White Flag incident is the massacre of surrendering LTTE leaders and their families by the Sri Lankan Army on 18 May 2009 in Mullivaikal, Mullaitivu, Vanni, Sri Lanka.LTTE’s Political Wing leader Balasingham Nadesan and Pulidevan agreed to surrender and they contacted the United Nations, the governments of Norway, United Kingdom, USA and also ICRC and had been assured by Mahinda Rajapaksa and told to surrender at a particular place by the Basil Rajapakse. LTTE’s request for a third party witness to oversee the surrender was not granted. They surrendered to the 58 Division (Sri Lanka) carrying White flags and were reportedly shot dead. Sarath Fonseka and the then Sri Lankan Army Chief said that they had been shot dead on the orders of Gotabhaya Rajapaksa to Shavendra Silva Commander of the 58 Division (Sri Lanka). Balachandran Prabhakaran the son of LTTE Chief was also killed after surrendering along with his bodyguards. UN Panel states the LTTE leaders intended to surrender. Sri Lankan Government has denied the accusations.
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NEW DELHI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – The United Nations failed in its mandate to protect Sri Lankan civilians caught up in the final phases of the Indian Ocean island’s bloody war, a new report has said.
Sri Lanka’s civil conflict ended in May 2009 in cataclysmic final battle in which government forces surrounded Tamil rebels on a tiny strip of coastal land, where the separatists kept hundreds of thousands of civilians as human shields.
A 2011 U.N. probe estimates about 40,000 people were killed in the final phases of the war, mostly by army shelling and bombardments. Sri Lanka has rejected the allegation and claims in its own investigation that around 7,000 people died.
Written by two Sri Lankan charities, the report said despite signs of escalating violence, U.N. staff “consistently preferred to err on the side of caution in responding to the crisis.”
“The UN system as a whole made little effort to prevent the humanitarian tragedy that ensued,” said the Narratives III report.
“They failed to diagnose the nature of the problem at the early stages and were incapable of designing a coordinated strategy to separate the civilians from the LTTE (rebels) and enable them to move into the government controlled areas.”
The report – by the Marga Institute and the Consortium of Humanitarian Agencies – contradicts earlier reports by the U.N. and human rights groups which puts the blame for civilian deaths largely on government forces.
Instead, it holds the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) primarily responsible due to its strategy of holding civilians captive and using them as shields.
It said it was necessary to question whether the U.N.’s surveillance of the actions of the LTTE was adequate and whether more decisive action could have been taken to prevent civilians being used in this manner.
The U.N. office in Colombo declined to comment on the report’s findings.
U.N. LACKED RESPONSIBILITY
The report questions various actions taken by the U.N. such the almost immediate relocation of all its staff out of the war zone, saying that even though the government advised the U.N. to leave due to safety risks, the organisation should have negotiated to stay.
“In the context of both the lack of contestation of the government’s request and the absence of any negotiation for further time to be provided, the report concludes that the U.N. failed in its protection mandate by relocating,” it states.
The report said the U.N. lacked a strategic approach to minimising the death toll. It said the U.N. should have encouraged civilians who were fleeing with the rebels to cross over to government controlled area, adding that this would have avoided people being used as human shields.
It attributed some of the failures to staff on the ground which it said had little or no expertise in analysing military operations in terms of their humanitarian risks or in protecting civilians.
For example, during a 10-month window of opportunity for the U.N. to roll out a comprehensive plan for civilian evacuation, no information on the potential risks that civilians would eventually face was transmitted to U.N. headquarters, it said.
“The U.N. bureaucracy and parochial decision-making processes at the time prevented such a plan – a plan that could have significantly reduced the number of civilian casualties during the latter states of the war,” it said.
The U.N. human rights office in July embarked on a controversial probe into alleged war crimes. The move has angered President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government which says it will not cooperate with U.N. investigators.
(Editing by Ros Russell’ firstname.lastname@example.org)
4 Mar 2013 – The final atrocity: Uncovering Sri Lanka’s ‘white flag incident’ … This euphemistically refers to the murder of a group of Tamil Tiger political wing …
12 Jan 2013 – Vijay Nambiar, the Chef de Cabinet, who was a key official in shaping UN’s Sri Lanka policy, is also accused of complicity in the “Whiteflag“ …
3 Jun 2009 – Colvin has covered the civil war in Sri Lanka since being “smuggled into territory … With a white flag and comply with instructions carefully.
26 Feb 2012 – Ms Colvin lost her eye in Sri Lanka when shot at by the military while entering Govt … Marie Colvin killed in Syria, alongside award winning photojournalist Remi Ochlik, lost her eye in … Marie Colvin on ‘White Flag surrender’.