Allegations of abuses committed by the IPKF in Sri Lanka since July 1987 [LKA0794]

As part of the Indo-Sri Lanka Agreement to contain the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka, the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) was deployed in the island nation. These soldiers were involved in the disarming of the militants and ensuring "the physical security and safety of all communities inhabiting the Northern and Eastern Provinces." [Asia Watch Committee. Cycles of Violence (Washington: 1987), p. 44.]

Most of the charges of Human Rights abuses began after the IPKF commenced its military operations to disarm the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in October 1987. [Amnesty International. Sri Lanka: A Review of Alleged Human Rights Abuses (London: June 1988), p. 10.] Amnesty International states that many of the charges were made by the LTTE itself and could not be further substantiated. [Ibid.] For its part, the Asia Watch Committee suggests that in analyzing these charges "one should bear in mind the difficulty of mounting a peace-keeping operation in the midst of communal and political clashes." [Cycles of Violence, p. 52.] For one thing, verification of human rights abuse in Sri Lanka during the offensive was exceedingly difficult because the IPKF excluded journalists and other observers from the areas where the fighting was occurring. [Ibid., p.3] Despite original reservations about the allegations made immediately after the IPKF offensive began, both the Asia Watch Committee and Amnesty International were able to corroborate a number of the charges. [Ibid.; Sri Lanka: A Review of Alleged Human Rights Abuses, p. 10; and Amnesty International, Amnesty International Statement on the Situation in Sri Lanka With Respect to the Return of Tamils to Sri Lanka, (London: August 1988), p. 2.]

One area of concern to Amnesty International were the reports of rape committed by Indian soldiers. [Amnesty International Statement on the Situation in Sri Lanka with Respect to the Return of Tamils to Sri Lanka, p . 2; and Sri Lanka: A Review of Alleged Human Rights Abuses, p. 11.] In December 1987 a local magistrate reportedly found IPKF personnel guilty in seven cases of rape and in January 1988 an Indian court-martial sentenced four Indian soldiers to one year in prison for raping Tamil women. [Ibid., p. 11.] Amnesty International has also documented, up to August of 1988, ten cases of people who have disappeared after arrest by the IPKF. [Amnesty International Statement on the Situation in Sri Lanka With Respect to the Return of Tamils to Sri Lanka, p. 3.] There are other reports of people who have died in the custody of the IPKF as a result of torture. [Ibid.,p. 2.] Furthermore, an Indian newspaper reported in July 1988 that 2500 people were being detained by the IPKF in the northern and eastern provinces, and a writ of habeas corpus has gone unanswered. [Ibid., p. 3.]

The IPKF has also been accused of indiscriminately shelling or strafing civilian non-combatants. [Sri Lanka: A Review of Alleged Human Rights Abuses, p. 10. and Cycles of Violence,
pp. 64-65.] In one instance, the Indians were involved in a gun battle with LTTE forces in a Jaffna hospital. While the LTTE was using the civilians as shields, it appears that the IPKF attacked without discrimination and later killed some of the wounded. [Ibid., pp. 60-61.] Additionally, there were reports of reprisal killings of civilians by the IPKF: Newspaper reports alleged that 40 civilians were killed in the village of Kokuvil by Indian forces the same day that 29 Indian commandoes were lost in a raid on a Tamil base at Jaffna University. [Ibid., pp. 62-63.] An independent observer has also corroborated charges that the IPKF undertook a reprisal in the village of Kaluwanchikudy for a landmine explosion which killed four soldiers. [Sri Lanka: A Review of Alleged Human Rights Abuses, p. 10.]

Amnesty International reports that no complaints similar to those mentioned above were made during a major search operation by the IPKF against the LTTE during February 1988. [Ibid.] During an IPKF offensive against LTTE bases in March 1989, the Tigers alleged that Indian helicopters had been bombing indiscriminately, causing heavy civilian casualties. [FBIS Daily Report - Near East and South Asia, (6 March 1988),p. 71.] Sri Lankan officials dismissed these claims as a disinformation campaign aimed at regaining sympathy for the LTTE after one of its raids resulted in the deaths of 37 civilians. [Ibid., p.72.]

During the run-up to the February 1989 parliamentary elections, the Indian forces in Sri Lanka blacked out newspaper coverage of the decision by the Eelam Revolutionary Organization (EROS) to withdraw its candidates, and placed its leader under virtual house arrest. ["Sri Lanka: Faith, Hope and Charity", Asia Week (17 February 1989), p. 26.] Bowing to pressure, EROS did agree to participate and won a number of seats. ["A Decisive Mandate", Asia Week, (3 March 1988), p. 20.] After the elections, New Delhi announced the withdrawal of 7000 of its troops. ["Sri Lanka: A prochain retrait de 7000 soldats indiens", Liberation (17 April 1989), p. 34.]
SEE ATTACHMENTS

Asia Watch Committee, Cycles of Violence (Washington: Asia Watch Committee, 1987), pp. 52-67.

Amnesty International, Sri Lanka: A Review of Alleged Human Rights Abuses (London: Amnesty International, 1988), pp. 10-11.

, Amnesty International Statement on the Situation in Sri Lanka With Respect to the Return of Tamils to Sri Lanka (London: Amnesty International, 1988), pp. 2-3.

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