Shocking video from Sri Lankan camp for displaced civilians

May 7, 2009

I just watched a shocking video from Channel 4 News, a British television company, taken inside one of the camps set up by the Sri Lankan government for civilians fleeing from the war zone.  The Sri Lankan government has in recent months reconquered much of the territory formerly held by the opposition Tamil Tigers, who have been seeking an independent state for the country’s Tamil minority in the north and east of the island.  As the Tigers have lost territory, they have forced thousands of Tamil civilians to move with them.  At this point, an estimated 50,000 civilians are still being held as human shields by the Tigers in a small coastal strip in northeastern Sri Lanka, surrounded by the Sri Lankan army on three sides.

Over 150,000 Tamil civilians have managed to flee the war zone this year.  They have been placed by the Sri Lankan government in camps which they are restricted from leaving.  Access to the camps by journalists and aid agencies is limited by the government.

The Channel 4 News video includes shocking claims of shortages of food and water, dead bodies left for days and even sexual abuse.  The Sri Lankan government has dismissed the claims in the video as Tiger propaganda.  AI cannot confirm whether the claims in the video are accurate or not.  We are asking that the Sri Lankan government allow independent observers, including journalists and aid agencies, full and prompt access to all of the camps.

Watch the video here: