Sri Lanka accused of war report whitewash

August 2, 2011 (AFP) – Human rights campaigners on Tuesday accused Sri Lanka of whitewashing military abuses in its official report on the island’s decades-long ethnic war, which ended in May 2009. A defence ministry report released on Monday admitted for the first time that civilians may have been killed during the war, though the military followed a “zero civilian casualty policy.”

Brad Adams, Asia director of Human Rights Watch, said the report was a “feeble attempt” to convince the world the military had not committed war crimes.

“The Sri Lankan government is finally admitting that its forces caused civilian losses during the conflict’s final months, but unconvincingly claims no responsibility,” Adams said.

“This is just the latest and glossiest effort to whitewash mounting evidence of government atrocities during the fighting.”

While the report detailed the numerous abuses over the years by the Tamil Tiger rebels, it provided no serious discussion of alleged war crimes by Sri Lankan forces, the New York-based Human Rights Watch said.

“The report describes the Tamil Tigers’ use of ‘human shields,’ shootings of civilians seeking to escape Tamil Tiger-controll