A file picture of (from left) Prabhakaran, his son Balachandran and wife Mathivathani
Feb. 19 (Agencies): Photographs released by Britain’s Channel 4 today to publicise a new documentary on Sri Lanka show that government soldiers executed the 12-year-old son of Tamil Tiger chief Velupillai Prabhakaran in 2009, the channel’s director has claimed.
The photographs prove the Sri Lankan army’s involvement in war crimes including summary execution and torture during the island’s 37-year-long civil war, according to director Callum Macrae. The pictures “tell a chilling story”, Macrae wrote in an article published in The Hindu.
In one photograph, Balachandran, the youngest son of the slain Tamil Tiger leader, is seen eating a snack while sitting in a green sandbag bunker guarded by a soldier. A second image shows his bullet-riddled bare-chested body.
The documentary, No War Zone — The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka, alleges that Balachandran was executed two hours after the first photograph was taken. The film will be released in March in Geneva to coincide with a UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) discussion on the country.
The images have been scrutinised by digital image analysts, who concluded they came from the same camera, and support video footage of the boy’s body uncovered last year, Macrae said.
Commenting on the pictures, Sri Lankan Army spokesman Brig. Ruwan Wanigasooriya said: “This is not the first time such unsubstantiated allegations are levelled against the Sri Lankan forces. Interestingly, these come up as we near a UNHRC meeting and die down thereafter.”
“No substantive evidence have been presented for us to launch an investigation” he said. The Sri Lankan government has maintained that Prabhakaran’s family were killed in fighting.
The bodies of his wife and daughter have never been found.
“The new photographs are particularly important evidentially, because they prove that Balachandran was not killed in crossfire, or in a battle. His death was deliberate and calculated,” Macrae wrote. “It is difficult to imagine the mindset of an army in which a child can be executed in cold blood with apparent impunity.”
Macrae asked India to support calls for an independent probe and said that Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapakse and his brother, defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse, should be made to answer for alleged war crimes.
India had voted against Sri Lanka at last year’s resolution. “The new evidence in the film is certain to increase pressure on the Indian government not only to support a resolution on Sri Lanka and accountability, but also to ensure that it is robustly worded, and that it outlines an effective plan for international action to end impunity in Sri Lanka,” Macrae said.
Rights groups say up to 40,000 civilians were killed by security forces in the final months of an offensive in 2009 that ended Sri Lanka’s fight against Tamil separatists.
Sri Lanka denies causing civilian deaths and Rajapakse sees himself as having brought peace to the Indian Ocean island.