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Fresh Reports, Imagery Contradict Sri Lanka on Civilian No-Fire Zone

May 30, 2009

Washington Post : Fresh Reports, Imagery Contradict Sri Lanka on Civilian No-Fire Zone.

 That evidence contradicts government assertions that areas of heavy civilian populations were no-fire zones that were deliberately spared during the final weeks of military assault that ended this island nation’s quarter-century of civil war.

“We see a lot of images of destroyed structures and what look like circular shell craters and also, frankly, very large holes in the ground. If it was a shell, it must be a very large one to make 24-feet-wide craters,” said Lars Bromley, director of the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Geospatial Technologies and Human Rights project, which was asked by human rights groups to study the satellite images…

Concern is also growing for the hundreds of thousands of displaced people still living in temporary camps. There has been little independent scrutiny of conditions in the camps, and journalists have been allowed only a handful of heavily supervised visits.

Behind the coils of barbed wire at the government-run Manik Farms camp, Kumarni and his students said they wish they had been born in another country. They made it here but lack even the most basic supplies, such as soap and water. Others say they lack food in the camps. They have shown journalists ration cards showing they were fed only two meals in four days. They miss their families. They suffer from nightmares.

Last weekend, government officials asked them to sing a welcome song for U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who was visiting to press for better access to the war zone by humanitarian groups. Some stood weakly in the hot sun trying to sing. Others just stared at the ground.

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