelted stones at the office of Sri Lankan Airlines here, causing minor damage to property.

Police said nobody was injured in the incident which comes close on the heels of a little-known pro-Tamil group attacking the Bank of Ceylon branch here recently, injuring two persons.

Staff at the airline office confirmed the incident and said nobody was injured.

Some glass panes were damaged, police said, adding three to four persons were suspected to be behind the attack.

On Tuesday, images of 12 year-old Balachandran seen eating snack and another taken a few hours later showing his body lying on the ground, his chest pierced by bullets were featured in the Channel 4 documentary had drawn widespread criticism in the state.

Sri Lankan Army had dismissed the allegation as "lies, half truths, rumours and numerous forms of speculation".

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